I dreamed of a family and wall to wall carpeting as a child. Wall to wall carpeting was relatively new, and many of my friends had it. We had oriental rugs and hard wood, and our house was cold.
My friends had families that loved each other. They looked forward to seeing each other, they shared laughs and secrets, they existed in peace and love. We had cold. Our family lacked love. I looked forward to being away from my “family”. I never shared my thoughts or secrets, I was alone.
I did as my mother recommended – I turned to a career for fulfillment. And for a time it worked. I was successful, respected and full. Until I wasn’t. Until it was not enough.
That’s when I met my ex. He promised all I’d ever dreamed but never thought I could have; never thought I deserved. In addition to the wall to wall carpeting, we’d have a family. With his toddler son, we sang show tunes in the car, laid in bed at night reading stories, enjoyed cooking together, and did all the corny things I’d dreamed I’d do if I was a mother. That is what I fell in love with – a dream.
We married and added 1, then 2 then 3 more to our family. We bought a house and decorated it, 1st with wall to wall carpeting. Soon I saw the folly of my desires. I got sick from the carpeting. I was left with oriental rugs and hard wood.
Each pregnancy renewed my dream of a happy family. Each pregnancy though, left that dream further away. No more show tunes in the car, laying in bed at night reading, cooking together, throwing corny birthday parties and silly family events.
One by one, the promises he made faded. And as time went on, I forgot what my dreams had been.
I dreamed new dreams – to be healthy, to be productive, to engage with my children, to renew my relations with others I’d lost. Each year the dream became more elusive, further away, impossible to achieve. I went to bed relieved when each day was over, dreaded waking in the morning to a new day.
And my family disappeared. First, the toddler who started it all, sent away, rarely heard from after. Then my eldest, whisked away to the ballfield, taught to dismiss me, disregard his love for us. Slowly they all slipped away; and with them, so did I. I slipped away.
And then I got cancer. Suddenly I dreaded not waking up. Suddenly I appreciated each day, with whatever it brought. As I survived I knew – only I could make my dreams come true. Only I could create a family, a warm home, a loving life. It was up to me, and me alone.
Now I stand at the precipice of creation. Gone is the ex narcissist and the damage he inflicted. Gone is the old, cold home, the stress, the lies and deception. Here I sit in my own home, ready to build whatever I can dream of. Here I sit wondering what it is I now dream of. What do I want my life to look like? How do I build a new dream, knowing what I’ve lost, knowing how easily it all disappears. Understanding what an illusion life can be.
What do I want 2018 to feel like? Who do I want to be, what do I want to do, how will I find the courage to figure it all out.
And tonight I see that the hard work has really just begun. What I thought was hard, regaining my sense of self, my strength, independence, was only the bottom rung of the ladder I must now climb. Ridding my head of the lies and deception, throwing away unwanted possessions, making the home I want – this was the easy part. How was I to know that this part, the part that caused such pain, would, in fact, be easier than what I now face. Now I face the challenge of creating my own life, by myself, for myself. NO excuses, no false promises, no lies or deceit. But…how?
Happy 2018, and may you be narcissist free. Be Brave.