Dear Kyle,

I find it ironic that I began to know the real you when we came to an end.

The man I loved died on June 29, 2016.  Actually, you likely died long before that…but the man I knew as the ‘love of my life’ died when I realized that you could utter the words ‘I love you’, while you destroyed my heart, my love, and left the life we built in shambles…leading me to carry in in the rubble of your absence.

Make no mistake…I did love you.  I still love the you who painted yourself to be with me, so you could extract from me the fruits of my work, my emotional support, and my mental energy.  I loved the man you faked in order to be with me. 

But I hate the man you actually are.

You say ‘I love you’ with so much sincerity at times, it’s easy to believe.  My heart aches for your children who get the byproduct of your fake love.  I wish to God I’d been smarter when you appeared on my doorstep to return to my life.  I wished I’d been able to listen to my inner voice that said something wasn’t right.  What kind of a morally bankrupt person leaves his own children, who did nothing to deserve your abandonment, in order to live out your fantasy of a responsibility-free life.  They did absolutely nothing to deserve your turned back, nor did they ever ask for it.  (Had they had input, I’m sure they would have preferred their sperm donor not be a soulless, black-hearted monster who only walks the earth to use those who cross his path.)

It always bothered me how you could seemingly cast them aside.  Of course, your ‘selfless’ reason of not wanting to put the kids through turmoil between you and your ex-wife made some sense…but didn’t fit with the man I thought you to be.  You made it painfully clear that the subject was not to be discussed.  I learned to drop it.  I never agreed with it…and I know the day will come when the day to day responsibilities of parenting and attempting to be a good role model will wear you down again, your wanderlust will take over, and the children will be abandoned again.   I know it as sure as I am sitting here – you leave those you purport to love when they no longer serve your purpose of the moment.  It’s the one thing those who have loved you can count on:  That you will leave them.

I will never understand why you chose to leave when you did.  I can only assume it’s because, as a Narcissist, you knew that I was financially nervous, your lies were catching up to you, and bailing – your go-to option, was the time to do it with maximum destruction.  I don’t understand why, when I supported you, literally and figuratively, all those years, that you felt the need to leave me alone, broke, and emotionally crushed.  Why couldn’t you just say ‘Hey…moving on?’  It would have been so much easier.  It was the least I deserved.

But you needed the rush of seeing how completely you could destroy another person.  One who gave you all you ever asked for, and more.  One who defended you when your actions seemed indefensible.  One who stood by you when, literally, everyone else in your life went away.  That, however, was not enough for you, and never will be.  You had to leave me with no warning, right before a vacation you knew I looked forward to, and when my responsibilities as a homeowner drained me of what little financial reserve I’d built up after years of supporting us both.  You knew the stress of my mother’s illness was becoming overbearing for me and I might actually need you to provide support you were never able, nor willing, to give.

But I realized something, as I try and make sense of this cruelty delivered by the hand of the man I held so dear.  You did kill a large part of me that day when you exited the world we build.  You killed the part of me you created.  You killed the weak-willed, trembling, scared-of-you-disapproval woman.  You slayed the nervous, worrying creature that lived in fear of your disappointment.

What was left is who I was before you reentered my life.  I am strong.  I am capable.  And I am wise.  You did your best to destroy that part of me…but it was actually stronger than you.  Yes, you built quite a fortress around her.  You hid her under years of lies, half-truths, and deception all designed to craft an image that the parts of me that didn’t doubt you allowed themselves to grow.  Like weeds on a untended garden, they choked off so much of the vegetation of me.  I was so confounded by your lies, and believed in the illusion you created, I didn’t tend to my inner beds as I should have, and the overgrowth nearly covered the best parts of me.

Alas, the man who always boasted of winning lost that battle.  You failed miserably in killing off the parts of me that now grow strong.  I’m clearing out the weeds of my life with you, and the light that hits those parts of me still alive are growing stronger, day by day.  Your lies that still occasionally creep into my life after your exit no longer hurt me.  They only feed the stronger parts of me that continue to grow as I realize your toxicity is a thing of my past. 

I smile when I realize that you did not, ultimately, succeed at my expense.

