When we left of in Sex Love and Obesity Part 29 my new boyfriend’s comment about Peter being a Narcissist lead me to start researching the subject. As a result, a lot of the experiences I had with Peter began making more sense.
If you had told me someone was a Narcissist prior to this, I would have instantly thought of someone who is vain about their appearance. Someone who spends a lot of time in front of the mirror. Someone who is overly self-confident and boastful about their good looks. I’d be envisioning someone like Gaston from Beauty and The Beast.
I didn’t know Narcissistic Personality Disorder existed, what it was, or that it was classified as a mental health condition. But before I delve into the realization that I was dealing with a Narcissist, let’s talk about how my second attempt at happily ever after with Peter to into my worst nightmare.
We started going to couples’ therapy.
That was a hot mess. Our therapy sessions basically turned into Peter voicing the same old grievances over and over on repeat. It was about me smoking weed and going to Paris without him. His issues with me wanting to do too much on my own and seeking too much independence in a relationship were all resurfacing.
When it began, I was hoping it was all about the therapist needing the history behind our issues in order to help us. But as it progressed, I began realizing that although Peter was telling me his attitude about all these things were going to change, they hadn’t. He still very much believed that his feelings about all these things were fair, justified and valid.
I kept circling back to the fact that I had felt emotionally abused in the relationship. I felt Peter was in denial about the fact that how he treated me was emotionally abusive. There was no way we were going to be able to save this relationship if I continued to feel emotionally abused. I’d just end up leaving again.
And then there were the new grievances. We both had jealously issues regarding the people we had been with in the time that we had been apart. Peter wanted me to break off all ties with Shane and Atlantis. I wanted him to break off all ties with the woman he had been perusing. We were both agreeable to the others wants in this regard. But when Peter began demanding that I break off all ties to Clark, I began digging my heels into the sand.
He wasn’t taking my friendship with Clark away from me.
There was no debating this issue with me. I wasn’t going to compromise. Clark had been a part of my life for nearly twenty years. Our relationship was ending, yet again, since it wasn’t fulfilling my physical need for intimacy. But I wasn’t giving up a friendship with someone who had been a prevalent part of my life for so long just because Peter had jealousy issues with it. Peter was going to have to get over it.
Peter had issues with the fact that I still loved Clark. That wasn’t going to change. I will always love Clark. But I had finally come to the realization that I could love someone without being in love with them. Peter was going to have to accept that or we we’re wasting our time. I was willing to work on the relationship and make compromises. But I wasn’t giving up Clark, running or my career to make Peter happy. If he couldn’t learn to deal with those three things without jealousy and resentment, we weren’t going to work.
I had an overwhelming fear that the abuse would get worse.
So, I set some very clear boundaries going into the relationship this time around. I wasn’t going to allow him to alienate me from my friends again. There wasn’t going to be any tolerance for the constant arguing and fighting. I wasn’t going to accept the emotional blackmail tactics or him pushing me into doing things I wasn’t ready to do. There would be no guilt trips about running, work or time I was spending with my friends.
At first, Peter kept reassuring me that he could handle all of this. But I wasn’t necessarily convinced. I started having panic attacks and nightmares. The panic attacks would hit right after intimacy. We’d be laying there cuddling after sex and suddenly my body was shaking and trembling. I had this overwhelming feeling that I was allowing someone I knew to be abusive back into my life.
This staggering fear was paralyzing me. The fear that he would hurt me again made me question my own sanity. As a survivor of childhood emotional, physical, verbal and sexual abuse, I had spent countless years of my life angry and upset with people who knew that the man who abused me had abused other women in my family. Now, I couldn’t help but think that I was doing to myself what I was so angry at others for doing to me.
Peter kept reassuring me things would get better.
Peter kept reminding me that were just readjusting to life together again. I kept believing him.
He was sitting at my kitchen table. I was standing on the opposite side.
We’d been arguing about my friendship with Clark for nearly an hour and I wasn’t giving in.
The argument was interrupted by the ringing sound of my telephone. The caller ID showed that the incoming call was from the leasing office of my apartment complex.
