The movers arrive. It's surreal. Mountains of junk recycled and still an embarrassing amount of trash is left on the floors after everything is transferred to the truck. But the past weeks cleansed us of things we no longer needed--each garbage bag means a future with less to carry.
Husband and I work for hours into the sinking dusk. The luggage awaits our departure. As always, daughter is a bundle of conflicting emotions. Excited for adventure, sadness for leaving our community, fear for her future in a new city.
Wonderful friends, more like family, shuttle us to the airport. We are so grateful for their help, and they respond with 'we only wish we could do more.' Such a contrast to what I grew up with, when I begged for help and kindness. I used to feel intense shame when I asked for anything. Now, I accept the help with humility and a grateful heart. Love takes form in this late night ride on the 401.
Mom's genuine excitement and father's narcissistic charm wait on the other end of the flight. I'm exhausted. But the usual soul stealing doesn't happen. I listen to stories, accept hugs and happy exclamations, and ignore father's first subtle dig at my mothering skills. It won't be the last. There are half a dozen the next day, four in an hour eventually. He escalates into criticising daughter. Not to her face, only to me. She's growing up and he never holds back about how much he hates teenaged girls. He calls her manipulative and controlling without ever saying it outright. It was the same when I went from young girl who worshipped him into a teenager who questioned his toxic behaviour.
His words don't bother me. A refreshing change. I can see his tactics, they are always the same. Small digs over a long period of time. If one doesn't work, try another, and then another, until he finds the sore spot. The trigger. Only when I get angry can the gaslighting and emotional abuse truly begin.
I call Leo Best Friend. She left her husband before the pandemic and shares her latest story in the horrible process of divorcing a narcissist. Yet another dig at her character, subtle and unfounded accusations. We're outraged for each other, share a few laughs, bolster each other's spirits.
She texts something later. 'He did me a favour because it motivated me.'
My spine tingles.
Triggered in the best way possible.