How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths – narcissists in your life › Forums › Lovefraud Community Forum – General › Long Read: My Story that’s Spanned My Lifetime
July 22, 2021 at 10:56 am #66104
Maybe it’s time I told my story, because it’s spanned my entire adult life thus far. Only recently have I come to some kind of catharsis and if you have the patience, I think I’d like to share it with you. This is the story of a lot of sadness, and what I learned to do with my experience. All names are fictitious, all places deliberately vague. I have written everything as linearly as I can and if you have been a victim of this abuse, you may recognise a lot of these feelings. I needed to be visceral.
I’m a bit of a unique case, I suppose. My narcissist and I were both very young when this all started. I was just 16 when it all started, and he wasn’t too much older, only around 18 or 19 himself. I’m in my 30s now.
He was the friend and colleague of my at-the-time boyfriend, Robert, who was also around 19 at the time.
Vick was a soft-spoken frycook in the back of a food court fast food place. Through some complicated series of events, Robert was living with me and my father for reasons too long and boring to explain. Robert invited Vick around a lot, and the three of us spent a lot of time together.
I felt an attraction quite quickly, although I did my best to hide it. As a socially stunted teenager I doubt I was very successful.
Robert was often quite dismissive and unappreciative of me, for reasons that would become apparent later on. Spending time with Vick was, in my young life, the only time I’d ever felt that a person was genuinely interested in me. I kept things in their place, and so did he – but, when I would be waiting for Robert to come off shift, Vick and I would catch each other stealing glances through the kitchen window. Typical teenage stuff. I still have, somewhere, the sketchbook that Vick shyly presented me with outside a stationery store one night, while Robert was off doing whatever – this was the sketchbook I’d been quietly staring through the shop window at for months. I had never asked for it. He just noticed, and knew.
I came from a very troubled household initially; living with my father was a trial run, an escape from my other parent, which needs a write-up in itself to explain. My dad was very preoccupied with his own girlfriend and his work, and didn’t know how to be there properly for a troubled, insecure and love-starved teenaged dropout he’d already previously failed to be around much for.
So, when it eventually came out that Robert was, in fact, sleeping with five other girls, including my best friend at the time, my dad had no idea how to deal with me. I still remember the night I found out. When Robert came home from work, I gave him one last, long hug before I sat him down and told him that the game was up. At only 16, I had to tell him that it was because I loved him so much that I was giving him a week to sort his affairs and leave. Robert and I shared a bedroom, and I saw myself as so worthless and horrible for kicking him out at all that I volunteered to be the one who took the floor those last few nights.
On the third night I think it was, Robert tried to make up with me. I had some kind of problem with saying no as a young person, and I remember agreeing to try again, but my heart wasn’t in it.
It wasn’t in it so much, in fact, that I went straight to Vick the next day because I knew he wasn’t on shift.
Vick had his own, messy, apartment. When I showed up in tears, he quietly listened, as was his way at the time. Vick was never one to actually ask very much, and didn’t volunteer much, either. He simply waited until I was spent, waited until I had collected myself a little, and then he kissed me. It was like fireworks went off inside me. It felt like everything I had ever wanted in the world. I wanted so much to be seen and loved, and this quiet, gangly, unconventionally handsome person with the gorgeous eyes saw me.
He actually blushed, apologised for being caught up in the moment, and advised me to go and tell Robert there were no do-overs.
I think it was through immature vindictiveness that I didn’t tell Robert what was up right away. The next few nights, like clockwork, I ran off to go and see Vick on my own. I blew off suggestions Robert gave because it felt good to spurn him. I ignored my dad’s attempt to reach out because I felt it was too little, too late. I laughed at his efforts to impose boundaries, I snuck out and scaled down the wall at night to run off and see Vick. I felt like I was finally doing something for myself, taking something for my own after a life of being meek and servile to others’ selfish whims.
I loved Vick with the fury, passion and devotion that only comes from being young and losing yourself in it. He had only to look at me and I’d be halfway melted. I worshipped the ground he walked on.
It didn’t matter to me that Vick sometimes spun tales of his exploits that didn’t make any sense to me. He was barely 19, how had he managed to be a hotshot pilot in the air force a couple years ago, at such an age, when he was just a frycook now?
How is it that he’d lived through so many fights and scuffles in his time, overcoming so much damage with so few scars to show for it? Perhaps he really was an excellent fighter. Perhaps he really had been a pilot, and he really was persecuted for being too good at it. Stranger things have happened, right? I knew these things didn’t add up, but I loved to curl up against him and listen to him talk. It didn’t matter to me what he’d done or didn’t do; I loved Vick, and his active imagination.
My dad started spending more and more of his time at his girlfriend’s house. Dad would forget to buy groceries for our house, and then he’d be broke, since he just bought groceries for her. “Oops! Sorry, kiddo. There might be a can of tuna in the cupboard.”
