Chapter 2: Where to Begin

Chapter 2: Where to Begin

Chapter 3: Why I Write Reading Chapter 2: Where to Begin 20 minutes Next Chapter 1: i am Ekho

I have no idea where to begin, so I will just start writing.

I guess it makes sense to start at the end and briefly explain the last year or so of my almost six-year relationship with my narcissist. I promise that I will explore and expand on each of the events in much greater detail in subsequent posts, but this abridged version of the downward spiral should provide adequate context to understand my story.

Assault 1 - The Basics

My narcissist was twice arrested and charged with assault and harassment due to his violence, and both times his case never went to trial and his record was expunged due to my empathy and naivete.

The first time my narcissist was arrested was in November 2021, just two months after we moved in together and blended our families after four-plus years of dating (he had two kids from a previous marriage and so did I). With the first arrest, my narcissist was so heavily intoxicated that he doesn't even remember the events of the night – but I do.

He came home late from a Tuesday night bender with a coworker (‘bender’ is a term he used to mean ‘drinking to extreme intoxication/ passing out’) and, after breaking down our bedroom door (I locked it because I didn’t want to deal with him pawing at me all smelly and drunk), he started to hit and shove me. He slammed my head against the hardwood floors knocking me out and causing a head injury. (I did not seek medical care at the time because I knew that the police could subpoena my medical records and I was trying to protect him, but at a subsequent appointment, my physician told me that it looked like I had fractured my skull).

After being released from his overnight stay in jail, you would have thought he might have behaved himself. But not him. My narcissist broke his bond, came back to our home, and urged me not to testify against him. Long story short, to protect him, his job, and our newly forged family, and to not look like a fool in front of our community, I agreed to not testify against him in hopes that his charges would be dropped. In my state, the District Attorney (DA) will often drop the charges if the victim refuses to testify because the case is too hard to win. At the preliminary hearing, I told the DA that I wanted the charges to be dropped. With no witness to testify, the charges were dismissed, and, with my help, my narcissist had his record expunged for the first time.

His arrest and charges were put in the newspaper. We live in a small town, so within a few hours of the article's publication, my phone was blowing up with texts and missed calls. We told our family and friends that we had called the police for help because he was having a bad reaction to a steroid prescribed to him for asthma and, in turn, the police arrested him. I doubt many people believed our story (I wouldn't have), but at least he was not in jail and our newly formed family wasn’t severed.

Before I agreed to cover for him and drop the charges, I made him promise me three things: 1) stop drinking, 2) enroll in counseling, and 3) attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He agreed to all these stipulations, and for a brief moment, it seemed that we had a second chance to make our family work.

Between Assault 1 and Assault 2 – The Basics

My narcissist’s promise to quit drinking lasted about as long as a 12-pack of toilet paper -- three weeks. On Tuesday night, once more, he wanted to go out with his coworker as was their custom. He asked if he could have ‘one drink.’ I remember how surreal it felt that -- just a few weeks after being arrested for assaulting me and injuring me badly-- he wanted to ‘have one drink.’  Had he not learned his lesson? The event was traumatic to me, but he hardly seemed bothered by his arrest, my head injury, or the social stigma associated with the ordeal. I got very upset and stood my ground –“Absolutely not.” After giving me a bit of a guilt trip about micromanaging him and trying to claim that I ‘did not want him to have friends’ (a tactic he had long used when I didn’t want him to go on a drinking binge and then drive home often with his kids in the car), he suggested nonalcoholic beer. To me, that seemed like a reasonable request, so I agreed, not knowing anything about alcoholism and nonalcoholic beer, which I now know can be a trigger and does have alcohol in it. I didn’t want to keep him from spending time with his friend and coworker, and I didn't want to control him. We agreed that he could have two nonalcoholic beers.

He went out that night and came back smelling of alcohol and acting strange. I was outraged. I immediately called him out on his drinking and breaking his promises – I even threatened to leave him. Rather than admitting to his wrongdoing, he got extremely mad at me and swore up and down that he only had nonalcoholic beer at a local Mexican restaurant. He told me that he was profoundly disappointed in me. How could I question him? His anger coupled with his willingness to take me to task for a wrongful accusation was very convincing. It was only recently that I realized how convincing narcissists can be even when they are straight up lying (normal people would never be so bold as to act this way when caught in a lie). In fact, he was so convincing that I ended up apologizing to him for doubting his word. He did not forgive me right away and, instead, gave me the silent treatment for a few days.

Over the next several days, I felt tremendous guilt and shame. My narcissist would not speak to me because I had wronged him. How could I question my partner? What was wrong with me? Why was I so suspicious? How could I be so wildly wrong and think that he was drinking when he was not? The feelings of shame and embarrassment weighed heavily on my heart. Still, in the back of my mind, I could not help but feel that he had been drinking. Finally, I could take it no longer. I called the restaurant he said he was at to put my mind at peace, only to learn that they did not serve nonalcoholic beer. A whole new range of emotions came over me as it slowly sunk in that, not only had he gone to great lengths to lie to me about drinking, he then punished me with “the silent treatment” and guilt tripped me for days. That night, I approached him with the information that I had learned and threatened, once more, to leave him. Knowing that he could not lie his way out of it, he fell to his knees lamenting his alcoholism and begging me to help him overcome it, knowing I would because I am an empath.

