Category Archives: Red Flags

Danger signs of upcoming abuse that I should have seen before becoming committed to my abuser

Defining the Abuse

Here’s a little essay that’s been sitting in my Draft folder for a long time. Someone close to me is suffering at the hands of an ex and perhaps this short list will help enable some emotional distance for them –

Being able to label your abuser’s disorder is a valuable tool, but not nearly as valuable as being able to label the specific abuse that s/he dishes out. Because of my personal experience, I’ll use masculine pronouns, but remember that abusers come in all shapes, sizes and genders.

Just saying, “he’s mean to me,” is not enough – if you tell others they will want specifics (if they even believe you) or they tell you to be nicer to him, and if you’re struggling to identify within your own mind just what the hell is going on, “mean” is much too vague. Chances are, once you learn the names of the abuses you are faced with every day you will be able to better see just what is going on and make a decision as to whether or not you can live with it. It can be very helpful to write down incidents soon after they happen (if it’s safe for you to do so) because so many abusers alternate between bouts of extremely abusive behavior and bouts of “loving” or at least less abusive episodes, which keeps their victim off balance and confused as to who the “real” person is, akin to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the famous story. They may even convince you an episode never happened, causing you to question your perception and even your sanity. Rest assured, it’s all part of the abuser’s plan to keep you quiet and in their control.

The following are definitions with examples as they applied to my personal situation – your mileage may vary. Definitions from Out of the FOG, a wonderful repository of information for those who are involved in some way with people with personality disorders. They have a forum, too, if you want to get support from others in the same boat. Many thanks to JetGirl for the link.

Baiting and picking fights: Starting an argument for no reason, or making an accusation about one thing while maneuvering you into making an admission or concession about something else. With M, this usually meant he was wanting me to give permission for some sort of behavior that he knew I didn’t approve of by getting me to admit that I’ve done something similar in the past, or he wanted me to do something that I didn’t agree with and would hound me until I agreed just to get him to leave me alone. The property tax fight is a good example. Also the whole Facebook thing. And everything from where to store the dog food to when to take a shower – it was all about winning battles for him and he would stop at nothing to make me admit defeat, whatever that meant for him at the moment.

Belittling: A passive/aggressive method of establishing superiority. M did this with just about everyone and it took me a long time to figure out that his offers of “help” were nothing more than put-downs cleverly disguised – I couldn’t really get upset because he was “helping” me and I was taking his “advice” the wrong way if I protested his interference.

Bullying: Physically towards the dog, emotional towards me. Something new every day.

Catastrophizing: Inflating some incident or state of circumstances into a “worst case scenario.” Property taxes. Toilet seal. Old Dog dying. My FB friends. The list goes on and on and was designed to take attention away from whatever issue I was protesting against.

Chaos Manufacture: The practice of unnecessarily creating an environment of confusion. When the first words out of M’s mouth after two weeks away from home were, “I was hoping you would have mowed the lawn,” before any type of greeting were a clue that he was going to make the next few days hell. He would begin a conversation immediately upon my arriving home from work that was designed to put me instantly on guard or to make me angry, just to get a reaction. He then accused me of being a Drama Queen. I never knew what to expect when I picked up the phone or saw him – he would attack out of the blue over nothing to keep me off balance.

Circular Conversations: Obvious what this is – a conversation without end designed, in M’s case, to exhaust me and force me to agree with whatever his agenda was on any particular day. Of course, his stance on any disagreement can and would change whenever he felt whimsical, making it even more difficult maintain a stance on anything.

Denial: When his lies didn’t work, M would simply deny that he said or did something hurtful – when confronted with his e-mail correspondence with an old lover, he denied it. When told that I knew he was lying he Deflected, changing the subject so that it turned back on me.

Emotional Abuse: “Any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of Fear, Obligation or Guilt (FOG).” This one covers a wide range of behaviors and was the first “official” term I learned. Pretty much every post here details the emotional abuse I suffered, so no links on this subject 🙂 It bears repeating that the abuser uses the non-disordered person’s natural empathy against them to keep them from leaving – if you’re so concerned about how leaving will make you look to others, or you are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, it’s that much harder to even think of how to get out of the relationship.

Gaslighting: I experienced A LOT of gaslighting at the hands of M. Looking back it was maybe the most powerful tool he used – oh, he didn’t want to convince me I was crazy, just that I didn’t see reality like “normal” people do and I needed his guidance in order to “make something” of my life. In the end, it did make me feel like I was losing my mind.

These were the Top Nine for me, but your milage may vary. Do check out the other 91 ways an abuser manipulates their victim at Out of the FOG.

For me, once I was able to name the Crazy I was living, I was able to gain some emotional distance and begin to move away from my abuser. Without this emotional distance and the rage that came with finally knowing I was not imagining things I would not have been able to break free.


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The lies we buy

Chumplady has posted today inviting all us Chumps to share in the comments the stupidest lie we bought from our abusers. I posted one story from my days with ex#2 in the comments and it brought up another humiliating experience. In the interest of getting this off my chest, I will relate it here.

