BLUR OF BLONDES
Came across this quote shared by a friend on social media….
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, here and now.”
-Fred Rogers (that’s “Mr. Rogers” to you…)
Just let that sink in for a minute.
Meaning: excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.
Synonyms: vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, conceit, self-centeredness, self-regard, egotism, egoism; “his emotional development was hindered by his mother’s narcissism”
extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.
Alright, now that we’re all on the same page as to what a “narcissist” is, let’s talk about it.
Answering the question in the title, I’ll have to be honest – there is a good chance that your ex IS a narcissist – or that maybe YOU ARE!
Narcissism Is A Rapidly Rising Pandemic
Studies amongst college students from across the United States have shown a rise in this increasingly developed characteristic called “NARCISSISM”. One article published on NPR.org titled Me, Me, Me: The Rise Of Narcissism In The Age Of The Selfie gives four pretty convincing reasons to support this claim.
1) According to this study conducted by professors from San Diego University and the University of South Alabama, they’ve shown that today’s generations are simply more narcissistic than the generations that came before us. The students participating in the study all took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and the compiled results showed an increase in narcissistic personality traits. That sounds pretty obvious enough.
2) More university professors gathered the birth records for all babies born in the United States between 1880 and 2007 (that’s 325 million babies!) and found that the names given to these children have branched away from older traditions of passing down common family names into a pattern of less common, more creative and unique names. This suggests that more people are interested in individualism, uniqueness, and standing out.
3) Today’s music industry is more focused on the self now than it was in the past.
4) Millennials are constantly on Social Media which is a key player in the rise of self-gratification via your social groups approval on vain images. Now I really paraphrased this one but I think it drives the point home a little better…
There are more studies out there that support the noticeable rise in narcissistic or selfish/vain characteristics (try reading this one, this one, or this one if you don’t believe me) and they all point to one conclusion: human beings – at least in the USA – are inherently more self-centered. Some much more than others. We are seekers of self-gratification through quick, vain practices. It may be via ‘likes’ on a Facebook post, treats from the grocery store, get-rich-quick-schemes, abusing substances, viewing pornography, or cheating on your spouse because they just aren’t “doing it” for you anymore – there are so many forms. So few of us are willing to put in the long hours, make the big sacrifices, and refrain from our natural urges to build marriages that are strong, happy, and lasting.
Is He/She Really THE Problem?
I hear it time and time again from women (and sometimes men, but less often) that their ex is a full blown narcissist who lies, deceives, and is the cause to all of their woes and miseries.
Woah. That’s a big claim. Can you imagine convincing tons of people your ex is a massive scum bag even if maybe he/she actually isn’t? I sure certainly hope you’re sure of your diagnosis before you make a mistake that I think many hurt ex-spouses are making these days.
It’s pretty darn easy to see your side of the story during a divorce. You can see all the ways your ex made you unhappy. All the mistakes they made, the lies they told, the things you wished they wouldn’t do. But how many of us forget to see things from their perspective?
I consider my own failed marriage – if you want to know more about it, you can read about it on my blog. But I would say my first husband is a narcissist. He exhibits some of the classic signs: master of charm and charisma, lacking in reliability and rarely follows through with a goal or plan, constant seeker of instant gratification, feels they are the exception to rules and even laws, large sense of entitlement, excellent manipulator, difficult person to please, throws fits when they don’t get their way, lacking commitment to serious relationships (spouse, partner, children, etc). But if I focused on all of his flaws and all of the reasons our relationship didn’t work that were his fault, I’d miss out on some valuable information.
If we’re always caught up in what a raging lunatic our ex is, when are we going to have time to fix our own faults? Afterall, none of us are perfect. I myself added stress to my first marriage in a number of ways that I watch for carefully in my current marriage. By recognizing some of my less-favorable qualities in my pancake marriage (you always burn the first one…) I know now how to be a better partner to my husband.
Example 1: I know that my short patience and insatiable drive for planning is annoying to most people, especially my poor family members who are mellow and easygoing. So I watch for opportunities to loosen the reigns when I start to get worked up over airport trips, household chores, and budgeting.
