M and I traveled two hours by car yesterday to meet some new friends. It was an eye-opening experience for me, but not in the way you might imagine.
M has been in contact with L for a few weeks. They share an interest in boats and other things, as well as being asshole pedants about the English language. I think that M has regarded it as a bit of a challenge to word his e-mails so precisely that L cannot correct him for either word use or meaning. It’s a sick game, IMO, but one they both seem to enjoy and if it keeps his focus on someone else I’m in favor.
L’s wife, P, is learning to play the violin, so you know I wanted to go just to talk to her and see her fiddle, which she bought from a nearby luthier that I admire. Turned out that her fiddle was not made by the luthier, but it’s still a nice instrument.
Anyway. The ride over was fine. I even got to play my MP3 player in the car with no objections to my musical selections.*
We chatted, looked at boats and other Cool Stuff** P showed me her violin and then set about getting lunch ready. Meanwhile, L was talking a mile a minute, like he had an agenda and had to cover every subject on the schedule before we had to leave.*** He was very high energy, but with a hard edge, if that makes sense. He talked continuously, correcting language, changing the subject, leading the conversation, it was strange. At first I put it off as nervousness at meeting new people and having them in his home, but after awhile it began to take on a sinister air.
As I watched him, I began to watch her. I generally don’t talk much when The Boys are Talking Boats, so M did not notice. P was very precise in everything she did, preparing a lovely stew and bread, tea and pie for dessert. She was very deferential towards L, which I hadn’t noticed until I started to look for it. It was obvious that she was as bored by the conversation as I was and her attention began to wander from L. And then she committed the sin of saying something quietly to me while he was talking. She did not speak loudly, but he had been watching her to make sure of something, I don’t know what.
He actually corrected her! He said, “P, I’m talking here. I don’t know if you are interested, but I’m talking here…” With a look that could only mean one thing.
Huh. That raised my antennae right up! His tone was condescending with a hint of nasty. M has never corrected me like that in front of people (he always waits until we are alone so he doesn’t have any witnesses) and the fact that L did (not once, but twice) is a huge Red Flag now that I’m aware of what forms domestic abuse can take.
I got pissed. I stood up from the table. P and I left the room under a tiny pretext. We had a lovely conversation about music, but the whole time I could feel how much that asshole has been pushing her into herself. She has no confidence beyond what he approves. She used to be a belly dancer, and when she talks about it her eyes shine, but it’s clear that he doesn’t approve and she has given it up. It’s strange – her FB page is all about feminist subjects and the iconography in “her” room presents a very different picture than she herself projects.****
It’s pretty clear that L is a Narc – he never stopped talking about himself and all the stuff that’s stacked up in his brain (and in storage 🙂
I have no idea what M was hoping to gain from this trip, but I came away with an unusual guitar, a weaving loom (only because I recognized what it was, high up on a shelf in the shed and they know nothing about it (it was an estate sale bargain that L could not pass up) – a test that I obviously passed 🙂 and a lovely little writing desk. They are going to deliver the items when they come to look at M’s boats and Cool Stuff. I did not ask for anything, and it might be a ploy by L to make himself look generous in front of M (whose nose is quite out of joint about it) but I don’t care.
I’ve planned lunch for whenever they come, as well as a way to separate P from her Narc. I plan to reach out to her in some way, something I feel strong enough to do at this point.
True, I am not out of my situation yet, but I’m on my way and my attitude has changed so much for the better that I want to “give back” in some way, even if it’s only to be a sympathetic ear to someone who needs one. There’s strength in numbers, after all, as you have proven to me with your comments and e-mails. I thank all of you for giving me the strength to see a way out, to recognize my own situation when I see it in someone else’s eyes and for the courage to do something instead of sitting silently by watching a woman writhe in (psychic) pain.
* Which were carefully chosen so as not to piss him off or bore him. It was a “test” that I managed to pass. Why play these games? I dunno, really.
** It’s pretty clear that L is a hoarder. Not a hoarder of ordinary stuff like newspapers and such, but a hoarder of Cool Stuff like unusual guitars and other musical instruments and odd mechanical things that should be in museums. He loves a bargain and claims to have four (!!!) storage units loaded to the doors as well as 21 acres of property with a gigantic 40 x 60 foot metal building full of stuff in it. There were brand new tractors and lawn mowers as well as a really expensive aluminum boat (all brand new) on the property. Boggles the mind!
*** Wednesday evenings have been set aside for me to go knitting. It was as struggle to get M to agree and I have been a total Nazi with my insistence that I WILL be going out and he is On His Own for dinner. No arguments and so far is has worked out fine. I was a little worried that this trip was a trap, that we would not be back in time for me to meet my friends and he would embarrass me in some way. Turns out I was wrong. This time.
**** Makes me wonder if others see me the same way – someone who was once passionate about something but who is now a gray blob. I think those who look can sense that I am a shadow of myself, but most people don’t see what they don’t want to see.