I came home from work one day and my new husband was standing by the kitchen counter top with the trash cash next to him. In the corner were two more full trash bags. He was slowly and methodically throwing things away.
My grandmother’s china, my relatively new dinnerware, inexpensive flatware, expensive silverware, cups, glasses, pots, pans, table linens. All of it in the trash.
I asked what he was doing, and though I don’t remember his exact words, it quickly became clear that he was tossing out anything that was mine prior to our marriage. I objected – it was all in perfectly good condition and why on earth would anyone do something so wasteful? He tried to calm me by gently saying that we were starting a new life and we had new things, new gifts, given to us at our wedding. I refused to allow him to throw things away and he walked out of the room. I picked everything out of the trash, washed it, and put it away where it belonged.
This was not the first time he had done something like this. After we were first married, we were moving to a new city. He worked for a large national retail furniture chain, and the day of our move we packed up all of my furniture in a company box truck. I thought we were taking it all with us. He instructed the drivers to take everything to the flagship store and they threw everything in a dumpster. He insisted we buy everything new at the stores, and we did. I felt a little upset, really, that I didn’t have a say in what was happening, but I was happy to have all new things. That new furniture was top of the line, very expensive. Imagine that – a new couple with everything new. Of course, I didn’t get to pick out any of it. No choice of colors, patterns, styles. He just pointed at it, and off to the truck it went. We were immediately in debt up to our eyeballs.
He was erasing my past as though I didn’t exist before I met him.
He got very, very angry after the move when I went to one of the stores at our new location and purchased a deeply discounted dining room set. It was beautiful, and it was less than 10% of the original cost. I thought it was an amazing deal, and I was thrilled to have it. He was not thrilled, and he made it clear I was stupid for buying it. I never felt the same kind of enjoyment when I looked it again.
Our first Christmas together, he bought me clothes from an expensive store. There were cashmere sweaters and pricey wools. They were beautiful and suitable for a mature woman. I was in my early 20s, not at all mature in appearance, and not ready for matronly clothes. I took them back a piece or two at a time and exchanged them for something more my style. By then I was afraid to comment about his choices because I knew he would be angry. So I changed things quietly, hoping he wouldn’t notice.
It took me years to figure out he was trying to change me into his oh-so-proper mother and sisters.
We bought a house that he insisted we had to have, a showpiece in a very good suburban neighborhood. I knew we couldn’t afford it, but I signed the papers anyway.
The next year he traded in his truck for a Lincoln. It was a boatload of money for the early 90’s. He insisted I come sign the loan papers with him. He needed my good credit to get what he wanted. I had been driving an old 2-seater sports car. I loved that car, but it was a heap. I only drove the Lincoln twice before he took away my set of keys. I wasn’t “responsible” enough to drive it. I tried to buy a better car later. By then I was pregnant and needed something safer. I was denied credit because we were overextended. My mother co-signed loan papers with me so that I could get a Dodge Neon. He was driving a Lincoln, I drove a Neon.
By then I was working two jobs to support us all. My husband neglected to tell me before our marriage that he was severely in debt to the IRS for not filing and paying tax returns. He also neglected to tell me that he was tens of thousands of dollars in arrears in child support from his previous marriage, and the state finally tracked him down. On paper he earned a very respectable salary, but in truth he brought home much less than half of it.
I’ll never forget the day he came home and demanded I go find a better job. I looked down at my huge belly and asked him how he thought I was going to accomplish that? I reminded him that I was bringing home 3x what he did. Oh, he was so angry at me.
So I had the new baby and I slept 3 hours a day. I was sick at our financial situation. We were so far in debt that there was no way to dig out of it. I could barely afford to buy food. The tags on my car expired, and I couldn’t afford to replace them. I started driving the sports car again, even though it was falling apart. I couldn’t afford to pay the insurance for the cars or the house.
Meanwhile, he was buying $100 dress shirts so that he looked good at work and sending them to the cleaners every week instead of washing them at home. I didn’t wash and iron them to his satisfaction.
Nothing was done to his satisfaction. I couldn’t even mop the kitchen floor well enough to satisfy him.
I began sleeping in a spare bedroom for those 3 hours a night. I couldn’t stand to lay next to him.
This went on until the day I collapsed at one of my jobs. I was exhausted. I finally called my mother and told her what had been happening, and I suppose she saw the truth of the situation when I couldn’t.
That weekend she showed up with a rented moving truck full of empty boxes. They drove 5 hours to get to me. With their help, I packed up my children’s bedroom furniture, everything from the kitchen, my outstanding dining room furniture, all the photos off the walls, and my clothes and shoes. And my Persian cat that my husband had always hated.
There was no question now that I would leave. I didn’t have a choice.
Our divorce was final a year later. He had been fired from his job. The house was gone by short sale. The Lincoln was repossessed. The furniture went to the bargain floor of the flagship furniture store.
He still had his $100 dress shirts, I imagine. Other than debt, he left the marriage with what he brought into it — nothing.
Several years later, he found a woman about 10 years older than himself. He married her, moved her away from her family, and then destroyed her financially also. He’s tens of thousands of dollars behind in child support owed to my children. The pattern repeats itself.
She’s still married to him. She calls him on Facebook “the love of her life”.
This is such a crazy disorder. I don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t found information lately about narcissists and psychopaths. I assume he’s both. It’s been about 10 years and my kids are growing. I am still alone because I don’t want to end up with someone like him again. I’ve learned the hard way not to trust too much and to ask a lot of questions, to pay attention to my intuition instead of listening to the narcissist.