It is starting to bother me that where I look for sustenance rarely contains articles about children entrenched in relationships with narcissists, because of course it does. I don’t want to read about narcissists dating habits, because I never dated one. It was never my choice. I was just in the right (or the wrong, depending) place at the wrong time. I sense my shame and try to go numb because I know I have to read it anyway. It’s the only way my wounds will heal. We were not dating, but sexual information passed between us so that I was sure we weren’t dating logically and married emotionally. Because that part of my life has never made sense- my utter devotion despite being kicked in the gut repeatedly- I spent years and years searching for “the hook.” How did I get so involved on an emotional level while being convinced I wasn’t? Here is my unverified theory.
She needed me more than I needed her, and telling me that there was no hope while stroking my ego gave her just enough separation from me that I was never going to be The One, but I’d give her whatever she wanted. Even if she couldn’t be The One for me, I was still welcome to waste as much energy on her as possible. I was still welcome to give her anything and everything about myself, which she would learn to use later in cruel, seemingly thoughtless remarks (that seemed meticulously planned). I’d listen to her emotional horror stories and I would show up emotionally. That’s what I could do, and did, for two years of my life at a time when two years was two eons emotionally. I arrived at the church where she was a scholarship singer the summer after my sixth grade year, and she moved to Dallas the summer after my eighth. By then, our dysfunction was entrenched, and we would never break it until I could hold it in my head that our relationship wasn’t healthy. Then, it seemed impossible. I didn’t have the life experience to see the ways in which I was being coerced, partially because she was sneaky about the ways she tweaked me so that she always had plausible deniability, and partly because let’s face it. Damn. I know how to pick ’em. Imagine that at 24 and you tell me how many kinds of knocked on my ass I was. At 12 and 13, there weren’t enough love songs in the world to describe a single moment of how I felt. There was just too much explosive joy.
The story where she gave me the journal happened on Sept. 10th, 1991. We moved to Houston the first week of June in 1990. That means there had already been a year’s worth of contact with each other before the journal came into it. A year’s worth of hanging onto her every word, and analyzing it to make sure I was feeling what I thought I was feeling. A year to be completely sucked in. A year to completely hear everything I needed to know in order to become a stark-raving lunatic at a moment’s notice if anyone tried to hurt her. The dynamic was always push/pull. There were no problems at all until I tried to stop paying attention to her at all.
There was lots of bait to get me to stay addicted, while she was telling me that she had to hold me at arm’s length because I was so obsessed with her. I now call this my “the cake is a lie” moment. That’s how she does it. It clicked. It doesn’t matter how I feel, because by the time I’ve been discarded, there are new people she’s suckered into doing my old job. It kind of feels like getting fired for a job I was never qualified for in the first place. It’s like she all of the sudden discovered that I was just three little boys standing on each others shoulders inside of a large trench coat.