Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Looking back on the relationship, I see the web of deceit and manipulation he weaved. I can see it all very clearly, now. It was all right there in front of me....all along. He had expressed to me that he admired the way I felt compassion and sorrow for others. He said that he didn't understand it, it was just something he had never known. He often explained how love didn't really exist, it was just an illusion. At no point did I think there was something wrong with him for feeling this way. It actually made me feel more special for having the ability to feel these emotions on such a deep level and for being able to share it with someone who so desperately needed it. If anything, I thought he was just overly analytical, a logical thinker. I, being the idealist, could use a little of that...or so he said. And after all, he was so intelligent and insightful...of course he knew what was best for me, right?
Though I did begin to recognize some peculiar behaviors very early in the relationship, I always found a way to rationalize them. I made excuses for him. When he talked badly about people, which he did CONSTANTLY, I just assumed that those people didn't understand him like I did. Anytime he hurt me...screamed in my face, called me names, put me down, left me stranded somewhere, told me he hated me, told me everyone else hated me... I thought that he was reaching out for help. I just wanted to help him! What I didn't realize is that there is no way to help him.
When he met me, I was a warm, compassionate, outgoing person. I loved meeting people and I treated everyone I met with kindness. He said he loved that about me. Of course, there were a few people that he warned me about...people that I shouldn't speak to, so I didn't. I now understand that these were people who had already shown him that they weren't falling for his shit...anymore. He was no longer "top dog" in their eyes, so they were of no use to him. There were several others throughout the relationship...people he'd cast aside for not showing him the adoration he desired/demanded. Sometimes it was simply because they were better than him at something (usually had to do with music), yet he would NEVER admit that. Over the course of the relationship, sadly, I became more and more like him. He would tell me that the encounters I would have with people weren't what I thought they were. Either the other person had ulterior motives (using me) or he knew that they really thought _____ about me behind my back. I began to doubt myself and how others viewed me. He was slowly chipping away my self esteem. I also learned to just go along with what he said....otherwise, there would be a huge ordeal. Though, sometimes there would STILL be a huge ordeal just by doing what he said. (I'd love to tell the 'loud neighbor' story) Either way, I was beginning to not like people. Those who knew me noticed the change. I didn't answer phone calls or return emails. I passed up on invitations...until the invitations finally stopped coming.
Toward the end, he had alienated me from my life, my friends, his family (who I loved very much) and tried for months to get me to quit my job. I love what I do! And I am damn good at it. He told me that my boss didn't care about me, that I didn't make enough money and that my work schedule interfered with raising my kids. I teach driver education, so I have to work in the evenings, that doesn't leave much time with my kids during the week. I'll admit, that was beginning to bother me. He almost had me convinced. In retrospect, I see that a loving, supportive partner wouldn't have pushed me to dump the career that I had worked hard to build (I was preparing to take over the business), he would have done whatever it took to prevent that from happening. I wasn't too keen on the idea, because I had already heard ALL about his ex who stayed home "on her fat, lazy, gold-digging ass" while he footed the bill. He badmouthed her pretty regularly, but I always took up for her. Of course she was to blame for their relationship not working out.... it had nothing to do with the constant abuse he put her through.
When he broke up with me, it was completely unexpected! He came here with his Aunt (who he claimed he didn't want anything to do with for many reasons; she's a worthless human being, she tries to have sex with him right under her husband's nose, she can't manage her own life so she uses him to do it for her, whatever ridiculous crap he would come up with on a daily basis) as his "witness". He yelled and screamed obscenities in my face, I did some yelling back but mostly pleading with him to stop. I couldn't understand why he was doing it. We didn't have a fight or anything, though we should have after he had lied to me. I was a well trained servant who knew better than to point out any of his flaws, so I didn't want to talk about it until I had a well thought out plan. I always had think carefully about how I worded things. It didn't matter this time. He was already done with me.
He didn't bother saying goodbye to my kids. They both had birthdays this month... do you suppose he wanted to wish them a happy birthday? My younger son is so torn up over it. He has trouble sleeping now, he's extremely clingy and he has been baby talking. This has shattered his confidence and his sense of security. He cries often. I don't know what to say to him other than "I know you miss him, I wish I had some answers, but I don't." Today he said "If you guys try not to fight, could you bring him back?" I told him that I could not. The information that I have read has helped me to make sense of what happened, but how do I help my kids to make sense of it?
We haven't heard from him, he is completely detached. When he first left, I tried to reach him with a letter and a few text messages. I told him "I understand we all feel overwhelmed sometimes" and that we shouldn't throw away what we had over something so trivial...yadayadayada. I wish I never would have sent them. He is a sick, twisted son of a bitch. I remind myself of that each time I start to feel sorry for him.