Example 2: If I don’t get enough sleep, I’m a cranky b-word and no one likes me. It’s not my husband or my kids who are causing the problems… it’s my inability to chill out and be patient because I stayed up way too late last night. So I’m aware of that and working on it.
Example 3: I’m a lousy budget keeper. I know this and my current husband and I work together to stay on track and hold each other accountable. However, my first marriage was a lot of me pointing my finger at my ex who would overspend constantly when really, I wasn’t helping matters much.
Example 4: I did not support my first husband’s lifestyle but I married him hoping he would “grow up” (which is code for change into someone more like me). When it came to his free time, the money he wanted to spend on his hobbies, the people he wanted to hang out with, and the places he wanted to work, I was constantly disappointed. He didn’t measure up to my expectations for a husband. I learned from this that he and I are just different. We see the world much differently and wanted very different things in our lives. When it came time to date again after our divorce, I knew the importance of finding a partner who I loved (or could live with) every aspect of. If he had qualities I wished were different, he was out. It isn’t fair for him, it isn’t fair for me.
I hate to admit this, but there’s more. I have more flaws!! *Gulp. However, I think you get my point. Your ex may be a narcissist. He may hold 99% of the blame. But what’s the point in dwelling on their flaws? You’re divorced! Or at least getting divorced. Stop working on your ex and get to work on yourself. That’s the road you want to take if you’re looking to move forward and move on!
- Google Definition of Narcissism https://www.google.com/search?q=narcissim&rlz=1C1ASUC_enUS632US632&oq=narcissim&aqs=chrome..69i57.5545j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
- Jean M. Twenge, Joshua D Foster (2010); Birth Cohort Increases In Narcissistic Personality Traits Among American College Students, 1982-2009; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550609355719
- Narcissistic Personality Inventory – http://personality-testing.info/tests/NPI/
- Jean M. Twenge, Emodish M. Abebe, W. Keith Campbell (2010); Fitting In or Standing Out: Trends in American Parents’ Choices for Children’s Names, 1880–2007; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550609349515
- DeWall, C. N., Pond, R. S., Jr., Campbell, W. K., & Twenge, J. M. (2011). Tuning in to psychological change: Linguistic markers of psychological traits and emotions over time in popular U.S. song lyrics. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(3), 200-207. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0023195
- American Press Institute; How Millennials Use And Control Social Media (2015); https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/millennials-social-media/
- Preston Ni M.S.B.A; 10 Signs You’re Dating A narcissist (2015); https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201507/10-signs-you-re-dating-narcissist
I originally wrote this article for DivorceForce.com.
This is another old entry I wrote while Mr. Wilson and I were no longer dating and right before he popped back into my life and proposed. These are just more thoughts I hope I can share with my daughters some day when they’re in the throws of love, life, and figuring crap out.
What Kind of man do I want, anyway?
My first husband was a total dream boat. He was mysterious and quiet. He was cool and edgy. Two years after we got married, my quiet, cool, edgy exhusband left me and our 16 month old daughter (and our unborn baby) for a fat-assed (I’m jealous) married woman he worked with.
Aw, I’m not bitter (anymore).
Actually, I’m insanely grateful. It took some time but I can honestly say THANK YOU JESUS for the worst trial of my life. It was earth shattering and indescribably painful, but worth every puffy-faced tear I cried. I never would have left him had he not kicked me out of our house so his girlfriend could move in. I’d be stuck with a selfish, manipulative, gluttonous man who is now living with his mother at 31 years old because of very poor life choices.
But what I really want to talk about it this: WHAT am I looking for in a man anyway?
After exhusband came Dentist. I dated dentist for 3 months. Tis all! 3 months and I was ready to marry the guy. He thought I was just so beautiful and smart and we got along so well (kind of). He made lots of money, he was mormon, he was responsible. Suddenly, 3 months in, after talks of marriage and “what if’s”, he walked. He got scared and took off. I was so sad. It stirred up horrible feelings of loneliness and fears of being alone forever.
