I survived narcissist hell: my survivor story.

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      When I was 25, two years in, he threw me into a closet door so hard my head bled. I couldn’t drive, so I couldn’t go anywhere; and he pressured me not to go to the hospital, because they’d judge him and he could go to jail, and had he mentioned how much he loved me?

      Even if I wanted to go, I couldn’t pay for a taxi… because already, I was putting all my money in his bank account, because apparently I wasn’t good at managing money. After all, we were saving up for the house that we would buy, and once we bought the house we’d have a baby. That’s why I had to have that abortion two years earlier, because the time wasn’t right to keep the baby, so instead when I said I’d decided to keep it, he proposed to me and said if we just saved up enough money, we could make it right and have our child when we were financially secure.

      At 30, I’d put $160k in his bank account… He’d already spent most of it, which I didn’t know, because I didn’t check. Because when you love someone, you trust them, right? And if I don’t trust him, maybe I don’t deserve him? Shut up and stop asking so many questions.

      So thanks to whatever remained, plus a $15k gift from my mum (a disabled pensioner, mind) so that we could buy a place now that I was pregnant, we were able to buy a home. Which had to be in his name, that was very important to him… I was a sole trader, after all, and maybe we wouldn’t get the loan if they knew there was a dependent, and I wanted a home, right? I didn’t want to carry on living in a two-storey home with his parents, considering my disability, I’d been bothering him by moaning for years of the chronic pain that felt like needles jammed into my neck, right? He’d had to hear me whinge for long enough. And besides, didn’t I trust him? He would never hurt me or our baby, he wouldn’t want to see us suffer. Yes, my mum was begging me not to put the house in his name alone, but he reckons that’s because she’s a bitch and she doesn’t really know what a great guy he is.

      Of course, she didn’t know much about what he was like, because I wasn’t allowed to talk about that.

      I thought I was comfortably middle class at this point, my family owned a home, I’d worked hard through my twenties and would raise our little girl in comfort. It’d make up for all the trauma of aborting the first one (oh gosh, I cried for years).

      But we couldn’t live in the house yet, he says I should go back to my mum’s house in Australia and have the baby there, stay for a year. That way, he could stay living in his parents’ house too, and that rental money would be a nest egg for our future. (All in his bank account, since of course we had nothing joint… why would we need it? He’d never betray me.)

      And then 6 months after baby was born, he met a millionaire’s daughter, and he started fucking her. And his friend told me something was up, he was spending all his time there. I’d call and he’d tell me he was at her house and he was staying the night, but that I had no right to be uncomfortable about that, and I was such a psycho. Of course he’d never cheat on me, we had a kid together. By the way, she’s so much better than me and I’m a loser for not working (I took a year outta the workforce to care for our tiny baby, in another country and with no help from him).

      I came back after a year to daily, massive scale psychological torture. I held our little girl in my arms and I cried. I was terrified, and I had nowhere to go. Our baby would see him and just scream and scream and scream. That was my fault, apparently. Seperation anxiety is because I’d spoiled her. He doesn’t need to read a book and find out what the “experts” say, and the only reason I’m reading those books is because I’m clueless. He doesn’t have to read a book to be a parent.
      I have a disability; I couldn’t change our daughter’s nappy without pull-ups, and even though he was making $80k a year, pull-ups were too expensive. When I left the house, I had to ask complete strangers to help me hold down my child while I changed her. “Why don’t you get pull-ups?” they’d ask sometimes… “Because her dad says they’re too expensive.” We weren’t poor by any means; $80k/year is a lot more than annual income where we lived, and we could afford expensive restaurant meals with his friends because he refused to eat at home. But I couldn’t change my own child’s nappy because pull-ups were too expensive; and it was too humiliating asking strangers for help to have them look at me either with sympathy or like I was mad for not just buying pull-ups. And we could only buy the cheapest pram; when it started to break, he told me we couldn’t afford a new one. I pushed around the broken pram with the messed-up wheels and it hurt my back. So I didn’t leave the house much by then.

      One day, the abuse got too much and I fled to my friend’s house for a couple of days to think about things. He “dumped” me for doing it without getting his permission (fake dumping and changing his mind the next day after he’d hurt me was a big part of his MO); he also told me the police were coming to take the baby away from me, because she belongs in her place of residence, with a man who’d shown her literally no interest because Clash of Clans was much more interesting, and of course this was a woman’s job. At this point, I was determined not to go back to him, so I started talking child support and relationship property. Apparently, despite buying our house at the start of a housing boom, which had increased its equity by approximately $200k in only a year and a half, he actually had a huge debt because “it costs a lot of money to maintain a house!” (By this point, I was realising that his lies were more than a bit stupid.)

      So, I could only stay with my friend a couple of days because she lived with her in-laws. Where to go now? I was comfortably middle-class, right? Even though I had no money in the bank. I couldn’t go to a homeless shelter with my baby, because they were already full and turning people away, right? I didn’t know that domestic violence didn’t have to involve hospitalisation and blood, and it wasn’t always like Once Were Warriors. Sometimes it could involve a charming, amiable and supposedly upstanding member of society.

