It’s Narcissist Friday!
Closely related to the idea of isolating, where the narcissist keeps his/her victim away from supportive people and relationships, is what I will call “barricading.”
I have heard from several people that they felt trapped in the narcissistic relationship. When it finally became time to leave, they realized that the money, the car, and the house were all in his name. Sometimes those who owned these things in the beginning of the relationship found themselves without at the end. Her house or car was sold because it wasn’t good enough. But her name never quite got on the house they bought with the sale. The bank account, into which her paycheck is cashed, doesn’t have her name on it. The credit card has her name on it, but it is legally his account alone. And, to save money, they use just one car—the one he takes to work.
Sometimes the plot is a little different. The house is still in her name, but so are the multiple mortgages. The credit card is shared, but maxxed out. She has a car, but the payments are too high for her to handle on her own.
The effect of this manipulation is to barricade the victim in the relationship. I have had several people tell me that they can’t afford to get out because the shared debt (on expenses only he understands) is too high. Or that she doesn’t know how she would support herself apart from “his” money. Or, to turn the tables, he can’t get out of the relationship because his debts (from her spending) would ruin his business and he would lose everything. So these victims feel trapped, locked into dependence on the narcissist or stuck by the financial manipulation.
Perhaps even more tragic, in my mind, are those who cut short their education because the narcissist said a degree wasn’t needed. Some churches support this idea for women. “After all, aren’t most college co-eds just after the MRS degree?” Since the only real value for a woman, in these churches, is to stay home and care for children, then any provision for her to survive outside the relationship would be somehow evil. Narcissists find great support in these churches.
So here’s a common scenario (one I have heard many times; so, if you think I am telling your story, just know that it is the story of many others as well): She meets the narcissist in college and falls in love. She becomes pregnant and leaves college to move in with him somewhere far from her family. Soon they are married and her bank account is brought into his. She may work after the baby is born and that money goes into the same account. Pretty soon there are two babies and she can’t work. Suddenly the narcissist is no longer the loving husband and father. Now he is angry and blames her for his problems. If she didn’t spend so much, he says. If she would just be a better wife. And it goes downhill from there.
What is she supposed to do? Well, she can tough it out and leave, raise the kids on her own as a single, working mother. She can stay for the sake of the kids and endure until they are gone. She can try to get a reasonable settlement from him in court, but that often doesn’t happen. She can “drink the kool-aid” and believe that she is just suffering for her faith. She really doesn’t have many good choices.
I know that sometimes I sound like Johnny-one-note, but you have to find ways to get yourself healthy. An emotionally and physically healthy person sees many more options than someone who is depressed and weakened. Start exercising and eating right. Start tucking away small amounts of money for yourself. Find ways to meet new people and make new friends. All of these may be hard, but all are necessary.
And listen: if you are at the beginning of your relationship, with anyone, don’t let this happen. Your degree may be better than a life insurance policy on him. You have every right and reason to have your name on your bank accounts. Don’t let him make you sign for any debt you don’t understand. Hold your ground and keep your identity.
One more thing: if you see your daughter moving into a relationship with a narcissist, start a bank account for her. You own it, but have it ready when she needs it. Don’t tell her about it or she will tell him. This is not faithless on your part. You can hope and pray that the relationship works and you can bless the family with a wonderful gift in the future. But it will be better to put it into an account for her than it would be to keep helping the narcissist with his foolish and self-centered money decisions.
Every situation is different. Help me out here. How were you barricaded and what did you do to overcome it? Maybe you haven’t yet figured out a way to get out of the cage and others can help. Share your story on barricading.