It was just before Memorial Day weekend and ex#2 (herinafter referred to as D because that’s easier to type quickly) came to me with a fantastic (in his mind) proposal for a Holiday Camping Trip – the secretary where he worked had invited “everyone” to come to her family’s house near the Coast to camp in their yard. It was a big Family Tradition and only the best friends and family were invited. We would camp and cook over a fire and do all the Fun Stuff we didn’t get to do in the Big City where we lived. My son was about 10 and loved to go camping. I didn’t like it much any more because D made it miserable for me, but that’s another story.

I had a funny feeling about D’s relationship with “Sondy” as he called her, but I didn’t trust my gut and had no real proof. The whole thing sounded strange and I really didn’t want to go but he insisted that we had to go together as a family and in the end I gave in and off we went.

We were to meet at Sondy’s apartment and follow her to the house. Surprisingly, D knew the way, although he said he had never been there before. My gut was screaming that he was lying, but it was too late to back out now.

We arrived at her apartment and D bolted from the car like his pants were on fire, skipping up the steps and knocking on her door. No hesitation about looking for the number, no doubt about the right door. He had obviously been there before. H and I followed him and went inside.

Sondy had two teenaged children, a boy and a girl, and her apartment had two bedrooms. Imagine my surprise when there was a big bed, all made up with frilly covers in the space where a breakfast table would normally be set up in any normal apartment. D gave the bed a significant look, then gave Sondy a significant look and I could taste the tension in the room like spoiled cheese on my tongue.

I wanted to puke, but made nice and soon we were off, D distracted and following Sondy’s car down the highway. I made a snarky remark about how he seemed to know right where she lived and he made a lame reply about it not being my concern. They were “friends,” after all. Huh.

We arrived at Sondy’s family house and D immediately abandoned me, giving instructions for me to set up the tent, etc. and took a walk down by the creek with Sondy. My son followed along, so they didn’t have any privacy, which clearly annoyed D, but what could he say?

I was introduced to Sondy’s family who all gave me pitying looks that I didn’t understand. D followed her around like a love-sick puppy all afternoon until another man showed up. He was introduced as Sondy’s “friend” and when I asked D later who he was he said, “he’s safe,” which didn’t mean anything at the time, but struck me as very wrong. D was in a foul mood after the Other Man arrived and followed Sondy around with angry eyes, still ignoring me completely.

Oysters were prepared for dinner (which I HATE, a fact that D knew well) and everyone stood around drinking and having a great time, again, totally ignoring me. I felt worse and worse, my stomach in knots, waiting for something to happen. It felt like a bomb was about to go off.

A little later D followed Sondy into the house and when he came back out his face was softer and he once again looked at her with love in his eyes.

The brick finally fell onto my head and I realized that D got me out to Sondy’s house so that she could tell me that they were going to be a couple and that my son and I were out of the picture. This little camping trip was to audition him for her family! She lost her nerve and refused. I put H to bed and joined him soon after, crying myself into a stupor.

D came in and asked if I was alright. “Oh, sure! I’m just FINE!” I replied. He disappeared out of the tent and didn’t come back until I was asleep.

The next morning I demanded that we leave. He argued with me that it would be rude if we just left but I insisted that I did not want to be where I wasn’t wanted. I was not comfortable with those people, especially Sondy and I wanted to go home NOW!

This was the first time I stood up to him and he was confused. The weekend was not going as planned and he was frustrated and irritated. I packed up our stuff as he continued to schmooze and act like nothing was amiss. He made a lame excuse about me having a headache and we went home.

He made some choice comments on the drive back, but I ignored him. I was exhausted but thought I had won some sort of battle. After all, he came home with me, didn’t he? I didn’t have the nerve or the words to confront him at the time, but I finally did just days before I moved out. His response? “I am not having an affair with Sondy! You can’t prove a thing!” Yeah.

What a Chump I was! He continued his affair with her until I moved out and for some time afterwords as well, but I never had any Actual Irrefutable Proof so technically he didn’t have an affair, right? So said the Narc, but that’s another post.

Sigh. I feel better now.

How about you? Did you swallow a shit sandwich to keep the peace that you later realized you shouldn’t have? Do tell!


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A New Message…

Thank you all for confirming my belief that he has not changed (who can completely change their personality in less than a week?!?) and will not change and I am better off without him.

The FOG machine has been rolling on ‘high’ this last week, that little niggling doubt creeping around the edges of my brain, saying, “be reasonable. He never actually laid a hand on you. He has been struggling so much with his own demons – you could be supportive for a while longer, be the bigger person.”

Intellectually I know it’s a lie, but my training at his hands is like a knee jerking under the doctor’s hammer. That is why we stay, why we go back, why we give chance after chance to these losers.

