I had a random memory last night of something that The Narcissist used to do towards the end of our marriage that drove me absolutely crazy. As with most things involving The Narcissist this simple memory sent me down a spiral of other memories and resulted in me doing a bit of research this morning.
At the end of the marriage I was pretty deep in depression which resulted in me being exhausted at all times. I would work a very full work day and often come to do some sort of crazy workout with The Narcissist. By the time we would be cleaned up and eating dinner it would be 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Most nights, right after I finished eating I would be so exhausted that I would often fall asleep sitting up on the couch. He wasn’t working at that point in time so he would stay up often all night long playing his Playstation and then he would get to sleep in as late as he wanted while I would get up to the alarm clock and get myself to work.
The thing that I happened to think of last night is that almost every single night he would wake me up from a sound sleep about two hours after I fell asleep “to lovingly remind me” to go brush my teeth. This wasn’t a once or twice type of thing… it happened nearly every night. I am not the happiest of people when I am unexpectedly woken up so I certainly responded in a grumpy and groggy manner. Sometimes he would pester me and even if I fell back asleep two or three times he would continue to wake me up. Eventually I would give up and just go brush my teeth, but the thing that killed me is that I am the type of sleeper who once I am up and moving and turning on lights, etc. it is nearly impossible for me to fall back asleep. So I would brush my teeth and then be unable to fall back asleep until about an hour before my alarm clock would go off. This obviously resulted in me having a terrible sleep pattern and being absolutely exhausted at all times.
This issue was a topic that we would talk about often. He would manipulate the situation to talk about how much he cared about me and how he just wanted my teeth to be clean and for me to feel good. Then he would accuse me of being lazy and not caring about my own health and imply that if I was a better person I would be okay with getting up to take care of myself. Then he would turn the situation to be a representation of how I didn’t appreciate him for how much he loves me, and I didn’t care about him because if I did I would take better care of myself. I would explain to him that once I fell asleep and was woken up it was really hard for me to fall back asleep and that was why I was so grumpy, and even told him it would be more helpful if he could help me remember to brush my teeth as soon as we were done eating and before I actually fell asleep. (He never did though.)
He would also gaslight me and manipulate the story of how grumpy I was, he would play off of the fact that I was sleepy and ‘didn’t really remember how bad it was.’ He would then immediately play the victim and use this as yet another example of how I was actually the one being abusive towards him. I would spend most of the day after trying to ‘make up’ for ‘how horribly’ I had supposedly treated him the night before, just to have it all play out all over again. He would even go as far as to play a mind f*ck game of spinning it all around to where he would say I was so terrible that he was going to stop trying to take care of me and stop giving me love and I would end up having to beg him to please wake me up to brush my teeth just to show him that I really did care and really did appreciate him. Talk about crazy!!!
At the time that this was happening and before I really understood Narcissistic Abuse and emotional / psychological abuse I looked at this particular thing like it was something totally minor… like how you hear other women complain about how their husbands leave dirty socks on the floor and don’t put them in the hamper. I mean who would even really take me seriously if I had tried to explain that my husband was abusing me by wanting me to brush my teeth??? That is the insanity and the power of these types of abuse, they can turn the littlest and seemingly minor things into a powerful way to control and manipulate and abuse you.
And really, sleep deprivation has huge impacts on your emotional and physical health. It leaves you in a state of confusion and exhaustion and it even hinders your ability to make decisions, and react rationally versus emotionally. I did a whole bunch of googling this morning and was not able to find a lot of information about sleep deprivation as a form of abuse. I did find a great piece on “Picking up the Pieces Blog” as well as a lot of articles on the negative impacts of sleep deprivation and how sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture and interrogation. This last one certainly made me stop and wonder in The Narcissist was again using his military training against me.
I am curious to know if anyone else has experienced sleep deprivation at the hands of their abuser, is this something that was unique to The Narcissist or is this a more common form of abuse that we should be paying attention to?