November 28, 2020: About two years ago, I befriended someone with whom I eventually developed an intimate relationship. At first, it was like a fairy tale. But it devolved into a something else entirely. I didn’t know it then, but I was caught in a classic pattern of narcissistic abuse.
It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before: a roller coaster of what initially felt like love, passion, intimacy and deep connection, which then transformed into chaos, drama, tears, hurt, rejection and humiliation. For much of our time together, I felt confused, demeaned and devalued. And yet (stupidly, in hindsight), I kept trying to make it work.
About two months ago, the two of us went on a four-day motorcycle road trip. I had found the bike on kijiji; we bought it together. On the second night of the trip, while closing a door in the dark at the friend’s place where we were staying, he inadvertently shut my fingers between the side jamb and the door itself.
The nail of my right middle finger was instantly crushed. The pain was excruciating. I howled in agony, and collapsed in a heap as soon as he relieved the pressure by opening the door, thus releasing my fingers.
“Sweetheart, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, sweetheart,” he repeated over and over, as he scooped me up off the floor, carried me to the bathroom sink, turned on the cold water and put my hand under the tap. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
I was crying. He was crying. The tip of my finger was throbbing. It felt as if someone had hammered a spike through it.
“I’m going to faint,” I sobbed.
“I’ve got you,” he said. “I’m sorry. Sweetheart. I’m so sorry.”
He carried me from the bathroom to the bed, lay me under the duvet and turned the side table lamp on. Blood had already begun to seep under the nail’s moon.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” he repeated, kissing my fingertip.
“It’s okay,” I was finally able to choke out through my tears. “It was an accident. You didn’t mean it. It was an accident.”
It went on like that until we fell asleep in each other’s arms: him saying, “I’m sorry,” me saying, “It’s okay, it was an accident.”
Two days later, the pain was gone.
Two weeks later, he was gone too. Just like that. Like everything had been nothing.
The bloody bruise continues to travel down my fingernail. It’s in the middle now. Probably won’t grow out completely for another six months or so. Until then, I’ll be reminded of the everything that was nothing every time I look at my right hand: the illusion of love; the promise of a shared life and happiness; the pain; the betrayal; the endless, meaningless apologies; the lies; the devaluation; the discards – the whole cycle of narcissistic abuse.
I feel sorry for the man who abused me; I loved him (or rather the person he initially presented himself to be), and it’s hard for me to let that go. I also feel sorry for his current and future victim(s). I pray they find the strength to break the cycle, to survive, and then to thrive, as I have and will.
As for the the nail on the middle finger of my right hand, it will be as good as new one day in the not-too-distant future. The thought of that small bit of healing gives me hope.
© 2020 Susan Macaulay. I invite you to share my poetry and posts widely, but please do not reprint, reblog or copy and paste them in their entirety without my permission. Thank you.