I Don’t Need That Sh*t!

Have you ever had to let go of or runaway from a relationship because of someone’s addictive and emotionally abusive behavior? I have (it has been about a year and a half ago since I made my exit), and it is a very complicated thing to do, especially if you genuinely love the person that you are running away from.

As most narcissistic abusers do, because they often suffer from childhood abandonment and trauma issues themselves, my ex-partner eventually found a way to project his anger at me for leaving the relationship. I knew that eventually he would react with anger towards me because I was the one who left (as fast as I could, before I changed my mind again). On the one hand, I understand that he may have felt abandoned or perhaps angry at my actions (perhaps due to a narcissistic injury?). On the other hand, it is totally unreasonable for anyone to ask or think “Why did you leave me?” or accuse you of leaving them when they constantly say or do things to run or push you away. Sooner or later, they will go too far and cause you to run for your life! Running away or leaving is a reasonable or appropriate response to abuse. Better yet, fleeing a dangerous situation is a basic human response; an act of self-preservation. There is absolutely no shame in running away from an abusive domestic partner. Better to run, than to die a slow and painful emotional or psychological death.

On the day that I left, I went in peace and in a way that did not injure him as a person; nor did I damage his property or anything that belonged to him. My goal was to honor my feelings; not to hurt him, or do to him what he had done to me (although I cannot say that I did not think about it). At the time, I just wanted to make my move and get out (before I foolishly talked myself back into staying). With a text, I let him know that I was safe and that I would return for the rest of my things later when he was not there. Leaving wasn’t something that I planned ahead of time, but on that day, the light bulb just went off and I knew that it was time to go, right away. It was very heartbreaking, but I was determined to recover myself, and I offered no apologies for taking care of myself by not staying in a relationship that was compromised by the constant repeat of his addictive behaviors and emotional abuse.

To be clear, I loved my ex-partner with everything I had, but I could not sacrifice myself any longer, without further consequence, for a man whose outrageous Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde-like tactics and behaviors kept him from being truly present to me, and – come to find out – for a man who openly claimed to deceive and hurt women – bragging online, for example, that he “means them no good,” and identifying himself, in the company of other like-minded individuals, as “a player,” and being referred to by those in his social circle as the renowned pimp turned writer Iceberg Slim, who is now deceased.

As I watched his addictions worsen over time and his hateful, dismissive attitudes and words about women in general, words that he also spoke directly to me, I was convicted by my own sense of self-respect to give up on the idea that I could have or justify a sustainable future with him. Therefore, I went on with my life without him, peacefully. Leaving was not a decision that I wanted to make, but it was a decision that I had to make to save myself. As time went by, I had to stop worrying about him (and the self-harm that he was inflicting upon himself) and place the focus on myself by setting boundaries or gradual limits on his access to me, especially, one day, after he shockingly stated to me not too long ago (with a text), “that we are still the best of friends.” 

At first, this statement of his sounded good, but it quickly dawned on me as gaslighting, or maybe it was the dopamine doing the talking. I mean in one moment, I was allegedly “the best thing” that ever happened to him; in the next, after a cigar and a few drinks, he was either cold as ice or exploding in anger at me for not agreeing with his point of view or for expressing my own opinion, or he was walking out of my apartment in his underwear (and I have the picture to prove it). He was predictably unpredictable and inconsistent with his moods, and, most of all, he was frequently unable to process any opinion that did not agree with his, some of which were not always based on facts or reliable information (but instead on very disturbing online content, such as #MGTOW, #PUA, and Hebrew Israelite online or Youtube “personalities” who openly promote hateful, violent (i.e. psychological abuse and rape) and misogynistic ideas about women – not to mention inaccurate and irresponsible claims about Black and Jewish diaspora experiences). 

For the purpose of dating, I always pay close attention to a man’s thinking, because I believe (proverbially) that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”* The contempt that my ex had for black women always reared its ugly head when he was triggered by a painful memory from the past. When it came to conversations, it was usually his way or no way, and if he could not control or influence the thinking of others, he would discard or dismiss those who did not agree with him, which again is so abusive (not to mention, pretty misinformed, arrogant, and a huge turnoff). He specialized in pushing people away from himself and making enemies. It would always blow my mind how much he sabotaged his own happiness and subsequently nullified the dreams that we built together, not to mention that much of the things that he was doing and saying were damaging to our friendship. The loss of our friendship is one of the things that has grieved me the most.

