After the discard One year later, almost to the day, and life is nothing like I imagined it would be. In some ways, it’s better than I could’ve hoped for. In some ways, not so much. Only one thing really matters, though. I’m finally free.
One year ago, almost to the day, I was struggling to process how the hell I’d been discarded… AFTER my husband, and I, had already separated. One year ago, I was so beat down, I could barely fake normal functioning. Weighing a mere 92 lbs.- with my bones making sharp angles, where there should have been curves- I’d aged over a decade in just two years.
My hair had thinned considerably, and my teeth had suddenly begun falling out (I’d always had perfect teeth until then). I carried a mini-pharmacy in my purse, with prescriptions for pain, anxiety/panic attacks, and adult ADD (my executive function totally shit the bed). Clearly, I was a hot mess.
A year ago, I was clinging to sanity by my fingernails.
I was more than exhausted. From the very moment I told my husband I wanted to separate, he began his retaliation. I endured ceaseless assaults, which cycled from harassment, to hoovering, to highly targeted mind-fucking. Then, back again. I was constantly on high alert, wondering when he was going to strike next. I was constantly trying to guess where the next blow would come from.
On one day, my husband would beg my forgiveness. “‘ll try harder, I swear!” . He missed his family so much. The next day, he’d be brushing us off, because some barely-legal girl from Tinder (or, one whose “services” he’d seen advertised) was waiting for him to call, or come over. By day three, I’d become the “crazy-bipolar ex”, who wouldn’t let him see his kids…again.
It was enough to give anyone whiplash. Narcissists can be relentless. For real.
Then, one completely random day, he pushed me too far… and I snapped.
A sheriff’s officer showed up at my door with a thick packet of papers. I was informed that my husband had filed for a restraining order against me. Apparently, he felt threatened and abused because I took back the iPhone he stole from me, and got angry when he attempted to record me without my permission.
I always knew when he tried to record me. His whole demeanor would suddenly change. I’d remarked, more than once, that it should tell him something- that I always knew when he was trying to record me, simply by the fact that it was the only time he ever spoke lovingly to me. Or, feigned concern.
Anyway… the papers. When I took a closer look, I noticed that he had filed his bullshit restraining order on behalf of, not only himself but, also, OUR CHILDREN. Should he be granted the order, I would not be able to come within 500 feet of my own children, AND he had specifically requested LIMITED, SUPERVISED VISITATIONS. *dramatic pause to let you fume on that one*
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I snapped.
I’d had enough. I was completely over the exhausting mind-games (and not the fun kind that make you smarter). I was sick and tired of being jerked around by this mother-fucker. I was tired of jumping through flaming hoops, hoping that if I aimed just right, I wouldn’t get burned too badly. It was bullshit, and I was fooling myself. No matter what I did, as long as I wasn’t willing to suffer his abuse, shit was going to get real. He would see to that.
I just didn’t have the energy, or the strength, to keep riding the Crazy Train. It would, eventually, drive me insane. Or, kill me.
I realized, then, that I had two very clear options: Stand up. Or, give up.
I had to stand up for myself. If I continued to play into his games, I would surely end up actually becoming as crazy as he desperately wanted everyone to believe I was. So, from that day forward, I clearly laid down my boundaries, and I refused to budge a single millimeter.
I mean it. I was unwavering. Completely, and absolutely, UN-compromising.
If I said that he could call the kids between 5 PM, and 8 PM, that’s EXACTLY what I meant. At 8:01 PM, his calls would be ignored (and you just know he called at every time of day EXCEPT 5-8 PM). He tried leaving long, melodramatic messages, for the kids, on the answering machine- knowing that we could hear the messages in real-time.
I unplugged the answering machine.
When he continuously called/texted the kids’ cell – ONLY outside the clearly stated time frames, of course. I shut off the cell service.
He showed up at my home, uninvited & unannounced, banging at the doors and trying to break-in through the windows. Instead of opening the door, or even acknowledging that he was there, I called the Sheriff. I thought, perhaps, an officer of the law could better explain the concept of boundaries to my husband. And I had him trespassed, too. Just for good measure.
Every act of disrespect from him, added another inch of steel to the walls enforcing my boundaries.
He didn’t give a shit about talking to his kids. If he did, he would have called, or visited, during the times I’d said (and, later, we had agreed upon) were appropriate. The few times he (perhaps, accidentally?) respected the boundaries, he had totally unhindered access to his kids. But, that’s not what he cared about. He just couldn’t stand being forced to respect my boundaries.
But, the harder he tried to disregard my rights, the more inflexible, and intolerant, I became. My all-consuming focus was clear. For the sanity, and safety, of myself and my children…one thing was crystal clear:
Come Hell, or high water husband was going to learn to respect my boundaries.
He dragged me into court, a second time, trying to take custody of the kids by filing for an “Emergency Ex-Parte” Custody Hearing. If you’re not familiar with legal-speak, that’s basically a hearing that was held without me present to defend myself. *GRRRRRR* Thank GOD, the judge denied his “emergency” request for custody, and I was able to present my side of the case at a second hearing that was held 3 days later.
At that hearing, my husband publicly accused me of all sorts of vile shit. Lucky for me, I had two thick binders, filled with emails, texts, photos, notes, and etc., that proved my husband was a big, fat liar. It also didn’t hurt that the case worker from Child Protective Services (who’d been called on me by a “concerned, anonymous citizen”) showed up to testify on my behalf. (Take THAT!)
