Jenn shared her story with me and has graciously allowed me to share it with all of you. I’m sure she could use some comfort and support. Here is her e-mail giving me permission to share her story. I have used only her first name.

Hey there. Please feel free to use my story and name. Thank you for asking how I am. Truthfully I am in a lot of pain. I am frustrated with my mind and heart…it’s really hard for me to deal with the different versions of the Marc i was so close to and the “real” Marc…to accept that this version of him is the more accurate one. I loved him so much, trusted him so much, i brought him to all my sacred places, my family in san diego, my home in NYC, my church. I let him do things to my body that have only been done in violence. Because he swore I was safe and wouldn’t hurt me. For the whole relationship he swore i was safe, all the time.

I’m not dealing so well. It has been a month and people have started saying “Just get over it.” But I am thinking all the time about all the pictures of our bodies together and the things he was doing and saying and thinking about and communicating to other people, in our bed and on the internet.

I am also sad. I have never had that feeling of concrete certainty about someone. It was the best relationship i’d ever had, ever even dreamed of. I guess bc he left all his bad parts out. And it all crashed down overnight.

it’s not rational, i’ll never understand why he did what he did and why he had to blame me with that awful email. That was another betrayal–how he decided it was because we moved too fast and i loved him too much and pressured him and I like to be a victim and I am doing this to get attention.
I’m not really holding myself together very well.

Here’s Jenn’s Story:

Dear JoAnn,

It started when I lost my apartment of 5 years due to a conniving and destructive roommate. I chose to leave. It was not worth the property damage. My boyfriend had helped me move. We had been dating eight months and I felt it was the healthiest, most joyful and mature relationship I had ever been in. I experienced a profound love for him. I didn’t think it was perfect; I knew he was immature, lacked some discipline and self-awareness, was maybe alcohol-dependent. I thought he’d grow up; I hoped he would. Nobody’s perfect. I also thought he was intelligent, funny, boyish, hot, devoted, honest, and committed. He is finishing a PhD and teaches undergraduates about the common good. I thought, a love like this can’t be taken for granted. We had started talking about engagement and making a family, perhaps prematurely, but we both felt strongly that this connection was
turning into an eventuality for us. He had gotten divorced last year, but insisted he was moving on and that we were a much better match, and seemed to be processing this all healthfully.

In order to not dwell or make this too long, I will say this: a series of discoveries that started on February 17th revealed the following facts:

* He cheated on me with at least five other people, at least two unprotected, and lied point-blank about three of them (after I’d found out about the first two). He sought these people out on Craigslist by posting ads.

* He posted at least 50 other Craigslist ads for dating and sex, with men and women, and responded to others’ ads, using pornographic and manipulative language, language copied-and-pasted from amorous emails he had sent to me, repeatedly misrepresenting his age and personal details

* In January 2009 (when he was still married) he exchanged enthusiastic emails with a group of men who were planning to “gangbang” a sex worker. He pulled out at the last minute because the $150 fee would be too conspicuously absent from his joint bank account with his wife

* He went on a date this January because he was “bored and lonely” but said “nothing happened because she wasn’t as great” as I am

* He lied or minimized these details in ways large or small throughout our relationship and especially at the end

* I reached out to his ex-wife to see if she was struggling with these revelations and she said this behavior had occurred throughout the relationship, until she realized he would never change, and she left to salvage her life. All year he has been telling me she was loveless, withdrawn, self-absorbed and careless with their marriage.

* He recently emailed to tell me that it was all my fault because I loved him too much–because I overwhelmed him with idealism and forced him into compulsive destructiveness after I threw him a surprise birthday party. That I was co-dependent. That he did not want to disrupt by happiness by slowing things down. He felt pressured by our marriage and family talk (which was mutually participated in; perhaps initiated more often by him). Things were moving too fast for him. He says that now I have made him into a monster in my own mind and I love to be a victim, and am talking about this just to get attention. He says he “wishes he had ended it sooner.” That “when my anger burns off he has a heart full of love just waiting for me.” The letter…it went for every soft spot he knows I have, that I am too loving and too giving and move too fast and want attention all the time. I’ve made GREAT personal strides in this area since my twenties but I am still quite susceptible to the criticism. His voice is in my ear. My love is worth nothing.

Anyway, it’s all been quite a trip. I must stress I had no clue about his secret life. I do remember that inasmuch as it did seem like our love affair was quite delightful and euphoric, he was fully complicit, and would often initiate the marriage-and-family talk, and he often appeared quite clingy and self-deprecating to me. I…well let’s just say it was this last email that showed me he is truly a pathological narcissist who will not be able to take responsibility for anything here. I mean…at times I was overwhelmed too…it is a very profound thing to think you have met someone you may spend your life and make humans with…but you know what did? I wrote in my journal. I did yoga. I prayed and talked to my therapist. I talked to him.