That said, there were times that I didn’t know whether to call him my lover, a friend, an enemy, my partner, a sick person, or a monster; he was all of those “persons” to me at different points in our relationship. In the beginning, we made light of episodes like the underwear incident described above, but when this pattern and other hostile outbursts continued – happening totally without warning – like the time when he came home one hot summer evening in an angry rage, walked right past me as I was seated on the couch, opened the one window (door) we had in our apartment, turned off the air conditioner, and verbally blasted me for running the air in the first place – his hostile behaviors became very, very serious and threatening to me. If you have ever loved a person controlled by an addiction, then you probably know how unpredictable and horrifying the roller coaster ride can be.

Like me, you also probably felt very alone or emotionally abandoned by your loved one who was more attentive to their addictions than they were to the care of themselves, i.e., doctors’ and dentists’ appointments.  He was almost always willing to join me if we were sitting at a bar, or having drinks; but almost never willing to be with me for an important personal or professional event. Actually, we had a lot of fun together, but after he completely missed an important surgical procedure that I had one day (because hanging out and smoking cigars were more important to him), I did not feel confident that in the future he could or would show up for me if what I was doing would inconvenience his social plans or schedule; I knew that he would – more than likely – opt out of being with me to be out having a good time with his smoking buddies, or whomever. I learned to expect that he would not be present to me unless it fit in to his social schedule. Most importantly, I experienced, first-hand, that for the addict, nothing or no one is more important than that dopamine hit. Everything and everyone else is secondary. Without a doubt, we all have addictions that are instigated and complicated by the toxic, capitalistic society in which we live, but our addictions do not have to control us, consume us, or even destroy us and those who love us. However, when our addictions control us, they have the potential to destroy us, not to mention the love and trust that we have with others.

It was not unusual for my ex-partner to apologize after raging the night before. With his words he would take “full responsibility” for his actions, but, nothing changed in mind or in deed. Soon his angry, abusive cycle repeated itself, and he remained unwilling (perhaps unable) to name his addictions, explore the potential causes for them, and begin a process of healing; as a result, they literally got the best of him.

Let me say it again: … Soon his angry, abusive cycle repeated itself, and he remained unwilling (perhaps unable) to name his addictions, explore the potential reasons for them, and begin a process of healing; as a result, they literally got the best of him.

Speaking for myself, if we were to communicate in the future, I could perhaps be friendly, or better yet civil, because there’s no use spending negative energy on someone who is in denial about his own addictions, who doesn’t believe that his actions are abusive, and who – deep down – believes his behavior is totally normal, acceptable, or even justified. On the other hand, we are not “the best of friends” and I believe that if he is not getting help that he will try to hurt or punish me again (because that is what players and wanna-be pimps do: they punish women when they do not “obey” or please their “man”): first hand, I have witnessed his deep-seated hate of black women. Being “best friends” is his version of us, but it is not true, for I am smart enough to know that if we were “the best of friends,” he would not seek to hurt me. A best friend will root for your happiness each and every time; they will not do things, purposely, to hurt you or to deceive you. Manipulation and deceit are the traits of an enemy. Now, I do not know what you do, but I do not volunteer to communicate with my enemies.

To be sure, I know how to be a good friend, and I am a kind person; but being a good person, and being kind does not mean that I am weak. Anyone who truly knows me knows that I will defend myself if backed into a corner, attacked, belittled, or unjustly provoked. More importantly, I refuse to let the abusive and addictive behaviors of an intimate partner, or anyone for that matter, dictate my life or how I choose to spend it. I say that to say that I will not spend my life victimized or diminished by someone who is self-destructive and not in control of themselves or their behaviors. As far as I am concerned, people who set out to purposefully deceive and hurt others by asserting their dominance and control over them  – just because they can – are mentally ill, and they are probably in need of some serious psychotherapy. I sincerely hope that my ex gets the help that he needs before he hurts anyone else, including himself.

It is totally unreasonable to stay loyal to or in an intimate relationship with someone who is being hateful, abusive, and deliberately unkind. Although I understand that it is quite possible that someone may have hurt them when they were defenseless and very vulnerable, as adults abusive men are not credible or trustworthy as far as I am concerned. Instead of fighting or confronting them head-on, I have learned to move away from abusive men because they are bad for my health: emotionally and physically. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I choose love (of self and others), because hate is too much of a burden to bear.” In addition, conscientious physicians, such as Dr. Gabor Mate, have warned us that holding on to hate and anger can – and probably will – result in chronic psycho-somatic consequences, such as stroke, heart attack, diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, etc. I want and deserve a good quality of life. One day after a very scary episode when my abusive ex had a panic attack followed by the loss of his motor functions he confessed, “you don’t need this sh*t, and he was right. In spite of the fact that I have accomplished a lot in my fifty-plus years, there are a few remaining goals that I would like to accomplish. In other words, I have got people to meet and places to go and I was born ready to do the dag’ gone thang!!! Without a doubt, I don’t need this sh*t!