Vick fed me. Not much, he didn’t have a lot after his own bills as a frycook in such a high-rent city, but he fed me. So when he stroked my hair and listened to me cry about my dad being gone all the time, it felt like the most natural thing ever to move in with him once he suggested it. So, I did.
My dad wasn’t pleased, but I told him he had no place to talk, and as wrong as I was, I was also right. He threw his hands up as I packed my things and left. Said there wasn’t anything he could do. Maybe he was right, I probably wouldn’t have listened, but I wish he would’ve tried.
Life with Vick was wonderful. Unlike Robert, Vick would pause his video game if I had something to say whilst I was cleaning the apartment for him, or cooking. He would never help, and would oftentimes just dump trash on the floor for me to pick up, but, dutifully I reasoned that this was my way of paying rent. I played housewife and asked very little.
Sometimes Vick would get into moods. His expression would darken, he would grow sullen, and critical. I hated it when he got like that. I loved him, I wanted him to smile. I was slacking somewhere, surely. So I’d do what I could to butter him up when he got like that. Kiss and cuddle and adore him, anything I could do to cheer him up.
It didn’t bother me that he’d never ask me how my day went, or what my plans were. He was busy, off being the breadwinner. If I had plans with friends, he often wanted to come along. If he was in one of his moods, though, I just cancelled rather than subject my friends to that. I cancelled a lot.
He lost his job.
Paying bills became a problem. Finding work was a problem. The eviction notice came – not because of rent delinquency, but because the owners wanted to renovate the apartment. I was too young, he was too poor, and the competition was too fierce for us to find another place to live. We tried. We walked clear across the city multiple times each day to attend viewings, but we were never selected. Time ran out, and we ended up on the street.
I refused to leave his side. I had friends who’d put me up, but not him. They’d never really explain why, only that there was a place for me, but only me. I couldn’t abandon Vick, he’d done too much for me. I loved him too much. The thought of myself being safe and him out in the cold was too much to bear, so I suffered with him, and resented them for offering shelter to me but not him. Eventually his estranged parents agreed to let us stay in a trailer they had in their backyard. Through observation I began to piece together some of Vick’s childhood, and it wasn’t pleasant. He’d suffered abuse, too, and somewhere deep inside myself, I resolved that I would never abandon him like they had. No matter how hard things got, I swore to be the one constant in his life who loved him, always. Somehow, I found a job that summer, and Vick and I had relative peace, despite the stress. Now that I think about it, the last vestiges of the boy I’d fallen for were felt here. The last moments of tenderness and intimacy were shared between us in that trailer in the latter parts of my seventeenth year. He spent much of the time dwelling on his misfortunes. It was always someone else’s fault – though, rarely mine. He didn’t try to get a job, and left that to me. He left a lot of things to me, and I rationalised it away as being that he was too embarrassed now that he wasn’t the provider, and I was.
Eventually though, it was made clear to us we had to leave.
I begged, and begged my friends for help, and finally something came through. We could take over the lease of an apartment some acquaintances of mine were leaving. So, we set up there for a short while.
Vick became even more withdrawn. He did not like these people and being in such close contact with them. He did not like that I enjoyed spending time with them. We started fighting. We didn’t get approved to take on the tenancy, and so we had to leave, again. I was so strung out, so constantly tired and sleep deprived from walking everywhere all the time, working my job, and dealing with everything that I just shut down. I let my friends down by failing to upkeep the place and myself for our part – because of course, Vick’s part was my part, as well. I sunk into a deep depression, and felt more alone than I’d perhaps ever felt before.
Across the country, a friend of mine who lived on a rural estate offered to host us on his property. He was an eccentric but very kind individual, mainly looking for company in exchange for putting us up. Vick wasn’t pleased with this development. He hated the idea of leaving our hometown to live in the sticks in a different part of the country, but he knew as well as I that we didn’t have any other options.
I bought us tickets, and we left, with just a suitcase each, into the dark dead of winter where the temperatures plunged to negative forty centigrade on the regular.
Vick never tried to make nice and keep up his end of the bargain. He isolated himself in the cabin that we stayed in on the property, and barely ever left. He would rage at me for spending time with my friend, he would rage at me for bringing him there, he would rage, rage, rage. I felt awful. I missed my home even though I knew we couldn’t return – return to what, after all? I had burned my bridges by choosing Vick, and whilst I tried to make the best of it, I took responsibility for his pain and misery. All I’d wanted to do was take care of him like he’d taken care of me, once, but nothing I could do was enough.
Vick began to play games that I didn’t understand. He would hide things, then rage at me for not finding them fast enough. He would accuse me of not caring about his pain, and when I asked him to talk about it with me, he would refuse. He would tell me that my friend putting us up would complain about me when I wasn’t around. Vick would demand a very particular, expensive diet, and would waste anything else, even though much of the time, we depended on my friend to feed us.