I turned off the computer early last night and missed this from him:

I am completely at your mercy. You know I love you, possibly more than anyone ever has or will. You also know I am sorry to have broken your trust and will do anything to win it back. If you decide to leave me for good, that’s your choice and I will not pursue you. But I believe with all my heart we are soul mates and to lose each other would be the biggest mistake we’ve ever made. I am not pressuring you, only speaking from my heart.

See? We are “soul mates!” He is going to let me be in complete control! No one will ever love me like he does! He is so very sorry and filled with remorse! No pressure…

What a load of crap! Today is a new day and I am not blinded by FOG this morning. I will get whatever I can into Awana’s van and drive away with a clear conscience and a light heart. I will need to go back for the rabbits, but I am confident that they are safe for now and have a much better living situation than I can give them at this point – they are not young and a major change of environment could be disastrous for them. There is a Fiber Event this weekend where I may be able to find someone to take them in, so there’s that.

Now I’m off to spray some lubricant on the black water tank drain valve. I started a new blog, Travels with Towanda and will move the RV living posts over there when I have the time and energy.

Thank you all for your comments and support! If I hadn’t found this online community I’m not sure I would have had the strength to get out. XOXOX to all of you!


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Narc Update

M has been love bombing me with e-mail, pretending to be the man I fell for. If I were a different person, I might be tempted to go back, at least for a trial, but I am a bitch and only laugh and/or shake my head at his antics. Here’s an entry from Sunday –

I’d like to share with you some things that have influenced me over our time together that have been poorly understood, if at all. Maybe this will give you some insights.

When we moved to SH, I asked you and H (my son, who was 14 at the time and a very difficult teenager) if you wanted to do this and even asked H repeatedly. But when things started not working out so well and H realized he didn’t want to be there (or maybe anywhere else, who knows?) I took his attitude too personally as an insult, which was magnified by how he treated you, which made me so mad I could slap him. I thought then that I was fighting the good fight for my woman, but know now that you two had your ways and you grew to understand each other, whereas I was left out because I was too violent and not tolerant enough for sympathy or understanding.

When we lived in the duplex and H and I had our first physical fight, it was over something he said to you, in his way, that tripped me to madness. I still thought I was doing the right thing for you. When we lived on S–Place, one day when you and I were going somewhere and we doubled back and found H on the phone, from which he was restricted, we took him with us a a punishment. He planted a good one in my face at the door on the way out, which shocked us both and he began his journey back to being a decent human that day, I saw it. He was a new kid, not a boy anymore. But I refused to forgive him and carried my anger about how I felt he had cheated me and you of our happiness, for a long time, perhaps until just recently when he now treats me with respect, despite myself.

The two of you (H and you), as well as your mother and your sister have a facial expression that says “fuck you, stupid human”, which you all have focused on me for good reason and no reason at all (your sister and mother). I have come to react instinctively to that look, as an adder who’s tail you just stepped on. The day I told you to go fuck yourself was just such a day, with that same look and even though I deserved it in every way, I would not back down. My relationship with your son has been predicated on my reaction to that look and for that I am deeply sorry today, because I think he has forgiven me for treating him like a shit, while I have not forgiven him (until very recently).

My father told me from the first time someone tried to beat me up in school that I should never start a fight, but always finish it. He is a stupid man to have engrained that in his boy. I have never hurt anyone in anger until I wrestled H to the carpet and have never been hit by anyone but him. But I have the tongue and sting of the adder, there is no doubt. At one time you applauded me for this, which didn’t help, I can tell you now. I am not proud, but ashamed of how I’ve been on those occasions in our relationship when I lashed out at you and H, deeply ashamed. I had no right, have no right, to insult those I love for any reason, even if I feel hurt myself. The only way to win a person’s love, is with love. I have always known this, which is, I think, how I won your heart. I can tell you today that the man who loves has won out over the adder. Because at last, the snake has bitten his own tail.

See there? He is a Changed Man! The cause of all our troubles is that my son and I look at him wrong and he can’t help his reaction. H and I have a way of joking and talking fast around a subject to avoid hashing out something painful, to minimize the awkwardness of the Teen Years and M was just too hurt by that to behave like a human being, and it’s not his fault. He was trained by his father to behave that way.

Whatever. Nothing gives him the right to treat me or my son in that way. What he saw as disrespect was in fact a man-child trying to establish his place in the pack (as all male children do) and M was unwilling to remember his own struggle and help H to develop appropriate responses. What M created was a very angry, sullen teen boy who felt threatened all the time as M judged every move he made and H was always found lacking, no matter how I defended or explained him, no matter how hard he tried – nothing was ever Good Enough for M.

It’s surprising that H has become such a polite, well-mannered man, gentle and empathetic who seems to harbor no animosity towards M.

And this yesterday:

I am 200% committed to communicating with you. This week has been a sledge hammer to the head and a spike to the heart – much of what I’ve said and done to you over the years has been a big mistake, the biggest mistake of my life, no contest. You are much more important to me than anything and I mean anything, including my own selfish demands that I’ve put out there as so essential.

