“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” — Voltaire
Falling for a narcissist is like booking your love boat cruise on a garbage scow—or a doomed ocean liner. (Take your pick—either simile works.) You set your course and mind on a new adventure of romance—and the whole thing sinks like the freaking Titanic. Great. Now what?
In keeping with a travel theme, relationship experts will tell you getting over a failed one is a journey, a progression of phases through numerous stages that take time to reach and even more time to leave. As a traveler upon this trek of glacial forward progress and humiliating reversals, let me tell you: It’s a fucked-up tour! Michelin one star, for sure. And I want my money back. But life doesn’t offer refunds. Not for dissatisfied customers—and most certainly not for clients who misbooked (or were duped by a glossy brochure of lies). Caveat emptor, ladies. Buyer beware.
For the most part (and with a change of transportation metaphor), I have passed through the station of denial. Equally as distant in my metaphorical rear view mirror of “been there, done that, got the T-shirt” destinations lies the borough of bargaining. I have reached the outskirts of acceptance. (I think.) But the train has stalled, and I am stuck (as evidenced by yet ANOTHER post on this tired-ass topic—and trust me, I’m as bored by the subject as you! But writing is my way of processing . . . and so I ask for your kind indulgence.)
As much as I hate the admission, I am trapped. Held hostage by a love that won’t die (or accept a bitcoin ransom–trust me, if there was an amount of money I could pay, I would!), I am caught in the worst kind of limbo, a hellhole called hate and anger and sadness. True, I longer play the “Self-blame Game.” These days it’s all about “Name That Narcissist.” (I’ll take “Manipulation, Lies and Gaslighting” for $1000, Alex.) The rose-colored glasses are off, too. Through the clear lens of time and distance I see the machinations. How he took a one-night stand encounter of intense sexual chemistry and my trust and turned it into a 2 ½ year involvement that benefitted him.
Not that I am without culpability. As I have so often previously stated, I saw the red flags—and chose to ignore them. My need to be needed drowned the voice of reason. Hence, I chose to believe his version of past harms in which he was the victim of not one, but two destroying ex-wives. I thought I could heal him, fix him, complete him. And to that aim, I figuratively—and literally—picked him up off the floor more times than I can count. (And when I couldn’t, I lay down beside him on it and held him while he clung to me in fear, terrified of the demons he had willingly fed and nurtured.) Yet the painful irony is I did heal him. I placed him where he needed to be to get the help he needed. Nearly a year later, he is still on the path of recovery and getting his life back on track via the pursuit of education in a new career field. I know I should find solace in that—and to a degree, I do. Because I do. Love him. Still. (And may for always.) Which makes the pain all the worse that thanks to me he has his life—but it’s a life without place—or desire—in it for me. And yes. That hurts more than I ever imagined it would . . .
I actually spoke to him last week—a phone call of course of my initiation. Having not seen him for months I was finally ready to acknowledge the relationship’s end. I just wanted to hear him say it. Closure. (God, how we as women crave it!) I guess I was hoping too for an apology for his having hurt me—or at least an admission thereof. As per his modus operandi, he gave me nothing. Save the insistence we are still friends. (“Friends who don’t speak? Who don’t see one another?” “It’s only been a couple months, Judith.” “No, it’s been five. Regardless, it’s not my definition of friendship, Don.”)
He did give something though—knowledge I know to be true. (For never has he ever endeavored to spare my feelings by lying about his involvement with other women.) Call me foolish (and trust me, I DO!) but to know—or at least to believe—I was not discarded for another.
I don’t suppose that’s really what Voltaire meant by singing in the lifeboat . . . but it is of some small comfort . . . And I’m taking it. After all–and as my mother was so fond of saying–any port in the storm will do . . . This one does. For now . . .