What is the Truth?
I’ve been trying for 3 days to write a blog about Oprah’s Golden Globe speech without referencing my ex narc. Alas, it is not meant to be. I am compelled to write about the intersection of my ex narc and Oprah.
Quick background – my ex left his 1st wife when his son was 20 months old. Two months later she was admitted to the psych ward of a local hospital after faking a car accident and amnesia. At that point my ex assumed custody of his 22 month old son. They moved in with his mother. His mother took care of the child during the week, I on the weekends. On the child’s 3rd birthday we moved in together, and I assumed the maternal role full time. Within a few months the child was calling me “mom”.
I went on to have 3 biological children, and I can with certainty – it is possible to love a non-biological child as much as your biological children, it is just different. When I gave birth, the love I felt was immediate. With my stepson, the love was like the sweetest love affair (minus sex, of course) I’d ever felt. I woke up each day more in love with him than the day before. It didn’t take long for this love to rival that of my biological children. Those who knew us well, particularly my nannies when I worked full time, agreed – my love for him was the same as my love for my biological children.
My ex and I moved in together prior to his divorce from his 1st wife. According to him, her signature was the only impediment to their divorce; she was being “stubborn”. The divorce was finalized 2 months later, and we married 9 months after moving in together; 7 months after his divorce from his 1st wife.
About a year after we married he came home from work and told me that his ex wife was going to be on the Oprah show. I asked him why, and he claimed to have no idea. It was several months before the episode aired, but when it did my feelings about Oprah changed forever.
My ex’s 1st wife was in the second row of the audience for a show regarding the alienation of parents from their children because of a step parent. The wife was questioned by Oprah regarding her experience. She claimed that she tried to contact her son regularly, she called, she sent him packages, and I ran interference, preventing all contact. I was outraged. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I ran to get him every time she called and, had she ever sent a package I would have given it to him gleefully. I was always heartbroken for him. The thought of this beautiful, loving child being left by his mother haunted me, and I was willing to do most anything to keep him from feeling that pain.
The truth, as I knew it, was that she made little to no effort to have contact with him. She willingly boarded a plane to CA (we live on the East Coast of the US) and left him. She spent some time in CA then moved to the midwest. She came back to visit him twice. She rarely called, and she never sent packages. She essentially abandoned him, with barely a glance back. As I grew to love this child I found myself more and more bewildered about how she did that. How did a mother leave her toddler? How did she leave this beautiful, loving, smart, perfect little boy? It was a mystery.
When she appeared on the Oprah show and made her allegations towards me I was stunned. She could have gone on a show titled “This Woman Moved in With My Spouse”. She could have alleged that I dated her spouse before they were divorced, and perhaps contributed to their divorce. She could have made the case that I was interfering with her financial security. There were many things she could have said about me that would have been true. The allegation that I was interfering with her relationship with her son, though? That was bullshit, and I was pissed.
This forever changed my feelings about Oprah. Shortly after this episode, Oprah did her “favorite things” show, and that was all I needed to be sure that Oprah was crazy, out of touch with people and severely lacking in the verification department.
This was how I viewed Oprah. For the past 25 years I’ve taken everything Oprah says and stands for with a grain of salt. Or worse. There have been times when I’ve found myself arguing with her (in my head). After the incident with my stepsons mother, I lost the love and respect I’d previously held for Oprah. This remained the case, even as I’ve become interested in the Super Soul Sundays – until the Golden Globes.
It is amazing to me how much it takes to break through denial. When I first heard Oprah had given a powerful speech that I “had to watch” I rolled my eyes (to myself, because it was one of my bosses who suggested I watch the speech!). When I saw the speech posted on facebook I scrolled past it. I’d much rather watch goats in pajamas than the speech of a woman I don’t respect. Eventually though, I came back to it, and on Monday night I watched. If you haven’t seen it, please watch it. It was educational as well as inspirational. Oprah rightfully made “#timesup” a well known phrase, and she made me think about the concept of truth.
Did my stepsons mother tell the truth? Did she make the effort to contact her son, as she claimed she did on the Oprah show? Is it possible that my ex ran interference, preventing her from having contact? Further, is it possible that not only did he interfere, he blamed it on me?
There is only 1 answer to these questions – YES. Not only is it possible, I suspect it is probable. The covert narcissist will stop at nothing to ensure his lies keep his victim in place. For example, he used to tell me that he was afraid his 1st wife would “Betty Broderick” us (break into our house and shoot us in our bed). I believed this. I believed that she was crazy, that she hated me and that she was out to get me. I also believed she had willingly abandoned her son.
I am now in her shoes. I’ve been abandoned and left with nothing, just as he left her. Fortunately for me I was married to the narc for much longer – that is an odd thing to find fortunate, eh? Because of the 25 years I spent with him he owes me child support and alimony. Had his 1st wife kept their son he would have owed her. Now I know how he got her to leave. It was terrible, what he did to her. When he left her they were living in a house that was given him as partial payment for his job. When he left he told her she had a month to move out with their son. He then gave her $50. A day later he told me, with outrage, that she had spent that money getting her hair done and, because of that, he was giving her no more money. What was she supposed to do with no place to live, a 22 month old child, no job and no money? That is the hell of spot to be in.
I look back over this story and see the similarities. The covert narcissist controls his victims by instilling fear. He did to me what he did to her. He controlled every aspect of my life, mostly by controlling my funds. When he left he carefully watched everything I did and said, waiting for that one digression which allowed him to hop up on his pulpit to justify why he was refusing to pay bills, or provide for the children. It took me almost 3 years to get through the legal system to have him held accountable. Had I been with him only 1.5 years and had only one child, I probably would have done what she did – left the state.
The good news is this: she and I both survived, and are thriving. My life is better than ever, and she is doing fine.
The bad news is that I will never really know what was real, what the truth was in my marriage, my family. I will never know for sure what was a lie and what was not. I will spend the rest of my life looking back over the 25 years I spent with my covert narc, wondering what really happened. Every time I remember a situation I will run through it in my head, wondering if I knew the truth or reacted to lies. I suspect that in most situations I was reacting to lies.
So I say to Oprah – I’m sorry I spent 20 years thinking bad thoughts about you. I was swimming in a sea of lies. Fortunately, I did not drown. Now that the veil of lies has been lifted I see the truth, and you, dear Oprah, are the epitome of truth. For which I say Thank You.