No one ever told me that sometimes lambs will fall in love with lions.
No one ever told me that preys sometimes fall in love with their hunters. The story doesn’t often begin this way. It starts with the innocence of falling in love. It starts with the purity of creating a life together. It starts with the purity of building a future together. And as you begin to build a house with your hunter, you fail to realize that you were always going to be his prey. And this is not to say that there is no responsibility on the prey’s behalf, because there is. She is good down to a fault. Choosing to see the good, because she believes that is powerful enough to overcome the bad.
I am the prey, an empathic soul and he was my hunter, a narcissist.
I remember the day we met up for our first date after talking online for some time. He was shorter than I thought he would be. He had blue eyes, was wearing jewelry, had tattoos, had on a button-down white shirt, black slacks and work boots. I remember the workboots because they were worn down from scuffs and covered in tiny splatters of paint. It showed me how hard he worked and how much he was trying to impress me by dressing up. At the restaurant, we sat over dinner and a bottle of wine. He poured his heart and soul over our meal and admitted through tears in his eyes that he had just lost his brother to suicide, and as he uttered those words, I gently pushed my hand across the table and grasped his in mine and told him it would be okay, a few days later like children we were suddenly a couple. And a couple of months later like teenagers, I moved in with him. It was overwhelmingly fast, and as I think back now, I can’t remember how or why it happened that way.
At the first signs of danger, I chalked it up to him doing his best to deal with his brothers’ suicide.
I had said something he didn’t like, and he felt like I was nagging him. In an angry rage, he took his cell phone and threw it across the room so hard it hit the front door and fell apart. I started to retreat within myself, and I was embarrassed and still believing in his potential and not who he truly was no matter how many times he showed me. I didn’t fully understand what was happening to me. He didn’t drink, he didn’t cheat, he wasn’t physically abusive, and he worked hard. I gave him leeway because he came from a rough childhood and he was still mourning the loss of his brother. But I, an intelligent, educated woman that comes from a good family, actively volunteers, could not see that there was abuse, not physical but mental and emotional abuse.
The signs of danger continued, and I kept pressing forward.
When his teenage son came to visit us, and he showed his dad that he was cutting himself, I immediately saw this as a sign and a cry for help, we need to get his son help asap. He saw it as his son asking for attention, and being childish and shut us all down (thankfully his son came out of that okay). There was the time his son left an electric fan on overnight at the custom auto paint shop he owned, and he yelled at his son, he yelled at all of us that it was not cost-effective and threw the fan across the shop until it shattered it into a million pieces. I continued to retreat into myself. I continued to focus on my son and nothing else, but I stayed. When my family, my friends and yes my ex-husband warned me, but I stayed.
I began to build a life with him.
I also started to become the primary breadwinner. I needed a partner, and I became the head of the household when what I needed was a partner. I began to be the only motivated party in this relationship while he became a lazy being with no motivation. Somehow I pressed on. We moved from Florida to Tennessee. We bought land, started building an off-grid homestead and a tiny house. And when I say we I mean – I the breadwinner, invested in our future. I still kept looking at his potential and not who he was. He was incredibly intelligent with a genius IQ ( I am not making this up), he was a craftsman, a mechanic, a welder, a builder, a painter, an artist, a researcher and so many other things (I am not exaggerating). But he was also calculated, manipulative, lazy and as I play back this reel of our relationship in my head I see him watching my family, my friends, our neighbors, acquaintances, people at the store and most of all me. He studied all of us. He wanted things, and other people could provide that for him effortlessly. So he gave everyone what he knew they needed, and told them what he knew they needed to hear. It was psychopathic in so many ways, and he was a textbook narcissist, and as so often people do not realize, narcissists are extremely intelligent. It was a game of chess, and he always had the upper hand.