The more I tell this story, the more it will help me to make sense of this and hopefully begin to rebuild what he took from me. Whether anyone reads it or not.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It was nearly three years ago, I had just gotten out of a relationship, so I had no interest in meeting anyone. Plus, I am a busy mom to two boys, so dating was the farthest thing from my mind. One Friday night, I stopped in a local juke joint for some live music and some much needed adult interaction. As soon as I walked in the door, I noticed him. He looked so lonely and miserable...and far more handsome than I remembered him being in high school. We spoke quite a bit that evening. Although I don't recall every topic of our conversations, I distinctly remember the feeling I left with. I felt that there was a strange energy between us. A connection. We 'Myspaced' for the next couple of weeks, as if we were old friends...but with the excitement and anticipation of new lovers. When I saw him again two weeks later, it was ON. I had never witnessed so much passion! It was almost too much for either of us to handle. In the movies, people talk about hearing music when they kiss their lovers, but everyone knows this doesn't happen in real life. It did for me. I am not even exaggerating. Every time we kissed, I heard the same stupid Faith Hill song "The Way You Love Me". Every time. I'm not even a fan of Faith Hill's music. Explain that.
So, within weeks, three to be exact, he had told me that he loved me. I will admit, it was a little premature, but it didn't seem superficial at all. I was crazy about him! I felt a connection to him that I had never felt before. Everyone around us saw it, too. People, oftentimes complete strangers, commented on how well we complimented each other and that there was this aura about us that just made others feel like they were missing out on something. We had found something in each other that the rest of the world would never know. He was the answer to all of life's questions....some of which had yet to be asked.
Over the next few months, as we were getting to know each other, I began to notice things that weren't quite lining up. It became apparent that he had much trouble with interpersonal relationships and was still struggling to figure out who he was as a person. I just attributed that to age (he was only 26 at the time) and his parent's divorce. At the time, I didn't think much of it because I was so mesmerized by his charm and wit. I had reasoned that he was too intelligent and well spoken to have any severe emotional troubles.
Pretty soon, his ugly side began to emerge. He didn't like to be told what to do and he was very sensitive to (what he perceived to be) criticism or rejection. I also noticed that he was showing a different face to each person he was around. He was different things to different people. I realize now that this should have been a HUGE red flag, but at that time, I saw him as a hurt, damaged soul who desperately needed loved. Every story he told of his childhood involved abuse and neglect. That was precisely what drew me in. He needed love and I had SO much love to give. And after all, love does conquer all, right? Was I really that stupid?? People who had known him for years, especially his ex-lovers, were warning me to just give up. They would say that it was a waste of time, don't bother. But I didn't listen.
We barely made it through that first autumn. Sometimes he would ignore phone calls and bury his face in the sand for a couple of days, but always to return somewhat refreshed...as if he just needed a little space to "recharge". Seems normal enough. I thought to myself "this is going to be a wild ride, but I love this man and he is definitely worth the risk". Whoa, was I ever right about the wild ride. As soon as winter hit, he tried to fight the urge to break things off with me. He lost that fight around mid January. We broke up, but continued to talk and see each other on a regular basis. Throughout that time, he was constantly changing from hot to cold, up to down, in to out. He was completely unpredictable. Sometimes, he would stop talking to me for days or even weeks. He would make up things to be mad at me about, say that I was a liar, though I couldn't tell you what it was I had lied about...and neither could he. I wondered why I would subject myself to that kind of emotional torment, but couldn't seem to break the spell I was under. I had told him that it seemed as though I was under a spell. He said that he felt the same. We talked openly about our situation as though it were happening to someone else. We often joked about it, like it was a television show we were glued to...just waiting to see how the season would end.
Our relationship went from strange to more strange. We got back together and things were harmonious again, like they were in the beginning. Then after a few months, he dropped me..all of the sudden, with no explanation. I was devastated. I didn't know what had happened. If I ever tried to talk to him about it, he accused me of being "crazy". I was the crazy one?? I was so confused.
I know at this point, any SANE person would have moved on and not thought about that jerk again for a second. I was doing my best...or so I thought. We did get back together. This time, I tried to be very careful. I wanted to take the time to figure out why it hadn't worked before and what needed to be different this time around. I had been seeing a therapist and I suggested he see one too. I knew that I could no longer take on the responsibility of "fixing" what had been damaged so many years ago. In the beginning, I wasn't even aware that this was what I was doing. I was taking in the stray dog and giving him the love and affection that no one else could give him. I was overlooking his negative traits, because that is what I do. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. At this point, I just wanted to love him for who he was and help him to be the person he wanted to be. I wanted to have a normal, healthy relationship. With him.
