As he was taking this photo, he was telling me how beautiful I was. I had just flown to Boston from Utah, and he had wanted to take me on a road trip to show me around. He knew I loved lighthouses and pulled over for this photo. I felt hope. I felt excitement for this new chapter. After two months living away from him as a newly-wed (living at his grandma’s in Salt Lake while he found us our apartment in Cambridge) I started to feel safe again, and in this moment I felt love.
We got back into the car and what I was feeling allowed me to open up, and I shared how hard it had been to be away from him. I shared that I was feeling misplaced in my life as I had decided to switch careers, but I reassured him I would be okay. He always told me he liked it when I was honest and vulnerable, but I also knew he could be a bit narcissistic, so I was careful as I shared my emotions — wanting to make sure he didn’t feel blamed. I only wanted to continue this feeling of closeness. As I shared, tears came, as they often do when I open myself up. He pulled the car over, and I finished my thoughts while leaning on his shoulder. I finished, and it was silent. I looked up at him—searching his eyes for a response … waiting for a response. He was silent. I grabbed his hand and held it.
Then, he told me I needed to stop crying. … That he couldn’t continue this marriage if I kept crying, and that he could no longer handle it. I had to stop right now. Right then. He put the car into drive again and started driving back towards Boston. Stunned by his response and ultimatum, my tears continued to flow.
But the next thing he said … I could hardly take it in: “Lauren, I’m taking you to the airport.” …
I sat there in silence wondering what he meant.
Our next stop was supposed to be what was going to be our new apartment. Just 5 months ago we were dancing with hundreds of family and friends at our wedding—this was the dream I had always wanted: He was about to get a degree at an Ivy League school, while I was planning to audit classes, and find my way in the non-profit world. …but now he was slowing down and making a U-turn. It was processing in slow motion—I remember it so vividly—even the taste of the air.
“I’m taking you to the airport.” [he paused as if to make sure he knew this was the best decision]. “Yes”, he said after pausing with more conviction: “I don’t want to invite you into my world here. I don’t want you to even see the apartment. I’m taking you to the airport.”
My mind was racing. I couldn’t understand who this was, and why, and how. As my mind continued to process everything, I softly said: “okay”. I sat back in my seat and let him drive. I kept thinking he might turn around, or say it was a joke. I didn’t even know where he was going to fly me. I didn’t have a home. I didn’t have a job. I couldn’t live with his grandma again. My parents didn’t have a home. I remember wondering where I should ask him to send me when we got there. I knew one thing: If he really wanted me gone, I wouldn’t argue. If he really wanted me out of his life, this was not the man I’d thought I married. If he was capable of this, I wouldn’t try to convince him otherwise.
And he was capable of this; I knew when he pulled into the airport’s underground parking. The man who I thought would cherish me the day we married in the Mormon temple was pulling out his smart phone to purchase me a ticket to some place. Any place that wasn’t with him.
He stopped. He looked at me. … “I just don’t like it when you cry, Lauren.”
“I can’t help it,” I said. “I cry. I have emotions.” He said I needed to learn how to no longer cry if I wanted this marriage to work. I told him I couldn’t do that. … And I’m so grateful that during this moment I knew my emotions were okay. I knew what I felt and shared wasn’t wrong. … I sometimes wonder if this is how women become trapped in abusive relationships – if they don’t know their emotions are normal. If I didn’t know what I felt and shared this day was okay, who knows if I would be sharing this post today. I see this moment as one where I am lucky, because I had enough self worth left to know it wasn’t me.
I had known since I was young that I wanted a man with emotional intelligence. I wanted someone who would listen and share, and understand and discuss. Someone with empathy and unconditional love. What felt frightening in this moment was that before my marriage, I felt this man had shown his empathy and caring nature to me. Had I truly been duped? This also was hard to comprehend—feeling duped. If I had really been duped, then I was so ashamed. I was so ashamed that I had married a man capable of ending our marriage because I had cried. I had married a man who could transform quickly from a man taking a sweet photo of me in front of a lighthouse while showering me with compliments, to a man who wanted to punish and shame me. How could I have been so duped? I look at these photos and in my smile I see the man I thought I had married. But here at the airport I was seeing the truth—a man who wanted complete control.
It didn’t matter that he had thousands of friends on social media, or that he appeared to have empathy and love, because I knew now that it wasn’t empathy when he told me on our honeymoon that he felt he shouldn’t have married me. It wasn’t a fluke when in our first home in Santa Monica he again repeated that he didn’t want to be married to me. (We slept then on two floor mats I had purchased in L.A.’s fabric district. We had no money for a real mattress, he told me). It definitely wasn’t loving when he would push my floor mat away from his. It wasn’t the emotional intelligence I craved when he would walk into our Santa Monica studio apartment and refuse to acknowledge me, or even look at me. … It couldn’t be just another lapse in judgement that brought us to the airport.
And so here in this underground parking, I finally started to believe it would never get better. I finally started to accept that he was not who he pretended to be. I told him I would not be able to learn to never cry in order to make our marriage work. I told him he could buy me the ticket.
…but then he did something he sometimes did when he felt desperate… he started crying. In the airport parking lot, a place we ended up because he was angry at my tears, he started sobbing. He told me of his terrible childhood, and I held him. He told me he had no one else. He told me he makes mistakes and that he was sorry. And, as always, my empathy kicked in. I held him in that parking lot. I gave him what I had always wanted myself—unconditional love. He repeated he was sorry as he was now driving me to see our Cambridge apartment. And hope came again. I thought that perhaps we’d be closer now. Perhaps we’d make it through. Perhaps we’d have stories of our first difficult year like so many others. Perhaps he just needed love …
Copyright © 2016 Lauren Matthias / LaurenMatthias.com copyright 2016. all rights reserved. You may not take content from this site without written permission.
If you’re experiencing the pain and devastation (whether now or in the past) of being in an abusive relationship with a narcissist and you’re ready to get your life back – Click “contact” at the bottom of this page for a 45 minute “Love Life Recovery” Makeover Session. We’ll set up a plan so you can look forward to having the life and love you deserve.