Narcissism noises are loud. And they never stop.
My second husband wasn’t a large man.
He wasn’t slight, but he edged up to slight. His particular brand of narcissism was quieter than my dad. He rarely raised his voice.
His voice was soft and gentle. His words were toxic.
- You are a danger to yourself.
- You need to be on lithium.
- You can only work with what you’ve got. There’s no shame in that.
His words weren’t loud, but they carried weight. He wasn’t quiet, though.
We lived in a third floor three bedroom apartment. The stairs leading up were wooden. I always knew when he was home, because even though he was very nearly slight, he stomped up the stairs like an angry yeti.
Everyone in the building knew when he was home.
He didn’t like when I read a book. He never complained, but any time I read a book, anything he touched would be slammed into place. There were many deep, exasperated sighs. Within an hour, my anxiety would be through the roof and I would put the book aside. I learned to only read when he wasn’t at home or after he fell asleep at night.
Then, there was the boss I had at my last job. He was the VP of IT.
He had a room full of programmers and, mostly, we programmers like a quiet environment. But he needed attention.
At least once a day, he would stroll through the department and slowly, but loudly, clap his hands.
He’d start a rally cry that usually was a variation of “Okay, MEN! Let’s make it happen today!” Usually, he would ignore me and the other woman in the department. Every once in a whole, if we were super lucky, he’d turn his head our way and say “ladies.” I hated the clapping. Every clap would make me jump. I still want to hit him in the face with a rotten fish.
My dad, though, my dad was just loud.
He had to have eyes on him most of the time.
When he came home from work, he would announce that the king had arrived and god help me and my sisters if we didn’t come running and do a sincere happy dance at his arrival.
That wasn’t so bad, though. I was used to it. It was a ritual.
It was the yelling that was intolerable. He yelled a lot.
I remember the last time he yelled at me. Probably a month or two before he had his heart episode that left him slightly brain damaged. And quiet.
Often, he would yell because he wasn’t included in a conversation. If he wasn’t the center of every conversation, he took that as a slight. He never really needed a reason, if there wasn’t a reason handy, he’d make one up on the fly.
My second marriage had crumbled and I had been spending time online talking to some dude from Missouri named Randy. My darkest time was at the end of my second marriage.
I was living under the threat of being committed to a psych ward against my will.
My husband had befriended a doctor in his AA group and the two of them decided together that I was batshit crazy and needed intensive help. Mind you, the doctor had never met me. I mean, I can’t say for sure, but I have to think this doctor was a complete psycho. What kind of doctor conspires to lock someone up that they had never met? Narcissists of a feather. I guess. Or, he didn’t exist.
My second husband’s specialty was gaslighting.
Anyway, I had gone to my parents house for a visit. Middle sister and I were at the dining room table talking about whatever it was we talked about 23 years ago.
My father came storming up to the table. His face was already purple.
He bellowed at us “If the two of you want to call me an asshole, then fucking do it to my face, you cowards.”
I never learned my lesson.
I lost every single shouting match we had ever been in, but constant failure never dissuaded me from answering back. I didn’t raise my voice. I just told him “We actually weren’t talking about you at all, but if you want me to call you an asshole, then I will. Asshole.”
I don’t remember much after that. I know I was called a fucking little bitch a few times.
That was his favorite pet name for me. Fucking little bitch.
I left in tears and went home to a man who wanted to lock me up.
I remember that argument because that was the first time I ever talked to Randy on the phone. I came home and my husband was out. I got online and poured my heart out to Randy in a private chatroom on AOL and he called me. So, it wasn’t a completely horrible day.
Ever since watching as much of the Dr. Ford/Kavanaugh hearing as I could, I’ve been thinking about the noise these narcissists make.
Dr. Ford stayed composed, even though her voice shook. She answered questions. She was coherent and respectful and she broke my heart a million times.
Then Punchable Face McRapey Hands got his moment in the hot seat.
The screaming and stammering and blubbering were both sickening to watch and perversely pleasurable.
He was miserable and I was glad. He made all the sounds that malignant narcissists make when they are cornered. He was nasty, threatening and hysterical. His meltdown was no different than the meltdowns I watched my father have hundreds of times. Different words. Same behavior.
He is a breath away from sitting on the highest court in the land.
I hope everyone understands how very dangerous this is. I hope everyone understands how much peril we are in.
I hope everyone understands that his meltdown isn’t the worst one coming. There are more coming and the heavens help us all when it happens. The president’s meltdowns are going to make Kavanaugh’s look like child’s play.
Please make sure you are registered to vote in the midterms. If you are able, there is no excuse to not vote. Convince your family. Convince your friends. Our democracy depends on it.
Photo courtesy of Epyc Wynn.