freedom is the sweetest fruit

A practice letter pt 1

(I’m still alive, btw.)

It occurs to me I may have to stand before a judge and plead my case some day. I wonder what I might say? How about a practice run?

To whom it may concern (or Your Honor, whatever the case may be):

First of all, it’s 2014. So let’s try to be modern and forward-thinking about gender for a moment and try to consider the facts alone.

I am thirty-nine years old. I have been a victim of domestic abuse since I was a green and naive twenty-year-old, when my future wife became pregnant with our child. We both used her pregnancy as an excuse for her behavior. By the time I figured out that the abuse would never stop, I was a twenty-one-year old father and husband with a heavy emotional and mental attachment to my wife and young son.

To be continued…

Time to listen

I think I need to stop in here more often. Not to deplete my energy talking and talking, but to listen. This is just an excellent space for listening, and you are the finest folk I could be listening to at the moment.

I feel pressured sometimes that if I’m going to stop in, I need to come up with something to say. This is a pressure I create, probably a function of the ego. If I avoid stopping in because I know coming up with something to say will deplete my energy, I miss out on a lot of critical nourishment.

Happy holidays and thanks for being there.

fun with knives

For the most part, our son has made a career of waking up between the hours of 2 and 5am. He goes through cycles of this, interrupted by a few nights of good solid sleep. I’m almost always the one who gets up with him. (Sleep is a big issue in our house. I’ve realized lately, too, that my spouse has a long habit of interrupting the scant sleep I do get.)

Over the weekend, I spent the night at my parents’ house. It wasn’t planned but it got late and I was too tired to drive in the dark. I didn’t come home until mid-afternoon Sunday. This meant she got to nap most of the day on Saturday and then sleep in for most of Sunday. I mentioned to her that I hadn’t gotten much sleep (my son was up at 2am at my parents) and that I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. She says she ‘tried to let me take a nap’ when I got home Sunday afternoon, which I could not do due to all the caffeine I was pumping, but the truth is that our son took a nap then, so the couple uninterrupted hours I spent doing our family budget that afternoon had nothing to do with her. You know, other than the fact that she didn’t bug me to come wait on her. 

On Sunday and Monday night, he stayed up late and woke up at five. I got up with him both mornings. I went through Monday and Tuesday exhausted. I made mental errors and had several near-accidents.

Last night he got up at five again. I got up and got him his iPad to play games, hoping that would settle him, but he was really worked up. I figured he was hungry but I couldn’t move. Knowing my spouse had gotten several good nights sleep recently, including the weekend she spent alone, I told her it was her turn and asked her if she could just get him something to snack on, as that would probably settle him down. Then I passed out until 6:30.

When I woke up, she was still awake, watching TV because I ‘know she can’t go back to sleep after she wakes up.’ “Did you at least try?” I asked. “You never came back to bed.” No, she didn’t try. She’s been more and more erratic lately, which happens when I don’t cheerfully take her guff, and soon she was standing across the kitchen holding a knife, making stabby, gutty gestures. I assume it was supposed to be in good humor, but she’d already mentioned something about a brandishing a knife ‘already’ that day. I didn’t know what that meant, but it had dark undertones.

Later on, before she left for work, she had an ‘intervention moment’ with me, telling me that “I’m here to support you,” but she needs advance notice if I’m going to need her to get up early. She mentioned Sunday, when she ‘tried to let (me) take a nap.’

The icing on the cake was when she added “it’s our fault he is the way he is” as she walked out the door. By which, she meant the fact that he has limited sign language and poor communication skills. I pursued it and asked why it was my fault. “Because you didn’t keep up with expanding his sign vocabulary.” At that point, I’m not sure what I should have said to cut off her narc supply. What I did say was the truth, which is that I taught him thirty to forty signs that NO ONE ELSE WOULD USE, neither her, her mother, my family, or the school systems, no matter how much work I did to get them to do so.

The truth is that she knows I feel terribly guilty about my son’s limitations. The truth is also that she has been UNDERCUTTING me physically, emotionally, and mentally, throughout the last fifteen years of our son’s life. The truth is that she has had NO fucking interest in her son for many years, has done ZERO to address any issues he has, and spends all of her free time watching TV and playing video games. She does not read about autism, she does not do research, she does not work with him, spend time with him, or even take care of him. The truth is that she can shove it, which is what I silently repeated as I looked into her teary oh-so-sincere eyes as she talked down to me this morning.

Threats and instability, then calm and reasonable reassurances. This is how the subtle violence works.




the secret of flying

turns out you have to check your free hushmail account every three weeks if you want to keep it. oops. oh well. I never wanted that email (or that wordpress address, either, for that matter). Now everything is new and shiny.

