In front of others, he’d let the kids do whatever they wanted. They could climb the walls, and he would just sit there with a smile on his face. Once we were alone, he’d rage at them, screaming about how they embarrassed him and made threats to thwart future bad behavior. Some people were wise enough to sense something wasn’t quite right, but they couldn’t know how terrible it actually was when we were alone. I once thought he was unable to control himself, but this behavior made it clear. He knew what he was doing all along. He controlled it when it suited him and hid it to preserve his public image which was always more important than his children. Even now, he presents himself as “an excellent father” of three, but we know it’s only for show.
After finally mustering up the courage to escape an abusive marriage I sought refuge from my family who was all but erased from my life by the narcissist. The first thing I did was call my mom and let her speak to the grandchildren she hardly knew. When the initial shock and relief wore off the blaming started, “You should have never married him,” they said. “Why did you let things go on for so long?” and “How could you treat your sister so badly?” were just some of the pointed questions thrown at me. I felt so guilty for what happened already, and I was conditioned over the years to accept any and all negative criticism as the truth. Let me start by saying my mom and dad have helped me through this life and I can never repay them for all they’ve given me. At the time these questions were posed to me, I was numb and unable to answer. Now I can address them. You’re right. I should have never married him, but he was a skilled actor, liar and con artist with a mask that fit seamlessly until it was far too late for me to escape without severe damage. I didn’t let things go on. These things were inflicted upon the children and me without any approval, and at least I found a way, on my own, to escape. Thank you very much. My sister refuses to speak to me because I did some unknown thing to hurt her. I’m sorry that while the kids and I were being abused and traumatized by the Raging Giant, I didn’t think about your feelings more. How insensitive of me not to make you a priority during this time. To my mom, dad, brother, and my children who still stand by me thank you for loving and accepting me, flaws, scars and all.
I love this quote because it points out that good is often a mask people wear. Masks are designed to project an image other than the one it covers. Realness is naked and raw. We are unable to hide our real selves indefinitely because we are all naked underneath. I want to see the scars and let mine show because real is better than pretend good.
Discovering that you were a complete stranger to me after thirteen years of marriage was earth-shattering. You painted a picture and spun a story specifically tailored to seduce me into believing you were everything I wanted. I was utterly naive for not realizing people like you existed. My sin was believing you and overlooking every sign that would lead me to see the truth until it was much too late. I do not love you and I never did because you are nothing but pure fiction.
There is no progress in blaming others, but I refuse to feel bad for the narcissist. It is possible, even likely that he suffered trauma in his childhood but that does not make his actions acceptable. Maybe, when he was still a young child, I could feel significant empathy towards him. The narcissist I know is a grown man who stood almost a foot taller than me and outweighed me by over one hundred pounds. If that is not intimidating, I shudder to think of the perception my children had when they were young. Regardless of his size advantage, he held nothing back while raging and thundering at us. I may understand part of why you were damaged, but I will not feel sorry for you.
Draining boiled pasta water into the sink is a trigger for me – every time. Chopping onions, doing laundry, mopping the floor, planting a garden and driving – these are just some of the mundane everyday activities that start a movie playing in my head. I hear every word, see each expression, smell the scents, and experience all the fear as if it were happening again right now. Even after all these years the memories still give me pause, and I must consciously stop the movie playing and add a narrative that explains these events are in the past. Remembering past events is not my choice but my reaction to them is, and I choose to see the ridiculousness of the people who hurt me. It makes them seem small and less threatening which helps me keep moving forward.
Chronic migraines brought me to my knees, and I have no desire to return to that position. Some days I feel good and energetic, ready to take on the world but my body has limits and forces me to adjust. Instead of pushing through it I must slow down and rest, or the consequence will be severe and painful. It is a dance I am still learning and a new way to face life, much different than the way I was raised. There is no use in me overexerting myself if it leaves me in bed with agonizing pain for days afterward. Conservation and the careful use of precious resources is a priority in this new phase of my life.