My cousin was recently married and my family and I had the pleasure of helping them celebrate. It was a very sweet, lovely wedding filled with family I hadn’t seen in awhile, his family whom I have never met before, and a parcel of their friends. I’m truly happy for my cousin, since she has been waiting diligently for this man to be in her life. They seemed to complement each other, and have a lot going for them – I wish them well!
During the reception time, after the cake cutting and waiting for the speeches to begin, I gave my self-appointed child (nieces and nephew)- watcher-duty to my husband after he’d had a turn mingling. (My sister was very busy being in the wedding and taking care of her youngest son – my brother-in-law had his hands full.) I’d already had a chance to speak to several of my siblings for a few minutes, but hadn’t been able to talk with extended family, so now was my chance.
As I moved into the main reception area, I scanned looking for who I might speak with. To the left I noticed my dad standing alone, but in a line of people facing into the room. I thought I’d do the polite thing and go say hi for a few minutes while I got a lay of the room.
Stupid thing to do, really. Especially after all the hoopla that’s been going on for over a year now.
Spoiler alert: I had a personal victory that’s been 24 years in the making!
I said hello and commented on the wedding, asking if he enjoyed it. He just nodded his head and jumped into what, quite obviously, had been boiling around in his mind.
“Are you going to get together with us to discuss this thing that’s between us?” His first verbal thrust put me off my stride for a moment, and I could feel the sick tide of angst begin low down in my stomach.
In my mind, I told myself to keep my smile in place, take that emotion, which wasn’t my reality anymore, and throw it out – burn it, even! Taking a deep breath, smiling all the while!, I turn to him and say I wasn’t sure about that, but that this wasn’t the time or place for this conversation.
His body language was very closed, with his arms crossed over his chest, a semi-scowl/serious expression on his face. That’s his “taking child to task” face.
He went on to allude to a wall between our families that I made. I stopped him, saying that I didn’t know of what wall he was talking of, since I speak with my siblings whenever I want. He got mad and said I couldn’t ignore what was going on between us, while waving his hand between the two of us.
I chuckled and said that I don’t deny there’s a problem, but this isn’t the place to do this. “Well, when is? I’ll quit work to make time!” Again, I laughed and said that wasn’t necessary.
“You can’t just throw a book at me and expect me to understand where you’re coming from! You should have written a prelude, or something, to build up to the rest,” he indignantly told me.
All the while, his face is getting more thunderous and me, well, I’m keeping my body open, relaxed, with a gentle smile on my face.
“My letter more than covered beginning, middle and end, so I don’t think there’s anything left to say. If you don’t understand it, then there’s nothing I can say to help you,” I answer calmly.
“I take it Chris agrees with you? I could go talk to him!” Now he’s getting desperate, trying to call on the whole husband-is-your-authority gambit. Again, I laughed, and said of course Chris agrees and it would be totally unnecessary to talk with him.
“Well the balls in your court! It’s your turn! You have to help me understand and make this right. I’m going around in the dark over here!” This was said with much hand gesticulating and a scowling face.
I said I’d think about it, but I wasn’t in a hurry, there was no rush since I’d already said everything. “Okay, so in 80 years when we’re dead and gone!” was his snap. I chuckled and said that sounded good. He went on with, “I wasn’t even there for half of it.”
To which I replied, “I know, since you left me alone for quite a bit.”
He overrode me quickly, “Most people like me! I’m a likable guy! What’s wrong with me?” He was indignant and confused (more acting?). I just smiled as I perused the room, wondering what we looked like to anyone watching, thought to myself, ‘I’m not backing down and saying that I like him’, turned to him and said, “Sometimes people like us and sometimes they don’t. But this isn’t the place to get into all that.”
Mercifully, someone spoke through a microphone garnering everyone’s attention (although, I was just about to excuse myself), cutting our lovely talk off. Speeches were about to begin. Thank God!
I walked off not shaking like a leaf, as in the past I would’ve had to deal with the adrenaline dump, a smile still in place (my face didn’t even hurt, so I wasn’t faking it!), indignation in my mind that he would be so careless to try this stunt at his niece’s wedding, but knowing that I had wrestled his demons and won!!
Now I know how I will be behave and think in any, if ever, future run-ins we have. Smile, realize he has no power over me to even influence my thinking, let alone my behavior, know that I’ve done my part and move on.
I have no regrets for anything that I’ve said and done in regards to them, and if he or my mom were to pass away tomorrow, I would still regret nothing and feel no guilt or remorse for not “trying harder”. With narcissists, trying is like throwing yourself against a brick wall and expecting it to crumble or suddenly have a doorway.
I’ll leave you with this happy song, in which a particular line always speaks to me:
“Here come bad news talking this and that
Yeah, give me all you got, don’t hold back
Yeah, well I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine
Yeah, no offense to you don’t waste your time
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”