He projected his anger & contempt onto me

“Essentially, all narcissists tell on themselves.”

~ Meredith Miller, innerintegration.com

It’s hard not to view projections as reality. Photo source: araSSS via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

I’m still savoring the insights from a video I watched earlier this week. It talks about how narcissists inadvertently reveal details about themselves through what they are projecting onto you.

The one thing that my husband kept saying over and over and over after his affair came to light was, “I thought you were done with me.”

Yep. He mistook my as-yet-undiagnosed clinical depression for deliberate withdrawal from him in the marriage.

That’s actually understandable for someone who’s not a mental health professional, if not for the fact of how he chose to deal with his perceptions and his feelings. He chose to let me sink or swim on my own while he toddled off for snuggle time with a stray twat.

The new insight for me says: He was probably thinking to myself, “I’m so done with my wife,” but he couldn’t face such a confrontational and angry thought. So he projected it onto me.

That makes SO MUCH SENSE.

It also makes sense when applied to that period years earlier when I was pregnant with C. and very sick, and I was confined to bed for about six weeks while he was working far away and only coming home on weekends. When he came home, he was often grumpy and abrupt and snippy with me. He says I dumped on him as soon as he came in the door. Maybe that’s true. But maybe it’s also true that he was wanting to lean on me emotionally like he always had, and he was feeling pissy that I couldn’t prop him up emotionally as I had in the past. It would have been an unpleasantly selfish thought, and I bet he couldn’t face that. So he projected that “need to dump” onto me.

A different caution in the Meredith Miller video that I watched is to be careful not to project your own good qualities — empathy, generosity, honesty — on the other person. We should try to see what’s actually there, not what we want to be there.

Oh, that’s a hard one. Especially when my husband is trying so hard to portray himself as a good guy.

Lesson of the day: Own your own reality.

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