Warrior Diva: "Everything I Never Wanted" by Adele Renshaw
The power of social media is truly amazing! It connects perfect strangers with similar experiences who can relate and bond with one another. I shared the latest article I wrote on Narcissistic Abuse and a fellow Warrior Diva reached out to me asking if I would publish her story.
This is the story of Adele Renshaw. It's a raw yet honest narrative of the narcissistic abuse she went through in a letter to her abuser. Adele is a full-time working, single mom of two brilliant, but demanding teenagers. She's a busy, stressed out 49-year old just trying to get through life and recover from abuse at the hands of a covert narcissist. As he said in his last conversation with Adele, "...you'll get through this, you're a fighter Adele!" Well, she decided to prove him right. This is her first and only blog, but it's written from her heart as a piece of "self-therapy" on her journey from victim to survivor.
This time almost 4 years ago I met you my love. You were everything I ever wanted or at least that is what you pretended to be. I had recently separated from my husband of 22 years. I felt guilt and pain and the excitement of new beginnings all rolled into one big cocktail of contradicting emotions. I didn’t really fancy you at first (I know you see something wonderful when you look in the mirror and I have often admired your ability to suck in your stomach and see George Clooney staring back at you), but in actual fact you’re really not all that. But you had other charms you deployed and you had spent 40 something years honing them. I definitely wasn't looking for a relationship, but I recall you repelled rejection like oil on water and pursued me with a vigour I mistook for romantic persistence.
The girl who had watched far too many chick flicks, I was blown away by your attention. It was simply irresistible. I thought you were my knight in shining armour. Turns out you were an emotionally stunted prick in tinfoil, but I was to discover this much later. You acted your part so well. A gifted performance. Only this wasn't a TV drama…this was my life.
In truth, my marriage had been broken a long time and as you know, it was me that broke it. I am nothing if not honest. I am not afraid to admit I made mistakes. I felt trapped. My wings were clipped and I needed to see if I could fly again. I longed for romance and passion – something you were quick to realize. Now I see I was a vulnerable target; a sitting duck for your practiced charms, your magnetic personality and those twinkly eyes.
When I ended it with you before it really began, you insisted on being my friend. You were willing to wait on the sidelines, weren’t you? Biding your time, getting ready to claim your prize. In truth, it suited you. You told me you had been separated from your wife for a while and had been sleeping separately for a good 5 months. Turns out that wasn’t the whole truth, but how was I to know that everything that escaped from your mouth was a lie?
You just wanted to take care of me, you said. It didn’t take me long to develop feelings. You were always so attentive. Always paying me compliments and always comparing me favourably with your ex. I was a fantastic cook you said, where she would cook for herself and leave you nothing after a long day at work. I was a brilliant parent whose children were a credit to her whereas she instilled no discipline. And you were not used to being with somebody so loving and kind for she was cold and lacked affection. Even on your wedding day, you said she laughed during your vows whilst you struggled to hold back tears. You would shower me with false compliments whilst simultaneously putting her down. All of this, I have come to realize, is your version of the truth which in reality probably doesn’t resemble the truth at all.
When I think back now, it wasn’t about me at all. It was all about her. It was all about dragging her down rather than lifting me up. It was all to fuel her pain rather than my spirits. You were a perfect husband to her you said and she threw it all away? My gut instinct told me it was wrong for someone to be so malicious towards an intimate ex partner, but at the time I was more interested in hearing those sweet little lies. There was a voice in my head whispering “this isn’t right” but I shut that voice down because I wanted so badly to believe you were real.
No doubt somebody new is hearing all about my short comings, my selfish ways, my obsessive trust issues, my disagreeable personality, and how I love the drama. You used the phrase "drama queen" to undermine my feelings when I called you out on your despicable behaviour. It is called "projection" darling. When you project all the bad stuff you do back onto the person accusing you.
Still, you are right about the trust issues. I do have major trust issues. But understandably so given you put me through everything from texting your ‘honey pot’ to inappropriately touching my friends, to the affairs. My god...my children even found your fake profiles on POF and Adult Friend Finder. Careless of you to leave stuff like that on an iPad we all used. It was nothing you said. You had set it up when you were in an unhappy and sexless marriage well before you met me. Like that makes a difference to you. We were in the honeymoon of our relationship and had just moved in together. We were a loving and highly sexual couple or so I thought when you chose to embark on an affair with your colleague. You see it’s just in you. You are disloyal and dishonest to the core.
