Let me begin by making clear that I do not like Donald Trump. Never have, never will. He has been on the scene my entire adult life, 30 plus years, and I was never impressed by his billionaire playboy persona. When he ran for president, I blew him off as another unfulfilled rich guy searching for more.
Yet here he is.
This post is not about him, though. It is about me, and people like me who, despite our dislike, have managed to get tangled in his narcissistic web. This tangling goes beyond Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is about boundaries, manipulation, and abuse.
Donald Trump is an abusive person. One need only read his angry tweets, watch his hate-filled rallies, and hear the insults he hurls at foes to know this. Yet it wasn’t until reading psychologist John Gartner’s take on Trump, in an article published by Salon, that I realized how the president’s malignant narcissism has damaged our collective American psyche. Whether you love him or hate him, Donald Trump is like an abusive, narcissistic husband and we, the American people, are the long-suffering wife.
The difference is one wife stays and enables the behavior, the other wife does what is necessary to survive while plotting her escape.
I understand not everyone will see it this way or agree. Some might lash out at me for saying so. I am opening up a can of worms here and I don’t care. Like a beaten, battered wife, I am saying enough. I am done allowing this man to manipulate and abuse me. I am setting boundaries.
My decision, in some ways my awakening, started with my oldest son. A Trump supporter, he challenged me to take one day off from posting negative articles and memes about the president on social media. I accepted his challenge and raised him a week. I am not so lacking in self-awareness that I don’t recognize my dislike of Trump is unhealthy.
On the same day of my son’s challenge, I read the article mentioned above and something clicked. For over three years, I have accused Trump supporters of being manipulated by this president. I have felt angry over the way they excuse and defend his poor behaviors. I have even felt sorry for them for not seeing how abusive he is, and speculated that something must be very wrong with them – perhaps racism, misogyny, internalized misogyny, low self-esteem, etc. – to allow this.
That day I realized something was wrong with me. I, too, was equally tangled in the narcissist’s web.
For three years, I have lived in a near-constant state of outrage over this man. Every day I wake up, vow not to post anything about him, then start scrolling through the news online and become so riled up, it’s as if I have no control. Copy, paste, post or share. I work, spend time with family and friends, read, exercise, do yoga, go for walks and hikes, watch Netflix, drink wine, but in between these things Trump is too much on my mind.
What horrible, outrageous thing did he do or say today? What lie did he tell? What dumb thing did he proclaim, then later deny, much in the way a husband, caught with lipstick on his collar, might try and convince his wife it was her lipstick, even though she never wears the stuff? I have felt an almost civic duty to show people, especially people that I love who support him, that they are wrong. He is fooling them. He doesn’t care.
I have allowed myself to be driven crazy by this man, to be consumed by everything he says and does in a psychologically unhealthy way. This is exactly what the malignant narcissist wants.
No more, though I do expect some withdrawal symptoms as time goes by, even some relapses. Such is the nature of unhealthy relationships when you seek to end them.