I think my Narcissist is a special breed of Narcissist, although I do not have a ton of experience with them so I can’t say for sure. He experienced childhood abuse from his step-father, he is a military veteran, he suffers from PTSD, he has had many traumatic brain injuries during his time in the service, and his transition out of the military brought out his narcissism and OCD like I never thought possible. So I can’t really tell you which of these issues led to this particular situation or the demise of our marriage overall, however I think it paints an interesting picture into the life I was living with this man.
As I have started communicating “what was wrong” with my marriage to my therapist and close friends and family I keep going back to “The Christmas Tree Incident” as the straw that broke this camel’s back. You see, Christmas was always my most favorite time of year – I used to love decorating, baking, buying gifts, sending Christmas cards, and watching every Christmas movie I could get my hands on. For me it reminded me of childhood wonder, of time to be with loved ones, of all things good. Slowly, over the years with my Narcissist all of the fun and happy and joyous things were sucked from my life one by one… and it all sort of smacked me in the face during our last Christmas together.
The Narcissist and I had never had a real Christmas tree together. During the years that we lived over seas we had a fake tree, and since we moved back to the US we had been living in a small in-law apartment at my parent’s house and did not have the space for a tree. This year, we lived in a new townhouse and actually had the space to get a tree. I was excited that we could have a “real” Christmas this year and put up all the decorations and really get into the holiday spirit.
Sometime after Thanksgiving we began thinking about a Christmas tree. The Narcissist had started doing research on the best Christmas trees and decided that he really wanted to get a Douglas Fir tree. His rationale was that Douglas Fir trees grow on the West Coast of the US (which is where he grew up) therefor they were far better than any tree that was native to the East Coast (which was where he currently lived.) He called me during my lunch break at work one day and began to explain to me all of the research that he had done and what our options were for getting a Christmas tree. He had found a Christmas tree farm that we could drive to and cut down our own Douglas Fir tree, it was a 2 hour drive from our house, and we could go on Saturday. As I talked this option through with him and explained that it would literally take up our entire day on Saturday, he had a dramatic realization: “How will we get the tree home?!?!?”
You see the Narcissist drove a modified, gorgeous, white Jeep Wrangler and there was no way in hell he was going to strap a Christmas Tree to the top of it. It could scratch the paint, it would leave sap on the Jeep which would damage the paint forever… he was very seriously worked up about the entire thought of this. (The funny part is that the Jeep was leased and we were turning it back into the dealership in 1.5 years!) So I offered up my vehicle to carry the Christmas tree, because honestly I didn’t really care if it got a few scratches or some sap on the roof.. again leased vehicle!
The Narcissist opened up to the idea of putting the Christmas tree on the roof of my vehicle, but then started to get worked up about having it on there for the 2 hour drive home from the tree farm… apparently that would give the sap time to “set-in.” From there the Narcissist spent hours researching Christmas tree farms that would ship you a freshly cut Christmas Tree. He actually found an option that would do this, but it would cost about $300 to get a Christmas tree! Somehow I was finally able to convince the Narcissist that the best way that we could get a Christmas tree was to drive to the local Home Depot, pick up a tree, and put it on the top of my vehicle for the 10 minute car ride back to our house. First, the Narcissist called the Home Depot to make sure that they had Douglas Fir trees on the lot, and spent a good 10 minutes torturing the poor store worker with questions about the quality of the trees. Then he decided that the only way we could go through with this plan was to wrap the Christmas tree in a tarp before it went onto the roof of my car.
We got to the Home Depot and spent a good 45 minutes looking at every single Douglas Fir tree that they had and finding the very best tree. The very best tree turned out to also be the most expensive one that they had… surprise, surprise. The Narcissist closely watched and offered his expertise while the workers cut the tree stump and wrapped the tree in the netting. Then we had to also buy the most elaborate tree stand, a piece of plywood to protect the hard wood floors, and Miracle Grow Christmas Tree Food.. and of course, a giant blue painter’s tarp to protect my vehicle from the evil of pine tree sap.
We made it back to the house with the Christmas tree and worked out a very detailed strategy to get the tree into the house without getting pine needles everywhere. Then we setup the tree and got it into position. Once the tree was up and on display, the Narcissist realized that there was a branch with “dead needles” on it. He insisted that these needles were going to die and fall off the tree and make a mess of the house. From my perspective the needles were a little dry on that branch, but not dead – and we could just turn that area to the back of the tree… but not the Narcissist. He immediately grabbed a pair of scissors and started butchering our Christmas tree. After he had satisfied the need to remove any branches that had any dead needles on them, we literally had a giant hole in the bottom of our Christmas tree, and the process of cutting off branches left a ton of pine needles all over the house.
I was busy vacuuming up the pine needles when the Narcissist decided that he needed to go take my car through the touch-less car wash (at 11:00 pm none-the-less) to ensure that none of the sap got through the tarp and onto the roof of my vehicle. While he was at the car wash with my vehicle and I was on my hands and knees cleaning up pine needles, I looked at our Christmas tree with the giant hole and reflected back on the experience of the evening. I literally felt like every last bit of fun, spontaneity, and joy had been sucked from the room, sucked from Christmas, and sucked from my life.
I no longer had the heart to do Christmas and I avoided it altogether by claiming I was too tired, too stressed, too depressed to get into the Christmas spirit. That Christmas tree sat in our living room, un-decorated until New Year’s Day when we wrapped it up in the blue tarp, walked it out of our house and threw it into the dumpster.