My oldest son is 25. I mention this because he is now the age that represents the amount of time I was with his father. He spent copious amounts of time as a child with his dad, traveling around playing baseball. For him this meant time with his dad, which has influenced his thought process. For his dad this meant time to engage in his favorite pastime – sports. For me this meant that in addition to the hours I was alone with the others while dad worked, I was alone again during these hours they were off playing baseball. At one point his dad worked till 3, came home and picked up our eldest and was off again until 9 at night. During this time I was alone with our 2 year old and our 7 year old. It was relentless. I was also sick most of the time, and I felt abandoned. I was essentially a single mom and a maid.
When I voiced my complaints I was dismissed, told I was being ridiculous and rude – after all, didn’t I want him (dad, my ex) to be happy? I pointed out that we had opened the restaurant he wanted, despite my objections, we had the children he wanted, and we were living in the house he had chosen, so I was struggling to understand at what point my needs came in to play. Why was the only concern his happiness? And, given the fact that we had spent every dime of our savings to fulfill his dream, when would he have enough to be happy? When would he finally say “yes, I’m fulfilled, now it’s your turn”.
Of course this never happens with the narcissist. The idea that someone else might have needs that should be met never enters their thinking. All that matters is what they want and how those around them are helping, or hindering, them. I was a hinderance.
I recently came upon a “contract” he wrote me. I guess it was one of those times that I said “enough”, you can not come and go as you please with no accountability to me. You are either part of our family life or we’re going our separate ways. In this contract he agreed to keep me informed of his schedule, let me know by 3PM if he would be home for dinner, alert me when he was out running errands and ask if I needed anything, and make more of an effort to hire and keep staff that would enable him to leave work and be home. The second section was the one in which his true colors shone through.
In the second section he wrote that I would make more of an effort to understand how important sports were to him and allow him to engage this passion without objection.
Nothing changed. As was the pattern, the things he’d promised to do lasted two weeks.
The thing is he honestly believed he was right. When he said “I can’t tell you my schedule, I have no idea what business will be from day to day” he believed that was ok. Everything promise he ever made, then broke, he believed to be truth. It literally never entered his mind that perhaps there were times in which my needs should come before his. Never.
So I wasn’t at all surprised when he planned a large party, with all of the people I know in our community, to propose to his new GF. I also wasn’t surprised that he planned it for the night of our youngests Home Coming game, which our son wasn’t allowed to attend, because of the “big night”. I also wasn’t surprised that he didn’t give me a heads up that he would making this very public show of his “undying love” in front of all the people I see almost every day. In his mind, after all, what on earth would this have to do with me?
Fortunately my eldest son had the presence of mind to warn me. I am grateful he did, because if he hadn’t I would have found out the next when a few of my close friends texted me asking “WTF”. Had my son not told me I’d have had no idea what they were talking, about and that would have added insult to injury.
After my son told me I was emailing his dad about some financial issues and at the end of the email I congratulated him and told him I hoped he had a great night. Yes, there was a snarky element to it. I did want him to know though that I was ok with it. Maybe that’s where the problem started.
The day after the big event I was reamed out by my son. Apparently his dad was furious that he had told me. My son was angry at me for saying something about it and getting him in trouble. I apologized and told him I wasn’t aware he was telling me this in confidence. In fact, all of his dads neighbors, who I also know and see regularly, knew about it, so I didn’t think it was a big secret. Regardless, my intent was not to get him in trouble and I was sorry.
Then my sister in law messaged me. She pointed out that any decent person would have given his ex spouse of 25 years a heads up that he was publicly pronouncing his undying love to his paramour in front of the community members they both knew. Initially I thought noting of the comment, because I knew there was no way he would ever warn me of anything. In his mind I am nothing. The more I got to thinking about it the more is struck me how true this was. Any normal person would never want his ex to be blindsided with this news.
I texted my son and said that any decent guy would have given his ex of 25 years a heads up about this, and I was sorry he took heat for doing the right thing. I won’t say anything else and I suspect we won’t talk much for the next few months. Why? Because regardless of what he’s witnessed, he still believes the words that come out of his dad’s mouth, rather than the actions he engages in. It still takes him months, sometimes years, to step back and evaluate what is happening and discern the truth.
In many ways I get this. His dad is very persuasive. Since he has no conscience he is able to spin any issue in a way that serves him. I don’t know exactly what he said to our son but I imagine it was something along the lines of “this has nothing to do with her and you had no right to tell her; it’s none of her business, and she might ruin it”.
I understand where my son is, but, as is usually the case, I have no idea what his dad is thinking. What possible difference could it make that I was told?
As I sit here pondering this I realize I don’t really care. I don’t want to spend any more of my day wondering about this. It’s a waste of my time and energy trying to understand the mind of a psychopath.
So I sign off knowing that once more I am facing months of stand-offish behavior from my eldest, while he figures out that actions speak louder than words. Ugh. Exhausting.