I tried to please him on his birthday. Every year I hoped the plans I made that year would finally be the ones that met his desires and made him feel loved and honored the way one should on their birthday. Every year I was disappointed. No matter how grand the plan, he found it wanting.
I am going to tell the story and remember the events of last year, the last of his birthdays I had to deal with. I feel proud that I’m able to tell this story without getting sucked into the emotions I had at the time. I will be able to recount what occurred while staying grounded in my present reality. This is huge progress for me. I am excited. Huzzah.
Today is the second of his birthdays since we broke up. At this time last year, we were still living together. We had broken up four months prior. I moved into a bedroom upstairs the day after the breakup and I was doing well at maintaining appropriate emotional boundaries. I had gone as low-contact as one can in that situation.
He had met a new supply source in early January and for the most part, tended to leave me alone. The plan was to fix up the house for sale and unload it in June, two years after our purchase. We both were eager to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the house sale.
I look back on who I was on this date last year and think myself adorably optimistic and naive. It’s rather endearing to think about. Sweet, cute little me who saw the world through rose-colored glasses and thought herself capable of handling any challenge life tossed her way. (HANG ON— I did handle that shit. It’s over now and I handled the fuck out of every challenge I faced last year. Never mind. Delete. I fucking rocked all that noise. Moving on…)
Sometime in mid-February, he asked that I not work from home on his birthday. He said he wanted some alone time that day. I assumed he was lying to me. I assumed he was going to bring his new supply source over and spend the day in our home with her.
During the conversations around continuing to live together until matters with the house were settled, we had agreed neither of us would bring anyone to the house. When I voiced my concerns about his birthday, he reiterated our agreement, promising me he wouldn’t bring someone to the house, that he would never do that to me. His face showed total shock that I would think him capable of such a thing, that I would even consider thinking of him as that heartless.
I believed him. Even now, I seriously can’t fucking believe that I bought it, but I did. I respected his wishes. I completely empathized with someone who had a stressful job and was going through a breakup wanting to take a day off on his birthday and have some time alone. He had been relatively good about not playing video games while I was at home because he knew the noise bothered me. It was completely understandable, in my mind, that on his birthday he would want to do the thing he loved most; sit in the basement playing video games all day.
What a fucking dope I was.
I went into the office that day even though I was sick and wanted to stay home. I maintained plans I had that evening with a friend. I gave him his ‘alone time.’
What a chump. He must have been so happy, so proud of himself to have pulled one over on me. (Side note: when someone tells you repeatedly during interactions with them that they’re a great liar and have a fantastic poker face, it probably stands to reason that they aren’t someone you should trust. It sounds so stupid and so obvious now, but apparently, this was a lesson I needed to learn.)
It wasn’t until a few weeks after his birthday that I noticed a new weight on the bathroom scale app on my phone. I saw that someone who weighed significantly less than my Narcissist had stepped on the bathroom scale on his birthday, shortly after I left for work.
He must have called her to tell her I was gone the second I left the house. She had come over, and for some unknown reason, had almost immediately weighed herself. He had lied to me about having her over. I had gone to work sick and had been miserable so he could bring another woman into my home. I’d been duped.
(Another side note: What kind of a woman secretly goes into another woman’s home for a tryst, and almost immediately uses the homeowner’s bathroom scale? Why would weighing herself be so irresistible in that moment? It’s something I do not understand and would love to know someday.)
My rage that evening had very few limits. I had very little control over my body and I slammed doors and cabinets like an immature angst-filled teenager. He wanted to know what was going on, why I was so upset. I yelled at him but I didn’t tell him the reason for my rage. I yelled at him to stay the fuck away from me.
I continued slamming things. I didn’t care if something broke. I almost wanted it to. It would have been deeply satisfying.
It was the most out of control he ever saw me, perhaps the most out of control I’ve ever been, and it frightened him. He started leaving his bedroom door closed and staying away from my cats after that. I think he thought the reason for my anger was that he had been snuggling with one of my kitties. Given that he had nothing else to work with in the moment I suppose it makes sense, as far as make-believe stories about a person’s rage go.
I didn’t tell him my rage was because I had just seen his new supply’s weight on my phone and knew he had lied to me about having her over on his birthday. I’m sure he would have been pleased to have been caught and would have found joy in twisting it into somehow being my fault, into being something I deserved. I didn’t care to give him that pleasure or to suffer his insults. He had done wrong, but I was the one who would be punished if he knew I had found out. I had no desire to put myself through that, so I didn’t confront him, I didn’t bother trying to get him to make amends. I knew it would be pointless to do so.
I realize now that my low-contact behavior had gotten to him. He hadn’t been able to provoke me after the breakup like he’d been able to before I realized he was a narcissist and summarily dumped him. Having the new supply over was an attempt to feel powerful; I knew that at the time. He had wanted to get caught. I knew that. Now, though, when I look back on it, it’s hilarious to me that he thought sitting with one of my cats would throw me into a rage of that magnitude, when it had never bothered me before (and didn’t then). I never let him know that my rage that night was because he had been found out. I didn’t give him the satisfaction.
Months later, shortly before I moved out, I did eventually tell him I knew he had invited his supply over on his birthday, and how it was that I knew. I didn’t say anything about the night of rage that came a few weeks later, but I told him I knew about his birthday, and let him know I knew he was a lying sack of shit. When confronted, he lied again. He looked me straight in the eye with eagerness and excitement and told me that the weight had been him. That the scale had read his weight wrong one day. It had been “SO WEIRD.” He looked at me with his big blue eyes, body pitched forward, mouth slightly agape, practically salivating, thinking that a fight was about to occur. I looked at him and saw him clearly, and I walked away. I refused to be a supply source to him. His body visibly deflated in disappointment. He’d have to get his next hit elsewhere.
I can thank him for being such an asshole, though. Because he invited her over last year, and because I felt all my feelings about it at the time, I have finished unpacking and processing all my feelings about his birthday. It’s why I don’t have Big Horrible Feelings today. I did the emotional work I needed to do about this date and I’m quite happily done with having feelings about his birthday.
I feel sympathy for my past self; sympathy because I was in a relationship with him at all, because of the constant unappreciated Herculean effort I put forth every day, and because of all the emotion and heartbreak I suffered on this date every year for the past few years.
Today, though, I am not that person anymore, and I am not in that time. I feel sympathy, not empathy. I am recognizing the emotions but I am removed from them.
I smile as I think these words and write them down:
All of that is in my past.
I am here and now. I am happy and grateful to be where I am now and not where I was then. I am in my new home with my cats. The three of us are cuddled up together on the couch, eagerly watching snow fall gently onto the trees outside our window, the white growing thicker by the minute. It is quiet here; I am not burdened or jarred by the sounds of warfare from his video games. I can sit and enjoy the gentle peace of falling snow.
My right now feelings are tender and not anxious or angry or sad. My right now feelings are grateful ones. I don’t ever have to suffer through another one of his birthdays. Never again.
Truthfully… I feel more like celebrating on this date today than I ever have on this day in years past.