Three weeks ago…I truly believed my world had imploded.
The man I loved for a large portion of my adult life unilaterally decided that our relationship was over. He had made a decision to return to the life he left, as he said then, for me, 5 and a half years ago.
As I sat there, reeling from the news that the man I shared my life with, was building a future with, valued the booze he packed first as he quickly gathered his belongings over the next 18 hours more than me…a numbing panic washed over me. What would I do…where would I go…what the hell happened?
His exit wasn’t preceded by constant fighting. Aside from his two week absence to parts unknown, (An event I had, foolishly, become accustomed to with life shared with him.) I was dumbfounded: We had booked a cruise together, scheduled to leave, literally, the day after he decided to move out. He was helping me evaluate bids for repair on the rental property I owned. We went to several very expensive, romantic dinners. Aside from some marginal, almost imperceptible behavioral oddities…everything seemed ‘normal.’
Hell, even while he was gone on his ‘road trip’, he sent several texts assuring me of his love and that he was not leaving. It was the only communication I received from him during those two weeks. He went over and above to convince me his eventual plan was not his plan.
The night he returned, and told me he was leaving, I sat there, on the sofa, drinking more wine and more wine to try and dull the searing pain ripping my heart and soul apart. I sobbed non-stop, only to break up the sobs that wracked my body with bouts of vomiting because my nerves were on full-scale revolt.
I felt lost. I felt alone. I felt abandoned.
My world was literally in a shambles. He was removing belongs we accumulated together – artifacts of a life I now realize never fully existed. I was a stopgap measure he no longer needed. I was a source of adoration and support his Narcissistic mind and soul were incapable of producing on their own.
He pulled out of the parking lot of our apartment, and I sat there, hoping I would just die in my sleep – the pain was raw and all-consuming. The sense of loss was more than I could bear. I honestly wanted to fall asleep and just never wake up – there seemed to be nothing more for me to live for. I was worth so little that I didn’t warrant a discussion. I was so unimportant that I wasn’t worth the truth.
All I had done for us…for him…meant nothing. Five and a half years under the spell of a narcissist had convinced me, inexplicably, that, without him…I was truly nothing.
It was complete shell shock. No warning. No preamble. Literally ‘So, where have you been the past two weeks?’ ‘Uh…with my ex wife and kids, it was incredible. I’m leaving to go live with them.’ The man, who had spent 66 months convincing me that I was the only woman he ever loved…that he swore with everything he had would never leave me again, because life with me was far superior to life without me as he had truly seen both sides…the man who spent untold hours, over our years together, dissecting the hell life with his ex-wife had been – so much so he didn’t even want to maintain a relationship with his small children just to keep her out of his life…the man who said he loved me ‘Because you accept me for who I am.’ Just rolled out of my life.
The next few days were spent in a heartbreaking fog. I was so adrift, I couldn’t eat…could barely sleep, my only sustenance were cigarettes, water, and a few M & M’s. I sat and stared at the walls when I wasn’t sobbing as to the life I now lived that had a huge crater in it.
The next week got better – although much stranger. Without going into that detail, as it seems clear that there are still too many stories floating around that make some sense, have some truth…but still nothing concrete. His exit, based on that second week, had been much longer in the planning stages than a complete about-face that the wife he divorced and the kids he literally abandoned now were going to be front and center in his life. It appears several months went into planning his exit and setting himself up in a new life to jump into while leaving our life in ruins.
I began to realize that, with each passing day…certain things that had become my the twisted fabric of my daily life…weren’t missed. I was so accustomed to catering to his every whim in the hopes I wouldn’t be the target for his passive-aggressive digs…I no longer dreaded the drive home. His annoying alarm ceased waking me up at 4:30 so I would be the one to get up, prepare the coffee, get the morning started, so HE could wake up an hour later to fresh coffee, the right temperature in the apartment, and the pets fed. There was no wondering if/when he would come home from late ‘meetings’. No worrying when he had business dinners with colleagues that he was drinking and driving.
There was no dreading going to bed either 1.) before I was ready, or 2.) that his version of foreplay would commence and I’d have to provide him lackluster sex or deal with a petulant manchild. (Literally grabbing my hand and putting it on his junk. That’s how I knew it was time for what he wanted, regardless of my mood or desires at the time.)
I realized that, for the first time in years…I was living my own life…or at least as much as I can while clearing out the remnants of our life. I wasn’t putting myself in a holding pattern, waiting to be told what to do. I wasn’t suffering through things HE enjoyed, but I could have cared less about. I wasn’t being held captive by the mercurial moods of a Narcissist.
This past week has been spent tracking down a place that suits my tastes…sorting through moving bids from people I will hire to help me…visiting pawn shops to see if the jewelry he purchased for me during our time together can help fill the financial gap he left me with. It’s meant eating dinner of what, and when I want – not what he feels like. It means unwinding from a stressful job and playing with ferrets without being teased and made fun of because my life partner is bored.
It means facing painful realities about myself, as I realize that, while he did the lions share of abuse…I did actively silence my inner voice that said ‘Stick up for yourself,’ and how did I allow myself to devalue what I meant – just to me – to allow his needs and design for life to usurp mine. Yes…I was a victim of abuse, but it also doesn’t mean I excuse myself for staying silent when I should have roared. It meant teaching him my own needs were not as important as his. Yes, he’s a Narcissist, and that will never change. However, I am clearly co-dependent. Fixing THAT is entirely on me.
It means living my life…and I feel like the past three weeks have been a true blessing in disguise. The more I learn about Narcissism and how the partner of a NARC is affected…I never stood a chance. And that’s OK. I have learned insights I can carry with me into the future. I have learned that I need to be the first line of defense in protecting my heart. I have learned my gut is far smarter than I gave it credit for and it needs to be listened to a lot more than I have been. I have learned I can do things on my own. I have learned that some days, you just gotta get through each minute as it comes, and that overwhelming yourself with looking much farther than that to answer the question ‘How am I ever going to do this?’ doesn’t give you all the answers you need. I have learned I am far better than he ever gave me credit for…precisely because I AM pushing on. I AM dealing with the mess. I AM more capable than either one of us ever gave me credit for.
There is great satisfaction found in the moment you realize ‘Oh go Fuck yourself. I have my life to lead.’
Ironically – the man who never truly loved me, never will, and broke my heart, set in motion the chain of events that have showed me more about the kind of love I am rebuilding within myself, and someday be willing to share with another, than I likely ever would have learned on my own.