The following blog post conjures up some of the lyrics to the Clash song, “Should I Stay or Should I Go”: Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. And if I stay it will be double….
Should I stay or should I go? That seems to be a question that I am asked fairly often. Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question for anyone other than myself. You will leave when you can’t take another second of the life you are living. I don’t have a crystal ball (I wish that I did!) and I don’t know what your individual divorce will entail. In all honestly, if you are really married to a Narcissistic or Sociopath, you need to brace yourself for a hurricane. You need to temporarily board the windows to your heart and you need to have an emergency plan in place. The storm of divorcing a Narcissist is classified as a level 5 hurricane.
I’ve heard from many older women who all wish they could change one thing about their past: they wish they would have left sooner. I struggled for quite a while with the decision to stay or go. I verbally told family members that I planned to stay and to “pretend” for the sake of my daughters. As time went on, I knew in my heart that I couldn’t pretend. I didn’t want my daughters to think that my marriage was normal by any means- zero affection, silence, alcoholism and verbal abuse. I cringed when I imagine him talking to my teenage daughters the way he spoke to me, “Are you really going to eat all of that fettuccine? Do you know how much fat is in that?”
I wanted to leave at several points in our marriage but my daughters were so little. One day, towards the very end of our marriage, I sat down and journaled pages and pages of my thoughts which were divided into four categories. I dug those pages out tonight (circa 2008) and will share them with you:
1. What attracted me to X?
- Stability: job, financial, family life
- Fun: going on trips and living a carefree life
- Thoughtfulness: cards, poems, driving 450 miles to see me on weekends, flowers, dates.
- Being a gentleman: opening doors, etc.
- Physical: constant hugs and affection
2. The beginning signs that I should have paid attention to:
- Buying the cars: Nissan, Jeep, Subaru, Tundra, ZX2
- Borrowing money to “float” things.
- Living in the future: I can buy it now because I will earn more on my next paycheck.
- Elite attitude: better than everyone around him, smarter, more money, etc.
- Lying on multiple occasions –from little white lies to huge lies and false stories about his childhood.
- Putting me down in subtle ways: lack of college degree, bi-polar mother, and upbringing.
- The way he treated our employees and people in general.
3. Why stay?
- Stability for the girls- not wanting them to trek back and forth between homes.
- Financial stability -one home versus two.
- The stigma of divorced families (for the girls).
4. Why leave?
- Because my daughters deserve a better life.
- Because I deserve to be happy.
- Because I deserve to be loved.
- The lies. I don’t think he can decipher the truth from lies anymore.
- The deception and the falsified stories relating to the past.
- Because money isn’t important to me. It’s important to him. This life (cars, house, clothing) is what he wants but it isn’t what I value.
- Because I want to be in a relationship with someone who values the same things that I value: people, relationships, feelings, love, appreciation and excitement for life.
- The love that I once had is gone. He is not who I thought he was- I don’t know who he is.
- Saying that you love someone and showing someone that you love them are two separate things. I don’t want to hear the words- I want to feel the feeling in my heart.
- Zero physical intimacy- no hugs, no touch, nothing.
- Complete loss of respect due to his conning people and showing zero compassion or empathy.
- Triathlons and selfishness revolving around training.
- Drinking- I promised myself a long time ago that I would never be with an alcoholic.
- His priorities are out of whack- he could not even answer the therapist when questioned about his priorities.
- Years of empty promises and zero change.
- I am so miserable that I don’t even know who I am anymore. I feel pathetic. I feel horrible that I brought my babies into this situation when I can look back and clearly see the warning signs.
- His family: the thing that once attracted me to him is the most unattractive thing in the world to me. His family is so ill and screwed up yet they cover their dysfunction with denial and a fake public image.
- My daughters: I do not want them to feel like I feel in this moment- unworthy of love, unheard and judged.
- I want my daughters to have: compassion for people, gratitude for everything in life and a mother and father who love each other. I want them to have fun without the constant negativity and harsh words from their father. I want my daughter to feel like she is being heard. I hate seeing the frustration in her face when he ignores her or talks over her.
- I am so tired of the public image of the happy, kind father and then the reality of who we live with when the door shuts or the camera lens closes.
- I deserve someone who makes our family the number one priority. I want a partner who values me and my opinions. I am tired of being with someone so cold and selfish who doesn’t take anyone else into consideration.
It helped me so much to journal those thoughts and feelings. It helped me to grab a lasso and pull in every thought that I was having. I needed to see the reality of my situation in black and white. I struggled to come up with generic reasons or staying. I didn’t have an ounce of writer’s block when it came to the reasons that I should leave. If you are struggling with the decision of “should I stay or should I go” then I encourage you to grab a piece of paper and start writing your own list. Only you know the answers.
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