O.K. I’m talking to Sarge. Spending a bit of time with him. And if you are asking why, I could do one of two things: I could lie and claim I don’t know why I let this man, who hurt me so badly, back into my life. Or, I could tell you the truth. Let’s do that.
I guess the first reason is because of the feelings I still have for him. I know that sounds crazy, and as I read in it print, I agree. But, my heart can’t let go. Wait, that’s a fib. My heart could let go, but I simply not ready to do that yet.
As I’ve been writing this blog, with Sarge being the principal reason behind it, it’s as if Sarge and “__” have become 2 different people. It’s almost like Sarge is now a character I’m only writing about, while “__” is a different person all together. Have you ever heard of cognitive dissonance? It’s when you feel mental discomfort/anguish because you are believing in 2 different and conflicting beliefs, and your mind is going back and forth, trying to figure out how to make sense of this dichotomy. Rationally, I know Sarge and “__” are the same man. I get that.
BUT, it’s as if Sarge is Dr. Jekyll and “__” is Mr. Hyde. And trying to reconcile that these 2 men exist together (the good man and the evil man) within “__” is very difficult to do. It’s much easier to put all of the bad that happened to me onto Sarge, while I remember all of the good when I’m with “__”. And yes, this sounds like an excuse with an impressive psychological concept backing it up, because I suppose it is. But it’s the only way I can see “__” and quash my hurt feelings.
Another reason I let him back into my life (in a very limited way), is simple. I love him. Period. It’s not rational. In fact, it’s nonsensical. But I have to admit it’s true. There is still love in my heart for this man. But I realized something last night as we were talking. I’m not in his. And it’s not because he’s a self-proclaimed narcissist, which I’m strongly reconsidering is really Adult Reactive Attachment Disorder (more about that in my next post), it’s because he loves (yes…loves…) his ex. The woman he cheated on with me. The woman who broke up his marriage…abused him…destroyed his belongings…interfered negatively with his military career…and still plays him for her own fun. Yes. This is who he loves.
You know, when I believed he didn’t have the capacity for love, I better understood, however painful it was, that it wasn’t necessarily a lack in me…but a lack in him instead. But when he talked about his love for this other woman last evening, it took my breath away. One moment, he says he hates her to the point of wanting to seek vengeance for all she’s done, and the next, he’s talking about her goodness and how happy they once were. As he was saying these words, I realized something. It applied to me as well, which also showed me how deeply these feelings reside in him since I’m experiencing the same things. At times I hate him. At times I love him. At all times, he has enough of an emotional hold on me that I can feel these different psychological states so passionately. That’s what he doesn’t understand. To hate someone…to talk about someone (no matter well or not) …to ruminate over someone (like he does) …to tell the same stories about someone over and over again…shows love. If you don’t love someone, you are not going to be intensely invested in them, regardless of how confusing that investment is.
Sarge told me he was letting go of her. As he said it, I could see in his face, and hear in the tone of his voice, this was a process that was going to take a lot of time and effort. A process that pained him. I asked if he had any love in his heart for me and he said he did. But how can you have 2 people in your heart at the same time?
Do I? I know I still love hubby 3. But it’s not a passionate, “in-love” type feeling. It’s a love based on a history together, a friendship, and a sense of family. He’s my friend. In fact, all of my friends have a place in my heart. However, the difference to me is clear: I love them dearly, but I love Sarge passionately. Sarge though, loves ex passionately, and although I believe he does have some feelings for me, it’s not the same at all. She’s the ‘love’ in his heart. And I’m thinking I’m just the ‘left-overs’.
I guess the question is this: how can I continue to interact with a man who doesn’t love me ‘best’? Because of my own loving nature and the fact I’m a forgiving person? Now that I know he does have a capacity for love, will he be able to love me back? And is it really love he’s feeling for his ex? Their relationship was toxic from the start and began with an open marriage. She is an un-medicated bi-polar and is also (from everything I’ve heard) a narcissist herself. Maybe they are just tangled up in this abusive web both contribute to and understand. Personally, I feel they ‘feed’ off of one another. They both manipulate, triangulate, and use each other in so many different ways. They both want to ‘win’ this continuing fight that always seems to be present, and because of this, neither will let go first. After all, that would be conceding to the battle, and narcissists need to win. If so, their relationship will never be over, and where does that put me?
I’m not a stupid woman. But I know I’m a woman who is still working very hard on creating and maintaining appropriate boundaries. I’m also reminding myself, again and again, of the pain Sarge put me through. Last night, he was talking about the pain his ex heaped on him, and I expressed it was exactly what I was going through myself. He tried to deny it though, by saying his pain was worse. It’s almost like he can’t comprehend what he DID do to me and the effects it had on my heart and soul. He minimizes his abuse of me, while talking regularly about what she has done to him. And guess what? The stories are damn similar. He can feel the pain from her. But he can’t yet admit, nor apologize, for the same pain he inflicted on me. At one point, he asked if I’d ever been hurt enough to contemplate suicide. And I said yes. This summer. Because he wasn’t here to see my breakdown, he has no comprehension of what I went through. It’s not real to him. It’s just a time when we were apart for a couple of months and he was living his life, while I was wanting to end my own.
So, where do I go from here? I know where I need to go. I know the healthy route to take. I know I’m getting so much stronger and I know I will survive if I let him go. The thing is, I don’t want too.
This is what I know: letting go of a narcissist is so very difficult to do. They entangle you in a web and to extricate yourself from it is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do in a relationship. And unfortunately, that web, at times, can be a comfortable home.