You won’t find bruises, broken bones, or split lips. Nothing to outwardly show the world that I am not okay. Sometimes I wonder if I might have liked physical abuse better. The physical body has the ability to heal itself. How does one heal the invisible? I don’t know what to do with the psychological damage or the daunting task of untangling myself from the labyrinth of narcissistic abuse. Each string I pull is connected to another one and another.
It feels like being trapped inside a vehicle slowly sinking to the bottom of a lake. Nobody can hear my frantic screams and there is nothing to break the windows for an escape. As I’m slowly falling to an inevitable death of the spirit, I am left questioning if this really was my fault. And in that darkness, there is a knowing that nobody is coming to save me.
I’m not sure what really happened to me. This is who I thought I was and this is who I became. Why? What happened? Why do I end up in relationships where I’m silenced, belittled, and diminished? Why do I find narcissistic bullies? Why do I continually find this type of human? What’s the lesson? Why do they find me? What are we both looking for? Is it love from the one who wouldn’t give it? Mom? Dad? Questions for me.
And maybe you.
I was limping along not fixing anything that was going on inside of me. I didn’t have time because I was always focusing on her. I was carrying so much inside of me. Things I was not allowed to say. Things I was not allowed to see. Things I was not allowed to feel. When my character was attacked, it ignited that quiet rage that was always living sidled up with my anxieties and fears. I was tired, felt unloved, and sometimes, even hated. As time went by, I became easier prey. Push my buttons and watch me spin. I didn’t know about reactive abuse. Like her, I thought that I was just an asshole.
A year ago, I became heavily depressed. It’s what happens when I am unable to speak out about my needs, wants, and wishes. It’s what happens when I’m hurting and the people I love don’t see me. It happened when I was a kid and it’s quite glaring here in the aftermath of my wife. I stopped laughing. I stopped writing her poetry or picking her flowers on the way home from work. The hugs from me became less and less. And the depression got worse and worse. And she would sit from her mighty horse, looking down on me, and say things like, “You’re a depressive. You are negative. You are boring. You are a lump. Dead inside.” Huh.
It was never, “Baby, what’s going on with you? Let’s fix this.” Instead, attacks on my character increased. It makes sense now. Maybe if I was depressed, negative, boring, or a lump, then it would mean it had nothing to do with her behavior. She would get off scot-free because it was ‘my fault’ the entire time. Another rabbit hole of heartbreak.
She was unapologetic for her character and behavior. She craved attention and adoration always. It seemed to be her number one goal. And because I loved her, I doted on her. I adored her. She was my queen. As time wore on though, and things got worse, I adored her less and less and less. So her behavior got worse and worse and worse.
Like some of you, I have fears of someone cheating on me and/or someone leaving. And so the inappropriate moments out in public with my wife purported themselves into catastrophic moments between us. I would find her in loving embraces on dance floors. She would flirt, seduce, and make out with people. She would hit on them when I wasn’t around and they would tell me later. She was a messy, selfish, thoughtless drunk. I would either leave the establishment and pay the price of her injury of abandonment or I would stay, pretend I was fine, and head to the bartender to get plowed. There are moments I am not proud of on those nights. There are moments when I abandon myself. The difference between us is that I regret my behavior and worked hard in therapy to change those things for me. But it was futile regarding our marriage because I could work on ten thousand things about myself and it wouldn’t matter because she wasn’t doing the same.
Salt in the wounds. Always. We are rubbed raw by continual abuse and it’s unfathomable to even begin to elaborate on the feelings that came when more was dumped on me. I left a very successful job to be with her. I sold a home that I built and loved to be with her. She works remotely for a hugely successful corporation and was able to keep her job. I struggled to make the same six-figure salary in our new place. And although I’ve worked hard to establish myself again, it’s been hard. So I was excited when I was given a six-figure opportunity that involved traveling for half of the year. She said, “What’s the point of being together if you will be gone half the year?” And so I declined. Isolation. When she started belittling me for not having enough money to do things with and for her, and unspeakable sorrow burrowed deep into my soul. I wanted to come out of my skin and pin her to the ground in a rage. Instead, I breathed in and out, trying to be mindful of my response. It was hard work most of the time. She would get me sometimes.
She would continually say things to me like, “You’re afraid to be alone. You’re not independent.” A rage inside again. There were several occasions that I took it upon myself to do things on my own like take myself out to eat or to a movie. Those occasions were followed by accusations of not being where I said I was, acting out of character, and not being trustworthy. And on those rare occasions, I was trained that if I do things on my own, I will be kicked out of the bedroom for a night or two coupled with the silent treatment. So when she would talk about her male co-workers, saying things like, “Oh he is so adventurous. He does stuff on his own. I like that about him,” I quietly fumed and could only think asshole.
And the things she would say out in public… uh.
Don’t listen to her, she is dumb.
She doesn’t know what she is talking about.
She doesn’t remember anything.
Why do I have to teach you everything?
Didn’t anyone teach you anything?
Get away from me?
I’ve manifested everything in my life, my career, my home, and my relationship….well…
And the things she would say privately.
You’re a piece of shit.
You’re a waste of life.
It’s always about you.
There is no room for anyone else.
You play the victim.
You are entitled.
You don’t see me.
This is the worst relationship I’ve ever had.
The sex is awful.
You always talk about yourself.
You’re not present.
Why don’t you listen to me? You never listen.
You don’t remember anything.
And boundaries were a shit show.
Months ago, we were out at dinner, the alcohol flowed and the bullshit began. The buttons pushed and pushed and pushed. Bombarded by the freight train, I froze. After the circus-like spinster assholery swept over the air, she got up and left me. She took the car and I walked home in silence.
I stayed with my brother for a month not wanting to talk to her. I was starting to be done. I was starting to hate her more and more. So I shut down my social media, started opening up to friends about my marriage, and spent a lot of time alone. I wanted to figure out what the fuck was happening to me and to my life.
And then the narcissist injury played out. There were fake emergencies. Drunk phone calls. Voicemails. Emails. Texts. Hateful words. Goodbyes. More calls. Erased from her social media. Her family and friends were instructed to never talk to me again.
All of this because I needed space.
“Didn’t you think about your partner having abandonment issues?” she asked me a month later.
What the fuck? She abandoned me all the time. Hard moments brought the wedding ring off, our bedroom door locked and days of silent treatment only broken by her saying, “Are you going to ignore me forever?” She took everything personally. And my reaction to her was the focus. Not what she was doing but how I was unable to behave a certain way. The floor was always moving. I could never relax. When she asked me why I was uncomfortable or if I was okay, I usually lied to her because I didn’t want another fight. I didn’t want the ring to come off again. I didn’t want to be sequestered in the guest room again. I’m not a liar. It’s not my nature. But I will do it if I need to survive.
Typically, I’m a very social human, the life of the party, and very well-liked by people. But lately, I don’t want to be around them. I don’t want to be out in the world. I go to work and return home to binge-watch Netflix, order out shitty food, and curl up in my bed. I take my wedding ring off and put it back on. I take her photos down in the new apartment. I put them up. And take them down. I rage at her out loud when alone. I cry at weird moments. I miss the little things like her lying on my chest every night. And then I rage again. My heart hurts. I stuff my face and gain weight. I listen to music and then I don’t. I feel crazy. And peaceful. I feel abandoned. Betrayed. Alive. Confused. Calm.
With each day of no contact, I return to the land of the living from the land of the lost.
And that’s something, right?