I’ve gotten back in contact with my old Internet pals. Slowly easing into it. I’m not sure what that will mean for this blog. Now that I’m writing elsewhere, I’ll probably write here less often.

This place feels kind of like a way station, where travelers with a common origin gather before departing for parts unknown. I’ve shared so much (over-shared, perhaps) that I feel kind’ve weird about forming friendships. At the same time, I try to be friendly, and I truly appreciate kindness where kindness has been bestowed. (Boy, has it been bestowed here!)

In the other place, it is ‘positivity week.’ That fits in with the little kick in the pants I’ve gotten here. I know it is time to begin the positive focus. I know it is. I have some things I’d like to focus on, like the fact that I apparently look for the wrong thing in women (which I never knew; I always thought I had fantastic taste in women), but right now they aren’t important. Maybe they won’t ever be important. Maybe they’re all part of the negative story I’m telling myself. Maybe all I really need to do is fly and not look back or down.


Double disordered

I already knew that I was likely classifiable as having Avoidant Personality Disorder. I’ve worked for the last few years to do something about it, though the road ahead is longer than the road behind. (And well, quite frankly, why shouldn’t it be? I like having more ahead than behind!)

What I never realized is that we are a two-personality-disorder household. I certainly never admitted that there might be a link between my disorder and my wife. I mean, I made forays into that territory, but I was confused by what I found there. I never discovered that she was a true impediment to conquering my disorder.

When I say conquer, I do understand that personality disorders go deep. (Boy howdy, do I understand!) I just happen to think that, in my case, 1) it is reversible; and 2) I have to go on living even if it isn’t, so I might as well proceed with optimism.

I know that I have a personality disorder, but I feel like it’s something I could shed, like a shower curtain I got tangled in or a spider web to pick off. I do not hate myself anymore, and less and less so all the time.😀

I do wonder if the Avoidant person may also tend towards a mask, similar to the Narcissist? Maybe the trick is loving oneself beneath the mask, rather than the false mask that is acceptably lovable? Or perhaps I am wandering into wild and unnecessary speculation?

Poor kids. Double disordered parents. Sigh.

I have to, I mean, I get to go sketch turkeys now.


gotta get up to get down

I’ve been really down on myself. I see that just now.

I experienced such a high when that little voice said ‘I’ve come back for you and I never really left,’ with so much light and love streaming in. Things stagnated, though, and doubts crept in.

I can’t help some of the stagnation. With my mom’s cancer diagnosis and upcoming hysterectomy (she will be well afterward, I am told), it seemed like a good idea to put ‘D Day’ off for a while. I know it causes her stress, no matter how I frame it. She asked me about it this morning, so I told her: I’m in no hurry.

The thing of it, the thing that is in my control, the thing that I can’t seem to absorb, is that the really important part of this process is something I can start now: being my best me. To use a New Age cliche, the really important thing right now is raising my vibration. When I say that, I am simply using it as shorthand for self-actualization or authenticity or whatever you want to call it.

In layman’s terms, I can best address my abusive marriage (right now) by focusing on myself. I can get out of the house and make friends and pursue my dreams. I can become stronger. I can discover and adhere to ‘normal’ in a way that can’t help but advance my cause. According to my reading, this really is the best way with a narcissist. She will not be able to stand a strong, happy, independent mate. And if she can adjust, if she really does make the changes that I no longer believe she is able to make, then good for her and good for me. In the meanwhile, I can no longer put on the blinders to her behavior. The selfishness sticks out like a sore thumb now and I no longer accept the explanation that there’s something wrong with me for not ‘accepting her as she is.’

The truth is that I really have made positive changes already and that I ought to give myself some credit for it. I may struggle at times to open up and give to my kids in the way that I always want to when I am depressed, stressed, worn-out, and anxious, but dammit, at least I’m struggling to do it! If my daughter wants my attention, I am hyper-vigilant now to give it to her if at all possible. I have to give myself a break, too, because I suppose it is unreasonable to expect myself to make up the slack in the coldness of her relationship with her mother. The same goes for my son. Though I am unable to provide him with the level of attention and interaction he would no doubt desire, due to the severity of his handicaps his physical and emotional needs and desires are overwhelming. As the single parent of two kids and one narcissistic spouse, I am doing my best. He may see me as his personal servant, which is understandable and acceptable given the circumstances, but as much as I love him, I am not and cannot be the crutch that makes up for his autism. As much as I hate the fact, he has a certain cross to bear. My total servitude will not make up for his lot in life. And though total servitude has been what’s expected of me by my wife and (especially) my mother-in-law, it is not and never was in his best interest, as was pointed out by me and many others over the years. His own independence was discouraged in favor of narcissistic ideals, reason be damned. Of course, I had a hand in that by not being strong enough to insist. Now he pays the price in frustration and dependence.

