So this is a letter I wrote to a close family member of the N in my life who I've recently broken up with. This person has their own problems and the family is in general has many issues and problems beyond that of the behavior of my N. I'm concerned that I may be acting selfishly if I send it, but this person has been the only one who has been able to see things objectively and has urged me to end the relationship on more than one occasion- should I send it? Do it seem self serving? I am having trouble doubting my own motives these days, thought I'd run it by the forum and ask for some feedback. Thanks!
I hope things are going well for you, I've missed being able to see and talk with you lately. I would call or text but I think your phone is on (N)'s plan and itís not safe for me to allow him to know anything about who I contact, especially you. As much as Iíd love to be able to even just say hi and find out how you and your family is doing I canít safely do that by phone. I hope that you are well and settling back in to life back home. I donít know if you are still working with (N), last he told me you had made some kind of ďapologyĒ, accepting whatever blame he felt you deserved no doubt or maybe that was just some of his magical thinking. At any rate, I know all of this stuff has to have taken a big toll on you and my heart goes out to you. I am hoping you are doing something for yourself in all the family madness that you have returned to.
There is no one to share this stuff with who could possibly understand any of it but you. I donít know what, if anything, your (N) has told you about us recently. It doesnít matter what he says, none of it is based in reality and the truth hardly even matters at this point except as something I need to find for myself after being buried in his deceptions for so long that I started to doubt my own sanity. Itís time to start rebuilding my life and exposing what he does to people is about the only way I can get down to the truth and face what I need to face about what has happened.
Iíve done a lot of research, much of it just in the past few weeks after he asked me to go to see a doctor about having narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. I told him I would be happy to see a doctor to be evaluated for that or anything else that a doctor feels is indicated. I even scheduled a consult that day after I told him I couldnít afford it but I would do it if he was willing to pay for it.
This agreement prompted an immediate display of affection and love from him. For about 36 hours it seemed as if we would find a way to reconcile- he was positively giddy with excitement and I was basking in his show of warmth and caring. That lasted until... (long story full of personal details)
I was unable to reach (N) so I went to his house... (more story with personal details). I was so angry and hurt and simply CONFUSED about what he was doing! I begged him to see that he was hurting himself with his behaviors. We argued loudly and he insulted me calling me every name in the book, ugly hurtful names designed to deflect the reality of what I was telling him. He told me to get out and I told him if I left it was for good and I wouldn't be returning. Incensed, he came down from the top of his stairs, physically grabbed me and threw me out his front door, screaming obscenities at me the whole time. As I left, I told him it was over and went to my car. He yelled after me thanking me for hurting and abandoning himÖ ahhh, irony.
That was over a week ago. While we have had contact off and on by text all week I have not seen him. At times I have felt bereft and apologetic, alternating with rage at being so unfairly treated by someone I have given so much to. As the days have ticked by I started looking to myself, trying to understand what it is that I have become and why. He and I have been going through this process of disconnecting for a couple of months now so this past week I have actually felt better about things than I have in a very long time, but itís still been gut wrenching, just in a more quiet and introspective kind of way.
Mostly I have managed to avoid sending him a lot of messages but have sometimes answered his or felt clear enough to state some boundaries to him- which usually elicits a barrage of abusive follow ups or strings of delayed attacks in the middle of the night. He has sent me many, many texts berating me, insulting me, threatening me, cajoling me and at one point telling me how much he loved and wanted to be with me and asking me to come be with him. I have felt vaguely detached from a lot of it, semi cognizant in a cocoon that dulls the worst of his attacks so I am far less reactive than I normally would be.
At any rate, Iím not actually writing to tell you all about what is happening to me- I digress simply because I have had no one to talk to about what Iím experiencing, but that isnít the point of this email. What Iíve discovered has actually shaken up everything I have believed and thought I understood about him- which is helpful to me, gives a much needed perspective around which to rebuild my ability to think and act clearly. Although I know he is heavily using the drugs and alcohol and maybe pills again as well, I am no longer certain that is the primary reason for his dysfunction.
He projected so many of his faults on me, deflecting and blaming me for his behaviors that it has become almost second nature for me to just accept that whatever he said about me had some basis in fact. The thing is, heís sick, far sicker than I could've imagined even a week ago. Whether that is a direct result of the substances or vice versa I do not know, but I do know that he is a disturbed far more deeply than I have understood up until now. I am no doctor but I have spent many years in therapy since I was a teenager for my own problems, I know what I am and what I do and I have always had a very clear understanding of how to be accountable for myself, even when I wasnít (or especially when I wasnít!)- I never could've quit doing the drugs and alcohol and turned my life around to the extent I did if I had not learned self examination and acceptance of my own mistakes so that I can make needed changes in my life. Iím a damaged person, victimized by things that were beyond my control, but I am not a victim, not now- not ever. But being victimized is not the same as seeing myself as a victim.
