As I read through my journal for 2009, it struck me just how much Brad projected onto me. I was wrong, I was cheating, I was lying, I was rude, I was immature, I couldn’t communicate, I was mean, I was controlling, I was abusive, and most importantly, I have to change. It never stopped. This article is a very good example of what living with Brad was like. Two sections I particularly like in this respect:
"It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of confusion that the victim of Narcissistic abuse feels when they not only have to endure the abuse, but be accused of being the abuser as well. It is like falling down the rabbit hole, where up is down and right is wrong."
"There are many examples of this type of behavior in the Narcissistic relationship, but none so egregious as the treatment of the battered wife, who is constantly told that the reason for her punishment is some imagined transgression. The batterer could not possibly take responsibility for his anger, because that would be admitting error."
One of his favorite phrases was “just listen to my words.” I’m not exactly sure what he meant, but I think the point was that I was not to try to interpret what he said and answer the question exactly as stated. The problem was his questions were often nonsensical, or were traps. He would get mad and rant and rave if I did not answer correctly, and tell me how I was wrong and it would all be good if I would change, and I had to apologize and promise not to do it again, ad infinitum.
It’s very hard to be quiet and listen to this type of stuff over and over and over again. I’m not proud that I occasionally screamed back at him, but I am proud that I never lashed out physically or verbally at him. Everything I screamed back at him was factual, like “I ALREADY ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION!” I would sometimes leave and drive around the block to get away, I was often crying, but I could never stay away for long because of the kids. I did not trust him with them. He would obsessively call my phone when I was gone until I answered. When I answered the phone, the verbal abuse and threats continued. It was a no win situation for me.
Was Brad paranoid, narcissistic, bi-polar, borderline personality, a sex addict? Some combination thereof? I’m going with at least three of the five. But by the end of the year I realized it didn’t really matter. He was dangerous to me and to my children and I had to get out.
The single worst violent incident occurred in June and I kept coming back to that over and over in my mind. Any time he would be nice, I would think “but what about the time you tried to kill me?” I could not let it go, and that was a good thing. By November, with so many violent days in a row, I knew I had to do something. I had to get out safely, I could not take his death threats lightly. So I started thinking about the best way to leave.
I just wanted him to leave gracefully, but I was pretty sure that would never happen. He kept saying that we would have to get divorced. Then I would tell him to go ahead and leave. He never did, though, because it was all a bluff on his part. He threatened me with divorce because he thought I did not want it, but he was wrong. He had an image in his mind of the perfect family and thought that if I would just do what he wanted, it would all be better. All of his tactics were designed to make me feel bad enough about myself that I would feel I had to stay with him. He never thought I’d have the nerve to leave him, but he was wrong. Even though I didn’t really want to break up the family, I realized over the course of this year that it was unavoidable. He got more abusive as he sensed he was losing control and I was slipping away, and he thought that would work, but he was wrong.