Hi, gorgeous ones, how was your weekend? Weekends–they mean different things to different people, elicit different emotions, don’t they? They do for everyone, and they may (or may not) hold different meanings for those surviving narcissism, or having to live with it (in my case, both). Weekends could bring sighs of relief, feelings of loneliness, spurts of grief, bouts of anxiety, a get-out-of-jail-free card for a glorious slacking session, you name it. Some people live for weekends, while others dread them.
Weekends have been the toughest right now, as I imagined they would be. When I was with my more potent narcissist (my recent ex), I was also going through an intense academic program, and weekends brought relief, a chance for me to let my hair down and a chance for us to reconnect and release our stress through a pressure valve. We were together from morning until late at night, always occupied, always active, always something to look forward to.
So, when we split, I figured they would be particularly tough. That go-go-go fun-fun-fun would be replaced by…a void. My husband and I in separate rooms, watching separate videos, doing and thinking about separate things. There would be an emptiness, I knew. And that only makes the acute grieving stage even tougher.
Last weekend (the weekend before this last one) was by far the hardest, as it was my first weekend without my ex. He had a long-term extracurricular project to work on, to keep him occupied and distracted and focused, and I did not. I did have his-now-our kitty to get settled in, and she and my in-person bestie were my focus all weekend. My husband? Has always been able to take care of himself, and would rather be uninvolved. Which is how my situation got started in the first place.
I still texted with my ex, who continued his downward spiral, and I probably should have texted a lot less. Or not at all. But, live and learn. Trial and error. My life has been more error than trial lately. But that’s impermanent; everything is. Everything is temporary, if you give it enough time.
And that’s what I told myself throughout last-last weekend. Somehow, through the tears, I made it through. My amazing offline bestie, two fantastic online-now-texting friends, and the new kitty pulled me through. And I made it through the rest of last week, too.
This last weekend was different, as I also figured it would be. They always are, especially with the passage of time and the putting of one foot in front of the other, even if only a few inches at a time. The bulk of the painful lessons are usually learned in the beginning. I’ve learned much the hard way, learning through a potent blend of hindsight and self-awareness what is correct and what is a mistake. The litmus test is simple: did it make me feel better or did it make me feel worse?
That’s all you have to go on, in the beginning. Beyond the beginning is not something I can speak for yet; I haven’t gotten there.
On Friday, I had felt pretty strong. I was on the right track. I was building emotional muscle.
On Saturday, I saw the flip-side. I did everything wrong. I texted with him for most of the day, instead of having breakfast, blogging, doing yoga, or establishing some kind of cuddling connection with my husband.
And I paid for it. I hosed most of the day, and I felt it. Luckily, I felt it immediately instead of experiencing a delayed reaction–or worse, not even realizing why I felt the way I did.
An idle mind is the devil’s plaything, and mine was indeed idle. Mentally paralyzed is more like it. You know the story, gorgeous ones – needing some more closure to certain loose ends. Getting wistfully jaded, or jadedly wistful. Trying to coach and help him see the light as though he’s helpless. Maybe he is, maybe he’s not. Maybe there’s not even a light to see, at least for him. Spending time attempting to decode what’s really going on. Narcissism is a black hole, in many ways.
A black rabbit hole.
He did start doing some of what I’d suggested earlier. He said he even learned a hard lesson in empathy during this time apart. In his last relationship, he’d cautioned his now-ex about something he knew would harm her, and she had dismissed him. I’d cautioned him about his social media addiction, and he had dismissed me.
On one hand, I was elated. Finally, a breakthrough? A ray of light? Some hope after all? On the other, I was skeptical at best, and cynical at worst. Is it for real? Is it for show? Will it stick this time, or is it temporary until he tears a fingernail and reverts back to his dark baseline?
Decoding again…I’ve got to stop that shit. Pronto.
By Saturday late-afternoon, I knew I didn’t feel good. I hadn’t accomplished anything, other than to wrap myself up tight in another mental and emotional pretzel, and that simply won’t do. Fortunately, I had plans for that evening with my awesome (!!) bestie, so I went over to her house for the evening and we hung out, which was healthy for me. I did feel much better on the way home than I had on the way there.
And I promptly typed up a to-do list for Sunday, as Sundays are even more random, blank, and formless than Saturdays, and I knew I needed structure. My to-do list might seem ridiculous to some, but sometimes it’s what you have to do. Sometimes your to-do list needs to include things you might otherwise often forget, such as eating breakfast or lunch, or brushing your hair, or exercising, or getting groceries, maybe even with approximate time slots to keep you on track.
So when Sunday morning rolled around, I hit the ground running. I watched Netflix until 9am, at which point I took care of personal hygiene (that was actually on my list), breakfast, and doing the dishes (so were those). I made sure to type up some blog posts while spending time the new kitty, still separated from the others in our master suite. Then I engaged in some housecleaning with my husband, which felt amazing, particularly after it was done (lol).
What surprised me was how fast the day went! And how stable I felt. And how much I/we accomplished. And how balanced life felt to me. A definite improvement.
I also realized that every time I long for my ex’s arms around me, I need to remind myself that I couldn’t even count on that happening when I was with him. Increasingly, it didn’t happen because of some discussion that morphed into a Discussion, ugly and confusing and hopeless and bleak, with no resolution. He operates a resolution-free zone, always having the upper hand, despite being less wise and less mature. How does that happen? Somewhere along the line, I had allowed it to. I had given him that upper hand because I loved him as a person and he thrived on me as supply.
And I also need to remind myself that even though I know I’m not going to be in his arms tonight, or any night, I also know what is not going to happen. I’m not going to get a cold shoulder because of something that happened at work, nor am I going to cry over a fresh emotional wound yet again. I know I’m not going to get locked into a go-nowhere discussion that solves nothing. I know I’m not going to waste the evening getting pummeled and leave feeling confused, exhausted, spent, or unbalanced. I know I’m not going to get tossed in Word Salad. I know I’m not going to get dizzy on the merry-go-round.
And that, gorgeous ones, is a beautiful thing. It may not be the most exciting or exhilarating, but it is beautiful. To have that guarantee. To have that stability. To be able to chill, in peace.
Is my current situation with my husband ideal? Hell no. He’s a narcissist, too, but a comparatively much milder one. I know I cannot leave him at this point, so the question becomes, is it bearable? And the answer for me, right now, is yes. I can do it. Especially if he can at least change or adapt his behavior to meet my needs more often, and I do believe that is possible.
It’s possible–and even probable–for two reasons, the first being that his condition is mild and he does have some empathy and a decent grip on Right And Wrong, when it’s explained to him just right, and the second being that he has the intellectual capacity in all the right brain lobes to cultivate more empathy and self-awareness, two bugaboos of narcissism, thus perhaps reducing his narcissistic traits over time.
So, I stay. And pray. And pray some more. For this is my life now.
Should my financial circumstances change and I can exist independently without him, I’ll certainly look into leaving him so that at least I can be free to pursue a healthy relationship.
But until then, this is my life, today. It’s One Day At A Time, and today is all I have. And today, I will be OK.
Stay strong, my lovelies. It’s a day-to-day thing, isn’t it? ❤