I’m a fool. I can do better, much better. Not even sure how I got off on the wrong track, maybe it was arguing with H all the time. Anyway, I hope to get another chance, though I can hear you say I don’t deserve it. The beast in me died this week, I assure you. You struck him a blow through the heart. The man that’s left is your old lover and he still loves you, more than anything, more than ever.

Another assertion that he’s a changed man! I suppose this is where I fall all over myself to apologize and take him back unconditionally, right? Dr. Jekyll was always a charmer 🙂

He was supposed to be gone yesterday and sent this early in the morning:

It would be good to see you and chat, or not, as you please. You will find a man much changed. One thing is, this is the first time in 46 years I have not had at least one dog, if not three, so I’d love to see my friend. I know I’m always going on about that dog, but I love her.

He misses the dog? How sweet! He did nothing but complain about the dog and how I was always letting Dog Discipline go by the board, how I was spoiling her, ruining the training that he had done. The fact is, he is far too brutal for a dog of this type. A complacent Labrador would have learned very quickly to do what he says and stay out of his way, but a dominant herding dog (Australian Shepherd/Border Collie) is not a dog you can beat into submission. She must be convinced that it’s a good idea before she is willing to comply with the wishes of a mere human – she knows her job and will not be sidetracked. He has never understood that, or he refuses to acknowledge that she needs something different than his heavy-handed notion of discipline.

And there’s more:

It is I who must thank you for your patience. I realize now that I have been far on the wrong side of your comfort level for a long time and misinterpreted everything. You have again and again given me more latitude than you have ever offered anyone. It grieves me that now that I finally get it, I may not get a chance to show good faith.
I am sincere. As you once loved and trusted me, I hope you can find your way to do so again.

This in response to a note I sent thanking him for his patience and understanding as I sort out my issues. Trying to keep Mr. Hyde at bay until I get my stuff back.

“On paper” he sounds good, right? Saying all the right things, having an apologetic attitude, promising to respect my feelings and giving me time to sort myself out. The underlying message, however, is that I will be coming back after I come to my senses once more. That ain’t gonna happen.

He will be gone for about three hours tomorrow. I have spent the day dithering about what to do. I could borrow or rent a truck and just make a clean sweep, but there won’t be much time (he is making sure to give me short notice to try to catch me when I’m there, but I see through his plan) to get my stuff out and I don’t really have any men to rely upon to help out.

I could just take my car and stuff what I can into it, but it means leaving Granny’s table behind (the only thing that I really can’t live without) but that would mean Mom would be hopping mad and would drive over here to take it back and goddess only knows what would happen then 🙂

I found myself unable to make a decision, frozen in a state of deer-in-the-headlights, hearing his voice in my head chastising me for whatever I decide to do. My stomach was in knots, head whirling, just…frozen. He has trained me well, and that pisses me off.

And then Awana called. We talked about the options and she offered to let me borrow her van – bigger than my car, no need to rent or borrow a truck, probably big enough to get the essentials out of M’s house, but small enough to (hopefully) not raise his ire too much. If I drive it myself, she won’t be associated with this whole mess so he can’t try to find me through her. He won’t recognize the van so my getaway should be clean.

I want this to be over, but I don’t want to freak him out so that he does something rash. When he left his wife (he and I worked together but were not involved at the time,) according to him, it was an amicable break – he still talked to her, finished up the repairs to their house (she bought him out) that he had agreed to, even watched her dog on occasion. There didn’t seem to be any rancor, he seemed calm and reasonable, but then again, I only saw what he wanted me to see. At the time I thought it was admirable that two people could break up with no anger or harsh words, just a gentle parting of the ways. I wonder now how it really went down, while hoping that he and I can have the same sort of parting of the ways.

Awana says that as long as I have a reason to go back to his house I am still involved with him. She is advocating a Clean Break, sever all ties, make a very clear statement that he and I are over and move on with my life.

I find myself immobile, not hoping for a reconciliation, but at least something less than a war or smear campaign. I want him to get on with his life, find his own happiness so that he will leave me to find my bliss with no bad feelings hanging onto my coat tails.

Is any of this even possible with a Narc? Am I just making myself crazy over something that is never going to happen and I should just wake up and get on with it?


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“Hoovering” is a term that describes the way a Narc (or similar) abuser tries to bring the victim back into the fold, make them feel sorry for the Narc, or heap obligations onto them until they are vacuumed right back into the abusive situation. I’ve been familiar with this term for the last few months and I have let myself be drawn back into the abuse in the hope that if I had the knowledge to call him on his bullshit I could fight back and he would see what was happening and understand that he needed to change if we were to stay together.

Obviously, he is not interested in my feelings or what I need to live a fulfilled life – it’s all about HIS needs and wants and I am nothing more than a means to that end.

Today went pretty well, considering how it started. Since I was already up, I put on some thermal bibs and (after Awana and I took the dog to the dog park for a much needed romp) headed outside (it wasn’t much warmer inside anyway) and put insulation on the water hose and attempted to hook up the drain hose. Yep. I need more drain hose. It wasn’t even close. The box may say the hose is ten feet long, but it won’t stretch that far and it has to be loose to drain properly.

