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The Mask

Living with a Narcissist

One face - two sides

What if it were true? I wish people would just give that a thought: What if what I am saying is actually true? What if there really is another person behind that nice mask of smiles, friendly talks, and prayers… the pastor mask? I wouldn’t be able to believe it either had I not lived it.

But if I am lying then I must be crazy. Why else would I leave a newly bought, beautiful home and, most importantly, my children who even slept with me in the weeks before I left?  Why else would I secretly slip out with nothing but a small bag of clothes and live in a shelter? Did everybody really think I am that crazy? 

Did anybody think at all? Or was the excuse that what had happened to me enough for everybody? That would not make sense. For months he didn’t even know. Couldn’t even tell. That’s how distant he was to me. But once he found out home turned into hell for me… and that’s why I have scars on my arms. That’s why I had to leave. Not because he beat me. No! He didn’t have to. He did what the doctor called "crazy making." Driving you crazy to the point that you know no way out but to kill yourself… and I tried. Over and over again. I tried to sit in church with a smile on my face, until I couldn’t handle the pretense anymore and stopped going.

At the shelter, I was told that emotional, verbal, and mental abuse is the worst kind of abuse. Worse than physical abuse. I was deeply humbled when a lady who had been badly beaten hugged me and cried for me, saying: “I’ve had it bad, but you had it much worse than me.” I was not only humbled, I was also humiliated, which only someone in the same circumstance can understand. Who wants to admit that they are so worthless to another human being that it is considered okay to abuse them. With no regret. No apologies, ever!

Almost everybody knew only one side of him, the one he wanted you to see. But I had to live with the other side. The side you never saw and I never talked about! Who would have believed me anyway?

Years later the mask still haunts me. Who can I trust? How do I know someone else isn't wearing a mask as well? It has been over seven years since I managed to leave him... and just today I visited the same mainstream church for the second Sunday in a row... and had to leave early. Questions kept jumping out at me, bombarding me: Are you really telling the truth? Aren't you just a hypocrite as well? How do you treat your wife, your children when no one pays attention? Do you live what you preach or do you secretly watch porn as well? On and on the questions came. 

Living with a narcissist, a wearer of masks, has scarred me. It has crippled me. It still makes me question everything and everyone. How I wish you could see the man behind the mask. You fed him and gave him power. When I couldn't take it anymore and almost died... all of you were silent. Because no one wants to see what is really behind the mask. It is easier not to. I wish I had never seen it either.

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The Mask
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