I was still in love with my narcissist and desperately wanted to make our newly blended family work. I loved my step-kids and wanted to be a part of their lives. So instead of standing my ground and sending him packing, I hugged him and told him that I understood and would help him – after all, isn’t that what people who love each other do? Over the next several months, he would fall off the wagon time and again and, each time, I would be there to comfort him and help him get back on it. We attended couples counseling almost every week to deal with his abuse and alcoholism. I was hopeful that he was getting better and that we could be a happy family.

One Friday evening, we were invited to a dear friend’s party, but it was not kid-friendly. I was going to decline the invite since we had his kids that weekend, but my narcissist, oddly, offered to take the kids to the soccer field so that I could enjoy the party for an hour or two (in hindsight, I should have known right then and there something was awry since he never offered to let me have time with my friends). Truth be told, I was always afraid to leave the kids with him because of his problems with alcohol, but together we made a detailed plan of where he would be, and he promised me that no alcohol would be involved. I watched as he had the kids pack the soccer balls into the car. I remember saying “have fun at the soccer field kids,” and his older son looked at me with a weird face. It seemed odd, but I shrugged and let it go.

An hour into my party, I texted my narcissist to check up on the kids. He was aloof and would not answer my questions.

Ekho - “Which field did you end up going to?”

Narcissus -“We haven’t decided that yet?”

Ekho - “Are you going to get something to eat?”

Narcissus - “We are still working out the details.”

Ekho - “Well where are you.”

Narcissus - ……

Knowing that something was off, I excused myself from the table and called my narcissist, only to learn that he never had any intention of going to the soccer field (hence the reason for his oldest son’s strange look) but, instead, had taken the kids to the local brewery to hang out with his two best friends, Amara and Gasper, (who later became flying monkeys).

I remember jumping in my car without even saying goodbye to my friends and racing with a pounding heart to the brewery to get the kids. When I got there, Amara and Gasper looked at me like I was some type of monster for not allowing my narcissist to have a few drinks, not knowing or caring about his problems with alcohol. I took the kids home, scolding myself for letting them alone with him and reconfirming my strong stance of never letting my kids alone with him. (For reference, he left his kids alone with me, often overnight, during our entire relationship and as recently as the weekend before the second assault).

When we got the kids home safely, I told him that I was thinking about calling the cops on him. He was drunk and, instead of recognizing what he did wrong, he tried to tell his kids “Ekho went crazy and is threatening to call the cops on us, we are not safe.” That night he huddled in a bedroom with them, pretending like I was the threat, which was one of his tactics - to push the narrative that my reasonable reaction to his dangerous behavior was somehow erratic and over the top. 

There are many, many more similar stories I can share about this period of our lives, but these two highlight the type of person he is well enough. In a last-ditch effort to save our relationship, we got married in May 2022. I knew it was a bad idea, and I was right – the marriage lasted five months.

Assault 2 - Basic Details

The second time my narcissist assaulted me bad enough for the cops to be called was in November 2022, almost a year to the day after the first arrest. This time, he was not drinking but had fallen off the wagon earlier that week and was highly on edge because he had gone a few days without alcohol. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I now suspect that he was going through alcohol withdrawal.

His two kids were at Amara and Gasper's house (they had two kids my step-kids' ages), and my two kids were with their dad. My narcissist and I were having a disagreement about finances when he sprung up in anger, grabbed my phone and iPad out of my hands, slammed them on the floor (breaking my iPad), grabbed my computer cord so I had no means of reaching anyone electronically, and began to hit and shove me. This time I lost it. I had absolutely had it with his violence, lies, alcoholism, and bad behavior. I reacted. I broke his computer and grabbed two pictures of the kids.  Screaming “You are ruining our family”, I broke the pictures on the fireplace, an act totally out of character for me. As if he had a plan already in the making, he used his iPhone (I did not have mine since he took it from me) to film this portion of the ordeal.

I then remembered that there was another iPad in his youngest son’s room. I ran up to the room to retrieve it and, as I began to type for help on Facebook Messenger, he grabbed me by the head and shoved my forehead into the wall. I put my arm out to brace myself but still, my head hit a support beam in the wall, and I was knocked unconscious. I woke up to him calling and texting our family and friends to say, “Ekho had a mental breakdown and self-harmed herself, come help.”

When the police came, they were not fooled by his video or story that I was ‘crazy’ and ‘self-harmed.’ Interestingly, two of the police officers were the same officers who had come to our house the first time he was arrested. My narcissist was taken to jail in handcuffs for a second time. I later learned that, rather than admitting to what he did, he dug in his heels and continued to hold to the story that I went crazy and self-harmed. Like a fool, I was still trying to protect him, all the while he was trying to place the blame for his violence and aggression on me.

