I said, the other day, Something’s brewing with PC. Its too quiet.
Don’t let him get in your head, my friends said.
But he was in my head. I just have a gut feeling, I said. And as I’ve learned, ignoring said gut feelings can have devastating consequences.
The thing with narcissists is that they never really go away. They don’t change, not internally, not where it counts. Like chameleons, they can morph externally. They can appear civil, pleasant, even human one day and turn into a flat out motherfucker the next. But the core is always the same.
PC has been relatively well-behaved for quite some time. Since shortly after our divorce was official and our court-ordered counseling ended in flames. Right up until very recently, when he tied the knot with Trollup.
At first, it was snippets. As though he were (let’s use an ironic example) a recovered alcoholic who wanted just one taste of a friend’s beer. He debated with me ridiculously over a financial matter that is basically etched in stone in our divorce decree, ending it with you’re lucky I don’t take you back to court. Snore.
A couple weeks later, another issue, this one having to do with our daughter’s counseling–or rather, lack thereof because PC decided to pull his consent. Still, my own attempts to remain civil held strong, and while I didn’t agree with this, I did agree with the counselor’s suggestions of ways to help our daughter navigate being a kid of divorce. PC wanted to hear none of it.
PC, the master of deflection, launched into a tirade of arguing with me about who referred me to this counselor, and I, also much like the recovered alcoholic who just takes one sip, engaged. Because (1) it was purely nonsensical: who cares? and (2) PC was flat out accusing me of lying, which I do not do, and I had proof right in my hands (hello, saved texts and emails). And when I called him out?
He deflected yet again, ending with a classic PC threat line, why don’t you stop the lies? I think I need to call your parents about this. Go ahead, PC. I’m 40 years old. You calling to “tattle” about non-truths is…childish at best, psychotic at worst. Whereas he continued to sip the beer, continued to deflect and blame, I pushed mine aside and bowed out.
Then, it got a bit deeper. More drama, lies, and terrible choices on PC’s part that led me to communicate with others about my concerns for my children and the damage he is doing to them. And like clockwork, PC’s response to that was to take it out on our son: an 11 year old boy. A child.
After much discussion: with counselors, lawyers, friends, other people who’ve been through divorce, I’ve come to the conclusion that as much as I don’t want to, I need to re-enter the legal arena. There has been a lot of non-rocking-the-boat for the past 6 months, because…why would I? Why would I poke a sleeping bear over issues that don’t matter? Things that before would have had me angrily banging my keyboard in an email to the lawyers now simply roll off my shoulders.
The difference is, this matters. This isn’t about me, and it isn’t about money, and it isn’t about possession or any of the other things PC becomes fixated on.
It’s about my kids. Their emotional and psychological well-being. Their hearts. Something PC will never, ever understand. And just as I wrote about the storm before the calm several years ago, the reverse has been true. It may have seemed like everything smoothed out, like the wrinkles released themselves and tensions faded. My father commented a while back that things were finally over and my comment to him was I hope you didn’t jinx us.
Because of course, my gut said otherwise. As I watched PC a few weeks ago, wild-eyed and intoxicated, I could see that nothing has changed. When I pass by him, like two strangers in the night, and get a sickly sweet whiff of alcohol, I know nothing has changed. He’s reverted to his favorite weapons of destruction: deflections, turning the blame on me, doing things he thinks will get under my skin to unnerve me.
(The last one has a bit of a humorous side to it. A while back, PC constantly answered all my questions with “we”. As in, I might ask what time he was picking the children up and he’d respond with we will be there at 6. Or I might tell him about medication one child needed and he would respond with we will not be giving him that, we don’t believe in it.
He has started the “we” back up again. As irritating as it is, its not poking me like a knife the way it did a few years ago. Especially since at the very moment he was texting me we are here if you want to discuss the children and we would like to facetime I knew for a fact that Trollup was out of town for an event. Was he claiming “we” because he was trying to unnerve me? Or was he claiming “we” because the idea of admitting he was alone on a Saturday night was too much?)
It’s hard to say and it doesn’t matter. That’s what it comes down to. My son has made comments lately about his father, his lies and his drinking, and my only response is that he needs to let it go, that he cannot change or affect how his dad behaves. I can see the disgust building up in him, doing a delicate dance with his highly sensitive love for his dad. I can see his protective side come out when it comes to his sister. I can see his split loyalty and his own moral compass, which burns brighter than his father’s ever will.
He has every chance in the world to grow into a strong, capable, good, and rational man. And the burden of ensuring that lies on me, because I have the double edged sword of PC to deal with. And just as PC has been “okay” for the past 6 months, I fully expect a war of epic proportions to set forth in the coming months. He is not going to like what I am going to do, and in his typical, chameleon-esque fashion, he will likely go for the jugular.
This is where my gut comes in, my high alert, my reminders that PC cannot and will not change his true colors. I am certain that what I am doing is the right choice. I’m confident in my decisions and the process I’m following. I’m highly aware that its a slow process but I’m also aware that every text PC sends, every terrible decision he makes, every time he wounds one of our kids he’s just taking his own shovel and digging his own hole a bit deeper.
I did allow him to get into my head this week. I questioned my summary of events to friends…did this really happen? Was he really that drunk? Is this going to be worth the fallout, worth the inevitable prediction that he will take things out on our kids?
And then, like an old friend, PC responded to a text just as I knew he would. Full of proclamations, full of lies, full of we and full of the admission that they would NOT do x y z (beneficial things for the kids) and they would not pay for it. He put a price tag on his kids’ mental wellbeing…a price tag with a very low cap.
It was beautiful, really. Aside from giving me ammunition that I need, it reminded me, again, that I am right. That PC can say he is right and I’m a liar until he’s blue in the face. He can confuse our son to the point that the child cries and holds his head in despair, sobbing I don’t know who to believe. He can speak badly about me to others, convincingly enough that those who do not know me may question.
But what he can’t do is change the truth. He cannot get between me and my own moral compass, my gut, my intuition. He cannot outrun karma forever and he cannot play his games forever. He can only remain civil and compliant for so long, and in the same way that a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can he.
And so my high alert is set and now I wait. Because the only thing predictable about PC is his unpredictability.