@Anon: You sound just like me: After 20 years of marriage, I lost everything. He destroyed my life, and destroyed our children. We are all shells. I really don't think anyone could ever understand who has not themselves lived it.
My daughter and I are both disabled. Maybe we would have had our health problems without him tearing us apart for so long, but I seriously doubt they would be nearly as bad. My son has Antisocial Personality Disorder and he also now tortures my daughter and me. Nature or nurture or both? The cluster B gene is most likely present, but my son had no role model for how a good, honest, loving man should behave.
Hold on to your own mind and know that it is normal to be damaged by living with this kind of person. I have been divorced for seven years, and he has never stopped exploiting us, lying to and about us, promising support that we base our lives on, only for it to never materialize. He has destroyed us financially, emotionally and physically.
It is astounding what he got away with in the legal system. It has made me unable to trust anyone. I know that I will never have another relationship with a man again. But it is worse than that. I know what evil is and I know it wears a very good mask, so I don't really trust anyone except my daughter and one friend. Once you get torn down as far as they tear you without relenting for so many years, you need help that other people just can’t understand, because they cannot fathom what you have been through. Most people still think that others are like them. But those of us who know first hand that others are not all like us, and that their masks are really convincing, and what can happen if you don't see through them in time, are forever damaged.
Maybe I am being pessimistic, placing my own brokenness on others, but I think with what he has put my children and me through that there would truly be something terribly wrong with me if I were not broken and pessimistic. I have been sucked into the narcissist’s black hole and I do not know how to get out. I was a very strong woman once, much stronger than he was. But I am not that person any more. She is gone. I hope you fare better than I have. I feel your pain. You are not alone. I read these blogs quite a bit, but this is only the second time that I have ever written anything on one, myself. Your words touched me. You have to be on the inside of the relationship with these men to see them. They look perfect from the outside.
I am working on a book, and I am going to title it, "The Right Arm of the Starfish". He always told me I was like his right arm. He thought it was a compliment. But I was just an appendage that he could use at his will. A starfish has no right arm; it just depends on how it sits on the rock that day and broken arms can be regrown. I really know deep down that I cannot recover the person I once was or resurrect her strength and optimism, but I would still like to do some good in this world. Because of my disability and my emotional trauma, I think the best thing I can do is to write about my experiences as openly and honestly as possible and hope that it will help others to see behind the mask before it is too late and they are consumed.
I hope to persuade someone to listen to that aching little voice inside of them that is sounding warnings and to listen to that feeling of being suffocated. If I had listened to that little voice when it first started speaking, I would not be where I am today and neither would my children.
I feel overwhelming, crushing guilt for what he has done to them and that I even made him a father in the first place. It was a role he was never equipped to play. I stayed far longer than I would have if my daughter and I had been healthy. I felt trapped. But it only gets worse the longer you stay, and eventually you lose yourself. I never believed that I was the crazy one, although he has tried very hard in that endeavor. I am broken, but I am not crazy. I know what is real. I know what happened to me, every step of the way, and I know what happened to my children. Isolation is their weapon. They make you too emotionally drained to reach out to other people. You become physically ill and depressed and they have you right where they want you.
I hope your DA comes through for you. No lawyer or judge did for me and the legal system became the most destructive, abusive tool in his arsenal. He used it to rob me of everything I ever had and my children of their college educations and futures. He used it to deprive us of our freedom, our dignity and all financial resources. This abuse has spanned almost a decade. He has found a way out of every commitment and every legal obligation. He has committed perjury so many times that I will not even be able to recount them all in my book. There is blatant evidence of his lies and duplicity and he has gotten away with all of it. It is quite shocking to others when I tell them even the bare bones story of what he has gotten away with. It still shocks me.
I am trapped in a cycle of thinking about the victimization that he has brought to me and my children and I do not know any way to silence that voice. It is a voice that has never been heard. After all that has happened. the only way to even begin to tell it is in a book and I will have to do some serious editing to condense it into a volume that does not rival “War and Peace” in its length.
I just wanted to write to tell you that I know what it feels like to have wasted you life on such a man. I know the pain you feel watching him victimize your children. I hope you find some satisfaction in the legal system. If I had found any protection there, I would not be so broken and would not feel so hopeless. Be as careful and thorough as you possibly can in that arena, and find a good advocate. Don't settle for one minute for a lawyer or any kind of advocate that you do not have total confidence in. You stand to lose much more than money. You can lose your faith in humanity. And that is something that you cannot afford to lose, trust me.