I tried to be your friend. I tried to go back to a time when I only saw the good in you. I made excuses for your behavior. I made apologies for your mistakes. I believed you when you lied. I kept quiet while you screamed. I agreed with all you said. We talked every day of your problems, but never of mine. I walked on eggshells around you. You destroyed me. And when I asked you to just go ahead and hit me (because at least that kind of hurt heals), you said you weren't that kind of guy. No. You are the kind of guy that will let me live with what you did the rest of my life. Knowing no one can see the scars, so no one would believe it.
Everyone thinks you're great. Generous to a fault. Life of the party. And I suppose to those who don't try to get closer and can take you or leave you, you will stay those things. Your alcoholism is pretty much integrated with your personality, so that is roundly accepted too. Anyway, you hide the worst of it by not going out much at all.
In the early days that we were together, I felt I had found my soul mate. We laughed until we cried. Your hand was never far from mine. I watched your silly movies. We sat all night, music cranked, getting stoned. We didn't see each other often, so it made the time all the more precious. But the moment I became a fixture in your life, I also became an obstacle. From that point on, the good times were so precious and few, they were the only ones I wanted to acknowledge. It was the only thing that kept me going or gave me hope.
I still remember that night when I sat bewildered and hurt that you had not talked to me in days, and I didn't know why. It turned out you thought I was having an affair with a gay male co-worker. Instead of letting me know that, you had decided to give me the silent treatment for a week. It was not the last time that would happen. I sat down with my computer and typed in a bunch of words to describe you on google. Misery loves company, and I expected to find some forum full of broken hearted people commiserating. So imagine my surprise when I start seeing the word "narcissist", over and over again. I had no real grasp of the term. To me it meant that someone loved themselves way too much. That they couldn't pass a mirror without sneaking a glimpse. That was not you. It was obvious, at least to me, that you don't like yourself much at all. I almost dismissed it out of hand, but something told me to keep reading. That was when I learned the truth. And it is a truth I still want to deny.
The lack of basic human empathy, the ability to sit there and not react nor feel compassion for another's pain. You were completely indifferent to me in the middle of a parking lot, having a panic attack because I was trying to drive, but you wouldn't stop screaming.
Being completely unpredictable. One moment you were hugging me, telling me what a good "wife" I was, and the next you were accusing me of poisoning you. Because I used dish washing liquid on an ashtray. Then you accused me of the same with your cat. Because I gave him treats.
A verbally abusive bully. You took every opportunity to tell me that I was uneducated because I didn't finish college. You concluded that I was terrible at my new profession days after I started the job. You would berate me for "ruining" your home, when I accidentally spilled a glass of water, or left imaginary fingerprints on your wall.
The inveterate liar. When I found a bathing suit in your bathroom, you tried to convince me the maid had moved it. That it was there from friends visiting the previous summer. On Valentine's Day, when I overheard a voicemail from another woman, you said you only knew her on the phone; that a friend had given her your number.
In the time we have been apart since I moved, it has been even more of a rollercoaster than when we were together. We continued to speak on a regular basis, and I continued to wonder what the status of "us" was. I would see you again, hoping that time had changed you. But nothing was different. The waiting game persisted for another couple of years. I knew you were living your life, seeing others. But I never suspected anything major because that just wasn't "you". You again invited me to vacation with you at your 2nd home a few months ago. When I tried to get some idea of whether you were dating, you dismissed "her" as nothing important. You said she called most Saturdays to get together, that was it. When I got there, I knew this was not the case. There was evidence she had been there. Things that had been there for years were suddenly gone. That was later confirmed by you saying she had never been there before and had only a few days vacation time. You again dismissed her as old and overweight. You even said that while you were there, you hoped she would meet someone nice. You said there would be no more "relationships" for you. When I referred to her as your girlfriend you said "don't call her that"! And when I asked if she knew I was there you said yes, and she knew that meant I was "in the bed".
But it was hard to ignore the calls that came in night and day. I don't know how you think I wouldn't notice. You slept a lot. There were awkward silences. At some point you admitted she had decorated your new home, where as previously, you'd told me it was the girlfriend of a close friend of yours. No wonder the bedroom was the nicest room in the house. I have no idea if she actually does that for a living. Or anything at all for that matter.
When I returned home, I was left with the feeling that the whole trip was some kind of punishment. For what, I don't know. Of course you had been overwhelmingly kind to invite me. So how could I complain? It soon became hard to have a conversation with you. And damn my curiosity, but when I found "her" on social media, I again saw confirmation you were flying her out to see you. In a drunken text I revealed this to you, I bared my soul, I said I would hurt myself. I apologized for this moment of stupidity. I felt truly pathetic. I believed we might never speak again. But I was foolish and nostalgic enough to text you a couple of months later, which you returned. Then, suddenly, you stopped.
So now, I'm left to wonder what could have been, and what, if anything was real. What was worse? The alcoholism or the narcissism? I don't know. And I'm not sure why I think that you've changed at all with this woman. I'm caught between thinking she deserves it, and then thinking no one deserves that. I imagine she really must be more of a friend in your mind than anything. For her not to have seen your dark side by now seems improbable. Or perhaps she just tells herself the same fairytale I recited to myself for so long.
I do hold out hope that something remains of the man I loved for 30 plus years. And I don't know why because I think I finally understand you by now. And to you, that's probably to be avoided at all costs. I guess I'll just say if you ever want to try being a real friend (you know, minus the bullshit), I am still here. That's against the advice of my therapist, of course. Funny how I'm the one that ended up desperately needing one, huh?
P.S. If J & H never sees this...may it serve as a cautionary tale. It could happen to you. You may not think so, but you know that joke about faking a whole relationship? Well, I thought it was a joke...