Even though it may be far and few between, true friendship is based on love, respect, and trust, not deceit or manipulation. In friendship one does not make a mockery of intimacy, and friends don’t treat each other with contempt or as objects to be “played” with for sex, validation, or a little bit of both. Frankly, I don’t want to be friends with a man who takes pleasure in randomly setting out to harm or “play” women, psychologically, emotionally, sexually, physically, financially, or in any other way. Though it is often encouraged and tolerated in the patriarchal culture in which we live, men who prey and play upon women to manipulate them for their own profit or benefit (for social or personal recognition) exhibit predator-like behavior, which is criminal in my book. In addition, I believe that these men should be held accountable for such acts because they pose serious threats to society, particularly to women and even to their very own children.

Consider this: if we really cared about protecting people from narcissistic sexual predators, the Catholic Church would have been shut down long ago; as far as I am concerned, it is one of the most glaring representations of a culture of patriarchal sexual predators. How dare the Pope and the Catholic Church try to tell women how to manage their sexual affairs and choices when they cannot seem to manage their own! These predators (these psychologically sick individuals) teach/groom young, innocent, beautiful boys – who might otherwise go on to be great men – how to devalue themselves and others, and to engage in sexually predatory behaviors, whether their targets are women, men or children. The behaviors of a predator are simply unacceptable. None of us needs their sh*t! We all deserve better. I am not a betting woman but I would be willing to put money on the table that, statistically speaking, the Catholic Church is the number one institutional sexual perpetrator, worldwide. Where is our sense of outrage??? Why haven’t we taken to the streets to stand with and defend their victims??? How many have been willing to break ties or stop tithing or giving money to the Catholic Church because its leadership fails to hold its members accountable for sexual misconduct ??? Perhaps, as Dr. Gabor Mate says, these priests are “addicted to power,” but collectively we are guilty if we stand by and watch them destroy those who cannot or will not fight for themselves.

It is sad to me that so many men of all backgrounds and from all walks of life engage in predatory or player-pimp-like behavior when it comes to dating or intimate relationships. We see this specially on the online apps that are full of married men and men lying about who they are and what they want, which has prompted -damn near required – the creation of social media private groups for women such as “Are We Dating the Same Guy.” My heart breaks to see so many young women share their encounters or stories of sexual assault and emotional abuse with men in Kansas City, but I am glad this group is in existence. Women must organize to protect themselves from abusive, horrifying men. At least half of the men whose photos appear on this site are married. A good majority of the other half are lying, using false names, manipulating women for money, and misrepresenting themselves as available or attentive, when all they really seem to want is to get laid with a thirty or forty year old woman in the prime of her life; all the while not giving a solid damn about these women and the dreams they have for themselves. Just the other day, I met a young woman who said that she dated a man for months here in KC, MO, before learning that he was married. If I were in my twenties, thirties, or even my early forties, and this is what I had to look forward to, as far as dating was concerned, I would be so afraid.

To some extent, my ex-partner is simply following what is promoted and embraced as “normal” adult masculine behavior in our Western society. For example, it is not unusual to see abusive and inequitable sexual politics articulated between younger women and older men who feel entitled and thus superior on the basis of age, and perhaps with their money and material possessions, which they use to justify their manipulative and pedophile-like actions. Men who actively pursue younger women is just one of many everyday examples where malevolent patriarchal power is openly expressed in social and personal (intimate) terms – and, it is widely accepted, even by women. My point is that narcissistic “dirty old men” really do exist: in abundance.

On the one hand, it was hard in the early phases of my leaving the relationship to close the door on a man that I once believed in and trusted. We had a powerful connection, and we shared a lot of ourselves with each other. We both articulated a shared hope for the future; for a long time, it was mutually difficult to let go. I experienced the beautiful and humane parts of him as well. And, he shared with me the traumas – the wounds – that troubled him. I did not want to fix him, rather, I wanted to do things: I wanted to understand him, and, I genuinely wanted to give him my love and affection, for as the great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “understanding is the foundation of love.”

