I wasted years – Y E A R S – not getting over the fact that my former husband left me. I desperately went over our past trying to figure out when it all went wrong. I shouldered the blame over and over for his departure. I tried to make things right and be kind during the separation and subsequent divorce out of love and respect for him and for my kids.
I tried to put myself in his shoes, to see his side. I tortured myself for years trying to understand him and our relationship. I couldn’t understand how it all went wrong. I asked him if he wanted to work on the relationship, to go to counseling, but he flatly refused. Oh sure, he’d throw me a bone of kindness occasionally, but for the most part, he wasn’t kind and I took it as I wasn’t enough.
But I’m wiser now and I can see clearly now that the blinders are off. I’ve been reading eye-opening books on narcissism lately that make my healing like lightning.
Because guess what? It was never about me. And it’s not about you either!
Looking back, I missed the signs that now shine like neon. When he’d criticize or pick a fight, I’d resort to be emotional about it instead of looking at it logically and calling him on his error. Even when I would speak up because I knew he was lying, he wouldn’t give up the lie and instead would change the subject over and over, confusing me with manipulation. I would get exhausted from his illogical lies and give up. And guess what?! That’s what he was counting on and so he won every time.
I hated the silent treatment and would beg him to speak with me. I’d end up blaming myself for silly stuff because in my head, that’s what he must be mad about when nothing was further from the truth. It was simple manipulation and it worked.
I thought I could change him and help him to connect once he realized how powerfully amazing that feeling could be. I tried all sorts of ways to help him to feel connected. When he was in a giving mood, I’d think he was trying, but then he’d resort to disconnection and all of my hard work would have been for nothing and I’d feel defeated. Little did I know that it was all for show because he couldn’t/wouldn’t connect.
I waited on him because for me, it was another way to show my love. I made his special coffee complete with the foam on top every day and delivered it to him as he got out of the shower before work. While he would say thank you, on the days that he didn’t work, there was never even so much as a cup of tea for me. And yet, I was ever hopeful that this Sunday morning when he was up so early, that he would think about me. Nope. Never.
On special occasions and holidays, he was very generous. He would give me an extravagant present to show off to everyone. While I’m a simple girl who isn’t really into big pieces of pricey jewels, a big ostentatious bauble became the habitual gift. It wasn’t about me and my tastes. It was about the show, the look what I bought my wife. And when once I asked if we could return it and maybe just take a weekend away with the money he’d just spent, he lost his mind and refused to return it. And, then in punishment, he took the gift away from me and I never saw it again. And I never did get that weekend away with him either. So I learned to thank him for whatever he gave me and find gratitude instead of being mad.
When I bought him a present, it was never right. Even when I bought exactly what he mentioned that he’d like. So he told me that he would buy his own gifts and I could wrap them up. I was hurt at first. I didn’t understand because I had gotten exactly what he had said he wanted. But it wasn’t about me. It was about his control and a way to make me feel badly. And a way for him to have everyone pity him because his wife couldn’t get the gift right, even when he’d told her what to get him. Which by the way was a complete lie, but it made me feel so badly that I stayed quiet.
Because I learned not to make him look badly in public or in front of his family. That wasn’t tolerated well. So I sat back and let him spin lies and smiled because I knew if I didn’t, he would pick a fight at home with me later and I was too tired by then to have to tangle with his temper.
He never hit me. Instead he utilized the silent treatment to keep me in line. And I think that was worse than a few bumps and bruises (not that I think that is easy either). But the mental, emotional scars don’t heal as quickly or as well as a bruise.
I know how sick that sounds from a healthy perspective. Believe me I think he had me in his craw for much of my life. But that time is over now.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?