“Hi, this is the leasing office, we we’re just calling to make sure that you are okay.” There words were confusing and left me wondering what had prompted such a question.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, we’ve been receiving calls from your neighbors about yelling and screaming and they are expressing concern for your safety.”
“Oh.” The realization of what was happening hit me like a ton of lead bricks. “Okay, I understand.”
“Are you sure you are okay? Do you need us to call the police?”
“No, that won’t be necessary. But thank you for asking.”
“Alright. But just so you know, if we receive any more calls, we’ll have to call the police with a domestic violence concern.”
“I understand, that won’t be necessary, thank you again.”
Peter and I had argued like this more times than I could count. But never, had it been so bad the neighbors called concerned about my well-being. After hanging up the phone I asked Peter to leave. I wanted to disengage. I reminded him that I wasn’t going to get sucked back into the volatile arguments when he wasn’t getting his way. He left and over the course of the next couple of weeks, the panic attacks got worse.
I went to New Orleans for a Weight Loss Convention.
Surprisingly, Peter didn’t throw his usual temper-tantrum about me going off on a trip without him. He managed to restrain himself. Instead, he made sure that I knew that I had been wrong about the Disney trip including a wedding proposal. He had not been planning on proposing to me again at Disney. He had been planning on proposing to me again in New Orleans. But after our break up, his financial situation had changed drastically, and he couldn’t afford to go to the convention.
The trip had a bitter sweet note for me. On one hand, I was happy that Peter was handling my going on a trip without him without throwing a fit. On the other hand, the information he had given me made the trip sad for me. I wanted so badly for us to get back to where we were and be able to have a happy and healthy relationship with each other. And yet, we were nowhere near there. In some ways, there was a sense of relief that he wasn’t going, in others there was a sadness about him not being there.
Before I left, Peter warned me there was a possibility I might run into an uncomfortable situation while I was there. There was another woman he had been talking to during our break-up. Their conversations had become flirty and they we’re planning on sharing a room together and hooking up at the convention. But then, he had started exploring a relationship with the girl from Instagram and had decided not to go to the convention. He gave me a clear warning that I might run into her and it might be awkward. But there was no preparing me for what was about to happen.
Because, was about to happen was emotionally heart crushing.
I did indeed run into the girl. In fact, she was hanging out in the same circle of friends I was. And, admittedly it was awkward. What do you say? “Oh hey, nice to see you, I know you meant to sleep with my boyfriend at this convention, sorry that didn’t work out for you guys?” Yeah. It was awkward. But she was hanging out with my close-knit circle of friends. And really, I couldn’t fault her much. I’d done many of the same things at conventions. It happens. I wasn’t about to be that girl that faults some woman for something I would have done myself.
A few of my friends mentioned that she thought I was upset with her or disliked her. So, I decided to address the elephant in the room. We were at a typical after-hours party when I walked up to her, “Hey, just so you know, I’m not upset about what happened with you and Peter while we were broken up. I don’t hold it against you or anything.” I didn’t tell her Peter and I were back together. It had only been a couple of weeks. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone just yet.
She gave me a look that I can’t really describe. It was somber. A look of regret and remorse. “If there is more to it than I know, I’d appreciate you telling me,” I told her. “It started way before you guys broke up.” I was in utter shock. The concept of Peter showing interest in another woman prior to our breaking up was literally mind blowing to me. “When?” I asked. She told me that it had been going on for quite a while.
This betrayal had a traumatic impact on me.
I left the Party and called Peter. I exploded on him on the phone. We argued for hours. Peter denied that anything other than innocent flirting had occurred.
I asked to see logs of the conversations. He said he had deleted them, worried I might find them. That didn’t make any sense to me. I had never felt the need to snoop into Peter’s conversations, because quite honestly, I truly I didn’t believe Peter was capable of that sort of thing. I had never doubted Peter’s love or loyalty.
Since Peter couldn’t provide the logs of their conversations, I asked the woman involved if she could.
