19. One step away

Selfie: Filing for divorce on January 6th, 2015 with support from friends. 

January 2015: He wouldn’t return my calls. He wouldn’t text. I was heartbroken. I was also so done.  The divorce papers were finalized and printed. He was living in Boston, aiding a Professor for a month for a class at the University where he had graduated. I was still in Boise wanting to know where I could send the divorce papers once I filed, but he hadn’t told me where he was living so I wasn’t sure. I also wanted to be clear- absolutely clear—so he could never say he was surprised by my decision to divorce.

My texts: “Where are you living, I’d like to send the divorce papers.” No response. “Please let me know where you are staying so I can send you the finished papers.” Nothing. 

On January 6th, despite not hearing from him since Christmas, I filed for divorce. Marie and Karen took me to the Ada County Courthouse so I could follow through. I was so grateful for their support. I was so scared and nervous, and I had such anxiety. I didn’t want to be alone- nobody wants to be alone. But was I willing to put up with such games in my marriage?

I was full of self-doubt, but my friends helped me walk through everything. I deeply appreciated the importance of support, and I hope you find it. Whether a sister, a friend, or a hired professional — please seek out support. I have started a separate Instagram page to help those needing extra support. If needed, you can find me @narcissistic_abuse. Building this community is one reason for my lapse in blogging. There are many online communities out there for those who feel alone. Please find them. You will feel less alone.

And for those who are concerned about those they love in toxic relationships, and want to give support, but perhaps worry they are stepping out of bounds or over boundaries- I say- step out of bounds! Say what needs to be said. It may not be popular, but you might also change someone’s life. The very morning after I filed, waking up alone in my apartment, I got a surprise text on my phone from a woman I knew in Boise- a friend of a friend – an acquaintance who I admired, but had never spent personal time with. Her text seemed to come from nowhere, as she had never texted me before minus a group text, and her words were simple: “Lauren, It’s [Katie], I’ve been thinking about you, and am worried about you … if you ever need to talk, I’m here.”

Tears filled my eyes just reading the text. Katie didn’t know then, but she became an angel. I texted her back, and told her I would love to chat- today perhaps? I was over at her house in less than an hour, and her husband took the kids. I blurted out that I had filed for divorce the day before, and she was surprised. She had concerns, but she didn’t realize it was this bad. I cried and poured my heart out to my new friend. She became a great source of support and confidante the rest of my time in Boise, and simply because of a text I never expected to receive. I’m so grateful for her and her boldness in sending that text. It made a huge difference in my life.

After filing, I kept asking my husband where he was living, but he wouldn’t respond. He never confronted any emotional issue directly. I finally looked his class up online, and found the room and hours he would be there. I called the County Sherriff’s Office, and told a deputy the situation:  My husband wasn’t responding,  I didn’t know where he lived, but could they serve the papers to him in the class he was aiding? The deputy told me he would do it personally, and I faxed the divorce papers over.  I texted my husband: “You will be receiving divorce papers in class. I don’t know where you are living, but the Sherriff’s Office said they’d deliver them.”

I finally got a call.

“Lauren, (he sounded concerned and surprised on his voice message) I’m just trying to understand what these papers are about, and how I can help, and what your plan is.” He acted as if he didn’t know what was occurring, as if he just learned about the divorce.

I called him back and reiterated what I had always told him: I had filed for divorce and now I just needed him to receive the papers to finalize the process. He acted shocked and hurt. He told me he loved me, and didn’t understand why I would do this to him and to us. He begged me to wait a couple weeks, and he would come see me and we would talk. Ironically, the class he had been helping to teach was “Persuasion” and he thought he was an expert on the subject. but I knew better. He couldn’t even persuade his wife to stay married to him after less than two years, most of it spent apart from one another. I understood the real nature of persuasion, which meant listening to someone, hearing them and respecting their wishes and desires, often compromising when necessary. In our marriage there was never any compromise. I was always wrong. He was always right. Case closed. To him persuasion was getting his way, not actually hearing or considering someone else’s perspective- although he pretended to listen. To him, persuasion was manipulation and getting one’s way. Despite beginning to learn his patterns, I always persisted in trying to reason and share my opinions and needs. It never worked unless he felt like he had lost control of the situation. Then he would become a victim, seeking pity and comfort.

I stayed strong. “No, I want to send the papers now. I don’t want you to visit me in two weeks. You cannot come to Boise. Tell me where you live and I will send the papers there instead,” I told him.

“Lauren, I’m begging you, please wait. You’re being rash. You’re going to do something you regret, and we regret. I love you. We’re married. Please let me come and see you. For your birthday. I will bring a gift. I am sorry. But please just wait, I am begging you. That’s all I ask. What do you want for your birthday?  If my visit doesn’t go well, I promise you I will let you do what you feel is best, but please just wait and let me come. I love you, we’re married for eternity, and we have so much potential.”

He was relentless, always relentless. This conversation continued in a similar direction for over a half hour. Me saying absolutely not. Him not listening to my request and decision, and continuing to beg. It always worked this way. He would persist endlessly, relentlessly until he got his way- just like an unruly child throwing a tantrum. He refused to let go – ever. I told him what I wanted. He didn’t care, even if that desire was to divorce.

Love bombing is an attempt to influence a person by lavish demonstrations of attention and affection. He might overwhelm you with gifts, flattery, or apologies. They are mirroring you -

At one point, when he realized his “Love-Bombing” wasn’t working he switched it to: How dare I attempt to threaten his professional career by sending the papers during his class. How could I be so cruel and insensitive. Again, he became the victim. 

