My parents had planned a trip to Mount Rushmore and my sister and nieces were traveling with them. We were invited however I could not get an answer from my ‘wasband’ about going with them. I wanted to go. He kept putting me off. What I knew would happen, because it had happened so many times before, was everyone would leave, vacation and have a great time together and after the fact he would say, “Man, wish we could have gone. Oh, well. Another time.” The day after my parents left, I decided I’d had it. Enough being told we’d go next time. I was sick and tired of work being the top priority and the kids and I fitting somewhere under the bottom of his priority list.
I hastily loaded the camper with what we would need for a few days, beach towels, swim suits, bedding, food, etc. I greased the hitch, checked the tire pressure and made sure all the lights worked. I called him and let him know the kids and I would be back in a few days. There was a lot of back and forth and him hem hawing around saying how he’d sure like to go with us. That turned into me being a real bitch for leaving him behind which turned into me being a terrible mother. I was so used to his slanderous onslaught and so hell bent on leaving to spend time with my family, I didn’t much care. So on down the road the kids and I rolled with that old Sandpiper 5th wheel in tow. I made it an hour and a half up the road …..
What happened next was something out of a Steve Martin or Robin Williams movie. I probably would have laughed about it later if it hadn’t turned into the shame and blame game. If you’ve hauled much, you know that your mirrors are your best bet at keeping tabs on what’s going on behind you and around you. I’ve avoided disastrous, fender chewing flats because I watch my mirrors. This particular day was not different. I looked in my mirror to see something fly out from under the camper. My first thought was, “Oh great, a damn flat!” As I watched my passenger side mirror though, it wasn’t rubber that was dancing along the side of the camper. It looked almost like insulation but where on earth would insulation be coming from? No sooner had the question popped into my head as I searched my mirror and the whole side of that old thing started peeling back!!! I eased on over onto the shoulder and slowed that rig down as fast as I could. I flipped on my flashers and sat for a minute. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in my mirror and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do to remedy it. I told the kids to sit tight and I jumped out of the pick up as trucks, cars and pick ups sped by. Upon inspection the seam at the nose of the camper had given way and at 70 mph it didn’t stand a chance. “Okay Jess, think … think … think …” I decided my best bet was to hunt down a roll of duct tape. I was sure there had to be a roll in the camper or the pick up. After what felt like hours, I came up empty handed. I knew what I needed to do however I was sure I might die doing it. I needed to unhitch my wagon so that I could run to the Home Depot I’d seen several miles back and get some duct tape. The issue was the oncoming traffic!
I held my breath, squeezed my eyes closed and began cranking that old sucker up off the pick up. It was sketchy every time an eighteen wheeler would go by and I prayed that she (that old Sandpiper 5th wheel) didn’t get hit while I was away. I jumped in the pick up and smiled at the kids, “Not to worry, we’ll get this fixed in a jiff!” and off to the Home Depot we went. I can remember as clear as day loading the kids in a shopping cart to keep them near and walking into that store headed for my simple purchase. I grabbed six rolls of that magic all-around repair tape! I stood at the register to pay and my debit card was declined. Wait, what!?! Four … more … times I swiped it ….. my ‘wasband’ had shut off my card. That was the game, right!?! Didn’t want to go, but didn’t want the kids and I to go either.
I was embarrassed and walked out of the store empty handed. My only option now was to call my ‘wasband’ to let him know we’d run into a problem. There are walks of shame and there are calls of shame. This was a call of shame. After being lectured on how asinine it is to “play games” with him and a subsequent lecture on doing something half-assed, he decided he’d drive up and fix the camper so that I could limp it home ….. after he was done working. It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt at that point in time. The strongest emotion was defeat. I remember feeling so deflated, defeated and hopeless. What I was desperate for was time with my family, enjoying my kids with a little space and air to breath. What I got was more of the same, feeling suffocated as I breathed the stifling air that was my marriage, my walls closing in on me.
I limped the camper home so it could be repaired … with duct tape. I called my mom, trying not to cry and told her how sorry I was that we wouldn’t be joining them. I unpacked everything and repeatedly hugged on each kid as I told them it was okay, sometimes crappy stuff happens and things don’t go according to plan and … ugh … I told them we’d try and go another time.
Work is a part of life. I think we all understand that. What I knew to be true was I wasn’t a priority in that man’s life. Shoot, neither were the kids. I wasn’t his first thought in the morning or his last thought as he drifted off to sleep. There was only money for the things he wanted and what he claimed were “work expenses”, nothing extra for us. He was perfectly okay with his wife and kids (who should be his most prized possessions) sitting on the side of the highway hitched up to a worn out camper waiting for help from him while he “worked” or rather should I say, “punished” them for having the audacity to load up and go on an adventure. Instead of a hug and a, “Man am I sorry this happened. You must be so disappointed. Let’s figure out how to get you back on the road.” I was met with lectures and ridicule.
A narcissist MUST shame you and treat you, including speaking to you, as if you are the smallest, most insignificant crustacean on the planet. It’s how they manipulate and control you. It is also how they drain the life out of you. When you show a little spark of who’s inside, they up their game to extinguish that little ember. It’s psychological warfare and they do not care who might be affected in their wake, including their kids.
Healing from narcissistic abuse is work. I have learned that my greatest weapon I wield is taking all that I’ve learned and continue to learn from this past relationship and use it to redesign my life with a more positive outcome. I’ve taken the toxicity of his continued abuse and used it to fuel my own success. I’ve taken the ashes he’d hoped would scatter and blow away in the wind and risen up out of them more bold, stepping into my purpose and power. You too can rise up out of your ashes! You too can take what was meant to harm and debilitate you and create a more positive future for yourself! You too can learn great lessons from that toxic relationship and use those lessons to propel you forward stepping into your own power and purpose! Allow my horses and I the humbling opportunity to step alongside and support you in your healing.
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