He wasn’t entirely to blame, this I’m sure.
I guess, I had my faults (as does any other Tom, Dick or Harry) and sometimes when two people are put together with a load of issues between themselves, fireworks go off (and not in a good way).
But I’m not taking the entire blame for it all either (much as he would have people believe) because, that would be feeding from his hand, and I stopped doing that four years ago (almost five!).
I never knew what a ‘narcissist’ was up until my relationship with, let’s call him ‘Ted’ ended in 2012. I heard the term being used by my counsellor – the word itself doesn’t sound pleasant which made me slightly reluctant to accept that Ted was one (I was still under his spell at this point, seven years ago – I was 19 years old). Surely, it was all my fault – he said it was and I believed him.
So what was Ted like? First impressions, for me, weren’t too memorable, in fact I recall saying to one of my friends “he’s not my type”.
Ted happened to be the DJ at a pub my friends and I ended up going to one random Sunday night in December… or was it Saturday? I really can’t remember – like I said, not too memorable. I was just out of a 2-year relationship with my “childhood sweetheart” and not looking to jump into anything romantic (I was 17 years old at this point). But I do remember he asked me for my Facebook ID and said something about the shape of my lips in an attempt to flatter me.
Alas, things change and fate intertwines. My parents were so worried that I would end up back with my ex-boyfriend, they practically forced me to go on my first date with Ted (they probably wish they hadn’t now!)
By February 2010, Ted had taken me out on a few dates and asked me to be his girlfriend more than once before I finally felt I should give him a chance. He seemed mature (ten years my senior to be precise), he was from a very religious background (his father was a Minister and he was also studying Divinity at University) and we had music in common. He took us on our first road trip up North where we stayed in a log cabin with hot tub and had a fantastic time. We never ran out of things to say and it seemed, I was falling for him pretty fast!
However, looking back, a much wiser version of myself would probably have noticed some slight oddities in Ted from the get go. He had confused and upset me a couple of times during our “honeymoon” days, silly things really…
- On our very first date, he asked me to rate myself out of 10. He went on to tell me what he rated himself and that he would only date girls the same or below him – I thought this was really strange!
- He would talk of girls he used to date – high flying Doctor’s with nice cars and big houses, beauticians with (and I quote) “perkier breasts than me that were as big as mine and also natural”
(I had always been very insecure about my bust, having had to live with 32G’s from the age of 13 often getting ridiculed in school for having “tissue down my bra” (which wasn’t true).
- He made a comment once about me being his “trophy” girlfriend for his trophy car (I suppose this could have been seen as a compliment)
- He didn’t allow me to go to the public toilet of a venue he was working at, he wanted me to use the staff toilets for my own safety
Those little signs seemed exactly that at the time – little, and insignificant.
His Graduation would be the first time he would publically display control over me in front of his family and business partner at the time.
He would put his hand over my wine glass at dinner and go on to say to his dad who was pouring for the table, “she has had enough wine” (this would have been my second glass).
Things started to get worse as the first year went on – I began working for him as a DJ and Karaoke Host which I absolutely adored! I was good at my job and venue owners began asking for me personally – he never would admit it, but he didn’t like this and would try to out-do me at karaoke events by singing over me (I am a singer and vocal coach by trade and his competitiveness never bothered or threatened me). Though on the flip side he would always appear supportive of my abilities and take lessons from me himself.
He took me on our first couple holiday to Dominican Republic which blew me away – he was one for nice gestures and a holiday seemed like a good idea at the time. He proposed to me on the first night – I said yes.
Another holiday came shortly after, when my parents decided to congratulate us by treating us to a week in Salou – an opportunity for them to really get to know their future son-in-law. Bar a couple of days, the holiday was an epic fail.
- Ted would sleep in most mornings and we would miss breakfast with my parents
- He would sunbathe in the shade with trainers and socks up to his shins (who does that!?)
- He would have migraines most of the days and expect me to stay in the room with him therefore, miss out on all the evening outings and the group trip to Port Aventura Theme Park
There was a lovely Italian Restaurant situated at the base of our hotel that Ted had promised to take me to one evening – he would end up going himself the one evening I decided not to stay in the room with him and his migraine. I had returned early to make sure he was ok to find an empty bed and an empty room… unknown to me, he treated himself to fine dining for one. He wouldn’t say so, but this was my punishment for leaving him in the first place.