He had told me that he imagined we would bounce off of each other enough over the years then eventually things would just fall into place. He said he always knew I was the only woman for him, but never quite knew what to do with me. I have often felt the same way...about myself.
Things shifted in our relationship. We grew much closer than ever before. I allowed him to get close to my kids and this was something he seemed to be very comfortable with. He eventually moved in with us and everything seemed great. I was so goddamn happy. We were all very happy. We were all delusional. Throughout our entire relationship, he and I had never argued like other couples usually do, we always seemed to be on the same page. The only time we had any trouble was when he felt threatened. So, as long as I acted a certain way and went along with his ideas, we were golden. I had learned, essentially, how to walk on eggshells. This man lived in my house for nearly 7 months, but only paid bills two times...one of those times was after he had moved out. He made twice as much money as me. I didn't pressure him about the bills because I felt so sorry for him for being taken advantage of by the owner of the apartment he was renting as a music studio. He worked that angle perfectly. I feel so stupid for allowing that. I didn't allow my ex-husband to treat me that way, why was I allowing it with this man? This man was different. He didn't belittle me on a daily basis, like my ex-husband did. He only did it about once or twice a month, when he was angry and I could usually talk him through it...or he could go somewhere else for a little while then come home and explain that he is sorry that he doesn't "communicate better" and will try a different tactic in the future. I always bought it. I honestly didn't realize that our relationship was so unhealthy. I was completely blind to it.
At times I had wondered how he would handle major life events because it always seemed that when things got tough, he would bail. I knew it was because that was all he knew to do. I could help him to find the strength and courage to face challenges instead of running and hiding. We had been through so much together in such a short period of time, and he had proved that he could be my rock when I needed it. We were each other's rocks. When my mom got married and moved to the other side of the planet, he was here to remind me that even though I was going to miss her, it wasn't the end of our relationship. Just meant that we would appreciate each other that much more. He joked that he only wished his mom would move to another country. Then, when my brother spent two months in the hospital, nearly died, had emergency heart valve replacement surgery, a brain aneurysm, etc., he was what kept me going. I was so scared that we were going to lose my brother. I felt that I had to be the one to handle everything because my mom wasn't here to do it. I am forever grateful for the support he gave me during that time. Another struggle he helped me with was the struggle against alcohol. We had both been battling with alcohol dependency for years, but through each other's support, we were finally winning that battle. (Tomorrow is my 180 day mark!!) I also was able to quit smoking. I had tried in the past, but was unsuccessful. I am very proud of these accomplishments, but I don't think that I could have done it without the support and encouragement I got from him.
When he left, I was utterly shocked. I did not even see it coming. I can barely type these words without reliving that horrendous pain. Literally, one day he was talking about putting a ring on my finger, then the next day he hated me. He packed his stuff and left...never to speak to me again. I had done NOTHING wrong. Yet, he told me to "get help" and not talk to him. He didn't bother even saying goodbye to my kids. It was absolutely devastating. No one in my family could believe it. They all really liked him, because none of them had seen his ugly side and I had never told them about it. I never wanted anyone to have a negative opinion of the man that I loved. He, on the other hand, has worked especially hard to damage my reputation in any way possible. He is actually telling people that I abuse my children! Just like he used to tell me he is certain his brother-in-law sexually molests his daughters. He has convinced people that I am the one who is crazy. These are the same people I had been taking up for. These are the same people he had told me he hated, had no respect for and "never wants to know" or be around. Now he is back to his old destructive habits. Now I see what a fake and a hypocrite he is.
When I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, suddenly everything made sense. His obsession with pornography and masturbation, his inability to feel empathy for others (he is actually quite aware of his lack of empathy), the inability to observe any boundaries in relationships & other aspects of his life, his over inflated ego that interferes with everything he does, the way he objectifies women, the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on.
Learning of this disorder has enabled me to 1) Not hold any resentment toward him. He knows not what he does. It is a defense mechanism. 2) Not take it personally 3) Know that I am not crazy and that I am not a bad person. When I shared information about NPD with his family, they reacted very negatively. I guess I should have expected it. They know that something is not right about him, but aren't exactly sure what it is. I would think that they would want to encourage him to get the help he needs, but apparently not. There is nothing I can do about it and my therapist says that it is no longer my problem. My objective is to figure out why I get involved with narcissistic men and how to change those patterns.