Merry Christmas, beautiful! I hope you’re celebrating this wonderful holiday with friends and or family; loved ones whom you love and who genuinely love you. More than that, I hope you are celebrating this holiday narcissist-free. But it’s okay if you’re not. Even if you relented and went back to them, or took them back, it’s okay. Healing is a long journey, especially after the trauma you’ve been through and, many times, when one is on a long journey, we find ourselves revisiting places to which we thought we’d never again return.
I remember my first Christmas with my narcissist, Julia. I found myself in the throes of yet another discard phase in what had become an incessant procession of discard phases, and I missed my narcissist. The trauma bonding, triangulation, and manipulation had most assuredly done their magic. I found myself so irrevocably shackled to Julia. Unfortunately, at this particular point, my heart was still very much hers. My body was without her and I longed desperately to be in her presence and to feel her touch, again. The evening wore on, as did my longing for her. So, as I would repeatedly find myself doing several times during our 4-½ years of on-again, off-again, I reached out to her, hoping for some semblance of reconciliation. I simply said, “I miss you.” That was it. It was now the night before Christmas Eve. I was on vacation but, since I manage all of our computer systems, and the year-end accounting software update had to be installed before the last payroll was run for the year, I was working. “Yay, me!” So, I typed my text to her, I hit SEND, and I waited. And I waited, and waited. I’d hoped for at least a heartfelt reply. An, “I miss you too,” to my text. Crickets. No reply. No fulfilled hope. Nothing. I was crushed. I went to bed, not the least bit eager to tackle my little software update in the morning.
It was now Christmas Eve morning. I sat down at my machine, remoted into the first of our sister companies, and that’s when my phone dinged. It was her, Julia. She’d replied! The first text I’d gotten from her in over two months. She said, “I miss you, too. Would you like to come and spend some time with me?” I suddenly found myself and my thoughts in an elevated state of upheaval and chaotic disarray. I couldn’t even focus on establishing a simple VPN connection to our Atlanta office – something I’ve done countless times over the ten years I’d been working for the company. All I could think about was Julia had finally replied to me, and more importantly, she wanted to see me! Why did I have to decide to update our software today?!
It took about two hours to complete all the updates. I couldn’t get to Julia’s fast enough. I was nervous, excited, scared, eager to see her again – a veritable hodgepodge of emotions juxtaposed and intertwined. When I walked into her apartment, we embraced. We stood there like that, just holding each other, for what seemed like an eternity. I’ll never forget, when I went to let go of her, she hugged me even tighter. Yeah, that was pretty amazing. After our initial greeting, she offered to make me something to eat but I didn’t want to do anything other than just be close to her, to be in her presence and just gaze upon her. I always loved watching her – the way she walked, how she moved, every motion was always so fluid and graceful. I would comment on this more than once, during our time together, and she would simply say it was because she’d taken ballet for ten years, but then what little Russian girl didn’t, right? Regardless, I spent the next week with her, welcoming Christmas’s arrival and passing, just as we did New Year’s.
As an aside, let me tell you this, you have absolutely no idea what party is until you’ve spent Christmas and New Year’s, especially New Year’s, with a Russian – even if your Russian doesn’t drink. It’s truly a celebration to behold and one that lasts for several days. Since Julia had been an American citizen for about the last 19 years, she celebrated Christmas on December 25th; however, she still embraced her Russian heritage and, in doing so, also observed Christmas on January 7th, as is common practice in Russian culture. Needless to say, it was a very celebratory week in more ways than one. But in the end, all I really cared about was the fact that we were together. To me, everything else was secondary and inconsequential.
Part of our celebration was spent at one of our favorite local tourist attractions where a close friend of ours was performing live holiday music. Julia sang some Christmas songs in Russian, as well as Once Upon a December from the movie Anastasia. Even though she hadn’t warmed up her vocal cords and she, per her reckoning, gave a subpar performance citing how dry her throat was, I thought she sang absolutely stellarly. I found it hilarious that she refused to remove her toboggan because the wool hat had made a pattern in her forehead and she didn’t want to sing with huge, visible lines on her face. We had an amazing time reconnecting, seeing our mutual friend, and celebrating our first Christmas together. I found myself thinking, more accurately hoping, that maybe this time things would be better, that things would, at last, be as they should have been all along between us and for us.
Alas, true to form, this particular hoovering phase was no more than a week before Julia’s façade began slipping and the narcissist began peering from behind her thinly-veiled cloak of kindness. Initially, it began as her becoming curt and aggravated with me over the smallest and most inconsequential things. And when I say inconsequential, I mean infinitesimally inconsequential. For example, everything in her bathroom drawers was at perfect right angles – the toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, etc. So, when I put the toothpaste back in the drawer, but it was slightly off-axis by only a few degrees, she said, “Sweetheart, it goes like this,” and she repositioned it. And while I’m quite the neat freak, myself, she took OCD to entirely new levels.
Now, while her kind correction may sound to have been a loving reminder that there’s a place for everything and everything in its place, it was the way she said it, with a certain edge, that let me know I had “done it wrong.” Her couch and couch pillows, bed and bed pillows, were the same way – they all had a very concise and precise position in which to be. In fact, her entire apartment was meticulous. And, try as I might, I simply could never succeed in meeting her exacting expectations. I believe it culminated with us having a disagreement over me cleaning off a cooking pan and the dishes after we’d made a lunch of fish. She got noticeably upset with me for washing the fish oil down the drain. I always use Dawn detergent, at my place, which breaks down such oils in a heartbeat. She uses more “earth-friendly” solutions which aren’t as efficient. And there is where we had our first heated disagreement during this particular hoovering phase. I simply couldn’t understand why she was so upset. And she couldn’t understand why I didn’t understand.
And such was the general cycle of events throughout the duration of our toxic time together. One week on, perhaps two weeks at the outside most, and then a slowly spiraling descent through the devalue phase that invariably led to the dreaded discard phase. This cyclic “love” went on for 4-½ years. In the end, when it was all over, I really didn’t hate Julia. Yes, she had lied to me, repeatedly and many times at great length. She had manipulated me and, through her reverse harem, triangulated me. And despite her prolific professions that sex outside of marriage was an abomination to God, she’d nevertheless decided to burn calories between the sheets with two other eager suitors. So, yeah. I had plenty of reasons to hate her. But I didn’t. Though it wasn’t like I didn’t try. Hating someone always makes leaving so much easier but, after all of that perceived hatred subsides, you discover it wasn’t really hatred at all. It’s simply all the love you once had for the other person that’s now imploded and the resultant anger and hurt are merely masquerading as hatred, but hatred is the one thing you don’t truly feel, at least not at your core.
Do you know what the saddest thing of all of this was? It wasn’t that what we once shared, had ended. I’m fully aware, just as everything has a beginning, so, too, does everything have an ending. The saddest thing wasn’t even all the terrible things Julia did that decimated and destroyed the love I gave her. The saddest thing of all is that she was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever held in my heart, and never once did I let her forget this ubiquitous truth, but it simply wasn’t enough for her. And that’s the thing about narcissists – for them, there’s not enough love in the world. Merry Christmas, beautiful.