It has been 1 year, 8 months & 10 days since my ex asked for a divorce, swearing there wasn’t another woman. It’s been 1 year, 8 months & 15 days since I found proof of the other woman. It’s been 1 year, 9 months and 12 days since he admitted, in writing, that there had been “others” throughout our marriage.
In that time I’ve learned he’s a covert narcissist, he was abusive, dismissive, accusatory, subject to rage, sneaky, demeaning and demanding. In this time I’ve begun to understand why I stayed with him, why I got so sick, why I disappeared. In this time I’ve started to re-appear, get healthier, feel more confident, feel secure, and some days, even happy. I can look back over the last 25 years and watch my progression from a confident, highly skilled, effective manager, to the person I became – a terrified, exhausted, chameleon who played which ever role he told me too, until I was too sick to do so.
I thought I was over crying. I just drafted a settlement agreement, I feel ready to move on, I understand what a damaged guy he is, and how much he hurt me and my children, and how he will do the same to her and any other woman he hooks up with. I’ve known that I’m not through all of the emotions I need to wade through. 25 years being with a covert narc creates a plethora of feelings to figure out, relive and discard. But, honestly, I thought my grieving was done.
Then I came here. I’m in Florida, visiting my parents with my sister. They live in a golf community in a small, but lovely, single home that looks out over the golf course. They have a beautiful lanai and a pool with a hot tub, and they have a full, very enjoyable life. They have more friends then ever before; so many, in fact, that the other day when I tried to take a nap I was repeatedly woken by the ringing of the phone with another offer for a social engagement. I am having a wonderful time. We’ve been out to dinner, played our favorite card game, gone to see a fashion exhibit at the local museum, managed to stay away from discussions of politics, and, of course, had a few drinks by the pool. It has been all I hoped for. Yet all I want to do is cry.
My parents are 80, and they always play the radio. Their favorite station is an easy listening station of songs from the 40’s through the 70’s. I do struggle with music, because most music comes from the joy, or angst, of love. Fortunately, there are songs out there today, I’d say perhaps from the 90’s and on, that are songs relating to a subject other then love. At home I have my own playlist to listen to, which provides a great mix of dance tunes, you’re a louse songs, and silly lyrics songs (aka, All about that base), so music is a respite. Here though, there is no escaping the eternal love that it seems everyone but me has.
Music is a particularly sore spot for me, because when I was marrying my ex we hired a DJ who asked us what “our song” was. We looked at each other and realized we had no song. At the time, believing I was anti-romance, I was only slightly bothered by this. We listened to a number of songs and eventually picked one out. Fast forward 23 years to the evidence I found of my ex’s GF, which was a receipt for the flowers he’d sent her, 2 days after telling me there was no one. The note said this: aomlaoy#. It took me weeks to figure it out. The few people I dared tell about it all claimed to have no idea what it meant, although I later found out some did. In case you don’t know, it refers to the John Legend song “All of Me Loves all Of You”. Here was my ex of 25 years, who never had a song that represented me in his heart, spouting off about the song that made him think of her. Even writing this is making me nauseous.
In addition to the music, there are the couples. Couple, after couple, after couple, all celebrating 55 year anniversaries, or 60 years, or even 65 years. My parents will celebrate 65 years in 1.5 years. I look at their marriage and there were times it seemed they wouldn’t make it. There was a time when they even told us they were getting divorced. Yet here they are, 63 some odd years later, still together. They are like snapping turtles, each snapping at the other for an alleged slight or moment of idiocy, then giving each other a hug. They are the same as every other couple I see here. Each of these couples has their own way of expressing their annoyances with each other, none of which diminishes their love for the other. Each one is able to question the actions or ideas of the other without feeling their entire relationship is at risk. They are couples in love, and they will remain together till death.
Throughout my 25 year relationship, every time I questioned my ex, about anything, I was accused of being a bitch, or emasculating him, or I didn’t trust him, or, if none of those worked for some obvious reason, my tone of voice was condescending. I watch these couples, and in each “argument” they have one or the other could accuse their partner of any of these things – each argument seems the same as one I would have had with my ex. The women do all of the things I did. They go out with their friends, then tell their spouse they are too tired to do anything. Instead of being accused of abandonment though, the couple then lays on the couch together and watches tv. One gets sick and the other cares for them. They…..it doesn’t really matter what they did that seemed to be the same as I did. They are married and I am not. And I just want to cry.
How can it still hurt so much? One of the couples met in London and married there when she was 19. They came to the states a year later and have been here ever since. I asked her how she had been brave enough to leave her family and everything she knew to come here with a man she had known for only 2 years. She told me that he had promised her that if she didn’t like it here they would return to London. I asked her is she thought he really would have returned to London and she said “I didn’t think he would, I knew he would. He would do whatever it took for me to be happy”. She is lovely woman, and I can see why he felt that way about her. I’m also wildly happy for her that it turned out well. But is she better then me? Are all of these women just better then me? Were they less demanding, more giving,non-condescending, more trusting? Some of them probably were, but not all of then. They just did not have the misfortune of being love bombed by a covert narc. Or perhaps at one time they did, by they saw right through it; they understood their own inherent value and waited for something real.
Here’s what I really don’t get – I was here last year. I was here 8 months and 10 days after my ex asked for a divorce, and 8 months, 15 days after I found the evidence of his GF. I heard the same music, I spent time with same couples, I did all of the same activities, yet I never wanted to cry. I didn’t feel sorry for myself, I didn’t feel grief, I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of having been robbed. I just didn’t feel like crying. This week though, it is all I want to do. I want to sit on my bed and cry, all day, every day. Haven’t I cried enough? All of the feelings I had when we first separated are rearing their ugly heads. I feel the knot in my gut, the deep sense of shame that I failed so miserably as a wife that he felt justified parading around with his GF 2 months after moving out. I feel that disgust with myself for being a loser, unlovable, whiny, selfish, lazy, unlovable. And it all really, really hurts. I don’t understand why. How could I have come so far, but be so close to where I was almost 2 years ago? Does this mean I haven’t come far at all? Do I have to keep doing this work, over and over and over, year after year? And if so, for how long? When will it stop hurting?
My mother keeps looking at me, I guess sensing those moments when I want to cry, and she says “it is getting better. You have come so far and I know there are great things for you on the horizon”. I so want to believe that, but I don’t. I don’t see great things. I don’t really see anything, except perhaps some slight relief from the pain of loss and betrayal. I don’t see they day when the shame is gone. I don’t see the day in which my life no longer revolves around recovery from my ex. I don’t see the day that I feel free of it all. I don’t see the day where the news of him taking his new GF’s children to his parents Christmas party doesn’t feel like a punch to my gut, doesn’t make me turn red with embarrassment, shame and hurt. And I don’t see the day in which I stop feeling angry for the hurt, shame and embarrassment.
How long does it take? If there is a formula, like 2 months for each year of marriage, can someone let me know? Because i feel like I really need to know right now. I really need to see that day that this is behind me. I really need to believe that it can be behind me, that there will be better days. For what is the point of continuing if there is no hope?
And if there is no formula, can you at least turn off the music?