Trigger Warning: Suicide/Emotional Abuse
“I don’t want you to kill yourself with my fucking meds,” the psychiatrist says, “I’m going to give you a two-week low dose of Lexapro. If you decide to kill yourself with them, you will be in the ICU for weeks, feel like shit and be aware of it, and won’t die.”
“I don’t want you on meds at all but you need to talk this shit out with your therapist so I’m giving you a very low dose for a foundation while you do this. It is a huge loss and you will be dealing with a substantial amount of grief,” he continues, “You love her even though she is toxic. Even though your therapist and friends tell you she is abusive. She has isolated you. She knows your fear of abandonment and has dangled the wedding ring in front of you for 9 years so that you stay and comply. Keep your friends close. I want you back in a month. And don’t kill yourself.”
When I look back on our years together, there were red flags, hazard signs, and plenty of information that showed the toxicity of this union. All of which I ignored under the guise of wanting things to work out between us, and consequently underneath the veil of consciousness, a distorted understanding of unconditional love leading to the here and now of it.
She has been telling me how she feels about herself for 9 years. She has been telling me what she will and won’t do to, and for, me. When she says, “I’m not going anywhere,” what she means is “I will never stay with you.” When she says, “I will love you better than anyone has before,” she means, “I will hurt you more than anyone else before me.” When she says, “You are a piece of shit,” what she means is, “I am a piece of shit and I don’t like myself.” When she says, “You are selfish and entitled,” what she means is, “It will always be about me and I will hide that fact inside your weak psyche so that I will always win.” When she says, “You are defensive,” what she means is, “I am unhealthy, wrong, and broken but I will never admit it to you.” When she says, “You are triggered by everything,” what she means is, “I will push your buttons and make you look crazy so you don’t see that it is me who is triggered by everything.” When she says, “I appreciate it if you do not talk to my family and friends,” what she means is, “Do not show my people who I really am so I can always be the victim of you.” When she says, “There is no space for me,” what she means is, “I am the center of the universe and you will never have space.” When she says, “I am done,” what she means is, “You have figured me out and I am moving on to the people who make me feel good about myself but I will be back when they prove empty.”
I am not perfect by any means and I have made mistakes along the way. I have gone to considerable lengths to “fix” things about me that my wife does not “like” and consequently, I have grown much healthier because of it. That is true. It is also true that my wife thwarts any efforts from me to establish boundaries, share my experience, and offer constructive criticism about the relationship. My therapist says, “The healthier you become, the worse she gets.” That is also true. I’m also certain that my therapist would like to throat-punch me at least once a session because, after moments of asserting myself with my wife, I meekly stumble away accepting her version of my experience, apologizing, and defending her to anyone who will listen. This is a hallmark of emotional abuse. Everyone has seen it. Except me.
Why? Because I am hooked on the woman who lives behind the circle of narcissism, control, and insecurity that surrounds her. In the beginning, she adored me, and showered me with affection, gifts, promises, sex, and everything else that is wonderful about love. She always wanted to be with me. Be near me. Touch me. Call me. Text me. But over time, that slowed and she began only doing so intermittently, which made me work harder so that I might catch glimpses of her again.
The scars of my past have been prodded, poked at, and stepped on by her over the years. My shame triggers have easily been ignited by her dismissive, and often, harsh words. Though lately, I’ve been able to maneuver these conversations retaining a sense of self, boundaries, and calm. Except when she and I have been drinking. This has become the place where she unloads on me, pushes until there is a big reaction that makes me look crazy to the world, and in the morning, I swiftly apologize for my behavior. This is our cycle now. It’s also abusive. That sucks to say.
Like most of you, my past includes moments of regret, uncool pieces of personality, and vulnerabilities and insecurities easier to hide than show. Trauma, family dynamics, mental health, and lack of emotional language have garnered me Olympic medal contingency in codependency, people-pleasing, hiding my feelings, making excuses for others, not establishing boundaries, and allowing others’ actions to affect my self-worth. Seriously, I could carry the torch for Team I Abandon Myself.
Relationships are hard work. Two personalities. Two backgrounds. Two different experiences. Two separate humans. Two sets of emotional baggage. It’s fucking hard work and when both people cannot show up entirely honest, committed and self-aware (or at least eager to hear hard things about themselves), it becomes much like rowing a boat secured to a dock with only your hand. One hand. Missing fingers. On a windy day.
I love my wife but I cannot live around her narcissism. It will kill me. My therapist truly believes that my wife has no idea she is a narcissist. And I would agree.
So where does that leave me? With a tough choice. The only choice.
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18002738255 call the national suicide prevention lifeline if you need help.