I have been on this forum for a year, but have not put my story “out there” largely due to fear of being discovered by ExN. Getting past this fear is a major step for me in recovery, because for me what it really means is finally letting go of the hope that I could ever be with her again.
Rewind to the 80’s. Met my Ex-N over 25 years ago at a dance where we were both attending “stag”. I was only seventeen and she was ten years older than me. At the time, these dances were popular for young women that were not even old enough to drink or go to bars. Looking back, I’m sure this was a great way for her to find young girls. She had already been married and divorced. The attraction was instantaneous. She was gorgeous and I can’t say as I remember ever having been so strongly physically attracted to anyone, even to this day. We ended up spending the night together and making passionate love. I was very young and naïve. She was much older and more experienced. We dated for maybe two months before I just kind of walked away without any explanation. I want to stress again how young I was at the time, and that I was a completely different person than the one I am today. At the time, I had some strong unresolved romantic feelings for a friend and wanted to explore those and see if the friendship could develop into something more. This was probably the main reason I decided to stop seeing the N, who at that time, displayed absolutely no narcissistic traits or qualities at all! She was kind, passionate and loving…though neither one of us ever said the words I love you.
Over two decades went by. We both had long term relationships with other people. Yet, during all those years I found my thoughts turning to her over and over again. I wondered what would have happened had I stayed or had I not been so young and restless. For a quarter of a century, I never forgot her and looked back on those two short months with a lot of fondness and some regret. Many times over the years I thought of looking her up, but my intuition told me that she was unavailable, and as it turns out I was right. So, then it happened. Twenty years later, we ran into each other at a café. Again, intuition told me she was seeing someone (which she was) and at the time so was I. Yet, this rekindled things in me and I began to think more and more about her.
Fast forward four more years. One day I finally decide to look her up. As fate would have it, we were both now unattached. We chatted on line and on Facebook for over a month then set a date to meet. I told myself that I just wanted to apologize for my abrupt departure all those years ago and find out what she had been up to all this time. But deep down I knew I wanted to see if we could still share the passion we had before, though at first I couldn’t even admit this to myself.
On this first date, after a few drinks, she practically mauled me. Then, on date #2, this went further. I don’t know any other way to say it but I felt almost as if I had been raped. Without getting into graphic detail, the bottom line is she satisfied herself and I was just kind of there. Though I was attracted to her I was not ready yet for anything like this. This should have been a huge red flag. I know that she knew something was wrong with this because the next day she asked me if what happened was “okay”. She told me she loved me after three weeks. There was a lot intense “courting” behavior on her part, gifts, lavish dinners and romantic love letters, I finally became worn down and started letting my guard down. At this point I was falling head over heels in love. I felt everything in my entire life had been leading me to this point, to my soulmate. I felt completely loved and appreciated. She would do all kinds of nice things like making me dinners or soup and bringing them to me, taking care of me if I caught a cold and just acting like she really cared. This person was everything I had ever wanted, and not only that, but we shared astounding experiences and backgrounds in common, like growing up in the same small town, though it would take both of us moving thousands of miles away from there before we would meet each other. She seemed to like all the things that I really liked, and seemed to be genuinely interested in what I had to say and in me as a person. The love making was intense, like none I have ever known. One night in the heat of passion she blurted out “marry me!” I don’t recall my response but I brushed it off that first time. Then it happened again, but also in bed (again). Finally, after a third time I said yes. What I know now is that when I said yes I meant it, but when she asked she did not. I believe this is the point where she knew she had me hooked and began the devaluation. I called her on this “proposal” and genuinely believed at the time that it was real. One thing I need to mention here is that I have wanted that “fairytale” wedding since I was about ten years old. I mean, what woman doesn’t?? I also wanted the marriage, the intimacy and the devoted commitment that comes with it, and not just the pretty dress and wedding bells. I must have been wearing a sign on my back that said all this, because she apparently tapped into this and pretended to be someone who could make my dreams come true. I acknowledge there probably was some “magical thinking” happening on my part, but again my love was real and I was willing to go the distance even though it was so early on in the relationship and we still had a lot to learn about each other, even despite our past history. My parents who have been married for almost 50 years, got married three months after they met. I have always felt that when you know it is right, you know right away.
Two months of marathon sex and more whirlwind courtship went by. It was absolute bliss. Yet, whenever I brought up marriage or plans for the future, she would get anxious and have some very bizarre replies. I began to feel as if I had been “played” and felt a growing resentment. This came to a head one night when I had too much to drink (though I want to stress this was totally out of character for me and I am not a drinker). To make things worse I had taken a sleeping pill which I later learned when combined with alcohol can lead to very aggressive behavior. I did this because I thought I was being stood up and she was very late showing up. Anyway, the combination did not mix well, and I made a couple of somewhat snide comments about her basically taking back this “proposal” which were interpreted by her as an “attack”. She still wanted to sleep with me, but the next morning she basically accused me of being an alcoholic, being “abusive”, and told me she didn’t want to see me anymore. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe she could just turn off that way without even trying to work through this pretty minor conflict.