I gave up and went to work where it was (obviously) slow enough to allow me to blog. I did a final e-mail check because I planned to make a quick trip to Fred Meyer in the hope that they carry more drain hose and then I wanted to come home and veg in front of the TV with a silly movie and just not move or think until early tomorrow. I am tired. So very tired after so many short nights in a row. Fatigue has caught up with me and I need some serious Z’s for the next two very busy days.

This toxic missive was waiting in my inbox. The subject line is “furniture” so I knew I should open it. (Bold are my comments):

When you come on Thursday, I don’t know what you intend to take, so I thought I’d make a list of what I’d like to keep and one of things we own in common that you might want.
Bed not a chance I want that
Old cedar chest (my clothes box) His
Couch His
Recliner chair from D His
Coffee table (TV table) His
Can I have the old Pfaff sewing machine? It’s the only machine that will sew heavy canvas goods and I could use it to make money. It was given to me by a mutual friend and I really want it. What say you?

You are welcome to the treadle, if you want it. Not a chance – it’s a POS and I have no room for anything that is not useful
The rugs are yours (I assume you don’t want the old rag in the bedroom.) Really? He bought them. I think this is a ploy to see how much space I have
If you have room for the dining room table, please take it. Glass top. I hate it – it always looks dirty and it’s his
You are welcome to the coat rack next to my desk, if you want it. Again, not a chance. It’s his.
Please chose any lamps you want, but please leave me a couple, one for the bedroom and one for the living room (if you like the old lamp you fixed, please take it) There are a grand total of three floor lamps in the whole place. I did buy two of them, but neither is a prize and I have plenty of light thanks to all the built-in lights in Towanda. No thanks
The foam pad you covered was much too big for the boat, so I brought it back and it’s yours Manky old foam, even if it is covered in nice fabric is still manky old foam good for nothing here
The antique dresser and mirror next to the bed is yours Nope. He has a great story of how he acquired it to store for a friend who is now dead. I hate it as the drawers are all messed up and hard to open and close
The big leather chair and ottoman are yours, if you want Not a chance, even if they would fit through Towanda’s door
You are welcome to the old rocker, please take it. Again, nope – it belonged to his grandmother and is so uncomfortable that no one can sit in it for more than three minutes
The armoir -or portable closet, don’t know what it’s called  😉  is yours, I’ll empty it. It’s a wardrobe, dickwad, and we’ve both called it a wardrobe since you bought it. While it is nice, it will not fit through the door here, so nope, not interested.

I miss you so much it hurts deep. You are all I had to live for. All else is just fluff and filler. I told you a couple weeks ago I would do anything (and quit doing others), anything to make you happy and make up for what I’ve done and I meant it. Whatever. So very many promises, so very many lies. I’m done. Furniture will not lure me back, nor will even more promises that you never intend to keep.

My physical reaction was immediate and violent – nausea. I nearly hurled onto the shop floor. My gut squirmed and I had such a strong feeling of revulsion you would think I had just swallowed mayonnaise. I detest mayo. And eggs. This was eggs covered in mayo and forced into my mouth and down my throat. Harshed my mellow, Itellyouwhat.

I closed the shop, heart heavy, a cloud of gloom hanging over me. I knew it was just a knee-jerk reaction that he has trained me to have, so I began to talk myself into a better place. I am just so tired today.

Dragged myself to the store for hose and Awana (A from here on out) called. Just what I needed. That girl can heap abuse on a man 🙂 I feel loads better now, but very tired.

I will answer his note tomorrow and cancel Thursday. I will reschedule for next week and send a list of the things that I want, which are all mine, no question. I don’t want his shit, material or psychic.

My reaction to his e-mail tells me that I am not ready to face him even if it means his next contact might be to tell me he’s burning my stuff in the yard. I can let it go with no pain. I’m out, I’m whole and I’m not going to be hoovered back by that asshole. Ain’t gonna happen.

And three people said they loved my hair, so, yeah, I still rock! 🙂


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The F.O.G. Trap

FEAR: I am dreading the Final Confrontation. It has been my downfall so many times. I cave and agree that I am at fault just to make the yelling stop. I give in to my fear and let him (whoever he is – this is not limited to my current relationship) have whatever he wants so that I can feel “safe” again. Intellectually I know what’s happening, but my panicked reaction is to capitulate, even if I know I will hate myself later.

OBLIGATION: He’s old. He’s disabled. He has PTSD. He can’t work. He has issues accepting what his life has become. No one will ever love him like I can. It’s my duty to do whatever I can for someone I’m supposed to love and cherish.

GUILT: Don’t I owe it to him to stick with him now, in his hour of greatest need? My income is all that’s keeping his life afloat (no, I did not misspeak right there) – won’t leaving put him in a bind that he can’t get out of? What will people think of me abandoning him at this stage, after over 11 years together?

