Narcissists are never really who they appear to be. My husband could easily play a new role with each and every person he interacted with. He had a way of being just who he needed to be to get someone to like him. He came off as a very positive, outgoing and confident personality when he needed to... but the truth was, he was completely empty inside. I don’t believe he knew who he was or had any of his own genuine thoughts or emotions. He seemed to go along with the emotions of others in order to fit in; to say whatever he thought someone wanted him to say, or at times even to “steal” emotions or thoughts from me and spit them back at me.
I remember one occasion when I decided to pick up his phone and look at his text messages... and although I knew my husband to be a chronic liar, was surprised by what I found. There were hundreds of text messages, as my husband would become extremely social when entering a manic phase, and as a narcissist, required the interaction and approval of others, so spent a lot of time seeking it out. I can remember that there was not one single truthful message sent. He lied to every single person he spoke to. He lied about little things, he lied about EVERYTHING! The most bizarre part, was that he told different lies to different people. He was able to read people in a way that prompted him to tell them what it was they would want to hear from him in order to gain their support, or respect, or even pity. For example, one message sent to friend A would say something like, “I’m having a bad day fighting with my wife because she thinks I’m cheating on her. I don’t know where she gets this stuff, she is just suspicious about everything.” He would then send a message to friend B stating, “my wife finally found out I’m cheating on her, it was bound to come out eventually.” In return, he would get whatever reaction he was seeking from each friend. Absolutely every aspect of his life shared with “friends” was falsified. I realized that there was really nobody who actually KNEW my husband... and that included myself. If he lied to everyone... about everything... how would I ever be able to trust him again? The answer was that I wouldn’t. Compulsive liars will always be just that, and it would be foolish to allow myself to trust him or to think that I could change him. From this point forward, all I could do was watch my back, be extremely vigilant, and be suspicious everything. I documented everything. I screenshotted messages, I saved emails, I journaled behaviors, and I kept track of the lies. I now don't know why. Why I would put myself through this. KNOWING about the lies didn't make them feel better. His behaviors didn't change simply because I caught him in lies. This was insanity. And little did I know, that while I put effort into preserving the truth...he was putting the same effort into planting the doubt that would prevent anyone from ever listening to it.
I felt so isolated...this had to be hell...and it was just for me. There wasn’t anyone else other than my children who had seen all his sides. Who would believe this stuff? He told who knows how many lies about me to probably everyone we knew. I felt uncomfortable around everyone... no longer knowing what they had heard about me or what they must think of me. But no matter how much he showed me that he had no loyalty to me... no matter how much he sacrificed MY good name just to save face... and no matter how much he mistreated me... I never considered outing him to anyone. I really wanted to help him. I spent a good amount of time documenting his every move, and used this information to learn his cycles, his triggers, and his personalities. I began to alter my behaviors to deescalate outbursts, in anticipation of manias, and to avoid specific cycles.
Unfortunately, this made it easy for me to also see his obvious motivations, lack of empathy, and conditions of love. I knew that I was completely alone in this. Because he was able to change his persona in front of others, even for long periods of time, the true nature of his illness would not be seen by anyone who wasn’t living it on a day to day basis. Part of me had hoped that if I kept enough records of his behaviors, a willing psychiatrist might be able to go through them and accurately diagnose him, and offer a treatment that would give me my life, and my husband, back. This suspicion, and monitoring, and fact checking, and watching, and waiting and documenting, absolutely consumed me. Did they just need to make sense to me? Because truthfully, there is no sense behind it. Did I think if I could pinpoint the exact start of this, I could find the way back to my "real" husband? Because I would later discover that this WAS my "real" husband. While my intentions might have been good, what I really did was invite his mental illness to start controlling ME as well, and this left me even more imprisoned by these disorders.