One month goes by. She began contacting me again and I hesitantly began seeing her again. It seemed we were back to the honeymoon phase once again. Yet, she refused to talk about what had happened, so that was really never resolved. She more or less took back her proposal, basically just saying she made a mistake. Yet she alluded to us having a future together and the possibility of making a commitment. She said we needed time to “grow together” and told me she really loved me. During this time I noticed that she liked to brag a lot about her sexual prowess and “power”. She also spent a lot of time when we were together complaining about how awful, controlling, demanding, yet neglectful and unfaithful the woman from her last LTR (19) year relationship was. Her contempt for this woman was off the charts. She said the most hateful things about this woman, yet still wanted to maintain contact with her. I later learned she was milking this ex (who was quite wealthy) for money. I also learned that after this long term relationship (19 years) ended, she immediately picked up and began a new relationship with another woman and that relationship did not end well. This woman now refuses to even speak to her (another red flag)
Things went on pretty smoothly for the next six months. She promised me a trip out of town to a nice resort for my birthday. I was thrilled, as she had been talking about going away together for some time. I was really looking forward to the trip, as no one had ever planned anything like this for me before to celebrate my birthday. Then, about a week before the trip was to take place, she cancelled. Her reasons for cancelling were that another female friend, Jill, might be visiting and there was a political rally in town that she wanted to attend. WTF? I felt completely devalued and unimportant. Naturally, I began questioning what I meant to her and whether she valued our relationship at all. So, after having this bombshell delivered, I was livid. How could she? How could she choose a bunch of grandstanding politicians blowing hot air out of the mouths and a “friend” that MIGHT be coming to town, over me, her GIRLFRIEND! One day on the phone, I voiced my hurt over this and calmly told her how this made me feel and how disappointed I was. Narc Rage #1 followed!!! I never knew what hit me!!! By the time she was done screaming at the top of her lungs I was left with my jaw dragging on the floor! At that point, I ended up actually apologizing to her (for what???). Once again, things went forward and I was told “I am not going to belabor this any further” so nothing was every resolved.
Over the course of the next year, the relationship continued, but there was always this push/pull from her. She also constantly triangulated with this aforementioned “friend” Jill. She was house-sitting for Jill and asked me if I would feel comfortable sleeping with her in Jill’s bed, and I told her no. She then made it a point to get me into Jill’s bed and seduce me. “Jill” eventually moved out of town, and I was told at this point “maybe now that Jill is gone then you and I will have a chance”. Really?? Everything felt like a test or a game with her. I also felt like the relationship was one big long job interview for a “job” that I could never be good enough to get. She was always asking me pointed questions, and wanting to know what my goals and dreams were. Somehow, I got the distinct impression that unless I was going to be the one to achieve peace in the Middle East, cure Cancer or win a Triathalon - it wasn’t going to be good enough for her. She began to ridicule me about my weight, the way I dressed and wore my hair, etc. She tried to dictate what I wore and even where I should go to have my hair done. She even showed up at the beauty salon one day to keep me from getting my hair cut short. When we began dating I was maybe ten pounds overweight, if that. After we had been dating for about a week, she showed up at my house one day with a box full of her old “hand me downs”. The clothes were all two or three sizes too big for me! Over the following year, the few gifts she gave me were clothes that were two sizes too big.
During the course of this “relationship”, we both lost close relatives. During her family member’s illness, I supported her completely and was always offering to do things to help her in every way. When she called I was there at the drop of a hat. I held her when she cried, took care of her pets, house, whatever she needed. She seemed to have frequent "meltdowns". But she was never available for me when I needed support and never participated in my family activities or get togethers with my friends. One night, a friend jokingly commented that she thought my girlfriend was “made up” and didn’t exist – because after over a year she had never even met her. This was one of the final straws for me. Her words resonated with me, and that night I realized I was really ALONE.
She never wanted to do anything unless it was all her idea, and she had total control over the situation. If I asked her out or planned a fun date she would either outright refuse me or accept and then cancel. She would call with only a few minutes notice and expect me not to already have plans, or drop everything and agree to meet her somewhere.
