How the End Began

How the End Began

Tractors and How the End Began


I want to share with you the beginning of the end. This is the tractor letter; how the end began.

The intention was to set a boundary, to discover myself. She responded with narcissistic rage that spelled the end. And what was the end?

It was a boundary. It is how the end of a relationship with a narcissistic begins. A boundary.


The End Starts with a Boundary

Boundaries are an interesting topic for those of us who have suffered from narcissistic abuse; we tend not to have any. I set a boundary with the tractor letter, but I want to tell you a little more before I let you read it.

See, I said she spent more time with her horses in a day than she spent with me in a week. Everything I did around the homestead subsidized her horse habit, and I was tired of doing it. She took that to mean that I wanted her to give up horses; as a Trojan horse, she offered to do so. Never take a narcissist at her word. She won’t give up something that gives her supply; she’d rather give me up, which she did with much less pain than she ever felt after the death of one of her horses.

I’ve tried remembering what she said regarding the letter, what made her mad? I bet she gaslit me because I don’t remember her responses. I remember the rage. I have copies of bombastic (and worse) text messages that, maybe someday I’ll read.

The irony is I didn’t read her texts in real-time, this outpouring about how I rejected her and failed at love; I just tried to get her to keep writing. Keep putting her true self (which is in a narcissistic tantrum) out there. Every once in a while, I said, “It’s ok, I love you,” or something equally banal. The abuse kept flowing.

I was reading a marriage book better than most. It described arguments as full of cortisol and not worth talking about while you are angry because you don’t hear what someone says when you are mad. It was an important book for me because it introduced the idea of how differently we behave when we have cortisol coursing through our system. It shunts blood away from our neocortex, so we don’t think well. And literally, we cannot hear and understand what someone says when we are under cortisol’s influence.

I was living with chronic cortisol because of the abuse. My body told me the score. IBS and more.

Reading the letter now, I know it is my intuition screaming at me. I had a hard time listening to it. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t place it. I thought it was burnout. But why did it get worse after retirement? It was like trying to see water; I’m the fish of my upbringing, raised and expecting water to always be around me. Water is love.

I felt invisible in my own home; I told her that I don’t think she loves me.


My Intuition

My intuition was right. I was invisible in my own home.

The story I’m telling myself is that I’m the coffee maker on the shelf when she doesn’t want coffee. If your coffee maker tapped you on the shoulder, how would you respond? You put it away for the day, up on the shelf, far, far away. My life is being that unwanted coffee maker set away on the shelf.

She never loved me, but the love-bombing and intermittent reinforcement was enough to cement the trauma bond. Pull the jackpot handle for breadcrumbs of affection; in your mind, affirmation of existence was enough.

Narcissists don’t love. They abuse you because that’s the way they feel about themselves. The abuse shields the shame deep at their core. They are scared to look inside and do anything to avoid seeing their reflection, their shadow archetype, their true inner self. Some say that narcissists love immaturely, like a two-year-old or six-year-old (depending on when their ego broke and split from normal attachment development).  Love so wrapped up in fear that it is fear alone.

The opposite of fear is love. Their broken self-core is just that; love is not possible—just Fear.


My Part

And my part. Emotionally immature full of shame and self-loathing.

A narcissistic marriage is bilaterally loveless. My part is realizing that this is intergenerational trauma, and I have work to do to be the not unhealthy one for my kids.

Anyway, here is the tractor letter and how the end began.


How the End Began


The Tractor, Reciprocity, and Setting Boundaries


My Dearest Wife,

When we discussed the tractor yesterday, I told you something was not sitting right with me and that I’d have to think more about it. Indeed, I went so far as to say that I felt like I was subsidizing your horse habit, but that didn’t quite represent what is truly going on in my heart and soul.

Today, on my morning walk, I thought about it, and while there is room for discussion and my mind is not fixed on any particular outcome, I concluded that I must abduct. Therefore, I am giving the responsibilities of the tractor to you.

Please don’t be mad, please don’t be upset; at least hear me out for a second.

The tractor makes me feel like a failure.

Mowing the weeds in the pasture makes me feel like a failure.

Doing the arena for you to ride your horses makes me feel like a failure.


I don’t know where to start. I guess I’ll say (your narcissistic friend) does the tractoring at her place, and I doubt (his narcissistic wife) calls (her successful husband) when tractoring is needed.

I cannot take care of the tractor. It makes me feel like a failure. I have spent days looking through message boards about what is wrong with it, looking for parts at Napa, and trying to fix things about which I have no idea. There were wasted days when I felt bad about myself. That I couldn’t fix it confirmed in my head that I am bad. I know you don’t understand that, but please know it is real and affects me and wrecks my day. So many days over the last 15 years have been lost to the tractor. Enough.

The tractor is not fun for me. It doesn’t come naturally and is not something I want to do.

In learning about boundaries, I now understand that this is a boundary that I need to set for my self-esteem and to prevent feeling like a failure in the future.

You don’t ask me to work on the truck or horse trailer; why is the tractor different?

I asked you yesterday what I got in return since I had this idea that I was “subsidizing” your habit by doing this for you. I know it is cruel to suggest that we have a tit-for-tat relationship and that everything must be reciprocated. That’s not the way marriage works. I know that.

When you replied with the {issue you gaslighted me about most}, I nearly lost my shit.

You have beaten me over the head (or let me get really dramatic and say that you stabbed me with a rusty knife in my back) so many times with how it represents failure, abandonment, and poor behavior on my part that I honestly wanted to cry. Yes, in moments of calm, you have said that it is not a big deal, and yesterday you said it was you, not me.

