There are so many details surrounding the time period leading up to and then during and after the discovery of my ex-husband’s final affair that I try to not think about. I try hard and I’ve actually made it to a point where I can get through days without thinking about it. That’s progress! I’m not thrilled with where I am in my life right now, the many changes and stresses that being a single mom has caused. My kids are wonderful, so it’s not that. It’s the financial burden and the changing everything we have known, for them for their whole lives and for me, for the past 20+ years. Change can be good, but for me it’s not, not while I’m undergoing the changes. I can’t see or feel what’s good about it. The good becomes apparent to me well after the fact. I am better off ending a marriage that was filled with deceit. I am better off being alone and lonely versus trapped in a marriage where I wasn’t alone, but I was lonely. I am better off being financially strapped rather than depending on a husband who abused me financially. (When I moved out, before I had secured a job, I was shopping for groceries with my kids and learned he shut down my credit card and transferred all our money, except for 80 cents, into a new private account, forcing me to need and be on government assistance. And forever burning into my mind and the minds of my kids, that memory of standing at the checkout with my kids and having to leave a cart full of food behind, embarrassed and humiliated). I am better off being insecure and anxious all the time, but learning to find my way out of that and building boundaries and seeing my self worth, rather than staying with a husband who berated, belittled and emotionally abused me in subtle ways that were not apparent at first. Narcissists do this. They break you down, slowly and steadily. You don’t realize what is happening at first because you were a good person before you met them, you maybe just had a few insecurities. Narcissists are skilled at honing in, like a laser beam, on those insecurities, and they lock onto the bullseye and use those insecurities to their advantage. By the time you see what they are doing, what they have done, the damage feels irreparable. What you’re left with, quite often, is the shell of the person you used to be. More insecure, more anxious, and afraid. You don’t feel seen or heard. You feel invisible and quite frankly, if you’re like me, you long for the days where you can fly under the radar because being invisible means being left alone. Why do I want to be left alone? Because while not every person who is rude or unkind or dishonest is a narcissist, the world is filled with people who see your insecurities and latch on to them. Who use you. Who are dishonest to you, to their spouses, to their bosses, even to their friends. And your distrust grows and grows and grows and the whole time it’s growing you have an internal dialog where you blame yourself and think you’re just paranoid. These narcissists stripped away your confidence and ability to make even the smallest decisions.
So I write all of this and then look back at the reason I started this blog entry. The memories that surround the abuse, the affair and the aftermath of my divorce from a narcissist…..
I have children with him. And every time they see him or talk to him, the memories come flooding back. This happens because they are damaged by what he did too. I can’t ask them to not share with me their interactions with their father. I can’t because they need a safe place. I’m that safe place. I sit here and I hear what they’re saying, because their father doesn’t listen. His lover doesn’t listen. I can’t afford to turn it off and feign listening. So I truly listen. They deserve that And in doing so, all those memories come flooding back to me. It’s hard, often, to not get upset or frustrated with my kids when they share how mad they are at this other woman but not their father. He was 1/2 the reason this final affair happened. I understand he is their father and they want him in their lives but it takes a toll on me. Pushing those memories away so I am not turned into a cold heartless monster, that much effort is exhausting. One of my kids told me she argued with the other woman over where I am in my life and that this other woman is to blame. I didn’t feel good about that. I didn’t because my kid doesn’t seem to have that same anger towards her father. I say I don’t want my kids to be angry with their father but maybe I really do? Maybe I want to feel like someone has my back? Like I have the same safe place I provide for so many people? But I say maybe because I don’t trust my emotions and thoughts most of the time. And saying I want them mad at their father seems cold and harsh. I don’t want to be cold and harsh. I just want to feel safe and be seen and heard. And I want to be mad and have someone tell me it’s ok to be mad and understand why I am mad, like I tell my kids. But I fear that I will hear, as I have countless times before, that I control my own happiness and I need to move on. I am trying and as I said way above, I have many days in a row where I feel good because I can look back and say I didn’t think about these as memories, until….bam! The kids bring it all back to me after visiting with their father. I’m out of that marriage, but I still feel trapped.