Yes, you hurt me.  Yes, I have been setback.  Yes, I grieve the life I envisioned we were building that is now dead and buried.  However…you did NOT break me.  You did NOT kill me.  And you did NOT win the final battle.  You retreated, like a coward.  You tried on a new life that, if there is any appreciation of truth in your dark, empty soul, you know is doomed to fail.  A life built on lies, by it’s very nature, cannot sustain itself.  Your lies will ultimately be your undoing.  You and I share that knowledge – although I am the only one who likely fully realizes it.

So enjoy your new life, how you can, while you can.  I am going to enjoy mine.  I am going to enjoy filling it with all the love, joy and fulfillment that you were incapable of providing.  Your life will follow the same pattern it always has – Sweep in, swoop down, destroy, and vanish.  It’s what you’ve mastered in almost half a century in this world, and you are so small minded that you can’t see how it is going to guarantee your future will be a dark and lonely one.

I wish you the best of luck, my former love.  Luck is the only way you will ever succeed in your way of life.

The problem is…luck always runs out.

Good Riddance, my sweet,

Closure: Good Luck with That

Cleaning up the mess of a life shared when the one you shared it with left you with a ton of mess in all varieties is, shall we say, full of suck.

His rapid exit made for some interesting problems.  I cannot remain in the apartment we shared, due to his name being on the lease.  I have things in storage, but am having difficulty getting them out, as the storage unit was in his name, and the access code is not in my memory bank.  I have too much furniture for the smaller apartment I am moving too soon, and have to get rid of it.  I am paying off the last of his bills, but that means less than no money left for myself.

In short…getting to the Anger phase of a breakup has been remarkably easy, given the circumstances.

Mentally, I feel like I’m much farther along than I would expect to be, ending a 5 and a half year relationship that was supposed to culminate in marriage.  I think I’m just glad it’s over.  In retrospect, I was growing tired of the tension that was growing as my patience and tolerance for his Narcissistic tendencies was waning.

But the problem has become that, as I move into a new phase of my life…getting closure on this one is going to be more difficult.

Normally, closure isn’t so difficult to achieve.  Disentangling your life from a partners us normally done over a period of time – you find new places to live, divvy up the stuff, possibly have a few discussions if it’s worth salvaging.

But with a NARC – you cannot expect this.

They thrive on creating chaos out of others’ lives.  They derive strength in knowing they’ve left wakes of destruction for those behind them.  They live for ‘the kill.’ 

And they do NOT stick around to watch. 

Kyle and I broke up for the second time 13 years ago – it was remarkably easy to write it off as difficulties due to the three hours between us.  We stayed in sporadic contact during the time he was married to his 3rd ex-wife (Who he just left me for.)  There was a time he separated from her during the marriage, and we had a weekend tryst…but that was the extent of our involvement during his marriage.  He supposedly reconciled with her and they lived another 3 years before calling it quits.

Had I known then what I know now about his Narcissism, I would have NEVER opened the door when he came knocking.  He had exhausted her as a source of Narcissistic supply…and returned back to his other sure source – me.  At that point, I had cultivated enough in my life that I didn’t long for him…honestly didn’t give him much of a second thought at that point.  I had gotten closure by that point.

Now, however, it’s much more needed, and I know there is no way to get it.  NARCS will not come back in the recent aftermath – you are too likely to accuse them of being the parasitic worms they are, and truth and reality do NOT mix with a NARC.

They do not understand the hurt and pain they cause, so to be confronted with it would cause a cognitive dissonance that their minds are not equipped to process.  You will NOT ever get closure with a Narcissist to a degree that makes you feel you’ve put all your issues to rest with them if you are expecting them to participate. 

So, I have set on my own path of ‘closure.’  I have blocked his number and his facebook from me.  I have added his email to my spam list.  I have told my neighbors to please not give him information about me if he asks them where I’ve gone.  My Apartment complex managers know the situation, and promise me they will not provide my forwarding address.

No Contact is not easy.  I find I want to text and ask him ‘Why?’  I notice I want to email him and ask him what he expects me to do with artifacts he left behind.  I would love to know the access code to our storage unit – but calling him would risk his testing the waters when he decides his ex wife has given him all he needs.   I will have to find other ways.  It is not worth it to risk contacting him, giving his soul-sucking ego one morsel of satisfaction that he’s in my thoughts. 

I gave him enough of my past.  I refuse to give him one second of my future.  And it’s funny…because that realization alone makes me feel like I’m going to get closure I need.

I just need to give it time.

21 Days

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.

