Mod 2: My story – Max

As you recall, my then-husband Max informed me that he had made the decision that we get divorced. After almost two decades of devoting my life to this man, I balked at the new reality that he was going to move out and leave me alone with our daughters, then 9 and 12 years old. The whole idea seemed to go against nature, to be utterly and totally wrong, but I knew better than to try to change his mind or even question his decision. Like with every prior decision he had made for me, I accepted it.

The next morning I tearfully got up and put myself back together. I got the girls off to school, wondering how we would explain all this to them. I said goodbye to Max and headed to work, to my job in the PR/marketing department of a large downtown law firm. For a little while it all seemed so unreal….

Until it began to seem real. And thoughts began to enter my head. Thoughts like “Never again will you have to stifle your tears in an argument so he doesn’t yell at you for crying.” And “Never again will you have to worry that you don’t make dinner right or do the dishes right or guess in advance exactly what he wants.” And “Wait a minute…I could date! I could meet a heterosexual, nice man who would be attracted to me!”

And “Good heavens, I could find actual love and happiness.”

Needless to say, I stopped crying. And started rejoicing. The future seemed like a brilliant sunrise ushering in a perfect summer holiday.

I had always told my daughters their parents would never get divorced, and for my part, I had truly believed that was true. I figured I was the one suffering in the marriage, and I was willing to stay in it, so why would it ever dissolve? So I felt terrible telling them we were going to break that promise. The girls didn’t cry at the news nor did they seemed worried or scared. Confused a little, yes. We explained the reason for the split was that Daddy wasn’t able to love a woman and needed to love a man instead. The 12 year old understood this, and the 9 year old pretended she did. They were remarkably calm and accepting of this development, much to my relief.

What a testament it is to my narcissist husband’s failings that his own children didn’t flinch at the idea of him largely withdrawing from their lives! The fact was, they had never had a real father, and as long as they were staying full time with me, which they were, that was all that concerned them.

So initially, the entire situation went remarkably well. Unlike some narc victims, I had long ago given up any idea that my husband loved me. What I was giving up seemed to me like all downside (apart from the loss of income, that is). What I was gaining I couldn’t even guess, but it seemed like a vast, beautiful world of opportunity. I thought I might be happy forever now!

Of course, that’s not what happened—because, sadly, recovering from narcissistic abuse is never a walk in the park.

Fast forward through a couple of messed up and brief relationships (one with a dysfunctional musician who had a steady girlfriend already, one with a guy 16 years my junior). About three months after my split with Max, I met a new guy at work and asked him out to lunch. We hit it off like crazy. Turned out he wanted nothing more from life than someone to love, and getting two bonus little girls to care for in the process was great to him. We started seeing each other all the time.

Meanwhile, Max barely saw his daughters and sent me nothing to support them. I was strapped financially. As fate would have it, my new guy’s roommate decided to kick him out so his girlfriend could move in instead. And we did something I would never advise anyone I counsel today: five months after my breakup, my new boyfriend moved in with us. We were lucky: it worked for us, and we got along great.

Nevertheless, once he was situated with me and the girls, all hell began to break loose.

Sure I was loved, I was happy, I was secure. But I turned into an absolute basket case. After being the most stoic, self-controlled, together person I knew, suddenly I was having nightmares, and panic attacks, and bouts of crippling fear of abandonment. My new guy hadn’t seen the old me, the “normal acting” one…and now he was stuck with this new me, who was apparently a disaster.

I couldn’t believe it was happening.

There I will leave you hanging, as we pick up with the story with my narc dad….

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