But it reminded me of offering a dog a whip used to beat it as a chew toy.

I want to do things that please you and make your life easier. I want to give you gifts and encourage your dreams. But not at the cost of my soul. And that you would offer this divisive topic as proof of how you support me in such circumstances hurt me. I’m over it, don’t worry, but it hurt. (And I forgive you, not that you need to be forgiven for it because I’m sure it didn’t even register as an issue for you.)

Next, slightly beside the point, I don’t want you jumping high; now you know why. I think jumping that high is reckless, and you are selfish to do it as a mother of young children.

Right, please don’t get mad! It is a stupid, evil, mean-spirited thought that I have in my head, but nonetheless, it is in there. And I want to share everything with you. If I hold back these thoughts, it can lead to resentment and anger. You are too wonderful to deal with an angry spouse. So I will get this off my chest now and, hopefully, prevent resentment and anger.

Yet, Jung says the most important thing to show our children is that we live our lives fully and push our limits.

I thought about you (not me) when I put Jung up on our fridge. I always think about you when I put stuff on our fridge because you know that there would be nothing on there if it were up to me. Life begins outside your comfort zone.

The Jung quote supports you doing as much jumping as your heart desires. I know your passion for horses, which became horse jumping.

And I know you are more likely to die driving to a horse show than on your horse. But still, sharks, lightning, airplanes, snakes—people are scared of all sorts of irrational things.

And I’m scared that you will die riding your horse over high jumps and leave me as a widow to raise our beautiful children alone. It breaks my heart.

So, there it is. There is a contradiction here and a selfish desire of mine, and these are enmeshed in the difficult twin topics of 1) horse shows and 2) self-centeredness.


It is selfish of me to want you to jump less so that you spend more time with your family and me.

Clearly, I have resented you in the past for the amount of time you give to your hobby. I’m sorry. That is a failure of mine, but I’m going to own it, and I will try and forgive myself that I was such an asshole to you before. I hope you can forgive me, too. Someday.

And yes, I think that you giving so much time, thought, emotion, and energy to your hobbies represents self-centeredness. That is horrible of me to say, but it is there. I’m sorry. And I haven’t flushed out my thinking on this difficult topic. Likely, you are not self-centered; but why do I think you are? What error in thinking am I suffering? I will work on figuring it out.

But I think about the heartbreak of {your last failed hobby} and how difficult that was on you (let alone on your family) and then how much the asynchrony with {even more expensive more recent failed hobby} affected you (which the kids and I all felt, too). You were sad, frustrated, and emotionally distant for a couple of months because of what was going on—one reason this summer turned sour.

I wasn’t planning on writing about these things, and I can only imagine how mad you are at me right now. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. If I’m coming across as mean-spirited, then I am sorry; that is not my desire. But if I don’t say it, it will fester and lead to anger. Anger management is my next topic of self-acceptance and -compassion, and perhaps talking prophylactically about difficult topics is part of the process.

Because, honestly, the other side of the coin is that I want you to live your dreams. I think you can agree that no one else in this world has supported you and your dreams as much as I have. We live here because of your dreams. We have horses because of your dreams. We plan trips (or at least you do) and whole seasons around your dreams. Sometimes it seems like the world around here revolves around your dreams, and that is where the self-centered impression fits. Because you are a mother. Because you are a wife. Because you have to take better care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual self. Because you work so hard.

[Rural] people value hard work. Work equals love. I don’t value hard work. I value working smart and delegation and protecting my time so that I’m not overwhelmed by the world.

And because of your dreams, we have a tractor.


I am giving you the tractor and all of its duties and maintenance. I don’t want to hear about how bad the weeds are in the pasture because when you mention it, it is as if you are saying, “you suck at taking care of this place.” I don’t want to hear about how this place is run down. If you think it is run down, do something about it rather than complain.

Taking care of the tractor is part of your dream, just like the truck and trailer are. The only thing the tractor gives me is shame and cut fingers.


OMG. I am sorry for this verbal diarrhea that I have subjected you to. You think by talking; I think by writing.

One of the ways I work through my shame (and wind up as a better husband, father, and person) is to set boundaries and stop doing things that don’t bring me joy. I am NOT bad! I am a good person, husband, and father.

The tractor does not bring me joy. So I am done with it.

And just like with the [other shame generator she gaslighted me about], being done with it brings instant emotional and psychological relief. Like a weight has been lifted off my soul, I can breathe better now. Life is less bleak. The glass is a little fuller.

I hope that by taking this weight off my soul, I haven’t said something foolish or hurt you. That is not my intent. I’m sure there are many things that you could take in this letter and find mean-spirited, but please understand that my intentions are good. Please interpret in the best possible light rather than proof that I am, yet again, a failure and an asshole. I am a failure and an asshole, but I recognize it now; I am trying to be self-compassionate about it and forgive myself. And. I’m. Trying. To. Do. Better.

And I love you more than anything. Life is  you.

I want you to live and pursue your passions and dreams fully. I’m sure you want the same for me; I am giving up the tractor.




Tractors and How the End Began

That’s how the letter ended. Tractors and how the end began with my narcissist. Her obligation is for me to provide her unconditional love (which means I stay around for another heaping of abuse),

Me, obligated to serve her sinking ship. And the next one that sank, too, and the next one. My marriage to a narcissist. A narcissist is a sinking ship. How many times will it sink while you tie yourself to the mast?

High-conflict spouses. Cluster B personality disorders. The Tractor, Reciprocity, and Setting Boundaries. There is so much for us to learn. I want to share with you the beginning of the end. This is the tractor letter which is how the end began.


Posted in Financial Independence.