names have been omitted in this post
"What are you going to order?" I asked him and glanced over at his menu he was scanning. We were sitting in a booth at a local Mexican restaurant. Bright colors of tile and paint gave a lively atmosphere and festive music played in the background. The waitress brought over small individual cups of salsa and a bowl of tortilla chips.
He set his menu aside and smiled at me "My usual... fajitas."
I smiled and dipped a chip into the salsa, "Mmmm.... healthy man." He didn’t eat bread generally or tortillas. Just the grilled chicken and guacamole.
His eyes shimmered at me with amusement and he spoke "Yep, that's right. And what are you going to get?" He asked me likely already knowing the answer.
"Hmmmmm.... tacos or enchiladas." I quipped with a laugh.
He reached over as if to tickle my side in response and I jumped back and laughed "I have a salad nearly every night for dinner so I'm going to be naughty. You can be healthy for both of us."
"Tacos are not healthy... "He informed me with a grin.
"Sure they are... they have vegetables on them.... a lil lettuce, some tomatoes.... " I teased him and popped a chip in my mouth.
He looked at me as if exasperated and laughed. "Greasy taco shells and cheese... But you could eat all the tacos you want. You're tiny cute." He smiled then spoke "So someone wrote a blog post about that night I stumped them speechless... I was saying how love should be enough and that I'd prove it." He said and raised a knowing eyebrow at me and a smile spread across his face.
I smiled with a glance at him and then feigned sudden deep interest on fishing the perfect sized chip from the top of the basket "Really? Did they? Hmmmm.... that's so odd." I nonchalantly teased him and then I felt his hand take mine from the chip bowl.
"Yes..." He replied "They did... someone...." He said slowly and thoughtfully as he traced his fingers over my hand "Someone wrote how they didn't know what to say... they didn't have a reply or witty comeback yet always do.... I wonder who that could have been?" He teased thoughtfully with a smile and studied me with interest.
"I have no idea... maybe someone you know?" I asked with wide eyes and put on uncertainty. I knew he was referring to the blog post I'd written in February of this year. I started laughing not able to contain it anymore and he did the same in response.
"I stumped the writer.... "He teased then continued, "You write so well.... you are able to write down exactly what you've been through and tell it in such a way that other people understand it and can relate to it. They read it and are like 'Oh my God that's EXACTLY what I'm going through!'.... and it helps them. You're a good writer... a really strong writer... you excel at stating what is going on, you're able to convey exactly what these narcissistical jerks are doing!" He made a shaking fist and exclaimed with a grin and I laughed with utter amusement.
Then becoming more serious and gazing at me he added, "But in person you're weak. When it comes to sharing how you feel. The important stuff.... feelings you have for others.... that's where you crumble. You hold it all in here..." He told me and with his fist thumped his chest where his heart was. "You are weak at telling people how you feel about them." He observed.
It was like I had come full circle once again. So reminiscent of distant memories and regrets with Jeremy. And this man before me recognized what I had failed at decades ago; sharing my feelings and heart. It was the truth. I now gazed at this man who sat before me and spoke with pure honesty, not about to have a repeat of the past, "I am weak when it comes to sharing my feelings in person. I always have been and now since my ex it's been like being completely back at square one. It leaves you not trusting, guarded and throwing walls up... " I trailed off. It was so difficult to articulate what I felt in person.... and often my spoken words felt inadequate... like never enough.... because I felt things, emotions so strongly it was like words fell short and were as weightless as air... not ever conveying how much I truly felt for someone. But where we were weak once we are later braver. We may still struggle with sharing our heart at times but we are braver after loss... we take more risks than we did once before however long ago.
"I know... you've been through a lot..." He admitted, 'You're so strong.... but you know I'll always be straight with you, tell you the truth. " He told me.
"I know you will, " I acknowledged and added "You have no idea how important you are to me.... " I told him, squeezing his hand. "I'm so glad we met... you're so sweet, so kind... you've brought laughter back into my life... I smile at the crazy conversations we have. We have so much fun... you're one of my favorite people..." I smiled at him. His eyes sparkled at me and he leaned in to hug me and I hugged him tightly back. I was already missing him... and he was right there smiling at me... one day I would be leaving and leaving this town behind... finding a new place to live thankfully.... without all the bad memories around every corner... a clean slate and a true fresh start... all of me wanted to go and yet I wanted him to go with me. All of me thought that would be incredibly selfish to ask of him and wouldn't dare even if I felt by losing him I was losing everything good again. I don't like asking anything of anyone.
