Is this why my ex Phil was so abusive?

These have been a couple of months of revelation!  First, I learned that my abusive ex Phil was getting married again.  I wrote about it here, puzzling over the “gentle giant” his fiancee described, wondering if it’s possible for someone to change that much, wondering how long it would be before Evil Phil manifested himself to her.

Well, Evil Phil has manifested, and their engagement is at an end.

But that’s not all.  It’s more complicated than that.

Yes, she wrote about him like he was the love of her life.  He wrote about her in such glowing terms that yes, it reminded me of when he was with me, before Evil Phil took his place.

It reminds me of a tumultuous but passionate relationship that has inspired and continues to inspire me to replay it in various works of fiction and memoir ever since.  The latest form is in my latest unfinished novel, with Heinrich and Madge, forever bound together even though they betray each other over and over again.

Of course this all looks like narcissism: a playbook, being followed by the narcissist in each of his relationships, because this is what the descriptions of narcissism all tell us.  That it’s all fake, love-bombing, meant to hook us before the real him comes out, abusive and horrid.

But in this case, it’s more complicated than that.

It’s enough to make me wonder if maybe, all those years ago, those flowery words–those praises–that wonderful, glowing happiness–was the Real Phil.  If maybe he did mean it after all.

(Because admit it, after you’ve been hooked by the love-bombing of a narcissist or abuser, then find out it was all fraud, it hurts to learn that you weren’t really loved like that after all.)

Because yes, new fiancee–now ex-fiancee–insists that this is the Real Phil, that he really meant all he said to her.  But she can’t handle Evil Phil, who is dangerous, so they mutually decided to end it.  She’ll still be there to support him, but as his friend, not his wife or lover.

And now here’s why:

It seems that rather than the narcissism I suspected, Phil’s behavior has a different cause.  He was diagnosed in 2010 with bipolar disorder II.  (I never knew about this until tonight.  We were together in 1994, long before then.)  He took meds for a while, but then stopped for about five years.

This has screwed up his brain so bad that he is now hospitalized.  Current estimates are that he’ll stay there around a month.

Evil Phil manifested himself to her recently.  She talks about him like he’s two different people in the same body, a sweet normal guy, and Bipolar Guy who doesn’t like anybody.  She hinted at dealing with deceit and manipulation–which I certainly dealt with from him in spades–but said it was a manifestation of the bipolar.

She posted this video to explain what Bipolar II is.  It says that Bipolar II is also associated with personality disorder.  So–maybe narcissism or borderline did also influence his actions?

This leaves me conflicted.  One, this is proof that Phil’s treatment of me was not my fault, that he was suffering from a disease which drove him to be cruel.  There is huge healing–and forgiveness–in such knowledge.

But Two, I wonder what was the disease, and what was him.

Now I wonder if I should change anything that I wrote about Phil here on my website.  Or maybe I should just keep it all as a testament to what abuse does to its victims, and the struggle they go through to understand and heal from it, no matter what drove him to act that way.

This website describes how bipolar sufferers can become controlling–which Phil certainly was.  Overwhelming anger.  Overspending.  Yes.

This website explains why bipolar sufferers can turn into manipulative liars during mania.

This website shows how bipolar can lead to abuse.

This is an informative question-and-answer session (with transcript) answering several of my questions.

How much was normal Phil?  How much was Bipolar Phil?  I don’t know.  It’s so hard to tell for sure, because much of his abuse was covert and went on for months, and some of it started even while he was still being sweet.  Maybe this also explains why members of his family have given up on him.  Maybe they don’t know for sure, either.  Maybe they don’t trust him.

I would have a hard time trusting him, his tears and depression at being ravaged by bipolar.  This is because–after going to his friends in a fit of crying and depression in September 1994–he told me that it was all an act to manipulate them.

Maybe this is why his sister took out a restraining order on him, some action of Bipolar him.

Maybe this is why she never showed up to the hearing, so it was dismissed: because she heard he was hospitalized.

I find people on the Net saying bipolar does not cause abuse or violence, that it comes from other sources.  But yet here’s Phil’s ex saying that it IS the bipolar causing his bad behavior, that it’s actually been damaging his brain tissue.

She says normal Phil would never hurt a fly, while Bipolar Phil is different from this–

Yet the Phil I knew hurt me constantly–traumatized me with long-lasting effects–over a period of months with manipulation, chauvinism, control, verbal and emotional abuse, even sexual abuse.  It left me with the occasional thought, “Did I deserve it?  The cruel things he said about me–Were some of them true?”