I lost a lot of weight. Anything from my meals that I knew he liked and would actually eat, I would give to him. I just wanted him to feel better, to be grateful, to try with me. I wanted him to hold me and tell me it was going to be okay and that he had my back and we’d figure things out together. But, he was nowhere to be found, despite sitting right in front of me.
One night in the small hours of the morning, he raged because we couldn’t afford to get him the newest DVD release of his favourite series. It was a foreign series and the discs were expensive. I would not order one for him. So he stopped talking to me, screamed at me if I got near, and packed his suitcase. I went to the other building to calm down. When I came back, Vick had disappeared into the night with this suitcase, wearing only a threadbare jacket and khaki pants. It was thirty below. We were many multiples of miles out from the nearest town. I had no idea how long he’d been gone and I have never been more scared for the life of someone else as I was at that moment.
We went looking for him, and found him a mile up the road, dragging one of my friend’s dogs on his suitcase like a sled, heading back towards our direction. Vick said that the dog had gotten out of the property and had been hit by a car. He said he found the dog on the side of the road and was bringing him back, because the dog was more important than his anger. The dog had a history of finding his way out of the property, and an extremely bad break of the leg. He did not seem afraid of Vick, so I choose to believe that this was true. It is my honest belief that if that dog had not been hit, Vick would have frozen to death on the side of the road because he was angry about not getting a DVD.
When he unpacked his suitcase, it was full of his other DVDs, and socks. Nothing else.
Eventually, I got us on our feet enough to get us an apartment, which in that part of the country, was much less competitive and much cheaper in terms of the cost of living. It turned out that he had access to some kind of benefit that was going into his account. He would never tell me what it was for, and to this day, I don’t know, but he did cover the rent on the place. I thought that it would do him good to be in a city, with other people and things, and perhaps he might figure something out. His mood improved for a short while, and I have some small but pleasant memories that took place during that time. Tiny shards, or threads perhaps, of the person I once knew him to be. Flashes of laughter, of playful ribbing, of a kiss that sometimes felt like something. But anything that felt good came with a price tag.
I was emotionally destroyed by this point. I had little sense of self, just fleeting, painful moments of questioning why it was that I couldn’t connect with him anymore. He would scream at me that every day I lived was a day he gave me, and I was an ungrateful cow who kept looking at other men. I could say nothing to this, because in my mind, he’d saved me and looked after me. He’d taken me in and shown me love, and now that we were going through this rough patch, I was repaying him by glancing in the direction of others at times. Which – I have a pulse, I was! But even though he barely ever touched me, I still only had eyes for him. He would tell me that any woman we knew was flirting with him all the time, and I should appreciate his loyalty because he had other options. He would tell me that I owed him a better life for dragging him to this godforsaken city, and all I ever did was make demands and whine. I did nothing but apologise and cry, hour after hour, day after day. I stopped looking after our apartment and we lived in squalor. I retreated into my computer and hints about what was going on started to filter through to my online friends, despite me trying to appease Vick by always telling them nothing was wrong. Whenever I was out of the house, he’d use my computer to look up pornography. When I challenged him on why he could do that, but I couldn’t, he called me frigid.
I can tell you, all I ever wanted at that time was for him to touch me in a way that felt loving. I didn’t even care if it was true, I just wanted it to feel like it was. I would’ve given him that at any time. He took delight in rejecting any advances I made, and told me that he got what he needed from pornography. The embarrassment and shame would’ve been unbearable if I hadn’t already made myself so small.
Eventually, one night things got so bad that Vick started throwing things at me. I called up an old friend I’d burned bridges with, out of desperation. He actually spoke to Vick on the phone to calm him down that night. When Vick gave me the phone back, my friend told me that I needed to run. He told me he’d send me money for a bus ticket to anywhere I wanted to go, but I had to agree to run. I agreed and the money was sent. I cried for a long time that night, in the shower, alone, where Vick couldn’t hear me. Being told to run from someone you feel so much loyalty and love towards is a confusing and heartrending emotion that I don’t think there are enough words in any language to explain.
Vick became alarmed when he saw signs of me packing. He was almost always home so I had to do it when he wasn’t around. Eventually he found out that I was trying to leave and when screaming at me for being ungrateful didn’t work, he cried. When he broke down, I broke down along with him. I knew he was unhappy, I knew he was hurting me, but I believed that I was responsible. I believed that I wasn’t enough, that I wasn’t pure enough with my love, that I had taken him here chasing a dream of building a better life and all it’d done was destroy anything inside him that felt anything good. I felt disgusting and awful for thinking of leaving him. I felt disloyal. When he reminded me of the fact that when our relationship started, I hadn’t quite told Robert what was up, and that made me a cheater, it ruined me. I promised him that I was worth something and that I would do better.
I gave him the money I had for the bus ticket and I bought him a DS and some games with it to prove that I was sorry. My old friend did not speak to me again for years, and I was too ashamed to ask for help again. I believed that I deserved how I felt.
