For Part I see this post.
This is a hard one.There are so many more layers to the eight years I was with Dale.
By the time I left Psycho Mark, who had promised to kill me if I ever left, I was a wreck emotionally. I had a good job and was living with Mom (she and dad had divorced by that point.)
I met Dale when I was working at a convenience store and he led me to the job I now held. He warned me to give them no more than two years and then get out if I wanted to stay sane.
My direct supervisor was a chauvinist pig who had a huge problem with women in engineering offices. The dress code for all of the women was skirts and hose every day (it was an old-fashioned company) and he regularly made rude comments about us all. He liked to drink his lunch and made many improper advances towards me. When I brought it up with management I was told, “that’s the way he is, it’s how he was raised” and I told to deal with it. I see now that I had a sexual harassment case but was too young and timid to take it to the next level. Not only was I afraid of turning a corner to meet my psycho ex with a knife, I was being harassed at work, too.
Oh, I was ripe for picking and that’s just what Dale did. I was 24 and he was 35 – should have been a Red Flag, but I was determined my next husband would be a Full Grown Man who knew what he wanted from life. He would have a good job, a place to live and transportation of his own. He would have hobbies and interests that were similar to but not the same as mine. We would be a team and do things together. He would love my son and treat him as his own. There was no question that I would remarry – I wanted to be part of a functional family more than anything.
He was teaching at ITT Tech and demanded that I interview for an opening there. Amazingly, I got the job and he began to romance me. Well, not romance so much as take over my life. He knew best and I was too drained to take offense. I thought I wanted a man who would take charge and be a rock I could lean on and Dale fit the bill perfectly. We went out for fast food every night (work was from 2 in the afternoon until 10 PM) but I continued to lose weight. The hour-plus commute was horrendous and my body began to break down. I had constant troubles with my back and my chiropractor finally told me point blank that if I didn’t put on 15 pounds I would end up crippled forever – my body was digesting the muscles around my spine and I was at risk for a serious injury.
I did not do well with the teaching job and Dale refused to help. His students loved him, were always begging for his “sea stories” (none of which he would share with me) from his time in the Coast Guard. He was a jovial, agreeable man who everyone seemed to want to be near. I was let go from ITT after six months (by this time he and I and my small son were living together in a small apartment) and Dale said, “Good! I didn’t want you working there anyway.” Huh. That was the first hint of what was to come.
I found work quickly with a wonderful architect and thought my career was finally on its way – drafting for an architect was what I had always wanted to do and the fit was good. I was making Good Money and felt happy for the first time in years.
That’s when the abuse started. He began to find fault with me. About little things at first, his shirts weren’t folded properly, the groceries weren’t put into the pantry the right way, etc. I shrugged it off because I didn’t think it mattered – after all, so long as he doesn’t have to do his own laundry, his complaints about his shirts are just crap to be ignored, right?
He made several statements in the beginning that I should have recognized as Red Flags, but I let them slide – “All women cheat!” “I don’t want to know about any other men in your life. Never mention their names to me. Ever.” “Do not ask about my past – it’s not your concern.” I was not a cheater and thought that he would see that soon enough and drop his venomous talk about his ex-wife. “A woman’s tears are emotional blackmail and I won’t have it!”
He was also a recovering alcoholic. He had been sober for almost three years and in the time we were together he never took a drink, but he sometimes acted like he was drunk or hung over.
We married at the courthouse during a long lunch hour and went back to work. Romantic, eh? I thought we were being practical and frugal. I would regret that day for a long time afterwords.
His fault finding escalated and I began to notice a pattern with the stories he would tell about people at work. It started to sound like he was pitting them against each other to make them angry. He would laugh about it during his Nightly Monologue – he spent about an hour each night after work pacing around the living room like he was on a stage, relating the events of his day, gesturing grandly, voice booming like he had to project to the balcony. I was expected to listen, laugh where appropriate and keep my mouth shut. It was weird, but at the time I thought it harmless enough. It’s not like I had anything interesting to say…
He began casting about for another job and landed one in a town about an hour away. He commuted for a time to be sure it was going to work out and then set me the task of finding us a place to live. My son and I would go down with him early in the morning and spend all day looking at rentals while Dale worked. It was Summer, and very hot and uncomfortable and I couldn’t make any decisions until I had his approval, so it felt like an exercise in futility.
One day I went back to the office to see if he wanted to go out to lunch. I walked into the back of the office to find him and he was alone in a room with Patty, their drafter. An electric look passed between them – you know the one, The Look that says two people are lovers and have just been caught out. He introduced us and mumbled, “I’ll leave you two alone – you’re both drafters!” (WTF was that supposed to mean?) and bolted out the door. I looked her up and down and left the room. He denied the look and was furious at my accusations. Like an idiot, I moved to the little town with him anyway.
