Perhaps part of his attraction towards me is that I look very young. I went and did a lot of lab tests this week and the nurses kept telling me that they thought I was in high school and that they couldn't believe my birth date was accurate, and I still get that a lot. When we first started dating, he was delighted when his aunts thought that I was one of his daughter's friends and they initially threatened to call the police on him for dating an underage girl. I guess I should have seen that as a red flag, that his own family thought that he was capable of that. He was also always delighted when people (frequently) thought that he was my father and would ask about me as his daughter. He was definitely proud in those moments. Weirdly, in the inverse, his daughter looks a lot older than me and people were always asking if she is his girlfriend, which he also seemed to get way too excited over. Everything with his daughter always felt off to me.With as much disrespect as I can muster… f*ck that guy. Not only is he a complete asshole, he sounds like he has little girl proclivities too. That alone makes him a horrible person.
Pine sol in your drink? Did you call the cops and make a police report? His daughter is also a horrible person.
He also does not get to decide anything about your life or living situation. You’re an adult and you broke up. He has been mind-f*cking you for years… because he is a horrible person.
It sounds like he is dangling that cat over your head to control you. It sounds like it’s time to mourn that loss and move on. He’s not going to give it back… because he is a horrible person.
Consider the bullet dodged. You survived and got out.
When his daughter put PineSol in a drink that I left in the fridge, I didn't call the police because I knew that it would make my partner mad. Then her and her friend (the one he wound up moving into our home for 5 months) were laughing about doing it online and I had proof that she put it in my drink to show my partner because they were stupid enough to admit to it publicly. They posted a picture of each other on Instagram and captioned it laughing about putting PineSol in the fridge and mocking me. When I showed that to my partner, he shrugged and told me, "I think it's really weird that you look at their social media accounts and actually saved their photos. It's creepy. You need to stop stalking my daughter and her friends and stay out of their business. I think you'd be more sick if you really had PineSol in your mouth." That's all he said about it and insisted that I drop it and I did. The only other time he mentioned it was a couple years later when he said he tried to confront his daughter about everything that I "claimed" she did to me and she told him that she tried to take a bunch of pills to commit suicide a year earlier because she was so sad and lonely because of me, but that she made herself throw up because she thought of him and knew he'd be sad and never recover if she hurt herself, and he told me, "So I promised her I'd never bring any of that stuff up again. I almost lost her and that's unbearable. The rest of it is just nonsense." I'm 100% sure that she lied about trying to kill herself to get out of trouble because that was ongoing behavior and she used to wrap up her (perfectly fine) arms with bandages and band-aids before school every morning (after her dad left for work) to look like she was cutting her wrists. It was something that used to really weird me out about her and she made sure to do it in front of me and she knew that I actually struggle with self-harm...
He says the main reason I made him break up with me is because I made him feel inappropriate with his daughter. The truth is, I do think that his relationship with his daughter is inappropriate, but I have never had the nerve to actually tell him that, so I guess he just sensed it or is projecting. She used to walk around the house in nothing but a thong and bra or a small towel with everything hanging out, after I repeatedly said it made me uncomfortable, and would lay out in the yard completely naked to sunbathe and call him out to talk to her while she laid there, which I didn't think was appropriate with me and her father home, but they both said that I was just sick and having gross thoughts about her and she could do whatever she wants in her home. I was never allowed around on most of the holidays because those were for him and his daughter, no matter how old she got. The few holidays that I was around, he made sure to punish me for it horribly. I was so excited the one New Year's we were together and I got dressed up and did my makeup and we went out on our boat to watch the fireworks. The entire time, he kept taking photos and sending them to his daughter and texting her, completely ignoring me. I tried to ask him questions or snuggle up to him and he ignored me, but was laughing at his phone and typing away. After over 30 minutes of that and me sitting on the bow of the boat by myself, I finally asked him if he wanted to be there with me at all and he finally sat his phone down, came towards me, and started screaming at me as the fireworks show started. I didn't get to see the fireworks at all and just sat there staring at him and fantasized about throwing myself off of the boat and drowning while he screamed at me nonstop, and I'm not even sure what he said, because I dissociated and shut down. He gave me the silent treatment on the ride back to the dock and getting back into the truck and then, when we were halfway home, he sarcastically told me, "Thanks for ruining the night. I try to do a nice thing for you," and was shaking his head. He really made me feel like everything was all my fault all of the time. Then there was the Christmas where his daughter made him buy her a separate tree and have Christmas in her bedroom alone with her because she didn't want to be in the livingroom with me (she was 18) and he got mad at me because he was in hysterics in Wal-Mart while holding 5 jumbo bags of gummi candy and nearly in tears that he "waited too long and now there wasn't enough candy for her stocking," and he punished me for laughing and saying, "I think that's good enough" by never giving me anything in my stocking that year or ever again. He would never even answer the phone if I called and his daughter was around because he didn't want to make her mad and she would give him the silent treatment and disappear if he did ever answer the phone around her. She also refused to go to dinner with me ever and whenever we had family from out of town visiting, they would leave me home alone and all go out to dinner with her. They would take her drug addict friends to dinner with his family, but leave me home alone. That was also humiliating and hurtful.
