I could trust that my abuser would pay the bills. He was a perfectionist about his credit report and anything that he owed in his name. That was one thing I never had to worry about. For a long time, I thought I could trust he would never cheat on me. I do believe that he never did but I am not sure he didn’t line people up before leaving. People he knew he was interested in and had contact with through his business or friends. The verdict is out on that one. I don’t really care anyhow. There were times when things were so rough, I had wished he would have an affair and maybe be happy at home. Also, his cheating would have caused me to leave a lot sooner and not try anymore but to my knowledge, this never happened. He was faithful and trustworthy even in our darkest hours, as I was to him.
That is where the trust ends for me. He had impeccable standards for people. Expectations that he couldn’t even meet himself, so he was always putting everyone down. You couldn’t trust that you could ever make him happy in any way with what you had tried to accomplish. Be it dinner, budgeting money, even sex. Very rarely was he happy and if you didn’t do it his way, even with a good outcome, it was wrong.
He had an extreme sense of entitlement. Rules were always for other people. I couldn’t trust that he would always have my best interest at heart or even that he would understand what I was trying to accomplish at any given time. He wanted me to seek his approval for everything but my take eventually was, I’m an individual. My own person. At some point, I stopped asking permission. Bringing home a puppy without permission, taking a job without permission all the while still maintaining my responsibilities at home. I couldn’t trust him not to say no without even allowing me to explain why these things were important to me. I don’t remember the man ever saying yes to me. He fought me on everything.
I couldn’t trust him to talk to him. I had to hide how I was feeling because he would throw it back at me non-stop for the rest of my life if I had an issue I had to deal with or if I had made a mistake. If I confided in him, he would tell other people. If I was frustrated, I could not trust him to listen and help me through it. I was an island.
Even when the children were sick, I could not trust him to call me, to help me, to have their best interest at heart. It was always a fight over doctors appointments and buying meds. I could not trust that our needs would be met.
I could not trust him to have my back. He would let me change a tire by myself without offering to help. Letting the neighbor help before he would. He would sit and wait for me to fail but instead, I would seek help and achieve it. If I was sick, I was not met with empathy and compassion but rather disgust and usually “You are alway sick.” Which wasn’t true.
I couldn’t trust him with my heart. He would leave and come back, rage, leave and come back. Ruin every holiday. Disappear at night to his business not letting me know he was going. Snub my parents. Snub me. Verbally attack our children. He couldn’t manage his anger. He took me, my love, my open-heartedness and he filled me with a darkness and a heaviness that I fought for many years to not let it take over me. He had me acting sometimes in ways, I never thought I would. I had to keep my head above water to keep from drowning. Sinking in despair. There was always a spark of light no matter how dark it got. All it took was a kind gesture from someone, a hug from my children, a phone call from a dear friend, watching my children sleeping like angels, a smile from my niece, any number of things and that spark would flicker and light again until he succeeded in snuffing it out to only a glow, waiting to be lit again by someone else’s kindness or one of my successes.
I couldn’t trust him to be able to lower my guard and be a vulnerable person at any time. I always had to be on my toes. I had to constantly anticipate what our interaction was going to be like, as did our children. At times he presented as emotionally stable but it would quickly turn to an explosive, ugly scene once I had let my guard down. I was at fault AGAIN; I made the mistake; I was a stupid bitch; I don’t understand anything and I am thick headed and useless, etc. The abusive projections of narcissistic rage are endless. I never felt protected or safe from the one man that I should have felt had my back. The one man that should have, according to our vows, been protecting me. Instead, I had to find protection from him. Some of the rages came at such inopportune times like when my grandmother died and our son was in the hospital at the same time and I had to leave for a few hours. I came back to a rage so over the top, in the middle of the hallway of the hospital. I was tired and worn out and needed comfort but he left me standing in the hallway wondering what the hell had just happened and too tired and worn out to care.
So there came a time when I started to trust myself. While still married, I felt the loss of him, I mourned our marriage in private, crying myself to sleep while he stayed up until all hours of the night. I let myself deal with the confusion and insecurity. My job became keeping my children safe and building myself up. I was learning to take my negative life and turn it into a positive future. My friend Michael says “Bad news doesn’t get better with time.” I applied this attitude to my relationship. I knew I had spent a long time living restrained to avoid criticism and be devalued. I started to talk myself into trusting myself again. “You are smart. You were smart when you met him. You can manage money. He has been managing it, but you can do it and you can do it right. You are worthy. He may want to believe no one would want you, but you have always had offers and looks and people approach you, let him believe what he wants.” I got to know myself again. What I liked. How I wanted to live. I stopped doing things I didn’t want to do because he had never done anything he didn’t want to do and if he did, he made it miserable, so when a trip to Florida came up and had strings attached, I said no. I wanted to go. Badly. But my children were old enough now to take care of themselves and protect themselves. I knew that he would make sure they did something fabulous because I wasn’t a part of the family, but I prepared myself for that. I learned to be happy for my kids because they were spending more time with their Dad.
Most importantly, I set goals for myself and allowed myself to be proud of me when I met them. I no longer cared if he was happy. I was responsible for my happiness, not his. I was still kind and open and caring to him. He chose to throw that away while others chose to love me for who I am. I chose the latter. I gave him a chance to meet me half way and he refused so I chose the latter. The first man I dated after him was one I could trust completely. He put his hand on the small of my back and said, “I’ve got you.” He told me when he was proud of me. He let me know that I was worthy. He allowed me to be vulnerable for the first time in years. He helped me to trust not only myself but others without questioning myself.
Today? There is no trust in him. I can’t trust him to pay me on time, pay me what he owes me without offering less and making up his own rules, pick up his children, talk to me respectfully, work together to raise our kids, communicate. Not much has changed since the marriage. His responses are not any different so, my life with him is the same except, I don’t have to deal with it daily. It’s just that now, he uses his attorney to make his points costing both him and me money. That money would be much better spent taking care of his kid’s needs but a narcissist’s need to be heard far outweighs any common sense.
So now I trust myself to prepare for what is yet to come. He rarely surprises me. I know it’s coming. Once in a while, I have had enough, but my friends, who are in place to talk me down from a ledge, are quick to counsel me that I am strong and I will be fine. And I will be. Because win or lose against the Narcissist, I am no longer living my life trying to make sense of him or please him and I am living a much happier life. I’ve got my own back and when I falter, I have my friends. A girl doesn’t need much more than to trust herself. All else falls into place seamlessly.