He was an actor, originally wanting to do that for a living; he acted in real life, not just on stage.

He himself told me that he was so good at acting that he manipulated people, not just me.  He proudly told the story of how he manipulated his mom into buying him a book when he was little.

He even had his own flying monkey, indoctrinated with stories of my alleged abuses of him.  His next girlfriend also suffered from his abuse.  My friends witnessed him manipulating and verbally abusing the girlfriend after that, the one he legally married.

This was months, well over a year, maybe a few years, when all this played out, him abusing me, then the next, then the next, with my friends as witnesses.  Since it went on for years, was this really him?  Or was this a long-term manic episode?  Is his ex correct about him, or has he been conning her?

But maybe he’s truly sorry when he’s depressed and cries.  I suppose she would know best.  After all, now he’s under the care of doctors, not undiagnosed like he was in 1994.

Just the thought that he now RECOGNIZES his own behavior when bipolar takes over–that he does not blame the latest fiancee for it–makes me think that, hopefully, he realizes I’m not to blame for how he abused me all those years ago.

In any case, it tells me that the cause of the abuse was not me or anything I did.  It was the bipolar.  It is diagnosed by a doctor, so this can be confirmed as Truth, not just speculation.

This brings a kind of closure to the trauma.  I wonder if maybe it’ll finally heal the parts that were still sore.

It makes me wonder how far a mentally ill person is responsible for such abuse as Phil committed, when the abuse comes from the illness rather than a character defect.  It also makes me think that maybe he did actually love me, all those years ago, and wasn’t just manipulating me for whatever reason.

I wonder if, in such a case, anybody is really to “blame” for the end of a relationship.  For me–Well, it wasn’t my choice to end it, and I couldn’t change his mind, so my knowing it was mental illness, could not have made a difference.  For him–Does it absolve him of everything?  Can I say it was mental illness and he didn’t know what he was doing?

If we had known about the bipolar back then, would we still be together now?  I don’t know, but I don’t think some romantic notion of “what-if” would be realistic.

Because he almost married this woman, who still thinks the world of him, who knows all about the bipolar,

and yet they did not stay together.

Because she had to stay safe and he didn’t want to pull her down into it with him.

Also see:

So Phil, my abusive ex-husband, is back in the hospital

A couple of notes: Spanking and No, the new girlfriend did NOT change my abusive ex

Abusive Ex: Blame it on him, not mental illness

 

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Could personality disorders explain the mean girls I know?

Something I’ve encountered all my life but just don’t understand at all: people who, for no reason at all, just don’t seem to like me.  I do nothing mean to them, say nothing mean to them.  Just as I have always striven to be nice to everyone, and am just a shy, quiet person, not out to hurt anyone.

But they say mean things to me, take anything I say the wrong way, and try to pick fights.  I’ve encountered people like this as a child, in adolescence, in college, and occasionally in adulthood as well.

I just don’t get what causes people to act this way.

Tracy was like this.  Most of the time I just avoid such people as much as possible, so as not to be near their negativity.  But Tracy and Richard tried to force me to be best buds with her, and you see that blew up.  If I’d been allowed to follow my natural instincts, that never would’ve happened.

One of my teachers in college, and one of my suitemates, were like this.  Just inexplicably had it in for me.  No matter what I did, they picked on it.  I got this “aura” off them, this vibe of bad feeling.

Sometimes girls like this just gave me a bad feeling and made a snark from time to time.  But some of them had a chip on their shoulder and tried to badger me into fights, such as a girl in high school who said she was a witch, and kept attacking my beliefs.  One day, a Jewish girl stuck up for me–not the same beliefs, but she saw I was being attacked unfairly.

In among my group of best buds from college is another person like this.  She even was my apartment-mate when four of us lived together back then.  Something she did to me once–even Sharon considered it intimidation.  And now I see it on Facebook, when this person seems to want to pick fights with me.  She did it again tonight, making some snarky comment out of the blue.  I could swear she was trying to pick a fight with me for some unknown reason.  Over *chickens.*  HUH?  Sometimes I think about unfriending her, except I don’t want drama.

I just don’t get people like this at all.  I don’t get why people would treat others this way.  I also don’t get why my other friends hang around people like that.  Don’t they see the negativity?  Especially when, as a young person, some guy I liked would date one of the girls who picked on me.

Some of these people I tolerate–at least for a time–because they are in a circle of my friends.  But I don’t get close to them, like I do to other friends.

I even put such people into my fiction from time to time.  In high school, I put such a character into my desert island novel, a mean girl who inexplicably has it in for the main character, a sweet girl.

