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I Married Only Half of My Husband - Who Was I?

My husband required my constant acceptance and reassurance. He expected that it be there for him each and every time he needed a quick energy ego boost. I remember a time I confronted him about yet another dangerous and disgusting sexual liaison. He had just returned from a trip to the store, where he had just run to pick up a gallon of milk. He wasn’t gone more than a half hour. He jumped right into the shower, as he often did when returning home…washing off any evidence that might cause suspicion. Looking back now, I’m surprised he even bothered. I picked up his phone while he showered, and glanced at his last text message prior to leaving for the store. There it was, his communication with another unfeeling and unfaithful, no doubt narcissistic, husband in our town. Feeling what I can only describe as a shiver, mixed with nausea, disbelief, grief, shame, and yet another realization that I wasn’t enough, I read it word for word… I felt it, word for word…”meet me at the Wal-Mart in ten minutes, I’m just running up to the store and have little time, would love a blo-n-go.”

I confronted him as he entered the bedroom, this calloused individual that had become so apathetic to my marital plight and so disingenuous about my expectations for fidelity. His response so heartless and unapologetic, “ok, so you caught me?” Unfortunately, this guy was no longer a stranger. The cold and empty eyes staring back at me had become all too familiar. This “other” him, who had poked his head in my marriage from time to time, was becoming the constant…while the “old constant” was only poking his head in from time to time. This guy clearly didn’t care what I thought about anything. Arguing about it was nothing more than an erosion of a moment of my life.

After the screaming and mudslinging that had become our usual, I walked into the bathroom…I looked over into the mirror and watched as the tears rolled down my face. I just stood there…maybe checking to see if I still recognized the eyes staring back at me?. I could no longer distinguish between originality and familiarity. My husband came into the room and wrapped his arms around me from behind, and tried to kiss my neck. I pulled away, still looking into the mirror and watching his face…expecting to see a look of remorse or empathetic atonement. What I got…was the gaze of expectancy. I pulled away once again, throwing him a look of discontent and confusion, to which he responded, “what??’re still my wife.”

I finally understood… this was never supposed to be a mutual, all-encompassing, interpersonal connection. I wasn’t present to be his partner. We certainly weren’t held to the same expectations. I was there to supply him with unwavering adoration, faithful reassurance, and unconditional approval. He married…for a convenient and constant source of narcissistic supply, because he was too lazy to have to seek it out. What I wanted, and how I felt, was irrelevant. And when I pulled away…he was angry with me! I was letting him down. I was not doing my part. And that last time…I paused before pulling myself away. Because for just a moment…I needed to feel like he still wanted me. Fulfilling his need had become my driving force, and I was starved for this feeling of purpose.

The truth was, that he had done an adequate job of trivializing every ideal I started with, calling into question every value that had been instilled in me, and covering each of my boundaries in a shroud of self-doubt, until none of which remained… Succumbing to these selfish needs and self-serving desires he was presenting me with, had drained from me, everything I knew to be true about myself… who I was, and how I felt. He had devoid me of my own identity, and replaced it with this new purpose.  If he no longer needed me, I no longer had purpose…

More to come in this series...

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