As I was driving to work, all of these thoughts were racing through my head, and they all sounded valid and Very Important when spoken by my inner voice (which sounds suspiciously like M’s) in a tone that brooks no argument.

Typing them out enables me to see how very absurd they are. None of the above is about ME. None of the above reflects my views or opinions. It’s all about HIM and it’s time to put him behind me and start to live the life that I want to live, free from his bullshit.

M told me this morning that he needs to go see his boat Up North in the next few days but must be back in town for a meeting on Wednesday. That doesn’t leave me much time to get my ass out of here between acquiring housing (more on that adventure as it unfolds – it’s an unconventional solution that I think will lead to some interesting adventures) and work.

No word on exactly what day he will leave or when he will return, so, as usual, I wait. The waiting erodes my confidence and conviction. He knows this well.

His mood betrays his need to blow up at me. If he does blow up before he leaves, there’s my reason for moving out and no Final Confrontation will be necessary. If he does not blow up at me he will accuse me of all sorts of things, betrayal will be top of the list.

Standing firm is so difficult when he’s “nice.” I begin to question myself, doubt my memory, ask theoretical questions late into the night, trying to solve this problem without doing anything at all.

Thankfully, I have this blog record to come back to, to read over one more time, to refresh my memory and remind me how destructive he is to my Self.

I read somewhere that insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I struggle to get out of that loop.


Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Emotional Abuse, Narcissist, Red Flags


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The 13 Commandments

Last year I printed up what I call M’s 13 Commandments –


I kept the list taped to the inside of my planner, looking at it most days, trying to internalize the contents. M was so adamant that if I could only master these things our relationship would be Perfect. If only I would bend and not be so stubborn, he could love me. If only I would do these trifling things, I would be worthy to share his life. If only I would grow up and see that Real People live by these rules and are so much better than I could ever be – these are things to aspire to! Tenets that he lives his life by that I should adopt in the hope of improving my life and our relationship.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we? I abbreviated on the typed list, so I’ll expound here –

1. Symbiosis/Partnership – this means that we should operate as one unit – two bodies, one soul, always in sync, always in tune and working together. The problem is, HE is in control and what he really wants is for me to follow along in his wake, keeping things tidy and picking up the slack of HIS projects and adventures. All this with no instruction, warning, assistance, praise, thanks or gratitude. I am supposed to fit myself seamlessly into his life with no thought about who or what I was before him. My inability to do this is one of the biggest problems in our relationship.

2. Being able to receive and give gifts graciously – I’ve written about this before. I never get it right.

3. Give budget to receive itinerary – M refuses to tell me when and where he is going unless I give him a detailed budget.  It’s a totally bullshit exercise he uses to control me that was posted here and here.

4. Communication/Connectivity/Compromise – This is the category that means I should tell him everything that goes on in my head so he can better control me. I should be totally connected to his needs, moods and desires and compromise my own principles to keep him happy, no matter the cost.

5. Share something (sailing) and work towards that goal – this is where I take on his favorite hobby/lifestyle and adopt it as my own philosophy. He does not have to reciprocate in any way – it is a one way street.

6. Show interest and mean it. Retain info. Do private research – I should devote myself to his hobbies, remember everything he tells me (even if he contradicts himself constantly) about those hobbies and do independent research to fill in the gaps that he just doesn’t have the time or patience to share with me. He claims that he can’t even remember what it’s like to be a total beginner at anything and he just can’t lower himself to my level to explain something that he learned at his Grandfather’s knee. Nor should he have to – it is my responsibility to research and learn everything I can on my own so his precious time is never wasted.

7. Plans for the future & relationship – this is where I constantly update my 20-year plan and have a separate plan for each and every eventuality that may occur from freak storms to hangnails. I should have a set amount of money in the bank and three back-up options for anything that could possibly go wrong. I have been instructed to include him in my plans as if he is unable to do anything for himself and as if I could lose everything at any minute. It’s a ploy to keep me in a state of low level panic every minute of every day so that he can better control me.

8. Get first job done – too many commitments – If I have a project that I want to do for myself, it must be done as quickly as possible with minimum disturbance for him. I should be ready at an moment to begin, resume or finish a project that is for him, regardless of what else I might be doing at the time. I should be “on call” for him 24/7 because his needs are more important than my own.

9. Pride in home ownership – the grass must be cut as soon as it’s 1/2″ taller than he likes, the yard constantly maintained, nothing out of place that could cause the neighbors to gossip in a negative way. The outward facade must be perfect at all costs. Letting any outside job get “out of hand” is a sure sign that there is something fundamentally wrong with my wiring – that I don’t jump at the first sign of a drooping limb on a bush outside is a symptom of my “renter’s mentality” and we all know that Renters are the lowest form of life on the planet.

10. Listen to and remember the important stuff – this is basically anything that comes out of his mouth. Unless it contradicts what he’s saying right now. Or if it proves a point that I’m trying to make. Or it exposes his lies. Or he later says he never said it. This one is a moving target.

