Space that he respects

I decided that I like freaky Friday instead of throwback Thursday.  It needs to be something abnormal if recounting memories of passive aggressive crazymaking.  Feel free to add a freaky story of your own!

Years ago, a therapist once asked me what personal space I had, what ‘thing’ or what ‘space’ was uniquely mine. I couldn’t think of anything. Even my purse (unlike my mother’s) was not sacrosanct. I had a rolltop desk that particularly would get raided (many items like the stapler, tape, stamps etc. ‘borrowed’ by him permanently unless I tracked them down). Respected space for me was an issue that my therapist initiated and pursued, not me. My therapist requested that my husband come into a session, and a good part of it she spent explaining to him the importance for me to have my own inviolate space.  (You all can guess how long that lasted.)

Years later from the time I’d seen that counselor, that session about my own space came up in a conversation with my husband.  By that time, at some point I’d abandoned the desk as ‘mine’, not unlike a bird abandons a nest. Occasionally, my husband would make a comment about the desk needing to be cleaned up or dusted, and I’d look at him as though he’d just spoken to me in a foreign language. 

One of those times, I’d replied to his comment about ‘my’ desk needing to be cleaned, by saying that it wasn’t really my desk.  He insisted it was, and I said that as long as he would take items from it, or put items on it, if he would even move things around on it, then it wasn’t ‘mine’.  For whatever reason, he went into a full-blown puppy dog sincere monologue about how he understood that, and he would respect that, how he’d changed.


I thought and thought about it.  At some point, the idea that I could reclaim the desk as personal space began to intrigue and appeal to me.  

I said, “Husband, are you sure?  Do you mean this?”

He replied ever so sincerely that he meant it with all his heart.

I said, “Do you understand what I’m asking?  Even if I get mail addressed to me, I don’t want you to set it on that desk.  If you need something, you can’t take it from that desk.”

He said he understood clearly.

I said, “I don’t want you to put ANYTHING, absolutely not one thing on that desk, or take anything off of it.  Don’t even move anything on it.  Are you really agreeing to this?”

He replied, “I understand!  You have my word that I won’t touch that desk or go near it!”

Finally, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.  After all, it wasn’t a big thing I was asking.  It took me hours to sort through the years of dusty piles and scraps and accumulation.  Much of that dusty stuff had nothing to do with me.  He’d used it as a kind of super junk drawer to plop things on.  I cleaned and oiled the wood until it shone, then placed everything exactly where and how I wanted it.  Towards the end of this process,  I started to feel this strange golden glowing feeling within my chest.  It was pleasant.  I think it was happiness.

It was a happiness that I expressed to him, along with gratitude and hope.  Could this be that small safe space I could build on? 

Later the next day, we were at the grocery store to pick up a few things.  This was back in the days when we actually still went on pseudo date nights, which usually consisted of seeing a movie together.  I’m one of those popcorn addicts that meld the words movie-popcorn or popcorn-movie together.  I was trying to lose some weight, so while we were in the grocery store, I said I was going to pick up some of the straight stick pretzels and try munching on those instead of the theater popcorn.

Not a big deal, right?  While I’m getting that bag off the grocery shelf, he commented that we’d have to write my name on the bag so the kids wouldn’t eat it.

umm  Passive aggressive alert. 

This was an old issue between us.  I believe in sharing, not marking food.  He and I had had this discussion many times over the years.  My adamant feelings came from my childhood.  My mother was a generous soul, but she grew up in the Great Depression, and besides lots and lots of stuff she held on to, she hid and hoarded food as she grew older.  It wasn’t that my mom wouldn’t share her food, she just always had special snacks and treats hidden.  Part of that was because she’d become diabetic, and wasn’t supposed to have them.  The end result was my wanting a clean and straight forward approach to food.  I’d told my husband many times that if we couldn’t afford a treat for everyone, we couldn’t afford it for anyone.

