I have a best friend, whom I’ve mentioned before, and we’ve been helping each other out a lot these past few weeks. He was married to a narcissist for years, and then after their divorce, she (literally) moved into his new home while he was at work and never left. Because of their kids, he stayed with her. The kids are grown, and she still tries to use them to lure him back into what she still considers their marriage. He left around the same time Sarge discarded me, and we live just a short walk away from each other. It’s nice to have a friend during our healing journeys.
Today, he came over to my house after I finished up at school, and I heard a UPS truck out front. A big box was delivered, and although I order from amazon WAY too much, I wasn’t expecting anything. He told me to open it and when I did, it was an amazing new flute.
I learned to play the flute in 8th grade. I took piano lessons during elementary school and when band started up in the 5th grade, I just never took part. I think my parents assumed I wouldn’t practice, since I barely practiced the piano at all. But I made a friend in Jr. High who was already an excellent flute player. All of her family was musically inclined, and since we were getting so close, I wanted to be in band with her. She gave me an old flute she had, and I rode my bike to a music store in town and got a beginners book. In a couple of weeks, I had taught myself the notes, and I practiced more than I ever dreamed possible. I was in the lower band starting my sophomore year, but I finally made the higher band my junior year, and after working with my friend, got second chair next to her first. Music and band gave me a way to fit in at my high school in a way I hadn’t before. It was a whole new set of friends and activities. My friend and I heard about a music camp at a state university close to us, and we both applied and got accepted. My grandpa, who passed away after my senior year, was so proud of me! He visited me and my friend a couple of times during our 2 week stay, and called us ‘college girls’ since we were living in dorms. Every time he and grandma came up, he would insist on taking us out for a steak dinner (the cafeteria food was pretty bad) and then buying us cool stuff in campus town. He was at every concert I played in and always told me he could hear me the most since I was the best player! We got to go to camp again our senior year, and once more, grandpa (and grandma!) came up, took us out, and listened to every note we played. My parents were proud of me, and so was my grandma, but grandpa simply beamed when he would hear me play. Even when I played horribly. During senior year, I was offered a small music scholarship for a private university and I accepted. I couldn’t wait to be a music educator and inspire others like my band teacher always inspired me.
Grandpa was an alcoholic. Most people on that side of the family are. And during the summer after my senior year, he got very sick. He had cirrhosis of the liver and his body was shutting down. He tried to take my grandma and I on a trip to South Carolina, but we had to call another family member to fly out and drive us home. It was obvious to grandma and I that grandpa couldn’t drive, wasn’t eating, and was really feeling bad. When we got home, he went downhill quickly. Even though we took all of the liquor out of the house (although looking back, it seems silly since the damage was done), he still managed to get a hold of Listerine and would drink that while sitting in his big living room chair. Grandpa died just days before I was to leave for school. I had gotten to say goodbye to him before he passed and got through the funeral pretty well. At the same time, mom and I were gathering all the things I would need for college, and she drove me to the campus and helped me get my dorm room all set up the following weekend. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t excited. I just ‘was’.
A day after I arrived, I was scheduled to play for the music faculty so they would have an idea of where to place me in the bands. I stood in front of them with my shiny silver flute, and simply couldn’t play. Not a note. My music had died along with my grandpa. My mom came and picked me up and I started community college later. I haven’t played the flute since.
Getting my flute today was having someone I love give me back my music. I am remembering almost everything and have played some simple songs…it feels so good! And, as I was looking for sheet music and scales online, my friend decided to make me a meatloaf dinner. Anyone that knows me can testify to how I absolutely love meatloaf. I haven’t been eating well lately. When Sarge and I met, I had over $10,000 in the bank. I am now in debt for $21,000. I’m not buying many groceries and if it wasn’t for peanut butter and cereal, I wouldn’t be eating much at all. I’m not destitute by any means, but the payments on these debts are eating up so much of my paycheck, I just don’t have a lot left for groceries. It’s almost done baking right now, and the smell is literally filling my house with warmth. I love it.
My friend came in my home office a few minutes ago and asked me if I liked my flute and to tell me that dinner was almost ready. I started to cry and he asked what was wrong. Without even thinking, I blurted out: “I don’t deserve any of this!” And I meant it. I mean it.
I’m the one that’s always giving. And with Sarge, that giving never stopped. I gave ALL I had emotionally and financially, and he took all I had…my confidence, my self worth, my feeling of being somebody, my feeling that I matter. He took those things and crushed them in his hands. He manipulated me until all I did was give, and if I asked for anything like sex, a couple of dollars for a tip on a meal I paid for, a hug, time, etc. he always said NO. Because I didn’t matter. Because I didn’t deserve it.
And damn him, I have just found out I have incorporated that into my psyche as well. It’s like everyday something else happens, and I realize it’s just one more thing I have lost to this narcissist. I don’t deserve a meatloaf? That’s what he did to me? To make me think that even a good meal is too much for me to have? Yep. This is what he has done.
I need to resolve this. I need to know I do deserve things. Because if I don’t, how will I ever heal? Do I deserve the cost of a counselor? Do I deserve friends? Do I deserve my family? Do I deserve to eat right? Do I deserve to have music in my life? Do I deserve anything at all on this earth?
When Sarge discarded me, I truly thought that he had taken all he could. How wrong I was. Even though the relationship is over, Sarge is still taking from me. Still hurting me. Still emotionally abusing me. Still leaving enough of his words and actions in my mind that I hear them over and over again. I’ve really tried to be open in this blog. It’s therapeutic for me, and the ‘family’ I’ve found through doing this has been such a support. But you know what? There are still things Sarge took from me that I can never admit too. Still things he said to me that I can’t bring myself to put down into typed words. Still things he forced me to do that brings shame to me every time I allow myself to think about it. Sarge is physically gone. I know I won’t see him again. But he and his abuse will resonate in my mind forever. I believe that. I understand it will get better. But it will never go away. And, that’s why narcissists are so dangerous. They inject you with a poison, sicken you, and even after that poison starts to leave your body, you will always have effects of what it did to you. Always.
This is what I know: Narcissists take the ‘whole’ of you. Every single thing they can get. They empty you. And the only thing that stays are their words in your head saying ‘You don’t deserve…you don’t matter…you are nothing’.