beneath your thunder

“You ruin everything,” she screams and puts her hands on me. I don’t react. Hundreds of guests. A beautiful place. A beautiful feast. A beautiful night. Except, she gets wasted and does what she wants. Which is fine. Except when she crosses lines. Standing outside the very expensive restaurant I secured for her birthday, and with a slew of customers, friends, and family members watching, I let her push me around. Afterward, she walked away from me, asking strangers for a ride home while I followed behind her trying to get us a cab.

Earlier that evening, I found her in a loving embrace with an unknown man. This was not uncommon. I don’t want to embarrass her so I say nothing thinking later we can talk about this at home. After an hour of trying to save face for her with our family and friends, I decided it was enough for me. It was lonely, like most nights out in public and I needed to protect my peace. 

Eventually, I got us safely home. 

I was locked out of our bedroom for the night. 

The following morning she broke her silent treatment.

“Were you just going to leave me?” 

“I was drunk!” 

“It was my birthday!” 

“I was having fun!” 

“You ruin everything!!!” 

And so I apologize even though I handled myself quite well that night considering her behavior. I set a boundary (which I rarely did) and here I was apologizing for it while her behavior goes unchecked, as per usual. There was an explanation or an excuse for everything she did. And my reaction was always the focus. Even when it was a healthy one. 

She would provoke. I would get upset. And leave. Or drink more. And leave her. And then she would be pissed that I left her. We would sleep apart. In the morning, I would apologize. And spend weeks trying to get us back to good again. Only to be met with yet another sabotage that took shape in provoking me again, usually in a bar. And then she would say, “Two weeks. Like clockwork” as if I had been the one destroying us again. And you know what’s fucked up? I believed her. 

I’m not a saint. A few of my reactions have been very extreme over the years. At times, I was mindful and held onto things until we got home or suffered quietly with a fake brave face. But there were times she provoked the piss out of me by flirting with other men. On especially hard nights, I would straight up leave her. Even when she was hammered, yes. I often tried to hold on long enough to get her home before she got hurt or someone took advantage of her. But some nights, fuck you, was all I could think. I had to get out of there.

It’s a cycle, isn’t it? 

Her friends and family do not see this part of her. Or if they do, they ignore it or maybe subconsciously encourage it by thinking of her as a victim of life. I get it. I know her life story. It’s incredibly horrific and for the past 9 years, I’ve excused her behavior because of it. I take on all of the blame. I apologize for her actions. I work on myself. I work on her shit too. It’s taken me a long time to see that I have been enabling her by not holding her accountable, holding my boundaries, or implementing consequences when they are crossed. Nope, I was her campaign manager, concierge, and number one fan. I loved her. I loved who she was behind the horseshit. But… the horseshit was still shit. And I didn’t deserve it. 

There is a lot of social media discussion about narcissists knowing what they do at all times. And while this may be true for most, I wholeheartedly believe that my wife is unaware of this part of her. Maybe you’re thinking that I am trying to make myself feel better. I get that. I’ve thought that too. Right? Because if she did know, it would mean that she never loved me and it was all a lie. And maybe, I’m not ready to know that yet. Because I really loved her. And who wants to know that right? That every genuine moment of joy, vulnerability, and connection might be a lie?

For 9 years, I sidestepped and fought this conversation with my therapist. Who wants to know that the love of their life is a narcissist? Or emotionally abusive? Psychologically rearranged with little hope of recovering? 

Survival tactics used as children to withstand horrendous amounts of abuse have the tendency to become part of our adult armor. She worked very hard not to be like her father. I could see her fighting this inside of her when she was angry. It was always close to the surface. She seemed so stable, secure, and confident early in our marriage. Why is something so big like this just under the surface? Hasn’t she done the work in therapy? And why was constantly blaming me? 

“You’re killing me!” 

“I cannot go backward!” 

“You’re so entitled!” 

“You are a narcissist!!” 

“Now, you get the shitty version of me!” 

These are interesting quotes, right? Who is she talking to? 

Because it’s not me. 

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