I listen to the clock ticking, and it is a comforting sound. Why?
For the first time in many years, the house is silent – no 24-7 TV, no…
Well, I had something else in mind when I wrote the first sentence. I wasn’t at all going to head in this direction, but it’s time. It’s the end of the year for the rest of the world, but the end of an era for me…and I’m ready to shed some things. Maybe, hopefully, my story will encourage others.
Long story a little shorter, I spent decades married to a narcissist. I was in denial most of the time, and though it never really felt right I accepted it as my inevitable normal.
Mind you, there were times in his life (definitely in the last few weeks) when he was right with God, or so I believe. It’s hard to tell because narcissists have a gift for looking like awesome people from the outside. Their spouses and children, though… they pay the price. All things – every, single, thing – revolve around the desires of the narcissist, and they are only “generous” and “thoughtful” when others are looking on and can be impressed. Pretty much nothing matters but them and their happiness. Oh, and anything that goes wrong is inevitably someone else’s fault.
So, if you know the story of my husband’s disabilities, you can imagine how hard the last several years have been. He lost the tight control he’d always held, so he worked even harder in other areas like emotional manipulation and what I’ll call “practical punishment” – such things as trashing the house any time I wasn’t at home. Because, well, his situation was my fault.
There have been good moments. I know there have been, but they are so overshadowed by years of…everything from emotional abuse and infidelity to threats of self-harm, yelling, and ridiculous accusations that those memories are not readily accessible – and I’m not inclined to go digging.
He passed away 3 months ago tomorrow, and every single day of those three months I’ve thanked God for giving me the chance to live the life man is supposed to live. The word for my life right now is “Freedom.”
I’ve survived…no, thanks to God I’ve thrived through over thirty years of pretty much every kind of abuse but physical abuse. With God’s promise of forever, I’ve been able to face each day knowing that “this too shall pass.” Speaking honestly here, it did not kill me; it made me stronger.
The joy of the Lord – both the joy He has given me as I’ve focused on seeking Him through the years and His joy in me – has been my strength. My faith is where it is not in spite of, but because of the battles I’ve fought.
Now my home is silent enough that I hear the ticking of the clock on the wall. Today, I know continual peace even in the midst of new-widowhood challenges. Today, I know happiness on a level I’ve not seen since I was a child. As one confused friend recently expressed it to my sister, I glow.
So I’m leaving 2022 with a great sense of gratitude, and looking to 2023 with a special kind of hope and expectation.
I’m listening to the clock on the wall with a smile on my face.
To our friends who thought you knew Jack, I’m sorry you had to learn this. I’ve spent three months letting most people think I’m just relieved not to be the primary caregiver of a very ill person…and I’ve felt like a hypocrite. I’m tired of hiding behind the lies of our life together.
Amen Tammy! I am right there with you, only I just lost mine. I loved him to a fault, but I knew who he was and how he operated. He totally loved and cherished his family, but to the point they had no idea how bad things really were with him. I understand the 24/7 tv. He wanted noise, I wanted quiet. He pretty much cut away from nearly everyone, but was delightful and witty and humorous when they were around… yet, I loved him, faults and all. Of course I believe I had my own faults, but I would live up to them and move. Not him, he didn’t have any… He was living in the end with so much pain and emotion that he did not know how to be strong. While I miss him dearly, I hope he has found the peace he was looking for.
I feel for you, Betty! Yes, it is entirely possible to love someone even when they seem to be actively trying to destroy you. I did. I loved him for years until he pulled a stunt that completely killed all emotional love. (The love of the Lord is a different thing, and I tried really hard to walk in that at all times.) You are grieving both the man you had AND the man you should have had. I had to explain that to someone today, that I’d cried real tears over the man that I’d thought I was marrying and how he never became that man. She couldn’t relate, and I’m kind of glad. It’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy. I’m praying for you right now, as soon as I hit send.
He was a good man. Loved everyone. But showed a different side when it was just us. I knew what I was getting when I married him, I think I was the one who gave him the surprise (I am bipolar with other issues), depression was something we both had and you really want others to think you are ok. But behind closed doors, things are different.
You continue to inspire and amaze! The truth shall set you free. You’ve earned all the enjoyment and peace you can muster, my dear friend. Love you!
It’s been quite awhile since I read your blog.
I’m glad I came today.
I am so sorry for what you went through and having experienced a narcissist esp one whose body is failing, I understand. It’s hard to lose the dream of something that never was and never can be, though the finite nature of death is a form of freedom. Mine is still alive so the fear of being ensnared again looms.
I give you the biggest hugs!
I knew Jack to some extent at one time.
I met Jack online back in the 2000s and he helped me with some website graphic design and MySpace pages.. He also encouraged me to check out your blog back in the day, which I did. . I didn’t know he was a narcissistic but I saw the cracks and bravado which I assumed was because his body was already starting to fail, but in hindsight narcissism makes sense.
I wish you all the best in your future.
Your blog posts over the years have given me much to consider and think about.
I look forward to future blog posts.
Thank you for your comment, and for reading through the years. I hate that you’re still walking under that shadow. This freedom I feel is amazing, and I hope you know it one day very soon. Just remember what he really is if he tries to worm his way back in. (I say that from experience. I did leave him once, but didn’t have the strength to force him to leave me. He stuck like a leach and I let him.)
Again, thank you for your comment. Comments aren’t common, and I treasure every one!