Your account is an absolutely brilliant summation of exiting a relationship with a narcissistically abusive person, and then reflecting back with horror as what has occurred. IMO it is much different from the selfish cheater I read about on SI because the lie permeates their entire existence (they don't lie, they are the lie). It's just the victim doesnt see it until there is a catastrophic event like discovery of cheating. I hope your reply doesnt just get lost in this thread, because there would be many victims who were encouraged to work with the abuser as if they were an ordered person capable of change, and continue to be coopted into the fantasy space created by the abuser. This is a psychologically dangerous place to be, and should be discouraged at all costs (it is also enabling further abuse).
I think it is absolutely imperative that the term narcissism is "bandied about", and what the behaviour looks like, whether a diagnosis is present or not, because people need to understand there are dysfunctional individuals in our society who operate from a place of bad intent, and we may be living with them (partners, parents, adult children). And there are experts who can guide a victim out of the relationship (as truthsetmefree says, no contact, or grey rock if kids/property involved is a good place to start).
When I reflected on my relationship, there were so many encounters with my ex where I exited not understanding what had happened (it didnt feel right, I felt bad about myself afterwards, he is such a good person (first part of relationship when our kids were little had isolated me surrounded by his flying monkeys), I must be the problem, where's a self help book so I can work out what's wrong with me - and this was not an overtly abusive person, he rarely said much at all). I then looked back at those encounters, trying to understand what a disordered person (him) would have been doing. I realised he saw me right from the start as a competitor, a rival, an adversary, the entire time, and that his goal was not that we should win, or even that he should win, but that I should lose (even if he lost too by blowing up our lives, the children's lives, his own life).
After we separated, his disordered thinking became so obvious, because I went grey rock/no in person contact so he had to put his thoughts in writing. The mask was off, and he dissociated and started sending bizarre emails and texts, one of which was about how my job as his wife was to watch him, and admire him, and I didnt do it (AP did, I actually saw her, which was disturbing looking back), and why had I married him in the first place if I didnt intend to worship him (he was a humble and self deprecating fellow who had failed to mention this for the previous 25 years) Literally he expected me to give up my entire existence and stare at him with googly eyes. What I saw was a 2 year old having a tantrum wanting mummy to pay him some attention.
Sam Vaknin talks about disordered people moving between self states after narcissistic injury or mortification from being exposed - from narcissist to psychopath for example (so they can no longer give the impression of caring).
I think the person who pointed out money could be siphoned off (in dollars here and there) also makes a relevant point. I'm just finding out about all the siphoning off of funds now, after carefully watching and feeling guilty about spending more than a few dollars for 25 years because apparently we didn't have any money (he actually has millions, but we had a phantom budget he had created in his mind, and I had to go along with it, even though I must have known it wasnt true - gaslighting is very effective like that)
I am not an uneducated person, but I lived in a bubble where people were essentially good, made mistakes, and had epiphanies if they read the right article, or saw the right therapist.
I hope Sigyn is Ok.
[This message edited by VezfromTaz at 7:55 AM, Sunday, September 4th]