I Love You. Leave Me Alone. Please Come Back.
I was wrong. Well, at least partly wrong, which is known to happen from time to time.
Last month, I wrote an angry, ranting post about RED FLAGS and Covert Narcissism, but what I failed to see were the Borderline aspects of this severely personality-disordered individual, who I have come to deeply love. My compassion for him is endless, and I wish him the absolute best in the time he has left.
I’m not in the least bit angry anymore. I’m sad and concerned, but we are apart once again.
Before I tell my tale of foolishness and pain, I’d like to preface this by saying that my heart and mind are with him in his struggle. I’m so pleased we were able to share some tenderness, intimacy, vulnerability, and kindness. It was very real for me then, and it still is now.
Yes. That’s right. Even though I wrote about the dangers of it in my Covert Narcissism post, I fell for the HOOVERING technique used by Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Borderlines, alike. I knew it was hoovering when it happened, but I justified it because I really, really wanted to meet him in person again after 32 years apart. After what we shared before Christmas, and as heartbroken as I was when he pulled a Jekyll/Hyde the day after Christmas. After such a lonely, painful New Years. After two weeks of the silent treatment, I tried to make amends and apologize, just in case, not wanting to lose him from my life again. (Additionally, I really didn’t want to go back to CA and spend two weeks with my soon-to-be-ex-husband before I headed back to Europe.)
Communication was opened briefly between us, then he told me to leave him alone, as I explain in more detail in WARNING: RED FLAGS AHEAD, so I did and went immediately in No Contact mode (NC), the only way to survive and recover from narcissistic abuse. Blocked him from email, Facebook, phone, etc. Deleted all his pictures, all his emails, all his texts. Tried to deal with the loss.
I called my therapist when I got the “Please leave me alone” email. That’s when she said my reaction, which was sobbing heartbreak, was normal for anyone when they’ve been mind-fucked by a severely personality disordered person.
One problem with gmail, sadly for me, there really is no way to block someone from getting in. You can set a rule to move emails to the trash, but if you see it in the trash… which I did, you look (unless you have way more self-control in the matter of love than I do).
I hoped, and ultimately I fell again.
Frankly, my first reaction was to laugh, really loudly. I was on my way to Portland from visiting a dear friend in Salt Lake City, so the neighboring room at the Hampton Inn in Boise, Idaho must’ve thought me insane with such explosive laughter.
This time, however, I wasn’t the delusional one. There in my Gmail Trash sat an email from my long-lost-friend-almost-lover with the subject line “Plan B.”
Delusional isn’t strong enough a word for the contents of this email. It revealed a mind completely out of touch with reality and a level of selfishness I had rarely seen. His proposition was that I give up traveling (i.e., cancel my 8-month trip to Europe and disappoint/betray all my hosts counting on me to watch their homes and pets), get a job (to support him, I suppose), and get an apartment with him. He said he needed help with his debilitating illness, and it might as well be from someone who loves him. He had to move in with his sister, now that his mother had died, and he really didn’t want to do that. He had a little income from disability and a little more from a wealthy uncle, so I wouldn’t even have to work a full time job if that level of income continued.
There wasn’t one iota in that email of how this arrangement would benefit me other than inheriting his cats and some $10k worth of silver when he died, and he wasn’t willing to sacrifice or compromise at all. Not even a little bit.
He said “let’s first meet in person” (which was all I ever wanted to do) and if we didn’t “absolutely hate” each other, we could move forward with this “Plan B.”
I thought about it awhile. I knew it was hoovering. I knew it was the selfish, desperate plea of a severely ill person, but I really wanted to meet him. After all, I care for this person, probably because I’ve romanticized him for 32 years, but also because I have a lot of compassion for his plight. Plus I wanted to close this open door that’s beckoned me back for decades.
I responded that I’d still like to meet for coffee, and we could make any subsequent decisions after that. I worded my email in a way that was not agreeing with the terms of his ridiculous proposal, but that I was willing to meet and see what unfolded from there.
My therapist was dumbfounded as to why I would go back into the lion’s den. She asked me why I would invite someone back into my life to be abused again. She said this is why my heart is always shattered. When I see Red Flags, I don’t run like other people, I *try harder,* and that is due to a history of abuse and trauma which has caused my C-PTSD.
It’s something I have to do, I told her.
My mother was shocked and confused. She asked me why I would go back to someone who had already hurt me so badly. Why would I set myself up to be hurt again?
It’s something I have to do, I told her.