"You know... " I said cautiously "One day I'm going to move somewhere else... get out of here... " I told him.
"Where would you go?" He asked curiously.
"I'm not sure yet." I replied. The waitress interrupted our conversation with taking our orders and then I handed our menus to her thanking her.
Silence. Finally he spoke "So you'd just leave?" He asked. I could hear the hurt in his tone. I winced. I could pour out my heart but it seemed presumptuous and I didn't want to come across as begging for something that was entirely up to him. I would never again try to force something to work... my life had been a lesson in that. Enjoy what you have now... enjoy the moment... enjoy this chapter... because it might not last.... no matter how much you want it to.
"Maybe I'd go with you." He told me quietly.
I felt my heart soar yet bit my tongue. Finally I spoke "I couldn't let you do that. You have a life here." I pointed out, resorting to logical thinking despite my emotions.
He looked me in the eyes "Maybe someone else here wants a fresh start." He replied pointedly.
I sipped on my drink and we sat in comfortable silence...
"How are things going with the ex?” He asked me.
"We have an appointment with the reunification therapist on May 10th in the evening to discuss the next appointment where my son will actually be present. I'll see my son for the first time in over four years sometime this month. I'm nervous and excited all at once." I told him.
He sat there thinking and then spoke "So you have to see your ex on the 10th to discuss how the appointment with your son will go the following week?" He asked me with a chagrined expression at me and sorrow.
I nodded and he added "Just remember, take a deep breath and stay calm." He reminded me.
I adjusted my cloth napkin in my lap. "Yes, unfortunately. I'm not looking forward to it. I've been anxious and nervous about it. He causes my anxiety to get really bad. I don't like being around him."
"How are you going to know if he's messing with your vehicle or not?" He asked, already thinking ahead.
"I don't know... I was going to have my mom take me and drop me off but I didn't want to go through all that trouble. I'm just going on my own." I replied.
Silence. His eyebrows furrowed and he seemed to be disturbed by what he was hearing. "I'll be there. You don't need to be worrying about what he's doing either after you've gone in or before you walk out. You don't need to be worrying about anything like that, you've got enough you're dealing with. I'll watch and make sure he doesn't do anything." He assured me.
”Are you sure?” I asked him.
He nodded and spoke with assurance, “I'll be there. You don’t have to worry."
I felt a huge weight drop off my shoulders and relief coursed through me... Oh thank God for him. I was so thankful. He was such a blessing.
"Thank you..." I breathed. "I really appreciate you doing that. I'm not going to worry now." I told him. I never had to worry with him.... I had never had complete assurance and it was peaceful and so refreshing.
"Hey... just looking out for you, I want you safe. " He assured me, finishing off his drink.
People don't understand unless they've been through it how unsettling life becomes after leaving a narc. We constantly have to worry about their presence in our life... it’s always something they are doing; some new stressful stunt they are pulling with the children, driving by your home, or litigating unnecessarily through the court system and you being served with something new to fight. But you don’t deserve to live this way; with worry and anxiety over what they are or may be doing. You deserve to live life in peace and quiet.
Yet we never ever really get untangled from them. Some people don't even have children (thankfully) with the narc they married and often STILL have difficulty shaking them loose from their life after divorce. I know that's really hard for some people to wrap their minds around but when you're dealing with someone toxic you can take all the precautions in the world and not even have children to link you together and still have issues. If someone is hell bent on keeping contact with you they will often stop at nothing even once you've said goodbye and moved on. You can change your phone number, change your mailing address, change your routes and job... heck, you can even change your name and move to another state or country (witness protection program, please), but if someone is determined that they aren't done being with you... it's often living a second chapter of an already bad first one with them.
If you do have children with a narc it's even worse because in the courts eyes, (and often the world's) they think because you had children with this toxic person they must not be that bad. It's really insulting because one, if they are toxic they probably didn't have a t-shirt on that stated that. Abuse ALWAYS starts with praise, listening, support and what appears to be love. That's how you get sucked in. And then there are cases where one night stands occur and you also have no idea who this person is you end up getting pregnant by. I'm not condoning one night stands, just making a point. The family courts like to tell you that you picked out this person, loved this person enough to make a baby with them, blah blah, blah. They fail to understand that when you married you DIDN'T know they were evil. You didn't know you were saying "I do" and procreating with a monster. Hello(!)... you wouldn't have done it! The courts are abusive in the way they treat you and further traumatize you after you've already beat yourself up for a bad choice when you were only making one based on the good façade you were presented with by the narc. You already feel like an idiot (even though you shouldn't) and yet the court, therapists and ad litems, etc, love to make you feel even worse by the ignorant statements they make.