The narcissist hides behind victimization in order to shame you into feeling and believing that they suffer more than you do. They will imply you don_t care enough for them. They gain

My simple response: “You don’t have to have the Deputy come to your class. You can call him.  He will meet you anywhere you want. I gave my husband the deputy’s number. I gave him that option, since he refused to return my texts or divulge his address. 

He once again ignored what I said, and went back to the love-bombing when he realized becoming the victim wasn’t working either. He was becoming desperate to find a way to control this situation. He could never just hear my decision for what it was- “We’re over. There’s no turning back. I want a divorce. Why can’t you just respect that decision?”

“If you_re in love with someone who_s narcissistic, your needs will always come second. They_re too busy assessing what they need from you to see you as a separate person with yo

Finally, just to get off the phone and to end the painful conversation that was going nowhere,  I told him I’d consider what he said- that perhaps he could come and visit later. I always had to appease him to just move on, since there was never any compromise. The call ended, still without me knowing his address in Boston, but I was determined and had a strength like never before to go through with this divorce. He would get the papers. I was determined to get out. I would not stall. I did not want to wait any longer. Not again. Not with the pattern that was becoming clearer. Not this time.

I was supposed to be notified as soon as my husband received the divorce papers. A few days went by and I heard nothing from the Deputy. I called to find out why. The Deputy told me he had talked to my husband on the phone, and my husband told the Deputy not to worry about serving him the papers, because the two of us were talking and working things out. My mouth dropped. He had even manipulated the Deputy! I told him this wasn’t true, and to please serve my husband with the papers. The Deputy told me this time he would. Even he felt duped. Narcissists are amazing at pitting others against each other to get their way, believing that no one will find out.

Two days later, the day before my 35th birthday,  I learned the two of them met, outside of his class and in private. Whatever it took, I didn’t care.  He had been served.  It was an overwhelming birthday present. I felt powerful, and back in control. But I also felt a deep sense of loss and confusion that this was my life, and questioned if this was really what I wanted. Divorce was such a permanent choice.  Ironically, the next day at work, on my birthday while anchoring, the station assigned me a report about  a couple in love. The irony felt cruel, and I shed a few tears in the car after the interview.  But irony sometimes plays our psyche well. It helped me see clearly this was not love that I was throwing away. This was a step I needed to take to show myself I still believed in love, and that I deserved love – just like the couple I had interviewed.

823CDA0F-E46D-4D72-8FB0-978CF4007567
Photo of my 35th birthday party – January 17, 2015.  More than a birthday celebration since I also served my husband the divorce papers the day before.

My husband now had two weeks to respond, according to Idaho Divorce laws. If he didn’t respond, I could finalize the divorce by default without hearing from my husband. I am so grateful for Idaho’s laws that made this process that much simpler. Had I been living in Utah I would have had to wait months- a shameful law for so many people trapped in toxic marriages who need all the help and support they can to get out.

Despite not hearing from my husband for weeks, now his incessant begging and love bombing continued via voicemail, text and calls. “Please let me come up. I love you-  just one last time, Lauren. I deserved one last time. I have a birthday gift. We’re married, and we deserve to give each other one last hope. I understand you like no one else. I know you better than anyone. We are so close. How could we ever be apart?” 

One of his “love-bombs” actually caught my attention and had me listening: He promised me he would live with me, and he was so sorry he hadn’t moved to Boise. This time he would move in with me, right away.  It was what I’d wanted to hear for close to a year.  After refusing to let him come visit me over and over, I was exhausted and I caved. I told him one last time. I wondered if he really meant what he said about moving in. 

He came to visit and we went for a ski weekend. I was doing a story in the mountains, and brought him along. He repeated how sorry he was, and that he didn’t want a divorce. He told me he loved me. It was everything I’d been longing to hear: To feel loved, wanted, and needed. Once again, like clockwork, it felt so good. 

Two days later he left, and I was surprised the visit ended so abruptly. There was no longer word about him living with me, no longer a next planned visit, but simply a goodbye kiss, and one last “I love you”. I realized now, after all of our ups and downs, after all of my taking him back, that it was all a manipulation. He realized that he could appease me with a few kind words and a couple of days of being present. He simply apologized (insincerely), doted on me for a weekend, told me he loved me because he thought that this was enough to keep me content, and to not finalize the divorce. He believed his magnificence for only a few days could arrest any damage to the relationship. He was wrong. Enough was enough. I needed more in my marriage than false promises and insincere doting. I needed real love and I knew I was never going to find it with him.

Two weeks went by and he never responded to the divorce papers. I’m sure he believed his visit was sufficient to keep the marriage alive because he was so enchanting. He had cast his indelible spell over me once again. I was actually shocked. He genuinely thought that all was well with us, and that he had made me change my mind, although I never told him I had.  It was the same pattern, the same game. Over and over: “Idealize, devalue and discard.” He apparently thought it would keep me content. I had fallen for it so many times, so why would I finally say: No more?  

This time, I couldn’t fall into the same trap. My life had to change if I ever really wanted to find true love. Never again. It was time to get out for good.  

“Wake up and Live” With Karen at Hyde Park in Boise. The day before she took me to file, January 5th. It was a process, but I felt enough courage to go through with the decision.

Copyright © 2016 Lauren Matthias / LaurenMatthias.com copyright 2016. all rights reserved. You may not take  content from this site without written permission.

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