Experts say there are two ways to escape the grip of a narcissist – remove him from your life completely, or provide him with his narcissistic supply. The first option is quite impossible to do with 3 children between us. I am tired of the second.
During my 17+ years with Mr. N/A, I spent most of my time as a co-dependent victim of his abuse. I was so wrapped up in his needs, I had no idea how sick the whole relationship really was.
The divorce brought out the worst in him; I was leaving him, and that was unacceptable. I was in the early stages of reclaiming my Self, and I was bucking the system. Fights were big and loud. I was not going to let him bully me, but I was clumsy in my attempts to set limits. I relied on the court documents to establish boundaries, and I hid behind them, trying to enforce every letter. But narcissists don’t abide by rules, so my attempts at fairness were fruitless.
Over the next couple of years, I added a few more tools to my toolbox, and some worked and some didn’t.
Eventually, in the interest of preserving my sanity, I pretty much let him do whatever the hell he wanted. Come early, come late… don’t tell me what’s going on… break the rules… same shit that went down in the marriage. It made me mad now, because I was clear enough to see what was really going on, and it wasn’t okay. But I learned to limit my anger, get over it quickly, and move on.
C’est la vie.
Well, it seems the pendulum has swung in the other direction yet again, and in learning another coping skill, I recognize the need for me to set boundaries that cannot be crossed. This does not sit well with a narcissist, and, to others, my behavior may appear to be extreme, because they have probably not yet unmasked him and because most relationships do not require such a firm line in the sand. It took me 17 years to learn who he is beneath his public persona.
Hell, he still fools me sometimes.
Yesterday, I had to make a very difficult decision in order to keep a boundary with him. I offered him a choice of bringing back the kids from their vacation at the beach in the morning so I could start my agreed-upon vacation day with them (his ended on Friday), or having the police show up at his door to get them at the shore. Unfortunately for everyone, he chose the latter, as he firmly told me they would not be home by my requested time, and not only that, but he really didn’t know when they would return at all and he would let me know when they were on the road.
Morning dawned, the weather was divine, and I really just wanted to go for a run and not drive 2 hours in beach traffic and not deal with the police. It would have been so easy to roll over again.
My support team and my inner voice strongly encouraged me to set my boundaries and keep them, even if he didn’t. They advised me to do the hard thing, not the easy thing, and I’m very proud to say I listened.
It was a huge inconvenience. It was not a happy moment for me to arrive with a police escort and remove my children from his care. I felt no sense of smug satisfaction. No… I was terrified. His scary behavior came out, and he could not contain it – even from the police. Hands on hips… pursed lips and a sick smile… nodding his head and breathy, stomach-wrenching sarcasm that made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He was trembling with anger – literally.
On the way back home, the kids were unwinding from the ordeal when our car broke down on the Garden State Parkway. I spent most of our lunchtime trying to convince one of my kids that their father had nothing to do with the car trouble. They were convinced he did something to break the car. I looked deeply into my child’s eyes and said that there was no way Daddy did such a terrible thing because he loved his kids and would never put them in a dangerous situation. And then I spent a few minutes silently convincing myself of the same thing.
The events reminded me exactly of the time when I was headed to DC for a weekend trip during our divorce. He was so jealous. He was already fucking our neighbor; I was setting up dates in Virginia on my weekends without the kids, and he was livid. (After one of my trips, I caught him masturbating in our bedroom with some soft black lace panties from my weekend bag wrapped around his dick. What a sick fuck.)
Anyway, one particular weekend, I had car trouble the day before I left. A service call indicated water in my gas tank. I had to keep a fucking lock on it after that since we shared a garage, and I was never really sure if he was responsible. The service department told me it was most likely sabotage. If he did it, the joke was on him, because they gave me a car to use for my trip, and I was able to see my friends and keep my dates in spite of it.
The children and I have discussed the situation, and they are beginning to calm down now. My girls completely understand why I did it, and they even told me they were proud of me! 🙂
I do hope that my determination to break the cycle of abuse will continue to have a positive effect on my children, and that they – particularly the girls – will not enter into similar unhealthy relationships in their future.
Somewhere along the line, I equated sanity-maintenance with acquiescence and confrontation-avoidance. I think I’ve got my sea legs now. I’m ready to take a stand, even if it’s the hard road – for myself and for my kids.