My therapist said maybe I’m desensitized to negative behavior. Well, something caused me to accept such a negative influence into my personal life. Something other than his passionately cultivated manipulation and eloquent conning. I don’t think there is any one reason that stands alone as to why I accepted what I did.
I ignored things about the man’s behavior even before our first visit together. I wasn’t oblivious to my gut feelings, but I most certainly didn’t put enough thought into the possible meanings that his words and actions portrayed.
Every day he called. Some days more than once. He left messages. I repeatedly said no to his offers, but looking back, I can see that he had a back up plan for each time I said no.
I had known the man for over twenty years. He was my life insurance agent. I always had a special feeling for him and believed that was mutual.
I was altogether flattered by the compliments and attention he gave me when we first met. I was nineteen and he was past thirty. I never thought of the attraction I felt because he was married and so was I. Instead, for the next twenty or so years, I held him in my mind as a mentor figure. Someone I would ask advice from and whom I respected.
Things changed one Autumn day when I called his office on business.
It was an odd feeling to have trusted and respected him for such a long time and then finding myself not believing much he was saying during our first phone conversations.
My agreeing to a visit from him was all he needed. He had a plan and intended on working it.
It was the third time he came to visit that I decided to ignore two rude messages he had left on my answering machine from his cell phone while he was driving to see me.
“That sure is a long shower you’re taking,” he had said. He called back within five minutes or so and left another message. I was in the shower and could hear his voice in the background. I assumed he was saying something nice. A regular kind of guy would have been happy knowing a woman was preparing for his visit.
I was surprised when I listened to the messages. His tone was full of something — something I could feel in my gut and it didn’t feel good.
I remember thinking how strange for a man to be wooing me, while at the same time using sarcasm. Most men try to make a good first impression.
I saved the messages. I almost let him hear them. I wanted to say, hey listen how you sound. I wanted to ask him what his problem was. But I didn’t. I erased the messages later, because when he arrived, both times, he was that other person…
There were plenty of clear signs and red flags that the man had serious issues around women and sex. A part of my mind kept saying hey, this is the man you have always thought so highly of and maybe he’s telling the truth about the sincerity of his affections. The rest of me said nah, he’s lying.
He said he had neglected his sexual needs for several years, yet he carried a little black bag in his trunk that held clues to this being a lie, which it was. He’d gone out to his car in my driveway to get the bag. He said it had been in his trunk for a couple of years. The energy of his lie filled the room and my mind.
Our first phone conversations had consisted of me telling him how much my life had changed since I’d first met him and last talked to him. I told him about living with fibromyalgia and the sadness in my heart about my son having an illness. He asked if I had wrinkles and what my skin was like. How strange I thought. Talking with him on a level of communication so superficial was taxing and draining. I was happy when the calls were finished.
My behavior and reasons for being there are the most worthy of exploration, but I guess, that’s another story.
He continued to talk a lot about physical appearances in the beginning of our relationship, which was as superficial as our earlier phone conversations had been. Upon reflection, I can see that appearances were always top priority for him.
The first time we were physically intimate, he spoke of a young woman whom he was closely acquainted with. He compared my body to hers. I was surprised, but also rather amused. I hadn’t yet fallen for his seduction. Each time I saw him, I thought it would be the last time.
“You are still very beautiful,” he said once and then added something like, “but she has those muscles you only see on younger women.”
The man is not young and his body showed his age. I asked him how young he liked women and told him that he should go after what he wanted. I told him I felt good about my age and body.
He changed. He started telling me he was completely in-love with me. I still didn’t think I would become more involved with him. I had memories of my earlier attraction to him and that was alive, but the character I was seeing bits and pieces of was not the man whom I had imagined he was all those years.
He was completely superficial. He wasn’t honest. He said things thugs say. He had a juvenile way of justifying behavior that I believed was wrong. He made fun of people who worked for him. No, I’d never get serious about someone like that, I thought.
I didn’t ignore everything that caused me to suspect a hole in his professed integrity, but what I confronted, he twisted around. He was a master at playing mind games and manipulation. I was standing on the edge of an emotional breakdown.
I wouldn’t have continued accepting his calls and visits if there hadn’t been positive traits about him that I liked. He made me laugh all the time. This got me in trouble before, and I thought I’d learned my lesson, but apparently I did not. People who can make me laugh are usually very funny folks. Sometimes, it takes a lot to make me laugh.
After a few visits with me, he said he hadn’t been serious about his earlier random and odd remarks. He realized that his comparisons of my body didn’t move me, at least not emotionally. I was however taking mental notes.
He tried several times to make me believe the suggestions he had made were my desires; literally telling me that I had been the one to say what he had said. I let pass too many times these incidences of dishonesty. I wish instead, I had allowed myself to see the truth.
