Wake up instantly, for any reason, or none at all. You may simply be Done Sleeping. Or you may find yourself in a state of semi-paralyzing fear about something, such as the state of your finances, or whether the psychopath / narcissist is Misbehaving again.
This Misbehavior you fear is a repeated pattern – maybe it’s an addiction like drinking/drugs/spending, or perhaps it’s another habit, like deception, adultery, theft, secrecy/non-communication, distance/avoidance/lack of affection, and so on. Look closely; it’s always there, whether you’re currently aware of it or not. If you don’t see anything or can’t tell, keep looking. You may not like it, but you might have to do some detective work.
It may look something like this: “OMG where’s our bank balance at? What kind of activity has it seen recently? Are we in the red again? What’s he spending, and what and whom is he spending it on? When did this spending happen?” You won’t be correct every morning. But you know it’s just a matter of time before you are. It’s your hand rolling the dice, but their hand steering your arm. Over time, you realize–and then learn to remind yourself….constantly–that you’re not paranoid; you’ve simply developed a conditioned response to the (dark, warped) reality of far too many shocking events.
Or, alternatively, you might be jolted out of a sound sleep when they get up in the wee hours of the night to grab a snack or some water or use the bathroom, making no effort to keep the noise down. They may be (probably are) clumsy (read: inconsiderate) enough that they end up making extra noise.
You may be irritated by this extra noise. You’d have every right to be. After all, didn’t your parents teach you to be considerate of others, mindful of what you’re doing when someone is sleeping, so that you don’t wake them up? How does one graduate into adult life without basics this rudimentary being automatically ingrained?
Their parents probably did school them on these concepts. Or maybe they didn’t. Either way, their disordered offspring felt entitled to go their own way, and that way did not include common courtesy.
Generally do your own thing, now that you’re awake, and they probably aren’t. There’s obviously no going back to sleep, so might as well make the best of it. This will help you make peace with it, too. If you’re like me, the best way you can use this time is some form of self-expression – journaling, blogging, poetry, other creative writing, etc – because this involves getting in touch with You, your thoughts, your ideas, who you are when it’s dark outside and nobody’s looking.
Don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of time for activities like these. They will likely sleep until the very last minute, staying in bed until they absolutely have no choice but to get up. When they do, everything will probably happen very fast – suddenly they’re dressed, filling their thermos in the kitchen, getting their shoes on, and leaving.
Pleasantries? You will probably have to initiate those. The usual “good morning” and “have a smooth day at work” and “I love you” may be reciprocated, but only after you’ve said it first. They will hardly ever make the initiative effort unless they’ve come to get used to it after you’ve been doing it for years.
If you work together like my soon-to-be-ex and I, or you otherwise share a vehicle, you will probably do a lot of waiting. Waiting around for them to finally get up and get ready. They will probably forget several things and have to retrace their steps several times. It can be anything – sunglasses, wallet, water thermos, phone, keys, whatever. And they move slowly. They can never simply create a mental checklist of everything they need to do and everything they need to take with them before they walk out the door, like normal people do. They’ll forget–and remember–one thing at a time. Time management and executive function are often not their strong points except for when they’re actually at work, in the public eye with the need to impress and succeed, and even that’s not always a given, either.
This varies, of course. All of this does, really; it’s just that this part varies the most. In my case, I work(ed) with my soon-to-be ex, and luckily we worked fairly separately/independently. But since we did indeed work together in the same venue, there were things we needed to delegate to each other.
Asking him to do something is a chore, to put it mildly. Make a request, and you can be assured that he’ll get right on it, moving right along at a glacial clip. He typically won’t tell you whether or not he actually did what you asked, he’ll either just do it or not do it. If he has an objection to it, he won’t tell you that, either. He may let you believe he did it, and only several years later do you find out that he never did, that he didn’t think it was a good idea, and yet he never came to you…
…Except when his choice came back to bite him (both of you). True story. Oh, the stories, gorgeous ones, the stories…
If you operate like a normal person, one of you may stay at home while the other holds an external job, or maybe both of you work outside the home, but rest assured, you’ll be working nonetheless. At home, you’ll be cleaning up after them (they leave a trail wherever they go), moving their stuff out of your way so that you can simply access your clothing or other items, getting things done that they asked you to do (forget any reciprocation), and getting things done that maybe they didn’t ask for but you know they won’t do but somebody has to.
ProTip: if they do start lifting fingers they’ve never lifted before, it’s because they’ve become afraid of losing you. And remember, gorgeous ones, it’s not you as a person they’re afraid of losing – it’s their supply, which could just as easily come from a nice wristwatch.
