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.