Letter to myself back when I was still married to Narcissis…

I wrote a lot during my ten-year relationship with a clinical Narcissist. I found this letter the other night and can see the clear mind I found when I drowned the noise in my head with music and found a still place where my honest voice could be heard.  There were three points in time when I came to a crisis point and left the relationship, I was almost always questioning. I returned twice until I finally disengaged myself entirely. This was written nearly 10 years ago to the day. It is a rant but possibly holds some glimmer of interest for those ‘seeking’ or may help others with similar concerns in their relationship. I wrote this after waking from a terrible nightmare and oddly enough it was after I did have a serious car accident that my inner voice won over my fear and I left the relationship for good (there are a couple of the songs I was listening too linked, it was a Pearl Jam evening.) Please remember this was in the past.

 

All that I love, all that I have lost, all that is lost, can be found here in the silence. In the quiet, in the beauty that is no sound. Music pulls suddenly, wrenches my heart to a place of intense truth. Tears that stream the night; my dream, the car full of people I see falling, falling so far so deep into the water, plunging silently into the depths, sinking with no fear, but there is no way out. No way to escape. It is just down, down into the cold quiet bottomless sea. Endlessly living out the same lie, avoid eye contact, avoid sharing our truth; it is safer you know (eye rolling sarcasm). They do not see me, they do not wave. Do they know what danger they are in? I want to scream. To scream!

My loneliness reminds me of the depth of my pain and isolation, of my inability to smile in the sunshine. Sorrow fills my heart and my eyes. Where do I turn to find the certainty? Is there ever any certainty? How is it that one moment can seem determined so sure, the next lost in the sea of infinite and harmful ‘what if’s’? How do we find ourselves in this world of change and growth? If nothing ever stays the same how can we remain whole? How do I find myself in this immense and endless ocean?

I must seek out the fearlessness; it is OK to make mistakes. We cannot get it right unless we try all avenues. We cannot live in fear and uncertainty! How can we live like that? That is where we find depression, anxiety, despair, and eventually madness. I want to make love face-to-face eyes wide open staring into the heart of my lover. Not cowering in the dark with tears on my cheeks while my lover fucks my body and my soul curls up into an ever-tighter darkness.

I seek absolute but I cannot find it. Absolute. Absolute. The word hammers in my ears a metronome, the pulse of my fearful heart. What does it mean to be human? Are we doomed to be alone and in isolation even within a room full of people all talking all smiling, it seems to me so devoid of life, so devoid of feeling. Is anyone really saying what they mean or is it a continuous competition to say the most remarkable, memorable thing?

 It all seems so pointless, so utterly without point.

With our backs to the wall where can we go? Where do we find safe arbor or safe passage even for the briefest of reprieves, seeking stillness? When we find these moments it seems too hard to carry them on through and into life. To adapt, in our seeking of origins and purest life, when we change on the inside, is it obvious to the outside, can we ourselves find sufficient language to explain it? I find it so hard, I just want to be free, to sing, to move, to create, to learn about our ways, to learn about our minds, to work with holism. Truth seeker, I want to be kind, don’t want to hurt anyone. But I want to be free. I can’t stand the boxes anymore. I want to open my heart wide, let it soar, breathe and live!

Adaptation.

Yet there is love such sweet deep love. In a body which smells and tastes so rich and deep, a mind textured and layered with so many complex and intriguing insights. If only I could maintain my sense of connection all the time and not lose sight of what and who I am and what does not need to touch me. It does not need to touch me. Slow it down. See his words for what they are, don’t let them confuse and disorientate. I want the children to remain together. I know I will lose my step-son if I leave, can I remain strong enough for him, my son and myself? How I want equality, I want to understand and be understood. Walking together not apart or behind….walking together not apart or behind….

I want to be heard and loved, I crave sensualness, love and beauty. He says ‘love is not enough’ but for me it is the only thing of importance.

Within these weary times, is this the time to say goodbye, yet when he asks I am terrified, (is it a trick, a trap for me to fall into?) a huge gaping hole appears before me I see us alone and all the hard work being worth nothing. Yet to remain, to constantly monitor my every thought before speaking, walking on eggshells to avoid his anger and grief, the oppression of his selfishness. This is no way to live. A friend observed that he watches me all the time, that this kind of controlling love is suffocating and too heavy to bear, that he cannot open his heart to me because he cannot see beyond himself. She is right.

I am surrendering to the quiet. I need quiet and healing. I cannot continue without it being this way. I simply ache for stillness.

Time to hear the silence and reclaim myself.

Wash.

Let it wash over me.

Poignant.

I adore the power of sound to create poignancy. That through sound we can find stillness. Music creates a trance state, the stillness within the music, stillness within the dancing. I love how in this place thoughts are born. Little seeds eager to grow, bursting with life and direction. Lushness is an elixir shaping things into intense and shattering beauty.

I just want to burst forth into life. To feel strong again, content, creative, intelligent, to have ideas that can come to fruition.