I responded, “No, I’ll just get two bags.  There should be plenty left for me to take a small baggie to the movie, but if they get eaten, they get eaten, no big deal.”

Gee.  You know that was like waving a red towel in front of a sneaky bull.  I suppose in his world, I’d just defied him and spit on him or something equally heinous.  Something that needed to be thwarted and dealt with.  Punished.

We came home, ate dinner, and shortly before bedtime, I went to my desk to check my email.  Guess what was on it?

Such an easy answer.  Two bags of pretzels.  Naturally, it was a huge trigger for me.  Of course, he’d ‘forgotten’ and ‘misunderstood’ and had ‘good intentions’ to make sure I had pretzels when we went to the movie.

Yeah.  Screw the movie.  I had no interest in going to that movie anymore.  I took a look at that gleaming and organized desk as a snapshot of what could and should be.  Then disconnected from it.  It was now back in the camp of things he could use to get at me, and I let go of it again for good.  Later down the road, I gave it to one of our sons.  My computer now just sits on a utility table.  I’d love to have a desk of my own some day.

Another ‘someday’ goal is to have a room of my own. This room would be enter-by-invitation only, and it would have a lock and key. A vintage desk for my computer. A sink-into chair with ottoman for reading with a sweet unique little side table to hold  tea and dark chocolate. I’ll decorate in absolutely any way I wish.  There will be tables and shelves with projects spread out that don’t get moved, an easel that won’t be touched, my own personal file cabinet  (that was another invaded and  ‘borrowed’ thing I once had), maybe even a mini-fridge and tiny pantry so I’d have water and snacks handy if I was writing and didn’t want to be disturbed. A comfy inviting couch I could sleep on! A skylight I can open or close. A quality music system so I can be enveloped and lost in the beauty of some pieces.  The ability to burn incense if I want to.

I do now have a coffee mug that is mostly respected as just mine.

Space that he respects?  His own space and stuff. 

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24 Responses to Space that he respects

  1. GainingStrength says:

    Oh the stories. 😀 Here’s one: My dad had a heart attack and I went to stay with him for two weeks. I told my abuser that he would have to pay the bills since I wouldn’t be home to do it. He said okay he would do that. So far so good. I said you could pay online, but if you don’t know how to do that just write checks. Again he says okay. You know what’s coming don’t you? :/

    A week or so later he calls me at my dad’s. He tells me he paid the bills and I reply okay (this is in the months leading up to the divorce). He said he only wrote once check and stops talking. I say why did you only write one check? He says because that’s all the checks there was, I ran out of checks. I said okay (here in my mind I’m thinking why didn’t he call and ask where the extra checks were?) He said he didn’t have stamps. I said there were stamps in the bill folder. He said oh I found those, but I didn’t know if they were special stamps to you so I only used one. (Insert here a befuddled look on my face. I had at least 80 stamps and they were those ugly flag stamps and he thinks they’re special…I call BS. Oh also I guess the post office has stopped selling stamps!) I said they weren’t special. He said he didn’t know that so he paid the bills with the credit card! (Oh the agony of it all!) I said they charge you to pay by credit card. He said yes he found that out. And proceeded to tell me how much each place charged extra! I again said oh. He said I paid all the bills but one. I said why? He said because it’s not due until after you get home. (How did he know when I would be home?)

    I know you’re laughing while sympathizing with me. 😀 It made my dad chuckle, too.


  2. Zombiewife says:

    Well, that didn’t take long, did it? A day, at best? Nearly forever in PA time. It’s no wonder you fantasize about your own space. I think we’re all right there with you…nothing is ours alone, safe from maniplation, loss, or destruction. In my case, probably only my clothing and jewelry are beyond his invasion. Then again, I am missing a few pieces of very sentimental jewelry.

    Rule #1 for PAs: they are entitled to everything, whether it belongs to them or not.