I could not find work and so the abuse about money started. He raged at me, calling me useless and lazy and sloppy and fat, etc. etc. etc. He told funny stories about Patty and how her bra came undone when the guys from the office were all in the car going to lunch and how they all laughed at her. Totally inappropriate stuff. He could go out to lunch, but I had to stay at home to take his phone call checking up on me. Every penny I spent had to be accounted for. Every place I went had to be explained in detail. I was on Lock Down.
Long story shorter, it just got worse and worse. We moved again (I suspect his affair became a problem at work and he was asked to leave, but he asserted that the promotions promised to him were not happening and his pride couldn’t take it any more) to the Big City where I was able to find work.
The next three years were pure hell – my son started acting out and it was recommended that we seek counseling for him. Dale blew up and said that he would not participate – he didn’t want anyone “inside [his] head!” Harley heard that and refused to go. I was at my wit’s end, getting no support for anything. Dale had long ago cut me off from my family and friends were impossible to make because I was never allowed to go out, even if I took Harley with me.
Meanwhile, Dale and his demands became more and more bizarre. He started looking through my things, found some pictures of my ex that I was saving for Harley and demanded that I destroy them. He said that it was “in poor taste” to keep pictures of an ex, although he had plenty of pictures of his exes. He started watching porn online. Lots of porn. Hours and hours of porn.
I began to look for a way out. I tried to save money but every time I had a couple hundred bucks in my checking account (we kept separate bank accounts, he paid the rent and I paid everything else – all utilities, food and child care) he would come up with some expense that was “my” responsibility and I was so surprised that he could co-opt my funds so completely. I thought I had some privacy, but he bragged that he searched my purse, checkbook, journal, e-mail, etc. – I had no “secrets” from him. He was so proud of his deceptions!
He was having an affair with the secretary at his office. There were humiliating experiences – the first when we attended a Christmas dinner for the company. By that time Sondra was no longer working for the company, but she was invited anyway. The men all lined up to greet her as she came in and she had something to say to each of them. When she came to Dale, she kissed him full on the lips and then wiped her lipstick off his mouth like she’d done it a million times. He looked down at her fondly with his arms around her waist. I was standing two feet away. He sat between us during the dinner, talking to her and ignoring me. I wanted to die. I wanted to kill him. I should have gone out to the car and driven home, but by that point I was so frozen with indecision about every little thing that I just couldn’t move.
I was crushed and finally ready to admit that my marriage was over and that Dale is a sociopath. I opened my eyes and saw how he manipulated the people all around him, making them dance to his tune, moving on when the players started to rebel against his dictates. I didn’t yet have words for what I saw and felt, I just knew that he was a dick and I didn’t have to live with his crap any longer.
I left and never looked back. I learned some new lessons from Dale:
- Always behave above reproach – he’s watching your every move, just waiting to catch you doing something you “shouldn’t” be doing and you will be punished for infractions.
- If he makes blanket statements about cheating and accusations about his ex out of the blue, he’s either cheating or thinking about it.
- If a potential partner spews venom about an ex, take heed – he’s got some Baggage that needs to be addressed before you get involved – you could be his “revenge” relationship, the chump he “gets” before he gets hurt again.
- Pay attention to his hot buttons – if they seem vague and arbitrary, it’s a huge Red Flag – those buttons will start to move until everything you do is wrong.
- Porn is not acceptable. Oh, sure, viewed together every once in awhile for mutual titillation is one thing, but if he’s watching alone hour after hour and it gets more and more humiliating for the women in the video, take heed – there’s something seriously wrong there!
- Watch how he interacts with others – if his story and what you see don’t add up, there’s something going on there that isn’t right.
- Keep enough money in a hidden account to get yourself away if you find it necessary.
- Above all, speak up! Don’t let anyone silence you – speak your mind.
After that disaster, I thought I had it all figured out. I was angry, but had no direction for that anger. I felt used and bruised but did not have the words to describe what had happened in my marriage, it was all fuzzy and confused. It’s as if a blanket of hurt and confusion had been drawn over me, shutting out the real world, leaving room for nothing but Dale and his wants and needs and now I was free to live again. I was still hopeful that I could make something of my life.
Enter the Narcissist.
About the Author
It’s a textbook case, and I have been a textbook victim. We read our scripts and stayed in character to the very end. I am angry. Between three men, a Psycho, a Socio and a Narc, I have lost 25 years of my life to Domestic Abuse. I refuse to be a victim any longer. I have taken over control my destiny and speak out in the hope that just one victim will see their life in my story and escape their abuser. For the moment I am writing anonymously as I sever all ties with the Narc. I will not give him the satisfaction of breaking me.