Trails of Wreckage

I have to admit that I am not very good at certain things:  Patience…keeping my car clean on the inside (Hey…no one ever asks me to drive…there IS a method to my madness!)….and bagging groceries.

When I lived on my own the first time, right after college…I had to go to the grocery store by myself.  And long gone were the baggers of old, who knew what they were doing.  I just threw crap in my bags, and left.

There is an art to it, as I learned.  I would get to the car, and realize that I’d left half the stuff behind as it randomly fell out because I wasn’t careful.  I usually had to end up playing grocery pickup…but I would still end up leaving behind a mess that either someone else picked up, or just scattered to God knows where.

That’s kind of like what happens when you end a relationship with a Narcissist.  They are utterly devoid of compassion and remorse…and if it might make them remotely ‘guilty’…it will be avoided at all costs.

And their previous mess, that came before you…is likely covered in their lies as well.

Case in point – when my NARC left his ex-wife, I was told it was impossible for him to continue living with her, as she was not treating her Borderline Personality Disorder, it was too difficult for him, and it was ‘putting the kids through too much.’  Oh, and she spent money like it was going out of style. 

He came to my doorstep, after 8 years apart, and expressed his never-died-out-love for me, how he appreciated what I offered him…blah, blah, blah.  I succumbed to his charm and ‘sincerity’, and promised to help him through the difficult part of the ‘tail end of his divorce.’  (I found out, years later, that the divorce, at that point, hadn’t even been officially filed.  Yes, our relationship reignited under a huge lie.  I am no longer surprised by the lies I continually find out I was told.)

Now…I knew at one point, he was a devoted single father to his oldest son when we dated the first time…so I shuddered to think what happened to make him abandon his own children with her.  What kind of living hell was this person going through to take so drastic a measure.

My guess is that ‘living hell’ was responsibility – but I digress.

Flash Forward 5 ½ years later.  I am under constant stress from a rental property that I can only bet describe as ‘left as a disaster’, that drained my personal savings to almost nothing as I sent check after check after check for repairs and maintenance the tenant never brought to my attention to fix.  He was aware of all of these, and assured me he’d help if I needed it.  So…additional repairs needed to be made…and of course…there were problems at his bank.  Oh…I thought I transferred that…excuse after excuse, but no help came.

Then, he ‘poofed’, under the guise of a business trip.  There was also the matter of charges he made that were WAY over my comfort level on the American Express.  He kept saying ‘sure…I will pay it.’  Then, made more charges…and more charges.  Then left.

He, of course, looked me in the eye on our last night together, and told me he was sending me money to cover those…help pay the remaining rent on our exorbitant lease…and to pay for furniture we picked out a few months ago that was on my charges as well.

Yes…you will notice a recurring them…MY Charges…MY account.  With such a spotty employment history, a repossession (his ex-wife’s fault…of course!)…his obtaining his own credit was nothing short of impossible.  So hey…just use mine!  Problem solved!  Again…I digress.

I made him sign a promissory note, detailing what he would pay, and when.  Why no…I haven’t seen a dime of it…why do you ask?

He left a day before a romantic cruise we had booked just a month before.  He left me with debts, and apartment that is too big for me in both size and lease, a giant saltwater fish tank that is a gross, smelly monstrosity at this point because I know slightly more about astro-physics than I do salt-water tank care.  He left me with tons of his clothes that I can only assume did not costume him well for his ‘new’ life.

He left me with tons of wreckage to clean up…a broken heart to do it with…and not two dimes to my name after paying all his bills on top of my own.

That is the hallmark of a Narcissist.  They come in, stay…then destroy what they can, how they can, and they leave with  bang just to make sure the rubble they leave gets blasted to sithereens.  They don’t care that they’ve left you…the person they ‘love’, with practical, financial, and emotional ruins.  They only care that they can move on with as little baggage as possible.

It seems unfathomable that people can treat people that way.  The Narcissist loves nothing more than a grand exit.  Maybe they leave you in such a state because they want to leave you so devastated you keep waiting for them to swoop in and rescue.  Perhaps it’s that they, like Heath Ledger’s Joker, ‘Just like to watch the world burn.’  It might just be that exit, for them, is the only way they can see out, and, rather than handle it normally…they don’t have the mental or emotional resources to extricate themselves from a relationship like an adult.

