I was married to Donald Trump…..
No, not literally. But yes, I was married to a version of him. Perhaps more cultured, more polished, smoother, less bombastic, more liberal, less bigoted. But in important ways, the same. Thin skinned, lacking impulse control, arrogant, weak, shame-filled, compulsive lying, entitled, lacking a moral compass and any connection to empathy, contrition, remorse (basic human “decency characteristics), bullying and predatory.
I am so saddened to write these words. But sadness is overtaken by need to share and warn that there are many of us out there. Many of us who have endured the dangerous, vicious, mind-numbing/crazy making, roller coaster of the personality disordered narcissist. And the pain is real (especially if you dare to call it out, reflect the truth, become an obstacle and heaven forbid, break away)…and so is the carnage.
Watching the Trump implosion over the last few weeks has been painful in many ways. The further destruction of civil discourse, the spewing of bigoted vitriol, the “normalizing” of misogynistic epithets etc. are all deeply disturbing. But it is the identification of the example of the all too familiar pattern of the extreme narcissist in the form of Donald Trump that is at its core, for me, so personally horrifying, excruciating and disturbing.
I was married to “it” for almost 20 years. In my case, I had no idea the dual life being lead by mr. ex. The full out charm offensive of the initial pursuit is intoxicating. Ever the smooth, charming, charismatic pursuer-like a heat seeking missile. Sitting on the pedestal created and basking in the welcome warm glow of being desired, it is impossible to reconcile the 180 degree turn to the intense/disproportionate anger, cruelty and systematic marginalizing and belittling that transpires once you either start to uncover that the emperor has no clothes or simply (and unavoidably and predictably) lessen in perceived value and worth.
He was a master at appearing the devoted family man, successful entrepreneur, engaged civic leader and “generous” philanthropist. But parallel to that “reality” was a dark, perverse, craven, shame filled world of compulsive lies, shady business dealings, sexual improprieties and predatory conquests….all under the guise of “self-soothing” and “compartmentalization”.
Once discovered and called out, the brutality, venomous wrath and all out need for destruction and annihilation is bone chillingly and horrifyingly real. The spell broken and the magical spin machine dismantled, you are the broken mirror to the shame filled, weak and bullying figure. And you must be silenced and destroyed-as you are now nothing more and nothing less than enemy #1- the clear and present danger.
Sadly, there are many of us “survivors” walking around. Numb, exhausted, drained, overwhelmed by the experience. If we are lucky, we have the internal fortitude and strength and external support and resources to get away. If there are children, you never really get away as the challenge of co-parenting with one who looks normal to the rest of the world but underneath you know has not changed (as the work needed to be done to make such fundamental change is impossible for the thin-skinned/weak/reality-truth challenged adult) and is still the narcissistic pathological beast. At best, you are compassionate to that injured, unhealthy, warped and tortured soul. At worst, you are overwhelmed and desirous of ceasing all contact at any cost. And so, for the sake of protecting the children and trying to maintain some form of dignity and grace, you play along. You put your best face forward and agonizingly, sometimes unwittingly, collaborate to create the facade of normalcy. But make no mistake, the pain, the cost and sometimes the danger of the reality of what is there is all too real.
America-you have a choice. In Donald Trump, you are seeing and experiencing some of the underbelly of the narcissistic personality disorder. Mine was too good an actor, and I was way too naive and desirous of being so completely desired to have seen through the facade. And now, yes, I am beyond blessed with three amazing children and a lifetime of transformational lessons for meaningful growth. But the wounds, the damage and the legacy of the narcissist run deep and long. You still have time to get out. You can make the choice to minimize the damage. You can still pivot and move away from the dark forces and painful reality of the narcissist. You can take action and not vote for Donald Trump on November 8th. You will have dodged a bullet. Altered the legacy. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for it.
by Helene Kramer
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