Click here “Narcissism 101” for a thorough understanding of Narcissism.
So, how did I get to the place where I was insecure, fearful, depressed, angry, emotionally detached, and hopeless in 2019? The answer is “Mr. Tucson”. He brought a lifetime of relationships with narcissists too ahead.
My experience with narcissists dates back to my birth. Both of my parents were/are narcissists and as well as some family members. So, I grew up only knowing conditional love, physical and emotional abuse, inability to please or to measure up, and seeking others’ approval. It was also commonplace to be in a constant state of fight or flight.
So, all relationships I had before 2016 were with narcissists. But, it is the relationship with Mr. Tucson that brought this sick dynamic into the open and to an end.
On my “About Me“ page I mentioned having ignored red flags with Mr. Tucson. Those were; his late wife dying of alcoholism, he was twice divorced plus had other relationships that ended. He was the victim in all cases. He takes no responsibility for the breakups or his wife’s death.
I remember this day vividly, it was three months after arriving in Tucson. We were hosting his late wife’s uncle for the Michigan State vs Ohio State football game. My brother and sister-in-law were out of town. Mr. Tucson and I were caring for their dogs and it was time to let them out. I excused myself and headed 2 streets over to their house.
It might have been 45 minutes later when I walked into our house with wet shorts. I laughed as I told them that my keys had fallen out of my pocket and into the pool. I had no choice but to go in after them. I walked into the bedroom to change when Mr. Tucson flew in behind me accosting me in the closet. The rage in his eyes was reminiscent of my father’s eyes so many times. My heart began to pound. I feared what he was going to do. I was in flight mode but he had me cornered in the closet. I asked him to tell me why he was upset. That’s all it took for him to unleash his wrath. He went into a full-blown nonsensical tirade. At this point, I wasn’t aware that trying to calm him or explain myself fueled his fire. Knowing his uncle could hear us I reminded him how he hated conflict while entertaining. He had expressed that about his ex-wife being combative when they had people at the house. That was enough to snap him out of it. He walked out of the room. It was terrifying to see the ease and speed that he went from Satan to St. Nick.
As my therapist later told me, both people in a relationship take off their masks at the three-month mark. It’s at this point each of you knows what you’re getting.
His tirades, demeaning comments, threatening behavior, and manipulation continued scaling up in magnitude and frequency. I stopped appeasing him and trying to reason with him. I knew he’d wake the next morning acting as nothing had happened. His behavior became predictable in the aftermath, he was agreeable, would do anything for me, and support anything I said to him. I used it to my advantage. I’d speak my mind knowing he wouldn’t argue and get him to do the things I wanted him to do. He was mistaken thinking he was manipulating me.
I won’t lie, I felt shame for putting myself into this situation, ignoring red flags, and warnings from family and friends. So, I kept it to myself. There were days that friends in Tucson asked “Is something bothering you?” I’d smile and say “No! Everything is great. How are you?” But, it wasn’t embarrassment that kept me from telling them. Mr. Tucson has them snowed into thinking he’s a kind, caring, and generous man. Narcissists are known for their keen acting skills.
The beginning of the end for us came in September of 2018. I flew home to plan and host my youngest daughter Tara’s engagement party. Mr. Tucson flew in the day before the party. By the time he arrived, I knew there were problems with Tara’s finance. He showed a side of himself that troubled me deeply. There wasn’t time to tell Mr. Tucson so I went through the motions the night of the party.
After the party, with a lot of alcohol having been consumed, Mr. Tucson, me, Katelyn, my son-in-law, Tara, and her fiance went to the hotel. I rented three standard rooms, two side by side and the third across the hall. Mr. Tucson being a person that goes to bed early was tired. He went to bed while my girls and I chatted for a bit in our room before going to bed.
At the sound of a knock on the door and Tara crying “MOM, HELP ME!” OMG! What the hell? I shot out of bed and slammed into the wall. The room was pitch black and I was disoriented. I felt my way to the door and opened it to find Tara crying, mascara running down her face, luggage in her arms crouched on the floor. I ran to her, hugged her. Brought her into our room. She explained what had happened. Her fiance had gotten physical with her. Mr. Tucson could hear everything but chose to act like he was sleeping.
The next morning when Mr. Tucson pretended nothing happened, I opened the Costco size can of “Whoop Ass”! He made his position clear “It’s Tara’s fault. She was drunk and did something to provoke him. She’s an adult. You need to butt out. Don’t tell me another thing. I don’t want to know. Now, I’m anxious thanks to you. This brings back the memory of my late wife socking me in the arm. It was terrible. I didn’t deserve that.”
The familiarity of his reaction and position pissed me off. Same shit, new day. Another partner that doesn’t lend support but says and does things to complicate the matter you’re trying to resolve.
It was several months later when Mr. Tucson’s reaction to another situation had me saying “You’re fucking whacked!”