The funny thing is that when he does something terribly inconvenient like wiping feces on mattresses or spilling a plate of food on the floor, my wife will moan and complain as if she is the one who has been wronged or inconvenienced – though she will never be the one to actually do any cleanup!  But I digress.

In summary, kids = more playing and snuggling, me = not as awful as I feel/deserve more credit & self-nicety. Oh, and I really need to get cracking on that life thing. You know, if there’s ever time.


(Another meandering entry. Sorry if this kind of blogging isn’t very linear. It all connects, but you might have to be me in order to understand how.)

My kids think my wife hung the moon. So does the dog.

Yet she’s told me before that none of it means anything to her outside of the context of our marriage. If we’re not together, then ‘I’ve ruined everything’ and she doesn’t care what happens to the kids and ‘it will all be (my) fault.’ She can’t be held responsible for her behavior if I leave her, basically.

I know that when I leave, I’ll be plunging a proverbial knife into her stomach. It won’t ever get better. It’ll have to be out-waited. And she’s going to seriously fuck the kids over and blame it all on me. I’ve been told that, verbatim. And she believes that I will be responsible for whatever she does. I can tell.

I am a caregiver. My son is severely mentally handicapped, requiring total and constant supervision and care. I’m not that great at it, but I’ve always thought of it as my primary job, my primary responsibility. I always thought my son’s best chance going forward into adulthood and beyond was his mother’s income. I don’t have a degree and I just can’t provide him with the same things that, as a physician, she can give him.

I’m thinking back this morning on old twisted words. The time I tried to leave her before. How she turned that into “tried to leave us.” How I said, no, that’s not what I ever intended. I wanted the kids with me. I am thinking back on how it didn’t matter, how she never listened. It was the script she created, reality be damned, every time.

Same for the circumstances surrounding my attempted departure. I was drowning in my marriage, desperate, thinking this can’t go on, something’s got to give. I was suffering so much at that point that I literally thought God would step in. I didn’t think God would let someone suffer that much without intervening. Yet He wouldn’t let me just leave her. That wasn’t the Christian way (no offense intended; that was just the way I thought at the time, so I try to accurately depict that). I was melting away. Her mother’s last few visits had been particularly abusive and grueling. I felt I had nothing left to offer, so I just waited, for a solution, or perhaps a sign. Mostly for one or the other of us to die. (Yep, twenty-eight and waiting to die.)

I felt perhaps her plane would crash on a conference trip. I was convinced of it. I was upset. I cried several times the day she left because I knew her plane would crash. It seemed so likely, since I knew it had to end.

Her plane didn’t crash on the way there. Then she called me. “Are you sitting down? I’m pregnant.” But how? I could think of maybe once we’d been intimate within the last several months. And we always used protection. It seemed no matter, though, as what was done was done. I was happy, I said. I tried to be excited. I was excited, in fact, as I never thought I’d have another child. We always felt the risk was too great to try to bring a second child into the world after what happened with our first. I’d wanted a little girl for the last several years and I had a feeling that’s what the baby would be. And she was.

I tried very hard to suppress my unhappiness and plug straight ahead, blinders on. This child had to be a sign that I was supposed to stay. And a girl! I was so happy for that. There was another thought, though, a crazy thought, that held on in my periphery: perhaps now, before the baby arrives, is the time to leave. Better late than never. I knew that the child’s best chance was for me to get her out of the house and away from her mother (and her sociopath family), but I was just too afraid to do anything about it. Besides, I already knew that, in my wife’s opinion, the worst crime a man can commit is to leave a woman while she’s pregnant. (I have never fully explored the fact that we became pregnant twice while we were actively trying not to; the idea that it could have been on purpose has always been unthinkable to me, though the timing is interesting on both counts.) I knew that I should get out, that that was the most responsible thing to do, but how? I just couldn’t see it.

In the midst of all of this, I became friends with a couple. As an adult, I never had any friends. Not any at all. As a stay-at-home caregiver and a social recluse, I lived a very lonely life. We had so much in common, though; they were both great and I thought they were both happily married. She offered to edit a book I was working on, which her husband readily agreed to. We started working closely together and I quickly developed a crush. That was nothing out of the ordinary for me: I was in a miserable marriage and I frequently had ‘harmless’ crushes on other women. Basically, I fantasized about what it would be like to be with someone who returned affection. There were many objects for my fantasies. I mostly just wondered what it would be like to be in a loving relationship. it was a wistful kind of thing.