I spoke with a friend who also has survived Narcissistic Abuse more than once, and she was very worried, too. Of course everyone was worried, and they should be. I was playing with fire, and I was going to get burned again.
TL;DR: I did.
My narc-survivor friend and I came up with a list of things we thought he would try, from our experience with narcissists, to see if we were right. I went in with the premise of learning more about the narcissist in his natural habitat, as it were, hopefully so I could see the next narc sooner the next time, because apparently I haven’t learned yet. I was leaving for Europe in a few weeks, so there was only so much more damage he could do, especially because I rather had his number now. (Justify * Justify * Justify)
Frankly, something inside me truly did have to do this. It was as if I physically could not will my body or convince my mind to do anything else, and I tried…
Yep. I’m fucked up. I know it.
I thought we would meet for coffee, and if it went really, really well, have sex, since I had just recovered my ability to have sex again, in part thanks to him and our flirtation. I also needed to do that for my next step in healing from that rape 5 years ago.
I was so happy to have my sexuality back again, so happy to not be as terrified, so happy I could be alone in a room with a man without having a panic attack! Plus, I knew my old friend had been through so much pain and loss, I wanted to bring some tenderness into his life and into mine, if only for a few moments. It would be healing for us both.
I went in protected, eyes wide open. Skeptical. Guarded…. but I went in just the same.
I didn’t expect to fall in love, but I did.
Of course I did.
After he tearfully apologized for leaving me the day after Christmas, using the explanation that he was so afraid his heart would be broken that he “pulled the trigger first,” I opened up more to him.
When he showed empathy at the news I was losing my job, I opened up more to him. We discussed possibilities of a future together. It was such a great fit. Such such such a great fit.
He was amazing, really. Kind, sweet, compassionate, tender, scared, authentic, communicative, real. He was willing to have difficult discussions. He was willing to try new things. He was willing to let me help him set up a self-care regimen. We had so many laughs together, expressed so much love and tenderness, and even had moments of deep passion.
It was magical.
I helped him get his overwhelming medical files in order, got him to a few appointments, helped him heal some diabetic ulcers and did research on diabetic neuropathy, tended to his recently amputated leg, found an amputee support group, made appointments with specialists, and got him started on a new self-care regimen, including a healthy diet and natural supplements that could slow, if not stop (if not partially reverse) his progressive neuropathy. I enjoyed helping him, and he felt loved. He felt like he wanted to recover again. He had a renewed hope that he could have a full life again.
During a very intimate moment together, he tearfully confessed that he had just been waiting to die for so long, that he never dreamed he could experience such love and tenderness and joy again. That I was the best thing that has ever happened to him.
I had never experienced such a profound, vulnerable, intimate moment with any man. Yes, he was rather remarkable. I could identify with his sensitivity and intense emotions because I have them, too.
Throughout these two magical weeks together, we were inseparable. If we were in reach of the other, we were touching. Neither of us had felt so much joy or such intimate vulnerability in far too long. It was healing for us both.
But…commitments had been made before I had reconnected with him, and I keep my commitments. I had to leave for CA to file for divorce, and I had already pushed that back as far as I could, then get on a flight to Switzerland on Feb 3rd for a month-long housesit. After that, England for 6 months of housesitting.
My new boyfriend cried as he asked me not to leave, again. He was angry and referred to his (delusional) email about what he expected, that by coming there I had agreed to give up Europe and stay with him (living in his sister’s house) until we could find a place together.
I had it so bad for him that I actually considered it. He felt like home. They all felt like family. It felt right….
Yet, I don’t take commitment lightly, and I told him so. His sister must’ve talked with him about how he couldn’t ask someone to change their entire life, because he was supportive after that, speaking positively about our future and how we’d make it through. Then, he wanted to make a commitment of our own. Insisted, really. He wanted to buy me some special expensive jewelry so I’d be reminded of him while I was gone.
I was uncomfortable with this idea because he wanted to spend up to $1000, and it just didn’t feel right, especially because I live very simply and I don’t wear expensive jewelry. When I told him as much, he teared up. I cradled his face and asked him what he heard me say, because all I said was that I didn’t want a $700 necklace I’d never wear. We compromised on a set of promise rings, and we made a commitment to each other for 6 months. It would get us through the time apart until we could meet in July, after he was walking again on his new prosthesis. We would meet me in Scotland to celebrate his 50th birthday. It would be his first time out of the country, and if things were still so good, we could be handfasted there as the next step. Handfasting is a traditional “temporary” commitment lasting a year and a day, like a trial marriage.