On Thanksgiving day a friend of Mr. Tucson’s hosted a 5k- race/Turkey Trot at a park near the house. The thought of running my second 5k race was exciting.
As I came through the park I could see the large group of people who finished the race cheering us across the finish line. With my arms in the air and show-boating, my left foot crossed the finish line while my right foot caught on a root. I fell forward with my arms stretched out, I hit the ground, hear a “snap” in my left shoulder, and felt my brain jar. The impact left me stunned. I couldn’t move. After a couple of minutes, the woman hosting the race told Mr. Tucson to help me up.
My pride would not let me cry in front of a group of strangers who had seen me humiliate myself. I smiled, told everyone I was fine but asked Mr. Tucson to take me home. The pain was shooting through my arm. Leaving it to hang down at my side was excruciating so I cradled it.
Now, in the car, I said “You need to take me to the hospital. I’m in a tremendous amount of pain.” He looked at me and said “Really? You think you need to go to the hospital?” “Yes, I do. Are you going to take me?”, I asked.
Fortunately, the emergency room wasn’t busy. They got me in immediately. The nurse came in, cut my sweatshirt off, and helped me into a gown and onto the bed. She looked at my shoulder and said “Oh, that doesn’t look good. A healthy shoulder doesn’t look like that. It’s misshapen. That had Mr. Tucson who was seated in a chair across from me looking up and saying “She’s fine. This whole trip is a waste of time.” The nurse looked at me and all I could do was roll my eyes.
As I was telling Mr. Tucson how much I was enjoying the effects of the medicine the doctor walked in. “Dear, your left shoulder is broken!” he said. The moment the doctor was out of the room, Mr. Tucson said with disdain “Great, I have to break my shoulder now.” After a pause, I asked, “Why is that?” He replied “Because you’re going to get all the attention. I can see it now!”
It was two weeks later when I received a call from Mr. Tucson from Utah where he was skiing. With excitement in his voice said, “Shari, I wiped out on the slope today and blew out my left shoulder.” I replied “You did what you set out to do. Congratulations.” Wow!
Don’t underestimate the power of intention!
At this point, I was acutely aware I needed to get out. But, it wasn’t until an event in March that I began formulating an exit plan. We were invited by Mr. Tucson’s friends and my former bosses to their annual company awards dinner. It was held at a casino about 40 minutes from the house. We rented a room and arrived a couple of hours early to get settled and to get ready. Mr. Tucson no sooner dropped his bags when he was off to check out the casino and let his presence be known.
I had been ready for 20 minutes when I began calling Mr. Tucson’s cell phone to see where he was. We were going to be late. He still had to change. In a lot of ways, he is worse than a girl. His hair and clothes have to look perfect. This irritated me because this night was about me. I had been invited and brought him along. But, we know that’s never the way a narcissist looks at a situation.
There was a guarantee of a narcissistic tirade whenever we went out with other people. Why? Because it was my opportunity to get attention and to give attention to other people. It was a break from the daily ego-stroking and his relentless need for my undivided attention.
This night was no different, but being at my wit’s end with him, I went all out. I got my drunk on, talked with friends, danced and had a wonderful time. Each time I came to the table where Mr. Tucson was seated I was met with his bullshit. So, when he asked, “Do you want me to take the awards and the gift bags to the room?”, I told him I’d take them. I didn’t want to be there with him. I spent most of the evening away from him while he continued to try to get my attention and the attention of everyone else. He was further irritated with the attention and compliments I was getting. I equated his behavior to a child trying to get their mother’s attention by grabbing onto her, jumping up and down, waving their arms saying ”Look at me, Mom! Look at me!” By declining his offer I relieved myself of showing him gratitude and stroking his ego.
I grabbed the items from the table and headed towards the room. A sweet and funny young man that I worked with walked over. He asked where I was heading. When I told him he offered to walk with me. I agreed. We were laughing when the elevator door opened. Mr. Tucson was standing against the wall in the hallway and screams “What the fuck are you thankin?” I looked at the sweet young man to see his eyes were bigger than saucers. I patted him on the shoulder and said “I’ll see you later.”
I didn’t acknowledge Mr. Tucson until we were in the room with the door closed. He was off the charts pissed. By this point in time, I didn’t care. I had no problem shutting him down, cutting him off, walking away, or mocking him. I made it clear that I was not participating in his tantrum. Then said “If you’re continuing, I’ll get a ride to the house.” This pushed him over the edge and reduced him to say what he had said, countless times “IT’S MY FUCKING HOUSE. YOU’RE NOT GOING THERE WITHOUT ME. IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, GET THE FUCK OUT.”
Something snapped hearing those words, again. For the first time, I said “I don’t like it! I will get the fuck out!” I went to bed and turned off the lights while he stood in the dark staring at me.
I knew I was on the path to the same ending as his late wife. I had to get out. His words bit him in the ass two months later.
All Aboard! The Transformation train is leaving the station. Next stop, “Let Them Go.“