Until, to my utter surprise, I found out that the woman returned my affection. (There was a SNAFU involved in my finding out; it wasn’t intentional, or at least not to my knowledge.) That was a devastating day for me. Just complete and utter horror. I felt incredibly guilty for allowing something to develop between us. I had wanted it, desperately so, but I had never meant for it to actually happen. I didn’t mean to hurt her, to hurt my friend, or their family. In retrospect, I overreacted and blew it out of proportion, due to my inexperience. Having feelings for someone was a very big deal to me. To her, too, it turned out. Instead of seeing it for what it was and coming to our senses, the world rocked beneath us. We tried very hard to get over it and reestablish boundaries, wanting to preserve the friendship that was important to all three of us. Then she admitted she was actually miserable in her marriage and had been trying to leave for quite some time, but that her husband kept convincing her to stay. I admitted that I was miserable, too, and that I’d been trying to figure out a way to leave, especially before the baby was born. I figured it would be easier for her if we were apart from the beginning, rather than being traumatized by a divorce. Maybe this is meant to be, we started to think. It seemed the wrong way to go about it, but hey, God works in mysterious ways. (We talked about how in the bible David stole Uriah’s wife, sending Uriah to the frontline of the war to die. At least we weren’t planning on killing anybody.)

It all fell apart, of course. It was messy. Afterward, my wife swooped in to redefine everything that had happened. All of my intentions and motivations were rewritten. With much hysteria and repetition, this new history (along with the accompanying guilt) was etched into me. There was never any crack in her facade. Deciding to stay, I eventually moved on from ‘what really happened,’ deciding it wasn’t important anymore.

Still, new information crept in: the kids meant nothing to her outside of our relationship. That didn’t mean so much to me then (although I found it odd and unacceptable), but now that I read about NPD, it makes a lot more sense.

I’d like to think that she would continue to support our handicapped child, but I think this is a self-deceit. Things aren’t going to happen the way I always planned for them to happen. Now that my eyes are open, though, I see that this isn’t necessarily the end of the world. There are other supports available, resources that I might be able to avail myself of, if I can get custody.

Of course, there’s a very good chance that she will be as nasty and malicious as she’s always promised. (And she wonders why I can’t get over the past?)

Okay, I’ve got to stop. I don’t know what will happen. I haven’t even begun to explore my options. I can’t put the cart of doom before the horse.

What really gets me

I am too weary to write exhaustively about my relationship issues, so I just do the best I can to quickly sketch things here. How can you really make anyone understand your life? You’d have to write a book. Right now, I have a cold and the kids are running rampant. I can barely catch a moment to compose a thought.

In a nutshell, the thing that gets me most is the impact her behavior has had on my son’s life.

I’m starting to see what friends and family have so long hinted about: my son’s daily care requirements are really more than any one person ought to have to bear. Yet I’ve always fought to keep him home with us. As he comes closer and closer to adulthood, I’m finally being forced to admit that this is a losing battle.

But what gets me is that though his care is really too much for one person to bear, it certainly fell within the capabilities of two. Perhaps it even would have fallen within the capabilities of one had the second party not also placed excessive additional demands on the responsible party. She has not only required me to care for him, but to care for and wait on her as well.

I’ve sometimes said to myself that if he is someday forced to live outside of the home by her lack of participation in our home life, my patience with her will have reached its limit. I just never realized it might reach its limit before then. I was able to tolerate her behavior when I thought it was ‘accidental.’ The idea that there is intentionality behind her behavior is not only unacceptable, given the circumstances it is absolutely outrageous. It’s too difficult to entertain and really more than I am able to process. I guess that’s why I’m writing about it. There is a tremendous mental and emotional block there for me filled with goddess knows what.

You’re not free to stay if you’ve never been free to leave

Despite the threats and intimidation, I have often allowed myself to believe that staying was my choice. At other times, I’ve believed that you can’t really build a relationship when there has been coercion.

It’s true, though, isn’t it? I’m not staying freely if I’ve never been free to leave.


friends and trust

I have a nice group of supportive online friends. I’m afraid I’m alienating them by my continued absence.

That’s the last thing I should be doing, I know. It’s just hard for me to operate on a less-than-honest level. If this is what is dominating my life, it’s what I want to write about. It’s what I will write about. If it’s a secret, then I can’t very well write about it in public. While I’d like to trust all of my friends enough to write openly, I can’t believe that would be smart. There is always the person who doesn’t quite get it or thinks they understand something that they don’t, and that person can compromise you. Get you hurt or killed.

I’m having a hard time trusting people right now.