He has lots of excuses for why he did all that he did, and I think this: the reasons why just don’t matter. He still did it. He did all these terrible things. He did them because he wanted to. He was selfish, and impulsive, then compulsive, and weak, and indulgent. He spoke sacred words to me, over and over and over again, to me and to my friends and to my family. He knew how much I struggled to trust and give myself to him, and how I had given myself to him fully in a way I did not know I could do. His accusations of my codependence are moot; sure, I was very much in love, and I was indulgent about future dreams, but he was not the only thing I had going on, he was not my only source of happiness, and I did not outsource my identity to him.

there are a lot of things about his email that hit my soft spots in just the right way, but i know that is part of him being an artful, masterful manipulator and self-justifier. sure, there are some things to consider in that email but i know I had the best, most joyful of intentions and wanted to share the great people and aspects of my life with who I thought he was, and he was so messed up when I met him and I had this impulse to make him feel healed. yes, he did inflame my savior complex and perhaps I overgave or over-cared. I will take responsibility for that.

i now have to maintain good perspective on the relationship and its end–he had a lot of bingeing, high-energy consumptive intensity and I was able to match it, partially because yeah, I loved the feeling of affinity and mutuality that we had. to remember his pathology and my energy matching and my own idealism around saving him with my love and tenderness. i remember all his speeches about how in love he was, all his proposals, all his xpressions of helpless infatuation with me and…i did enjoy being the “rock” for once, the one who was centered and not so self-absorbed. i liked being that person, and he liked being the person i thought he was.

now I feel very cynical about how relationships and merging can be anything but messed up…are there any self-aware men out there who are truly aware of their own desperateness and pathologies? Because don’t we all merge complementarily with the person we are intimate with? How can I know someone is whole? How can I trust again? How can I have human contact again? How can I not be suspicious; how can I believe such words as “I want to spend my life with you,” “I think you and I have an amazing love,” “I am committed to an open, honest, and authentic relationship with you,” and “I’m ready to start a family,” which are all things he said…? He’s managed to provoke self-doubt for me. Like…am I co-dependent? Did I put on a show for the world about our “perfect” love? Should he have had the courage to “end it sooner” or should he have taken some freakin’ adult responsibility to
say something like “we are going fast. I feel overwhelmed. let’s scale back a bit”? I mean…I like to think I would have appreciated that and heard it and accommodated it.

i think that the pain and panic and self-doubt that his email to me generated when I have made some strides toward re-stabilizing have given me a good idea of why to not have contact, and to yank my hand from the stove. he said it was all my fault because i loved him too much and he was overwhelmed and didn’t think he could “disrupt my happiness” by saying something and slowing down, so instead he kept talking about timing for a baby and engagement. I mean…how egotistical and narcissistic is it of him to think he was my sole source of happiness? How immature did he think I
was that I could not have a discussion about this? How dare HE invalidate MY experience of the relationship?

Here I am doing it again…trying to rationally understand the irrational. The problem with merging with a personality disorder is that you merge disordered too. He was not a whole person. I did not know that. We were imbalanced; I knew that. I thought I was being the strong one. For the first time ever.

Today is day #7 with no contact.

I am angry, miss him, blaming myself, hate that email he sent, indignant, miss him, can’t believe his lack of integrity and responsibility-taking, etc. Miss the person I had committed to–a person that apparently did not exist. But damn, it was a sweet 8 months. Shock. Simply, viscerally, the animal of me wants him. Misses his body, arms, tenderness; what I thought was tenderness.

Prayers of gratitude for what is given, and what is taken away. Prayers that I be not deceived, by myself or another. Prayers for resilience. Prayers that I be not bitter or cynical. Prayers that I give myself time to heal.

Compassion is hardest to feel for myself.

Oh, the tears I’ve cried for this cretin. All the cigarettes smoked, as I try to slow my breathing. (I’m not a smoker.) I realize that he was in a nest of remorse of contrition, and that when I contacted his ex-wife and discovered that she had a similar experience of him, I pushed him out of that nest and back into his own self-loathing, denial, and narcissistic hatred of people who see the truth about him. We can only see what we can tolerate about ourselves. He is saddled by his own denial and self-justification and self-victimization and and egotism.

I’m so…so deeply sad. Know I need to get him out of the scene but…don’t want to…and feel so enraged that he had to have control and push ME away because I’m “unhealthy” for him. I really want to write him back with facts and point out where he is wrong so I can get my dignity

The stinging–the shock–the grief–the ego blow–the “at least he never hit me”–the feeling of being soul-raped–still the wanting him back, where did my guy go, who IS this person–what can I do??