I have stories. My stories, our stories. Stories of abuse, manipulation, triangulation, lies, infidelity, and love. If I had just one story for every year that we were together, I would have a lot of stories to tell of verbal abuse, and heartbreak. If I had just one story for every month we were together I would have way too many examples of narcissistic rage, and the insidious breaking down of an empathic and kind-hearted person. The attacks were not limited to yearly or monthly incidences, sometimes they were every week, every day, every waking hour, growing in frequency, and intensity over time.
I am not telling my story for sympathy. I am sharing my story to help others who maybe trapped in a similar situation to see that it never ends, that no matter how much you love someone, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you give of yourself, they never change. There is only one way out, and that is to save yourself. No need to worry about them, they will replace you so quickly you feel like you never mattered to them, because you didn’t.
I was with a covert narcissist for 18 years. We had times of poverty, times of success, times when we worked together, times when we worked apart, and in his case times when he didn’t work at all. Nothing mattered, the abuse was always there, always an excuse, always a reason, and always the promises that it would never happen again. My reactions varied as much, if not more than our life circumstances. I would be kind, cry, rage back, remain silent, lock myself in the bathroom, nothing ever worked. Nothing ever made him reflect on his actions, and how his words were affecting me, hurting me, destroying my love for him, breaking our marriage beyond repair, nothing would make it stop, because he liked it, he liked destroying me, it made him feel good, powerful and in control of our relationship. For a long time I wanted to know why, and when things calmed down I was determined to find out why, but all I would get was promises that it would never happen again, promises of a happily ever after, and breakfast in bed. Nothing was ever resolved, and I did not know then, what I know now, about narcissistic abuse. That as long as he got a reaction from me, it would never stop, it was his fuel, and it made him feel good. The promises of a happily ever after, flowers and breakfast in bed were to assure that I did not leave, little did I know then but it also created trauma bonds.
The trauma bonds were very strong after so many years of enduring the narcissistic cycle. My CPTSD was high, and the anxiety from living life walking on eggshells was unbearable. This all continued long after I left, and I still struggle to this day with the aftermath of what he put me through.
For 18 years, I was a devoted wife, and my husband was mentally ill, and I could not leave him. I wanted to stick by his side, help him, love him, and my love and devotion would cure him. We were going to grow old together, and be happy. I can not say for sure what one trait it was that made me give up, there were so many, and they were all intertwined, and intermingled in a big ball of narcissistic abuse. However it was the lies that made me see that he would never change. The lies were part of everything he did to us. The rages were full of lies, the promises were lies, betrayals were lies. He lied about everything, lied for reasons, lied for no reason. So many lies from one person to another in a relationship that is supposed to be built on trust. I could no longer love, and care about someone who I could not trust. The abuse was changing me, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I thought about, planned on, and saved to leave so many times in our years together. I have stayed in hotels, with friends, with family, but I never actually moved out. I did all this in an attempt to wake him up, to make him realize he was losing me, but I always came home, and the effects were always temporary.
One evening I sat on our bathroom floor sobbing while he raged on the other side of the door because I forgotten something he had asked for at the grocery store. I contemplating taking my own life, not for long, but I did think it, for a brief moment I felt it and the relief it would bring me, the need to do whatever it took to escape the rage that was going on outside of the door. That’s when I realized that I had to go, still intertwined in trauma bonds, I knew that if I really left him, he would wake up, work on his demons, and save the marriage he was destroying.
The next morning I got to work. The first thing I did was google his behavior, his symptoms. I then discovered the world of cluster B personality disorders, NPD, and the dark triad. I could not get enough, and there was plenty to read, see and listen to on the subject. Some of the articles I read where describing my life, as if I could have written them. I ordered the book “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists:Coping with the One Way Relationship in Love, Work and Family by Eleanor Payson”. Through this book I discovered so much about not only my husband, but also my parents, and about me, and why I put up with this behavior. I was a fixer, I always knew that, always wanting to fix people, fix people who did not want to be fixed, fix people who were not even kind to me. Over and over I read how there was no cure for NPD, and that people within this spectrum can not be cured, that they will never change. I considered this a challenge, no one is so messed up that they can not change, and losing me was going to make him change, I just knew it.