In my last post I introduced the abusive person as maintaining a good guy/bad guy persona commonly compared to Jekyll/Hyde. Due to the length of the post I had to stop before elaborating on the complication of referring to Dr. Jekyll as the “good apple” and ended with this question: Is Dr. Jekyll really the good guy?
I believe the basis for all behavior can be summed up in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” But just as I heard in the sermon I sat through this morning, this brings up the question of unbelievers and the “good” they do. My purpose in focusing on this topic is not to delve into the theology of this, but to speak about behavior that is generally universally recognized as good or bad.
The complication that arises when referring to Jekyll as the nice guy or good guy is the assumption that is made. The assertion is that Jekyll is a fundamentally good person who genuinely wants to do good things and be kind to others. The problem is, Jekyll is actually a manipulation tactic. It is an attempt to gain or maintain control by keeping the victim bound to them by hope. Hope that the person that they met and fell in love with is still really in there somewhere or that they truly do want to be kind and things are going to get better.
Hope is a powerful emotion. Hope is also preyed upon by narcissists. I remember watching a YouTube video of a woman who recorded several monologues discussing her experience with a narcissistic significant other. In her research of this personality disorder, she asked a narcissist the why behind this particular behavior. His answer was chilling. “Because hope dies last.”
So many women stay, as I did, and try harder and persevere because of Jekyll. Often when Jekyll is present he is not just nice but charming, sweet, understanding and affectionate. What you would always hope for in a spouse. When this side is present, the victim not only basks in their love but is willing to do whatever it takes to keep this side around for as long as they can. The narcissist knows this and their victim is back on their hook again, being strung along until the next cycle.
As such, the good guy persona, known as Jekyll, is just another tool in the arsenal of the narcissistic abuser. And Hyde, when he appears, is not the abusers responsibility but your fault because “if you just hadn’t done or said such-and-such I wouldn’t have….”(you fill in the blank). This is how the abuser can also live with this flip-flopping behavior because they really believe they would always be Jekyll if you just hadn’t provoked them. You also begin to believe this yourself and either walk on eggshells to keep Jekyll around or bend over backwards to make Hyde go away.
Now this brings another questions and one that I quite frankly don’t know the answer to. I could also see myself being challenged on this point. The question is this: Is all the good behavior the narcissist exhibits a farce? Is it all disingenuous and for their own ultimate good? I don’t know.
I can say this with certainty however. Much of their “good” behavior; a lot more than we generally think is with their own self interest in mind. Can we tell what is genuine and what is manipulation? Honestly, I do not believe so. There are plenty of psychologists out there that assert that the narcissist is incapable of genuine or authentic love and completely devoid of empathy. I am not sure I am willing to go this far. I think that goes deeper into the motives of a person and who but God can know our true motives. I know that I am not perfectly accurate in the assessment of my own motives in every action I take.
The takeaway is this. Jekyll or Hyde, the narcissist is just that: a narcissist. Their end goal is veneration and they will use this nice guy persona to achieve the worship they so desire and to keep their source (another term in the narcissistic discussion) devoted to them. Do not be fooled. I mentioned in my last post the tennis match quality of the emails from my former spouse. He could be “so nice” in his communication when there was something to be gained or he felt as though things were going his way. The moment he realized however that his plan was not working Hyde came out en force.
Here is an example of the purposeful implementation of Jekyll as highlighted in this article.
I was not on Facebook prior to the launch of this blog (with the exception of a page my former husband set up for me about 7 years ago and I used for about 2 months before discarding. I think I had 34 “friends” and that was only because he took it upon himself to send out friend requests for me.) I was recently informed by friends and family members of a post made by my former husband that insinuated that the divorce had been a result of unfaithfulness on my part. People came out of the wood work wanting to know what on earth had happened. My family was incensed and ready to spring into action. Cooler heads prevailed and a carefully crafted and measured response was posted by my father on my sisters FB page to only those to whom it would be pertinent. Upon seeing this, my former husband sent a polite request to my sister to take the post down, citing a follow-up post in which he “recanted” what he said (it was really just a “sorry for airing my dirty laundry in public” post). My sister felt his request to be reasonable and polite so she complied. She regretted this decision however upon reading the communication he had with me the very same day:
I am sorry for my knee-jerk reaction last night. I long-ago made a commitment that I would not lower myself down to your level in your pragmatic approach to getting everything you could out of this divorce. You have done everything possible to push my buttons and to hurt me personally, while taking responsibility for nothing especially in writing. It just goes to show your true nature and character. With that being said, I will sign your paperwork whether you choose to honor my request or not. I will keep myself above you and your family’s antics.
The “nice guy” can easily be utilized when something is wanted and this is one of those times that it is clear that Jekyll is nothing more than a tool in the box.
This is important because it is not always so obvious. One of the things I struggled with was feeling like I was assuming the worst and “being mean” (by refusing to talk to him on the phone or returning the “kindness”) when he was so nice. Jekyll was my Kryptonite. When my former husband turned on the Jekyll, I was easily fooled and easily won back.
Here is what you should be looking at: you can listen to what they say but what direction are their feet pointing? (In the words of my father). Does what they say and what they do match? Is it consistent? No one is nice all the time but is he nice when he wants something or is he nice when he is just trying to win you over? Does he flip-flop between these two personalities and leave you reeling? If you are answering yes to these questions, chances are the nice guy is just Dr. Jekyll.
It took a lot of distance and a lot of time and a lot of detoxing from him before I was finally able to truly see this for myself and it is still a work in progress. This is an area you will need either a discerning friend, family member or counselor to sit down with you and help you see Dr. Jekyll and his acts of kindness for what they really are. I am not sure you will be able to do it on your own and there is no shame in that. I certainly could not and I still need help with this from time to time. You have been carefully and methodically brain-washed.
I would not have come to the place where I could start identifying it without these critical elements: distance, no communication (outside of email), and outside counsel. After I address the last part about Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde, the following article will be called The No Contact Rule. This was the key for me to come to the place where I could accurately identify what was happening to me. I consider it to be the cardinal rule.
Up next…. The controlling manipulative aspect of Jekyll/Hyde.