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      One thing that does get me angry is what has seemed like his blatant disregard for the property of others, while being almost militant to protect some of his own things.


      • Exodus says:

        PJ’s, I was talking with a psychologist the other day at the shelter and described how Norman becomes obsessed with objects in a way that makes no logical sense. For example, if the chair is sitting too close to the woodstove and I attempt to move it back, he will yell at me and accuse me of hating the chair, asking me what my problem is and why I hate the chair so much. The psychologist told me that in most character disorders, it’s common for these people to obsess on objects in a very illogical way and patients with BPD are especially known to do this. She told me that there isn’t any rhyme or reason to their behavior and that it’s best not to even try to argue or debate with them about such things because they can’t reason. Everything to them is either all or nothing……either we love everything about them or we hate everything about them.
        Norman doesn’t really have any regard for anything or anyone unless someone, especially me, attempts to change something in his world……then he become defensive, pretends to have some interest in the item and creates a fight.


  3. wornout says:

    You know at the end of a long day when you just want some time to yourself to get ready for bed, wash your face, brush your teeth, etc. In peace and quiet? Well, i was washing me face one night and i looked up, and my husband was standing hovering right by me staring at me. It freaked me out! 🙂 I said “what are you doing, do you need something?” He said, “can we have sex” on this particular night it was like 11 pm and i still had one of my teenage sons awake who needed help with something. I told home this and that it was late and i was tired. He rolled his eyes and said, “you always have some excuse.” Then he went and got in bed acting all dejected. So he has been doing this every night now! I even try to sneak upstairs when he is watching tv to get ready for bed and everytime when i am washing my face and trying to have time to myself, he comes in and stands there. So annoying!! I dread nightime now! And last night when i said no to him again about sex (it was super late and we had just had a party for my son’s 16th birthday so i still had stuff to clean up from that, plus my son is on the high school football team and was really stressed out about some football stuff and wanted to talk to me about it, so the last thing on my agenda at this point was sex). My husband told me that we need to have a talk sometime in the next few days about our relationship because i am not trying to make this relationship work. OH MY GOSH! It is all so madening!


    • Exodus says:


      ” Can we have sex?”……..gee, how romantic. It’s like asking if he can have a coke. It’s so obvious that these men are only after immediate pleasure and that they really don’t care where they get it from. yuk.

      Norman does the same thing in the bathroom when I’m trying to do my hair or makeup. I finally figured out that he’s attempting to frustrate me in my attempt to care for myself and make myself look pretty. The bathroom is also generally thought of as the ‘ private room’ in the house and Norman has a history of either preventing me from having privacy OR exposing himself for all to see when he’s in there. He has even left the bathroom door open when we’ve had guests in the home.
      Norman has always used my ‘self-care’ as a means to torment me. Whenever we have had to attend a function that requires me to take extra time to put on makeup or style my hair, he will do all sorts of things to upset me. ( we only have one bathroom in our house)
      – he won’t consider that I need more time in the bath and take his shower first unless I ask him
      -After his shower, he leaves water and toothpaste and shaving cream all over the sink basin for me to clean up before I can even use the sink
      -While I’m styling my hair and putting makeup on, he constantly interrupts me
      – The more formal the event and hence, the more work I put into applying makeup and styling my hair, the more likely he will not come home, not call and not show up to escort me to the event even though for weeks, I told him that he needs to be home by 2pm so that we can get ready to go. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat here all dressed up with tons of makeup on and a nervous wreck from trying so hard to style myself and find something to wear and he doesn’t even show up. When he finally comes home, he doesn’t say a word about not showing up. When I finally confront him, he blows up at me, makes excuses and essentially blames me for putting unrealistic expectations on him.


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      How could you resist such a charmer?