11. Notice personal changes/Pride in appearance – I should Dress to Impress. Him, not anyone else. If I leave the house in clothes that he considers “nice” I must be going to meet another man. If I wear grubby clothes to work in the yard, well, I’m just being a slob and he complains that I’m not wearing nice clothes for him. My dress is always inappropriate to the task at hand. The fact that I refuse to wear makeup or spend an hour styling my hair is an insult aimed at him because, after all, he is the one who has to look at me all day! I should notice if he shaves the second he steps out of the bathroom. I should notice that he cut his hair and it’s now 1/16″ shorter than it was yesterday, even if he’s wearing a hat. He wants daily praise about his appearance – he acts like a 16-year-old girl about it some days.

12. Have an opinion/Share feelings – he wants me to express what I feel, to tell him my opinions, but he then pokes holes in any independent thought that I share and uses my feelings against me. This rule is only about giving him more ammunition to hurt me – it has nothing to do with helping me become a more mature person, as he claims.

13. Money talk does not have to be emotional – for him. He will berate, criticize, lecture, and demean me in any way he sees fit over money matters while protesting that a Responsible Adult can talk about money without emotion and I need to grow up and learn to be Responsible.

I tossed the list into the garbage after finishing this post. There will be no more rules for me except those that I write!


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After the Yelling

I drove off to meet my knitting friends last night in a towering rage. I spent the three hours that should have been easy and fun venting to them about the asshole I live with. They were properly horrified and I am grateful they let me get it out and I apologize for making their evening so grim. I also had a wicked headache from the gaping hole in my tooth, so I’m sure I was a proper savage companion. I furiously typed out the last two blog posts so that they wouldn’t eat me from the inside out.

It’s funny that the best part of my day so far has been the moment the dentist jabbed a big-ass needle into my tender gums. I have a huge problem with needles in general and with dentists especially, which is unfortunate as I inherited bad teeth from both sides of my family*. The feeling of that needle going in was so easy this time – so much easier than waking up next to that man again. He was still breathing. I was disappointed.

Silent treatment last night. When I arrived home he was in bed, covers pulled up over his ears, unresponsive. I said, “I’m back.” “Good,” was his only reply. Fine with me. I had a cup of tea, took something for my pain and sat in a chair for a delightful hour of reading.

His only other words to me were, “Are you ever going to share the Kindle with me?”

He is referring to my volunteering to show him where he can find free books online and how to search Amazon for free classics. He’s an intelligent man, he should have figured it out by now, but he wants me to walk him through it. I said that I would be happy to send him some links and that was it.

Took a long time to fall asleep, but I think I got a couple of hours before the alarm went off. Not a peep from him. I dressed, the dog got loose, and I left. I had no time to deal with the dog, so I hope she came back in one piece – he hasn’t called to say one way or the other, and even though I know I’m supposed to call, I refuse.**

As promised, here’s some of the transcript of what was said after I yelled back at M yesterday –

HIM: You say, you say, when I come in and I say I’d like to move this stuff so I can get that wood out of there. Do I have permission to move your stuff. You say, Let’s work on that together. I will come and help you and we can work on that together.

ME: So it has to be my decision…

HIM: It does!

ME: I have to volunteer…

HIM: Yes!

ME: I have to change the entire language of the entire conversation to me helping you.

HIM: No! You aren’t helping me. We’re doing it together.

ME: So I have to take your project and instantly make it my own and go and assist you so that we can work as a team.

HIM: It’s your project. For starters, it’s in your space. Entirely in your space.

ME: So anything that happens in my space, I need to involve myself and make it my project…

HIM: Yes. It happens that our entire existence here is your space, too. There’s other things that go on here that you think have nothing to do with you, too, but they actually do. Because, you know, they’re ours. You don’t think in terms of OURS.

ME: So instead of asking me if this would be a good time, to do some stuff in “my space,” you had to create all of this?

HIM: I don’t feel that I created this, I think that you did.

ME: By using the wrong language, by not jumping up to come and help you, instead I asked if I could help instead of making this my project so we could work on it as a team, even though maybe it’s not really convenient for me at the moment because I was in the middle of some number stuff…

HIM: Well, certainly, if you came and asked me…if you said to me, “you need to get that saddle down…” I’d jump right up and help with that because it’s something that would take two people and, you know, my stuff is all over it. So obviously you’re going to have some hassles dealing with my stuff so I wouldn’t even hesitate. I’m there.

ME: So why are you so offended when I say, “can I help you” …

HIM: Because…

ME: You could have just said, yeah, I need some help…

HIM: Do you want me to answer that question or not?

ME: Sure, go ahead.

HIM: What should have been so pitifully obvious is that you’re setting it up so I can say no.

ME: Why can’t you say yes?

HIM: I did say yes.

ME: No, you did not. You said you wanted to move the plywood. I asked if you needed any help. You said no. So how am I supposed to interpret that? Instead of asking if you need help I should have just jumped up, come out here and we would have done this thing together and then everything would have been fine. Is that what you’re telling me?

