Who Is This Stranger I Was With?

Time at home like this makes those procrastinated projects jump to the front of the line. Like Winnie the Pooh says, “Oh bother.” It isn’t just about cleaning and organizing for some of us though. It is an effort in emotional control because the stuff we are organizing is filled with pain and confusion and can lead to awful triggers that take you down a very dark rabbit hole. I can stumble upon an airline ticket in a piece of luggage and remember the trip like it was yesterday, yet it was really years ago. Some of the trips bring up good memories of moments where I experienced family adventures that I never could have expected. Some trips bring up so much pain and sadness that it feels as if the moment is again in real time. Triggers are tricky. The good ones can help a bad day, but the bad ones can open an almost healed wound that hurts for days. Many of the “memories” I come across in cleaning and organizing make me think a lot. Think a lot about what, why and who? The most confusing and heartbreaking is who. Who is this person in the photograph? Who is this man that I married? Why does he not even resemble this old picture anymore? How does that happen?

I look at those pictures and think to myself why would someone pretend to be someone else for so long? How can they do that? This man looking back at me in those pictures is not the man of today. He is not the man who I saw years ago smile at me and laugh for good reasons. How did I see someone so different than now? He is that person and always was that person who is standing there today. He didn’t get worse. I just wasn’t allowed to see the worse. As I am reading in my book “Splitting” about divorcing a narcissist, I realize that these men and women wear masks. Many many masks that are different for everyone they come in contact with on their daily walk. My ex-husband wore many masks but I never got to see the real man behind them until we separated. It is a person filled with so much darkness and pain who wants to project all that onto those who finally see him for who he really is. It is like looking behind the curtain of Oz but he doesn’t reward you with a heart. It is more like he peels off that man costume and out comes the Wicked Witch of the West to torture you for revealing her cover. She doesn’t give you a heart, she takes your heart right out of your chest and laughs as the blood drips down her hands onto your feet. And then the flying monkeys enter and use your heart in a game of keep away. Every so often throw it the Wicked Witch as she pierces it with her long black nails and watches the blood drip more with a smile on her face. Wonder why they call narcissist’s aides flying monkeys? The narcissist has them so hyped on believing his lies that they do as he says and think he is a great leader. They see you as the awful person he has made drawn you as. I heard from others that I have been portrayed as a mean wife and mother (farthest thing from the truth). Crazy how at the end of the movie, when the witch melted away, they realize how wrong it all was and how controlled they were. And they see Dorothy for who she really is…a good person just wanting her family and home back. Sound familiar? Finally that movie makes more sense to me.

These masks are laid out in full color as I look through the photographs in the storage room. Whether he was playing rich and powerful businessman to those he wanted to impress, a loving husband to me, a doting father and husband to his family, a rich, single man to women, a man who can do what he wants to his friends, an addict to his aa group, etc. Why can’t you just be one person with one life and be that person to everyone? I have learned the answer to that is rather simple but yet very complicated. It is called narcissism, sociopath and borderline personality disorders that affect these people’s souls and minds. It is NOT an excuse, it is an answer. We need answers to feel like we are not crazy from the many faces we can meet in one day with this person. This person tells me that he loves me and just me and would never cheat on me while he is secretly sexting other women. He tells me he loves me when he comes home for having sex with one of them and lies about where he was with zero remorse. He tells his friends about his secret girls like they are trophies and make him a better man because he has a wife and girlfriends and no one is the smarter except him. He tells his kids that he wants to build his family a great home for all of us to live together and have a great future. Yet the reality is that he spending the money on other things and lending to “friends” to make him look better to these women and so-called friends where his ego is all powerful. This man wants to be the hero to everyone but his own family. I see this in all these triggers that I find on my organizing project. Pictures of his past that paint a better picture of the college guy who never really grew up. Pictures that cast a false light on a family man who looked out of place because underneath you can see his discomfort with being there in that moment. Never looked that closely at these pictures until now. Until I knew what I was really looking at.

Yes, being locked up in the room with all this stuff that can open old wounds is so hard and the reason I procrastinate the project. It has to be done. The water needs to be poured on the Wicked Witch of Narcissism. He is who he is and it will never change. He will never change. He will have a closet full of masks and wear them all day, every day because it is his ego that guides him. So every time that I look at a picture and feel shame for falling for the con of this grifter trying to steal my soul, I have to remember that he isn’t that person in the picture at that moment. His physical appearance isn’t who he is. His darkness and pain is who he is. Some pictures may not expose this. Some do. I was made to believe a lie and I am not a weak person because of it. I am strong because I loved someone who kept trying to hurt me. I kept trying to love this man into the light and out of his pain and addictions. There is nothing wrong with that at all. If anything, I have grown to believe that all this has made me a better person. I am wiser to the masks some wear. Yes, we all have them. Many days my mask is one with a smile so no one can see my pure pain inside. So what do I do with all these triggers of the past? I do what I need to do. I dispose of them so I don’t keep living the lie that he loved me. If I keep hold on the idea that this man could love me and still do all of the heinous things that he did to me, then the pain will never go away and the questions of what, why and who will haunt me forever. So I clean the clutter and throw out what is not needed anymore. Like that say at the end of every Alanon meeting, “Take what you like and leave the rest.” I have chosen to leave the memories of him and our marriage forever and never look upon them again. Being done is a good feeling full of hope in healing. I am done with his masks and the memories good and bad because to me they were all just part of play he was performing. The play was cancelled and no one wants tickets. The doors are closed forever.

God bless you on this journey to take that bucket of water and pour it on the painful memories and wash them away forever. Take those painful “memories” and throw them away, burn them, melt them in water so you can heal. You are worth the healing and the light to shine brighter inside of you. Don’t feel bad for being made to believe something that you wanted to be true because you loved him or her. You are amazing for loving an unlovable person. You are strong and compassionate and worthy of all great things. Never forget that and move on towards a better day and happier life.

Breathe out triggers, Breathe in good times. Breathe out stuff of the past, Breathe in new tokens of better days. Breathe out the narcissist, Breathe in your good soul. Breathe out regret, Breathe in regrowth.

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