My Story-My Reason-My Why

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.

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Lies

img_8204I don’t remember the first time you lied to me. I am sure there are many lies that I am not even aware of, and the first one is probably one of those times. Some lies were much bigger than others, and in some twisted way make sense as to why you would lie about the situation. To cover up the truth about things you did not want me to know about. I always seemed to find out though, especially with the bigger lies you told me. Other lies were trivial, no real reason to lie but you did anyway. You lied all the time, you lied to everyone not just me, you mostly lied to yourself, and many times you believed your own lies, so you naturally wanted me to believe them too.

Some of the lies I found out about enraged me, even though I knew I was being lied to when you spoke, when I found out the truth, when I knew for sure you had lied, I would become hurt, angry and confrontational. The confrontations angered you, and the rages would always ensue. You would lie more, lie about the lie, lie because of the lie.  Many times I knew you were lying, and I would let it go because I did not have it in me to endure the rage that was sure to follow if I said anything. Smaller lies, lies about things that did not really matter, lies about things there was no reason to lie about, lies about things that the truth made more sense, and it did not really hurt anything. I would know you were lying, you would know you were lying, and you would know that I knew you were lying, no need to point out the obvious and suffer the rage over small matters that did not really matter. If I could somehow keep peace in my home and in my life I would. I am sure you thought you were getting one over on me, but you were not, it was my choice to keep quiet. My marriage to you gave new meaning to the phrase “pick your battles”, because every facet of my life with you had the potential to become a battle.

Other times I did not care how much hell I would have to pay for calling you out on your lies, the situation had to be addressed. Infidelity was always one of these issues, and I did not care how much you were going to rage, turn things around on me, and lie about your lies.  When you were done raging you would shut me out with the silent treatment that would sometimes last for days.  Then suddenly and without warning you would become loving again. No talking about what had happened, no resolution to anything ever, it was over because you said it was over, time to make up, and if I wanted peace I best go along with it. After years of the narcissistic cycle I had been conditioned to whatever it would take to achieve peace in our home, even if that meant no resolution, no closure, and never sticking up for myself or the truth.

I grew to expect you to lie, and I was never really sure if you were being honest or not, this included both positive and negative things in our lives together. If you were lying to me, about me, and tearing me down with lies, were you lying when you said you loved me?

The most frequent, repeating and heart breaking you lie you told me over the years was “it will never happen again”.  Promises, so many promises to never rage, lie, or cheat again, promises of a happy ever after, but the promises were just more lies. I used to believe your promises, and I would be so happy and hopefully of a wonderful life with you, that the lies, and infidelity really would never happen again. Over time I realized that it would happen again, and again, and my life with you would always be filled with lies, broken promises, and a broken heart. I think you wanted it to be true, but you could not help yourself, and your true happiness came from tearing me down, and you did not care that it was destroying me

Cognitive Dissonance

So many times I have tried to make sense of your erratic, and sometimes irrational behavior. Behavior that just did not add up or make sense. Sometimes I would think it was me, that I just didn’t have experience with someone like you, that someone with my insecurities could not begin to understand a person like you. But deep inside I knew, my gut knew that something was not right about you, your actions, or your behavior.

We both made decent money at our jobs, definitely no struggles and we always had enough to enjoy most things we wanted to do in life. Yet you would steal things all the time, food from work, an item or two from the self checkout, antacids from CVS, random shit that you could easily of paid for, and you were good at stealing the stuff.  Sometimes I would not even notice you had stolen anything until we had gotten into the car. I never understood it, and would get upset every time I found out. I would try to rationalize with you about it, “it was wrong”, “you were hurting your karma”, “what will you do if you get caught ?”, “why don’t you just pay for it?” Your responses were always the same, you would tell me you didn’t want to hear it, or tell me I steal, which I didn’t, but you felt the need to deflect what you were doing back onto me. It was confusing, and as much as I tried I could not make sense of it.

We worked together, that’s how we met. At one point you thought I was an amazing bartender with nothing but respect and admiration in my skills, knowledge and work ethic. Slowly over time I became lazy, sloppy, and did nothing right in your eyes. Nothing about me had changed, if anything I had become a stronger bartender, with more knowledge, more responsibility, and my work ethic blew your out of the water for the simple fact that I wasn’t a thief. It was confusing, and as much as I tried, I could not make sense of it.

Looking back on these (and many more examples of my confusing life with you), I now know that I was experiencing cognitive dissonance. I realize that if I had proper boundaries, and had my deal breakers in place early, and stuck to them that our relationship would have probably only lasted a few months. However I am quick to forgive, quick to fall in love, and extremely loyal. I still am, however I now have boundaries, and deal breakers that I will not budge on ever again, for anyone. Even if it means spending the rest of my life alone, it will be better than ever having to go through the humiliation, heartbreak and confusion I went through with you.

The term “Cognitive Dissonance” literally means “mental distress”. Mental distress is experienced when you have two conflicting thoughts about the same thing at the same time. Our thoughts and actions need to be in agreement with each other, when they are not we experience cognitive dissonance, and we have to either change our thoughts to match our actions, or change our actions to match our thoughts. In abusive relationships the degree of cognitive dissonance can be extreme. We will try to make logical sense out of illogical behavior, and we are able to change our thoughts by either, denying the thoughts, or rationalizing them. This leaves the emotionally invested victims that are experiencing cognitive dissonance mentally exhausted, and unable to think straight.

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Loneliness

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When I was with him the loneliness could be unbearable at times. I longed for kindness and I got cruelty. I was so desperate for any kind of love from him I would ignore the lies and infidelity so I could hopefully get a scrap of humanity from him, and bask in the moment.

However the moments never lasted long, he would always manage to point out an infraction, and then the rage would emerge, followed by the silent treatment. A part of me died every time this cycle appeared, and after so many years of this there wasn’t a lot of me left. I walked on eggshells and lived in fear of forgetting a snack from the grocery store, or buying the wrong flavor tea. These were the severity of my infractions against him, and when there were none, when I made sure I had done everything right, he would still find something to tear me down for.

After the rage, then silent treatment cycles, it was over in his world, and he would want to “go on a hike” or “watch a movie ” together like nothing had happened. If I dare try to resolve anything, try to tell him how I was feeling because of his actions then I was the one causing problems. He would promise it would never happen again, and I learned to let it go, and just try and appreciate the peace until the next time, and there was always a next time.

The promises were empty, and empty promises are lies, he knew he would do it again, and I knew he would do it again. How long until the next rage was always a mystery, maybe a week, maybe an hour.

We have been apart for a year now, I live alone, and he is already remarried. So I do have days, not whole days anymore, and not every day, but parts of some of my days, when I feel alone, because I am alone. However I am not lonely, I know what true, heart breaking loneliness is because of the countless hours I spent in the same room with him. To feel alone in a marriage, lonely in the same room with someone you love, is an awful and heart wrenching feeling.