Yes…it’s astoundingly cruel.  Yes…you cannot understand what YOU did to deserve it?  How bad must I have been?  You feel like dirt.  But, the problem lies not in you – just that you had the really shitty luck to fall into the trap of a Narcissist.  By the time he left, I was literally drained emotionally, mentally, and financially.  I had nothing left the NARC wanted…so the parasite moved to a new host.

But the one thing he didn’t wreck was my determination.  My determination to rebuild the life in a way that I see fit.  He did not wreck the glimmer of hope I have that I will rebuild stronger than he left me.  It’s the only solace I have – I learned enough to prevent this from happening again.  Once you’ve been ensnared by a Narcissist…you literally can spot them a mile away. 

Oh…in case you’re wondering…the ex-wife was never diagnosed a borderline…he left her financially destitute…he left her with tons of his debt she was stuck paying for.  Maybe 5.5 years faded her memory.  Maybe he has changed (I almost typed that with a straight face.)  Maybe she thinks she can match him wit for wit this time.

But I at least feel safe in knowing…after cleaning up the wreckage he left in our life together – I can say, beyond all shadow of a doubt…the trail he leaves when he departs her life again will definitely not lead this way. 

Peace Drunk

I had a strange realization this morning, as I was getting ready for work – I realized I have not had a panic attack in three weeks.
Given that, before his moving van pulled out, they were a daily occurrence…I feel this is cause to celebrate.  I know my nerves certainly are.
If you’ve never had a panic attack – let me describe the cornucopia of fun they are:  Your heart rate starts to soar…and it feels like an electrode has been inserted into your spine, and this blazing heat replaces your backbone.  Your mind becomes a tornado of thoughts spinning so fast you can’t grab ahold to even one of them to figure out what to do next.  Your hands shake.  You can’t really seem to form a sentence.
You feel like you’re going to die – because your mind has gone haywire, and your body feels like it’s going to implode. 
And I was having those daily.  YAY!
You don’t realize how nervous you become accustomed to being in your own home.  A NARC’s favorite tool is to keep you off balance…so that you are so busy trying to stay ‘normal’, you don’t bother questioning lies or inconsistencies.  They focus on keeping YOU off center, because, as the person ‘closest’ to them, you are likely the one who can validate truth.  What better way to make you the world’s most unreliable witness than to keep you in a constant state of apprehension for the normal things life throws at you.  Also…the more unstable you appear to others, when he has to start smearing you after the relationship ends, his version seems more plausible, because you were always a nervous wreck.
Losing my keys – OMG…I am going to make him late.  He will be mad at me.  He will remind me I’m scatter brained.  He will leave me.  I will be alone.  I can’t function on my own!  WHERE ARE MY KEYS…then, I couldn’t find them, because I’d been in a panic.  Fixing Dinner – OMG…I don’t remember if I’m supposed to sauce the chicken before or after I bake it….dinner will be ruined, we will have to go out to eat…which means food is wasted and money is spent replacing the dinner I ruined… He will remind me I’m scatter brained.  He will leave me.  I will be alone.  I can’t function on my own!  I am not ready to go to bed, but he’s tired.  I have to go lay in bed until I fall asleep.  OMG…I am tossing and turning…he will not get enough sleep…he has a long day tomorrow…(I have a full time job as well, and actually made more than he did.)…if he is tired, he will lose focus…his boss will yell at him… He will remind me I’m scatter brained.  He will leave me.  I will be alone.  I can’t function on my own!

The NARC, during the end of a Love Bombing cycle, will start to implant these little nuggets into your daily life to make you fear their disapproval at the most insignificant things.  You learn to be on alert, because life had better run smoothly, or you will be chided, demeaned, ridiculed and insulted in very subtle ways at first…so you become ‘accustomed’ to them as just part of your daily discourse with one another.  Eventually, when they realize that they’ve implanted the fear they will abandon you for being human…then, they amp up the dissatisfaction and the blaming you for everything that goes wrong…every decision made (Whether you made it or not.  He literally told me, several times, ‘Well why did you let me do that?  If you knew, why not say anything?’  Uh…maybe because arguing with you is 1.) An exercise in futility, and 2.) We both know it will end up being my fault in the end…or at least damned sure not your fault, so lets just cut to the chase, shall we?)
So you put up with those first very subtle digs that grow deeper and more cutting as the time goes on…because you become convinced it IS your fault…and if you are just ‘good enough’, Love Bombing will happen again…YOUR behavior will turn them back into who you fell in love with…and all is right with the world.  You learn to beware the small things, because they will only get larger in your incompetent, clumsy hands.  And that thought Is terrifying, because it means that, once again, you’ve failed at living up to your partner’s expectations, and you will be emotionally punished. 