However, for years, I did not want to accept the scary, abusive, cruel, and inhumane parts of my ex’s character. I wanted to believe that he could be better, and thus the man that I wanted and needed him to be, and, Maybe (with a capital “M”) he wanted to believe that he was capable of being someone other than who he really was. There were many warm and tender moments where he would assert, “I am not a player,” and, of course, it was always great to hear those words. But it did not take long before he was in an addictive episode and he would play out the same abusive behaviors – for the umpteenth time – and express little to no willingness on his part to change after he experienced those horrible episodes – even following a significant health emergency that put him in the hospital for a week (in ICU). After watching him deny the reality of his own health issues, even the simple ones related to aging, it dawned on me that in the best case scenario, he did not know how to not be a player – and everything that goes along with that. Being a player was the dominant way that he came to understand and value himself and maintaining that identity was everything to him, perhaps it was his superpower?

I could see for myself that my ex took pride in being a player, and contrary to anything else that he said he believed in, including his deity, it was being a player that was foundational to his social and personal identity. By default (and when his mask came off) it was the badge that he proudly wore in public and in private; it was how he presented himself to others, which left me with no choice but to believe that being a player was how he wanted to be known, inasmuch as he made himself known as a player online and wherever he was making his hateful beliefs and attitudes about women seen amongst others (and screenshot if desired). His brazen embrace of player and thus pimp-like attributes were almost always accompanied by hateful speech against women – black women in particular –  and they were buttressed by his addictions (plural) that gradually destroyed my ability to believe in him and in our ability to be together, long term. As I witnessed the unfolding of how he identified himself in personal and social terms, my head was often spinning in dismay and disbelief because a player is an abuser; he intentionally deceives and exploits women for his own personal gain through trickery and manipulation.

Looking back, I have realized that there were times that the anxiety that I was feeling about him, about us, disrupted my sleep. It is amazing to me that the body and the mind work together: they tell us when we are being negatively affected by the events and the people in our environment, e.g., asthma, sleep walking, sleep talking, nightmares, dreams, immuno-deficiencies, etc. It is up to us to pay attention and listen to our bodies as they warn us when we are in physical and emotional danger. It is still difficult for me to wrap my mind around his identity as a player, because I know that he has the ability to be a different person. When we met I informed him that I “don’t do” players, and as time went by I experienced the good in him and that he treasured our being together, but apparently under the cover of our relationship, he still identified as a player. It took me a long time to admit it, but my ex is a player; it is who he is. This was very hard for me to acknowledge. On the other hand, I am compassionate enough to understand that his identity as a player is one of the few social realities that has given him a powerful sense of meaning or purpose in life. Perhaps this is similar to what attracts mafia or gang members to a life of crime, but it is this dangerous environment or milieu that unfortunately and often causes their early demise. We humans are such complex beings, thus, I am still hoping that he will find a way out of the player life and back to his authentic self, which he allowed me to see – up close and personal.

This was not my first rodeo with a man who identified himself as a player. Back in my early twenties, I was in a relationship a man (with a college degree and a military background) who built his reputation on lying to women and being a narcissistic player; thankfully, I literally moved away from him. Because of him, I learned in early adulthood that the player has nothing to offer me but trauma and drama (and -most likely – the player was abused or traumatized as a child or raised by a man who was also a self-avowed player and therefore abusive toward women). Unfortunately, these were also the factors that built my KC ex and made him who he is today; but they were not the conditions that made me.

My father was no player, and despite the marital problems that my parents had, which led them to divorce, I knew that he loved me. My parents raised me and my siblings to be productive adults, and they taught us how to be present and give to others; they taught us the importance of practicing good, ethical values and everyday manners. Likewise, I am not the type of woman that a player wants or needs in his life, because a player does not mean [me] women any good; they intentionally will try to take advantage of women. It is the player’s ambition to hurt women. They are prepared to abuse women whether explicitly or implicitly in order to feel good (in a position of power) about themselves; the abuse of women is their M.O., their modus operandi. This is one reason why older men who are players prey upon younger women, because sometimes younger women lack life experience and the maturity to see through the masks worn by the player, or, there are reasons they do not resist the bling of the player’s material possessions; some women – young, old, or in between – are just as narcissistic or opportunistic as the players themselves. But that is not me, and I do not play or entertain the player’s game; he cannot control me or my thoughts because I have my own shine, my own bling.

