She asked me whether I felt the loss of my ‘project’ now I’ve given up trying to change him.
I said, ‘No. Because now I have my writing. That is my great project now, and I hope will be for many years to come – for the rest of my life, God willing…. But I do feel the loss of hope for love in my life. The loss of believing that, deep down, he really was capable of loving someone other than himself.’ I do mourn that, and I can feel the sadness as I write.
I am allowed to accept his Good-Guy-J love – and he wants me to accept that – because it confirms to himself what a great guy and nice person he is. But it has to be on his terms. If I take the initiative to behave in a loving way myself, then I’m likely to get attacked. Very subtly, of course… By being told, like a naughty child who has finally decided to behave, ‘Well that was nice of you when you came up and kissed me’ – two hours after the event. Patronising, arrogant, and, most of all, cold. That’s what I get when I wish to express the natural, loving, warm, demonstrative part of my nature.
And I am affectionate and demonstrative, but I daren’t show it, because J sees that as usurping his role. His role is to be Good Guy, my role is to be Nasty, Shrewish Wife.
So, yes. I mourn the loss of hope for love. Definitely.
And I mourn the fact that I daren’t let down my guard, even for a moment. Sometimes, when I’ve been down or lonely and he hugs me, I so want to let myself go, to hug him back, to let the ‘love’ flow from him to me and the genuine love from me to him…. To let the exchange happen. But his ‘love’ is not love. It is poison. It is empty performance. It will mean winching open the gate and letting the monster sniff underneath. And if I fully open that gate, the monster will get in and attack and maul me to death. I can’t afford to do it.
The wolf wears sheep’s clothing and nuzzles me affectionately. ‘Let me love you. You know you need love. Let me in….’ And then…. BITE. I’m raw and bleeding, and in blinding pain. He is a wolf. He always will be a wolf. Like an alcoholic is always an alcoholic, even if they’re not drinking at the moment. He might not be mauling me at the moment, but if I expose my neck to his fangs, like putting a glass of gin in front of an alcoholic, he will go for it. It’s his nature. He will not change. He has not changed in twenty six years.
I’ve seen no deep change – only superficial change. That is, he wears his sheep clothing more of the time these days. And why’s that?
Because I picked up an axe. I’m defending myself.
Because I’ve (finally) wised up and no longer believe, deep down, he really is that cuddly sheep. So I carry this heavy axe, I’m on my guard, day and night, and it’s exhausting. And lonely.
But others look at J the sheep, and me, trying to keep myself safe, and say I’m mad. ‘Put down your axe and let that poor, innocent sheep give you his affection! You nasty, shrewish wife. He’s only a sheep. Can’t you see?’
The Nasty, Shrewish Wife.
If I don’t defend myself – I’m hurt.
If I do defend myself – he looks good, I look bad, but I’m hurt slightly less.
So I carry the weight of my axe, and the isolation and the exhaustion, and the condemnation of outsiders.
Twenty six years… Twenty six years.
They say ‘the only way to win a game with a narcissist is not to play,’ and they’re right.
One day I hope I’ll be able to walk away from the game.