A few random guys hung around in the months following Dentist but then out of nowhere came Guy. My friend set me up with him. He was a close friend of her husband. They raved about his character and humility. As I stalked him on Instagram I knew I was doomed. He was beautiful and funny and won the hearts of all of his friends. He so quickly won mine. We dated for 9 dreamy months. I’ve never felt so alike to another human. He made me feel so loved and appreciated. He looked at me with the most heart stopping gaze and I could feel the love and admiration he had for me. What a gift he was. What an experience it was!
After 9 months he still didn’t want to get married and felt perhaps he’d never reach that point with me. As sure as I was that he loved me, he could never say it. He ended the relationship to pursue another course and I was wrecked. I resumed behaviors that were foreign to me my whole life – except for when exhusband had left me. I stopped eating, stopped studying, COULDN’T STOP crying. My heart was crushed and I could barely keep it together at work. I cried in front of my children uncontrollable sobs while my 3 year old pleaded with me to be happy (yes, that type of scenario brings lasting shame to me as a mother). It took me a few weeks to realize that this was more than just heartbreak. This was PTSD exploding from my insides, screaming at me to take notice and get help. But that’s a whole separate blog post.
The point of this post is to say I’m not sure if I trust my own heart sometimes. I chose exhusband and he was a monster. I chose Dentist, but looking back there were major character flaws that would have been really hard to be married to. Maybe once I’ve moved past Guy I’ll be able to see the faults in that relationship that I was blind to in the midst of my infatuation. Who knows. I swore Guy was in love with me but just scared to take on a wife and two kids. But he never ever said he loved me. He left me. I could never leave someone that I loved. Once I “love”, I’m in. I’m committed. I’m with you. I’ll stand by you. I might not have the best judgement of others at times, but I’m sure of the way I love and the commitment I’m capable of giving.
I guess that’s what I want…I want a man that loves the way that I love. That’s committed the way that I am committed. Everything else can be negotiated.
This is an entry I wrote over 2 years ago now but it never made it to the blog. At this point in my life, I was single after a really difficult break up (post divorce). I’m happy to say that “Guy” aka Mr. Wilson has squashed all of my fears and continues to be the most incredible, patient, hardworking, loving partner I could have hoped for. However, this mind game I was going through – the trust issues my first marriage created – they’re all very present in this conversation I was having with myself and I know it’s something most women can relate to. Divorce – what an annoying struggle to work out! But you’ll work it out. Keep at it.
Guy came back. What!? Yes, you heard me.
My recent posts have talked about Guy and heartbreak. Our relationship was so good and it was such a devastating breakup. I spent the last four months convincing myself to move on because he wasn’t coming back. I’d think about movies like Wicker Park (EPIC ending. This is a must see.) where they make their way back to each other in the end, or even freaking Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth and how they eventually worked things out. Could I be so lucky? I knew he loved me; it was a possibility. But my life isn’t a movie or a fairytale. He’s actively choosing to be apart from me. Like they say in “He’s Just Not That Into You”, you’re not the exception. You’re the rule.
So for four months, every morning started with a reminder – “He is gone. Don’t think about it. You’re not the exception.”
And then one day, after months of rejection, he came back.
He came back apologizing, kissing and complimenting, making amends and promises, loving and saying he will never leave – that he’s here to stay. It’s been a surreal experience to say the least. I’m still a little lost in it all. I can’t help but wonder what changed? For so long, he said no. Why yes, now? Is he going to change his mind later? I want to get wrapped up in the moment and let myself fall without hesitation. I can’t do it though. I’m trying to figure out if this is temporary or just a new reality, post-divorce.
Pre-divorce, I assumed and fully believed that exHusband would be there forever. We said i do, we had babies together, and he said he loved me. But one day, he changed his mind. He changed his mind and I faced the most reality altering, life shattering experience I might ever go through. With that, I learned that human beings have their limits. We each can handle only a certain amount of stress and unhappiness before we break and we start hurting other people. Exhusband had a low threshold. I think I’ve come close to my own personal limitations. What are Guy’s limits? I think only time will tell and provide the confidence I’m looking for.
Luckily, this time around I’ve had a better idea of what qualities are important to me in a marriage.
Loyalty, honesty, patience.
Exhusband changed his mind because all along the way he lacked loyalty, honesty, and patience. He lied, kept secrets, cheated, lost his patience, and he broke me. Most of all, he never loved me. I see that now, because no one has loved me the way that Guy does. No one.
