Since this topic has become a sort of blog appearantly, I feel like putting up another update. One big wall of text coming up!
Like I mentioned before, I got into a relationship with one of the managers from the shelter I had been staying. Perhaps you've seen my other topic: How do I leave him? Here's the full story.
To be honest, I immediately knew the situation wasn't a healthy one. When he first started flirting with me, I didn't even like him! I was disgusted, and went to his co-workers to say he was sexually harassing me. In the meantime I told him he made me feel uncomfortable with his behaviour, and he agreed to stop. I then heard from someone else that he and the co-worker I told my story to had issues with each other, and got the feeling that my complaint was going to be used as a pawn in a dirty game. I didn't want that to happen either, so when his boss came to me about the issue, I told her I did feel awkward when he flirted with me, but that the flirting had stopped since I told him it made me feel uncomfortable. She then told him that, in general, he had to keep his distance with the guests, and left it at that.
For a few weeks everything was fine. We did have a nice kind of contact with each other, we made jokes and talked and everything, but he kept his distance as promised. However, the fact that he liked my jokes (usually playful insultments towards him), and the fact that he had nothing to say against them (which he usually had with others), gave me a kind of affirmation that was so addicting I couldn't stop anymore. And when I got sick and he showed me some care and concern, I started developing feelings for him. Of course he picked up on that, and consequently picked the flirting back up as well.
I was still so confused about my feelings! How could I report sexual harassment one moment, and then fall for him the next? Add to that the fact that relationships between guests and managers, and therefore the fear of anyone finding out and having to suffer the consequences (like getting kicked out), and you've got the perfect situation in which it was easy to mess with my mind.
Even though I told him I needed more time and space to figure out my feelings, he kept invading my personal space, touching my butt, kissing my neck, and eventually even french kissing me. Already tired of constantly fending off the men at the shelter, and not exactly feeling threatened by him, I allowed him to. We ended up actually dating.
Eventually a woman who also stayed at the shelter saw our dynamics and asked questions about it. I denied dating him at first, but at some point caved and told her everything. She adviced me to stop this, that I wouldn't find the love and care I was looking for with him, but promised to keep her mouth shut about us.
The next day, however, I got a text from him saying that his semi-boss (not his actual boss, someone below his boss but above him) called him to the office. According to him, the woman had been talking about us. I paniced. I was working at that moment (volunteering at a secondhand shop) and asked a friend/co-worker for advice. She told me to come clean. She told me to go to the manager of the store we were working at, tell her about the situation, and then go to the office and tell them my side of the story. At least they would get an honest picture of what was going on, instead of a weird story as a result of weird conclusions made by guests who only saw shady hints of what was going on. So I did. I went to the manager, and she offered to come with me for moral support while I told my story to my ex's semi-boss. I accepted. I told my story, and the semi-boss called in the boss, I told my story again, and a conversation with my ex and everyone else was arranged. I told him why I made this decision, that I paniced, asked a friend for advice and did what she told me to do, that I was sorry, that I did enjoy his attention, but that it all had to stop. It just wasn't good for me at this point.
For a while we kept our distance. He did come to me to talk, but agreed that he should have kept his distance in the first place, and never approached me again. Awkward eye-contact was made every now and then, but nothing more.
Eventually I got my own place. One of the guests of the shelter offered to help me paint for a small price and went with me to my house. In the evening we were invited by my neighbour to her housewarming party for a beer, we went there, drank a beer, and then went back to my place for a mini-afterparty before heading back to the shelter. We were sitting on the window sill when I saw my ex walking down the street. I said oud loud: "Hey who's that... is that... HIM? What's he doing here?" My window was open, so my ex heard me and hid behind the bushes. I kept calling him out, saying I had already seen him and asking why he didn't just come up to talk. He wouldn't listen. He kept hiding for about a half an hour before walking away, calling me a bitch and a slut who'd slept with everyone from the shelter.
The next day he was working, and so I had to be alone with him for a moment when I needed to get my luggage from the luggage storage room. He said: "You're not doing so well, are you? Nope, you're not doing well at all!" To which I replied: "I think you're worse off yourself." "Oh, you think so, huh?" "Wanna talk about it? I'm a very good listener you know!" (I said this with a bit of a sarcastic tone, but actually being serious) "Nah, I'm not in the mood right now."