I had a rat, and he had a snake. The snake was the only thing in life that he loved. He doted on that snake, and I have no doubt that he really did love that animal. He got a lot positive from his relationship with that snake, but he still turned it into a weapon against me. He insisted that I hold the snake for him once directly after I’d handled my rat and I hadn’t had a chance to wash my hands. The snake, of course, smelled rat and bit me. I had to carefully unhook the animal’s teeth from my skin without hurting it, even as it was trying to constrict me and roll to tear my flesh. It was difficult and painful, and he did not help me.
As a punishment for me not cleaning, he fed my rat, alive, to his snake. He allowed me to step outside and not be there to watch him die. It was my fault for not cleaning the apartment and making sure there were frozen rats in the freezer for his snake, because his snake was important and I was not. It was feeding day, I had neglected my duties, and so I had to pay. What better way than by giving him the life of my friend, who he hated, and was the right species to feed his animal anyway, right? At the time, I just accepted it. Another cost of my failure. Another black mark on my record.
I don’t blame the snake. He was just an animal, doing what he does.
Some time later, I worked a job doing telephone surveys and I met an employee there called Charlie. Charlie was fun, and friendly, and had a lot of common interests with me. Charlie was also muscular and devastatingly handsome. When Vick clocked that I was hanging out with him, he went off the hook. Sulking, raging, screaming as I’d never heard before. Our neighbours complained to us about the fighting and I remember Vick apologising to them and wondering why he could never speak to me that way.
Vick accused me of sleeping around with people at my job, including Charlie. I had not been, at all, but I was making more and more excuses not to be at home. By this time, Charlie and his roommates started to understand that something was very wrong with me. They would ask why I would jump when my cell phone rang. They asked me why I always saved my bread, cheese and meat from anything I ate. They asked me why I always looked so tired.
Vick would keep me up at night by watching the same single scene from episodes of the show he liked for hours on end. He would find a scene on one of his DVDs that was loud, put it on repeat and crank the volume so that I couldn’t sleep.
He would wake me up at all hours to demand that I be the gamemaster for a single person roleplaying campaign for him, which required me to devise plots, characters, and do math with dice. If I did not comply, he would start a fight.
He would make fun of me for asking him to cut his hair and wash his clothes. I used to beg him to at least just make an effort. He used to say things like, if he took a dump on the couch because he didn’t want to move, would I clean it up?
What woke me up was sometime months later, one day in the shower, I cut my leg shaving. I didn’t have money to replace my razors often and this one had rust on it. I kept hoping the cut would heal, but it got these weird crystals on it and just got worse, spreading. I had distanced myself from my friends, and so it took me longer to realise that I needed to go see a doctor. I went to the doctor after a month or two. They were shocked and told me to get antibiotics immediately. When I explained that I couldn’t afford them, because I had to buy food for Vick, they just gave me the antibiotics. When I got home that day, Vick had taken some of the rent money to pay for a new DVD.
We got into a screaming match.
That was the only time in what felt like forever that he showed any concern for me. As I lay there on the floor shaking, he held me and kept asking me what was wrong, and I couldn’t articulate it. The enormity of everything descended upon me, like being covered in slow pouring tar. The sense of grief, rage and loss was so much that I was rendered completely incapable of cogent thought. It’s perverse, but I was so grateful for him being there and actually holding me that I couldn’t help but desperately, passionately try to give myself to him in that moment, right there on the floor. I genuinely believe that he was confused and had no idea what was going on. I remember him asking me, “Are you sure? Wait, are you sure? Is this what’s going to make it better?” In the kind of small, broken voice of someone who’s hesitant and worried. The idea that he cared enough about me to ask was all I needed to feel intense, burning, raw desire. There was nothing left inside of me but a need to feel accepted and loved by him, just once, even if it was a lie.
I remember us both being emotional in those moments. There were tears. There was the kind of crushing, wracking sobs from both of us afterwards as we held each other so tightly we might’ve disappeared inside each other, the kind of thing that is so intense and primal that I believe is impossible to fake. I think whatever part of him there was that felt anything for me at all beyond his own endless, gaping, yawning, insatiable ego, felt shame and sorrow. I think in that moment on the floor, he had some kind of realisation. I think he knew that, somehow, he’d succeeded in making me feel exactly like he did inside, and that whatever this was, it wasn’t healthy. I think in that moment he took the time to actually focus and look at me, he knew that he wasn’t supposed to make me feel like that, that no one was supposed to feel like that.
He was very gentle and respectful of me for the next few days, until something made him angry, and he forgot that he loved me, again.
That was the last time we ever made love. Had sex, fucked, whatever. I feel like whatever that was, it was making love.
