You Push Me Down

You push me down
And then you blame me for
Not popping right back up again.
You begrudge me licking my wounds,
Blaming me even for being wounded at all―
As if this were all my fault, somehow―
As if a better partner would never
Have fallen in the first place
And why must you be stuck
With such a loser, who
Doesn’t even know
How to fill that
Great cavern
Inside your

But you don’t know
How to fill it up, either.
And yet it is my fault that
You are so empty all the time?
Neither of us wants to admit that you
Drive most goodness out of your heart―
Including whatever of it is to be found in me―
And then you expect me not only to find
Some other way to fill you up, but
Also some way to protect you
From the hard guilt of
Your heartless

And that’s why you
Have trained us to think
That this entire thing is my fault,
From my inability to satisfy your emptiness,
To my falling down when you push me,
And even for having this despicable
Wounded heart that pulls away
From your sickening act
Of loving concern.

And while you stand there,
Making it plain that you are tired
Of waiting for me to get myself back up,
So that our life can get back to being about you,
I must admit that it’s getting harder and
Harder to see any promise in this
Co-dependent arrangement,
Where you pretend that
The abuse is not a
Things, and I
It’s my

My young self
Was needy enough
To find some desperate
Hope in this in the beginning,
But these toilsome years with you
Have pretty much beaten it all out of me.
And I find myself today on the ground once more,
Where surprisingly, I still find some promise in getting up,
Yet less than before at giving it another go with you
In this make-believe life you insist on (us both)
Leading at the cost of these wounds and of
These blame-shifting lies we both
Tell to make this union seem
Less than the nightmare
It has proven to be.

As it turns out,
I was wanting a life
Of growth and discovery,
Where you were hoping I could
Somehow save you from having to
Go through all that for yourself.
And I regret that it took me
This long to realize it,
But now that I do,
Shall I wish
The truth

I write this piece, in part, to try to get my hands around the experience of the evolving soul who is stuck in a partnership with the narcissist, and also in the hope that I have expressed it here well enough to be useful at least to the awakening partner in it, if not to the self-hardening abuser, who is not likely to want to learn. I chose to write about that point in time where the realization is dawning, but where the ultimate decision has not yet been made.

What should be done about it (by the abused) is a grievous matter, for sure. On the one hand, keeping the original covenant makes all the sense in the world, as keeping a covenant is simply what one is supposed to do. But on the other hand, it is not being kept by the other, who also promised to love and to cherish, but does not, and who continues to abuse―so it is a broken covenant already, with both sides pretending it is not.

And I cannot say what is the right thing to do for the abused, though it is clear that this was not the dream that either had in the beginning. The sacrifice made to keep from calling it quits here forward does not result in it getting any better, for with the years comes the realization, stronger and stronger, that without both hearts being willing, it was doomed from the start.

I fear, however, that the harm being suffered is not just from the abuse, but from the various lies the abused will tell to keep hope alive: that it is his or her own fault somehow, and that it is a sin to want better, and certainly, to demand it, and that it is his or her responsibility to make the partner whole inside, and that if only I were a better person, the partner would be a better person.

It is never good for the soul, I am convinced, to tell a lie. And I hate to see it happening in any scenario, including one so tragic as what I describe here. But how can the partnership continue when one of the partners opts out wholly from the lies? Wouldn’t that lead to an untenable state of hostility and resentment? Wouldn’t it completely break the co-dependent routine?

Once the pretense is gone, what’s left but the cold logistics of a shared economy, and the hope of saving what may be saved of whatever family may have come from the union?

Many cannot fathom the losses of parting. This is true and understandable. Yet my concern is that they do not fathom the losses of staying. And I lack the wisdom to say for certain which is the greater loss, though I myself could not stand the pretense and the lies, and would have to find another life, however crippled―where at least my hopes from then forward could be honest.

And even having a strong imagination, it is difficult for me to imagine a way forward while staying without the pretense and false hope. Being wronged daily, I would find it equally untenable to call it out for what it is, or to suck it up and be quiet about it. And this makes me wonder at the state of maturity of my own spirit, and whether I should be able to endure it or not.

Pondering all this quite puts me to the test! And I am much less apt to assume to know what is the right thing to do than I might have been before. I wrote in my opening paragraph (in this explanation of the piece) about that point in time in which the ultimate decision has not yet been made. But it seems to me that such a decision can be made in installments, in a matter of speaking. That is, that one can decide to hope for just one more day. And one can decide this again and again indefinitely, never knowing whether it will one day begin to seem untenable, or whether it can indeed be held together somehow until death do us part.

But this is one of the big struggles in this world, and many more are the marriages that tend somewhat toward the dysfunctional end of the scale than those that work pretty well, all things considered. And has it not always been thus?

It is my hope, then, at least to give comfort to the abused by way of demonstrating that the struggle can be understood by someone else.

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