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.

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.

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.

School is in Session

Ending life with a Narcissist is truly…an education.  And education into the real person you thought you knew. 

And, as you learn more and more about the ‘real’ person behind the masked one you lived with…you will likely find yourself shell-shocked.  Whether it’s through Narcissistic Rage as you Gray Rock them,  whether it’s finding remnants of the secret life they led in conjuction with the one you lived with them, or just realizing that every memory you have with them you thought was good is now tainted as you see the lies that accompanied their every waking moment.  You will undoubtedly feel like you know nothing about them, or yourself as you realize what endured in life with them.

It’s a painful lesson…but one all survivors of these human parasites must learn.

I have learned more about the man I ‘loved’ in two weeks since he left than I clearly ever knew of him in all the years we were together.  I have learned that he would look me in the eye, grab my face and hold it, while telling me how sorry he was he had to do what he did – knowing full well he had been planning his exit for months.  I learned he thought nothing of defrauding the small company he had been entrusted with building to the point it had to close due to his theft.  I learned he was a lecherous pervert who kept various pictures of his genitalia on his phone and sent it to his female subordinates.   I learned he thought nothing of making up a devastating health crisis for his oldest son in order to get an absence from work so he could orchestrate his exit strategy from his company that he knew full well he was going to decimate with his fraud.

I desperately need for school to be out:  The more I learn, the more the disappointment and guilt overwhelms me, and I grieve for how little the life I thought I had never lived – I can’t even say it died…as something truly alive has to be for it to perish.  The man I loved, the relationship I thought we shared…never remotely existed.  I can’t take one more lesson in how not only was I expendable, so were the careers and livelihoods of the people who worked hard for him to help him attain monthly bonuses, and the massive trust the company’s owner placed in him.  That his partner in life, and his employees and his boss demonstrated loyalty to him that was nothing more than a credit card for him to max out and leave someone else to pay the bill.

Which, given what I am learning about Narcissism, none of this should surprise me – They just do not exist on a level of ‘humanity’ that includes empathy or compassion:  I have read that at least 100 times in various forms as I learn, and it still shakes me that these bags of skin walk among us.  Accepting that they expertly mimic these qualities you and I have is a very difficult hurdle – it truly is difficult work to get that there are people who exists without these basic tools of humanity.  But they do.  If you are one of the unfortunate souls tangled in with these people – take heart – be glad it is difficult to understand:  It means you are a normal, compassionate human being and not understanding it means you aren’t ever capable of this kind of soul-crushing evil.

As difficult and painful as this education is…I know that, after I learn and absorb these lessons, I will feel better about myself.  I will feel better prepared to trust again.  And I will feel more empowered to maintain steadfast boundaries to protect those qualities in myself I hold dear.

Closing the Revolving Door

If I’ve been asked 1 time, I’ve been asked this same question 1,000 times:  ‘Why the hell did you not get out sooner?’

That, my friends, is the $64,000 question.

The short answer is – Because I loved him.   My view of love is that you support and stick by those you love, through thick and thin.  You help them through difficulties, because loving someone means being there through the tough times, and celebrating with them through the good.

Now, from the outside looking in – this is what my circle of family and friends saw:  They saw an outgoing, bold, chatty, engaging woman slowly reduced to a neurotic, anxiety-riddled puddle of goo – whose sole focus seemed to be catering to her partner’s latest ‘crisis du jour’, and filled with tension as his spotty luck with self-employment rested the entirety of supporting them on her shoulders through a series of jobs that were stressful from their demands, as well as being the only visible means of support for us as a couple.

From the inside…I didn’t know it at the time, but I was undergoing something known as ‘Trauma Bonding’.  In a nutshell, Trauma Bonding is unwavering loyalty to a destructive person.  Narcissists are quite adept at executing this.  In my case, it was his going through a series of issues after his divorce, while they were nailing out custody issues…and he would suddenly, mysteriously ‘poof’.  What I perceived as his fragile mental state and torment by the ex as they used their children as pawns threw me in a state of panic when he would disappear for weeks.

Yes, I said ‘disappear.’  I would come home, see his missing car in the driveway, and immediately begin a physical response that felt like hot lead being poured into my spine.  I would walk in the house, and a note, explaining pressures/stress/whatever as the reason for his bolt.  Oh, he loved me dearly, but needed to do ‘this’ and he would be home ‘soon.’  I was frantic during these times with worry.  The man I loved more than anyone in the world was alone, trying to figure something out that must have been so painful or left him feeling so vulnerable he could not share it with anyone.  During his ‘poofs’, I would hear nothing from him.  No phone calls…maybe a text or something if I was lucky.’  I would be in a state of panic worrying beyond reason as to his well-being.

