names have been omitted in this post
"Daddy is going to Mexico for work." My daughter told me via FaceTime
then added "He will be gone for a few days."
"Oh, really?" I murmured.
My thoughts automatically returned to the year or two leading up to October 2012 when I discovered his infidelity. He had been traveling to Mexico "for work" and I say that loosely because he was at the time taking one of the many women he'd cheated on me with along with him. This particular woman was the spitting image of me... just ten years younger; it was uncanny how similar we looked; our faces, our hair, our style, the way we dressed, etc as I realized when I discovered photos of her on the computer at home. He was typically traveling to Mexico City and Guadalajara for business. Him traveling to Mexico had always left me feeling unsettled... naturally I always worried about him when he traveled.... more so if he was out of the country as he traveled to China as well. My daughter stating he was en-route to Mexico brought back a memory of when he'd traveled there for work and when he returned reported that one day stopped in heavy traffic the car in front of him was accosted by masked men with guns. They proceeded to rob the driver and passengers of their wallets, watches and rings. He seemed unnerved by the incident but not much ever really rattled him... yet I remember feeling at a loss for words at how upset I felt hearing this and being so relieved he was alright... being so thankful he'd not been harmed... being so grateful it hadn't been the car he'd been in. In one instant he could have been robbed or worse... killed.
It's interesting how at the time our perspective is so limited. Our perspective is one of "I have a spouse who loves me" and we love them; so naturally we are anxiously awaiting word they reached their destination okay... we are naturally awaiting word their flight made it in alright... we are naturally eager to hear that they made it safely to their hotel room and are behind a closed locked door for the night. We are operating under the false belief that this person feels the same for us... that that anxious checking, love and care is unwaveringly mutual. I believe it is this untruth that we believe only to later realize it was all a lie is what makes us gasp to grip on what is truly our reality. The reality being that they don't care.... they don't love us... they wouldn't do the same for us. I can see that now.... hindsight being 20/20... he was never there when I truly needed him; not when I was sick with VCD, not when I was dealing with crises related to the children, not when I was dealing with his mother interfering. It was when I needed him the most that he let me down... but we don't see it at the time or maybe we do but in some way or another we justify their actions of not caring like "Oh, he's been busy with work", or "She has been stressed with the house, kids, etc" ... or worse... we admit the hurt it's inflicted but give them another chance.... and another and another to our very self detriment. We take on this full time project of trying to make a stench-of-a-situation smell like sweet perfume by making it what we want it to be in our mind... maybe that's admittedly a toxic enabling of ourselves and them... but it's dangerous because we begin creating a new shifting reality that really doesn't exist; one of where we are loved and it's not that bad... and we create/craft such a façade on our social media and in our own minds trying so desperately to make it be what we want... and we end up on some level feeling like a fraud. Yet in that there ARE occasional pops of brightness and good that make us feel affirmed it must not be so bad... after all... "Everyone has problems... right? Right???" We tell ourselves.
But with a narcissist we are praying for someone who never prays for us.... we are worrying ourselves sick over someone's health, safety and soul that never gives us and our well being a second thought. We naively believe that just because they say "I love you" that they really mean it... I mean, why wouldn't we? We probably grew up believing that if someone told us something so important, so weighty, so meaningful as "I love you" then they must mean it. But a personality disordered person doesn't really love anyone. They toss "I love you" around like black confetti... it's comparable to specks of black coal. They are only after what they can get not what they can give. If something had happened to him in Mexico that day during his trip I would have been left a widow; wrongly believing he cared on some level for me. I would have mourned and grieved a man that never gave me a second thought as he cheated on with me with multiple people. I shudder at that. I would have felt small, abandoned and alone and maybe even buried the pain he'd inflicted and put him on a pedestal in the aftermath. I think that's a horrible way to live and yet so many of us likely live that way; our spouse cheats on us only for us to never find out and then mourn the passing of someone who never gave a second thought about us. It's amazing how our perspective changes as circumstances change and we realize our true reality.
