This photo could not be more perfect. The Narcissist returned some of my items that he still had the other night and I have been sorting through all the stuff. He gave me this snow globe for some birthday, anniversary, valentine’s day or other event and I pulled it out of the storage bin busted. Its kind of strange to me that the glass globe and base are perfectly intact but the statue in the middle was broken…
The timing of this snow globe reappearing in my life is perfect because I’ve spent most of the past week reflecting on the fact that the Narcissist and I were very un-perfect… from pretty damn early on in the relationship. Since I have been in a pretty good place lately with the Divorce, and have been keeping up with no-contact my therapist and I decided to begin working on some of the older traumas that I have experienced with the Narcissist. As I started talking about the beginning of things I started to feel more and more embarrassed that I married the Narcissist at all. I knew something was wrong, I knew that things didn’t add up, and I found every rationalization and excuse in the book.
Meeting the Narcissist – March 2008
It was St. Patrick’s Day 2008 which fell on a Monday. I was 23 years old and had spent the weekend partying with my friends and drinking green beer… and I really did not feel like going out on a Monday night. I let my girlfriend convince me and I wound up at a small hole-in-the-wall bar where a guy from my high school was DJing.
I remember watching the Narcissist walk through the door… I literally noticed him the second he entered the place. He was tall and dark and handsome – he was wearing ripped jeans, flip-flops, a t-shirt and a baseball hat… and he looked like he was from someplace else… someplace more exciting than where I grew up. I was attracted to him from the start. I made eyes at him throughout the next hour, I observed how he was interacting with his guy friends who were clearly trying to set him up with every girl in the bar, and I shook my ass on the dance floor hoping he was watching. My efforts paid off, and his friend came over to talk to me – he pointed to the Narcissist and said “My friend thinks you are beautiful and would like to buy you a drink.”
The Narcissist and I talked until the bar closed, long after my girlfriend left me behind. We exchanged numbers and spent the night talking on the phone almost until my alarm clock went off. 2 nights later we had our first date, and we literally spent every waking moment of the next 8 weeks together.
I literally felt like I was in a romantic movie, I felt like I was living a dream, I was worried that someone would pinch me and I would wake up. The Narcissist repeatedly told me how much he loved absolutely everything about me, he was fascinated about my life, my opinions, my dreams. We spent hours lying in bed together making love and talking about our past, our present, our future. We went out and did fun things together. We laughed. I felt like the most gorgeous, sexy, intelligent woman on the planet. After several years of having guys use me, cheat on me, and generally treat me like crap… I thought I had won the lottery. The Narcissist was interested in meeting my friends, my family, my co-workers. He appeared to want to get to know absolutely every facet of my life. The Narcissist love-bombed me in every way imaginable… and before he left for his deployment he essentially proposed with a gorgeous diamond infinity band.
Even still when I look back I think that those first 8 weeks were almost perfect. The only teeny tiny little voice that I can remember ignoring was “Wow this is going pretty fast.” The Narcissist told me that he loved me VERY early on, we were talking about marriage and babies and our future life… and he pretty much proposed after 8 weeks of knowing me. I justified all of the quickness of his behavior to him being in the military. I figured that when you travel all over, deploy at a moments notice, and require marriage to be able to move the person you are dating to where you live… that things kind of go fast for these people. When I really should have started paying attention to that little voice was after the Narcissist left for his deployment.
Here are some of the major warning signs, red flags, and just times I ignored my own intuition while the Narcissist was deployed (before we even got married):
- The first weekend he was gone, I slept with someone else. I went out with my friends and partied and met a guy who also happened to be in the military. That should have been the big, fat, warning sign I needed that just maybe I wasn’t even ready for forever with someone.
- Shortly after he left, I began snooping around on his Myspace (dating myself here) and looking at his friends pages. That was when I suspiciously found a photo of him preparing to jump out of a plane – where it was painfully obvious that he was wearing a wedding ring. In all of the hours we spent talking about our lives… he never even hinted at the fact that he was married before. In fact he claimed to only have had one girlfriend since high school who had broken his heart and cheated on him. When I confronted him on the topic, I learned that he was actually STILL MARRIED. He claimed to be going through a divorce, that she was dating someone else, blah blah blah. The thing that should have really stopped me in my tracks was that somehow he turned the argument around on me – and blamed me for judging him and not loving him enough to look past his marriage. He also never apologized for lying to me… and told me that he withheld the information because he knew I wouldn’t get to know him if he had told me upfront. He also claimed that he never lied because I never actually asked him if he was married… if I had done that he would have told me the truth.. duh. (Years later I actually found out that he spent that first weekend sleeping with his first wife… but he blamed that on me too – claiming that I was unavailable to comfort him since I was out partying with my friends.)