Is my heart open? Or is it just safer to remain in the shadows for fear of hurt. Terror surrounds me. I get so anxious when I think of full potential and the ability to really truly love. I cannot open my heart; I am in fear of him, his ability to inflict pain makes me question his ability to express empathy, to love anyone other than himself. I am in terror and I need love, absolute beauty and love to entice me out. I need to be worshiped and honoured before I can allow myself to open and offer my absolute. I do not feel safe here. I can pretend all I like but that does not change a single thing. It makes me less open and more distant from my truth and my life. I do not serve him or myself through this pretense. What is the next move? Endlessly confirming how I feel in writing does not tell him a thing. Withdrawing more describes separation. I am so afraid. I walked to the edge, he asked me to come back so I have, but I am aching for the edge, I only returned out of fear, fear of him.

 words by errant satiety

(postscript, I feel the need to mention to clearly state that this was not a D/s relationship, there was no open communication about control. If there had been the scenario might have been different. The reality of this particular relationship was unhealthy control, not given or mutually agreed upon.)

 

Interesting

'Attractive Stone Wall' Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

‘Attractive Stone Wall’ Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

I have a friend who greatly dislikes the use of the word ‘interesting’. He sees it as loaded but empty; it is used when people mean all manner of other things much more consequential that they cannot quite bring themselves to share, or are unable to express. I must say I agree with him and in saying so: today I had an interesting day.

This morning I wordlessly gave the right of way at a difficult driving spot to my ex-husband. It is a place I drive past daily. A place where each day I decide based on traffic and the time whether I will allow passage of the other vehicle (it is a spot where they do not have right of way and in heavy traffic will never move without polite drivers making way) to go before me. Today my ex was the driver and he knew damn well that I was the other driver and that I was giving him right of way. He took this opportunity to pause willfully and smile inanely. These were not my thoughts at the time but words I put in place now, after the fact. At the time I was thinking that it is about time that in this small town that he take a gesture of polite willingness as a ‘gesture of polite willingness’ nothing more nothing less; nada más nada menos. I am thinking ‘surely by now we can co-exist in this town without malice or any deep meaning hidden in random interactions’. He milked it. He paused too long; I had to indicate twice for him to take the opportunity, he smiled ruefully and gave me that look I recognize as ‘wistful love’. How sweet. Eventually he drove on and allowed me, and the rest of the traffic, to continue driving.

My day progressed. At lunchtime when I returned to work I see his vehicle is parked very close to my office. Time for the ‘yuck’ moment, the sinking feeling, the arrival of anxiety. This man has stalked me, bullied me, controlled me, manipulated me, was seriously addicted to pornography, was abusive and only ever loved his own reflection in me. I felt stupid for having thought briefly for a moment this morning that it was okay to feel good about him, okay to remember that I loved him once. He can’t help himself. Anytime we incidentally see one another here he is at my work place lurking, leaving things behind that get handed into me, as he well knows they do, and I have to decide what to do about it. Again and again I go through the agony of weighing up what ‘normal’ people do in these situations. If I engage the usual process is the unfolding of email interaction that is laced with the taint of all the aforementioned traits and a ‘backslide’ for me into deep anxiety. Unfortunately clinical narcissists do not come with user manuals.

Today however, I did not engage. I did not allow him to have any kind of power over me. I acknowledged that he was nearby and vocalized that this was reasonable. I did not allow his proximity to terrify me. I forgot all about it until I drove home. I didn’t feel the need to inform my trusted colleagues that there was a bogey on site. If there is one thing I have learned in the past few years it is that it is up to me how I respond to his presence. I am no longer in any danger, he has no power over me, and he never will again. I have learnt what the correct salutation towards a clinical narcissist is: do not engage. Regardless of that deep hook that is still somehow there in your soul do not engage, do not give a millimeter, or yard, or ounce, or quarter, or moment, or glimpse EVER. You must be a stone wall regardless of what you feel inside. Because any slip and that hook is well and truly back in.

I have been thinking on what I have learned from my ten year relationship with a clinical narcissist lately simply because I have two beautiful women whom I love dearly in my life that have both found themselves dealing with what they both recognise as a lesser version of this type of personality. They are both very aware, to the extent they can be, of what I went through and are asking for my help. I tried very hard to make my marriage work. I did everything I could. I left three times but was committed, until I could no longer cope, to making it work. I have talked briefly recently about how bad it got, I won’t go there again in this post. Now because of these beautiful women who have to have contact, through shared custody of children, with the men they are no longer with I feel a strong desire to be able to articulate what makes it safe. It is not going to be easy but I believe it will also help me. So I will attempt to advise and write a beginners guide to boundaries and safe interaction with the clinical narcissist, the pathological liar, and the emotional manipulator who will have you second-guessing the colour of your own hair and the spelling of your own name. I pray I will find some gold for these lovely women because for me, in my particular predicament, the only safe way is, I repeat: do not engage.

words and image by errant satiety