Back then I had heard the term "narcissist," but I never really understood its true meaning. I had no reason to. My husband had been a decent man. Back then, I was ignorant of life’s great pretenders. This was before I learned that a sociopathic trait of someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder is to “love bomb” their latest victim. Which is exactly what you did. You literally threw all the love you could at me. Not real love obviously, for you aren’t capable of feeling that. Just a fake plastic version. Compliments, kindness, gifts. You even offered me £1000 to help me out when you barely knew me. Of course, I did not accept and clearly you knew I wouldn’t, but it was a bold and impressive move. An expert manipulator, you quickly had me hooked by your perceived kindness.
I’m not even convinced you know you do this. It may be done on a subliminal level. You see there are different levels of narcissism. Only the greater narcissist is actually fully aware of what they do. For the lesser and the mid-range, of which you are the latter, you have low self awareness although you do understand you are manipulating. Sorry to have to break it to you that you’re not even the greatest kind of narcissist. You portray empathy, when in actual fact, you have never felt that emotion. But, I don’t believe you realize the extent that you are creating it for that would make you a monster and I don’t want to believe that I loved a monster.
When I first met you, you played the vulnerable victim and being empathetic I was only too eager to try and support you. We were both lonely. You were always seeking my opinion. You shared all your correspondence from your ex with me. Remember how I would tone down your emails and texts. Add some balance. Put some bun around the brutal shit burger that you meant to deliver. You were so grateful. I was your rock, you said. You couldn’t get through it without me. You validated me as a person at a time when I was full of self doubt. Back then it felt so good to be needed. But then you knew I was a fixer. In intimate moments, I had spoken to you of my childhood and my father. You knew I ticked those boxes from the start.
You needed me to stroke your bruised and fragile ego for a narcissist’s self image is everything. You must maintain the façade. You must regain the control. I was the oxygen supply you so badly needed and without awareness, I was also the tool in your arsenal that would hurt your ex. For she needed punishing did she not? She had not played by your rules and she had dared to break free from your clutches. She had out manoeuvred you. But you should have known she was always going to because just like me, she was always brighter and stronger than you.
Why on earth did she not love you I thought at the time? After all, according to you, you were the perfect partner. In your words, you had rescued her from her council estate existence and given her a lifestyle she would never have known were it not for you. She was doing very well now, but it was you who pushed her up the ladder you said. Now I know differently my love. Now I know that she was always going to climb to where she is for her light and her intelligence far outshine yours.
Well her loss was my gain. You would call me multiple times a day just to hear my voice. Every morning a sweet text and every bedtime you wished me good night. So very different from how things progressed in our relationship where you would simply ignore most of my texts or lie and say you never received them. The mind games that ensued when you would ignore my calls and I would message you mercifully begging for your attention. You would completely ignore the message or respond with something entirely unrelated. How needy and pathetic I became and how that fueled the cruel fire in your belly.
But back to the time before. Back to that moment when for a few months of my life I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. Blissfully ignorant and deliriously in love. Back to the time when you pretended you were someone entirely different.
My children knew you as a friend and I had told them you were a kind man. You would bring them Easter Eggs and alike. You never came empty handed. And you had that adorable dog, something they had always wanted. You bought their affection as you bought mine and they were also quick to fall for your charms.
On a girls night out, you would turn up. You never really intruded, but you were always there in the background, you kept the wine flowing and you made sure I got home safely. My friend commented that you were too intense and a little controlling. She felt you were checking up on me. I put it down to a wee bit of insecurity. It was nice to be that important to someone I thought.
But even in those early days of the “golden period”, things would jar with me a little. Remember the time I went to Lidl and you rang me questioning where I was. I told you I was shopping, but you were insistent I was elsewhere as my location was showing at a residential address on your Viber messenger.