And, of course, this means I can identify with Laura Ingalls, because I deal with my own Nellie Olesons.  But you never can figure out, reading the Little House books (or the recently-released Pioneer Girl), why Nellie and her three real-life models had it in for Laura.

Studying personality disorders at least gives me some idea of what’s going on.

Like, for example, Tracy has borderline personality disorder.  She also apparently is a narcissist sociopath as well.  That would explain her inexplicable behavior toward me.

Then there’s the girl who posted on Facebook, “Parents, beat your children.”  I started getting a “vibe” off her, too, before she posted this.  Then she verbally abused my husband.  She freely posts that she is bipolar.

Another old school friend, I don’t get a “vibe” of her disliking me, but she frequently gets into tiffs with people.  She freely posts that she is borderline, so I’m able to compare her behavior with others I suspect of borderline.

The woman I described above, who tried to pick a fight with me over chickens: She also ended a friendship with another of my best college buds, Mike, about five years ago.  He said she hates children, and well, I can see it in her posts.  Since she posts things from time to time with that familiar “Tracy” feel to them, I highly suspect she’s another borderline.

The only explanation I can think of, is that I’m dealing with people with personality disorders who single me out for some reason I can’t possibly know.

That they see something I do as offensive, which other people wouldn’t find offensive at all, because their personality disorder screws with their amygdala (part of the brain which regulates these things).

Some of them are more dangerous than others.  Some seem to have personality disorders, but not narcissism, so leaving them alone seems to keep the worst at bay.

But some are also narcissistic, like Tracy, making them dangerous, constantly trying to pick fights with me and carry out smear campaigns.

The best thing I can do is avoid them, don’t get too close–especially since I’ve seen, through Tracy, what can happen when I’m forced to violate this instinct.  Don’t poke the bear, don’t respond when they try to provoke me.

 

 

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Getting better at recognizing the disordered

It seems I made the right call on cutting out the person who posted that parents should beat their children.

My husband had already written her off and unfriended her on Facebook, because of anti-Christian memes she would post.  (I try to be tolerant of other views, but her memes were deliberately insulting and obviously ignorant of the actual faith.)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t cut her off completely, because she’s the sister of a friend, and seems to be friends with all his friends.  The friend made a Facebook post, my husband made an offhand comment, this woman turned it into an attack, then began saying all sorts of vicious, venomous things about my husband–publicly, on that post.

My husband got upset and began defending himself, so she accused him of “playing the victim,” and even claimed that she had written him off “months ago” because of how “terribly” he talks to people and how patient they are for putting up with it.  (The hypocrisy of the personality-disordered is laughable.)

A couple of years ago, I saw this woman pop her son in the mouth for cussing.  Then earlier this year, I witnessed her cussing at her son, using the f– word, for bugging her when she was playing a game.  (Gee, I wonder where he learned to cuss?)  Then she posted on Facebook that parents should beat their children.

This woman is another Tracy.  Fortunately, I saw it early before I let her become a close friend.  (I recognized Tracy early, too, but because she was married to my best friend, I wasn’t allowed to cut her off before she could hurt me.)

Maybe I could tell my husband to block her so she can’t get his ire up again.  Maybe I should block her as well.  Just seeing her post happy stuff on my friend’s wall after what she did to my husband, irritates me.

I’m getting better at this, I think.  The more I’ve read and learned about the personality disordered (she has been officially diagnosed as bipolar), the easier it gets to spot them.  For example, before there was Tracy, there was the Avenger.  And before the Avenger, there was my aunt-by-marriage, who from what I’ve been told, has alienated everybody.

When we recognize these people early, we can avoid getting too emotionally attached to them, which spares us from getting hurt as badly as from betrayal by those we love.

The trouble is, my husband felt like people he considered friends, backed up his bully instead of defending him, like he got piled on.  Just like the way Richard and Tracy would treat me, only now it’s his turn.

He’s on edge because he’s afraid we’ve found another Richard/Tracy style of dynamic, meaning another round of toxic friendship and betrayal from people we thought were friends.

See, I’m not the only one who got seriously burned by Richard/Tracy, so I’m not the only one on alert and finding it hard to trust again.

But I noted that Richard and Tracy behaved like this lots of times before we broke up with them, while these other people have only done this one time and we’ve known them for a few years (longer for one of them, whom we’ve known since around 2000).  So hopefully this is an aberration and they’re not the same as Richard/Tracy.

Of course, part of living is taking risks, but with one eye open.

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