If Only Chickens Could Fly…

“If only.” Now there is some loaded words right there, I don’t care who y’are. (Ahem. Pardon me, I was just briefly taken over by my inner hick.) Those words have lots of power. The problem is, none of that power is good.

“If only I can get him to see that….” “If only he would understand that…” “If only we could communicate about…” With narcissists, the ways to complete those sentences, or mix them into new ones, is endless. This is because a narcissist is rarely BLATANTLY useless at something, or OBVIOUSLY permanently defective. From where his partner sits, it looks like they’re so close to making it work. It’s not like wishing pigs could fly, which is so clearly and ridiculously impossible. It feels more like wanting chickens to fly — they’re just so CLOSE to flying sometimes, like when they jump off a perch and flap their wings. It feels like narcissists start out a day or an hour with such promise, and then it collapses into disappointment and pain because of… something. What is it? Well, no doubt it would help, and be better, if only… If only. With a narcissist, it always seems like there’s still… hope.

Narcissists LOVE creating this feeling in their partner, because it keeps her sucked in. It ALSO keeps her believing that if SHE makes some or another change, or if SHE cobbles together a workable plan (because SHE’S the one feeling like there’s a problem), they’ll be a fabulous success as a couple. They’ll be happy, relaxed, and the model of bonding and intimacy. If only. If only we can fix this one part, things would be awesome.

“If only” is a very common and not necessarily unhealthy place for our heads to go. It turns into a problem when, with narcissists, we believe we can actually create, or wait out, or “find” those conditions that resolve the “if only” deficit. We continue struggling. Seeking. Compromising. For something that will never, ever come together, because we’re trying to play Patty-Cake with an armless puppet — he doesn’t have the equipment to bond, or be fair, or be a good guy. He couldn’t if he tried. This sounds harsh, I know, but, if only it weren’t true…

Here’s one that works: If only he weren’t a narcissist, you’d stand a chance as a couple.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “If Only Chickens Could Fly…

  1. Case

    Classic. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us can not. It’s so reassuring to know I am not alone. My ex N repeatedly said “I’m not the one with the problem, you are the one that has the problem”, so I constantly struggled to be “ok” with the status quo. Daily, I would try a new attitude or new response to his craziness. I constantly went back and tried to explain why his actions and decisions hurt me. I got the same explanation every time…”I’m not doing anything wrong, you are the one that has the issue. I am fine with the way things are. You are too controlling and you are too sensitive. We wouldn’t fight if you wouldn’t start these issues. There would never be any problems if you didn’t get so mad all the time. ” I was convinced that every issue was my fault and it was my mission to “fix” me. My self-esteem plummeted and my self-doubt grew every day. Now I see his manipulative, empty words for what they are. After 7 years of this abuse, I am finally on my own but it is a daily struggle. I always remember your quote…”the pain of living without him is nothing compared to the pain of trying to live with him”. Truer words have never been spoken and they bring me comfort every day.

  2. Jan

    Alex,
    I love your articles. You always hit the nail on the head. It’s been months now since the Narc walked out of my life without so much as a word. He went straight into the arms of his ex-wife #1, with whom he had been having an affair with for two months (that I know of).
    “If only…” were words I became quite familiar with. I was so sure that he would eventually see the light, how wonderful I was, how good we were together, how I really was the love of his life as he told me so many time.
    Alas…disgarding me like yesterday’s gabage was the worst day of my life and the best thing that could ever happen to me.
    Keep writing and keep bringing a smile to the faces of so many women who are in desparate need of a lift. Keep hope alive.

  3. Alex, thank you SO MUCH! I like your humor and the way you put your story in words. I’m stuck in this childhood fantasy in which I wish the chicken could fly. I know he won’t but one does wonder “what if?” – as long as I don’t start hoping I should be fine ;;)

  4. You’re AMAZING Alex!! Thanks for making me smile!!

  5. alexandra

    Sad that these Ns can cause so much havoc. Does this “illness” need to be given more publicity?

  6. Does it need more publicity? Oh, you bet it does. For two reasons:
    1. Knowledge is power for all those in the Army.
    2. Narcissists sound so delicious on paper, that by hearing about them more people will be inspired to get into relationships with them and keep them away from the rest of us.

  7. Christine

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh! If only,,,! Yes, I’ve been there. So. Many. Times.
    Dear God, let me have learned! I think I’m ruined for any more relationships, because I’ve become so sensitized to narc behavior, I want to draw blood when I’m around men (they’re not all narcs, of course, but men have a way of being, in general, somewhat more self-serving?). Like I said, I think I’m ruined

  8. Alison

    I got left by my N two years ago, after 13 years of hell, emotional, verbal and physical abuse, cheating, lying b/s. He left me for a girl he was seeing (during our relationship), poor thing was 27 at the time – 20 years younger than me. He’s still with her, they live in the house we built together, that I loved. She even has the same car as me – it’s an expensive car, not common at all, she got it last year. We have the same watch (that he bought us). She now dresses like me too, same hairstyle too. Him and I work at the same company still so I have to see him almost daily. They live down the road from me, about 2km, in ‘our’ house, in an area that I lived and grew up in. She’s from another town 150km away but I see her at ‘my shops’, in my stomping ground. Irked – YOU ARE DAMNED RIGHT. I got replaced (I’m lucky he found her – it freed me). He’s been to rehab (booze) since I left but it didn’t fix him. I keep on thinking about what he says to me “you didn’t want me when you had me, you always had a problem” or “you only had bad things to say about me”. Only now I have no problems, the problem went away – he’s someone else’s problem now. It is such a painful experience to go through, always trying (to make him happy, to stop him from screaming or hitting you, stop him drinking, begging him to stay, come home, ….). It is soul destroying. The pieces are hard to put back together, like a broken china cup, the cracks are still there. I’ve cried more tears than a person should, had more self-doubt than I believed possible. But hey, I made it, and I’m free – he has himself to live with – that is punishment enough in my books. She can have him, my house, the same car, I now have a life filled with quiet and peace – no-one ever calls me a whore or a bitch either. I haven’t yet dated anyone – not ready, I don’t trust my judgement yet – or maybe I’m just loving the moment and taking care of only myself for a change. There is life after leaving but the first steps are hard, they hurt. It still hurts, I wish I had a button that I could just push whenever I have those ‘I should have or maybe if” moments. I still hurt when I see him, he doesn’t go away. I take it one day at a time, think positive and act cold, hard and unforgiving whenever I see him, with as little interaction as possible. I believe that they can’t control themselves, that is why they try so very hard and relentlessly to control you – it’s easier. I wish every day that I had never met him. Thank you for your blog – I agree that smiling and laughing about things makes it easier. ps. he also tried on my undies – not so funny is it ?

  9. Craig

    Holy Chickenfluff!

    The ‘If Only’ and ‘So Close’ ring true with my wife. I have finally (after 11 years) reached the conclusion that, although we’re so close, we’ll never reach the finish line.

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