HIM: Why wouldn’t you do that? That’s what I’m wondering.

ME: I just told you because I was in the middle of trying to get some numbers right. If I could have had five more minutes I would have come out here, but now we have this thing.

HIM: I didn’t hear you say that.

ME: No, because when I asked you if you needed help you said no. So I assumed A – you were going to do something else first or B – you’re going to do it yourself because I am busy. When I ask somebody else if they need my help, there’s no judgement in it, its simply, can I assist you in any way?

HIM: What are you so busy with that you can’t help me?

Let’s skip ahead a bit –

ME: I don’t see why you’re so offended if I ask you if you need my assistance

HIM: Because…You’re not helping me at all!

ME: Right, I’m helping US. I get it. My thought process is off here. But it seems that my thought process is always off and we have this thing.

HIM: it’s this particular thing. This is it. Do you see the repetition in it?

ME: Yes, I do see the repetition and it really pisses me off.

HIM: Well, it pisses me off even more!

ME: Yeah? Well, I don’t understand that if I tell you, if I say to you, I’m offering you whatever assistance, how ever I can be of help why you’re so offended by that. I have to use the exact language that you…

HIM: Because you never take the lead.

ME: When I take the lead, you change how things are going.

HIM: Well, of course.

ME: Why should I take the lead then?

HIM: Why should I take the lead?

ME: Because you are the one who decides how the project goes in the end.

HIM: In the end YOU determine how things happen around here, in all things. Don’t give me that shit! It’s a very passive aggressive command form. That’s what I’m objecting to! Years and years of it!

When I ask him if I can help with a task that we’ve done together many times, that’s a passive aggressive question. WTF?

It just gets more confusing from there and I’m getting pissed off listening to it again, so I will just stop, save the file to disk and leave it alone.

* The tooth is fixed, I almost have all feeling back in my face and will shortly indulge in my once-weekly treat of a BLT from the lovely shop next door.

** Don’t get me wrong – I love my dog. I know that she will come back just fine, hopefully without pissing off any of the neighbors or eating any chickens or cats. I wonder how much of her badness is due to the constant tension between her people?


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Turns out M did not pick up Mexican food because he didn’t know what to order for me. That’s what the phone call was all about. He said that he knew I “was stuck on ordering the same thing,” but couldn’t remember what it was. Really? After eleven years he can’t remember that I always order a chicken burrito? If I can remember that his favorite dish is chile reyenos, or chile verde if they don’t have that, or a beef burrito, why can’t he remember that I prefer a chicken burrito? Srsly? I  know his top three choices (and can make a good guess at what else he might like) and he doesn’t know my first? Obviously he has not been paying attention.

While we’re on the subject, I learned early on how he likes his coffee made, how he prefers his clothes to be folded, that he hates toothpaste in the bathroom sink, and needs three clear feet between pieces of furniture to navigate comfortably. I took notice of these things and a thousand more because I understood them to be important markers of my love and esteem for him.

Yet he doesn’t know how to make me a cup of tea. He refuses to fold or put away any of my clothes. He left the shop vac in the kitchen doorway so that I had to move it before opening the door to come in after work. A thousand markers of his contempt for me.

He also made some comments about himself last night. He said that the females in his life (me, the cat, the dog) are obviously not happy. That he has not been the “man I advertised myself to be.” Huh. That’s interesting. I’ve only been saying that for over five years now. Does he think that I will believe he is making an effort to change? Does he think this will make me stay?

After his profound statement (and no Thank You for dinner. Again. As usual.) he spent the rest of the evening playing his YouTube favorites at volumes that should cause sterility in small mammals. I hate the Guitar Star crap (but don’t say anything because they are his favorites and he has a right to his own opinion,) and I’ve told him many times that playing music at that high level is painful for me. Doesn’t matter. I left the room to read a book on my Kindle (which I LOVE, but that’s a different blog.)

He alternated between telling me he loves me so much and commenting that my pants must have shrunk. Oh, wait, is my belly bigger this week? And back to how great I am, but what about this? And so on.

If he’s thinking last night is an improvement over his behavior in the past, he is seriously mistaken.


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This will be a long post – I need to get this information down before it gets lost somewhere in my “drafts” folder. If any of you are in doubt as to what kind of asshole you are dealing with the following will be very interesting.

Very interesting and informative post by Paula about identifying a narcissistic sociopath. Putting labels on people is a dangerous thing, especially when you aren’t a qualified professional, but it’s helpful for those on the receiving end of a NS’s abuse to be able to logically look at their abuser and name the behavior. Knowing, at least on an intellectual level, that it’s not your fault and has never been your fault goes a long way towards breaking the chains of abuse. For me, being able to take a step back, set aside my emotions and look at the situation as an unbiased professional might is very edifying. It also helps me connect with my anger which makes it easier to see how I will extricate myself from this situation with my wits intact.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Emotional Abuse, Red Flags, Verbal Abuse


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