He tried convincing me that I had been mesmerized by a young woman in a photo he had shown me under the guise of it being a part of his photography portfolio. I wondered if he believed his lies, but I seriously doubted it.
I rolled my eyes and let his attempts to manipulate my mind pass without taking issue. I couldn’t imagine wanting a real relationship with someone who played those kinds of mental games.
I didn’t think I’d continue seeing him, but I did.
The man was more than persistent and seductive. He was cunning and smart. He quickly figured out where I was vulnerable, which was that I was lonely and wanted love.
I ignored physical things. We had been intimate several times before I noticed that his nipples were asymmetrical.
I was resting my head on his shoulder when I noticed that one of them was much larger and differently shaped than the other one. I asked him about it. He told me his Cuban-liposuction story.
He went to Cuba to have liposuction because it was cheaper there. He said he added a face lift while he was there. He said he’d had several face lifts.
He showed me where they had stretched his skin and tied it together underneath his arm pits and behind his ears. He didn’t want me touching his chest. He made that clear. I guess he thought out of sight or touch then out of mind and, this was true. I put blinders on.
I forgot what or who he blamed his weight gain on but I’m sure he had a story. He had a story for everything. Everything in his world, except success, is the fault of another person, always.
I didn’t realize the operations were a result of a hiding so intense that it prevails over all else. I thought the guy had too much money and didn’t deal with aging very well, both of which are true, but the surgical cuts run deeper than extra money and a wish to look younger.
He created a character just for me. Whenever he learned I didn’t like something he never mentioned it again. He was on a quest to discover all that he could about me and used the information to control and manipulate me.
Mostly, he found out I could love. He discovered that I could feel deeply with all my heart. He started conversations to convince me he was a good decent man, “loyal to his own demise,” he once said. My inner voice screamed that he was so full of shit, but I still let the relationship continue.
I started to believe his lies. I started to feel loved and very, very special to him. And, I laughed.
He opened doors for me. When I was tired he washed my dishes. He walked my dogs in the name of helping me conserve my energy.
For the best of five months he held his pretensions well. Whatever didn’t work he would try something else.
Slowly, he told me a story of love that I believed. He loved me. He had been in-love with me since he first saw me more than twenty years earlier. He wanted to spend his life with me.
While I set aside my gut feelings that something wasn’t right, I saw a gentleman. I dreamed that his story of love was true. I did want it to be true.
I had truly fallen in-love the first time we met, but I had never dared to even think of the feelings I had for him. Those feelings stayed wherever I put them in my mind and heart, until he came to my home, all those years later, literally demanding that I believe he loved me.
For a while, I believed the love story. I believed we had missed our earlier chance. We were having a wonderful time, I thought, until the day I told him that I believed him. I told him I accepted his love.
He began to say things, sometimes a response to something I had said and other times, out of the blue, he would make a remark that exposed an underlying thuggery. I was taken aback each time. He blamed his sudden mood changes or demeaning statements on his past hurts. People had used things against him he said. It was hard to trust he said. Sarcasm was put off to his sense of humor.
I’ve known love, very sweet love, and what I had found with this man, that which I did adore, was disappearing.
I became tired of not trusting him, which was always in the back of my mind. I stopped feeling loved and instead felt that he was using my body like a toy and my mind like a puppet.
I became depressed. I was physically, mentally and emotionally worn out. An episode of severe fatigue hit me during a holiday. He had wanted to come home with me, but things weren’t right. My doubt about him had magnified. I told him I wasn’t ready for him to meet more of my family. I also really needed to rest.
Being with him had been passionate and I had laughed a lot, but there were side-effects of the relationship that were most unpleasant. I didn’t feel mentally, emotionally or physically healthy. I felt drained and weak. I didn’t reveal to him how much I knew. I simply said I was tired. He would have nothing to do with my being human.
He told me during our last phone conversation that he doesn’t care about any human being on the planet. He said he had been diagnosed with a, “pathology.”
I asked him if he was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He said yes. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe he was seeing a therapist. He would never admit to a professional like he did to me that he doesn’t care about anyone.
The kind person he pretended to be could not survive his lewd and crude personality. More and more often he said things that were offensive and repulsive.
“His rakish personality disguised a gentleness that I and I alone, realized he possessed. A gentleness guarded by a hardened shell, his inner child cached within furious outbursts and temperamental explosions. Even my faith in his gentle nature required rose-colored glasses at times; so unpredictable was his split personality.” (Excerpt from A Perfect Love Story).
I didn’t realize while I was loving him that his intentions were cruel. I didn’t know I loved a psychopath. I looked inside at the man I believed he was.
Excerpt from, A Perfect Love Story, by CZBZ,The Narcissistic Continuum