To All the Wonderful Women of the World… and especially The Greatest Woman I Know.
This is a genesis of accepting the Truth. And I begin by apologizing for my part in contributing to the suffering of God’s divine creation; Woman. Suffering should have nothing to do with how a man loves a woman. He was created to be her companion, safe place and encourager-n-chief; to help her carry the real crosses of life by walking alongside her and not over her. He should serve as the shield and the sword; sworn to protect all difficulties that may rise against her!
Even in relationships that start out with the best intentions, we can find ourselves seeking unattainable peace. I was unable to do what I needed for the mother of my children, knowing that I never would be able to cherish, love, trust, understand and be the patient man she deserved. I thought I loved her very much; we had built a life together as teenagers. Over time, she stole my heart, but Lord knows I wasn’t even ready for a partnership or to raise a child of my own and another from her previous relationship.
Everything I professed was in denial of the truth; I couldn’t keep my promise to her. I was naïve and stubborn from the beginning. At that time, I wasn’t thinking like a man who wanted to be honest with himself. To be candid; I wasn’t even close to what I’ve come to know what manhood is, what a husband is and what a father is. I was completely directing the faults of our disconnection onto her because I didn’t want to be responsible. It was all about what she didn’t do and nothing to do with the acceptance of my failure.
I don’t like failing at anything - it made me very angry and I didn’t know how to express or voice this pain in a way that wasn’t fury. Mainly, we didn’t work because we had no friendship. Our foundation was built on a single night together following a Christmas party put on by an acquaintance that resulted in her pregnancy. We shared long-distance phone calls as she was living in Minnesota, but we didn’t know each other at all. There was no dating, no real relationship building, and no time to discover if I had the ability to be a friend to her, these were all lessons I’d appreciate in the future.
She moved back once we discovered she was pregnant, and we started living together. She was 18 and I was 19 which is another indication of the immaturity we had to be making decisions not fully understanding the consequences of our actions or just completely ignoring them. We overlooked red flags from the beginning and that was because I was young, right? Not necessarily, but I was so determined to make it work… at least that’s what my pride was telling me. Some would say “You did what you were supposed to do”, but did I really? No, I didn’t. I shouldn’t have taken advantage of the situation just because it was available to me. All lessons learned, but I DON’T REGRET IT as it’s part of my wonderful story!
I’m part of the epidemic why so many women of this world stay in toxic relationships. I was a narcissist. I would do all I could to make everything seem as if it was her fault. Did she have a negative part as well? Of course! But my part was my inability to accept the truth, that I wasn’t who I knew I should be with her and that my pride didn’t want to hear that I failed. What!!! I couldn’t be the person that gave up on a vow of marriage, so I needed to say and do everything to make it seem like I wasn’t liable for my behavior. Instead of just admitting that I wasn’t happy in our marriage and wasn’t willing to forgive myself or her.
I can remember specific instances of just sitting around while she performed all household chores and I would just play Xbox like it was only her responsibility. She would be so upset, and I would be like, “You know I don’t do dishes. I complete other tasks that men do.”. What a foolish and chauvinistic statement and I knew it, but didn’t really care. On numerous occasions we would have a disagreement … it didn’t matter where we were, she was going to know who was in charge. I would shame her with so much ridicule and it wasn’t quiet, but I would say “Stop Overreacting!”, while I’m the one gaslighting her. You know, flipping it around to be her fault for the entire argument so she feels like she is to blame and then questions herself.
There were a number of years we discussed the inevitable and every time I felt her nearing the edge of quitting our marriage, I would say things like, “You’re going to destroy our family!”, “What about the kids?”, “I LOVE YOU! How could you do this to our family?”, “After everything we’ve built, you want to destroy our hard work?” or “Why can’t you forgive me? That happened so long ago?”. All were intended to destroy her confidence so she would crawl back down into the rabbit hole of our toxic relationship and I could gain control and power over her again. I was the Man… so I was the only one that mattered, but I knew I was so damn wrong!! I couldn’t stop myself from demeaning her in front of our children just so she could feel like she was beneath me. I was the superior, but I was out of control. There would be days when I would try my best to be who I needed and wanted to be but that feeling would always come back. By year 18, she had become a force to be reckoned with. She was standing up to my bullying, gaining strength and rediscovering herself. She told me she wasn’t happy and I would try to verbally destroy her, but she wasn’t having any of it. As a narcissist, I was beginning to feel powerless and I would say anything to destroy her confidence.
Then came the beginning of the end. It was March 21, 2018. A month before our 16th wedding anniversary. We had a huge fight and I asked a question to start my narcissistic pattern, because I was sure it was another chance to see her back down. “I’m done, do you want a divorce?”. But I wasn’t prepared for the strength she had been building up for years of dealing with my bullshit even though I knew how she really felt. I was determined to figuratively hit her over the head with it like a whac-o-mole mallet. She replied, “Yes, I want a divorce” … with determination and fire in her belly. Unlike earlier cycles of emotional and verbal abuse, it was a calm and steady fire. She was exhausted and tired of my ridiculously fake love for her. As she would say, “I know that you love me and want to care for me, but you don’t like me!” and she was so damn right! I didn’t like her, well at least not after all the pain, shame, and hurt we had caused each other. We couldn’t work through anything because we weren’t even friends. We put on a pretty good show for most people to see, except the people who endured the most pain from our toxic relationship, our kids.
Our kids had experienced the brokenness of a destructive marriage over the years, and I was fine with everything. I didn’t have to change anything about myself and I was comfortable not being better. Allowing our kids to see the lowest version of their dad still eats at me today as I never imagined I’d be anything like that. I’m typically a compassionate and empathetic person, but I just couldn’t be consistent for their mother. They would go and hide in their rooms or walk away when our chaos was mounting, and you could sense the change in the atmosphere. I would walk by and see them crying. What they didn’t know was that I was also crying inside, but I allowed that pain to turn into rage. I would be upset with her for playing the “victim card”, but truly she was a victim. She just wanted to be loved by the man who claimed to love her but as she said, I couldn’t because I didn’t like her much. I even allowed my little girl to take my place in our bed; sleeping on the couch for years. I would occasionally return to bed to use my wife or to be in defiance and piss her off purposely. It was all about control - that’s a habit of behavior for every narcissist.
My children were her strength and the only reason she stayed as long as she did. I knew it and used them against her in the worst ways. I knew it would tear her down, but it backfired when it became her main reason for leaving. It was the last straw for her. They are the reason she’d had enough. She was determined to set an example of what an acceptable marriage and partnership was for our kids. We were close to summer and the end of the school year.
On the day after the kids were out it was time to tell them… but who are we kidding? They already knew what had been going on for years! Even then, I couldn’t let go of my controlling behavior. I made her tell the kids just to demoralize her, so they would know I didn’t want a divorce because I couldn’t be the failure! She was steadfast and I was so pissed at myself for allowing her to do that all alone as I sat next to her, like so many times in our relationship. I was hoping she would cower under the fear, but she didn’t and I was utterly shocked! Secretly, I know I was hoping it would end as well. And right there is where my transformation began and respect for her was initiated!
This was the beginning of the end; not just of our formal marriage, but also of my cowardice, passive aggression and narcissistic behavior. Finally, our unhealthy relationship of abuse was ceasing to exist; and in its place … grew a beautiful beginning of Truth … in ourselves … and; in each other.