25 years of marriage, and now it's crashed. and suddenly i am like the woman who writes that I am less lonely in my house when he is not here than when he is. He has been riding sidesaddle on my energy and empathy forever. He is mister nice guy, the friendliest, best-tempered guy at any party. But it is all an act. He doesn't care about anyone he meets other than to check the box of impressing them with how "nice" he is and figuring out what he may be able to use them for in the future. I made the friends, I kept the friends, I worried about the friends, I nagged him to keep contact with his family, I worried about the kids, I did the work of life, while he moved rigidly through his to-do list, pined after various trophies, tended his various OCD targets like the hedges or how clean his car is, relentlessly and patiently pursued what he wanted, resented anyone who did not show sufficient deference to his secret mega-ego, and checked boxes to soothe his anxieties.
Whenever I needed him
when I had morning sickness
when I was stressed about having a new baby
when my mother was dying
anytime I was sick or hurting
when I had a work setback
He would go into Narc-o-lepsy . . . fixate on trivial chores, pout, make us both a drink, do anything but actually ask me what I needed or give any sign that he cared. This is a man who once took me out for my birthday and told me he didn't have time to buy me a present, but in the next breath showed me the watch he had bought himself that day because he didn't like the way his old one looked with his sport coat.
He would go on work trips and I would talk to him on the phone and tell him I missed him and couldn't wait to see him. He would pull into the driveway and go out front and pick up leaves for fifteen minutes before he came in to say hello to me and the kids. He'd say it was just 'transition' time, but I now see that it was about control. I'll deal with you when I'm good and ready and I don't care about your feelings or that you even think I'm glad to be home. You are below me. My needs are the important ones. You can wait for me; you're lucky to have me at all.
I ripped his mask off when I discovered the affair he was having whose clues he wrote off to being preoccupied with turning 50 and having cancer, and to me "reading things into" his mean behavior and manipulative withholding of himself when we would go do fun things or go on vacation. In his fear, he turned on the kids before they could turn on him. From that moment on, I see the devil's eyes when I talk to him. He usually won't meet my eyes. He has rejected every person we knew together; he has hurt our kids deeply by being unable to explain his behavior; he pretends everything is simply about "I need to figure out what I -- of course I I I I I I I -- want". It's just irrational and infantile, as if you can toss a grenade into a home then stand out front and say, "Gee, it's kind of mess in there. Do i really want that?"
The one thing I experienced, though, that I don't see too much of here, is a cyclicality in the behavior. He was not impossible to live with most of the time; in fact, he was really fun a lot of the time especially when we did things in groups. he actually bragged about me in public, as opposed to putting me down or ignoring me. he did not rage openly or directly at me; he never directly put me down or criticized me. I know now that he seethed in silence, but we actually had a lot of generally good years, or years where I was able to create my own happiness.
However, .he had two cycles where he tipped into an out of control state where suddenly nobody mattered, he said he had screwed everything up so bad it was unfixable, he needed to go off and just be bad like he had wanted to be his whole life but has been fighting. I suspect he is a combo narcissist (usually high functioning) and bipolar disorder. When the bipolar kicks in he can't compensate anymore and really acts out dramatically. the first time I forgave him and worked on it with him for years, thought we'd conquered it. This time, he's worn me out and I see him as a lost cause. The problems and behavior are too deeply rooted. I need to be happy again and treated with the respect that everybody BUT my husband gave me. He really did break us this time.