The Heart Grieves Slowly

Heart-shaped cloud

Heart-shaped cloud (Photo credit: aivas14)

My heart still grieves for him, despite all my intellectual knowledge about Anti Social Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, his pathological lying, his cheating.

It seems I have spent the past year and a half embroiled in a debate between my heart and my mind. My mind has had the upper hand on the debate for many months now. My memories of the bad far outweigh those of the good. Intellectually, I realize that all the good was an illusion.

Yet, still, my heart grieves. My heart, it seems, is a stupid organ which remembers smells, feelings, sensations, a certain song, the smell of ocean on a fall day, the pressure of his hand taking mine, an island, a drawbridge, his eyes, his laugh, and wants to turn these memories into proof that he was the love of my life.

My mind combats sensations with facts. Part of what we do as survivors of pathological relationships is to repeat our facts daily, like our Apostles Creed. We are praying our rosary, the repetition of our prayers of emotional survival,

self-respect and reason to drone out the feelings of love.

Is there anyone else out there, another survivor of a pathological relationship who cannot let go of the feeling that despite all that happened, that he was the only one I ever loved?

Damn the heart. It has proved a useless and delusional organ in my body.



9 thoughts on “The Heart Grieves Slowly

  1. Part of grieving is denial. Grieving takes time. It’s different for everyone, and everything. I read somewhere five years is average for a severe loss, such as a death, and you have experienced the death of a relationship. I’ve given myself five years. Sometimes it’s shorter, sometimes longer. Don’t beat yourself up; you’ve been through enough of that already. Have you done anything to designate the end? A wake of sorts, I suppose. I dated a narc for three years. I ended the relationship, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk away permanently until four years later. He’d written me a “thinking of you” letter. I’d just finished a year of therapy. I was terrified of allowing myself to be sucked back in, even though he was married. I’d already gotten rid of everything. I wrote a lengthy letter, saying everything I wanted to say. I let it sit for a few days. Then I wrote it again, keeping it as short as possible, one page. I remember that weekend as if it were yesterday. It was a defining moment. I drew my line in the sand, and said good-bye on every level. Be nice to you.

    • Thanks Judy.

      The problem I’m encountering is that the relationship spanned 25 years. There was a 20 year separation between. It’s hard to explain. His return into my life appeared to correlate what I was experiencing spiritually. I feel tricked, shortchanged, by the outcome. I need to rewire my brain to get around this. Also, we have a 24 year old child together.


      • You were tricked, but not by you, by him. I can’t imagine what it must be like to share a child with such a despicable creature, and make sure the child knows they are loved and not like their father, while trying to recognize the monster for what he is without seeing bits of pieces of your child from him. What a mess, but not insurmountable. You are strong enough.

        I’m the daughter of a narcissistic mother. My parents taught me I was incapable so well, I’ve lived at home my whole life, almost 50 years. I see a lot of her in me. It scares me. My saving grace is knowing I’m willing to take the honest look, no matter how hard it is, and change. My counselor informed me I would mourn for the whole of my life not having the loving parents every child should have. I was horrified he would tell me such a thing. Then I accepted it. Odd things will trigger the mourning, but in allowing myself to mourn, the bouts have become fewer and farther between. I don’t expect them to go away, but it’s more manageable when I’m gentle with myself.

        I wish there were some magic therapy or easy-button cure, but there is only through. You have it within you, even if it’s only the courage and fight needed to learn what you need to learn and carry on.

        • He has burned his own bridges with his child. Typical ASPD, he was not around to be a father because he was too busy selling drugs and getting high. We moved far away, so he had no contact with our child for most of the first 20 years, with the exception of infancy.

          Him coming back around again and doing his same old tricks just reinforces that I was right to take the baby and leave. If we had stayed, what troubles we would have suffered due to his personality and lifestyle. And he would have been lying about it and playing his narcissistic games of being the victim all along. It would have been hell, and extremely destructive for both myself and the child. So, the greatest gift in all of this is knowing that leaving was the right thing to do.

          These phases of irrational ‘love’ feelings pass by in occasional waves now. I recognize them for the illusions which they are.

          In regards to your own situation, you were probably better staying at home and analyzing your situation than running off and getting into drugs, or drinking or other types of trouble which teens and young adult children of dysfunctional households are likely to do. It sounds like you are making progress in your healing.



    • Thanks, the feeling of ‘love’ for him passes by quickly, now, like a thunderstorm. It is easier and easier to override it every time.

  2. This instantly drew tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your ever lasting pain. Yes, I believe a re-wiring works. I practice self-hypnosis almost daily when I meditate and having something or someone wonderful in your life is what truly heals. Is there a way you can tell yourself he is dead? Death will allow you to be free from this nightmare. He is a monster. He needs to die for you to live Ixchel.

