Mine did, but the telling was highly manipulated. Since the beginning, and for the next 26 years, he had a specific tale of each relationship. He was never rich in detail and didn’t offer really much at all — which is classic avoidance and impression management. What they do say gives the impression of weaving a portrait of an ex partner and the relationship when in fact the whole thing is swiss cheese. When he collapsed and unmasked, for the few months when it was completely off and all his vulnerabilities showed along with his profoundly disordered psyche, he spoke the best truth he could and revealed a different reality about almost everything I asked. It was shocking, repulsive, sad and pathetic. At the time of this vulnerability his cruelty was also off the charts and into the realm of terrorizing, otherwise I would have had incredible compassion for how messed up he was.
When I finally clued in, I began asking very careful, and seemingly unassuming, questions and I now knew enough to be highly critical and objective of everything said — looking for every hole that was withholding information leading to impression management. This is where I learned the incredible capacity they have for manipulating language and communicating in such a way that is not outright lying (though he was a master at that too) but produced in such a way that you are left believing what they want you to believe. There was a period of time it was like playing mental ping-pong with every interaction, volleying every tactic in the NPD toolbox — and I’d name them as he went which enraged him but amused me (I was still feeling brave then, he hadn’t broken me yet though but that was coming down the pipe with a vengeance). One night it was a rapid fire of this tactic, followed by that, then another — it was so jaw dropping obvious and I was incredulous that someone behaves this way. I realized I had a genuine pathological nut on my hands. He eventually flat out told me he was a narcissist, in such an unhinged way — he was always teetering on the edge of a full psychotic break.
What I got from his answers with new details about all his past relationships was that, where he’d led me to always believe he was sad, hurt, and damaged from the mistreatment of women, he in fact destroyed each of them emotionally, in the most humiliating and vulnerable ways — creating the most devastating situation for maximum impact.
His relationship trajectory began when he’d been dumped by his first girlfriend in junior high, which was just a childish ‘will you go out with me’ awkward prepuberty passage we all go through — with twittering girls and shy immature boys. The girlfriend didn’t know how to interact with him, he was so quiet and had no energy to engage on anything, his words (which showed insight, but there was no empathy for her). He was a cute boy, sweet dimples, shy laughter and easy going ways but there was no substance, he was empty, and her girlfriends let him know she didn’t want to hang out with him anymore and that she was too shy to tell him herself. Certainly not a crime on her part given she was at the beginning of junior high, but he plotted revenge. (I had to put a very big puzzle with a lot of pieces together, with bits here and there from what his family would finally reveal to me, to finally know what I was dealing with, who I’d been married to, and unaware of, for half my life.) It was about this age, his mother told me, that he went quiet — not unusual for teen boys when they hit puberty – but his silence was built on a sense of injustice, hatred, and rage. His hatred for his mother took me aback, after years of thinking he loved her. But that’s another topic.
It was also around this time in puberty, according to his brother, that he began to act with raging aggression and terrorize girls. When I asked him about this he said it was because he felt a sexual attraction and didn’t know how to cope with it — remember, NPDs cannot handle complex emotions, it’s mostly just rage in there. One day, him and his brothers were visiting long-time friends of their parents who had two daughters around their ages. Walking across a field as a group one day, he physically attacked and started to yell and scream at the youngest girl. His brothers didn’t know what to do with him. He’d been attracted to her and this was what came out. She was traumatized and crying — they never visited again.
Back to the first girlfriend, his first planned victim where he played the long game. The sweet, shy, gentle (seeming) boy blossomed into a very talented artist like his dad (who he is like in almost ‘all’ ways and who is also a deeply closeted NPD, his brothers are also NPD but in different ‘flavours’ with one very introverted, diffident and quiet, and the other overt, extroverted and aggressive — all are very talented in their way). His artistic talent got him a lot of attention from the teachers and his fellow students also took notice — for his abilities, he became included, liked, and even sought out as special. (When he unmasked, he called his talent his ‘commodity’ and that was who he would be going forward as he now rejected the ‘domestication of man’ — not a person of any substance, but a person of prestige. And, that he wanted to capitalize on this and become famous — creating a new society and financial paradigm where artists were revered and supported by the masses, so that they just had to ask for what they needed and ‘the people’ would either give them what they wanted or the money to get it. He stumped me when he demanded I help him achieve it and became enraged when I did not. I had zero idea what to do with that particular bit of grandiose insanity.) He told me, it was because of his value as someone with exceptional gifts that this girl approached him again in a romantic way. This was a few years later, and they both would have matured into that magic time of teenage sexual energy and attractiveness. He admitted she was also a shy girl, and I don’t see anything unusual with her being attracted to someone who had attracted her previously when she was too immature herself to know what to do with that and when he had ‘blossomed’ into someone with a personality and energy that was appealing. All in all, it was an innocent situation on her end, but not on his. He led her to believe he was now emotionally engaged, caring, and committed — a perfect boyfriend. They stayed together until the end of senior high — so that’s a few years. And that was the plan. On the last day of school, after they had their grad, and all the kids were at the bush bash party, he chose that moment to drop her publicly, coldly, without a backward glance as he hooked up with another girl and ignored her like she didn’t exist. Humiliating her for everyone to see. He had the power now. She was devastated. He told me the only other memory he had of her was her screaming at him in the mall parking lot. I’m sure she was upset! But he owned none of it, according to him she was just this deranged female acting in ways that confused him. He was the victim of his crazy ex.
