This isn’t the first time I’ve told this story. I tell it over and over again on my blog and then I tell bits of it over again on other people’s. But then healing is a funny process. It doesn’t just start one day and end another day at a full stop. Healing happens in the telling and in the feeling of the pain and every time it is, hopefully, that little bit less.
When Lori blogged through the time of her tragedy, when she wrote of her grief, her rage, her confusion – I cried. I cried for her. I also cried for me.
You see, I lost my husband, too.
No, he didn’t die. In fact, part of me feels that it is highly inappropriate to compare my story to Lori’s, but I did. And I do.
The man I loved, the man I married, the man I had children with, turned out to be a construct of my insecurities and his parasitic manipulation. He was a non-person, a sociopath.
When I found out, my husband was no more.
I lost everything. My whole life with him had been a lie. Every bit of joy, happiness, love, was one-sided and based on lies.
My falling apart took months. My life unravelled strand by strand, as I learnt more and more about the unthinkable lies that I’d been told.
The only real things in our relationship were my feelings. Everything he had ever said, everything he ever did was based on his need to manipulate me, to extract a particular reaction, a feeling, a verbal response.
But I don’t want to write about what he did. You can read about it here.
I want to tell you about how I felt. I want to tell you about the pit that I kept falling through in those long months. I felt I was going insane. I felt that nothing was real. I could no longer believe anything anyone told me, anything I saw, anything that happened.
We are frequently told that no one can make us feel or do anything, that it is all our choice. Well, there is an exception to that. Once you fall into the clutches of a narcissistic psychopath (by choice), you are no longer in control. Your sense of self disappears and you become his construct.
As I slowly unravelled myself from the suffocating threads of his lies and deceptions, I became so ashamed that I wanted the earth to swallow me up. I was ashamed that I let anyone do this to me. I was ashamed to be associated with someone like that. I was ashamed that I allowed myself to love someone like that. I was ashamed that I bore his children. That I allowed anyone like to even touch me, let alone share the intimacies that we shared.
I was angry. So angry! I was furious (and still am) at the betrayal of my trust, of my children’s trust, the way he used me – as a mere plaything, both emotionally and physically. That he hid who he was from me. That he had no regard for our marriage vows, that everything that we ever did together was just a game. That I had no idea who this person was! How dare he do this to me?? What sort of a person behaves like that?? How can anyone have absolutely no scruples??
I was angry at my mother in law and some of our friends who conspired with him. Those who knew and lied to me!!
I grieved (I still do). I grieved for what never was. For what was supposed to be. For myself. For believing every minute of my life with that man. I grieved for my life as a wife, as “whole” family of four. I grieved for the times we had spent together, on holidays, in our back yard, on adventures, with family. Times that will never again be repeated. Times that I wasn’t sure were even real.
I grieved that I had to sell my beautiful house and lose the garden that we had made together. I grieved that my children would lose the home and lifestyle they loved.
I cried with my children around me. We would huddle in a heap on the kitchen floor, as they would try to comfort me and sometimes they cried, too. I could not “make happy” and pretend all was well for their sakes. I could not conveniently schedule my breakdowns for when they weren’t there or when they were in bed.
I howled and screamed when I was alone. I wanted to pound my head into the kitchen floor, to punish myself for my stupidity and to replace the emotional pain with a physical one. For the first time, I understood some cultures’ traditions of self-mutilation in times of grief. I considered piercings and tattoos. All I managed was to pierce my ears again.
It may be insensitive for me to write here, on Lori’s blog, that I wish my ex was dead. Yet, I do. This not an uncommon sentiment among women who had been abused. Yes, what I experienced was psychological abuse on a massive scale, massive because it was so subtle, so insidious, so long. Massive because I was led to believe I was worthless and that the world would be better off without me.
Somehow, my mind believes that with his death, my shame would be erased. My grief would be justified and my betrayal avenged. Rationally, I know it’s not true.
I work daily on my healing, as does Lori. It may never be complete, but, like Lori, I don’t intend to give up.
Dorothy has been blogging for over four years at Singular Insanity. She blogs to keep herself sane, more or less, writing about sole parenting, mental health and starting over. A sole parent of two boys, Dorothy is also a freelance writer, speaker and chronic furniture re-arranger. You can also find her on Twitter and BookFace.