[Author’s Note: I usually embrace humor in my writing. Because who doesn’t love a good snort of ginger ale up their nose? This is a serious piece about my emotional state, past and present. You don’t need to read it. But I so needed to write it.]
I was never a big fan of Facebook. I was into blogging and tweeting and life was good. Until it wasn’t anymore.
My marriage exploded just over six months ago and my self esteem imploded until it was a small blip barely registering a pulse.
Facebook became my life support and I don’t think I’d be sitting here today writing this if I hadn’t been able to tap into some incredible resources found through friends on Facebook.
I’ve spent the past few months trying to figure out what went wrong in my marriage. Why he made the choice to cheat instead of talk. Why he decided to walk out the door. Why he decided it was okay to betray my trust. Why he wasn’t the man I thought he was. So many whys and so many times I thought it was me.
Thanks to Facebook, I finally have some answers to these questions. I’ve been able to trade in my rose colored glasses for a pair of glasses that are in focus with reality. And the first thing I learned is that I have to stop blaming myself.
I need to let go of the shame that I was the one who broke our marriage.
Because I didn’t. It was him. And there was nothing I could do to make him stay. Except to accept his affair and let him continue to disrespect me and our marriage. It’s been an epiphany to discover I was trying to survive in the midst of an emotionally abusive relationship. No outward signs of harm. It was all internal yet just as destructive. Because it made me doubt myself.
Now that those glasses are gone, here’s what I see more clearly: I was in a relationship with a manipulative narcissist. Or narcopath as some therapists term them.
Our life together revolved around him. It was not a 50/50 sharing of love, life, and respect. It was 100 per cent what he wanted, when he wanted it. I said yes. I always said yes.
I thought I was being supportive all those times I said yes. Now I know it was a way to keep the peace. To avoid the pouting and the “you never let me do what I want” conversations. To avoid the silent treatment. So he wouldn’t leave me.
I said yes when he asked me to move in with him right away although I was enjoying some time on my own in my own apartment for the first time since my early 20’s. He told me he didn’t like being alone. He told me he didn’t like being without me. He told me he missed me when I wasn’t around. He said he was addicted to me.
I said yes every time he asked me to go somewhere or do something with him even if I was busy at work, with friends, or wanting some down time. Because he didn’t like being alone.
I said yes when he wanted to move to a ritzy new apartment that we couldn’t really afford because it was the trendy “in” place to live and he liked the attention he got from people when he said where he lived. Not we. Him.
I said yes when he wanted to tell people at work that we were involved, even though I wasn’t ready yet.
I said yes when he told me it would be better if I transferred to another department to avoid any hint of “favoritism.” Even though I was the one who’d worked in that office well before him and it meant taking a job that I intensely disliked.
I said yes every time I wanted to have friends or family over and he didn’t.
I said yes when he demanded I buy presents for his friends and family as it made him “anxious.” (Anxious is code for he can’t be bothered to take time doing something for someone else unless he receives something in return.)
I said yes when he said we should quit our jobs, retire early, and go sailing. Even though I was not a sailor, had never spent any time on the water. That I was scared. When I expressed any concerns he said, “trust me.” But he never told me how he would keep us safe. He never took my concerns seriously, even when some of my concerns came true and if not for my “weird safety needs” we would have been in some serious shit.
I said yes when he wanted to go to parties and community events, where, once we arrived, he’d leave and start talking to everyone there except me. Where he’d flirt with other women and pour on the charm.
I said yes when he said he was tired and just needed to sit at the computer and zone out for a while instead of spending time with me. But a while became hours of him typing away on his laptop, having conversations with everyone but never me.
I said yes to him always leaving it up to me what movies we’d watch, where we’d eat, what clothes he should buy, how we should decorate our home. He left decisions to me when it was a decision about “us” versus “him.” If he wanted something he seemed to have no problem making a decision.
I said yes to him taking credit for every single thing we did in our lives together; to him always saying “I” instead of “we.”
I said yes to him wanting me to do activities with him so he wouldn’t be lonely. And dismissing my needs when I wanted the same.
I said yes when he told me people had always told him he was perfect. His mother. His sisters. His close friends. I used to tease him about that. Until I realized he truly believed it to be true.
I said yes when he’d spend time helping other people but leave me to handle things by myself.
I said yes when he dismissed my ideas, suggestions, wants, needs.