A few days later he gestured from a distance that he wanted me to call, so I called. We made an appointment at my place to talk. He told me that the night he spied on me, he just happened to be in the neighbourhood and when he heard my voice, felt like he had to hide. He also said he thought he saw me kissing with the guy who helped me paint. I explained to him that nothing happened between me and that guy, and that I never did anything with anyone from the shelter, ever. He was happy to hear that. I also told him I never wanted to see that kind of jealous behavior again, after all we weren't even dating anymore! And even if we were, it wouldn't work out if he was that jealous. About 90% of my friends are male, the jealousy would drive him mad! Plus, I'm bisexual (although I always end up with men), so if I were to have coffee with a female friend, would he also burst out in rage? He got the point, then put his arms around me, appearantly thinking we were back together again. I told him once again I needed a bit more time to figure things out for myself before starting any relationship with anyone and got up. While I was ranting on about how scary it was for me to love someone, how it made me vulnerable and how I was so afraid to get hurt again, he kept coming close while telling me caring and supporting things, like how well he understood me, that I would get the time and space I needed, he could wait, and how he would take me the way I am. I bought into it, my fears melted away and I couldn't resist hugging him and holding him close for a while. And even though we said we'd give it time and take it slowly, we ended up dating again.
The guy who was gonna help me paint bailed on me, and then another guy offered to paint and bailed as well, so, surprise, my ex appeared at my doorstep to help me paint, and I knew he wasn't gonna bail, and it was so convenient to not have to do all that work myself! It was tricky though, if he was spotted at my house by anyone from the shelter, either I'd lose my bed, or he'd lose his job, or both. We ended up leaving the shelter. For a while we stayed at his brothers place.
In the meantime, more unhealthy traits began to come up. His jealousy for example. More and more frequently, he accused me of flirting with other guys, flirting with his brother, downright cheating on him. He also accused his brother of having touched me. Of course, his brother then kicked him out, which meant I had to go as well. From that moment on we stayed at my place. I had borrowed a fold-out bed where we could sleep on for the time being, and after about a week we had the place furnished and were almost done painting.
As far as the relationship went on, more and more unhealthy traits revealed themselves. I started to recognize all the signs Richard mentioned about narcissists and anti-social people. Manipulative, gaslighting, controlling, reacting with rage when things wouldn't go his way. He said things like "You're so hooked on me, you can't live without me can you?" or "If you're ever going to screw this up, you're gonna be so sorry, you're gonna miss me so bad, you'll never find anyone like me ever again." He also tried to make me depend on him. By doing things around the house (and demanding that he did them and that I wouldn't ask anybody else). By supporting me financially. (I'm under financial surveillance and have little to spend. Then again, it would have been enough if it was just for me, but since he stayed with me all the time, I was paying groceries for the both of us, so yeah, the money was gone within 3 or 4 days, with another half a week left. I needed his money to get by because of that.) By telling me that I couldn't live without him. He was also with me ALL THE TIME, like litterally 24/7, and even when eventually I asked for more personal space, he always found an excuse to be with me again. And whenever he was with me, he was controlling me. And when he wasn't, he was controlling me even worse, since he had made me think with every step: 'If he caught me doing this, what would his reaction be?' and sometimes I decided not to do something out of fear of him popping up unexpectedly, catching me in the act, and burst out in rage, even though the things I wanted to do were completely normal and innocent (like having a chat with the neighbour from downstairs).
I knew what he was doing. I knew that he was consciously manipulating me. "This is how they do it..." I thought at times, in Richards voice. "They make you depend on them so you can't leave... They lure you in and when you take the chocolate, they've got you..." Even when he started flirting with me when we were still at the shelter, I'd find myself thinking: "He's not respecting my boundaries... Even though I tell him to keep his distance and to give me more time and space, he knows I do have feelings for him and he pushes on until I cave..." I knew what he was doing. But I couldn't seem to get past that. Even though I knew what was happening, it was like I had completely forgotten what to do about it. I was trapped in his web already, sedated, poisoned, paralized. I knew I had to leave, but something inside me stopped me. I'm guessing my intuition already told me it was dangerous to leave him. I kept coming up with reasons to stay. I needed the money he promised me. I needed his help around the house. I couldn't bear the thought of him crying over me (which never was a problem for me in the past, if I wanted to dump a guy, I'd dump him, whether he cried or not), so I must have still loved him. I still liked the attention I was getting out of this. There was always something holding me back when I considered breaking up with him. Of course, I had good reason to consider this. The relationship had gone sour a long time ago, I just couldn't accept it yet, no matter how obviously unhealthy our relationship was.
Last week, however, I got a really nasty wake up call. It started in therapy. I talked about my relationship with him, and the reactions were, in this order:
Therapy-mate 1: "I think you're going to end up seriously damaged if you stay in this relationship. He doesn't sound too healthy a person to me. And he's so old too! Yugh!" (I'm 28, he's nearly 50.)