Itís my inability to capitulate to unfair treatment that has caused the rift between (N) and I. In a way, he has almost nothing to actively do with it- he is after all just doing what he does with everyone. On the other hand, my endless refusal to give in to him has escalated what would probably otherwise be an average sort of relationship for him into the realm of something darker and more telling than perhaps what he has experienced before. Iím not one of his broken little girls, even though at times I have acted that way in anger and confusion and sheer pain. Iím no longer under any false illusion that I am special to him, but I know who and what I am and Iím not afraid to hold onto that despite the manipulative and abusive tactics that seem to work so well with others he prefers to surround himself with. Iíve only known him in the context of our relationship. Iíve only seen him operate from a point of disadvantage, seen him have to fight to claw his way through adversity to hold onto everything he can. He has some pretty amazing traits in that regard, his tenaciousness is certainly one of the things I love most, but my understanding of him has always been through the lens of my understanding about his addictions to some degree or another.
Because Iíve only known him as an addict, I made some misjudgments about what I was seeing, based in my own limited understanding. It honestly never really dawned on me that maybe the addiction was a symptom of something else and not the actual cause of the behavior.
A couple of months ago he showed up at my house in the middle of the night. He was so intoxicated, not just drunk but obviously very high, pills maybe. He insisted I get up so we could go out. We went down the street, to a park by my house because that was about as far as he could get. He was slurring and having trouble walking and it made me so sad- this beautiful man that I love who is trapped within a prison he built and sees no reason to escape. Actually, as I think back, that was the night that things really began to crumble between us, it was after that that I got in touch with you the first time and told you what was going on. That was when I started to really understand that things were far more out of control than I had realized.
He uses people. He manipulates and tortures and practices deception with every person in his life, no matter how close or important someone is to him. He does not see or acknowledge how his actions hurt everyone he comes into contact with. Because he is incapable of accepting responsibility for what he does he blames others. He doesnít just blame them, he often seeks to harm anyone who challenges his wrong headed perceptions- he is vindictive about it. As time has gone by Iíve seen him idolize, then devalue, then discard and denigrate so many good people- even his family members. Thereís a name for it, I know it because he has been trying to convince me that I am suffering from his disorder which is why he was so happy when I told him I would see a counselor to be evaluated for NPD- in his twisted logic I think he believes that if I can be ďcuredĒ of his malady then he will also be ďcuredĒ That makes perfect sense when you apply the logic that I am nothing more than an extension of him in his eyes, a puppet to control and get what he needs from- a proxy for his self image because he cannot bear to face the reality of who and what he is buried beneath all the swagger, rage and grandiose thinking.
Its funny, when Iíve seen him in social situations, especially at family gatherings (maybe because he doesnít really have any friends) Iíve taken note of how subdued he is, so out of character with the guy I know- itís actually something Iíve puzzled over for a long time but always chalked up to normal family dynamic stuff, figuring Iíd come to understand it better as I got to know him more. But now I know itís something else, or rather something more complicated than that. Itís his self loathing that Iíve seen at those times, his deep hatred for what he has become bubbles up to the surface when he is surrounded by the people and/or dynamics that he has been hurt by. I donít think he realizes it, Iím not even sure if anyone else but an outsider who also happens to have a lot of personal knowledge and intuition about him could see it, but I am certain of what I have seen- I know exactly what it is.
Seeing (N) as having a ďdisorderĒ does not feel good to me. I love him and want to have him in my life so badly. I hate the idea that he could possibly have a pathologic problem that isnít a direct result of his substance abuse which would then by default be something he can conceivable recover from. But I also have to be realistic and true to what my experiences have shown me. I donít believe he can feel love in any way that I can understand or relate to, Iím not sure he can feel it at all from what Iíve seen except in the most superficial ways. My mind and heart scream in frustration over that thought- so desperate am I to believe in the fairy tale he has been feeding me for so long. When I first met him I was dazzled, but I was also tremendously wary about him. It took me several weeks for the dazzle to finally blot out my distrust, but I never really forgot it, just tucked it away into a very deep pocket knowing that I ignored it at my own peril.
Some things are incongruent, match up better with your normal run of the mill addict, and, as I said, my experience is limited to him as a user only, I have no knowledge of him as a sober person. None of this would have ever occurred to me if he hadnít been trying to convince me that I have NPD, I never wouldíve started researching it. I have narcissistic tendencies, but Iím not pathologic nor would any doctor label me as such- I suffer from co-dependency- far too much empathy, not the lack of it.
So I am writing to tell you what I now believe to be true about (N). I alternate between fear of making a terrible mistake and total conviction in what I have experienced, now giving it a name. He has hurt me, in so many ways. It would be silly to think I can just magically stop loving him but I do not have to be with him, especially considering that the physical violence has steadily increased and I have so much trouble backing down from a confrontation with him. I don't know if there is much to be gained by telling you any of this, but maybe you will see something new or different about the situation that your family must deal with as long as his behavior continues to make everyone's life so hard. He is so loved, I wish he could see what a wonderful thing that is and take advantage of the bounty it could deliver him in terms of help and peace.