  4. lost7658 says:

    You are write PJ’s the space he respects his own and his stuff. Everything in our house is cluttered with his belongings. It doesn’t matter what room you are in there is always a pile of his stuff. You clean it up , move it around only for another pile to accumulate in its place. I once had a desk that was supposed to be for me to study and pay bills. By the time we moved into this condo the desk was taken over by him. It is covered in dirty tissues, tools, nails, screws, toys, random cell phones, and whatever else he feels like he wants. Of course I no longer go into the second bedroom. It smells like cat pee because the litter box is never clean and the room looks like a junkyard. Whenever I do homework or study I like to take my lap top into the living room and sit on the couch with my school work on the coffee table. I often have music and the TV on low because I like the back round noise. Of course he complained about this and said I don’t study and why don’t I use the desk he got me. I started laughing uncontrollably and said ” you mean your desk, the one covered with your shit “. Oh and don’t knock my studying habits I am the only the one with a degree in this house so obviously I know what I am doing. He had nothing to say of course and I walked by the room and he had cleared the desk, but the rest of the room was dirty and still was stinky so I stayed in the living room. Every room is like that though. The sink in the kitchen is used for his fish tanks. My bathroom is also used to clean them until I made a huge deal about it. The living room is used as a laundry hamper and tool storage area. Our bedroom has clothes everywhere and dirty tissues. There is no space that he respects. The whole house is basically his dumping ground and he expects you to go around picking up after him. He makes me himself a glass of milk you will find the glass and the spoon laying on the counter. He heats up food he leaves the counter on the coffee table.


  5. lost7658 says:

    Oh and probably the reason I don’t have a desk because I don’t allow him to use my lap top. Back when we first married , I told him the password, and told him to use it whenever he liked. I came back from work one day to find my computer filled with porn. I never allowed to him my lap top again. I changed the password and he doesn’t have access to a computer. He does have access to the internet on his phone. A phone that I gave him and which he as soon as he got the chance littered with porn. His excuse he wanted to see the graphics. Their sense of entitlement kills me. The want to be treated the way a person who is respected and has mutually respected , loving, caring, relationship with . When in reality the relationship is one sided and they don’t treat you that way back. But they are entitled to your body when they please, your love , your kindness, your money, your food, anything that you have. While whatever they offer is not worth the price they are selling it for.


    • Exodus says:

      “But they are entitled to your body when they please, your love , your kindness, your money, your food, anything that you have. While whatever they offer is not worth the price they are selling it for.”

      Exactly. They truly have a sense of entitlement and I’ll warn you that Norman’s therapy is making him even more aggressive and assertive and entitled.

      Absolutely gross about the porno. One time Norman sent me a video on youtube about some guy ejaculating in his pants every time he saw an attractive women in a store. Norman thought I would find this funny and entertaining? When I realized what the video was about, I felt so gross, betrayed, disrespected and dirty. I felt raped. I didn’t acknowledge the video until a year or so later and Norman didn’t understand why it upset me. The world revolves around them and always will.

      Norman, like his father, would live in squalor if it wasn’t for me. Everything he touches becomes filthy and he has never taken any accountability for his own filth. I’ve been with Norman for twenty years and it has finally sunk-in that he has never appreciated having a nice home or appreciated the effort that I’ve put into making it one. He doesn’t see any value in caring for anything or anyone because everything in his life is just a replaceable object. There are some people who are comfortable living like this……ever watch the hoarders reality show? I realize that I married a man who is very ‘uncivilized’ and it’s become more clear to me why why that is- he lived with uncivilized parents. His parents built a new home in 2003 and the house and everything in it is already trashed. They waste their money on cheap junk that has no value. This morning Norman bought an old metal cooler from a neighbor’s yard sale and I know it will never get used and will just take up space, rust. Every penny Norman earns and everything he purchases becomes immediately devalued the moment it becomes his- including me.