I say that to say that I never have and I never will be a player’s woman. I do not need to stand in the shadow of a man to be valuable. I am valuable on my own existence and on my own merit. I have my own identity and my own money: as the R&B singer Neo once said, I’m independent and I’ve got my own thing. There is, on the other hand, a certain kind of woman that is most compatible with the player; if my ex does the math I am sure he can figure it out and discover that she is not me. Furthermore, as long as he presents himself as a player and remains stuck in the emotional trauma of his childhood (with his addictions adding currency to his sense of self-identity – as a player), then he better believe that I am off limits and out of his league. To me, the player is desperate and deceptive. I perceive players as I perceive drug dealers: as predators who take advantage of people, especially women, for their own profit, and I do not need or want a predator in my personal space. In addition, I do not believe that it is a stretch to say, that most players will probably self-destruct, and I am not going down with them. 

Anyone who needs the constant validation of others to feel normal or good about themselves has already demonstrated that they do not value themselves or their very lives: they are like the walking dead. It will be a cold day in hell, and I do not even believe in hell, before I let a walking dead person make a mess of my life because theirs is all effed up due to the terrible choices they repeatedly made in life and as if there would never be any consequences for them. These people bring terrible problems upon themselves, yet often have the nerve to say or think that it is “God’s will.” Apparently, they do not see that their gods are not to blame for their problems; they are simply reaping what they have sown: pain and suffering.

Make no mistake about it, when I was with my KC ex, I was never silent about what I was feeling and sensing, but when I said anything in defense of women, he would scowl and blame “feminism.” To him, I couldn’t just be a woman standing up against his blatant disregard and hatred of women. I suppose that he had to find an easy target or scapegoat, because being a card-toting woman-hating player was probably the only way that he could feel “normal.” In order to protect myself from what was playing out right before my eyes, I used denial a lot to protect me (psychologically) from the trauma of what was happening. Verbally, I frequently pushed back on his abusiveness towards me and other women, and it was not unusual for me to express my anger directly at him, but there came a time when his identity as a player was simply undeniable and unbearable. Little by little, I was able to break through my denial and see him for who he really was: a self-avowed player informed by pimp-like ideas and attitudes. Furthermore, in recent years, it was very mind-blowing and disappointing to see the incredibly hateful comments that he has posted online about his interactions and intentions with women. Perhaps he does not realize that his written words could potentially land him in jail.

During one online exchange, for instance, a woman turned down his persistent advances after he posted his mobile cell number online for her to call him (who does that right???) just minutes after he stated that he took delight in hurting or traumatizing “every woman that comes [his] way” (his words). I thought, WOW, it is true: pride goeth before a fall. Of course, there were men who applauded his abusive claims, but there were also others (men) who urged him to get help for the sick, hateful things he was saying online. Surely, it is only a matter of time before one of the women that he has hurt, maybe it will be me, gets angry enough to go after him through the legal system with proof of his intent to cause trauma and harm to women. 

As my relationship with him progressed, I became aware that the misogynistic speech that my ex was posting went beyond his own childhood traumas that were out of his control. In his early adulthood, his icons were players and pimps who used and devalued women to get the material possessions and recognition that they wanted in life. He told me about them and said that he did not desire to be like them… until his trauma and his addictions did the talking for him. At that point, he was just like the ones he described: abusive and hateful toward women. It was almost like he was possessed by someone else (like the character in J.D.’s Revenge a 1976 film).

When I stopped making excuses for him, it was clear to me that his mindset was no different than his early misogynistic and abusive influences, and I was forced to concede that enough was finally enough of being with a man that had regrettably been groomed by those who were full of contempt for women: it is no accident that he is who he is today. It was also clear to me that he did not want to do anything about the emotionally abusive covert narcissist that he had become, nor did he seem to worry about the danger that his addictive and abusive behaviors were doing to himself. As stated above, I believe that being a player gave him social and personal legitimacy: it made him feel powerful and relevant. Personally, however, I see the player as fearful, gullible and predatory. Thankfully, with the help of friends and trusted others, I concluded that his social environment, traumas, and addictions might have him under control, but they could not have me. It is not perfect, but I have a good life, and I am proud of who I am. I want to keep it that way.