While I’m not a religious person…I would pray that he was OK.  Just let me know he’s OK.  Please keep him safe…Just please let him come back to me so I can prove to him the kind of partner that he needs.

Out of the blue…he would return.  The Love Bombing would be my reward for allowing him back.  The relationship would be ‘normal’.  Until he left again….under the same circumstances.  I ended up dreading pulling into my street, because if his car wasn’t in the driveway…what had befallen him now?  Why did he leave?  What would I do with myself with all the worry?  There was never any ‘preamble’ to these ‘poofs’.  So it’s not as if I could ‘sense’ it was coming due to increasing arguments, or certain information that came in about the custody…etc.  They are so skilled at living a life based on deception that my notice he was gone was announced by his lack of automobile in the driveway. 

It did occur to me that ‘Hey…ya know, this is bullshit.’  But the Narcissist is so skilled at knowing when to punish and how to reward accordingly, it’s impossible to realize that is what’s happening.  It’s so slow, deliberate, and perfectly executed you cannot look back and realize the point when their needs and  well-being became the sole focus of your existence.  This cycle of reward and punishment can take different forms, but the end result is the same:  Logic takes a back seat to the good sense the Target normally has, and your sense of normal is solely dependent upon what the Narcissist says is ‘normal.’

Now, given his latest departure, there is a fulcrum shift within me that will make sure this will NOT happen again.  The revolving door he counted on has been removed, and bricked up.  I now understand who and what I’m dealing with.  I’m too old to waste more time with this insane push/pull that has inexplicably become my norm.  I am not entirely blaming him – I fully participated in continuing the insanity.  Granted…I was being manipulated so skillfully I didn’t realize it until years later.  But I have to accept responsibility for not giving my inner voice screaming at me that this was NOT normal and to knock it off.  I did allow it to continue…but again…it’s like buying a used car that gets you from here to there…you just aren’t aware there are problems waiting to explode under the hood. 

If you are in a relationship with a NARC…please let your inner voice have a louder volume than theirs – the years you cannot get back from ignoring it will sting.  Hard. 

I Love You*

As my fiancé walked out the door for the last time last Thursday – his last words to me will ring in my head forever:  ‘You know I love you.’

Yes…his last words, as he was leaving me for whatever lie he had cooked up to cover whatever trail he was blazing to move onto a new source of Narcissistic Supply…were that he loved me.  

That is the last lie he will ever tell me.

If you find yourself in a relationship with a Narcissist, I am certain you hear that a lot.  It is also a complete and utter giant, wet, steaming pile of bullshit.

Narcissists are categorically incapable of loving as a normal person understands that concept to be.  Narcissist love what you do for them.  The adore how you have a supply of emotional and mental resources to drain.

But I can promise you – they do not, nor will they ever love you in the traditional sense.

Please do not kid yourself if you think your NARC is different:  Aside from physical attributes…they are cut from the same cloth.  ‘Love’ is  tool they craft in order to take from you what they want.  They mist us with their charms…they mimic expertly what the motions should be for love.  But they cannot muster the empathy, compassion, tenderness and selflessness that is required to have a loving relationship.

The Love Bombing phase is where we, the Targets, fall in love.  But, those who we fall in love with are just not who they are at their core.  They can never truly be that compassionate, caring soul we are sure is at the heart of all those amazing romantic moments.

The Narcissist loves themselves – as much as they are capable of something resembling ‘love’.  They love that the Target doesn’t see them for who they are.  They love that the Target is their own, personal pile of silly putty – able to mold and shape as they want.  They are NOT interested in helping you grow with them.  They have no time or concern to nurture the best in you, and still love the worst in you.  They do not love you, and never truly will. 

They do NOT love – the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can clear your head from their mist.  And it’s sad, ultimately, because they will never be ‘whole’ in the sense most people are.  They are missing something elemental that got skipped due to trauma while they were young, or some horrible upbringing that nurtured something dark and draining in them.  And they can’t ever ‘learn’ those wonderful qualities that add the cherry on the cake of life for you and I.  I do weep for the children those NARCS used to be – it’s sad to know that they missed an essential part of growing up where they learned to appreciate and cherish the good in other people, rather than extract it for their own personal gain.

Their love will ALWAYS come with an asterisk — there will always be a footnote to clarify what they say when they say ‘I love you.’  It does come with conditions — just not conditions they share with you in the beginning…and likely never will.

I would say that the best response, when you hear ‘I Love you, ‘ from a NARC is to look them in the eye, smile, and say  ‘Go Fuck Yourself!’