      So, after about a week back living with him and his parents, I gave in to his nagging and I said we could get back together. Of course, I wouldn’t see much of him, because he was “helping [mistress] with her taxes” (he’d helped one of his relatives get out of a tax audit, with hundreds of thousands of assets thanks to some serious dodginess. I’d like to report that to the authorities, but this is a man who’ll be alone with my daughter in the future, so I won’t.)
      The abuse got worse and worse, and eventually I used my credit card to book a week in a hotel. So he told me I could go back to Australia with the baby… this seemed like a really generous thing at the time, until I found out later that the mistress had been pressuring him to leave me, and he wanted to lock this down. I told him I didn’t want to leave, though; I wanted to stay, for him to be a great dad like my dad even if we weren’t together. He was oddly insistent that I leave though. And for the couple of weeks after he booked the ticket, he treated me like a princess, told me he was thinking maybe he loved me again… and at the boarding gate, asked me to come back in 6 months to try again. I said sure.

      A week later he called me up in tears; the mistress had rejected him, because she’d slept with the guy she’d been seeing behind his back. He confessed, and asked me to come back straightaway… I wasn’t getting back on a plane when baby was finally feeling safe and sound at home. My parents’ house, the only safe home she’d ever known, where she was loved and adored. I still loved him, so I told him he could come here, or he could wait 6 months and we could be long-distance and he could show me during that time that he could be trusted and he’d learned something. He told me when I came back, we’d finally marry. (8 years engaged by this point.)

      I’ve seen his bank receipts; during those coming weeks, he spent about $10k on designer clothes trying to convince her to stay with him. It worked; the mistress dumped her own mistress (or male equivalent). Meanwhile, apparently I’d just imagined that he’d been trying to get me back; despite the fact that he’d talk to me for hours a day during this time about how much he loved me, he was actually “just checking if I was okay”. (Gaslighting was part of the daily MO too).

      So, I told him it was over; he stayed with her, he was miserable, he begged me for the first 6 months of their relationship to get back with him. I told him absolutely not. He thought if he nagged enough it would change; no. 6 months later, I told him I had a new boyfriend and he went absolutely skitz. Denied our 8-year engagement in court to try to keep the entirety of our relationship property. Hard to do when she’s paid for everything; especially since he couldn’t tell the same lie twice - first affadavit, the house was paid for by his hard work and if he’d asked anyone for help it would have been his parents; next affadavit, the house was paid for on a loan by his mum and brother, and that’s why he’d immediately responded to my saying that I would rather deal with this in court by first trying to get the place sold to his brother (which my lawyer blocked in time, thank goodness) and then by remortgaging the property and putting everything he could in family bank accounts. He couldn’t provide evidence of the transactions where they gave him money, of course. But by then, 3 years had passed and I settled for less than 1/4 of relationship property just to have him #%^! off.

      He also threatened to take our little girl away repeatedly. I was terrified, especially since he’s a citizen of a country that’s not part of the Hague Convention. But he’s never even gone for visitation, so I’m thinking terrorising me is a lot more fun than being a father.

      Today, he’s still with the mistress who was so much more successful than me (i.e. had rich parents) because I “don’t even work” (1 year career break). For the last 5 years, he’s been working dad’s takeaway shop, and has been interviewed in food blogs more than once saying he “quit his job in IT”, but according to him, he’s just there occassionally volunteering and he was “forced to resign” and he owes no one an explanation. Child support debt is massive, not a penny since he quit his job.
      But I have an amazing daughter, a career that is so much better because I got rid of his lazy, misogynistic ass, and a man that ticks every box: kind, smart, gorgeous, financially responsible and makes me happy every day. The mistress treats him just like he treated me, which she can get away with because he doesn’t want to miss out on her daddy’s money (and it turns out that his dad’s takeaway shop is now failing miserably, so he can’t make much money of his own accord).

      6 years ago, he told me while I held our baby girl in my arms that I was never going to do anything with my life. Today, I’m successful, make a great income, and have a bright future. He has all of the success and prosperity he deserves… none at all. Because it turns out that rather than conning, lying and stealing, in the long run you’ll do a lot better when you work hard and honestly for your family, and you’re actually good at things.

      I’ve been reading a lot about post-traumatic growth, and I feel that for all the shit he fed me, I’ve turned it into fuel. I am a strong woman raising a strong woman now, with a man who loves and values me instead of seeing me as a get-rich-quick-scheme. I work in an NFP job that I do so much better at because of my lived experience of abuse and poverty, too.

      Just like the phoenix rising from the ashes, my future is bright, and he is exactly where he belongs.

      I still think about what happened a lot; in the middle of the night, when my mind wanders. When I worry about the fact that he still has an “in” in the form of our daughter; we live in different countries, and they Skype once a week, and he love-bombs her massively and gets a whole lot of narcissistic supply out of it. He told me once he would make her hate me; I know he could never do that, but sometimes (especially at night) I still feel like I can’t breathe. And for all my functional successes, when I think about him and my chest tightens, and I struggle to breathe, for those little scraps of time it’s like I’m still stuck in that nightmare.

      But I’m not. Now I have a partner that holds me when I get scared, instead of being the reason I’m scared. And I’ve told him bits of this story. I’ve never told anyone this much of it before; and if I told the whole thing, it’d be book-length! But it’s been six years, and I want to write this all down here, and then I want to forget it and move on.
      Because this is and always has been my life, not my abuser’s.

      With this story written down, it’s time to forget.

      You have no power over me.

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