The other thing was that I did not want a front row seat to the unfolding of what looked to me like a pseudo suicide attempt on his part, nor did I have the stomach or the time to be intimately involved with a man in his late fifties who defined himself, women, and life in general from the troubled and twisted street-logic standpoint of a player. I knew that I deserved better. In addition, I personally know men who were raised with similar malevolent influences in life, yet they do not try to emulate or mimic the destructive, anti-woman, hateful habits of their predecessors. Just because a young boy is raised around patriarchal toxicity does not mean he has to accept it or embrace it as a man. None of us is required to stay bound to the mistakes or hateful expressions of the generation before us or those who raised us. This is what growing up is all about. At minimum, today’s men can choose to practice benevolent patriarchy, which is NOT the norm, but it is an option that is on the table. Yet, it is such a shame that so many men articulate their lives with malevolent patriarchal beliefs and actions. This is killing them – in more ways that one.

Anyone who knows me knows that I work hard to live in truth and to line it up with my actions. I try my best to trust my gut, above everything and everybody – with the exception of the times when trust in myself has reached its limits or is not possible. But, there were a lot of times in this relationship when I set aside my gut feelings in an effort to try again or give it one more chance. I do not beat myself up about that because it kind of goes with the territory of loving an alcoholic; there are many do-overs and stops and starts. For the record, I would do just about anything that I reasonably could to help anyone that I love who is struggling with addictions and trauma, but first they have to sincerely acknowledge that they are in need of some help. It was liberating to get to the point where I did not second guess myself or my own judgment about what I was seeing and feeling in the relationship.

Eventually, I ran out of f***s chances to give, and I decided to get off “the merry-go-round called denial,” but even that was not without warning. Weeks before I left, I looked him right in the eye, after a difficult night before, and said I’m not doing it again. He acknowledged me, said he understood and that he loved me, and then he headed out to do more of the same. Of course, it was not long before we were back to the same results, so I kept my word: I jumped off the merry-go-round: because doing the same thing and expecting different results would definitely be insane!!!

Indeed, there are still times when it hurts – super bad – because I lost someone who was special to me due to addiction and the refusal to recognize and seek help for the horrible traumas that he suffered in life. There are also times when I am very angry – and sad –  that I let someone who is so narcissistic and abusive have even ten minutes of my time. But I am not to blame for his abusive behavior, and knowing that I ultimately stood my ground and believed in what I was feeling, above all other feelings – even the good ones – and in spite of his potential hurt feelings as a result of my leaving helps me get through my feelings of loss and grief. Since I have been gone, the trauma of this relationship and the “hoovering” that I experienced from him after I left has called upon me to seek outside help from support groups and a therapist. This too was a hard choice, but I had to heal intentionally from the trauma that I experienced with him. Now, finding the courage to share my story, coming to voice, is an important part of my healing. I am so very grateful for the gift of courage!

Finally, in closing, I am very proud of myself and that I did what I needed to do to reclaim and preserve my life, not to mention my sanity. The more that I am away from him, the more I realize how dangerous it was for me to be with a man who was very broken and emotionally disabled by addictions and childhood trauma. I call it my emotional nightmare, but I am glad that I woke up from it. Perhaps it can be said that he is a sociopath or a psychopath – oh my goodness I do not want to really go there – but what I do know is that he consistently misrepresented who he was and what he wanted from me or was willing to do for us – as a unit; he made lots of promises that he never kept (some of which he probably does not even remember making to this day); he was repeatedly emotionally abusive and hostile to me due to his traumas and addictions; he was routinely inconsiderate and rude to my family (and definitely rude and nasty to me), and basically all he seemed to care about was himself; this he proved to me in the end. Listening for and trusting my own voice above any and all of the voices that were in my ear (even the well-intentioned ones) – so that I could muster the courage to stand up for my feelings, breakthrough my own denial, and “detach in love” from an intimate partner – who claimed to love me – but who was narcissistic, self-destructive and emotionally abusive – has been one of my greatest and hardest lessons. If I can help it, I will never let someone like that in my life again. Although his superpower was being a player, I learned that my superpower was in waking up and ending the terrible pain of this emotional nightmare; in realizing that the best thing that I could have ever done for him and for me was to find the courage to trust myself; in letting go of an emotionally abusive and troubled man; and ultimately to embrace the declaration – without any hesitation whatsoever – that I don’t need that sh*t.

N/B: If you are in an intimate relationship with an addict, I hope these words have comforted you. Most of all, however, I recommend 12-step programs, such as Al-Anon, which will not cost you a thing and you can attend online, anonymously. You might even consider reaching out to a counselor so that you can begin to heal from the trauma that your loved one’s addiction has caused you. You deserve to recover.

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