If you were separate from each other throughout the day, this is the part where you typically come back together. Chances are, the narcissist/psychopath may begin to deviate from their usual routine, coming home gradually later, or maybe at increasingly variable times. You may grow accustomed to being flexible – “oh, his car is here/not here”, and you are (or become) equally prepared for either scenario.
When normal people reunite in the evenings after being apart all day, they usually greet each other warmly, show genuine interest in the events of each others’ days, make some small talk or light joking, and at least briefly discuss any topics involving running a household, managing finances, raising children, or personal thoughts/concerns/issues. These conversations are Adulting 101, and you would think they’re universal givens.
With the narcissist / psychopath, they’re not. “How was your day?” “Uneventful.” And that’s all there was, folks! Full stop. Gentle prodding, for the normal amount of information. Short, anemic, vague replies. More gentle prodding, trying to get more specific to elicit information necessary to fulfill my own Adulting 101 role. Still met with the shortest and vaguest responses possible. Scratch head, maybe inwardly pull hair out. How do people operate like this?? Oh yeah, I remember now – it’s because we’re doing more than our fair share of the operating.
This segment of the day is when you perfect the art of adopting hobbies that are one-player games. Maybe it’s literally a game, maybe on computer, like Solitaire (#TrueStory). Or maybe it’s something creative or crafty. Or maybe you dive head-first into a captivating series on cable or Netflix. Or you may sink your teeth into a good book, a suspenseful page-turner. (Actually, all of those are #TrueStories.) Bonus points if these TV shows and books feature characters whose lives are even more dire than yours and plots and storylines more twisted than your own life. It keeps alive the “it could always be worse” mantra, giving you a little shot of emotional Novocain for the time being.
Either way, it’s essential that you become comfortable with (and make peace with, even learn to enjoy) being by yourself, whether or not the other person is in the room. Often they won’t be; they’ll be off in a room by themselves, especially if they’re watching Forbidden (p0rn) videos or otherwise Misbehaving (mentioned earlier).
But even if they’re in the same room as you throughout the entire evening, you’ll probably still feel very alone, maybe more alone/lonely than you might feel if they left the house altogether. You may feel like you’re carrying the both of you, plus your household and lives, and maybe even the world, on your own shoulders–alone. It’s an empty and lonely feeling, and it’s rather bleak and sad. It can become desperate; you may be wondering what you can do to get him to change, what you can say that will finally get through to him, what basic adult life concept you need to teach him this time, what analogy you can use to get your point across and make it “click” for them. (Always seizing the reins, doing things for them.)
Best give up on that one, gorgeous ones. It’s never going to work. They may be intelligent in other areas, maybe even pedigreed with advanced academic degrees or other professional accolades and impressive job titles, but the fact is, they have an absolute block of some sort when it comes to human relationships and emotions. It’s like their brains didn’t come with this very standard equipment preinstalled, and there are hardly any workable, livable after-market versions.
It’s cold and cruel, but really, there are two choices, and only two: 1) accept things exactly as they are without any expectation that they will change at all, and ask yourself if you’d truly be perfectly okay with that for life, or 2) reject the current situation by taking steps to leave, even if you can’t leave for a while.
I had tried the false third way, distracting myself with my own activities until my heart grew heavy enough to close in on me and drive me to take a deep breath and initiate yet another Conversation with my soon-to-be-ex. Please, angels, don’t make my same mistake. It cost me dearly.
This may be the loneliest time yet. They will usually go to bed before you, but they may also stay up well after you’ve gone to bed. Either way, your sleep-wake cycles will likely not coincide, and they’re not interested in doing much together, in synch.
I hope you have pets too.
It’s right about this time that your mind may start racing, picking back up with the wondering and worrying, conjuring up theories that appear ridiculous and paranoid but are probably true. That’s your intuition talking, listen to it carefully, it’s usually right. The only mistake we often make is not to listen to it.
The lights go out and the room gets dark in more ways than one. If you still even sleep in the same room, which my soon-to-be-ex and I have not done for over 10 years. I felt more comfortable out in the living room, with the lights on and the TV at regular volume, so I moved out there and watched TV or read a book or putzed on my laptop until I conked out. I literally worked or putzed myself to sleep. It was the only way I could even fall asleep (make no mistake, I was indeed exhausted. Exhausted yet couldn’t sleep – a cruel joke right there)…
…for a while, after which the cycle begins again, day after day, and year after year.
Your mileage may vary, of course. I don’t claim to speak for anyone else. I may have used generic terms, but I wrote about my specific situation, which is unique to me, but may have more in common with more people than I realize.
So, I put it out there. Take it for what you you will, gorgeous ones. Either way, I hope it helps someone. ❤