Twenty-five years ago today, on August 23, 1990, I met a man that I dated briefly. We were together for exactly 3 months when I broke up with him. The brief time together was life altering for me & not necessarily in a good way.
I was 19, & he was 28. He had a lovely old house on the water & a good job. He said he was close to his family, even though they lived far apart. He had a way about him that gave the impression he had it all together. Since I’d just moved out of my parents house only months before, I was hungry for stability. I figured he was a good, stable man & I’d be happy with him. After all, my friend said she thought so. I didn’t trust my own instincts that said I should run, & instead listened to her.
I’m not saying he was a bad man, but he had some problems. He was extremely jealous, which was a problem since I worked with mostly men. He treated me as if I was stupid & he was much older & wiser, which really got on my nerves. He was extremely controlling as well. In fact, so much so, we ended up engaged because he said I would marry him. No romantic proposal, no ring- just a command. After 3 months, I was tired. I’d have enough control games from my mother, so I decided no more. I broke up with him on November 23, 1990. He screamed at me for hours, telling me how much I’d regret it, he was a good guy, I was ruining his life, I made a big mistake, etc. I even thought he was going to hit me once but my cat Magic put a stop to it by scratching him while his dog got between us. That event left me feeling incredibly guilty for many years. Every August 23, I would beat myself up for ruining Mike’s life.
Then in January of 2014, I read on my county police facebook page that this man was dead. He shot his gay lover then himself. I also saw in that same article that he had a felony weapons charge from the week before his death. His mug shot was on the article, & obviously the years since I’d left him had been very hard on him. He looked very different- much harder & older. So much so that I didn’t even recognize him.
It really shook me up. It took me months before this information sank in. I lost the guilt & got very angry at myself for not knowing what Mike was really like. I also got angry at him for treating me like I was the only one with problems when clearly he had plenty of issues himself. I was always wrong. I was crazy. At least according to him.
Since, I have come to accept what happened & am no longer angry with him. I now appreciate the few good things that came from that brief relationship, such as him getting me into classic rock, especially the Eagles & Styx. I also was able to adopt Magic because of him, & he even named him. He also was the first person to truly grasp how cruelly my mother treated me. We had my parents to dinner one night & my mother was insulting me at every turn. Mike was truly upset by her behavior, & apologized to me for doubting when I said she was abusive.
I realized though, that this man wasn’t the only person in my life who was like this, however. I think it must happen with many adult children of narcissists. I think we attract dysfunctional people who try to put their dysfunction on us.
My ex husband always said I was wrong. Every argument was my fault. If he got mad at me & punched walls, I made him do it. I was unreasonable for wanting for him to stop running up credit card debt or depending on his mother to bail him out financially.
The friend who thought I should go out with the man I mentioned? She was in control of our relationship. Period. She would not hesitate to guilt trip me if I didn’t do what she wanted.
I had another friend while married to my ex who talked to me as if I was dumb as a box of hair. Always wanted favors from me too, & rarely did anything in return. She once chewed me out for not calling her back in a timely manner, even though I didn’t get the message until hours after she called.
I would like to encourage you, Dear Reader, to do something I didn’t do when I was in these dysfunctional relationships. Look at the people in your life, especially the critical & needy ones. How do they treat you? Do they blame you for everything? Are you always the problem? Are you supposed to do for them while they don’t need to be there for you? Answer such questions honestly. You may realize that you need to end some toxic relationships. If you realize you need to do this, ask God for help. Ask Him to give you the strength you need to end the relationships & the wisdom on how to best handle the situation.