I thought I had it made…well not made, but really close. I was married to a man that loved me deeply, and we had a very special connection that most people did not understand. We had two beautiful, talented children with amazing hearts. We were married just before my senior year in college, and we just rolled past our 20th wedding anniversary. Of course we had our struggles like all couples do, but I could not imagine a day that I would not be his wife. Our bond was so great, I felt there was nothing that we would not overcome as long as we were together. This was a feeling that I can barely even remember now, as the only thing I feel now is numb.
To say I was love bombed seems like a gimmick that is written about in everything I read. And I know every person has their own version of this phase in the relationship, but somehow I remember it as really being loved. Now when I look back without the rose colored glasses, I can see small inclusions that change my overall perception of everything that made up our lives together. I was fully aware that my husband was insecure in many ways, but they all seemed minor issues at the time because the closer we drew together his insecurities seemed to dissipate. He loved me so much that everyone we encountered commented on how he always looked so in love when he looked at me and even more so when he talked about me. It was as if he were beaming they would say. There is one picture from our wedding that I always looked at with joy because of the way he was looking at me. But now when I think of the picture and his face, it feels more like a look of conquest instead of the look of love I previously saw.
The controlling nature he displayed towards me did not come out immediately. It was more like a pot of boiling water, and I was the frog. Originally when I began being questioned about this behavior from him, I shrugged it off as his way of trying to protect me because he loved me so much. But as the years went on, I began to rebel against this nature of his towards me. I would often comment, “I would rather take my ass whipping when I get home and ask for forgiveness instead of asking permission!” My behavior in this way also seemed normal because the saying came from my father, so I felt it was just my nature to rebel against anyone trying to rule my actions. Now, I realize it was one of the inclusions in our relationship I continued to disregard as anything other than an attempt to control me. Also, my father was an alcoholic, so when I started drinking more heavily to cope with many things in our life, again I considered it to be another trait of my father’s I adopted. Little did I know, it was actually my way of trying to manage my continued disappointment in my husbands eyes. But everything seemed to unravel just before my father was killed.
My mother and husband initially seemed to have a wonderful relationship. He actually preferred spending time with my family instead of his own. But something seemed to change when we had our son. It was as if a switch was turned on, and David became even more controlling of me and my time. It got so bad that I started to become somewhat mischievous doing what I wanted to do without regard for his wishes. While he continued to want me at home no matter if we were going to do something or not. There was a part of me that needed this type of behavior from my significant other because my father had many affairs, and I think I felt safe through his controlling behavior because I was so vulnerable in the area of commitment. I think it may have been another reason I was able to so easily overlook this unhealthy behavior in our relationship. As well, he was such an introvert that I understood in many ways why he always wanted me home. And as sick as it now seems, I saw it as a sign of love.
In addition to his controlling proclivity, he had always spoken somewhat poorly to me. In our honeymoon phase of the relationship, the issue was much less offensive. He would consistently use me as the punch line of whatever he needed to break the ice in social settings. I didn’t really have much issue with it because I knew social settings were not his strong suit as they were mine. A few years into our marriage, his mother began to make comments about this habit I allowed him to continue. And as the years went on, the way he spoke to me began to bother more and more people we encountered. I had become so used to not paying attention to his comments of this nature I basically became the mother in a public place that was deaf to the antics of her children. But his habit of breaking the ice on my back became more egregious to the point my mother could no longer take it when she was around to witness his behavior towards me. And the breakdown of their relationship started over one of these comments I had become so accustomed to that I didn’t even hear him. So when my mother and husband had their first blow up, I was caught in the middle. Little did I know this was a trend they would never stop. Their war with each other caused me so much pain, but neither seemed to recognize what it was doing to me. Clearly out of 25 years together there were countless incidents between them, but the total dissolve of their relationship was fostered by my father’s passing. And this is when I began to drink more and more to cope with their fude for which I could do no right.
As the first born of an alcoholic, I was a natural pleaser, but I was at a loss in this situation never being able to please either one of them. I began seeking therapy due to this divide, and this is when I began to accept the difficulties of my relationship with my husband. But somehow I was so trauma bonded to him, I was still unable to see what our relationship truly was, and where it would ultimately end up. Still to this day I am dumbfounded by my inability to see things for what they were, but little did I know it would be revealed to me in short order. Somehow the relationship I felt so connected to seemed to breakdown without any other option. We soon began to fight more often than not, and I was confused as to how we ended up in such an undesirable place in our lives. And even then, I was unaware of what was just over the horizon. In my attempt to figure out what was going on with my husband, I began searching for anything. I actually even considered he might have a tumor. His demeanor towards me had grown so cold and distant, and I was desperate for anything that might help us get back on track. And one night I was searching phrases he would say to me, and I found an article about NPD. Suddenly it all became clear. My husband was a textbook covert narcissist suffering from NPD. While it was not good new, it was somewhere to start, or so I thought. I tried as many avenues as I could to try and make this disorder manageable, but it never seemed to work.
Around the same time, a friend of mine began coming to the house regularly, and the three of us would spend countless nights together talking for hours. She was having a difficult time in her marriage, and we both wanted to be there to help her during this time. At first, things were good because my husband and I stopped our endless fights because we had a diversion. And then it hit me, my husband was developing feelings for her. I was reluctant in many ways to address the issue as I was afraid without her around we would end up right back where we were; fighting all the time. But what I know now is that he was transitioning from the devaluing phase to the discard phase. Being discarded for your best friend is not something I would wish on anyone. And while this has been the most painful 3 and a half years of my life, I am beginning to see a glimmer of hope…..