He bought me a beautiful sapphire ring and himself a lovely Blue London Topaz ring. We made a promise to each other and had a little private ceremony that last night together as the moon shone through his bedroom window and the lights of Eugene spread out in the valley beneath us. It was lovely. I thought we might make it, at least until July.
I drove away on January 31st and headed down to my house in CA. My soon-to-be-ex-husband and I (still on good terms) had a logistical divorce talk, we drew up our own agreement, and I met with a divorce counselor to fill out the official paperwork. I did this all in two whirlwind days, including packing for an 8-month trip abroad and getting a consolation mocha or two. On the morning of Feb 3rd, we swung by the courthouse and filed the divorce petition before he drove me the 4 hours to Oakland Airport. From the moment I left my house in N. CA until I reached my final destination in Zürich, I had been traveling for over 30 hours straight. I was exhausted.
I lost my remote tech job two days later.
Before I left Eugene, I had warned my new boyfriend that I would likely crash when I got settled in Zürich, and he had expressed how he would be there for me, especially since I had done so much for him. But when it came down to it, me and my needs went right out the window, and it was all about his demands for me to return home. Just as I had feared, he was turning into Mr. Hyde once again. He referenced that lunatic email, the one where he asks me to give up everything and he gives up nothing, and said that’s what he needs.
Struggling with my own C-PTSD, the stress was overwhelming and I crashed. I was scared, jet-lagged, triggered, and in desperate need for some support from my partner, the same support I had given him for weeks. He couldn’t/wouldn’t provide it. He showed me no empathy, no compassion. He dismissed me and minimized by struggles and worries. He, too, was struggling with intense emotions, perceived abandonment, and excruciating physical pain all at once.
His sister once again intervened on my behalf, reminding him he can’t ask someone to change their entire life. Then she explained to me how he’s been isolated so long that he doesn’t know how to relate to others well. That he can be a real “selfish douchebag” (her words).
It gave us a stay of execution for another week.
I spent most of that week in a dark depression, sleeping between 14 and 18 hours a day with the help of Lorazepam and Valium, alternately, in tandem with OTC sleeping pills and my normal anxiety meds, both trying to recover from jet lag and dealing with an obviously failing relationship. He and I vacillated between pleasantries to expressions of love to him demanding I return home again or falling back into the silent treatment, always over text. He didn’t want to video chat or even talk because his physical pain was so great.
It was a tumultuous week.
Of course, I had no one to blame but myself for going back to him. My pain and despair was my price I paid for the second chance, yet I survived. It’s what I do…but there was more to come.
Jump to this past Sunday, February 12, the fifth anniversary of the rape. Things had gotten back on track over the two prior days once we talked out the roller coaster of the past week, and I thought things were good. I thought once again that we could make it.
Ultimately, though, he broke it off again…right between my rape anniversary and Valentine’s Day. Rather a dick move, really. He had confessed to deceiving me and telling me a flat-out lie during a very intimate, vulnerable, virtual encounter over text (half a world away, what are ya gonna do?), and it really hurt me. I felt betrayed and a little violated, but I wasn’t angry. I was quiet and sad as I tried to process and express my feelings.
He was angry that I felt hurt and deceived, and he was really angry I said it was deception and he was a liar…even though he had just “confessed” because he “didn’t want to deceive me” (further). He revealed one lie during that encounter before confessing another (ongoing) lie as well.
Angry at my reaction, he said this relationship was too stressful, too difficult.
I gently reminded him how just 5 hours before he was expressing deep love for me, saying that we would walk hand-in-hand on this journey together, how we were such a great fit, how we had such a beautiful future and wonderful things ahead. Telling me (yet again) how I was the best thing that ever happened to him. Telling me again how we would travel together and build a home together in Portland.
I had told him how he felt like home to me. That I hadn’t had a home in so long, but he felt like home. He had said he wanted to be my home, a place where one feels safe, a place one could travel from and return to, a place where one was loved and accepted…
I reminded him of those things, and he said, “I felt it at the time.”
I reminded him of the commitment we made to each other, and the reason people form commitments is to survive difficult times and painful discussions, learning more about how to relate to each other as the relationship develops. This is what a relationship is, I told him. There are joys and sorrows, there are laughs and disagreements, there is passion and grief, there is tenderness and there are misunderstandings. A committed relationship means we face them together, hand-in-hand, remember?
He said, “I’m backing out of the commitment.”
