It’s detailed and courageous, although she doesn’t spend much time ranting about her ex or everything she did for him. They had a good sex life, even though he cheated on her regularly (which she found out more about as time went on).
She came to realize that her ex could not give her the emotional connection she craved (and deserved) due to his NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). “The lies, stains and strains built until it became the straw the broke the camel’s back.”
Alex writes about how the relationship is similar to that of an experiment with rats: they paw a lever and get fed--sometimes. In a marriage with someone with NPD, she felt like she would paw the lever and get nurtured often enough to stay; but regularly got nothing. But she kept coming back for more. Until she didn’t.
In her prologue she writes: “My stumbles, tumbles, and triumphs after leaving an over 40 year marriage haven’t all been on the clear road to recovery. I’ve taken side trips, had flings, dated, danced, laughed, cried and come to realize there is more to love than surviving it. The chapters that follow are gritty, raw and explicit. Not to shock or titillate you, but if I broke blind dates or first nights or the jolt of venturing out on your own to you gently, it would lack honesty for those of you who will identify with me. And too many of you will. Along this journey I’ve come to realize though I was more vulnerable than I believed, I was stronger than I ever imagined. I’ve also learned I’m not alone. Neither are you.”
Alex shares good dating tips she learned that are healthy and offer good self-care. She calls them play mates and play dates. At the play date stage you want to make friends; go out to dinner, hike, and do fun things together. It’s not about relationship dynamics, but to find out if you can be great friends. Leave out sex during this time. Tell the date you’re fun and worth the wait. In the play mate stage you get intimate. You stop seeing other play dates. You’ll know soon if you’re meant to move to the third stage: life partner or soul mate, or not. If not, break up gently. Don’t string anyone along. Be real.
Here’s some information about narcissistic personality disorder: People with NPD were generally traumatized in childhood and the coping skills they created to endure it show up in their adult life.
NPD is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy. Self importance; fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love; believes that s/he is “special” and unique; requires excessive admiration; has a sense of entitlement; is interpersonally exploitative; envious of others or believes others are envious of him/her; shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Given that we have many brilliant, successful people around the Bay Area and in Silicon Valley, how do you differentiate that from NPD? I’d say look for the lack of empathy, being interpersonally exploitative, and entitlement.
If you or your partner has NPD, get help; either individually or as a couple.
I recommend “Leaving You for Me” if you have any questions about what’s going on in your relationship: lies (whether by omission or commission), raging, turning issues around that you bring up so now it’s something that you did wrong, or it's your fault, as well as the items listed above about NPD. You’ll laugh, perhaps cry, and see what you relate to. You are not alone.