The next relationship was when he was in college and did a summer practicum under a sophisticated older woman who lived in another province but had taken this job for a term. He said she scoped him out as a ‘specimen’ so she could produce a ‘perfect child with gifts’. That she’d used him to become pregnant as part of a plan with her partner, and then she took the child and went home. I have no doubt she got pregnant, but I doubt it was his — though I don’t know. I do know that the night she left he went to the garage at her apartment and ‘lit candles’, ‘accidentally’ burning the whole thing down. The next night he showed up at her apartment where her former roommate answered the door. He said she acted nervous around him and asked him straight out if he’d burned down the garage before asking him to leave. That’s all I got out of that one. In his telling, he is the victim of a plot and, after saying he’d done so then said, he has no recollection of burning the garage down but when pushed to repeat that he burned the garage down he claimed he doesn’t know and can’t recall if he put the candles out. Okay then… it all just happened and it wasn’t his fault.
About this time, he was also dating another girl he was going to college with. They saw each other for a while and the first (and only) time they had sex he’d got up in the middle of it and without a word got dressed, left the apartment and walked home. He never spoke to her again and didn’t return her calls. When I asked why would he do that, he said her nipples were too big. My heart broke for her.
The next one was also during college and she was a sweet, pretty girl who was also a talented artist. They were together for a few years and entered the workforce together after graduation. He would make a big show of shuddering whenever he mentioned her name. He said she was highly unstable and would get into jealous rages because everyone was always talking about how talented he was and not giving her attention. Knowing him now, I doubt it was her who was acting out this way and she would have no idea of how much her skills threatened his ego. His family loved her and the expectation all around was that they would get married. Until one day, while she was ‘wailing’ at him on the phone for something because she was always upset about something (I am sure I know why, he is the most crazy-making guy and she was not aware she was involved with a disordered person — she was likely reacting normally in the circumstances and trying to express herself), he said he went completely dead inside. That all his feelings disappeared and he told her flat out that it was over. And it was, instantly and without discussion. She never understood why and has held a soft spot over the decades — believing he is the sweet mask and that his blaming of her failings was why he broke her heart. Years later, after we’d been married for over 12 years, he told me that he’d bumped into one afternoon, two weeks before her wedding and she said to him ‘maybe we can get together again in 10 years if this doesn’t work out’. He’d been married over a decade at that point and she was about to get married, I thought what a horrible person she was! I asked her about that years later, when I reached out to her once the mask was off, and she denied she’d ever said such a thing and accused me of being jealous and hateful to her. I was neither, I’d always felt a lot of compassion for how much pain she must have felt, but I was also only ever fed a specific story of her so my interactions were cool as a result. When she’d begun calling our house after we’d been married 5 years, I was unwelcoming on the phone, her response was to ask to talk to [him] because he must not know I was talking to her like this. And when I gave him the phone he acted like he was talking to one of his closest friends — it didn’t match at all with what he said his attitudes were. My feelings were that an ex girlfriend had no business calling my house and wanting a relationship with her ex, my husband. Apparently, boundaries weren’t her thing. So, she doesn’t rate all that high on my sympathy scale, but she was definitely a victim. He always made a point to say how much her parents loved him.