You become so attuned to what is wrong with your actions…you know instinctively that a mistake you make will cause the Love Bombing clock to be ‘reset’…and thus, you panic, knowing you have displeased ‘The Great One’ again with your incorrectly sauced chicken or, God Forbid, toilet paper hung the wrong way.  (I am not even kidding.)

So it was quite surprising that I realized that I hadn’t had those horrible physical feelings that merged into Mental Tornadoes that left me incapacitated as I tried to figure out how to fix my horrible wrongs to maybe bring the Love Bombing back…or at least fix it to the point he wouldn’t notice how wrong I had done something.

It’s strange – for a woman who is in the midst of turmoil, who has to move on her own, and who barely has two dimes to her name for the foreseeable future – the calm of not having the Human Emotional Hurricane around, ready to sweep me into the sea and spit me back out makes me feel strangely at peace in a world with the early stages of massive overhaul.

And the peace it brings is, frankly, intoxicating.

Normal, See?

If you are unfamiliar with Narcissists…it seems impossible to wrap your head around how they operate:  It should be so easy to see someone obviously manipulating you, twisting memories to suit their agenda, or behaving in ways that seem to contradict what your own memories relate to you.  How can someone involved with these people not see what is happening to them?  How can they not see they are with an unrepentant jackass?

While it might be malicious – make no mistake:  A Narcissist is highly skilled in many areas of human interaction:  Just not in ways that are healthy for anything remotely resembling a normal, healthy, productive relationship.

Narcissists are, deep down, chronically insecure and damaged.  However, they are also aware in some very strange way, that they are, indeed, damaged.  That damage may seem so severe they can’t acknowledge it, and their own ability to ‘fix’ it long since departed.  They are virtually incapable of the self-examination necessary to evaluate a flaw, address it, and figure out a way to repair the issue within themselves. 

I am no psychologist…just an armchair shrink who needed to understand how the man I shared my life with could change me in ways so diametrically opposed to who I was, I had to understand what in me was so malleable, and what in him was so broken that he had to break those he came in contact with just to feel the sense of ‘kinship’ necessary for most humans to interact with others.

But the NARC I shared my life with was deeply, permanently scarred in ways I can’t fathom.  Abandoned by his father at a young age, and left in the care of a mother who, on a good day, could only be described as confoundingly neurotic,  so that young boy never had a chance.  He developed the skills necessary to dazzle people with his wit, assess them with his skill, and weigh the benefits of using them for whatever purposes (When he was younger, it was sex…as he got older, money and security.)  For a man who could easily be described as dynamic…he was masterfully subtle in finding the tiniest cracks in one’s psyche, and wedging that open to extract the marrow of what he found.

I sort of recall when it started between us:  The process of my being turned into his puppet.  About 6 months into our relationship ‘reboot’, he ‘poofed’.  When he returned a week later…he said the stress of his divorce, combined with my nervousness made him need to leave and ‘think’ about things.  Immediately – instead of thinking ‘Uh…normal people talk about issues…they don’t bolt to ‘figure things out.’  I felt ‘guilty’ – My anxiety about his divorce problems had affected him:  I’d better work on that.

Yes – in citing MY behavior for a reason for him to run for the hills…he began the process of grooming me to take responsibility for his actions.  6 more ‘poofs’ followed, that year alone – each one using my stress over his custody battle…my stress over finding a job when my contract position expired…my stress over money.  So I began to swallow my natural feelings about the stress he was under, and I learned to keep those pushed down, so they didn’t affect him.  It never worked…because that’s not how the human mind works:  You work with/deal with emotions, you don’t push them down and ignore them.  But that’s what happened – I learned to suppress my normal reactions in favor of not ‘inconveniencing’ him.

Not ONCE did he ever say ‘I have no clue how to work out an issue that requires me to fix something in myself, so I just ran until the weird feelings went away and I didn’t have to face it any longer.’  Never did it cross his lips ‘I control my actions and I am a coward, so I ran away.’  It was initially partially my fault due to anxiety anyone would feel when someone they love is going through a difficult time, and progressed to ‘You filter things in such a way it makes me have to lie to you so you don’t filter them and make yourself more paranoid/anxious/angry.’ 