The result: the beautiful, obviously brilliant, judge ruled that MY HUSBAND should be the one to have supervised visitations. Karma… gotta watch out for that shit.
After that, we were scheduled for mediation, where my husband (along with his lawyer), and I (just me), sat in two different rooms, and a mediator went back and forth, helping us to agree on stuff like visitations, a telephone schedule, and child support. My husband pretended to be super-cooperative. Then, proceeded to ignore every agreement we spent FOUR HOURS coming to. *deep breaths*
When you leave a narcissist, it seems like all the other narcissists on Earth come out of the woodwork.
As if all that weren’t traumatic enough, I had a whole other shit-storm to deal with. With my husband on a rampage- and especially, after a little comment he’d made to our daughter about how ““Daddy bought a new gun” – I’d felt really uncomfortable being alone, in my house, out in the middle of nowhere. So, I had someone I trusted come to stay with me, for a while.
Now, this was a person I REALLY cared about. Someone I loved very much. Someone I would NEVER have expected- or even remotely suspected- could do harm to me, or my children. This was someone I truly believed I was safe with. Boy, was I wrong about that one.
This person wasn’t just riding high on the Narc-Train. I suspect that they could be diagnosed as full-blown psychopath. And, wasn’t I just the perfect, little, vulnerable target? *disgusted*
At first, I didn’t want to see it. I told myself that I was just on “hyper-alert” for any hint of narcissistic behavior. I mean, who wouldn’t be, in my shoes, right? But, I couldn’t stay in denial for long. This person’s behavior left no room for doubt. No impulse control, a total lack of remorse for violating boundaries or hurting others, no accountability WHATSOEVER, unpredictable outbursts of rage…. and violent.
My son started having nightmares again, when this person started to reveal his true self. He was terrified of our home descending back into the Hell it was, just over a year ago. He followed me around, constantly; he was almost obsessed with “protecting” me.
I felt like a complete and utter failure.
I’d PROMISED my children that I would NEVER allow ANYONE bring that kind of poison into our home again.
But, It had become painfully obvious that I’d broken that promise. l felt sick. Then, one day, I found myself standing frozen, in absolute shock, as this person yelled that they hated me, and wished I would just die…. because of a towel. I was humiliated. I wanted to crawl into a hole, and hide forever.
Though it broke my heart to acknowledge it, I knew I had only one viable option. I had to remove this person from my home, and from my life. Forever. So, that’s exactly what I did. And, it devastated me.
The situation was fucked-up on so many levels. In my mind, I was fighting hard to not come to the conclusion that everyone on Earth was dangerous. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to talk to people. I didn’t want to allow anyone close enough to hurt my kids, or me.
After that incident, it seemed no one was safe. No one could be trusted. Everyone was a potential threat- just waiting for a vulnerable moment, to strike at me. To use me. Humiliate me.
I suddenly understood agoraphobics.
This past year has taught me many, many things.
It remains a daily battle, to not give in to my fears. Some days, leaving the house is a challenge. Some nights, every sound is someone with bad intentions. And, it gets lonely. I hadn’t really thought about that “before the fact”, I guess you could say.
One year ago, I wouldn’t have guessed life would be quite this hard. BUT, at the same time, I wouldn’t have guessed it could also be quite this wonderful. It hasn’t been all bad. In fact, I dare say, it’s been quite the opposite. For example, I’ve gained about 30 lbs.! (Shit- I’m damn-near curvy!)
I’m scheduled to have oral surgery this week. And, that means I’ll FINALLY be able to talk to people in public (should I be inclined to do so), without my hand covering my mouth. I’ll be able to, perhaps, start making some videos… which I’ve been thinking about doing.
I no longer take any medications for anxiety, or pain, and I’ve started decreasing my ADD prescription, too. My panic attacks are gone. I have no more nightmares. I play with my kids more. I laugh A LOT more. All in all, I’m much, MUCH happier.
The most important lesson…
I also learned how to be assertive. Without a doubt, that was the most life-changing (yet, challenging) lesson learned, over the past year. I didn’t set out planning to learn assertiveness. But, I guess, there are times in life when you reach a certain threshold, and the pain you’re in forces you to find a way to end it. In this case, the way to end my pain was to learn to assert myself.
Now, I speak up, when something feels wrong. I say ‘No’, when it’s in my, or my kids’, best interest to do so. And, I say ‘good bye’, if someone insists on violating my boundaries. I’m still a little shocked by my new skill. The most shocking part being… whereas, a year ago, I would’ve been panicking over the very thought of possibly being seen as selfish, over-sensitive, or rude, for asserting myself…. now, I don’t give a fuck.
My well-being comes first. AND, I’ve (FINALLY) realized, that if someone has a problem with that, then they clearly don’t care about me. Therefore, they don’t deserve a place in my life.
Bye bye, codependency
Now, I have a strict “three strikes, and you’re out” policy (barring extreme circumstances, of course). Violate my boundaries, which exist for the safety and well- being of myself/my children, and I’ll clearly communicate that you’ve done so. Do it again, and I’ll start backing away. The third time, we are done. End of story.
Miraculously, I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt. In fact, I feel better about myself than I have in over a decade. I look in the mirror and, (here comes the best part) I RECOGNIZE ME, again. I don’t cringe away, any more. I finally see, in my reflection, a woman worthy of love, and kindness- just as much as anyone else.
I see a woman who is worthy of a life, free from abuse. I see a woman worthy of dignity and respect.
A woman who is….. worthy.
And that, alone, would have made it all worthwhile.
~The Narcissist’s Wife