I ended up spilling everything to Charlie one night. The look he shot at my cellphone when it started blowing up because I was out past my curfew, yet again. Charlie and the other roommate, Mike, told me point blank that I lived there now, with them, in that apartment as of that moment, and that I was not going back to Vick’s except to get my things and that I was not going back there alone, either.
The compulsion to go back to Vick was a force I can’t describe as anything but a tether from my heart directly to him. Every step away from the his apartment felt like torture, every step nearer like relief. I actually had to sleep in the room directionally closest to Vick’s apartment that night, to feel closer to him, to feel like I was disobeying him less, somehow.
The next day, both Mike and Charlie pulled a sickie from work, and got some grocery carts because none of us had cars and we couldn’t afford a van, and we walked up to Vick’s.
Vick stood in the middle of the living room, cringing as Mike let him have it whilst Charlie and I gathered my things. I couldn’t even look at him. The compulsion to run to him and tell him this was all insane and everything would be okay felt as strong as the need to breathe. I needed to comfort Vick, it was like a spell etched into my bones. If it wasn’t for Charlie getting my focus and keeping me grounded, the spell would take over and move me in Vick’s direction without me even thinking. If it wasn’t for Charlie, and Mike keeping him distracted and threatened, I would never have left him. I was barely nineteen. He was the only love I’d ever experienced. I didn’t know anything different. I didn’t want anything different, I just wanted the love I had not to hurt anymore.
Vick tried a few times to get me to come back. In being around other people who were gentle, kind, and respectful of me, and able to sort the truth from the lies for me because I couldn’t myself, it only took a few days for the rage I’d felt to ignite and take over anything and everything else. All of that love and loyalty turned into acid and hatred that made me feel naked and hollow to my core. For a period of about a week I was honestly afraid that if I saw him, I would try to kill him.
And then, my period was late. I got a positive pregnancy test.
I wanted to die. I honestly considered it. But instead, against Charlie and Mike’s warnings, and behind their backs, I phoned Vick and I told him about it because I believed that was the responsible, adult thing to do. Once he was done screaming that it was probably Charlie’s for all he knew, he got really quiet and started talking about wanting to work things out. I hung up on him. In my entire life, I have only hung up on anybody three times. That was one of them.
In Vick’s rantings, he would go on about wanting a “perfect host for his offspring,” his words, his terms. He wanted a woman he saw as a good genetic carrier to combine his genes with, then take the child from and discard her, because women of course, always want a say in the parenting, and isn’t that horrible and unjust to him. How dare they pose a threat to removing his access to his child just because they carried it for him. He believed for a time that his genes were so perfect that his child would be a clone of himself, and he intended to raise it to be the perfect soldier. I never paid enough attention to this, I guess I thought he was joking.
A few days later, I got my period, and I have never been so relieved in all my days before or since. I don’t know whether it was just a false positive, or if my body made some kind of executive decision of its own, but I was so grateful. During that time Vick’s estranged mother called me, and tried to give me some pregnancy advice or something. She was pushy about it being “that’s my grandchild, so do this and that.”
Eventually it was Charlie who told Vick that there wasn’t going to be a baby, it wasn’t his business, and not to worry about it anymore. I regret not handling that call myself, even though I understand it was better for me at the time that Charlie insulated me from it.
Vick went back to our hometown. I don’t know how, I don’t know exactly when. What I do know is when I went to our apartment for the last time weeks later, to find anything of mine left behind, I found two dead scorpions in a tank. He hadn’t told me he’d left them there, and so they died. I felt awful. I don’t really like scorpions, but if I’d known they were there, I’d have taken care of them until I could re-home them. I couldn’t believe that he’d just left them there, and not told me, or even Charlie, or literally anyone. I still get upset thinking about those poor things dying of thirst so unnecessarily. He took his snake, though.
I remember the neighbours, who had also rented the flat to us, saw me. They said they knew that something was wrong, but didn’t know what to do. They said not to worry about my part of the lease being broken. They said they’d pursue him for that, not me, and as far as they’re concerned, I moved out months before and they haven’t seen me since. They wished me luck and to be safe. They were nice people. I remember apologizing again for the noise.
It’s been a long, long time since then. More than a decade. A lot has happened in my life. I still talk to Charlie.
In the intervening years, Vick tried to contact me several times, framing it as wanting closure. I tried to be patient and listen at first, but he was unable to take any accountability. He instead levied insane accusations at me about what had happened with the baby, accused me of being on drugs, even accused me of being back in my hometown without telling him. He said everyone there hated him because of all my lies, and self-pitying bullshit. I responded with pure rage and vitriol, and blocked him everywhere.
I haven’t been back to my hometown since I left it with him so long ago. I moved very, very far away.
I am now in a good relationship and have been for some years. I have made some life achievements since then, but I’m not as far as I’d like to be because I was delayed by all that. It’s taken me a lot of patience and healing to accept the idea that not only was I abused, but the extent that I suffered has left me with psychological damage I don’t know that I’ll ever fully recover from. For a time, my own abilities to feel empathy were diminished, too, and I had to learn how to access those parts of myself again. I was too consumed by anger, shame and distrust to feel much of anything else for a while. I honestly did not know that narcissism was like this.