I had my best friend confront him about getting my cat back because I am so easily manipulated and pushed around by him still. He said, "Yeah, I understand what LittlestBird and I agreed on and what I told her I'd do, but things change and I changed my mind." I was stunned that he just flatout admitted that sure, he told me one thing, but whatever, it was just a lie and he changed his mind. My friend then pointed out that he has repeatedly promised my cat to me and I have that recorded in multiple forms and that I am going to get a lawyer if he wants to fight me about it and that I would easily win custody of my cat back, but it was going to waste his time and money. Then my ex-partner suddenly switched and said my friend and I can come and get the cat on the 24th of this month and that he can take down the cat trees so that they fit in the car better for me and became weirdly helpful to my friend. He also got weird-weird and said, "Everything recorded? Was I being recorded and didn't know? Or you just stating that the agreement was recorded?" I found that very interesting, him being afraid of what I can show other people and prove to other people if I had recorded our conversations. I realized he must be afraid of what I can say to his family, friends, and coworkers about him and that made me feel somewhat powerful again. It also made me feel that I am right about him now and that he knows exactly what he is and that what he has done has been abusive and sick. I actually do have recordings of him screaming at me and saying sick things to me and even talking about being mad that I didn't want to roleplay as his daughter in bed anymore because I got into the habit of recording all of his bad moods so that I could go back and reference them when he denied what he said later and tried to make me think that I was crazy and making things up. I realize now how messed up of a habit that was to even get started.
Of course, right after my friend mentioned the lawyer and got him to agree to give me my cat and he was pretending to be so helpful, he also texted me (on multiple platforms) being strange and trying to throw me off. He sent me a photo of a sex toy that he used to use on me (the one he hid from me back in February and made a big deal of me taking it) and asked, "Do you want it?" When I didn't reply, he threw a fit and removed me from some accounts that I didn't even realize I was still on (I got the notices in my email) and erased me from every bit of his Facebook. I thought that it would hurt more than it did, although I haven't really been sleeping from all of the stress of interacting with him at all and worrying about the next few weeks. He deleted all of our photos and memories from Facebook, but didn't unfriend me, but I haven't been on that Facebook in 3+ months and was just going to let it stagnate anyhow. It feels like he's trying to do things that will hurt me because I previously was very into recording all of our trips and everything on Facebook, I had to insist that he change his status from single to in a relationship with me and make it public, and I was hurt when he removed me from the Costco account on what would have been our anniversary. It feels like he's grasping at straws to try to upset me and hurt me more because I had the nerve to enlist help and stay on getting my cat back and forcing him to keep his word. It's like he can't stand me making him do something that he doesn't want to do or knowing that other people support me.