You let it drop eventually and I brushed it under the carpet. There was a voice of caution in my head. My instinct was trying to warn me, but I convinced myself that a little bit possessive wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wasn’t going to let something silly like that ruin my best chance of happiness. Never did I think that later on in our relationship I would be placed under surveillance as I discovered you had also done to your ex.
My own inner thoughts were not the only warning I dismissed. Your wife’s best friend clearly described an unsavoury character to me. “A nice enough guy, but a born liar” were the words she used. But you had already told me not to listen to a word she said. She was pure evil you said. She was a witch who had been making up complete lies about you. Deary me. All these people who make up lies about you darling?
I look back now and I can see it so clearly. The relationship with your ex was caustic. You dragged one another through the courts and through the mud. It was so very different from the amicable and considerate relationship my husband and I were building post separation for the sake of one another and our children. You would occasionally drop the mask and I would glimpse a dark and sinister side to you. You didn’t seem to have much respect for her. “I fucking hate the bitch” you would say over and over again. The woman you had spent all those years with. Actually you didn’t seem to have that much respect for women in general. You still don’t. We are “all the fucking same” you have said many times, except me of course. You didn’t mean me, right?
But no man is perfect and you had been through so much my love. The things you had told me about your ex were “literally unbelievable”. Telling people you were vile and abusive. “Do I look like a fucking abuser?” you asked me. Of course I reassured you my dear. Ask me that question again. Oh how I would love you to ask me that question again.
This is my first but not my last letter to you. There is so much more to say and I am only just getting started. The infidelities, the double life you led, the lies, the cruel and callous mind games, the tyrannical rages. I can’t possibly finish here when there is so much more to remind you of. And let’s not forget that I have asked you to apologise so many times for the things you have done but you refuse to admit any mistake. You will never give me the satisfaction of closure for that would end the control you have over me, so really you have left me little choice but to create my own closure.
I know you will brush this away, talk about my delusions and of course how I love the drama but you see my life became a terrible soap opera and I never knew it was all a game. And I was deluded. Deluded for such a long time.
This is my first blog. It’s very personal and I have contemplated long and hard whether to publish or not. At first I wrote this because it felt cathartic and because you took no responsibility for your actions and showed no remorse. I have been deliberating whether this is a story that anybody wants to read. Or in-fact will it only ignite the smear campaign that you are currently promoting. Today I decided I was going to be brave. For a long time now I have been researching the topic of covert narcissistic abuse. What is it? Why do you do it? What has made you this way?
And more importantly, why would a strong, independent, attractive woman become so ensnared by a charlatan like you? I have been used. Infiltrated by an imposter. Emotionally abused, financially depleted and my self esteem has definitely left the building. That sparkle that you fell for, well that is no longer present. More regrettable, my children were dragged into this pantomime. Something I have to take accountability for and live with every day. So yes, I have decided to publish my letters to you, in the hope that it might just be the awakening some poor soul needs to smell the coffee before I did.
And on a final note, until my next correspondence, you were never that bright. You are intellectually challenged for cunning and sly is not the same as clever and they say the pen is mightier than the sword. So call this my revenge if you like. I know there are other people (men and women) for emotional abuse is not gender specific who will be feeling as I was. I want them to know they are not alone. They are not crazy. It is not their fault and as hard as it is to walk away, they need to research this subject intensely, arm themselves with the facts and understand the pathology and the long term prognosis. Because narcissists don’t change. Not ever. If you don’t know you are broken, you can’t fix yourself. For a while you had me broken too. But I am slowly mending and putting the pieces back together. I still have a large capacity for kindness and love. I still look for the best in people. Whereas you my darling, will never truly know what it feels like to love. You will always be empty and broken.
Until next time. Yours once but thankfully no longer x
It is always an honor and a privilege to bring other survivor stories to my SpunkyDiva Tribe!
Thank you Adele for sharing your story! So much of it resonated with me and my own story. It still amazes me how Narcissists are all pretty much the SAME - the behaviors are almost identical!
Well, hang in there dear Warrior Diva. Continue on your healing journey and each day strive to do an act of #SELFCARE and #SELFLOVE for yourself! Now, is YOUR time. XoXo
Feel free to check out Adele's other blog posts here.