They say that narcissism is loving yourself. I don’t agree; in my experience of having it touch me, invade me, subsume me, it is my opinion that narcissism is more likened to a pit inside the self. They throw things down into that empty, empty pit, hoping to hear something crack at the bottom. They do this because they don’t know where the bottom is and they’re too afraid to descend into it and find for themselves how to fill it from within. They’re afraid there isn’t one, so instead they throw feelings, memories, things, animals, people, down that pit each time hoping this will be the last time. But they never, ever hear a sound.
They don’t love themselves; they don’t even know themselves. They are terrified of themselves, because they feel like they’re unworthy and so they refuse to look themselves in the eye and see reality for what it is. This, I think, is why they lie and tell stories like they do. They try to impress, or they try to engender an emotion in the subject that they don’t know how to express in genuine terms through their own real experiences, because nothing they’ve experienced fits the bill.
When Vick lied to me about being a pilot, it had nothing to do with being a pilot and everything to do with convincing me that he was brave, strong, interesting and worthy of being listened to. All things I thought about him already.
In his case, when he was a little boy, he wasn’t taught that being himself was good enough, that making others feel good can make us feel good too. He was taught that love is conditional on how outstanding your achievements are, and the only way to receive it is by being larger than life. Since he thinks lowly of himself, the only option left is to lie. What was once a sensitive little boy turned into a ragingly insecure man with no accurate sense of self. Left to self-determine from too young an age, that is what he became.
I honestly believe that in his own, broken way, Vick loved me. I think he really did, but because he has no ability to see that from my perspective, he was left with an emotion he had no way of processing, and so like everything else, he threw it down his pit. His insecurity eventually turned on me, because how worthy could I ultimately be, if I loved someone like him? No amount of devotion, no amount of affection, comfort, kisses, sacrifice even, could ever be enough. It didn’t matter who I was then, or who I am now, or whatever my own flaws may be; no one can ever tell Vick where the bottom of his pit is, even if they destroy themselves trying to be that answer for him.
A decade passed, and the rage subsided. There was no anger left anymore. Like a sandstorm, it vanished back into wherever it came from, and the only thing left behind from it was the mark he left on me. The memory of who he was at his best, when he was trying his hardest to step outside himself, for me. It took me even more years to figure out what to do with that; I hear a lot that I’m not supposed to feel anything for him at all, that I’m supposed to hate him, that I’m meant to see him as an enemy. But the simple fact of the matter is that, for me, I have to admit this to myself and the world: I know what he did to me, and what he did, how he made me feel, is not okay.
I also love him. I love him very much, in a whole, complete way that I fear he will never understand, and that I refuse to be ashamed of experiencing, myself.
It isn’t romantic, it isn’t platonic. It isn’t a love of any sort of desire, it just is what it is. It doesn’t matter where he is, what he thinks, does or doesn’t do, I am always going to love him, and I am always going to hope that he gets better.
And so I thought about that for a long time. I researched things, I searched inside myself, I practised, I forgave others for other things, first. And then, I did something a week ago that I do not recommend at all to anyone who has ever been through anything remotely like this: Do not follow my path here with your own abuser. Do not try this at home.
When I was sure that I was steeled, prepared, and insulated, I sent him an email.
My intent was manifold with this line of dialogue; Ascertain whether or not he’d done any growing. If so, try to initiate some kind of actual talking to give us both closure, if at all possible.
If not, then to take that as my closure. In my honest heart of hearts, I wanted Vick to be okay. I wanted to hear that he’d gone to therapy, he’d gotten married, he’d had a life. Nothing would’ve made my heart soar more than to know someone so sick was doing better.
It took a few days, but I got a response. What was wrong with him then is still wrong with him now. However, he has his moments of lucidity where he’s able to actually listen and respond properly. He has clearly tried very hard in the past week to give me something substantive that I can use. His issues mean that he can never be fully accountable to me in the ways I would like, but he was able, once we’d gotten past the shock, to explain to me some of what he knew he’d done. He’s still in the grips of his problem, but he is more self aware of the fact that he has one, now, even if he’s not ready to deal with it. He knows that he is broken, and he lives in almost complete isolation so far as I can tell, by using what makes sense as truth, and using metaphorically what I know to be lies.
He was not able to get a rise out of me at any point because I know him so specifically and I have spent a long time researching how to de-escalate conversations with narcissists. I want to emphasize that again: Do not do this with your own abuser. I was prepared and ready for this, and I needed this, whatever the outcome. We live in different countries. Fundamentally, too, specifically with Vick I feel that he did not intend to hurt me, he is simply extremely disturbed. If I felt that he got any enjoyment out of any of that, this would be different, and every narcissist is different.
