This is a follow up to Growth and Interesting Times, Part 3.
I couldn’t do much on Sunday. Having realized that I was still in a better place now than I was 5 years ago I felt calmer, though. The courts were closed on Monday but I would probably be able to call local lawyers and do some pricing and find out if anyone was willing to work with me on a payment plan until I could regain access to our funds.
While in the shower that morning I had started thinking about my husband’s behavior and what H had said about it being abusive. I caught myself trying to make excuses for my husband. Maybe he just didn’t understand how important sleep was to me. I immediately countered myself though – he knew how important money was, and he was deliberately withholding that. There was no reason to assume he hadn’t been deliberately withholding sleep from me as well.
My husband had purchased a pass for the local laser tag place and took the kids again, then stopped for groceries after, which gave me a few hours on my own. I had noted that morning that he had a bit of that sour aura he gets when he’s not happy and realized – he wasn’t any happier about the path he was going down than I was. He’d jumped in a river to spite me and now it was sweeping him away. It’s just so – stupid. None of this had to happen this way.
As my mood had improved with my realization of healing and growth since 2015, I chose to smile, dance to my music and otherwise pass the time as pleasantly as I could. There were tough times ahead but that didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate a lightened mood while experiencing one.
I made several posts on my restricted FB account in regards my mental health journey and what I’d been learning from my new therapist. I’m trying to incorporate some of what I’ve learned – intentional honesty and vulnerability in appropriate settings versus compulsive honesty in unsafe settings. I still believe it’s important to talk about mental health in order to reduce the stigma and ignorance surrounding it.
I did okay for most of the rest of the day, but by night was growing sad again. My therapist had talked about creating a vision – thinking of what we want – and then asking ourselves what choices we could make to help it happen.
I wanted comfort, the kind of comfort that comes from cuddling with your significant other, or being hugged by your mom, or someone whose physical presence brings you comfort, and I didn’t see any way to make healthy choices to help that happen. I made a note for myself to talk to my therapist about that. I doubted he’d be able to solve that for me but perhaps the discussion would help.
I slept for a few hours and woke early in the morning, as usual. When I checked messenger I saw that H had linked something for me in the group chat – a reddit post from the subreddit about narcissists. The original post was from someone about his narcissistic mother about how they (narcissists) know what they’re doing. They know right from wrong, they just choose to put themselves first and make their decisions accordingly.
The top comment was from someone that had shared insights from the book ‘Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men’ and it was confirming that they do, indeed, know what they are doing. They have limits. They’ll refuse to take a specific action that they see as going ‘too far.’ An example was a man that shoved his wife to the floor but wouldn’t kick her in the head because that would have been going too far.
I started scrolling through the comments on the thread, and they were illuminating. I had to face the fact that all the evidence pointed to my husband’s behavior being intentional. That if I asked myself ‘could this be intentional?’ and ‘what did he stand to gain from this?’ everything started to make sense. There was even reason to believe that he had been attempting to gaslight me and use my mental health against me on purpose. He was clumsy and failed badly in these attempts, generally speaking, because I know a lot more about the subject than he does.
I was pretty sure, though, that he’d actually suggested therapy, suggested a hospital stay, wanted to know if I was experiencing suicidal ideation, claimed I said things I hadn’t said, wanted to make sure I’d let him know if I took medication, and talked about possible danger to the kids on purpose to keep me off balance and make me doubt myself. I think he wanted me to see myself as weak and crazy and needing him – possibly because that’s how he saw me. Unfortunately for him I have an iron sense of self and a good working knowledge of mental health. I trusted myself, so his efforts simply made me question his sanity.
I’m not suggesting any grand plans from a master sociopath here. I think he’d been controlling me throughout the marriage using the places I lacked boundaries. In this last year or so as I started to enact boundaries around those areas, he saw his control slipping away and lashed out to try and get it back. I think he wanted me to feel bad, and he attacked me in areas where he believed he could make me feel bad. I was upset about my mental health – use it against me. I had a moral code I’d have been upset about breaking – use it against me.
He didn’t use things like physical violence or verbal abuse, giving me direct orders not to see friends, or controlling my social media usage because he knew I had boundaries there. If he’d tried to use those behaviors on me I would have recognized them as abusive and controlling and would have ended the relationship. So he used behaviors I didn’t recognize for what they were.
Unfortunately for him, the spots he attacked weren’t as weak as he perceived them to be, and his attacks were weaker than he realized as well.