I bought the book based on your suggestion and am halfway through and it's scaring me a little how much I can relate to most of it. Lundy Bancroft even mentions that abusers going to therapy can be dangerous because a therapist can take a while to catch on and give the abuser ammunition to manipulate their victim with. That's exactly what happened to me. He went to therapy one time and I was so hopeful, but he came out telling me, "My therapist said that I just reached my limit with you and everyone has a limit and you pushed me too far." That has been parroted at me over and over for months with no examples of what I did wrong to reach the limit. He told me his therapist made him realize that I'm the problem, not him, but again, no examples. I'm sure he has told his therapist and everyone else nothing but lies about me (though he did say that he showed the therapist my one letter where I laid out his narcissistic, abusive behavior towards me and his therapist wanted him to get medicated and was very alarmed). He also told me the same lame stories that are so prevalent in the book about his ex-wife abusing him and letting him down. When I first met him, he claimed that he had never cheated on her, not even on deployment when she cheated on him, but when we got closer over the years, he finally told me at least part of the truth, which was that he had a 3 year long serious relationship while she was pregnant with both of their children and that he had been with over a hundred women while he was married, but that it didn't count because it was mostly oral sex.
I realize now that he only ever shows up for me when it's convenient for him, that he made me distrustful of other women because the ones he brought around me were always a threat (bringing around women he was flirting with was one of his favorite ways to humiliate me and keep me questioning everything, everyone around me, and myself), he was always talking to other women like we were broken up or about to break up and making up stories about me not being good enough somehow and, instead of leaving him when I repeatedly discovered these text messages, I just tried harder to be good enough to keep him from talking to other women. He even once invited the woman he was cheating on me with to a family Thanksgiving after I begged him not to and I'd said I didn't want to see her anymore, got mad at me when I refused to be nice to her, and accused me of ruining the evening and making it weird for everyone. If I tried to explain to him how any of his behavior was ever hurtful or used the word "abusive," he would go on a screaming tirade at me and shut me down and I'd start apologizing to him for using such an awful word and being overdramatic and "twisting words." In the book, it says, "With the passing of time, he increasingly casts the blame on to you for anything he is dissatisfied with in his own life; your burden of guilt keeps growing. He starts to exhibit a mean side that no one else ever sees and may even become threatening or intimidating," (p. 89) and that hit me hard. Him telling me that there's nothing wrong with him because he's only mean to me and only hurting me and he's fine with everyone else is a big tell. Whenever he would fight with his ex-wife or kids, he would always, always take it out on me and still be sweet as pie with everyone else.
"You seem to be hurting his feelings constantly, though you aren't sure why, and he expects your attention to be focused endlessly on his emotional injuries. If you are in a bad mood one day and say something unfair or insensitive, it won't be enough for you to give him a sincere apology and accept responsibility. He'll go on and on about it, expecting you to grovel as if you had treated him with profound cruelty" (p.88) If I ever said anything that he didn't want to hear, I'd have to spend days apologizing and groveling, often after trying to work up to discussing that very thing in months of therapy beforehand. My own therapists repeatedly begged me to leave him and called him a narcissist and tried to get me to establish boundaries for my own safety and I defended him and made excuses for him. If I ever failed to react the way that he wanted me to towards something, it would ruin the entire day or week. If he got me a gift or suggested an idea and I didn't absolutely glow and compliment him and thank him over and over, he'd pout, or if I wasn't able to guess what he really wanted to do when he asked me what I wanted to do and I suggested the wrong thing... If I woke up having a lot of pain from my health problems and I wasn't all smiles and doting on him like usual, he'd get mad at me and start giving me the silent treatment and scoff that he just didn't know how to handle me and did I want to leave and just go back to my home?
I wondered if he might have dissociative identity disorder, but now I'm realizing that abusers have their nice guy persona for work colleagues and friends and that's the cover for tearing their partner to shreds at home. And he definitely kept me off guard with abrupt mood swings, got me to feel sorry for him, got me to blame myself and other people for his behavior, twisted my words until I gave up in discussions or else threatened to dump me unless I dropped my issue, and lied to me so much that it definitely damaged me profoundly (p. 67).
