There is a lot of lying that goes on when you are a narcissist’s target. Even if by nature, you’re not a liar, it becomes a way of self-preservation. It was probably one of the things that bothered me the most about my relationship because most people who know me, would tell you I am straight-forward. I don’t play politics at work well, although if I have to play a game, I play it well and I lay to win and so that was my life with my Narc. Deciding what to be honest with and what not to be honest with. Living that way, smothered someone like me. I was not being my authentic self with him and it became a way of life. It was just one more thing to balance on my shoulders while walking the tightrope of my life with him.
I’ve mentioned this before. In the 28 years, we were together, the man never bought me one sock, pair of underwear or even a bra. I never had a clothing allowance as a stay at home Mom. It was part of the reason I started to work out of my home taking care of my niece who is disabled. I took this job on without asking his permission because I knew he would say no.
Before I had the income, I would use grocery money. I would have to save it until I had enough because feeding the kids was more important than my having no underwear. When I did get new undergarments, I would have to lie and tell him my parents took me shopp9ing. It was true. Some of the times both of my parents still provided me with basic needs while married but at times it was me doing what I needed to do. I hated living in lies. The reality of that, to date, is one of the most freeing feelings being out of my marriage. My ability to be truthful and authentic.
It was strange because here I was, not giving a shit what he thought about me but I still liked to keep the peace. Staying with him perplexes me. Why I stayed. Why I allowed him to physically abuse me and did not have him arrested. It is such a huge weight on my mind at times. Even last year, when he threatened me at our marital home, the police wanted to pay him a visit and possibly arrest him and I said no because he was at work and our oldest son was there working with him. Even out of the marriage I was walking a tightrope between what I felt I should do and how it would affect my 20-year-old son.
A year later and 6 years after he walked out, I am still moving forward, making changes, self-reflecting. I have cut him off almost completely now that our 18-year-old is out of school and my 20-year-old will soon be 21. The process and release have been a long and hard road but it is one I took seriously and I have done it my own way. I’ve been criticized, praised, unfriended, ignored, and loved. I’m okay with those that didn’t get my journey. I’m sad about some relationships. They were obviously one-sided and I was unaware of such; even of the life-long ones. My abusive relationship took a toll on my boys, myself and some of my relationships. I didn’t understand at a young age (19) that I was not responsible for whether he was happy or not. He made me believe I was the reason for his unhappiness in life from 19 to 49 and I kept shape-shifting to try to make the person I loved happy.
A lot of people would call this co-dependent behavior but being co-dependent actually, means I gave up my happiness for him BUT I DIDN’T! I did things within my relationship to make myself happy and did not rely on him to make me happy. Even at my lowest, I had rational thinking about my children’s welfare and even in my last relationship my kids came first and I was with someone that respected that. A Co-dependent is actually quite a sick person who cannot rationalize and their goal in life is ONLY to make that person happy. It was a goal as it should be for anyone who loves another but it wasn’t my only goal at the expense of other things in my life. A psychologist explained it as this: “I can be happy and proud for my boyfriend if he wins an award but I did not bribe the judges to make it happen so that he is happy.”
There are a lot of people with their own mindset on Co-dependency who will judge you and diagnose you, being a friend to someone in need and being happy they asked for help, does not make you a co-dependent. It makes you compassionate and empathetic. It makes you human. Even putting your own needs aside at times makes you unselfish, not co-dependent. Being able to rationalize and take time when you need it, makes you smart and healthy.
Being a friend to a target takes being non-judgmental. It’s trying to understand a journey that will never make sense to you as an outsider but it is his or her own reality and whomever you are supporting needs to process it however they need to for their own outcome.
I’m not the same person I was a year ago. As time goes on, I become more and more my authentic self. That authentic self was always my foundation but in order to survive was not prominently displayed. I still have the same sense of humor, I still take dirty jokes way too far. I’m empathetic and compassionate. I still have cleaning ADD but have moved past hanging on to things. I still love mermaids, otters, sailors, firemen and children to name a few. I still hate injustice, fake people and cowards. And every day I am growing more and more into my own self and leaving the person I didn’t recognize behind. It is freeing. It feels good and it’s been a hell of a lot of work but so worth it, even with the casualties of friendships. My passion has returned. The most important thing is my kids never became casualities. They are flawed, fantastic, lovely, smart, college-aged boys with great futures ahead of them because my rationale always put them first.
I’m planning ahead. Carving my path to a new future and extreme happiness with someone I love. It will be perfect imperfectness. A time for new growth and understanding as we walk side by side. Deep friendship and unconditional love. Do the healing and hard work first and then enjoy the love that was meant to be.