The Power of Refusing to Care

The last lesson I learned in the decades of living with my narcissistic husband is one of the most powerful. Oh, how I wish I’d learned it sooner!

He spent most of our marriage manipulating me in a variety of ways. Anger was one of his most useful weapons. Because of childhood trauma, I avoided confrontation at all cost, and couldn’t handle shouting or outbursts of rage. I did my best to keep such events from occurring, swallowing my hurt, my fear, and pretty much every other emotion. In truth, even before I met Jack, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock was my hero and I strove for the safety of that type of emotional mastery.

This hindered me in more ways than I can list, especially in relationships – even in my relationship with God. Honestly, it’s only been in the last ten years or so that God and I have managed to break open the door I’d so firmly kept my emotions locked behind. Until then, they only appeared when they completely overwhelmed me.

None of this means Jack couldn’t hurt me emotionally. It means, rather, that I fought a continual battle to keep the pain locked away in a vault. And if you’ve done any study on the topic at all, you know how toxic and dangerous such actions can be.

As those emotions were loosed, as they began coming out, Jack discovered a greater weapon. Due to his poor health, he had lost much of the power he’d previously held, but now that I dared “feel” again he took advantage, making ridiculous accusations, threats of self-harm, and more that were like finely sharpened knives.

Until THAT day.

Some days, some moments, are so pivotal that you never forget them. One of those moments changed things almost instantly in an incredible way. I had a sudden revelation that he only had the power to hurt me if I let him. Intellectually, I’d known this, but like I said – revelation. In that moment of epiphany, I decided it was high time I stopped caring about what he said.

I literally stood there in our living room, as I was about to walk out the door, and whispered to myself (My apologies; this is a direct quote.), “I don’t give a shit.”

Crass? Yes, but it’s what I said, and I meant it. I was free! I actively chose not to care about anything destructive that he said. I shut down the “victim” response like flipping a switch, and it was astounding! It also shocked me in a very real way. Anyone watching would have seen my eyes go wide in amaze. And then I smiled, and I walked out the door.

Things changed after that. He grew increasingly confused as his primary weapon proved less and less effective. Every once in a while, something he would say would start to get to me and I’d have to remind myself, “Tammy, you don’t give a shit.” (I feel uncomfortable typing that, but I promised myself that I would strive for transparency in this place.)

He still did other things, like intentionally trash the house to punish me, but as frustrating as that was the worst was over. The last several months of his life were much easier on me, first because he’d lost that hold on my emotions and then because, as he came to understand his new reality, he put less effort into those attacks.

I really do wish I’d learned this lesson years ago.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C