After this, he began spending time on his own, traveling and camping — testing his ability to survive the elements. During one adventure, he met a group of girls who were also camping and they hung out around the fire. He developed a friendship with them and then a relationship with one of the young ladies. She was a nurse in training, very compassionate, who wanted to follow her mother’s path of being a nurse. But she didn’t have the aptitude in some areas, and her struggle with numbers led to miscalculations dispensing medicine. As a result, she was called in for a review by the governing board to determine her suitability to continue training. She was to present her case, and she was allowed character references to speak on her behalf. She asked her boyfriend, who was an up and coming jr art director at a national ad agency and a man of excellent reputation. When the time came for him to speak, he said he was asked how he could possibly attest that this person was not a danger and was he willing to take on that burden. Now, there is zero chance of a mature panel of experienced professionals to put something in those terms to a young man, but he said it left him no choice but to say that ‘she was a danger to the patients and unsuited to the profession’. (she became a nurse, btw.) When I asked how she’d reacted to this, he became very confused. He said she’d burst into tears and her friends all rallied around to comfort her. He then said he left to meet them at a restaurant as had been arranged and that the friends had intervened his coming in to join them saying ‘perhaps this was not a good time.’ Very gently done, considering the circumstances. The relationship was over but he made a point of always saying how close he was to her family and would drive out to their town and have dinner with them — though she was never there. He was lonely and looking for supply, to have them accept him removed any guilt of his actions. They were a very kind family. I learned decades later, during all the revelations, that her brother had been a server at our prewedding dinner and he said how thrilled he was by that because the brother would go back and tell his sister what a beautiful woman he was marrying which, in his mind, would upset her (I doubt she cared about that or anything else to do with him, tbh). Because that’s all I was — an object. He’d always played up that this girlfriend was emotionally fragile too, that she’d taken advantage of his position (he was only a jr art director, but in his mind he was already a god), and that she’d put him in impossible situation due to her own actions — what else could he have done? He was the victim.
Then it was my turn. My story is very long and sprinkled elsewhere in my posts — the totality was beyond brutal. It turns out my beloved was a sadist, a sex addict, a predator and, quite likely pedophilic which I discovered at the point when I could no longer take more of his first long list of disclosures and he’d begun telling me about how my 6 y/o granddaughter excited him. I exploded out of my chair, not knowing what to do, where to go, what to say — and it stopped him from revealing more. If I’d had my wits I would have sat and taken everything in — and nailed him to the wall with it — but my mind was shattering because this was his first overt act in his unmasking and my whole being rebelled at what I was hearing. Anyway, I’ll just add one little vignette here from our beginnings to show what a coldly calculating manipulator he is. I’d had no idea for 26 years, until I became ill and he collapsed because he’d lost all sources of supply. The next 3 years were a horror show of every type of abuse, until I was finally physically strong enough to leave.
Today, I finalized the court order of settlement to be presented to the judge to sign off 31 days after acceptance — it went to his lawyer today. I have been No Contact since January 27, 2018 — and his rage at me for ‘letting him down’ feels laughable now. His new terms were that he could be who he was, abuse me as much as he wanted, anyway he wants, and be as unfaithful as he wanted, but that I should behave like I was in our relationship at the beginning — when everything was about him, when I lived in a haze of total adoration and my love for him was all-encompassing, with complete loyalty and devotion. Right! Because I would not accept these terms, he’s the victim of my rejection and unreasonable behavior. Whatever.
Today is also the 29th anniversary of when this picture was taken, and this is the vignette I’ll share to show how they can play such a long game. This was taken at our prewedding dinner, two days before the wedding. The next day his plan was to take a new coworker out for sex, hide at her place and leave me at the altar. He’d kissed me goodbye, as sweet as could be, the next morning (the day before the wedding) and said he was ‘going out for one last ride as a free man’ in his lighthearted teasing away. I gave him a big hug and kiss and told him to have a wonderful ride. He always took his motorbike out for rides every day to relax so this was not unusual and why would I think anything otherwise? I supported everything about him. He arrived back before dinner, that evening we split our sides laughing as we practiced our vows, and had a lovely night. The next morning, the day of our wedding, he said he had to pick up his suit because it wasn’t ready when he went to get it the day before. He was late coming back and said they had forgotten about it — it turns out he never had one lined up because he hadn’t planned on getting married! The pics of the wedding day show the happiest groom you could imagine. Everything about him was deceit and there never was a hint of what lurked behind the carefully crafted mask. The level of unknowingness makes my heart stop in terror at the coldness of the creature beneath his perfect mask. I’d never known something like this existed.
At the end of it all, during those months when he was most unhinged and exposed, he did tell me enough that showed he was aware of exactly what he was doing, he just kept up the careful story crafting and complete denial of reality because his shame is so enormous. This man has serious shame issues, and he has every reason to be deeply ashamed. I pity him.