My husband couldn’t do anything for himself. I handled most of his day to day adult responsibilities. He didn’t fill out his own paperwork, he didn’t make adult decisions, schedule his own appointments or handle any situation or chore that might cause him to be annoyed, unsure, or inconvenienced. And if a situation came up, and I wasn’t there to take care of it for him, he became quite enraged. At me. I was always to blame for everything, but I have come to learn a lot by paying attention to these behaviors... about my husband, but also about myself.
My husband never took responsibility for his actions. He believed he should never have to suffer consequences of his actions, because any time something didn’t work out for him, it was the fault of someone else. A distorted thinking pattern probably initiating with some faulty child rearing in his younger years, but definitely continuing through life as he was able to maintain a toolbox full of people (tools) who would constantly enable this behavior. He compulsively disowned any unpleasant experiences whatsoever. Since he didn’t own them, they were never part of his story. The problem is, those experiences are life lessons that allow us to learn and grow. They help us become wiser. They help us become familiar with our own flaws, so that we can correct them. Essentially, they are what helps us to grow up. They are not part of his story, which is why he never actually grew up. He has the emotional maturity of a preschooler, and this will never change.
He is also much bigger and stronger than a preschooler. With more free access to the world. And many more years of perfecting the skills he uses to manipulate and get his way, and to avoid the unpleasantries of responsibility. It basically means he still stomps his feet and holds his breath like a preschooler who didn’t get the toy he wanted, but he also has the ability to be more volatile, more deceitful, more underhanded, and all-around more dangerous.
One time, and this literally only happened one time, I had to go out of town to work for the weekend, and was to be gone less than 48 hours. On the second day of my trip, my husband had an appointment with a new doctor. He was unable to find the information he needed, and he was frustrated at having to complete the intake paperwork on his own. After all, this is something I would usually go and take care of for him. As I tried to finish up the job I was being paid for, my phone starts to go crazy. Phone call after phone call. Text message after text message. First out of frustration, that he wasn’t sure how to answer the questions. And that lead into the anger at me for not being there to take care of it for him. His messages were all over the place, from “forget it, I’m just going to walk out and not see a doctor” to “what kind of shit mom goes out of town and leaves her kids?” His moods were desperate, and this went on for hours. Name calling, yelling, cussing and anything he could think of. Messages like “good luck finding a way home from the airport” to “I’m not going to be here when you get back” to “I guess I will just destroy your things!” to eventually “you’re such a fat, nasty bitch, just stay where you are!”
I had a girl friend with me at the time... watching as these messages popped up... watching as I struggled to maintain composure to try to complete my job that day. It was so embarrassing. And that look in her face..I knew what it was…and I knew she was right to think it. The truth was, I was used to the hurtful name calling and degrading. I was more stressed out about him needing me there, and not being able to be there for him. And I couldn’t just drop everything and run because he was telling me to…I was an airplane ride away! I had already taught myself to downplay the verbal abuse. To make efforts to convince myself that he was just acting out of fear, and frustration. That he says things he doesn’t mean. That he is just a scared child. I was conditioned to worry about his needs only, to absorb the pings of life that he couldn’t handle, and to forego all self-preservation.
There are some explanations as to why toxic partners choose to save all of their hidden abuse tactics for that one person. My husband had a lot of resentment built up toward me. He knew that he was completely reliant on me. He hated it. It made him angry…at ME. It is likely why he spent so much time smearing my name behind my back, allowing him to pretend to be the person he wished he was, by making me out to be the person to be shamed. I was doing nothing wrong, besides caring too much…giving too much.. sacrificing too much, yet still he blamed me for all of his unhappiness. And I can see now, that the more I took his abuse, the less he respected someone who would take his abuse, and the more hateful he became with me.
The calls and messages increased in anger and intensity over a period of time…and then just stopped. Silence…I knew better than to think the moment had passed. After all, he needed to punish me for what he was going through, and I wasn’t there to punish. I had no idea what would happen. 30 minutes later I get another text message, in a totally new tone. “Your daughter finally did it, she cut her hair!” it said.
I caught my flight home that night, and he picked me up at the airport as though nothing had happened. Typical for him. When I saw my daughter’s hair the next day, I knew right away his story was not going to add up. She was 3 at the time. She had gorgeous hair! But it was all over her room. 9 inches of it. And not from just one snip, or one spot. From all around her head. I was to believe my 3 year old managed to cut her hair with the skills of a hair dresser. Choppy and obviously abruptly done, but still evenly around her whole head. I asked my daughter what had happened. Many times actually... and her story never changed. She said daddy was mad at mommy on the phone, and when he hung up, he came into her room with the pink scissors and cut her hair…while she cried.
My husband adamantly denied this. He denied it then, and to this day he denies it. He denied it in front of her, and she never backed down. Years later, she still told the same story, down to the detail. My husband lies compulsively. It is impossible to know if he remembers the incident, or believes he really didn’t do it. It was the first time the doctors started to use words like schizophrenia and psychosis, instead of just depression. Blackout rages are not a listed symptom of bipolar disorder, but have been known to occur with it. Narcissistic rages are unpredictable, but this is a diagnosis we were unfamiliar with at the time. We discussed with him how important it was to know, and how much more concerned we should all be if he really didn’t remember. He stuck to his story, and he became very angry if we brought it up. That was the very last time he was ever left unsupervised with any of our children…and he never asked why, and he never tried to change my mind. I’ll never know if this was out of guilt over what he had done, or out of fear over not remembering it, but the thought of what could have happened, haunted me.
Really, I was always a single mother anyway. My husband was just one more responsibility for me to worry about. But this event did more than just remind me that I was alone in this. I had to alter my employment in ways that my children would never be home at a time when I wasn’t. And since there were times my husband would refuse to go to work for months at a time, my jobs had to be extremely flexible, and often had to be jobs I could take my children to. It shifted the entire dynamics of our family and our household. It stirred up additional conflict, and caused additional confusion, and robbed my home, and my days, of any peace. I could feel the added stress physically. I could feel the added stress psychologically. And I could hear the added stress in listening to my children interact. I waited for a calm after the storm…but all I ever got was more storm.
Recommended Read: I Believe You: escaping, understanding & healing from narcissistic abuse
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