Therapy-mate 2: "What I think makes him so dangerous, is that he seems to adapt to your wishes, so that you'll stay with him, but nothing REALLY changes. He adapts so you don't have an excuse to leave him, but you're still trapped." (This is actually the remark that opened my eyes and got me back to my senses).
Therapist: "I think Milly already knows what needs to be done, don't you Milly? Yet, you can't seem to get yourself to it, can you? Is there anyone you can talk to about this, who can help you figure out what's holding you back and how to deal with it?"
In the meantime I had already been discussing my relationship and everything that happened in it with my personal guide from the project I live in. She mainly helps me define my boundries and figure out how to defend them. She doesn't tell me what to do, she doesn't tell me he's bad for me and that I need to break up or anything, instead she helps me figure out how to deal with what is happening. So yeah, there is someone I can talk to. But at that moment, I had actually already decided that my relationship with him needed to end.
That evening, I went over to his place. I had told him I was curious about his room and what that place was like, so we decided that I'd come over to his place that evening for a change and stay over. So I went there, having just made the decision that the relationship had to end somehow. I carefully, but in a clumsy way, brought up the subject. I told him that, at therapy, they thought he was bad for me. Of course he immediately started raging. Who did they think they were, they were the ones who where bad for me! I should stop going, they had a bad influence on me. I asserted myself that I was not going to stop going. The only reason they thought he was bad for me, was because I brought him up in the first place. They told me he was bad for me, because I didn't feel good about the relationship myself. He then asked me why that was. I said I felt trapped and suffocated. I said I feared his reaction. For example, if I had my male neighbour over for coffee, and he'd call by surprise and hear that, what would his reaction be? He immediately assumed that I had already had him over for coffee. "See, I knew you had a visitor last time I called you. Didn't I ask you about it? So you haven't been honest to me, have you?" I told him to let me finish. After defending myself against his accusation (no I didn't have him over, I have been honest, I'm just bringing this up as an example), I repeated the hypothetic situation of him calling while my neighbour was over. "Why the neighbour? Do you want to cheat on my with him? ARE YOU SAYING YOU'VE GOT AN AFFAIRE WITH HIM!?" He was already talking loud the whole time but now he was actually screaming at me, and he grabbed me by the chin and pinned me down on the couch.
That was a wake-up call too. Within a matter of seconds, or even just one second, I thought the following:
"Ooops, we'd better be careful with this guy..." (don't ask me why I'm thinking in 'we' mode at this point)
"He's crossing the line. Definately a clear case of anti-social personality disorder."
"We shouldn't let this happen, and we shouldn't let him intimidate us! He's trying to intimidate us in order to get us to obey to his orders, don't let him succeed! PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE!"
"No! Punching him will only provoke him, he might actually punch back and you'll be in a nasty fight you know you can't win!"
"Alright then, we'll push him away to make clear he can't just dominate us like this..."
So I pushed him away from me, yelling "I'm breaking up with you!" He responded by screaming: "Are you serious! You're going to break my heart!? Are you sure!? Your life is over, missy!" And I yelled back: "Well look at how you're treating me! I don't have to take this shit, now do I?"
That did the trick. He switched from raging to collapsing in tears. "Oh yeah... Oh yes dear you're right... I'm so sorry... Please don't leave! I won't do it again! Please stay with me! I promise that this will never ever happen again! I'll never do this to you again! Honestly! Please give me another chance..."
I looked at him and saw that his crying was fake. It was an act to get me to stay. I wasn't fooled by it, but I knew that insisting on leaving meant risking another rage attack from him. If pity-playing wouldn't work, he might try intimidating again. And I didn't want to risk that. So I played along. I acted as if I was giving him another chance. I told him I was still furious at him, but I'd let him make up for it again. For the rest of the weekend I acted like everything was ok again between us, but my feelings for him were definetely over. I had seen enough of him by now to know that his feelings weren't genuine, so I didn't have to pity him anymore. I kinda turned into a psychopath myself towards him. I couldn't see him as a person anymore. I saw him as a parasite that needed to be removed, I just needed to wait for my appointment with the doctor.