I went to the emergency room the next day and was diagnosed with a concussion, cervical neck strain, and a fractured collarbone.

The PFA and Court Hearing - Basic Details

I sought the guidance of a lawyer right after the second assault, and he told me that I had to file a PFA. I remember feeling terrible at the thought of having to file a PFA against someone I loved. I still (foolishly) thought that maybe he could get help and our marriage could work. I loved him and loved our family. I was very scared for his children and what might happen to them. I was immediately awarded a temporary PFA. In my state, you are issued a temporary PFA and then, later you must go to court and argue for a permanent one.

On the day of the permanent PFA court hearing, my narcissist came in wearing his wedding ring and crying. He looked at me with love and remorse. I was crying too and reaching for him. I loved him so much and thought that we would stick together like last time. His defense lawyer explained to my lawyer that, since my narcissist was a professor who obtained outside funding to study violence and PFAs (oh the irony), he would lose his funding and possibly his job if he had a permanent PFA issued against him. His lawyer pleaded with us to drop the PFA to a Civil No Contact order. Against the recommendation of the judge, I agreed to this goodwill gesture.

Two weeks later, the case went to court. My narcissist was being charged with Simple Assault (and, after my medical records were entered, the charge was probably going to be elevated to Aggravated Assault) and Harassment. If found guilty, he would likely spend some time in jail and lose his job. His defense lawyer, again, asked if I would show a goodwill gesture and let my narcissist go through a Violence Diversion Program instead of a formal trial. Still thinking of his future and his children’s wellbeing (and not realizing how nefarious he was), I agreed to let him go through the Violence Diversion Program on the condition that he gave me an apology. He met me in the hall of the courthouse, held on to his wedding ring, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I am so sorry,” and cried those tears that I have since realized are crocodile.

I was still hopeful that our marriage might be salvaged or, at least, he could go on to live a good life with his kids and we could be friendly in the same community. After all, I loved him and his boys, and I wanted to do what was best for them.

The Smear Campaign and the Flying Monkeys (Basic Details)

With the Civil No Contact order in place, my narcissist was still not talking to me. I tried a couple of times to send him messages letting him know that I loved him. He did not respond. I thought that his silence was because, this time, he was following the law but, his reasons were much more nefarious. Instead of being thankful that he was free and not going to lose his job or spend time in jail for injuring me, he began to craft and weave a different story about what happened.

He (who was a much beloved President of our church) and his first wife and mother of his two boys, Prissy, (who was one of two paid employees at our church) formed a tight group of friends, all of whom attended our church, and with them, they began to reinforce the story that I went crazy, self-harmed, and made the whole story up.

When I agreed to drop the PFA to a Civil No Contact order, the narrative they crafted was that I could not get a PFA because I made up the assault. They even said that the Civil No Contact order was ‘mutual’ (it was not, it was only one way – he could not contact me).

When I asked for an apology and permitted him to go through the Violence Diversion Program instead of a trial and jail, they told their group of church friends that his charges were dropped because I had gone insane and self-harmed/ made the story up.

Every bit of goodwill that I showed to my narcissist, he and his first wife used to paint the picture that 1) he didn’t assault me; 2) I went insane; 3) I self-harmed; 4) his charges were dropped because there was no evidence; and, 5) we both were not allowed to contact each other because the No Contact order was mutual. Of course, each of the claims was utterly false and based on lies.

A week after my narcissist completed the Violence Diversion Program and his record was expunged for the second time, his lawyer sent a letter to my lawyer demanding that I pay him for half of the equity in the house, furniture, appliances, food in our cupboards, etc. His lawyer also demanded that I refinance the home (the house was financed at under 3% and the new rates were around 8% which would have priced me out of my home). And if I could not come up with this amount (which was something like $50,000) and refinance the home, he would take my home from me (thankfully, he was ultimately unsuccessful, I kept my low-interest rate, and he is now sleeping in a basement/ garage while I reside in our five-bedroom house – sometimes karma does work). I was traumatized and terrified.

My narcissist also sent his flying monkeys, whom I now realize he had been grooming for years, after me. I was purposefully made to feel shunned and uncomfortable in our church, so I quit attending, and, one by one, some of the people whom I thought were my friends turned on me and supported my abuser.

In a month’s time, my whole world was turned upside down. I had lost my husband, step-kids, a quarter of my 'friends' (aka faux friends), and my church. I was stuck paying all the bills and the entire mortgage, caring for my kids and pretending things were normal for their sake, holding a full-time job while simultaneously healing from a concussion and broken collarbone, worrying about being priced out of my house, dealing with lawyers, attending counseling sessions 2-3 times per week, and dodging flying monkeys. All because I loved my husband and tried to do the right thing for him and, more importantly, his boys so that they would have a father who wasn’t in prison and could support them.

To say that I felt foolish, alone, shocked, stunned, betrayed, humiliated, manipulated, and confused might be the understatement of the century.

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