When you share your life with a Narcissist, you eventually realize it’s always your fault.  And it’s so slow and deliberate, that you lose your ability to question those…because your romantic partner does what they do best:  Mold and shape you into the tool they need to move about their own life with not a care in the world who they ruin in the process.  They are smart enough to realize if they did it at once…they would lose their Narcissistic Supplier…and the relationship itself if they dumped all this molding on at once.  WHen it’s incremental, it’s far less noticeable what is happening, until enough time has passed looking back means it’s impossible to tell when and where it began. 

Disagreeing with them — oh, no…not on their watch!  You learn that just swallowing their digs and accusations is far easier than the epic battle that will ensue if you dare to contradict/question/disagree — so swallow, accept it, and plod on.  One slow, NARC-paced step at a time.

The good thing is – I slowly feel ‘normal’ coming back.  I have gotten angry/sad/furious/despondent…and hopeful in the span of the past month when it became clear the ‘new’ relationship I was building with myself was not dictated by keeping feelings and thoughts at bay so someone else isn’t inconvenienced.  I still catch myself trying to stifle the feeling to cry or get angry…then tell myself ‘Do it!  Get Angry!  Cry your eyes out!  Rip that picture in two and set it on fire!  WHO CARES!’ 

And ya know what – it is messy, kinda painful, and definitely confusing…but I am finding I rather like this ‘New Normal.’  I am looking forward to living it more.

Taking Myself Back

One thing I have kept repeating over and over and over to myself, and likely will for a while…How did I get here?

I remember, long ago, when I was divorced from my first husband…how hard the identity shift was — I was no longer a wife, stepmother, daughter in law…I was just…me.  And I had no earthly idea who that was.

I had married the wrong man for me.  Mainly, because where I grew up — women got married.  My ex husband and I were incompatible from the start…and after three years of trying to be a wife to a man who was just not a good fit for me as a husband…I cried ‘Uncle’.

As I understand it, as far as divorces go…technically, it was pretty easy.  Three months from filing to finalized…little problems with divvying up stuff, sure…but no kids, not much in the way of assets.  All things considered, I got out relatively unscathed.

However…I do recall having 6 months where I had no clue who ‘I’ was.  I felt ‘lost’.  I didn’t understand what about life ‘fit’ me as an individual.  I remember having a year after the divorce where life was FUN.  Did what I wanted, bought what I wanted, worked late without feeling guilty.  It was a great period in my life.

I guess time weathered the feeling of self-discovery and the pride at creating a life that was ‘mine’.  Because, slowly…over the past 5 and a half years…I had lost myself again.

Maybe it was my innate stubbornness — many friends who were there for the first go-around with Kyle did not take his reentry into my life so kindly — they weren’t so quick to forget the nights consoling me after his discarding me.  They weren’t about to let their memories fade the lies he’d told me.  I was not going to admit this was a big mistake, and I wanted desperately for it to work.

Maybe it was my fear that, inherently, my imperfect figure or advancing age were magnifying that I am a flawed woman wracked with insecurities.  Hey…at least someone wants me now.

Or Maybe, it was just I am drawn to his charm — which, despite being an unrepentant, lying, narcissistic asshole, he has in spades.  He is a very dynamic person who often bragged, literally, about his talent for manipulation.

I know that, over the past few years, life with a NARC, as I have tried to keep my promises chipped away at my already fragile self-esteem slowly.  I felt like a bucket that kept pouring out, but was never refilled.  Eventually, it ran dry.  The string of small lies, big lies, ‘teasing’, insults, and outright cruelty wrapped in hugs has turned me into someone who looks older and more tired than she should be at 49.  I want to look at life with excitement and wonder…not dread that my world is going to be shattered because my one ‘lifeline’.  I truly don’t see the fragile qualities that now seem ‘me’ as anything remotely familiar of who I understood myself to be.  I have lived scared of his disapproval for so many years, I honestly can’t pinpoint when it started within this relationship.

I don’t know, and may never fully understand.  But I know that I am in about the same place I was when I divorced my husband 16 years ago.  And I refuse to repeat this lesson again.

I am going to give myself the love that I couldn’t ever have received from one incapable of loving.  I plan on taking myself on dates, doing things I enjoy doing. I plan on discovering what life as me feels like again.