Knowing for sure that he was an anti-social (well... sure enough anyway), and knowing for sure I wanted to get rid of him, allowed me to act a little more freely, at least towards myself. No longer did I watch what I did or asked from him out of concern for his feelings. Sure, I had to force myself to hug and kiss him, even though now I was disgusted by him, but I didn't refrain from asking him to do things for me. I used to not ask things from him because I didn't want to make him do to much for me, he wasn't supposed to become my slave or anything, and he could only do so much for me as I did for him (which of course became less and less, since he wore me out and stuff...), but now that I knew he was drinking my milkshake, I didn't think twice about drinking a bit of his as well. So the past weekend, it has been like "Honey, could you get me a drink? Honey, could you help me with this? Honey, could you do that for me while I go to the store? It would save me so much time..."
During the weekend, I also educated myself a bit more about anti-socials. What exactly is it that they're doing? Why are they doing it? What are their motives? What can I do with this information? How can I manipulate him? More importantly: how can I leave him in a safe way?
The best advice I came across was: poison the well. He's feeding off of me, poison the well and he'll stop wanting to feed off of me. Yet, I knew this advice wouldn't work for me. If he had been my only problem in the past few years, sure, I might have had the strength to pull off that strategy. But having dealt with a narc mother, therapy, the homeless life and now this relationship all together, I was so worn out I couldn't wait for all this to end any longer! And I knew this strategy was going to take a very long time. Next to me, he had nothing. He quit his job at the shelter and had nothing else to do with his time, except for a facebook-game. I was all he had. Applying the strategy of poisoning the well wouldn't work as long as there was no other well to feed off of. For this to work I had to find him another source of anti-social supply, perhaps another woman he could victimize or whatever... Next to not having the energy to put into that kind of project, I didn't even want to think about letting him victimize another woman by my doing, so that wasn't an option. But without any other options, no matter how boring I became, no matter how long I'd apply the grey rock technique, he would still keep trying, because he had nothing else. Poisoning the well just wouldn't do.
So I chose the quicker way, which is a bit more dangerous, yet feels better for me.
This afternoon, I finally had my appointment with my personal guide. I told her that he had become physically agressive towards me and that I wanted to end the relationship, but didn't feel safe doing it alone. So we planned another appointment. At 5, I went to her office. My ex was also going to show up at my place at that time to have dinner together, so I told him to come to the office as well. In her presence, I broke up with him. I told him I didn't have any feelings for him anymore, that I was breaking up with him, and wanted no further contact. No messages, no texts, no e-mails, no phonecalls.
He didn't agree of course. He couldn't believe that my feelings for him had disappeared so suddenly, something else was up. Was I seeing someone else? Yes I must be, and if he ever saw me with another guy he'd beat him to a pulp! Or my feelings were already fading and I had been lying about loving him and wanting to be with him. I told him I had indeed been lying. I was afraid of him hurting me if I'd be honest about wanting to leave him, could he blame me? He then said he wanted to come get his stuff at my place (some old clothes he wore during painting and two screw drivers). My personal guide said she'd come along, but he didn't want that, he said it wouldn't be neccessary. I said I didn't want to be alone with him, it simply wasn't going to happen. He asked me if I was scared of him, I said once again: can you blame me? He tried to convince me that I really didn't need to be afraid, he just wanted to talk. I told him I had made my decision and would stick with it, could he respect that? I didn't want to talk with him, that's a clear boundry I set, could he respect that? He blatantly said he couldn't respect it. I said he could get my stuff, together with my personal guide, but I wasn't coming along. I gave my keys to my personal guide and they went off.
The thought that helped me stick with my decision was:
This relationship is bad for me. It's draining me from my energy and it needs to stop. Nothing else matters.
My personal guide came back and he went off. We discussed the matter a little more, then called the police, just to give them a heads up. This is what has happened last week/today, this is what I expect is going to happen (stalking, harassing, assault), I want to inform you so you know what's going on when I actually call. They told me that, based on the incident of grabbing me by the chin, I could already officially report him for abuse, but I figured that, if they were gonna persecute him, it would only provoke him, so I chose not to. The officer told me I could still change my mind any time and decide to report him anyway later on. Nice to know, might come in handy as a back up if he really won't leave me alone. And of course, as expected, he won't leave me alone.
He's currently bombarding me with texts, messages and phonecalls. It started out with "You really broke my heart so very very hard, please talk to me..." and then went on to "Well that's nice, you played with my feelings and now that your house is finished you toss me aside!" (my flat isn't even finished, there are some details that still need to be done, but I don't need him for that) He left a voicemail saying "Must have been nice to have a boyfriend who payed for everything, and now that you've used me up you go on to someone else. So nice to play with mens feelings!" And a whole bunch of other stuff, clearly trying to provoke me.
The thought that's helping me through this one is:
I don't care what he thinks of me. He means nothing to me.