Guy is loyal. Guy is honest. Guy is patient. He puts me first. He respects me. He needs me. He doesn’t keep secrets; he doesn’t do anything that he would feel he should hide. Guy loves GOD! Holy cow. Guy is so good and I don’t have to dig to find his good parts. They’re so apparent.
Our thanksgiving was quiet as our daughters were out of town. But it gave us plenty of time to consider all that we are thankful for. We’re thankful for our families, our jobs, our safe homes, and our working cars. We’re grateful for our comfy beds, good health, a 401K, and a number of temporal things. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints, we have a special knowledge of the plan of happiness. As I consider the endless list of blessings for which I am thankful, I know who it is that I am thankful to – Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven. Because of them, I have an abundant life. Instead of breaking under the weight of stress and heartache, I am strengthened by his generous power. And instead of getting beaten down by difficult life circumstances, emotional turmoil, or all of the other troubling things in this world, I have joy.
Because of him. Death has no sting, the grave has no victory. We can start again and again and again because of him. Guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief, despair becomes hope; because of him we have second chances, clean slates, and new beginnings. There is no such thing as the end because of him.
We all face trials in this life, ranging from annoying to utterly unbearable. But because of Jesus Christ’s atonement, our trials have a purpose and our broken hearts can be mended.
Imagine any difficult trial you’ve ever faced in your life. When I imagine the toughest situations I’ve faced and the saddest feelings I’ve felt, I’m so grateful that I could turn to the Savior for help. I imagine what those trials would have been like having no one to turn to and I shudder at the thought.
My knowledge of the gospel, of God’s plan for his children, of his power and infinite wisdom, and the gift of the atonement are so utterly freeing that I’m almost dangerously unafraid. I’m so confident that the Lord will provide a way for me that I take more steps into the darkness and the unknown than I perhaps should. My testimony gives me courage to face life’s inevitable trials. And my testimony was given to me by a loving God who has made himself present in my life time and time again. Including times when I did nothing to deserve his help.
I am so grateful – not only for all of the things the Lord does for me – but for the simple fact that I know it was Him. I know he is there.But there are so many people in this world who do not know God.
President Monson said this: “Gratitude is a divine principle. Do we remember to give thanks for the blessing we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel gods love. Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful. If we will but pause and contemplate our blessings, we can lift ourselves and others as well. When we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. May we ever reflect our gratitude for our lord and savior Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray, he taught us how to live, he taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. Let us follow him. Let us emulate his example. Let us obey his words. By so doing, we give to him the divine gift of gratitude.”
President Monson tells us that with gratitude, we may have the following blessings:
- Gratitude helps us to recognize the many things we already have (“gratitude turns what we have into enough.”)
- Gratitude unlocks the doors of heaven, enabling us to receive more blessings.
- Having gratitude helps us feel God’s love (for ourselves and for others).
- Having gratitude helps us lift ourselves.
- Having gratitude helps us to lift others.
Then President Monson says let us reflect our gratitude to the lord by following him – by obeying his word – by trusting his example.
Our gratitude should compel us to ACT. To follow the lord, to obey his word, to live his commandments – that is our “Thank You” to the Lord. Is it enough to just KNOW of Christ and his atonement and be grateful? Certainly it isn’t.
If I were to see someone hungry and starving, knowing that just down the street there was a free food truck, I would tell them about the truck. I know the way to fill their belly. It is the same with the gospel.
Having experienced difficult trials in my own life and finding relief through the atonement, I want people struggling with grief and heartache to know where they too can find relief.
We can express our gratitude to the Savior by sharing his love and message with others. Saying “THANK YOU GOD” by helping more of his children find peace through his gifts. Missionary work is hard and vulnerable. We’re taking something so precious to us, sharing it with others, and hoping they don’t laugh at us. I admire missionaries who knock on doors to share the gospel knowing that they’ll be mocked from time to time. Knowing that their are broadway plays, movies, and tv shows that make jokes about the work they’re doing. As regular men and women in street clothes, it can be challenging finding moments to intentionally share the gospel with others. We aren’t walking up to strangers and asking if they’d like to hear a message. We’re opening up our hearts to people that we interact with regularly, people who we want to be accepted by, people who we care about. So even though we know how good and real and powerful and life changing the gospel is, it’s still scary to share with others.