Abusers are often not seen by others as they really are. The problem is the court doesn’t see all their crazymaking as abuse. In fact, generally speaking the courts don’t see abuse at all. They may see drug use as an issue in some cases and may let that factor into custody rulings. But that’s not always the case. But abuse? You could have been married to a man who beat you every day and night and they’d sit there and say “that’s between you two... that has no bearing on the kids... just because he beat you doesn't mean he'd beat the kids.” The court would say "Oh, you're being paranoid... he or she isn't really going to do anything." But that is blind, foolish ignorance talking.
So many people (mostly women) get protective orders from the court and yet turn up dead because at the end of the day a piece of paper isn't going to stop a psycho. People cheat like it's nothing and naively never think it might get them killed either out of revenge by a betrayed spouse or the newest fling of a marital partner or being replaced by their spouse. People underestimate those who are personality disordered and stupidly think they aren't capable of harming someone's property, children or ex spouse.... which is downright dangerous.
Narcs don't like being outed for their abuse, for their lies, their alienation, their crimes and their cheating... so when you do that, when you become a voice to what they are trying to hide and keep hidden they become enraged and want it quiet.. they want you silenced. They don't want you telling about what they've done. That is why my ex has been relentless in trying to get my writing shut down. He doesn't want what he's done being shared. But when what someone is doing is directly affecting your life and your children's you have a right to say "this is wrong", "this needs to stop", and give support and a voice to others who are unfortunately experiencing very similar. If someone is so relentless in you not sharing the truth then maybe they need to change their behavior... don't look to the one writing to change theirs.
With a narc it's important to realize reality as it is... that this person wants something from you... either a relationship that you've tried to cut off, your children who they are trying to take through aggressive litigation in the family courts as punishment and/or your silence. A narc believes they have the right to instigate a smear campaign against you which is nothing more than a mouthful of untrue garbage based lies about you.. how you're a deadbeat because you haven't paid them your portion of the out of pocket medical expenses yet failing to admit you can't afford to especially after having your child support taken away. How you're a bad mother or father because you aren't taking your child for the full amount of time you've been awarded by the court yet failing to admit that's because after they litigated for you to have your child less time via the family court for no reason and the support was lowered so you cannot afford to. How you can't seem to "get past the divorce and acclimate to change and are so angry all the time" yet not admitting that's because they continue to cause you problems and have ruined your connection with your children and the time you had. Narcs take a portion of the truth and twist it to suit themselves. Or they lie outright or omit... which is still a lie. But while you stand there on a mountaintop crying out for help, screaming, waving a flag for everyone to see in desperation... the courts, attorneys, supporters of the narc claim you must be lying... you must be making all this up because it's so outrageous, so out there and so crazy. They all use the kids as their tactic to get your silence. They tell you how sharing the truth of what's happened will be detrimental to the children, how your blog, your Instagram, your book, etc is so harmful to them and how you're selfish and wrong and you will face consequences for continuing to write by receiving less time with them or a permanently damaged parent child bond. Yet the narcs damage will not be viewed as willful and purposeful but instead innocent and naive. It's just not right for the family court to treat parents (who have continually been beat down in the process) any way they wish and leave you with little to zero dignity and self respect... good parents should not have to keep taking the abuse that the courts and all those related to it dish out all in the name of co-parenting.
Eventually children grow up and will hopefully see how the narc used them as weapons. Maybe that's delusional thinking but anyone knows who has endured this battle know that the days of people pleasing are over. Abuse survivors and thrivers know the days of covering up ugly truth to protect others is behind them. The days of living an inauthentic life are dead. Hopefully our children will one day see that their estranged target parent loved them... they just weren't going to kiss the narcs rear to prove it and get the courts applause. They weren't going to be a continual punching bag or dartboard for them to attack and zip their lip while playing the game. They weren't going to pretty up the narc's muddy mess they've made so they can be viewed in a positive light by others. Life is too short to live that way and the price too high; if we cant even look ourselves in the mirror each night it's cost us our dignity and self respect. And if our children need any refreshers the truth will be there still screaming from the mountaintop for them to see... to read in glaring black and white... not a personal perception but the solid absolute truth.