It's actually true too! I don't think I could have gone through with the break up if I still felt something for him, but after the assault my feelings for him disappeared like snow before the sun. He really is nothing to me anymore, just a bad memory.
Looking back at the whole experience, I do see my own part in it all. I know that I took the chocolate, even though I knew it was bait, not a gift. I know I secretely did use him to get things done in my house, and to pay for things. It was just so awfully convenient! I'm paying a steep price now though... I also think that the misery would probably have taken much longer if it wasn't for my experience with my parents. It's because of my history, and because of Richards info already in the back of my mind of course, that I could recognize the manipulation and the gaslighting he applied and came to see him for what he really is this quickly. Without all of that experience, I might have been in a miserable relationship for so much longer! I would have stayed with him, thinking he was genuine about changing, he just didn't know any better, but he wanted to learn, in time he'd treat me better, he just needs therapy blablablablabla, you know how it goes. At least I got to pull the plug while I'm still quite independant (well, depending on someone I trust at least, my personal guide
), some people are already so deep in! Living together, maybe even married with children, and then having to pull the plug! I know lots of you know what that's like, since you've been through it or even still in the middle of it! I could have been in your shoes, but thanks to my experience with Richards video's, I'm not.
I also learned a lot. I now know what an anti-social person is actually like. I know that from the four F's, my reaction used to be fawn and/or flight, now it's fight, since I wanted to punch him in the face after assaulting me. Anger really overruled my fear at that moment...
What really blows my mind though, is how unusually quickly my feelings for him disappeared. From what I read about anti-socials, first of all it seems that it rarely happens that people (especially co-dependants) break up with their anti-social because they're so hooked, and it's usually the anti-social who dumps the victim, leaving the victim heart broken, barely able to move on. I mean, most of the articles I came across when googling "How to get rid of a psychopath/anti-social" were about moving on AFTER the psychopath dumped YOU, and getting rid of them meant removing them from your mind so you can move on with your life. It was SO HARD to find any information on what to do when you're actually still in the relationship and need to break up with them yourself! The only bit I found was to become boring to them (or even downright disgusting to them, I mean, one of the two articles on this actually recommended to stop bathing) and apply the no contact rule. When you're working with them, find another job. When they're family, keep your contact diminished and limited to the requirements of politeness. Romantic relationships weren't even mentioned, the advice was just to go no contact. Other than becoming boring or disgusting to them so they would leave you, there was nothing to be found on how to go about breaking up with them in a safe way. I was actually looking for a way to break up with him that would prevent him from going to these lengths of stalking, harassing and possibly future assault. But what is it that Richard says so often again? Oh yeah, if you want to get through this, you're gonna have to hurt a little.... Appearantly there's no easy way to get rid of a psychopath. Either you become boring/disgusting to them and wait for them to get sick of you and leave, or you deal with the stalking, harassing and assault. In any case, what I wanted to say before I strayed so far from my point, is that appearantly, even though they have been severely abused, even though they figured out that their lover is a psychopath incapable of genuinely loving them, most people still love their psychopath and have a hard time getting over them. Yet with me, my feelings for him vanished within seconds! I went from not being able to leave him because of my feelings for him, to being so repulsed by him I couldn't wait to break it off, WITHIN SECONDS!
It could be that I'm mistaken, that it's really not all that unusual to lose your feelings for someone once you figure out they're a psychopath and that I'm perfectly normal (I just need to feel special ok? xD )
It could be that, due to my history and experience with a severe lack of empathy and emotional neglect, I have become so fed up with being used and abused that I am more easily repulsed by people who do this to me.
Perhaps it has even become a survival mechanism to be repulsed by people who drink my milkshake (at least as soon as I wake up to that fact), in order to be able to protect my milkshake from them.
Perhaps I do still have feelings for him, I have just suppressed them so deeply now that I lost touch with them and am not aware of them anymore.
Perhaps it's because he isn't completely gone just yet. He's bombarding me with messages and phonecalls, and even though I'm not responding to him or engaging in any kind of discussion or argument, I am compulsively making sure I save every message he sends, facebook, text, whatsapp or voicemail, in order to have something I can use against him. I am oh so dedicated to winning this battle. And since there's a battle, there's dynamics, and as long as there's still dynamics going on, there's nothing to grieve, because you can't grieve what isn't gone.
I don't know what it is, but at the moment, I don't regret anything. I'm not sad about losing him, I'm not sad about whatever I invested in the relationship that I've lost, I do not feel the need to grieve. It's an interesting thing to discuss at therapy, I wonder what will come out of it...