I said yes when he expressed absolutely no interest or excitement about my accomplishments. I wrote a novel. I amazed myself. Is it any good? Probably not but still, that’s pretty amazing. He never once asked me about the novel, how the writing was going, was I enjoying the effort. Zero interest. Because it wasn’t about him.
I said yes. To all this and so much more. I thought I was being a supportive partner…putting his needs before my own because that’s what you do. Right?
Wrong. So wrong. I know that now. I wasn’t being supportive. I wasn’t in a healthy relationship. I was a doormat. I was a freaking idiot to have allowed this to go on for 15 years. To allow someone to manipulate me to such an extent that I completely sublimated my own needs and wants to his own.
I stopped saying yes. I started saying no. Not to a lot of things. Just a few things that I didn’t enjoy doing. And I know now that was the beginning of the end. Because he didn’t like that. His response was the classic “silent treatment.” But not in a obvious way. He would just not interact with me at all. He’d spend hours on his computer, Skyping and emailing people. He’d find excuses to be out of the house for hours at a time, not letting me know where he was or when he’d be home. Whenever I wanted to talk, about every day things, his response was he was tired. And off he’d go to the computer.
In his mind, I’d stopped giving him the admiration he felt was his due. And that was just not on. He knew I’d twigged to the fact that his persona of Mr. Helpful, Mr. Charming was all a lie. He didn’t do things for other people because it made them feel good about themselves. He did it to make him feel good about himself. He’s great at patting his own back.
Now that I was seeing a hint of what was behind the curtain, he did what any normal, emotionally healthy person [sarcasm font] would do. He began an affair with another man’s wife. I no longer thought he was perfect so he had to find someone else to supply him with what he needs. Which is admiration because, after all, everything he does, says, thinks, is perfect. And sympathy, that he was in a relationship with someone who didn’t appreciate how wonderful he was because she’d stopped saying yes to fulfilling his wants without asking for anything in return.
He surrounds himself with enablers. Those people who never disagree with him. Who only “want him to be happy” and who he knows would never say, “you’re a fucking idiot and you’re fucking up your life” but rather reinforce his false self by telling him he’s perfect. I’m no longer in touch with these people.
Real friends don’t pull this shit.
And I’m serious about him thinking he’s perfect. He told me this at the beginning of our relationship, and for many years after, and I didn’t pay it the attention it deserved. Talk about a huge red flag.
This post ended up being way longer than I had intended. I guess I needed a good purge. It’s six months now since he walked out and, except for some #bitchtweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook, I’ve kept quiet.
But if you’re wondering how I’m really doing? I’m doing good. Really good. And a large part of that is due to Facebook. So many people have shared with me their own personal nightmares of being involved with a narcissist. I’ve read, and read, and read, so much on this personality disorder (Narcissist Personality Disorder – NPD) that it’s helped me find a way out the other side of my own personal nightmare.
I’m past blaming myself. I’m done with his disrespect of my boundaries. His choice to cheat and betray our marriage was not my choice. I’ve accepted the fact that there were many signs of his disrespect of me and the really shitty way he treated me these past 15 years, that I didn’t see. I just didn’t see them. Or if I did, I didn’t recognize the signs for what they were.
But no shame. No blame. I forgive myself. I fucked up and I accept.
He showed me who he really is and finally, I see.
Now it’s all about moving forward. There is nothing left in the house that belongs to him. Except for the memories. Which I thought, a few months ago, I could live with. Turns out, not so much. So I’ve put the house up for sale. I’ve gotten rid of gifts I bought him over the years that he couldn’t be bothered to pack and take with him when he left. I’ve burned all our wedding photos. I gave away the gifts that my former friend/his new supply bought me because eww.
One of the many things about his betrayal that has affected me is that he cheated with a supposed friend of mine, who lives in Denmark, and because of their relationship, I feel like it’s tainted my fondness for Danish design. I used to love reading blogs about Danish and Scandi design and now I just can’t even.
I guess I still have some work to do *quirks eyebrow* about my feelings after being snowballed by two people I thought cared about me. Because while my head understands that it’s not healthy to let their actions stop me from doing what I enjoy, my heart still twinges whenever I do.
But one day soon I’ll be in that place. Wearing just plain old glasses. Thanks to my friends on Facebook.
Have you ever been involved with a manipulative person? How did you cope?