One day he calls. He’s as nice as can be and engages in friendly conversation.
I’m civil, but I learned long ago not to read anything positive or hopeful into such behavior. I have no desire to linger, but I’m not rude. Sometimes it helps to leave him in a good mood. My daughter might benefit from it, when she has to be with him tomorrow. For her, I’ll play along.
The very next day he appears at my door. Knocks once, and steps in, not even waiting for me to answer. I look at his face. His eyes are shiny, almost wet, his face is red. He’s not drunk. No, it’s not that. I can feel it. There’s that familiar rage, the one I know so well. It’s just underneath the surface waiting for the slightest excuse to explode onto the scene. He cannot hold it.
He asks if she’s ready. Well, almost…he’s early. He immediately starts yelling. He needs her to be ready when he says he’s going to be here. His hand is jabbing at the air as he speaks. He’s daring me to a fight.
I point out he’s early. He immediately argues, like he’s pained at my thoughtlessness, like he’s had enough. It doesn’t make sense. He’s irrational. I realize he just wants to punish, to dump on someone. Something happened, something offended him. He wants to strike out…and I’m there.
But I’m no longer willing. This isn’t the yesterday of long ago.
I cut him off short. “What’s up with you?” I ask. “Time has nothing to do with anything. You came in here with an attitude. Chill out!”
“I’m not mad”, he lies. Classic response when he’s called on an outburst. “I’m not yelling.”
“Um…yeah, you are. Cut it out!” He looks at me like I’m the one who suddenly changed. Maybe I have, but it wasn’t sudden. It was only after years of putting up with shit like this. And it’s been years since I’ve stopped. But he’ll never see me. He’ll always treat me according to his need.
I turn my back on him, and walk toward my daughter’s room. He heads out the door and waits for her in his car.
I never used to fight back like that. I used to argue, all right, but I tried to argue with reason. I’d point out how unreasonable it was for him to demand she be ready to walk out the door when he arrived early. I’d say she started to get ready beforehand, how nice it was she had already gathered this or that in anticipation, etc.
And I would have wasted each breath it took for me to push out those words in the midst of his rage.
No more. I don’t waste my time. I address only that he’s being abusive now – not the alleged reason for it.
Funny, to recall how back in the day I would have been blown out of the water with this sudden changed behavior, trying to figure out what made him go from being so nice to so vicious in less than 24 hours.
But I didn’t even blink an eye. Because, you see, when you’re involved with a narcissist, it’s just *sigh* another day, another episode.
It does get better though. Not because they do, but because you do.