"Objectification is a critical reason why an abuser tends to get worse over time. As his conscience adapts to one level of cruelty - or violence - he builds to the next. By depersonalizing his partner, the abuser protects himself from the natural human emotions of guilt and empathy, so that he can sleep at night with a clear conscience. He distances himself so far from her humanity that her feelings no longer count, or simply cease to exist," (p. 63) This, I now believe, is why he suddenly started telling me that he feels indifferent towards me and sees me crying and doesn't care. I don't think it's his trauma or numbness. I think I was making excuses for him and trying to understand his "trauma and depression" when that wasn't the issue at all. I think he's just been devaluing me for so long and dehumanizing me for so long that he really doesn't feel anything for me and doesn't consider my feelings any more than he considers tossing out a candy wrapper, except that he does still seem to get some sort of pleasure or vindication from thinking that he is hurting me.
I always told myself that I'd never be in an abusive relationship after surviving all of my childhood abuse, but I just slipped right into it like an old jacket. There were always separate rules for me and I was supposed to act better, it was never the right time for me to bring up my concerns, I was made to regret it if I ever said anything that he didn't want to hear or asked for more respect or care or time, I got blamed for things and accused of crazy things that I know I didn't do or say, he lied so much, he was always trying to cheat on me, and he reached a point where he could look right at me and say he feels nothing for me and seems to take joy in doing things that he knows will hurt my feelings... I wanted it to be the PTSD, but now it just seems like escalating abuse and that I'm lucky to be away from him before it got even worse, and I hate that I'm still so torn up and confused about it and I miss when he was happy and treating me well. "Life with an abuser can be a dizzying wave of exciting good times and painful periods of verbal, physical, or sexual assault. The longer the relationship lasts, the shorter and farther apart the positive periods tend to become. If you have been involved with an abusive partner for many years, the good periods may have stopped happening altogether, so that he is an unvarying source of misery," (p. 147). It seems like things were just going to keep on hurting me and keep getting worse because it has always been a lot of one step forward and two steps back with him...
I grew up taking care of my father when he was terminally ill and I always prided myself on being selfless and being able to turn off what I wanted and what I was feeling to take care of someone else. I think, in a sick way, my relationship here felt similar to that. I was proud of when I was able to keep him happy for days on end and when I said and did the right things and I got it right and look at me, I can be so selfless and so devoted to you and turn myself off to be perfect for you and I'm taking care of someone...
Anyhow, thank you for the book recommendation because it has honestly been so eye opening to me. That and, oddly, reading a lot of articles about narcissistic abuse on quora and pinterest of all places. Every weird, abusive thing that narcissists do, like "dog whistling," is something that my partner used to do to me all of the time and I didn't realize it had a name or was a common thing. He used to like to brag to his friends while he was out with me that he was never going to remarry and that he liked having me as just a girlfriend because a girlfriend stays sexy and trying to please you and can't trap you into anything, and his friends would always look at me really startled and like they pitied me, and I repeatedly asked him to stop saying those things and downplaying our relationship, and he refused. My own mother noticed that he would say odd, hurtful things or things that she knew were lies and then glance at me to see if I was reacting or was going to challenge him.
Sounds like your standards are starting to rise.
Which is a damn good thing.
Because a few months ago it was ONLY the post-NOLA assholery that stood out to you as wrong… and if he could just put a foot really firmly on his shoulder and pull his head out of his ass? Be how he was before? You’d have gone back to him, yes?
Frogs in boiling water.
You’ve had enough time to get some clarity on things that have been very wrong, for a very long time.
I still feel like part of me doesn't want the things that I'm reading or realizing to be true, but every new piece of information that I get is telling me that I wasn't just with someone who was hurt and needed my love; I was with someone who was taking advantage of me, abusing me, and tearing me down. It's really horrifying to realize how many excuses I made for him and how much I let him alter me over the years (and that still wasn't even enough for him). It's sickening and embarrassing to realize that I put up with a lot of things that weren't okay and I would have kept doing it if he hadn't ended things and then where would I be. I thought that I was with someone like me, but I wasn't.
I'm hoping that he doesn't put up much of a fuss in front of other people and that he just lets me get my cat in a couple weeks and we can close this chapter of our lives.