    • Thanks so much.

      Happily, the feeling of ‘love’ for him passes very quickly now when it comes by. I can see it for a delusion. It just takes such a very long time to eradicate love from one’s heart when that love is a destructive force.

      Interestingly, I am toying with the idea of telling myself that he is dead. As I will never see him again, why not? Why not create my own narrative about it?


  3. I have lived the majority of my life married to a man with ASPD, NPD, pathological lying and serial cheating. Our marriage certificate says we’ve been married for 32 yrs. We have three children, all grown now.

    I came from a broken home and I did not want that for my children. I stuck it out because I chose to. It’s been a very long road. Everything in our world came to a head about four years ago. I won’t go into details, they are just too painful. He ended up selling most of what he owned to follow me. He no longer does drugs. He drinks to get drunk on average, once a year. He doesn’t go to bars or strip clubs. He comes home right after work. He calls me several times a day. There are still some issues we are working through. We are just taking them one day at a time.

    He still reverts to angry outbursts. He use to tell me that,” I had to forgive him.” I reminded him, he chose the path in which he wanted me to follow him. He paved the road, I choose how fast I drive on it. I told him that I had forgiven him, I just hadn’t forgotten. I told him, it’s a lot easier to love someone I trust. I also told him, now that our children are grown, I would have no problem loving him from a distance. Even after all he’s done. I still love him.

    I use to ask myself: Since God never gave up on me, who am I to give up on him, on us, our family? People would often tell me that they didn’t have a clue why I stayed with him. There are always three sides to every story, yours, theirs and the truth. There had to be a reason that I could see beyond his disorders. I was learning too, instead of being an enabler or a quitter. I had to teach my children that because you love someone you keep that commitment. You don’t walk out when things aren’t going perfectly. Because if you wait for perfection in a relationship, you will be waiting until you take your final breath. No one is perfect, everyone has issues of one type or another. We all have a purpose. Just because he was taking himself further down the rabbit hole didn’t mean that I had to follow and take our children too. Our children after living with a drunk with other issues, they have learned how not to be. They are also learning how not to treat someone they love. They are also learning how to forgive. They have learned about loyalty, commitment, trust and love.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t a time to walk away. None of us really know just how much we can endure until we are halfway over that next hurdle. My strength came from the Lord. Without him, I could not have endured. I am not without blame. Out of ignorance, I was an enabler. I don’t have to tell anyone who has been in a relationship with someone with those disorders how very hard it is to try to get them to *feel* something, anything. They have *perceived persecution*. Which can make anyone their enemy in an instant. They also have no problem instigating an argument which in their mind justifies their next action. They can tell you they love you every day and at night you are the furthest thing from their mind. In my opinion, they act as if they have no conscience. Yet they can be a social butterfly, the life of the party. Others find them very likable. They show a very likable side because they have no intention of entering any type of commitment with anyone. Their only loyalty is to themselves. (These are strictly my own opinions based on thirty two years of experience through living with someone with those disorders.)

    I’ve done a lot of research on these disorders. Even with all the research I’ve done, the information I’ve gathered doesn’t hold a candle to the thirty two years of hands on experience.

    I could write a book on the mental and physical pain and emotional suffering I’ve endured because of my choice to stay with someone with ASPD, NPD, a pathological liar, a serial cheater. But I would also have to include in that book that now our children actually have a relationship with their dad. They are actually getting to know each other. They have told him where they stand if he returns to the life he led. He’s learning that it’s really not all about him. He’s learning how to love someone other than himself. In the last several years he has come a long way from the monster he use to be. He didn’t establish those addictions or those disorders in a day or a week or a year and it will take him some time to learn how to control them, instead of them controlling him.

    I will ask you not to pass judgement but instead, pray for him, for us and for everyone who is battling those disorders and the people that love them.

    Ixchel, I do know exactly how you feel. You see what you deem as good in him. To you he is the love of your life. But until he makes the decision to help himself, no one can do it for him. Not your love or the love of any other human being can make him deal with his issues or even admit to them. If you choose to hang on…then hold on for dear life because it could possibly be the emotional roller coaster ride most would walk away from. I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about. People can and often do change. Have you seen any marked changes? You may not be able to if he’s showing you the side you’ve seen before. The side that paved the way for you to fall in love with him. I know all too well what it is to be broken, to have a shattered heart and how very hard it is to pick up the pieces, let a lone find them. But I’m also a witness to change in a person that was cold, calloused and without a conscience and only capable of appearing to show love when it was to his benefit.

    I have never shared this with the public. I can only hope that in some way it helps you or perhaps someone else too. May you find peace in your heart, love in your life and happiness in your soul.

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