The second lot of signs came shortly into play upon returning…
- I wasn’t allowed to see my best friends, Stuart and Stephen (though he would actively text his ex-girlfriend on a nightly basis, not allowing me to see what was said and accusing me of being jealous and paranoid), other girls were also contacted on a regular basis
- I was to reduce time spent with my sisters and parents (they were “bad influences”)
- I was
questionedinterrogated on a daily basis of things that had happened – past and presently and would often be told I was lying and that the story had changed (this caused me to doubt my memory and till this day, I struggle to trust my memory when telling a story and feel sick in case I get a detail wrong)
- He would disappear for days and text to tell me “he needed space” or it “wasn’t working” and would reappear at my mums house days of sleepless nights later with flowers and pizza
- He would text my mum telling her I needed “help”, I was emotionally unstable or that our relationship was over and I was coming home
- He got his dad to have a talk with me about my family, mental health and feelings without my permission
There were numerous arguments initially as I naturally tried to rebel against his demands by going out with my friends without telling him or if I refused to accept it was all my fault – it never ended well and with it almost always resulting in a “break-up”, me begging on all fours for him to re-consider and (the inevitable) delivery to my parents house, I slowly learnt to not argue back. Isolation become my only other friend.
We went to Piperdam, Perth for another couples retreat – a chance for us to start again and for me to meet his God-Daughter and friends from up North.
Piperdam ended up being a retreat from Hell – not only did his “God-daughter” look his spit (he denies having any biological relation to her), he took me to his psychiatrist friend one night to be informally assessed during coffee! This resulted in a diagnosis of “Attention Seeking” and “Immature”, rather than what I was beginning to think I was “crazy” and “depressed”.
Needless to say I was in tears, traumatised and completely confused by the entire situation. Things got heated once more that evening when I had accused Ted of obviously not loving me which resulted in, you guessed it, another break up!
I spent the next two days in complete turmoil. I literally begged him daily for something – there was no intimacy and that really bothered me. I felt guilty for ruining his break away, I felt lonely and I couldn’t understand why this kept happening to us. The not-knowing made me physically sick on several occasions! I think we did play a few games of Monopoly Digital and shared a few brief laughs which of course, gave me false hope that perhaps things weren’t so bad and he was simply sulking.
He drove me back to my parents house (the whole 5 hour drive in awkward silence) and told me before exiting the car “he wasn’t sure what he wanted”. At this point, I asked him outright “are we over?”, he said “no”. I felt relieved at least for a little while…
I got a call at 3.30am to say that “he had been thinking and, actually it was over”. Engagement off.
A couple of weeks went by and I was getting stronger without him. A part of me almost proud of myself for handling it so well this time. But then, I got a text asking me to come by the Manse and foolishly, I went, adamant I would be strong and not give in – the whole crap, each weak woman tries to convince herself.
We got back together again – I emphasised that it was on condition we made it work, no more breaking-up as it was killing me. We would actually do things together and would watch less Bay Watch and movies in our free time. He reassured me and insisted the engagement be back on, (much to my hesitation) I agreed.
Things were good for a while after that – he would have a bath run for me after college and make me dinner. It was nice, but it never lasted long until things were back to normal again.
Still, we pushed on and decided to move into our first home in the Summer of 2012 – a large farmhouse that we had both fell in love with almost instantly. It needed a lot of work done to it and would eventually become my project and obsession to block out my sadness which at this point, was overwhelmingly unbearable.
Distance was his main weapon at this point. Now that we had our own isolated farmhouse home, I would be alone most of the day, every day when I wasn’t working at weekends. Ted would be sleeping, watching movies or away doing weekday and weekend gigs not getting home until after 1am. I would paint, clean, talk to our neighbours and play with their dogs.
Not having my family around was starting to take its toll on me and so, I began sneaking them into the house on Sunday’s when Ted was away the whole day. It brought me some comfort and I always remember the feeling of waving them goodbye from my farmhouse window, smiling so as to not make them suspect… but they all knew. I was sad and broken.
I started to suspect that Ted was seeing other girls when I had called late one Sunday night to ask where he was. He had whispered and reassured me he was working later as the pub was busy, unknown to him I had already asked a barmaid there how the night was going to find that the pub had shut early due to lack of punters. Where was Ted? I pretended to sleep when he finally returned at silly o’clock and woke the next day adamant I would find out what was going on for myself.
I did some digging in his office (I’m not proud) and came across a disturbing letter addressed to him from an angered parent of his ex-girlfriend. I had been told about her – she was a devout Christian girl with morals. They never worked out because she was always asking Ted to be intimate and he was very much influenced by his religion at this point and never wanted to break his faith. They parted and that was that.
