Oh, Sigyn, I’m so glad to see you check in and so sorry that your STBXWH continues to be. . .himself. Of all the threads on the boards right now, I find your thread full of the most wisdom—from you and from all those who were married to this particular variety of WH— and familiarity for me. As always, your insight and reactions in this situation are inspiring.
You’ve already gotten such spot on responses, including from your therapist and from yourself. What Vez from Taz said, over and over, point by point, is so amazingly spot on.
projective identification - he is now your victim, and he is setting you up to behave as his abuser.
Check. This was always his MO, right? Although maybe a bit lower key. I know making himself the victim has always been one of my WH’s favorite ways to turn attention (including his own) away from his own shittiness and make it someone else’s fault. During his A, mine got extremely fixated on a stay-at-home dad whose kid was friends with mine. He was so over the top with jealousy and suspicion. It takes some nerve to be abusive to your spouse over fantasy, projected sins when you’re in the middle of an actual affair and not see the hypocrisy, but as we’ve both learned, they’re just that good at this shit.
Several years after mine was caught, I finally took my wedding ring off and never put it back on. I left it sitting in the bathroom on a tray. It took my WH almost a month to notice it, and he lost it again. He actually slipped right back into thinking that he had a say in this, and that here were his grounds for righteous outrage. He brought out all the victim cards about how hurt he was at me making a unilateral decision, lol,. . .and like always, my feelings and why I’d taken the thing off in the first place had not even occurred to him. After he spent 5 minutes telling me how wounded he was over me doing this, I asked him if he had thought for a second how I might have felt before taking it off and why I felt that way. The blankness on his face is something I will never forget.
they say things back to you that you said earlier to them - as in, they use the exact words. It is a total mindf#ck. I dont know whether it is some kind of gaslighting, mirroring or echolalia. My ex will message me with content that sounds familiar, and lo and behold if I look back a few messages (from 2 years ago even), he has used my language and phrasing. I never noticed it when we were together because he never replied to my messages, but in hindsight he was copying me from the day we met. Now that he has lost control, he tries to find a hook to get back in to my head, and what better way than to repeat my own thoughts back to me
This one truly blew my mind, Vez. It’s weird how you can experience something but not really notice it as a thing until it’s verbalized for you. I see now too that my WH mimicked and mirrored so much since he didn’t know how to really be the things that he wanted to project. But after he was found out, he also didn’t know how to have the actual feelings of remorse and guilt and empathy that he was supposed to have. The only role that was worth playing, at that point, was victim because he needed to center himself at all times. . .but not in a negative way. Victim was where the sympathy was. Victim was what he thought would get things back to normal with people feeling sorry for him and deferring to him and trying to figure his poor fucked up mess out. He WILL NOT be the bad guy in his own novella.
The problem was that I was the ACTUAL victim in the situation, so I was again who he mirrored. This produced lovely scenes like the one where I told him in tears that it was terrifying to live with him because he was so unsafe for me, only to have him immediately say, and you’re not safe for ME. SMH.
Like your WH, Sigyn, he had ZERO sense that he was literally using your exact words. We just do not exist for them in anything like the way they exist so VIVIDLY for themselves. We are pale shadows passing through their world compared to how they see themselves.
This from truthsetmefree was another beacon to me:
What you witnessed is the proverbial "shoe on the other foot"…and his complete inability to draw any correlations between what you have actually experienced and what he is experiencing through simply his beliefs. He sees NO correlation between the two because THAT is the root problem. And while experience is often a teacher and antagonist for self-awareness for even "normal" humans, your WH’s inability to draw that correlation is where the REAL tell is. This is how he views and experiences the world - in everything, all day, every day. He’s SO unaware and entitled that he actually views himself as your victim - with not an ounce of him questioning if he was the catalyst or perhaps even deserving.
The good news - if there is any in this - is your WH seemingly demonstrates a low skill level in his narcissism. (Higher level narcs would recognize - not feel - what is a more appropriate societal response and portray themselves accordingly.). This can also be witnessed in his (online) bragging about his methods. (Higher level narcs would never give up the methods.)
I can’t tell you how much I LOVE being able to say that my WH (and yours, Sigyn) is an inept, low-skill narcissist. My WH thought he was such a masterful and clever liar (he also articulated his lying methodology). After discovery, he said that he was a monster which seemed a bit grandiose to me. I told him that he wasn’t anything so impressive as a monster. He was just a petty, spiteful, destructive child. I knew he’d much rather think of himself as a monster. Monsters are powerful, after all. God, they are so fucked up.
In a weird way, not at all in the way you wanted, you are ultimately getting what you asked for, Sigyn. Little by little he is having moments of meltdown that are revealing the real truth of him to you. It’s not what you hoped to get—the actual truth of what he did—but he would have to actually have some grasp on and access to the actual truth in order to deliver it to you. What you are getting is revelation of how disordered he is and what kind of thinking allowed him to do what he did to you, and enjoy the life that he set up for himself. Every petty, imagined slight on your part made him feel that he had a right to do what he was doing. Every time you put your finger on one of those personality traits that he tried so hard not to slip into view. Every time you tried to know him.
Hopefully your WH will not continue with this behavior, but everyone who is saying he might ramp up even more is correct. Keep your guard up and ask your attorney how to best react, as others have noted. And yes, sadly, I’ll reiterate that you should be most watchful where your son is concerned. I know you know this, but I also know that those buttons our waywards installed are very compelling. You may still be lulled into thinking that he will always protect your son. Just remember: if he knew anything about being a healthy human being, parent and role model, you wouldn’t be where you are right now. He will not understand at all that there is any substantive difference between his interests and your son’s. He will think that what’s good for him will automatically be good for your son.
You have been so generous in sharing your experiences and your journey here, Sigyn. This thread is like a public service, really, and you are an amazing role model for those looking for a way not to give themselves up trying to salvage things with an unremorseful wayward. I hope that it helps you half as much as you help others by collecting all of these voices in your thread.
Sending you huge hugs of support and love, my sister.
[This message edited by NowWhat106 at 7:15 PM, Sunday, April 9th]