      • Seeing the Light says:

        Yes! Same here. He doesn’t take care of things. He uses the kids’ things and breaks them or ruins them. I have had to replace them or pay the kids for them. And he should just be entitled to use your property whenever he wants. Gregory’s parents lived in filth (I mean impossible to exaggerate filth) and hoarded. Same thing – cheap junk with no value. He brings home junk, but also like to spend money on nice things for himself. I have no doubt that without me he would live in filth, tripping over his junk, too. The areas I try to leave to him since we are basically living separated in our home bear evidence to that.

        Yep, his little dalliance with therapy resulted in him trying to be more assertive.


        • Exodus says:

          Seeing, Really? I mean, Gregory’s parents were the same way? Wow. Norman is like Gregory in that he too wants to buy the best things for himself…not necessarily items of true value but things that are trendy or have some designer appeal. Yet, he claims that he isn’t image oriented or trendy. It takes norman ten times longer to get dressed in the morning than me and it takes him even longer to primp in front of the bathroom mirror and yet he would live in squalor? Makes no sense to me how his corporeal image is so opposite of his living space and his truck and car. I won’t even look inside his truck or car. Oh and his parents purchased a really nice brand new SUV a few years ago and when I saw it at the hospital, I couldn’t believe it. It looks like a 30 year old car that was abandoned in a corn field. It’s so dirty inside that I wouldn’t want to get into it. come to think of it, Norman’s mother is the same way that he is about her appearance and I always found her to be a very tasteful and stylish dresser ( like Norman) but lives in squalor? Sicko alert!


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      lost7658, I’ve told my husband before that some of his seemingly kind behaviors have come with a costly price tag.


  6. marsocmom says:

    I’m so used to David being unassertive, I think I would go even more nuts if suddenly he tried to assert himself more. He’s a hoarder, too. He keeps everything, and his idea of cleaning is to throw it all into a cardboard box and stash it somewhere. I found some lost library books once when I cleaned up after his cleaning spree. This spring he said he wanted to clean out the garage. I had to try really hard not to laugh at him, and yes, I’m still waiting.


  7. Exodus says:

    PJ’s, Everyone should have their own sacred space. It’s a common struggle for men and women to create their own space in a home- especially with kids- unless you live in a macmansion. I don’t. Do you have any room that you can convert and claim as your own? Could you purchase one of those cute outdoor buildings and make your own cottage? I have my own space ( explained below) and it makes a huge difference. However, if I close the door, Norman gets extremely angry and baits me into a fight.

    Zombie commented on entitlement and how they devalue our space. This reminded me how PA people vacillate between idealization and devaluing and how borderline narcissists like Norman ‘ split’. Splitting:is ( from Wikipedia) the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism used by many people.The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground.)
    Given “the narcissist’s perverse sense of entitlement and splitting … [s]he can be equally geared, psychologically and practically, towards the promotion and towards the demise of a certain collectively beneficial project”.
    The cognitive habit of splitting also implies the use of other related defense mechanisms, namely idealization and devaluation, which are preventative attitudes or reactions to narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury”

    I don’t have the issue of Norman invading my office but I deal with the issue that he’s a slovenly man who trashes every space in our home and fills it with junk or filth. It didn’t take long after I married Norman, to realize that I had to establish sacred space and sacrifice our guest room to create my own space and my own closet. 2 years into our marriage, I sold the furniture in the guest bedroom and used the money to create my own office. I decided that if anyone came to visit, I would put them up in a hotel and pay for it myself. I can’t share any space in our house with him that he doesn’t trash every single day and it’s quite noticeable in our small house that only has one bath.
    I have my own office because I have to keep things organized or I wouldn’t be able to work. I have my own book cases because I have to know where my books are since I use them daily for research and business. Norman’s bookcases look like piles of books just stuffed on the shelves and he even puts them back in such a way that the front covers or pages get bent-back or torn. He saves every catalog and advertisement that comes in the mail and piles them up on his books. Some of his books were worth over 200 dollars and now they are probably worth 2 dollars. It’s such a relief not to share a bedroom with him anymore because I either had to sleep among piles of dirty clothes, crumbs, food wrappers, napkins, paper plates and dishes or I had clean them up and move them before I went to bed. Plus he would wipe his dirty hands on our quilt and that had to be washed all the time. It was difficult enough having to keep the house presentable every day but I won’t allow him to trash my workspace. For the most part, Norman stays away from it because I think he finds it intriguing( idealization) but also threatening since it reminds him of his bad habits ( devalues as defense). Our business office is always trashed and our shop is always trashed and I gave up trying to keep them organized and only work from my home office now. I visited the office yesterday to drop off payroll and there were piles of burned tobacco from his pipe on the desk and on the floor next to the trash can, empty cans of soda everywhere, banana peels rotting on the desk, the edge of the beautiful mahogany desk is scraped down from his chair, there are ground in crumbs from cheetos and other snacks on the wood floors. Norman is content living and working that way. I’m not.

