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.

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.

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.