I was able to watch him in action from a safe distance, emotionally and physically insulated from him. I made it very clear early on that I was not a good target. I am financially secure, but I don’t have extra. I am in a relationship and have been for some time. I didn’t need anything from him, I simply wanted to know if he was okay.
I watched him go through several stages, trying to spin me stories, trying to provoke a fight, trying to get a picture of where I was romantically, trying to confuse things with half truths. All these hooks that I could see swinging around. I rewarded none of them with attention, and focused only on what was important. To get him lucid, I had to really focus on providing him with the empathy he struggles to show. I accounted for things I’d done that objectively were frustrating from anyone’s perspective, and agreed with the things that made sense. He was quiet for a long time. He said it was meaningful that I was able to see anything from his perspective at all and he hadn’t expected me to try. He described himself as codependent, needy, aggressive, unnecessarily combative, and insensitive to the fact that I was clearly suffering and afraid of him. He said that he was not able to see past his own problems enough to communicate with me when I tried. He told me that I put up with a lot from him. Also, he brought up on his own the fact that he fed my rat to his snake. He described it as horrific, that he wishes he’d dealt with that another way, and that neither me, nor my rat, had deserved that, no matter how he was feeling at the time. This was all relatively unprompted, spurred on by sharing memories. At no time did he ever say “I’m sorry,” it was a lot of “I regret that I…” However, in light of his issues, I chose to take it in the spirit in which it was intended. He is not able to apologize as I would like him to.
We reached a level of peace about the situation. He expressed numerous times that he felt afraid of me, that I was a kind of threat, but it was difficult for him to articulate why, because my motives really did appear to him to be genuine and not intended to upset him or make him feel unnecessarily bad. This is a significant admission given how paranoid I know him to be. I explained to him about the pit he can never fill, and expressed hope that he can learn to do it one day.
What I have gathered from him is that since I left him, he has had a bizarre long distance marriage with someone that ended last November. He says it was because she wanted an open relationship. Since then he has had a spate of highly dysfunctional attempts at relationships. One ended in an incident whereby a jilted lover slashed at his face, and showed me the scar. The way he told that story was different in language selection from how he typically talks when he’s making things up; I choose to believe that has some element of truth to it. Because of his issues seeing things from other people’s perspectives, he has a very strange set of issues surrounding women.
This is, of course, cutting through all of the obvious lies, being that he’s cloned some rare snakes, that he had a multinational reptile business, that he has just constant hookups like all the time, seriously just drowning in women. That he has thousands and thousands in the bank, he’s got a nine bedroom mansion somewhere else in the country, all this.
It seemed very sobering and meaningful for him when I was able to express to him that I never saw those stories as truthful, and I never even cared that they weren’t; it was always about the frycook who stole glances at me in the mall food court. That I cared about him back when he had five pennies and a button to his name, and it didn’t matter to me, any of what he said he did or not. I know it hit him because if it didn’t, he would’ve fought me on it.
With Vick, if he really, really thinks that a criticism is valid, he just won’t say anything at all. He’ll stay quiet, visibly think about, then change the topic. There was a lot of that. We shared some nice memories of good times. He has a really good memory for detail of the positive times between us, they really seem to stand out in his mind as bright spots, which was nice.
Eventually he mentioned something about the fact that he doesn’t usually ask questions because he often simply just doesn’t care to know; A pretty offhand and innocuous remark but out of all the things he said, that one hit me in a way I wasn’t prepared for, and that genuinely just wasn’t his fault at all. It reminded me of all the times I’d tried desperately and failed to connect with him when I was young and I felt deeply self-conscious. He really hadn’t asked me a lot of questions. I had been volunteering most things. I phrased this carefully, and he was surprisingly sympathetic to the point, saying that he is a transactional person and if he wasn’t getting something out of the conversation, he wouldn’t still be interacting.
I got what he meant, but it was still unpleasant, and I had to thank him for reminding me so politely that we weren’t friends. This is why I say; Do not follow my path here. I am fortunate in that my abuser has grown some and is not directly ill-intentioned. I was as prepared as I was, and still, I found myself bonding a little bit. In a rare gesture of actual altruism, he caught me in my error.
He told me some things that I’m still processing, following that. He told me that some of his reservedness is a display, because he is aware of his own failure to get over our breakup and properly address the things that caused it. He said that is his own problem, and nothing wrong with me. He said that he wishes that he had what I have, the ability to love and be loved in return. He said that there is no situation in which falling for me all over again would be beneficial to either of us, and yet, that is what he was afraid was going to happen to him, and he does not expect me to change anything about what I have just because he exists. He said he appreciates me, but just couldn’t handle being in my orbit and watching me be happy with someone else. When deep down, he still feels that way about me after so long.