    Norman complains about his own lack of personal space. He has complained about this for years. It’s not as if I didn’t try to help him have his own man cave when we married. I do respect that everyone needs their own space. But unfortunately,his space became a trash pit that violated health and safety codes. It’s not just the mess that is disturbing to me but also how Norman devalues his property.

    I always tried to give Norman nice things/valuable things that would support a higher sense of self worth and I actually believed that he would rise to occasion. StUpId mE… I’ve since learned that there’s a common theme of disrespect for and the devaluing of people and things by covert borderline narcissists. My mother, as you know, has NPD and although she was raised in a very formal upper class home where values were important, she lives like Norman and it drove us all mad. I think it’s a PA behaviors are way for them to cope by rebelling by controlling their environment even thought it’s very unflattering and abusive to others. I know that my mother devalued everything because it was her PA/covert way of getting back at her mother and a way to devalue her mother’s money. She would use sterling silver spoons to garden with and leave them outside, she would allow her cockatoo birds to chew up the antique furniture and destroy the house that her mother gave her. I think Norman does the same thing to me for the same reasons.

    I hope you can find a way to create your own sacred space. I think it would be really pretty and warm. You can make that happen PJ’s!!


  8. Newshoes says:

    I guess I’ve been lucky lately, I’ve made many new spaces for myself and the best one; reclaiming both my head and heart. Oh and my own female persona instead of being both husband and wife 🙂


    • Exodus says:

      Newshoes, I’m so very happy for you ;D It warms my heart, lifts my spirit and gives me hope to read your words this morning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • newshoes123 says:

        Slowly but surely Exodus. I have to be honest and said that some days I want to throw in the towel but I keep moving forward and it’s getting easier.


        • Exodus says:

          Me too Newshoes. I’ve been so depressed lately mainly because Norman is battering me in the worst ways. Horrible stuff that I don’t want to write about now. I actually realized that it’s either I keep packing or I go buy a gun. I’m even crying just writing that but there’s no way to be diplomatic about how I’ve been feeling. It’s truly been that bad for me this week. I decided to order my next shipment of boxes and packing supplies.


    • Seeing the Light says:

      Newshoes, this comment of yours really hit me. “…reclaiming both my head and heart. Oh and my own female persona instead of being both husband and wife” I keep trying to get my head and heart back while still in this situation (not sure it is possible), but the burden of being both husband and wife! I struggled for years with trying to be the feminine Christian wife. I am by no means a tomboy or anything like that, but the concept of responding to a husband and leaning on his strength or anything like that is impossible with a PA man. I can only assume it would actually be easier to feel womanly if I were single! With a PA man as a father figure, I also feel the burden of having to be both father and mother. How can I teach my sons how to be men?! How can I show my daughter what she is missing in a father? Sometimes I feel like I am being more of a father than I am a mother!?! I am happy for you that are making such strides 🙂


      • Newshoes says:

        Sometimes like today when I read your comments, I am reminded that I am not alone. Tk u to all of you, it s been a tough day for me. Xo


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