The other day I was reminded how the crazy-making begun.
You wonder what I'm talking about, as always.
If we had this conversation instead of me writing this letter, you'd not only blame me for everything (that's a given, everything and I mean EVERYTHING was always and I mean ALWAYS my fault) but you'd have no recollection, none whatsoever of what I am talking about. Every time I tried talking to you about us, our relationship and the problems we had, you had no idea what I was talking about. Couldn't remember anything. Told me, whatever I was talking about was nonsense plus it never happened. Laughed about me.
Oh, the energy I invested in trying to make you talk to me. A proper conversation. For once. Make you listen. Make you remember. It was so frustrating, I can still feel the knot forming in my stomach, still hear my voice getting shrill and loud. You insisted you couldn't remember what I was referring to. At this point I usually started shouting, crying and telling you again and again the story I KNEW in my heart you remembered, you just wanted to drive me crazy. Which you did. And then you laughed.
While writing this I can still see me almost losing my sanity. To other people I must have seemed unstable to say the least. When you disappeared for days and I wanted to know where you went, you'd say you had meetings with people I didn't know. I said "but you can still tell me about them". You wouldn't. When I asked you where, you'd say "you don't know the place". When I tried to reason with you that my questions were not prying but about sharing our lives, you'd pretend to not understand the concept. When you were traveling I never knew where you were because you never answered my questions. When you gave some answers once in a while, it was never the whole story, it was vague and incomplete. It was a highly censored version of events. Some things you told me of your own volition, and kept repeating them often. I learned that there was always a reason you did it. At times, it was the attempt to contain stories that might be leaked by colleagues or friends. By telling me upfront a soft, blurry version of the events, you could always refer to it later and tell me that this was the truth, and the other version was a lie. Strange stories, at times. Like the one time you insisted on telling me that all your colleagues had gone to a strip club and later to private rooms with girls while you waited at the bar for them. I would have never heard about the story because it happened while you were traveling. I wasn't really interested because by nature I'm not very jealous. You kept repeating that story so often however that it caught my attention. After a while it seemed more likely that you were the only one following a girl into a private room...
You had always an agenda and information was precious and scarce. You had the control about the flow of information and I learned that you manipulated and used information and your hidden agenda to get certain reactions from different people. I was always given highly censored nuggets of information. When I demanded more, I was told that I couldn't handle it, that it was my fault you had to control it. It felt like sinking into mud, surrounded by fog. I was fed just enough information to keep me always preoccupied with trying to find out what you were really doing. So many waking hours I WASTED on wondering where you were, what you were really doing, planning, promising etc. Sometimes I didn't know the city you were in, never the hotel you were staying at. One time I managed to find it out and called you in your hotel room. You wouldn't take my call. I checked and double checked for hidden meanings between the lines of your emails, tried to beat you at your game. Why didn't it occur to me that there was something profoundly wrong with a man who didn't want to share his life with me even though we were living together. I never took the time to step back and think hard: you were keeping me on my toes, manipulated me by sharing just enough to keep me in the relationship, but not enough to give me peace of mind. I never ever experienced peace of mind at your side.
I tried to detach myself but i guess you have to be a different type of girl for that. I'm more the "all in"-type of person. Detaching was a conscious effort for me, that never felt natural and also took up a lot of energy. It went against my nature and I usually couldn't even keep it up. The calculated misinformation brought me to my knees, literally. I begged you to stop hiding half of your life from me, begged you to answer my questions. I don't know what went on in this crazy head of yours when I was at my most vulnerable but I've read enough about narcissists to know that this must have been the sweetest of victories. "Narcissistic fuel" of the most valuable kind. i was on my knees, and I was mad at myself for being weak and for being that whiny clingy person I had never been before you. When you were gone for several days I slowly came back to my senses and started to feel almost normal again. I realized that my emotional reaction wasn't born out of jealousy or the inability to be without you, on my own...it was a reaction to your manipulation and cruel misinformation. Second-guessing where you came from at night, never knowing when. I couldn't trust you and I knew it. But at the same time I wanted to trust you, I was craving a normal, trusting, healthy relationship. I tried to make you change, I spent crazy amounts of energy in trying to find common ground, trying to understand why you acted like you did. At this time I didn't know anything about toxic relationships, malignant narcissism or NPD. I was clueless. I kept comparing the man I was living with with the man courting me in the past. You were an entirely different person! I spent the longest time trying to find the man I knew and had fallen in love with again. He had to be somewhere! You made me believe that I was the crazy one, my expectations unrealistic. I tried to be more like you wanted me to be (no more meltdowns, accepting that you were in control), but in reality I was falling apart. One of your favorite games was the "phone-game". You'd call from some airport (I didn't know where you were or headed) and I tried to pry the information out of you: "Where are you? Just tell me where you are..? Why can't you tell me where you are..? Crying and wailing, falling apart. You interrupted my emotional meltdown by interrupting the call. Hanging up in other words. Not to be reached again. You switched your phone off for hours or days, and i was playing the game like a good soldier or like a trained dog. I couldn't focus on anything else, kept redialing, shouting and crying into my phone, going crazy because you had done it again. Shut me up. Shut me out.
Why didn't i stop at some point, taking the time to properly breathe in and out, pack up your bags and move on? I couldn't let go, I couldn't admit that it wasn't working out. I wanted to understand why you were acting the way you did, why you had changed seemingly overnight, why you treated me the way you did. I equaled letting you go with failure. I wanted you to want me in your life. To realize that you didn't want to live without me. To VALUE me. To pull yourself together and see what you were doing to me! To change (back to the man I fell in love with). Never once did it occur to me that it should have been important to you how I felt in our relationship. Without me fighting for it! To care for me emotionally. To be willing to listen to what bothered me. To put your arms around me, hugging me and wanting me to be well, to make me feel loved and give me peace of mind. None of this ever happened in our relationship. It was a war over control and dominance and an emotional desert. You were victorious for the longest time.
You made me grateful for crumbs. When you came back home from God knows where, you made me believe that coming back to me after all my crazy emotional meltdowns, equaled love. That you loved me even though I was unlovable.
Looking back now, I can see that I was caught in a sad, pathetic (anything but-)love story, deeply entangled in emotional warfare and abuse and soul crushing, cruel and heartless manipulation.
Life feels so good, now, that you are gone. It feels so good to be free from manipulation, anxiety, fear and drama. I'm grateful for my inner peace every single day. Life! I'm BACK!!