I pressed on, even after my son and I were doing the bulk of the farm work on the homestead. I pressed on even after my son, and I had to learn to use a chainsaw and cut wood to heat our off-grid tiny home (that he never finished & still isn’t to this day), all this while he laid in bed most of the time. I pressed on even after I had to drive myself to the emergency room with my son and the doctor diagnosed me with a viral infection that would last two months because he couldn’t take me because he wanted to go to a pool party. I pressed on even after knowing that he refused to pay child support for his children. I pressed on even after I would sometimes give him money to send to his own children. I pressed on even after I left him three times (this final time being the 4th and FINAL) and came right back. I pressed on when after a fight, he wanted me to prove my love and that I was not cheating on him. So through tears in my eyes, after begging him that I didn’t want to show my love this way, I laid there. I pressed on even after he never bought me anything other than a card (to his credit and in honor of the truth, towards the end there were a few gifts and a few hand-picked bouquets). I pressed on because without knowing it, bad people have good days too. I wouldn’t have stayed that long if there weren’t good days, but even on those good days, it was a manipulation so that he could get what he wanted.
I pressed on when I had to take myself to the emergency room due to the severe back pain that required shots directly on my back.
I pressed on through the side effects of exhaustion and weakness from bleeding for six months and doctor’s not finding anything. I pressed on after a Mother’s Day visit to Florida to my family’s home when he became angry with me because I didn’t want to go out with friends he had made plans with because I was still weak and bleeding and just wanted to rest. So he left and stayed at his friends’ home, while I laid in bed at my family’s home. The next day I woke up in a bed full of blood, scared and in tears. My mother with fear in her eyes and undying love and concern rushed me to the ER immediately. I pressed on after I had to take myself to my appointments once again because I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer (thankfully to find out later it was precancerous) because he didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to bother him. I pressed on, and I smiled for everyone around me, and I put on a happy face allowing things to look perfect from the outside, except those that were closest to me knew the truth. I did this because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had not left sooner and that I had allowed this to happen. And this is one of the many things that narcissists count on and thrive off of, your fear and your shame. I pressed on even after all of the laziness, arguments, carelessness, manipulations, gaslighting selfishness, coldness, and evil. I pressed on until I couldn’t anymore…that was the day my teenage son told me that if we didn’t leave (because he couldn’t stand to see me hurt anymore), he would go back to live with his father. I left. I knew that my son was a man now and if I stayed he would be forced into a position where he would defend me (because this is the kind of young man he is) when I couldn’t do it for myself. That would never be right or fair. Most of all I didn’t want to lose my son. He was the very reason I breathed. I signed over the deeds and titles and left my hunter everything. I didn’t want to fight for any of it, and I was officially done.
I chose me. I chose my son. I chose our beautiful and dreamy 3-bedroom apartment in New Jersey that I happily share with my mother. I choose me every day, and I choose my son every day. I continue to work in the healing industry and consult for a company out west. I continue to live. I continue to pour into myself. I continue to find joy. I continue to travel. I continue to laugh. I also cry. I also get angry. I also question my sanity. But I have my family as a support system; my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather, my aunt, and my uncle. I have a support system of girlfriends that remind me of my worth and my sanity. I also have resources that I read every day like the Instagram for Melanie Tonia Evans from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery and my bible – the book Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie.
And what have I learned?
I learned that as weird as this may sound, I don’t blame him, but I also don’t blame myself. I learned that this was not my fault. I learned to take responsibility for myself. I learned that there is nothing wrong with me. I learned that I am still a good person. I learned that I am human and I make mistakes. I learned my worth. I learned that sometimes people like this come into our lives to remind us of the parts within ourselves that need healing. I learned that sometimes I will question my sanity and wonder if I am the narcissist, but that question in and of itself is proof that I am not because a narcissist is incapable of self-reflection. I learned that it will feel like I am detoxing from this toxic relationship. I learned that I am slowly dying every day from this pain, but only because there is an awakening coming.
There is REBIRTH – there is CLARITY!
Bonnielee Cuevas is an Author and a Healer helping single women find freedom through holistic healing and self-love. She is an avid volunteer and speaker and has been seen on ADWEEK, Fashion School Daily, BuzzFeed, Tiny House Magazine, Tiny House Podcast, Tiny House Summit, Volup 2 Magazine & more.
Bonnielee Cuevas has lived an incredible life full of wanderlust and minimalist dreams come true. For almost 1/2 a decade she ditched conventionalism, built and lived in a tiny house on a 15-acre off-grid homestead in the majestic mountains of Tennessee 2000 feet above elevation with her former partner and son. In 2018 after her and her partner parted ways she left the tiny house homesteading lifestyle and took some time to heal. She continues to homeschool and raise her son (the light of her life) and pursues part-time travel as a wanderlust enthusiast.
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