names have been omitted in this post
"I'm NOT going!" I yelled at him as I tossed makeup and personal items like hairspray and deodorant into my vanity drawer in the bathroom… slamming the drawer shut with a loud bang.
"Oh, yes you ARE!" My husband retorted back at me angrily as he proceeded to smooth Rogaine on his receding hairline in front of the bathroom mirror.
"And WHY is that?!" I exclaimed in likewise anger… then added "I see no reason for me to go to your stupid twentieth high school reunion. You know I hate stuff like that! It's just a bunch of people standing around comparing notes on how everyone's done in life. It's all superficial." I told him.
"You're going because you're my WIFE! That's why! I'M going… so YOU'RE going!" He yelled back in mounting frustration like I was a petulant three year old child that wouldn't just shut up and behave. He took extra care to comb his hair in place that was still damp from his shower and then proceeded to brush his teeth… like some kind of animal he brushed… the tooth brush bristles were frayed like a dog had chewed on them… it reminded me of my dad's toothbrush when I was little.
"That's just the DUMBEST thing I've ever heard! Just because you decide to go doesn't mean I need to! Just because were married doesn't mean we have to be hitched at the hip! You always expect me to tag along to this crap… business dinners, company parties… and I'm freaking SICK OF IT! Grow up! Grow some balls! Go by yourself!" I yelled at him completely over what I perceived to be his extreme neediness and control. "You know… you got off the hook completely… I haven't taken you to a single reunion. I went and picked up my diploma from the school and was done with it! How nice for YOU!!!" I added with a tone of nasty sarcasm.
"Jennifer! JENNIFER!!!" He chastised me. "What part of this do you NOT understand???!!! YOU ARE GOING!!! PERIOD!!! IT'S NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION!!!"
With that… he walked off. Like he always did. Conversation over.
The night finally arrived… the night of his much dreaded twentieth high school reunion. It was going to be held in a room at the convention center downtown… lame name badges and whispered glances ensued as we walked in. I had spent an inordinate amount of time getting ready… hair flat ironed, little black dress, glowing tanner from a bottle, makeup and nails… and painful heels… all of it I'd done to "make him happy" and shut him up when I would have preferred to be at home in my pajamas, hair in a bun and eating a box of cookies in front of the tv or reading a book. But instead I was on his arm internally rolling my eyes at the scene before me. A few people mingled around with their drinks but it seemed for the most part the majority stayed in selective huddles. As I scanned the room, inside I fumed and resentment grew that I was there. Marriage sucked alright, I thought to myself. At least it did with him, I thought, giving him a side glance of contempt.
We slowly made our way across the room past various groups toward the opposite side where a long white clothed table of catered food was spread out and a bartender stood ready to serve drinks. I noticed that with the exception of his best friend and two women no one initiated conversation with him. It was becoming more and more obvious that we were on our own. Awkward didn't even begin to touch how it felt. I began to wonder what the deal was when the photographer hired began to encourage everyone to move to the staircase and choose a spot for a group photograph. I stood over to the side by the long stretch of windows that looked out at the downtown bustle… couples walked by dressed up to go to dinner and maybe see a show… couples who were having a good time and heads were bent toward one another in closeness and intimate conversation, occasional laughter and genuine smiles. With a drink in my hand I turned back to the room and observed as the class reunion took their places on the staircase and smiled for photo after photo to be taken. A few minutes later the crowd was breaking up from their photo session and it was then I felt someone beside me. A man to my left. I turned slightly to glance over at him.
"What a night, huh?" He smiled easily at me holding a beer, his eyes twinkling at the nostalgia of it all.
"Yeah… " I replied "Is this your class?" I asked him not sure if he was one of the graduates or was a spouse of one.
He smiled and nodded "Yeah… it's been a pretty great night getting to catch up with everyone. Crazy. I can't believe it's been twenty years, you know?"
I nodded "I'm sure… "
"So… who are you here with? Who is your husband?" He asked me with curiosity.
I looked at him and told him my husband's name.
It was then that his face dropped. No smile. No niceties. No anything. His expression turned from laid-back and friendly to immediately tense. He stared at me as if he wanted to say something. But instead he brushed past me and walked away. Just like that he was gone without a word or explanation. I stood there trying to collect my thoughts in bewilderment. I didn't understand what on earth had just happened. One minute everything was fine and the next… not so much. I took a sip from the small clear plastic cup I held in my hand… and tried to process what had just happened. Clearly there was some reason he had acted that way… there was some reason why my husband's name made him walk off without a word. Little did I know then that the rest of the evening would prove to be disastrous… people weren't interacting with us… and I began to voice that I was ready to leave. "In a minute" I was told despite his attempts at letting people know all about his work, where he lived and what he drove. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and alarmed that obviously there was some valid reason why at least ninety percent of these people were not making an effort to reminisce about high school with him or even what they had been up to the past twenty years.
Eventually we departed… after much of my tugging on his arm to "come on, were leaving(!)" out of embarrassment for him. I hadn't wanted to come yet at the same time I was so completely unprepared for how the evening had played out… and it left me with more questions than answers. Why did it feel like I had entered the twilight zone when I'd stepped into that room that night? I asked him... "Is there something you haven't told me?" and "Why do none of these people seem to want to interact with you?" and "Did you do something to make these people so blatantly dislike you?"
Avoidance ensued. Silence. Glancing at his profile as we walked along the now emptying sidewalks of downtown in the windy night I detected growing irritation from him mixed with a set jaw and an ego that had been knocked to the ground if not lower. Something changed that night. I felt it then but didn't really understand it fully until much much later… over a year and a few months later into my divorce. Hindsight is a funny thing. Later that night enduring a horse and carriage ride along the quaint downtown streets with him and his best friend and his girlfriend we all sat in near silence. Internally I questioned how on earth I was with this person. It was like he had been outed for the jerk he was… I was just late to get the memo… over ten years late but it was received that night. And he knew it. That night looking back… I see so clearly now I unknowingly entered the discard stage by him. Slowly but painfully I was being viewed by him as the problem… I wasn't as young as I once was… I wasn't as this or that… I wasn't as willing to just say "okay" anymore and acquiesce to him and whatever he wanted to do. I had become more and more vocal and he didn't like it. That night he knew I no longer saw him as I once had… any remaining view of him in a positive light at that point was extinguished like a smutty cigarette. I saw him fully for who he was. And it wasn't pretty.
When the narcissistic sociopath has realized the relationship he's had with you has come to an end. He (or she) has used up every bit of good in you… they've taken your self-worth, your happiness, your peace, your confidence, your personal boundaries, your dignity, maybe even your support system…
Even if you are the one who leaves first either by walking away or filing for divorce, you are still suffering from the emotional fallout of a toxic relationship as you now realize with painful clarity that it was all fake, a fraud, his (or her) love was not real… it was merely a show to gain narcissistic supply to feed their infantile and sick ego.
The best news is eventually you can get to a healthier place… leaving is the first step. As time goes on and with therapy, self care and lots of support from friends and family… you can live the great life you imagined… experiencing real love, a life without tension, anxiety and eggshells… and feel physically better too. A narcissistic sociopath may discard you for what they believe to be a better choice but with that comes something even greater for you… your freedom.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015