Narcissus... aka Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Narcissus... aka Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Listen for Lies Reading Narcissus... aka Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde 8 minutes Next Narcissists - Relationships As Transactions

One of the many things I just could not wrap my head around regarding my narcissist was how he was like two different people. It was like I was living out, in real life, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Who was this man, and why did he seem like two completely different people?

On the one hand, there was the much-beloved and admired Dr. Jekyll.

He was a locally well-respected professor with more publications than most of his peers. He researched praiseworthy topics, such as disparities among veterans, gender wage gaps, violence, gun-related deaths, PFAs and their impact on victims, etc. He was part of the Women’s Studies Department, and often taught classes based on feminist thought and theory. He spoke at panels regarding women’s challenges and obstacles in the workplace and immigration rights. 

Similarly, he was the beloved President of our Church. He would get up and give uplifting, community-building speeches. He would show up at ‘clean-up day’ to do lawncare and basic maintenance at the Church. He created complex financial charts and budgets to ‘help’ our struggling congregation. 

He was all that and more. And everyone told me how lucky I was to be with such a great, caring, community-focused man. 

When I first met him, he seemed like the most supportive and positive man ever – almost too good to be true (red flag). We agreed on almost every topic we discussed - politics, religion, values, beliefs, worldview, children, family, etc. He would hold me and kiss me. He would tell me I was wonderful and how proud he was of me. He listened to my hopes and dreams, and we built a shared vision of the future together….that was the first two months of our relationship.

But, after the first two months of our nearly six-year relationship, these compliments, snuggles, kisses, shared hopes and dreams, and good deeds got fewer and fewer. He became more critical of me and expected me to do more and more while he did less and less.

I noticed small things, like how he never did the little things to be kind to people in the Church, but would do the more public things that would merit his picture being in the local paper or on our Church’s social media page.

And his financial ‘contributions’ at the Church almost always were geared at helping his first wife, Prissy, who was one of two paid employees at the Church, so that her income would increase and his child support obligations would decrease. If he did a minor good deed for me (i.e., read a book to one of my kids so I could take a shower), he would expect me to watch his kids for the next two days and pay for all of their needs. In fact, four years into our relationship, I had taken his kids on 5-6 big vacations and dozens of trips to museums, amusement parks, and other fun activities, and paid for it all. I spend days playing games with them, doing art projects with them, running them to friends' houses, picking them up from camps, etc. All he had ever done for my two kids was read to them, twice, yet he acted like I owed him for these two reading sessions. 

I saw, over time, how behind closed doors, he was cruel, callous, and never really lived out the values he researched, taught, and preached about. 

He made hurtful comments about disabled people. For example, he did some research on disabled veterans, but when it came to me – a disabled veteran – he brushed off my health issues often taunting me about them. I have fibromyalgia. He called it “fibro-my-vagina” and tormented me every time a flare occurred. Little by little, as time went on, I saw more of the cruel, calculating, borderline-evil Mr. Hyde, and less and less of the gregarious and upstanding Dr. Jekyll. 

Furthermore, I noticed that his ‘good deeds’ ALWAYS netted him way more benefit than inconvenience. It was like he carefully and strategically calculated the payoff for each of his words and actions, and if the gain was very high for him and the effort very low, he would take action on it. If the gain was very high for someone else, but he would see little personal reward, he refused to do it. Eventually, the only time I ever saw Dr. Jekyll, the man I fell in love with, was 1) when he wanted something from me or 2) when I was ready to exit the relationship because I just could not take it anymore.

Once we moved into together and blended our families, more and more of his true personality stood out, and Mr. Hyde became a mainstay in our relationship, with Dr. Jekyll only making sporadic appearances, typically when I was just about to walk away from the relationship.

Mr. Hyde was incredibly mean and callous to his children, with his oldest son often calling him out for gaslighting and manipulating.

He tried to be cruel to my children but knew that was a line I would not let him cross and would result in me removing him from the house. I stood up for his children more times than I can count, but he still managed to find ways to be mean to them. A few times I tried to tell his children’s mother, Prissy, my concerns, but my narcissist had triangulated us so badly that she hated me and was looking for any small way to break up our relationship (in hindsight, I am very thankful that she was trying to end our relationship because it ended up saving my life - He is now her’s to manage no longer mine to babysit). 

Mr. Hyde’s drinking became so bad that he started to become physically abusive, too. It wasn’t until four years into our relationship that Mr. Hyde began to physically harm me – and most of the time it involved slamming my head into something. He was even arrested twice for abusing me.

I remember longing for Dr. Jekyll – the man who was everything I had ever wanted in a partner. I tried everything I could imagine to get Dr. Jekyll back – to make Mr. Hyde disappear. But the more I tried, the stronger Mr. Hyde became. By the end of our relationship, Dr. Jekyll was a faint memory – a distant hope of the life I wanted to live.

When I separated from my narcissist and entered into intense therapy, I told my therapist “It is like there are two people – one who is kind and wonderful and one who is evil and manipulative.”

She looked at me with empathy in her eyes. It was as if she had heard many of her clients describe the exact same phenomenon. She calmly said, “Ekho – they are the same person.” 

It was at that moment that I realized that Dr. Jekyll never really existed. He was a mask that Mr. Hyde put on to love-bomb me and would take out every once in a while to solidify my trauma-bond and to hoover me. The prospect of me living a happy and meaningful life with Dr. Jekyll was about as realistic as my second-grade fantasy of running off and getting married to Jordan Knight from the New Kids on the Block – except Jordan Knight is a real person. 

It is still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I fell in love with a mask – a phony. I was duped, manipulated, played, hoovered, and fooled. I spent five years trying to bring back the fake persona I fell in love with during the first two months of our relationship. 

Now that I am narcissist-free, I have a hard time seeing him at all as Dr. Jekyll. It is like the mask has slipped and now, when I shut my eyes, all I see is the evil Mr. Hyde.

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