Less Than Charitable

LESS THAN

How many times during your dance with the narcissist did you dread your home that you shared looming into view as you drove towards it or the taxi neared it? How many times did you sit wishing that you were still out and away from its dark, hulking menace as you fumbled for your house keys? How many times did you endure that drive back to the house with us at the wheel as the once vibrant conversation slowly dried up and a heavy, foreboding silence engulfed the interior of the vehicle. Can you feel that knotted sensation in your stomach again as you see our silhouette at the window where we have been evidently keeping watch for your return? The sickness rising in your chest as you see the door slowly open and left ajar, beckoning you inside but we do not stand there waiting to greet you as we foreshadow what awaits you.

It seems that it is only you that suffers this treatment in your own home. It is meant to be a place of sanctuary a place where the toils and troubles of the world outside your window are meant to halt at the door. It should be a place where you feel warm, loved and safe. Goodness knows you have attempted to instil these things in your home as you have worked hard to make it a pleasant and inviting environment, a place to relax and be yourself. Unfortunately, with us you succeeded too well in respect of that last part. Visitors to your home are always warmly greeted by us, cheeks kissed and hands shaken, a firm pat on the back as words of welcome are aired. We act the perfect host, accommodating guests, never hurrying them to leave, always offering a further drink. Of course you play your role as we order you about so you are the one organising the food and relaying the drinks, but it is done in a warm and appreciative manner which belies the reality of our standing over you. You pour the wine into the four glasses as you reflect on how this is the third set you have to buy this year and you are only in May as once the guests have disappeared into the night those glasses are thrown to the floor to shatter as some minor and entirely inconsequential transgression on your part is seized on and becomes the platform for a bout of intimidating fury. How quickly the host becomes the beast once the audience has departed. So many times you have insisted on our guests staying longer and on some occasions offered the spare room in order to keep what invariably follows at bay. Sometimes you have managed to stretch out their attendance until we have nodded off, infused with alcohol and a hearty meal which has enabled you to say good bye to our guests as we have snoozed as you prefer nor to wake the beast in two senses of the word. You tiptoe past us only pausing, ever the caring person, to place a blanket over us as you then quietly head for bed relieved to avoid one of those scenes.

When your taxi halts outside after you have managed to escape the house for a rare night out and you pay the driver, eyes flitting back and forth from that ajar door, the gateway to hell that has yawned open and is beckoning you in, your despair and apprehension rises. The outside world has no comprehension of what goes on between those walls. To everyone else you appear a content couple, enjoying a good lifestyle. Our carefully constructed façade ensures that we are afforded the recognition and status that our kind is entitled to. We ensure that everyone else knows us to be capable, successful, entertaining and personable. That is the reason we receive so many invitations to drinks receptions, dinner, evenings out and prestigious balls. You know that you must never decline them for attendance is mandatory to allow us to walk amongst our people and shine, drinking deep of their admiring fuel. We give speeches at charitable functions and announce a healthy donation as we maintain the gloss of decency and respectableness whilst kicking you under the table so that you smile to all who are looking our way. Our greatness is acknowledged by all in our community and the maintenance of this façade is hugely important to us and not something we can allow to be pierced or destroyed.

Yet all of the charm, the apparent generosity (those donations never come from our pocket but from those of a business we belong to our others we have persuaded to sponsor the event but we of course always take the credit) and the warmth evaporates once the threshold to our house has been crossed. At times, as we have driven away from an event, you have wanted to open the car door and jump out and run away down the road away from the impending horror which you know is waiting for you. You recognise the signs. There is the reduction and eventual extinguishing of conversation after we have muttered some terse criticism of you. You know better than to try to argue back. The drive seems to take an age and you can feel our churning fury as you sit beside us in the passenger seat. As we round the corner and the house comes into view you want to pass out, you want to be removed from the situation but you know you cannot. You walk with heavy footsteps towards that door. We always enter before you and leave it open, in the same way we do when you have gone out without us. It is a clear signal. You are entering our domain now and you will answer for your failure to smile at one of our jokes, or the fact you spent twenty minutes talking to someone else rather than stand laughing and supporting me amongst my coterie. You did not fill up my glass and attended to someone else rather than me. You wolfed down your starter which lacked elegance and decorum. You failed to make a bid during the charity auction. You went to the toilet during a speech. You rolled your eyes at one of my golden anecdotes (having heard it a hundred times before). The list of transgressions, both real and imagined, is long and we will always find something that you have done incorrectly during our time away from the house and once returned you will be punished as we unleash one of our manipulative tools from our devil’s toolkit in order to devalue you. We hope you might argue back and unleash some anger, but more often than not as we push the front door closed with a click and move towards you it is the upset and tears that flow. As our shadow falls over you, already your eyes are welling with tears as you know what will come behind that closed door. The charitable largesse we ladle out to the world at large always ends at home.