She would start talking about going away together, and come up with ideas for weekend getaways. She would ask me to do these things, then cancel at the last minute for no reason. She made the comment “we need to do this and see how it goes…you never know you could find out after spending a weekend together that you hate the bitch” Anyway, this happened three or four times (you think I would have caught on sooner) and was so demeaning and frustrating. Like other things, it was like as soon as I said yes she would renege. Meanwhile, she would go on trips with friends or by herself, disappearing for days at a time. I would text her or call and she would completely ignore me. Yet all the things that were happening in her life were earth-shattering and if I was not available to her at a moment’s notice or could not respond to her quickly enough she would become enraged.
We went from having romantic dates to only seeing each other late at night usually for sex. She refused to take me out on dates, or make plans with me anymore, and instead would get drunk and call me in the middle of the night demanding me to come to her house for sex. A few times it would just be for closeness, which I craved…so I hardly ever refused. If I refused she would become aggressive. If confronted about this, she would tell me to “I’m tired of fighting” or accuse me of “attacking” her and being “immature”. This cycle would repeat over and over again. With each “round” of this after I went back, her treatment of me grew worse and she became more manipulative. Whenever I got “out of line” she would threaten to end the relationship, tell me I was being abusive, or give me the silent treatment for weeks at a time. Yet, every once in a while she would “throw me a bone” and take me to a movie or meet for lunch on the spur of the moment. It seemed she could sense when I was feeling really neglected and figured she had better give me some “crumbs”. I held on because she was the love of my life! I kept thinking if I can prove to her how much I love her maybe one day she will change and treat me right and we will live happily ever after!
November 2010, another trip was planned and then cancelled by her. She began another silent treatment and ignoring. I called her on it and was promptly discarded without a second thought by her. By this time, I was finally beginning to catch on. Before she abandoned me, she “defriended” me on Facebook out of the blue. When this happened I literally felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. A few weeks went by and just like all the other times, I contacted her again and she “took me back”. Looking back at all these times, I was like a junkie in desperate need of a fix. I felt totally powerless and kept going back time after time even though I knew how much she was damaging me. Fast forward to a few months later. We had just slept together, and I mistakenly asked why she had ignored by friend request (after all, we are back together now). She lied and said she didn’t use Facebook this way and said “I’m not friends with my girlfriends” Well, I guess that really isn’t a lie now is it? GirlfriendS – plural. I thought to myself, I am good enough to sleep with, but it’s okay to disavow even KNOWING me publicly. She used this medium to study me and flirt with me, and by now was probably using it to do the same thing with someone else and wanted to hide it. She knew exactly how much this would hurt me.
She is highly educated and is in the field of psychology. She openly proclaimed that she was a narcissist on several different occasions. The first few times, I really did not have a concept of what this meant.
Then I found this place.
Fast forward to the Spring of this year. I became ill and had to be hospitalized. Though I have suffered from an autoimmune disease for many years there is no question that all of the stress from this toxic relationship contributed to the decline of my health and put me in the hospital. She came to the hospital once. I ended up requiring surgery, and had a lengthy recovery with complications. You guessed it. She made a couple of obligatory phone calls, but was otherwise nowhere to be found. This was the last straw. I wrote her a two page letter calling her out on how much her selfish behavior had hurt me. The letter was honest and heartfelt but not cruel or nasty in any way. I gave her an ultimatum, if you care enough about me to continue in this relationship you must go to professional counseling with me. She responded defensively, with a bunch of excuses and in her response it was clear that she wasn’t interesting in changing and didn’t care about losing me. True to form, she expressed that she didn’t want to end the relationship, but was “really tired of all this” (meaning me attempting to hold her accountable). I will admit at first I thought by cutting things off and staying away, she would realize how much she loved me and want to come back and make things right - but it didn't work!!
I never responded back – it was useless. There were a few texts back and forth after that initiated by her, and one hoover about 2 months after the letter. Sends me a text offering sex and when I do not respond within five minutes, her next message is “OK THEN WE ARE DONE”. The next day she was on Match.com and a few weeks later was plastering photos of herself with a new woman all over Facebook. I saw this via her commenting on mutual friends walls, and I am sure she knew I would see this. Again, she knew this would hurt me since she never even changed her relationship status in the two years that we were together, and never acknowledged me at all there after the idealization phase was over for her.
And that is my story. Since then, I have spent a lot of time immersing myself in this lifesaving board, educating myself by reading avidly on NPD. I am slowly trying to make my way back. In the beginning, I was in depths of despair. It has been a struggle and at times the urge to contact her is powerful, but so far I have resisted. I am going on almost four months no contact, and it’s been the most peaceful four months I have had in years. I am going to therapy, trying to nurture myself – which is something I am not used to doing. I am also focusing on my career and working towards a promotion. I have three pets that are good company but at times I really miss having someone special in my life. My therapist recognizes that I am codependent and we’re working on that. I come from a very religious background and a culture which fosters this I think. Maybe someday someone will come along that I don’t need to “fix”.