I suffer from ptsd from the death of my husband.
I suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder from the death of a relationship after.
Today was hard. Today I succumbed to grief and it kept me curled up on the couch, unable to function for most of the day. Luckily my daughter had a busy weekend and was more than happy to pile up with me and watch movies all day.
My view from the cozy couch reminded me that I’m strong and courageous, but I felt neither today.
I felt that all over shaky feeling that I get when I’m on the verge of a panic attack. I used to numb it with xanax. I used to take prozac daily to dull it. Now I just feel it completely and work through the emotions that get me there in the first place.
I’m sad. I’m sad that my husband isn’t here to help our daughter plan out her first major school project, a diorama of a wolf’s habitat. He would love it. He was a hands on dad, always 100% all in to whatever she was doing. He was such a good person that I didn’t even identify what came after him as anything but good. I wasn’t prepared to encounter anyone who would willingly hurt us.
But I did. I have guy friends. I have guy friends that are jerks to women and I’m happy to call them assholes and go on about my day and love them anyway, because I’m not the one on the receiving end of the abusive behavior. I have thought a lot about what would’ve happened if we just would’ve been friends. I would’ve seen the way he treated women and I would’ve told him that I would punch him in the face for doing that to me. We would’ve laughed it off and continued our friendship. But I found myself bearing the brunt of his abuse for 6 long months and the aftermath almost killed me.
The person I let into our lives hurt us. I can handle hurt. But he hurt HER. And that’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get over. Broken promises. Future plans she was excited about that never happened. I believe in forgiveness and redemption, but there is no coming back from that. She still, to this day, tries to process and talk out what happened. At first I would change the subject. Now I just let her talk about it, because I can see the steps to healing she is taking. She’s a pretty phenomenal 7 year old. Still, she continues to be affected by it. She has a hard time trusting anyone now, and it’s because of him. She loved him. She trusted him completely. We both did.
I invited someone into our lives and home that hurt her and made her cry and I may never forgive myself for that. I invited someone into our lives that had the audacity to curl up in my dead husband’s chair and watch movies with her. He tucked her into bed. We don’t dare say what he used to say to her when he tucked her in. It makes me sick to my stomach to hear it even on a movie now. Something innocent and sweet now feels so sinister and evil.
I always want to see the good in people. Even when dozens of people came out of the woodwork to tell me to run like hell, I saw the good in him. I was convinced that they didn’t know him like I did. I was adamant that I would not judge him based on his past, only on what he showed me during our relationship. What he showed me was someone with severe untreated mental problems who had made an actual living on the backs and wallets of every woman he had ever dated. When it was good, it was near perfect. When it was bad, it was hell on earth.
Our whole relationship was complex. My feelings about it now remain complex.
I know what and who he is. He has shown me time and time again. He has shown me by saying he would pay back the money he took from me, and not doing that. He has shown me in his abusive behavior. He has shown me, despite the fact that I have pictures, videos, texts, and eye witnesses to our relationship, that he can devalue and disregard me as a person by pretending like our entire relationship didn’t even happen.
For a long time, I wanted an apology. I wanted him to own up to the things he did. I wanted so badly for him to say that he was wrong and that he accepted the enormous pain he caused in our lives as his responsibility. Sorry never came. It will never come. He is not capable of feeling and understanding basic human emotions because he is a narcissist and he is surrounded by enablers that excuse his poor behavior and treatment of women and children. He is dead inside. Anyone who can take two hurting people and play with their emotions and their lives does not even have a beating heart.
What I know now through a lot of therapy and soul searching is that I don’t need his apology to validate my feelings. I don’t need to be right. I know what the truth is. My daughter knows what the truth is. We lived it.
Grief compounded by more grief feels like being water boarded most days. I don’t want to feel it. I want to just sleep or drink or wish it away. I know I have to feel it, but everything in my body wants to ignore it. That only works so long, then it takes me out like it did today. The amount of mental strength it takes to get up and get out of bed and function as a normal adult most days is astounding. Everything feels hard. I find myself wondering if I’ll ever feel normal again. I wonder if I’ll ever trust anyone enough again to let them into our complex little circle of grief. As it stands, the answer to that is no. I will never willingly open my child up to being hurt by a man ever again.
I don’t reminisce about the “good times” with this person anymore. There were no good times. Every “good time” was manipulation disguised as good time. Every happy day was shared with multiple other women at the same time without my knowledge. Every seemingly kind gesture had ulterior motives to further hurt us.
I do carry one thing he said with me, and I know he wishes he would’ve never said it now. Whenever grief got to be too much for me and I was struggling with the emotions I was feeling he would tell me “Write it out, Miss Writer Girl”.
So I have. And I do. And I will continue to. And if he wanted me to write fondly about him, he definitely should’ve treated me better. Because I have written a literal book on what it’s like to be abused by a narcissist and I will continue to use my voice and my words to make sure he never does this to anyone ever again.
And my little Writer Girl, with her little 7 year old handwriting that is far from perfect, continues to write it out, too. I caught her drawing sad faces in her journal today. She had written clearly “I am very sad. I hope The Boy and Tiny Wife are not sad”. And I had to leave the room, because I cried. I didn’t ask any questions. That was hers to share with me if she wanted to. His children don’t know my child, but she felt like she knew them because of him. We saw them today, and I had to remind her that staring isn’t polite. I have told her not to approach them. Not to talk to them. Still, she’s curious. It is very likely they have no idea who we are and that’s ok. I don’t want to hurt them in any way. I would rather die than cause pain to a child.
Everything in her innocent little heart wants everyone associated with him to be ok, because she knows how it feels to love him. And she knows how it feels to lose him.
And she has already lost enough. We both have.