Fear of abandonment. Do you have it? Anyone who has experience narcissistic abuse likely does... even the most secure, strong and independent person... abandonment issues can affect even the most robust warriors of life. I remember in high-school in one of my classes a guy who sat behind me telling another classmate one day about his dad and how great he was. After listening for a bit the kid asked him "So where is your mom? You never talk about her." It's not difficult to discern that if someone never brings up a parent more than likely that parent is a sore subject... likely behind the silence there is much conveyed despite the lack of words... often more than maybe people realize. I silently guessed before the words even escaped his lips. There was a slight pause and then he spoke "She left when I was a baby... she didn't want me, man." He replied offhandedly. I wanted to hug him but didn't. But I felt tears frame my eyes and I knew behind all that silence, all those words left unsaid and now those simple words that were sadly uttered held significant pain and loss. At the time I wondered what had happened to her... meaning what made her leave? At that time I would have cast all blame upon her... questioning what selfish decisions caused her to walk off. Now? Now I don't... now I wonder about alternate possibilities... maybe the dad was abusive and threatened her... or maybe she couldn't financially take him with her... or yes, maybe she really didn't want a baby. I don't know. But I knew this young man was on a long road of needing to work through what he was left with.... a primal and understandable fear of being left... and hopefully proactively dealing with the remaining issues she'd left behind before romantically latching onto a woman in hopes of one day feeling safe, wanted, valued, loved. He needed to heal from being told by his mothers actions when she left "you're not important"... and "you don't matter" ... and "I don't love you." Because more than likely he would end up feeling a deep inner fear of being abandoned one day by any future woman.... and I certainly hoped better than that for him.
But you don't have to actually be abandoned by a parent or walked away from by a partner to feel abandoned and have issues with abandonment. Often times abandonment occurs within the parameters of a relationship; notably when it's toxic. Narcissistic parents and partners both cause feelings of abandonment within their relationships with their children and spouses. With narcissistic parents they see their children as extensions of their own egos... muddying the lines of boundaries in what is healthy and not. Abandonment occurs for a child when they do not feel accepted by their parent and realize their parent expects them to follow their dreams, goals, ambitions and footsteps. The child feels as though they must hide or shed a portion of themselves to please said parent or else any love bestowed upon them is withdrawn... causing deep and innate fear and anxiety. If a parent is an alcoholic and fails to get up the next morning for work and instead of taking personal responsibility blames the child for not waking them through scolding, yelling, shaming, punishment, etc... that child grows up feeling responsible for other's actions... learning that if they fail to take care of others they ultimately feel abandoned by them. Narcissistic parents want to see their child do well not for their child's well being but for their own... they don't want anyone making them "look bad". Hence if their child doesn't make the team at try outs the narcissistic parent may scream, rage and punish them.... this leads the child to feeling completely worthless because the narc parent has wrapped up the child's complete self worth in whether or not they make the team... ignoring how they tried, ignoring all their other great abilities, feelings and even if their child had any desire to play in the first place. To a narc parent abandoning their child's emotional health is their toxic go to.
A narcissistic partner is much like a narcissistic parent when it comes to abandonment... they abandon their spouse within the marriage. If their spouse becomes ill and must find what medical help in discerning what is going on, they are usually left figuring it out for themselves. If they develop cancer and need emotional or physical support they often find themselves leaning on others beside their spouse due to the narcissist being absent. If they are going through a particularly emotional time in their life either due to the loss of a loved one or high stress and anxiety they will find themselves without solace from their narcissistic partner. If you are going through having to pay sky high premiums due to a pre-existing health condition like my mother did and your spouse refuses to pay for them you will find yourself up a financial creek without a paddle. The narcissistic spouse would rather see you crawl under a rock and die from lack of health care than pay a penny toward your goodwill and health. They abandon their spouse and yet twist and spin the truth and state you aren't doing x,y,z... it is their way of flinging off what they are doing or not doing and making you out to be the issue. But the abandonment goes one step further when the narc spouse cheats on their partner and replaces them with someone new. People who have been targeted by a narcissistic abuser may want a relationship; more specifically want to be LOVED but they have been through so much devastation more than likely they are willing to wait for something that is true. They realize they need the time required to heal from years of toxicity. But not a narc... they are already on to the next person long before they've dumped their current partner or been walked away from. They replace with new; a new partner and sometimes even new children completely erasing what you had with them... sending you a cruel message that you never mattered one bit to them... not only that but then proceeding to treat you terribly just because they can.
A narcissist or sociopath has an agenda... to waffle between adoring you, telling you all the lovely things you want to hear (sucking you in) and abandoning you making you question if what is happening is really occurring... causing you to seek them like a hungry child after a chocolate bar... you want them to not leave you... causing so much anxiety within and unsettledness in the relationship. My ex when we dated sang along to Forever And Ever, Amen by Randy Travis to me. I couldn't make him be the husband he needed to be. I couldn't make him really mean the words he sang. It's the equivalent of a little dog chasing it's own tail... you never get anywhere; it never improves, you never make progress, you never receive a true and genuine unwavering love from them. Instead you are continually seeking something you will never ever be able to grasp.... as your hand continually reaches out to them for reassurance, for affection and love you will simply see them walking away... leaving you in nothing but a puddle of tears and feelings of unworthiness, uncertainty and emptiness. You don't deserve to live life like that... you deserve a love that never ever abandons you but instead holds you tighter if and when you have any doubts whatsoever.