Pride and Shame's Story
Pride and Shame's Story
I was completely swept away by him. His presence, his charm, his appearance. He was handsome and adorable, sometimes a little boy, other times an Alpha Male. He invaded my life, ignored my boundaries, spoke of soul mates and unconditional love. I was the most beautiful, the smartest, had an awesome personality. He made me feel giddy, charged, electrified, emotionally intoxicated. Exhilarating waves of excitement coursed through my body when I thought of him. I questioned, how could this be? How could I never have experienced this before? I thought I knew how romantic love began, becoming physically and emotionally attracted to a man. I had had wonderful relationships with very good men. This was very different. It was dramatic, intense, all-encompassing. Could this possibly be what poets wrote about and singers sang about? Was what I was feeling the source of inspiration for the great love stories of all time? If so, I believed. I was all in.
Sometimes he was formally polite, chivalrous almost. His intellect intrigued me to no end. For the first time ever I felt I’d met my equal. He was charming and witty. He spoke to me about his life. He flirted and whispered. His written words, the way he thought, the strangely familiar way he responded to me, all resounded in the depths of my being. Sometimes he was adorable and naughty. We taunted and teased each other. Other times he took charge by mock ordering me around. He would say outlandish things about his manner, his good looks, his sexual prowess – and then laugh at himself, making me laugh. He could also be vulnerable, making me feel almost maternal. Was he possibly “the one”? Had I met my “other”. I couldn’t get enough of him, I wanted to be with him 24/7. I thought about him upon awaking and when I lay down to sleep, and all the time in between.
Strange and confusing behavior began to happen. As much as he professed his love, he began to distance himself physically and emotionally. We would be enjoying something together and he would be far away in his head, staring into space. It served to intrigue me even more. Who was this complex man, what was this darkness in him? Previous relationships? Family history? I tried to figure it out. I wanted to understand. I tried to become closer emotionally and he would pull ever so slightly away, almost imperceptibly. I see these things much more in hindsight. Sometimes he just wouldn’t respond at all in an emotional context. I was connecting with him, but there was an unmistakable line in the sand. Instinctively I knew there was a point I could not go beyond. I couldn’t hold him accountable for little inconsistencies or small missed commitments without him becoming unnecessarily angered. Things not nearly enough to argue about at the time, it only adds up now in hindsight. He didn’t seem to want to know me like I wanted to know him. He seemed content to know me at present, but didn’t ask about my past or my future goals and dreams. He wasn’t proactive, I made our plans. Sometimes he seemed quite bemused by my taking the lead. This also put him in a position where he could criticize my choices, which he began to do. Physically, however, the relationship was very confirming. It was very sexual – our sexual expression and shared passion proved our rightness, overrode any doubt.
As time went on, I observed that he didn’t seem to want to spend just any of his abundant free time with me. He allocated certain times to me, like he was divvying it out. He seemed to like to appear mysterious about his whereabouts and his activities. Plus, he was starting to demean and belittle things he had previously complimented. My appearance, my material possessions, my intelligence. There seemed to be envy on his part of my activities, my friends, my lifestyle. I was trying harder and harder to meaningfully engage with him, to continue to interest him, please him. He seemed to be slipping through my fingers. Didn’t he realize that I was the one? I was everything he wanted, or so he had said, and I was in love. I had become addicted to him. It was my life in technicolor when I was with him and there was my life in black and white when I was not. Those became my two reality modes. The harder I tried to figure out his contradictions, the deeper I got into his head. It wasn’t making sense, and I tried over and over to understand. Endlessly, obsessively. In trying to walk in his shoes, to see where he was coming from, I found myself going deeper and deeper into an abyss where I very nearly lost my way. It was a swirling mass of inconsistencies, contradictions, seething anger, bitterness, sarcasm, toxic rage. I very rarely give up on anything, this was to be no exception. I was determined to make this wondrous union work, to prove to him how wonderful we were and could be. For some reason he couldn’t see it anymore, but I, I alone, would be the one who would make him see ... And that undertaking very nearly destroyed me. Driven by empathy and my desire for understanding, I got into his head and stayed too long in a distortion of reality that was poisonous. Because it was not my reality I almost needed to suspend mine in order to try to understand him. I became more and more like him, unhealthy, and less like myself. I lost my reality, my Self, in that evil distortion. His reality was a twisted and distorted hall of mirrors.
I am almost a year NC. For the first few months I was catatonic, unfocused, I could barely go through the daily motions of getting out of bed, preparing meals, working, thinking. The everyday maintenance of my life was difficult. I replayed every conversation, relived every shared experience, remembered when we were together sexually. Where had it gone so wrong? What could I have done differently? It had so much promise, potential beyond belief, and now it was over and I was devastated. I had no energy, no spark, no real feeling for life for months and months and months. I finally began to read about personality disorders, to educate myself about narcissism, psychopathy. I began therapy and started antidepressants. I found this forum. I had mostly bad days, and then would have a good thought or two. That positive shard of something other than misery kept me going. I went from thinking about him 99.9% of the time to 98% to 97%. The incremental improvement took months and sometimes went backward. I felt destroyed. I thought my life had been irrevocably damaged.
I very much wanted to believe that I’d had an experience with a narcissistic person. Everything fit. It would explain so much. The pattern of idealization, the cruel and pointless devaluation behaviors, the abrupt discard (two sentences) and its ruinous aftermath for me. Amazingly, to this day, I still cannot accept it fully. Still, in my heart of hearts I have hope that he will call me and apologize. I dream of him telling me that he can’t live without me, that he is miserable and thinking of me all the time. That he realizes his mistakes. I want to hear him say that he really knows now that I am everything he could ever want. I want everything that he told me at the beginning to be real. I want the fairytale. Someone else is getting the fairytale now. My mind knows this, my heart has to be told over and over.
NC teaches you that he is disordered, incapable of real love. Real love is mutual, respectful, honest, real. NC gives you time, distance, education, perspective. It’s necessary. You don’t have to be proactive, you don’t have to force yourself to take care of yourself – I didn’t – although it may help. I felt worthless and really didn’t care to thrive for a very long time. Like everything else, what works for one might not work for another. However, and this is the cardinal rule, you have to resist the temptation to have contact with him. This is gutwrenching. It goes against everything you’ve been told about following your heart, being kind to others, taking the high road, being forgiving. It’s supremely selfish. 11 months later, I’m just finally starting to believe that I’ve had an experience with a psychopath, a narcissist. It really happened to me in real life, this isn’t a movie. I’ve moved from living in the depths of misery to seeing some fleeting light and a path forward. I still cry. There is a certain physical feeling, like a panic attack, which happens when I think I will never see him again that I truly dread feeling, so I avoid sentimental movies, songs, emotionally-charged events. I have wanted to contact him every single minute of the last 11 months. I don’t know where the strength comes not to. My damaged soul knows that I cannot. I force myself to overrule my heart and let my head rule, sometimes on a minute my minute basis. I have read almost everything on this forum, not knowing if I would ever feel like participating. The pain and honesty that you have shared through your stories has helped to save me. It has been cathartic writing down my story. Thank you all so very much. We are all survivors and I salute every single one of you.