But as I read this mini-novel, it all seemed eerily familiar to my life with Ted. This girl was completely messed up and heart-broken due to the mistreatment he put her through – Ted had broken up with her in PIPERDAM, wouldn’t allow her to drink alcohol, left her stranded and alone after a fight and her brother had to come and get her and she was knocked down by the things he would say to make her feel inadequate.
I felt sick.
Why did Ted keep this letter? Was it some kind of sick trophy? I wanted to understand, so I decided to confront him and as expected, it was dismissed quickly and I was victim of abuse for breaching his right for privacy.
Sex wasn’t happening and hadn’t been for a good month or two – he would say I was making it “a chore” and that he was “too depressed”. So eventually I stopped trying and started crying myself to sleep at night thinking I was unattractive.
Then one night I finally plucked up the courage to ask him what was wrong (I think, knowing the answer deep down). It was around 4am – he sat in his office, pretending to work or actually working (who knows) and I leant on the radiator facing him. “Please, tell me what’s wrong?” I pleaded. He sat in silence – knowing that every long, lingering moment seemed, to me, like an hour had passed- finally, he looked me in the eyes (the first time he had in weeks) and with the blankest of expression’s, said four words – “my feelings have changed”.
I will never forget the feeling of those words hitting me – my tongue had pins and needles, my throat felt swollen and numb, my body was shivering uncontrollably and my mind was racing but I couldn’t catch a single thought. I dropped to the floor in shock and sat for what seemed like ages.
Eventually, I asked him “what do you want to do?” – his reply “I don’t know”.
My last spout of desperation (every ounce of dignity I had left) had me come up with one last attempt to save myself humiliation for the fourth time – I offered to move back to my mums for a few days to give him space to think.
The next morning I packed a few bags of clothes (almost hoping he would stop me – he didn’t).
It was Monday, his “day off” so I had naturally assumed he would drive me there (30 minute drive versus 60 minutes bus ride). He drove me to the bus stop five minutes away from the farmhouse, bags in hand like a homeless person and drove away leaving me in tears for all the world to see. I waited for the bus with all eyes on me.
His reason? He “didn’t want me to make a scene at my mums house and waste his day off”.
A few days became a week and suddenly he was at my parents house with his van full of all of my belongings. My mum wanted me to stay out of sight and let her and my dad deal with him, but I didn’t want him feeling he still had power over me (even though he did). I faced him on m own and without a tear in my eye, I graciously took my belongings. He hugged me tight and told me he loved me and then he was gone. (Mind fuck).
Whilst I was trying to get my head around what had happened, I had asked Ted to postpone changing Facebook until I had told members of my family the situation – he ignored and went on to publically announce his break-up with the “crazy girl who made him extremely depressed”. I watched as girls from his gigs commented their support and confirmed I was crazy because I had added them on Facebook to “spy” on him (these were girls who also attended my gigs frequently and therefore, were mutual associates I was trying to build rapport with). He was the injured party and I was suddenly the big bad wolf.
I cried for weeks – all night, all day, in college and out and lost two stone for good measure! My student advisor had advised me to postpone my studies till the following year which was the kick up the backside I needed to hear – I was failing Music!?
Ted would contact me the occasional evening for weeks after our break-up, I am ashamed to admit he still had a hold on me despite everything. He would tell me to dress up a certain way and meet him after his gigs where he would drive me back to our old house. There was more intimacy out-with our relationship in those short weeks that followed, than there was in 2 years with him! I remember asking him, almost trying to convince him that you can’t share a bed with your ex without loving them still, but he would assure me, it was “just sex” and “meant nothing”.
I stopped being his booty call when I realised that I was wasting my time on wishful thinking. I got a job working as an Events Manager at one of his resident venues and took over Entertainment through my own small business. As a retaliation, Ted would stage a drama by visiting me out the blue one day and presenting me with our anniversary present I had made him (a memory book). I tore it up and left it in front of him and with it, brought closure to my lingering turmoil.
I hadn’t seen Ted in two years after than incident, and would only do so again in desperation for a job and an escape from yet another difficult situation involving an older man (a story for another day).
He would give me the job and attempt to start things over – I would go on to date him once to realise that he hadn’t changed at all yet fate of having Ted in my life for that short space of time would miraculously lead me to meeting my, now husband, at one of the resident gigs he would put me in.
Life is a funny, funny thing!