There is so much in each post that I can relate to. I can relate too well.
I would get upset, he'd act horrible, getting myself ready to leave and then he would "act" normal, hoover me back in
This was the pattern for about 12 of our 14 years together, long before the infidelity. I actually dragged him to MC twice before the infidelity. There were so many times that I really should have left, his behavior was just so unacceptable. I do think that we get hooked, like an addiction.
I have read a lot about PD's and the common behaviors from both the PD and the partner. There are a couple of things that actually affect your brain to keep you hooked. Trying to regain that "true love", doing anything to reestablish that connection that you felt in the beginning is a part of that. Also, the intermittent reinforcement, good/bad, angry/loving, raging/apologetic, is very confusing for your brain. You begin to doubt your own perceptions about what is happening. This is not normal treatment and our brains don't respond in a rational way to it. I think it boils down to a normal response to abnormal and hurtful behavior.
Because we cannot conceive of treating someone this way, it is hard for us to wrap our minds around it. I know for me, while I was living in it, I would try to understand. I would imagine what I would be feeling, thinking, that would allow me to behave that way. Then I would feel badly for him that he was in such pain.
Yeah, I sure had that wrong. I had nothing to do with his rages. He was just built that way.
I think the most painful thing was to accept that all of the words and occasional actions that said love were not really love. He cannot love, at least in the way that those of us with normal brain function do. The love is shallow, no bonding, no empathy, it is for the moment. It was a temporary thing before it ever began.
Now, I feel that I can accept it. I see it as a deficiency in him. He has an illness. I do also know that it is an illness that doesn't just cause him harm but everyone close to him. To make it even a bit more twisted, I know that I can feel sorry for him that he suffers because of this but he really doesn't care what effect it had on me. To be clear about feeling sorry for him, I do it from afar, just in my mind. I view him like I would a rabid dog. I feel bad that he has this disease but there is no cure and it will harm me if I get close. There is a cure but well, he isn't really a dog and I'd get arrested!
This really is not funny, it is tragic. I do have enough distance now that I can have that black humor thing about it. I am healing and that feels like such a monumental achievement. Have patience with yourself.
I am fortunate that we do not have children together and that I can keep strict no contact.
One writer that helped me is Rhonda Freeman, she has a website. It is written very simply but she is a neuropsychologist and writes about the brains reaction and the addictive feeling about leaving a PD. It helped me to accept my feelings and be patient with the process of detaching.
I guess my main point here is don't beat yourself up for staying too long. We do the best we can with what we understand at the time.
ed me about your post, redfury, was about the barrage of e-mails I sent to her after her reply to my one word e-mail "why?" I probably sent 4 e-mails in fairly short order following that. It makes me wonder about me. For the first couple of years post DDays I did a lot of "comfort me/get away from me", "I love you/I can't stand you
This stuff is crazy-making times 1000! This is like a wayward on crack!
During the early days, by that I mean the first 2 years or so after he walked out. I was so confused, the constant internal ruminating "why", "who does that", over and over. I would fall into texting him with those questions. It would turn into this crazy, circular verbal vomit. I lashed out in ways that I never would have expected from me. I started questioning if I were PD.
What I finally saw was that I was not randomly attacking. I was asking questions about real events and behaviors. I was not just calling him names but giving a name to the behaviors. I was finally speaking my mind. I was saying all of the things that I had stuffed throughout our years together.
I think during those early days we are trying so hard to accept, to understand what is real, to find some closure, to find a rational reason for all of this that it just becomes overwhelming.
Once I accepted that he would never give a real response, that there would never be "closure", that I could understand the articles about PD intellectually but never in my heart, I was able to just stop.
Each time we communicated, it only reactivated the questions, created more confusion and pain.
I am now divorced over 3 years, separated for 4 years. He still will get a message through on occasion. I have changed my email, changed my phone number and will be moving in a couple of months. I am strong enough now to just not respond. I will say this though, each time, my stomach clenches, my heart starts skipping and not from joy. It is still just random, nonsensical crap.
I think this is bigger than betrayal, bigger than infidelity, this is years of screwing with your mind. This is trying to sort through your life narrative and making peace with what you never knew was real. This is grieving for someone that never existed. Not easy to live with for sure.
Now, I live with it by knowing who I am. I know that I was never any of the awful things he said. I know that I have the capacity to love deeply. It is sad but I am grateful that I survived it and now I am living a life free from abuse. I am not only free from abuse but I others in my life that are capable of bonds and empathy. It is a gift that I never would have had if I had not gotten away. Odd to say but perhaps I appreciate it more deeply because of what I experienced with him.
I know how hard all of this is. My heart aches when I read all of the craziness everyone is dealing with. It is a big load of crap to heal from, for some, decades of abuse.
I do wish that I could help. Hopefully, just hearing that I survived and that I am healing, that life does begin to feel normal again, that you will stop wondering why and who does that, will give you hope.