After explaining that Peter and I were in the process of trying to put our relationship back together and my fierce need to know what had transpired and whether or not he was being honest with me about the “innocent flirtation,” we met back up at the bar. She allowed me to read through the messages on her phone. What I read was even more shocking.
I’m not sure what most people consider innocent flirting. But the part that still sticks out in my mind is Peter receiving sexy photos of her, telling her how attractive she was, and then informing her that he was going to masturbate to her photos after walking the dog. I was away for the weekend with my girlfriends running a half marathon at Disney.
I couldn’t believe he had done this.
This had taken place just a few short weeks after our first Valentine’s Day living together.
We had gotten through the proposal I accepted and then declined in December. I had contacted a lawyer in January and had official separation papers drawn up. I was in the process of getting the divorce he wanted me to get.
In the wake of him being upset about me going on another Disney Half Marathon trip with my girlfriends we had started planning a Disney Trip in May and again in December. The May trip would have taken him to California Disney for the first time. The December trip was void of any running events. At the time he had done this, I was literally giving Peter everything that he wanted.
Our sex life was almost back to normal after his recovery from his hip injury.
The timing of when he had done this puzzled me. Why would he have done this during a time in the relationship when things were actually going pretty good?
What Peter had done, as innocent as it seemed to him, devastated me. Coming back from New Orleans I was depressed, more depressed than I had been in as long as I could remember. For the first week or so I was suicidal. The last time I can even remember feeling suicidal was in the year or so preceding my weight loss surgery, when I felt like life was a hopeless endeavor and I was going to spend the rest of it weighing over 400 lb.
The irony of all of this killed me.
For our entire relationship Peter had been jealous. Jealous of anyone, and anything that was special to me or that I cared about. He had this fierce need for me to love him more than I loved anything or anyone else.
In Peter’s head I loved running more than I loved him. I cared more about medals than I cared about him. He felt like I put my friendships and my career before our relationship. I didn’t love him enough to stop doing the things he didn’t want me to do. Everything I did or didn’t do translated into me not loving him enough.
Yet, for the first time in my whole life, I had been faithful. I had never cheated on Peter. During the entire relationship, I had never strayed. Never so much as looked at another man or thought about being with another man.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around all of this. He was jealous of all this stupid shit. I didn’t love him enough, and yet, he was the one with his hand wrapped around his swizzle stick getting off to images of other women.
Peter and I had both cheated in previous relationships.
Because of our histories, we talked a lot about indiscretion in a relationship. For both of us, cheating was a big deal. Peter didn’t see what he did as actual cheating. But for me, it was way too close to what I had experienced in my marriage. My ex-husband had spent years of our marriage having affairs online that he lied to me about repeatedly.
They say that narcissists feed on the emotional fuel that the get out of having someone’s entire world revolve around them. They build up a mask that they wear that makes them seem perfect.
When people start to see them for who they really are, they feel vulnerable. It makes them panic and as a result they start laying on the charm again.
But it wasn’t going to work this time. The mask had been shattered.
Peter did just that. I came home from New Orleans to handmade gifts he had made for my apartment. At first, he tried really hard to repair the damage he had done to the relationship.
I don’t know if Peter realized it at the time, but me finding out what he had done prior to us breaking up, completely changed my perception of him. My adoration of Peter revolved around how deeply I believed he loved me. It centered around my belief that he never even so much as looked at other women. Its foundation was cemented in the fact that I literally believed nobody else could ever love me like he did and that he could never love anyone else the way he loved me.
I didn’t see Peter as being perfect. He may have believed he was, but I didn’t. I did however, see Peter’s love as perfect. Until this moment, I believed that he loved me perfectly and that I would never find that perfect love with anyone else but him.
But once I found out he started flirting with other women and was masturbating to their photos, suddenly, that perspective was gone. And, once that was gone, all I was left with was a guy that I believed emotionally abused me. Only now, I didn’t have that “But he loves me so much it’s worth dealing with,” rationalization to justify it anymore.
Everything that was toxic and wrong about this relationship got lost for me behind a mask of “perfect love.” But now, the mask had shattered. Now, I was finally going to start seeing Peter for who he really was.