And so, we have agreed to peaceful silence after just a few days of talking, which we both agreed was productive on our own terms. It is for the best, and because of his sickness I don’t know how much of that is really true, but I suppose, it’s whatever I prefer to think. Maybe one day, he’ll be ready to really face himself and learn to be happy with someone in a way that’s healthy. At least, now, he knows, there is someone out there who’s seen him at his worst, knows he was never a pilot, knows he carries blame, can still love him anyway – and has accepted finally that they’re powerless to help.
Get well soon, Vick.
- This topic was modified 2 months ago by peacewitch. Reason: Made clear that names are monikers. Fixed typo. Gave sensitivity warning
July 22, 2021 at 7:58 pm #66108
Small Update: Less than a day later, and he’s sent me a message, wanting to chat.
Says he’s been processing and wants to have someone to talk to sometimes who isn’t going to be a potential romantic interest, so he can address some of his outlooks. I was prepared for this potential outcome, and it’s informative. Unfortunately, the speed of his reply says a lot about what’s behind some of what he’s said; nobody totally genuine would process that fast. I am not disappointed, it’s just the nature of his sickness. As I didn’t blame his snake for biting me, I don’t blame him for this. He is what he is. He may even believe that he’s genuine, right now. Doubtless, contact with me has stirred up a lot of things in him.
It’s possible he thinks he can still shape me into a target.
I think the compassionate thing to do is to get him to a “lucid” moment, gently suggest therapy, and then re-distance myself. Because, in the very, very slim chance that he’s serious about what he just said and he’s just faster at thinking about that kind of thing than I am, then he’ll take that suggestion and possibly start some work on himself. If he’s serious about it, then I don’t want his request for help to go ignored, but I do want him to know it won’t be me helping him through that. We are not friends.
If he isn’t serious about it, then he will try to start a fight, or turn on the charm faucet. Either way, I’m no longer interested. I still love him, and I still want him to get better, but I exist now, and I also love me.
July 22, 2021 at 8:49 pm #66109RedwaldParticipant
A remarkable story, Peacewitch, with so many insights. Thank you for telling it. I’m glad to hear that after those years of turmoil and so much pain, you’ve found some degree of closure and more peace and happiness in your life.
It sounds as though you’re in Canada–or used to be, at any rate. Since you and Vick are in different countries today, I wonder if you’re the one who moved elsewhere, while he stayed “stuck,” geographically as well as developmentally–maybe still in that same home town?
July 23, 2021 at 1:06 am #66110
I’m fine with saying – Canada’s where it all began, I’m elsewhere now.
Yes, indeed, when he went back in our hometown, that’s where he remains. He makes much noise about having a mansion somewhere else in the country, but I’m very sure I don’t believe that.
Thank you for reading. It’s been very nice to finally share all this.
At the time I had no idea he was most likely some breed of narcissist – I maintain he is probably not a true-blue sociopath; I think Vick particularly does feel too much emotion to be one of those. I feel that he does experience empathy, but it’s what I’d describe as atrophied within him. I think if he really did want to change himself, he probably could, but he self-described the other day as a coward. He has made a few bitter sounding jokes about his narcissistic traits – it is always him who uses that word, never me, as I have been taking a slightly different tactic with him.
I only knew back that he hurt me, deeply and often. I suppose before him I thought anybody who’d do these things would be some kind of serial killer or something. My understanding of narcissism was limited to the kind of thing you see in cartoons. I understand narcissistic personality types tend to come in different “flavours,” but I’m not sure where to put Vick.
Vick in particular oscillates rapidly between grandiose bragging, toothless ranting about superiority, and fishing for compliments when he’s in the grips of things. He often puts out extremely self-effacing statements bordering on the mopey, in hopes of being challenged on them. He seeks comfort.
If he is not lucid, and confronted with something he doesn’t understand how to process, he will switch tactic immediately to talking about how he has built his empire and can crush all his enemies and all this business. He swaps between talking like the biggest online edgelord you can possibly imagine, to being the biggest online tough-guy. What’s particularly interesting to me is that his choice of words differs a lot from when he’s in these two modes to when he’s being lucid. When he is, he’s able to actually listen, consider, and in some cases respond to things sympathetically and unprompted, with realistic assessments of his own behaviour. I’m not sure what’s up with that, as that’s new for him, at least in terms of its regularity. It could represent a genuine interest in changing, I don’t know. I hope so, and I hope he finds a professional to explore it with.
July 23, 2021 at 10:18 am #66112emilie18Participant
peacewitch: I am impressed with your insights and compassion – not sure I could have reached out to someone who put me through hell. You are right in saying you are not his friend and cannot be his confessor. And I agree – processing such an emotional topic does not take an hour or a day – and sometimes not a week or month. He is only touching the very surface and his motives are not to truly and deeply experience the process, but to skim the surface in hopes of reeling you back into his realm. You are absolutely right in saying NO NO NO! I wish you strength in closing this chapter for good.
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