He couldn’t even keep the commitment he insisted on for two weeks, let alone 6 months.
It doesn’t surprise me, really, although it deeply saddens me. It’s no wonder he hasn’t had a relationship last more than 1.5 yrs in his entire 50 years of life. Tumultuous ones they must’ve been, too. It’s also no surprise he hasn’t had a relationship in over 10 years with behavior like this. It’s truly no wonder at all…
I asked him to be really sure about breaking this off because we couldn’t come back from it this time. I couldn’t do this a third time. I told him I’d have to block him from everywhere for my own protection (NC).
He said he was sure.
We told each other “I love you,” then “goodbye.”
C’est tout, encore.
On that fucking date of February 12th, it had been two months and two days since we reconnected. In those two months, he had left me twice, threatened to leave me and/or shut down another 3 or 4 times, expressed deep love for me and then devalued me, flat out ignored things he didn’t want to answer or talk about, demanded I give up my entire lifestyle to move in and take care of him, and so much more.
Yep. I think my therapist hit it right on the nose: severely personality-disordered person.
Still, I’m not convinced he’s a Covert Narcissist, although he certainly has some serious narcissistic traits, I think he suffers either from Borderline Personality Disorder (hate that term) and/or a very severe, untreated case of Complex PTSD. I know the latter is true, but it might share some comorbidity with the two personality disorders as well. Borderline Personality Disorder, more accurately described as Emotional Regulation Disorder, shares many traits with Complex PTSD.
Spending time with this very sick man, my compassion and love grew for him. Even with this recent Jekyll / Hyde move, even with the manipulations and lies, I know he is very sick, and that’s not his fault. What was done to him was not his fault. His mental disorder is treatable (if it’s not NPD), and I can only hope he finds the treatment he needs, because beneath it, he is a truly remarkable, kind person.
In fact, I’m in awe of what he has survived. The strength it took to endure everything from horrific childhood traumas to the degenerative and painful effects of an insidious disease like T1 Diabetes astounds me. I’m impressed by his ongoing courage to face what is yet to come: learning to walk again on a prosthetic, more invasive surgeries (he had quadruple bypass last year), constant care and vigilance with ever-present ulcers (or he could lose another limb), and grieving the recent death of his mother and best friend.
I would’ve been proud to walk by his side through it all, despite the mental illness and psychiatric injury, for I also struggle with mental illness caused by psychiatric injury. I would’ve been with him through it all, indeed.
Still, he ended our relationship again, and it is likely for the best.
At least for now, and probably forever.
Perhaps he is a covert narcissist after all, in which case he is incapable of empathy and it would be torturous to have a relationship with such a person, but if it’s untreated C-PTSD or even BPD, there is hope for him with a proper diagnosis and effective treatment. If he can find his way to that treatment, there could be hope for us.
Strangely, I’m not shattered (yet), just mostly sad, concerned.
Perhaps it hasn’t sunk in yet.
Perhaps I’m content that I closed the open door after 32 years.
Perhaps I know there was nothing more I could’ve done.
Perhaps I know it wasn’t anything I did or didn’t do to cause this break.
I don’t have to spend the next weeks blaming myself or questioning my every word or decision.
For I didn’t lie, I didn’t deceive, I didn’t run, I didn’t break our commitment, I didn’t choose this.
I merely loved.
In the end, I don’t regret those two wonderful weeks during which I got to know my long-lost, very special friend, as I came to love a remarkable, albeit severely ill, human being. I’m not angry with him. I don’t hate him. On the contrary, I care deeply for him, empathize with him, and truly, deeply love him.
Although we’ll probably stay apart, I cherish the time I spent with him. I’m glad I gave into that absurd hoovering, and I’m thrilled to have shared such tenderness, laughter, joy, and love with him.
I wish him peace, love, and as much joy as he can tolerate on his difficult path, even if he chooses to walk it without me.
Love to you, NJD, always and forever.
May you find peace.
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~ by omgrey on February 15, 2017.
Posted in Romance & Relationships, Trauma & Recovery
Tags: amputation, anxiety, author, borderline personality disorder, bpd, broken heart, c-ptsd, covert narcissist, diabetes, fear, heartbroken, honesty, hoovering, intimacy, jekyll hyde, loss, love, narcissism, narcissist, narcissistic personality disorder, neuropathy, npd, o.m. grey, olivia grey, passion, personality disorder, psychosis, ptsd, relationships, romance, shattered, type 1 diabetes