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15 thoughts on “Less Than Charitable”

  1. Nailed it again HG.

    The dread on the long trip back home from visiting, watching the terse conversation between them turn to silence. Noticing the fury in his eyes in the rear view mirror and her looking out the passenger window from the back seat. Rubbing the backs of the younger ones to sleep and hoping this time he would be so tired from the trip he would eat and fall asleep so that we could sleep also but knowing that was unlikely.

    Returning home from being out as a youth and standing in front of the house and wondering if what awaits is silence or carnage. Looking and listening for signs. Wanting to run away but knowing I cannot abandon the others.

    Him driving us home from the rehearsal party the night before my wedding (where he brought the men off in another room to a standstill by announcing loudly to my soon to be husband ” we all know that you will cheat on her but try not to be too obvious about it” and laughing) that he will turn a sharp right into the water and there wont be a wedding of she opens her mouth and says one word.

    Always the dread. And now I own that house.

  2. i believe HG was raped, but he’s now a rapist. children are very vulnerable, but HG became a man who has more social power than his victims.

  3. while HG is very charismatic, i confess i find him very witty and entertaining – dark people dont have dibs on mild cynicism and understanding the darker side of life – don’t let that distract you from his content, which is very subtle. he’s talking about this very violent core to power-addiction. most of us cannot reconcile how the serial rapist and con-artist can also be a person who has human insight. it’s in fact, this combo, HG says, that makes him so deadly. he’s a sex predator.

  4. Now i’m really becoming convinced my dad is a lesser. We would be afraid to come home, not knowing when he would explode with temper.

  5. ‘Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?’

    I have, and I’m quite sure that you all have too, otherwise you wouldn’t be here…

    This blog saves lives.

  6. I never had the opportunity to live with my narc. After reading the horror of this, I am flooded with gratefulness for being spared exponentially greater suffering. And fear. This one was scary for me, HG.

    1. We need to be scared about that one Merripen, it takes things to a whole other level. HG and Narc Affair have both reinforced to me not to co habit. In the past I have had to relocate because it becomes unmanageable and there’s a good chance a Narc will make you sick/ill one way or the other with that level of intensity. Thanks HG for this post.

      1. Mrs Linton,
        Oh my word, you have had to go to such great measures to escape and become safe. It makes me feel foolish to think that I so wanted what became your hell. I cringe at the narrowness of my escape.

  7. “How quickly the host becomes the beast once the audience has departed. So many times you have insisted on our guests staying longer and on some occasions offered the spare room in order to keep what invariably follows at bay.”
    Recognizing this as memories of a childhood friend begging me to return to her home with her and stay overnight, because otherwise her father will…
    He was always a fantastic host, to the point that child services didn’t believe the neighbours who called them.

  8. I know you are using charitable in a slightly different way, but when a friend of mine divorced her Narc husband one of the things she vividly remembers was on Remembrance Day he was so tight fisted he would recycle the same poppy year in and year out never putting s penny on the Charity box. All the image of a charity giver and none of the substance,

  9. i told my sister that we had to put on our first holy communion dresses and took her into the garden at twighlight, which i called ‘the witching hour’ and we played with the fairies. sometimes we’d pretend to be bats and swoop from our hiding places in the wild parts of the hourse, to the bottom of the garden and the fields beyond. we invented our freedom.

    the beast is often in slumber or in his own world. sometimes i’d go there when he was away and look at eveything, materialistic and dark, relics of masculinity. alien.

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