Behind the Locked Door

I’d gotten back from work earlier than expected and found Tina in an odd mood. She seemed extra energetic and distracted. After the barest greeting and exchange of pleasantries, Tina announced that she needed some alone time. I’d just gotten back to the apartment and she explained that she didn’t want me to leave. Rather, she wanted to be left alone in the bedroom to listen to music loudly in order to adjust her mood. She wasn’t inclined to tell me exactly what was bothering her, but I ascertained that she meant to convey some amount of anger and depression.

“It’s not that I don’t want you here and I’m not trying to push you away,” she said. “I just need an hour to myself with my music – that you wouldn’t like anyway – and then I’ll be fine.”

I might have thought the situation odd, but just nodded. “You do what you gotta do,” I said. “I’ll be here for you if you want to talk about it. I’ve got to catch up on some email, so I’ll just put on the tube and take care of that while you rock out.”

She slipped into the bedroom, closing the door behind her. I turned on the TV and got my laptop started, but then it occurred to me that it was a good time to go to the store for a couple items I’d forgotten to pick up on my way back to the apartment. Tina’s hour of solitude had just begun a matter of minutes ago, so I deemed it prudent and not invasive to check and see if she wanted anything before I went.

I could hear her excessively noisy tower fan grinding away as I approached the door. Slip Knot was playing. I recognized the song. There was a scrunchie hanging from the doorknob. I tried to give it a turn, but it was locked. Perhaps not well enough to satisfy Tina, though. Immediately, the knob twitched the other way and Tina pressed her weight against the door with a slight bang. “No!” She shouted.

“I’m just going to the store,” I said. “Wanted to make sure…”

“No!” The door jiggled but did not open.

“Well, OK,” I muttered as I retreated to get my shoes on.

At the time, nothing really amiss occurred to me. Tina was often on an emotional roller coaster and I did my best to be accommodating, understanding and comforting, when I could.

Only after the spell was broken did I question the locked door and noise-making devices. Once I’d seen what Tina was actually capable of and recalling how she’d once snuck me out from her egress bedroom window after a night together while we were “apart,” I started looking at odd scenarios like this with a more critical eye.

Many times when Tina wanted sex while her Mom was about and awake, she’d turn on that loud, dirty tower fan and sometimes her boombox, for good measure, to drown out whatever noise we might make.

I wondered, had she really needed that hour alone (when I’d been away half the day at work already) to adjust her mood, or was she hoping to get an attitude adjustment from some other company creeping through the window?

Severely advanced narcissists get a charge out of degrading their partners, sexually. Humiliating a partner gives them a sense of power and importance. A covert (or vulnerable) narcissist wouldn’t want people to be certain of what they’re doing, but they can’t help but leave hints and clues.

While we were together, thoughts like this would have been ridiculous – Impossible, even. After figuring her out, though, it was obvious. Her behavior was actually pretty transparent – once I understood it. I just hadn’t grasped how far beyond the bounds of natural human thought and emotion Tina was. Her notions were alien. That’s (partly) why I couldn’t perceive them as they were.

Tina confined herself to her noisy room for less than an hour. She emerged about 35 minutes later and the rest of the night passed in fairly typical fashion. We watched some TV together. Tina smoked some weed and had some whiskey with Diet Coke. She insisted we have sex on the futon, instead of in the bedroom. I acquiesced after hanging a sheet over the doorway to the TV room, but it was something that always made me feel uncomfortable when Maura was around, even though she was asleep in her room.

That’s something narcissists are known to do. They continually test, push and break their victims’ boundaries. It’s by design that they create a sense of trepidation in these situations and it’s also a way of asserting their dominance or ownership.

She tried pushing my boundaries the very first time we had sex, in fact. Her mom made an unexpected announcement that she was coming home to the apartment out in Buffalo, just as Tina and I were working feverishly to get each other undressed on the futon. Tina had insisted that we simply move to the bedroom and carry on. She’d just put a scrunchie on the bedroom doorknob and her mom “would know what that means,” and give us our privacy. That was not at all how I wanted to meet her mother for the first time and I convinced Tina to alight with me to a nearby hotel, instead.

As the night with the locked door went on, I got tired and went off to bed by myself. Tina stayed up crocheting. We did occasionally go to bed and sleep together, but increasingly, she was staying up by herself. I found her asleep on the futon when I got up in the morning. The sheet was still hung where I’d left it and Maura had already left for work.

The more I thought about that night, the more certain I became that she’d snuck someone in to fuck “right under my nose.” She’d certainly done it before in my van. I’d noticed towards the end that more and more, Tina liked to take risks, too. She wanted to have sex with me on on a playground. She wanted to get completely naked and bent over the kitchen sink when her mom was asleep in the other room. There’d be no bedsheet hiding that act. With considerable effort, I moved her out of the kitchen, that time. She’d told me about the time (supposedly when we were on one of our many “breaks”) that she had sex with Doug in Scott’s barn while Doug’s fiance, Olivia was sleeping right outside the door in a tent. She’d have been expecting Doug to come back to snuggle up with her, no doubt. Tina wanted to be in situations where she could be caught. That time behind the locked door, complete with scrunchie on the knob, was certainly one more such depraved episode.

Related reading: The Stages of Narcissistic Sexual Abuse

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