I went to high school with a handful of other Mormon kids. We were definitely the minority. But in Utah, I know only a few people here who aren’t members of the church. Opportunities for introducing the gospel to people are pretty infrequent where we live. A majority of our fellowshipping has to do with mending and strengthening relationships with our friends and members of the church who’ve been hurt by others. We’re building a new culture that is loving and patient with people that are different than what we are used to. We’re striving to see others through Christ’s eyes, to love them as he does, and to share with them our testimonies and His spirit. Forget all of the what-if’s and reasons why you should just keep to yourself – and find ways to spread the light of Christ. If we can put aside our own limitations and remember that God has none, we can go forward sharing the gospel knowing that HE will do what needs to be done when we offer ourselves as tools in his hands.
If you’re nervous about putting yourself out there like I am, you can invite the spirit into your conversations and relationships with others without blatantly putting people on the spot with awkward invitations and giftings of the book of mormon – though there are definitely great times to do these things as well.
1. Prepare for opportunities. The Lord can better use you to further his work if you know a thing or two about the gospel, the scriptures, current doctrine, etc.
2. Pray for opportunities and pray to recognize your opportunities.
3. Share your good news. If you’ve recognized a blessing from the Lord, share it with others and give credit where credit is due.
4. Do not censor yourself. If you have a spiritual thought in conversation, share it. Your friends know you’re LDS so if you’re talking about a problem they’re having and a spiritual solution comes to mind, share it. Don’t push it away because of fear.
5. Social Media. Share the good. Avoid arguments and conversations that lead to contention. In marketing, we always advice our clients not to cut down their competition. It forces their customers to lose trust in the competitor as well as our client. Avoid talking negatively about others and focus on the good aspects of your product. The same goes for the Gospel! Don’t put down other peoples faith or beliefs. Promote what your faith does well, instead.
6. Set an extraordinary example. Serve your neighbors. Be kind. Be patient. Be forgiving. Go out of your way to serve others and be a friend. These are Christ-like qualities that our communities desperately need.
7. Share food for thought. There is a house in a neighborhood near ours that writes uplifting quotes on their living room window. Everyone that drives on that road reads her window whether they want to or not!
8. Keep a spiritual pinterest board. Your followers will automatically see the things you pin.
9. Keep an web journal/blog. Sharing our thoughts online is much less scary than face-to-face. Just remember to be kind, respectful, and aware of the fact that many people will disagree with you and that is okay.
10. Participate in the community. If you don’t get out and into the world, no one is going to hear your message or see your example.
11. Teach your children. This is the most important thing we can do for future generations.
12. Invite friends over for Christmas activities like reading holiday stories and cookie decorating.
13. Sneak in links to LDS.org. (This is my own personal goal. When I write content for other websites, I try to use resources that promote wholesome living and faith based content. Shhhhh don’t tell on me!)
14. Read your scriptures on the plane. The few times I’ve tried this, I’ve always been asked questions by my seat mates. It’s a good way to open the door to questions without being the one to start the conversation.
15. The Church’s 12 Step program. If you know of anyone stuck in addiction, this is a great program created by the church. They have a separate support group for spouses affected by loved ones in addiction. I recommend it in my list of Good Reads.
I’m grateful for the opportunity the Lord has given me to know his love and to recognize his hand in my life. It is a gift so remarkable, so freeing, and so powerful that I wish everyone could know Him. As I continue to build my relationship with our Father in Heaven, I hope to find opportunities for others to know Him as well and pray that I’ll recognize those searching for something to make themselves whole and have the courage to share my experiences with them.
That’s me, Paige Wilson.
I became a single mother of 2 little girls at the age of 26 after my first marriage failed miserably. After doing it on my own for a bit, I wound up married to the best partner ever. While I’m still working through the broken parts of my self-worth and abilities to trust, I’m finding out that life does go on after divorce – and sometimes (as in my case) it gets way better.