- The Narcissist slowly started shifting from loving everything about me to finding ways to help me “be a better person.” This included subtle comments about everything from the type of clothes I wore, to my weight, to the food I ate, to how I spent my time with my friends. I soon found myself working out, eating healthier, shopping in different stores, and spending less and less time with my friends. These things actually seemed like positives at the time… I was drinking and partying less, I was losing weight, I was feeling healthier… how could you argue with that? The problem was that the little ‘good’ things started to shift to absolutely everything. By the end of the summer, I was spending every minute that I wasn’t at work on Skype or on the phone with the Narcissist. I was no longer speaking to any of my friends, and I was barely speaking to my family. My parents were worried about me.. and I brushed it all off by saying that I was depressed that I was apart from the Narcissist.
- The Narcissist also became OBSESSED with my past. He wanted to know absolutely every single detail of the guys that I had been with before, but the problem was that he didn’t like hearing the truth about any of it, so he set me up for a scenario where it was easier to lie about things than it was to tell him the truth (which in the beginning I was actually eager to do.) He caught on to a number of the lies over time based on some of the photos he had seen online and other things. He then began to put all of his focus on accusing me of being a compulsive liar and making me feel like crap for all of the life choices I made before meeting him.
- At some point through all of this I had shifted from being on cloud 9 and feeling in love every single moment, to being constantly terrified that the Narcissist would stop loving me. I feared that I would never again feel those intense highs of being the center of his attention, of making love to him, of having him care about me on such a deep and intense level. I lived in panic for the rest of his deployment that he wasn’t going to come back for me… and I started shifting my behaviors to try to be the absolute best girlfriend I could be.
- In September he asked me to quit my job. He leveraged an incident that had happened months ago at work as the rationale for it being an unhealthy atmosphere. He said that I had enough in savings to live off of, and said it would be better if I was at home all the time so that I could be on the same schedule as him. I remember trying to talk him out of it, saying that I could save us so much more money if I just kept working until he was back in a few months… but eventually he talked me into it. I can still remember that last morning in the office feeling like I was going to throw up and knowing I was jumping off a point of no return.
- Towards the end of his deployment he was manipulating me emotionally in so many ways. He would say that he was going to leave the safety of the place they were and go out into the local area with hopes of being shot. He would intentionally not call me for days on end leaving me fearing that he was dead. He would ignore my calls and emails and Skype messages when he was unhappy with something that I did or said. He would threaten to breakup with me and disappear so that I could never even find a trace of him. I distinctly remember one time at some point in the fall where I felt like I had just had enough. He was threatening to break up with me and instead of crying and begging I just responded with “Okay… if that is what you really want I will stop calling you, I will stop bothering you, I will go back to my life like I never knew you.” 20 minutes after I hung up the phone he called me back in tears telling me he couldn’t live without me. At the time I chocked all of this crazy behavior up to the fact that he was at war. He was in a very stressful and highly dangerous combat environment. His schedule was intense. He had killed people. I really believed that his behavior was due to the stress and trauma he was dealing with. I told myself that it would all get better when he came home.
I wish I could say that it did get better once he got home. After spending 8 months apart where I literally dedicated my entire life to supporting him… sending him packages every single week, baking him cookies for said packages, spending $1,000’s on calling cards and Skype credits so that we could talk, quitting my life, my job, my friends… losing 20 pounds… etc. etc. he did come home and we did get married. I had hoped and prayed that we would return to the amazing state of those first 8 weeks… blissful love and romance and pure delight with one another… but it never ever did. I remember crying on our honeymoon and I remember him not speaking to me for the 14 hour plane ride to our new life together.
I had about a million opportunities to not end up on this path… to not have endured 8 years of emotional, mental and sometimes physical abuse… but I did this… I chose this. I could have fallen in love with the guy that I spent that fun weekend with. I could have walked away from the Narcissist the minute I found out he was married. I could have kept working at my job… I could have wound up somewhere else entirely.
The scary reality that I have come to face is that I was so absolutely desperate to feel the way that I felt those 8 weeks with the Narcissist that I literally did everything to try to get back to that point. I tried in every way humanly possible for 8 years to get a glimpse of those first 8 weeks… and no matter what I did it never happened.