Reflections on My Time as Supply

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I Bargained with Life for a Penny

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.

~Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869–1948)

When I first read this poem, I realized that not only did it describe my life in general up to that point, but especially my marriage to a Narcissist.  I spent a whole day reflecting on its words when it finally came to me…

What I got from the Narcissist was what I’d bargained for…

Not to say I deserved the abuse.  No one deserves that. But, the reality is that I did enable him to continue his unacceptable behaviors.  I bargained for a penny when I accepted crumbs from the relationship.  I worked and toiled for our marriage while he contributed the equivalent of one cent.  Yet, I “begged at evening, counting my scanting store” as I acknowledged this imbalance, yet didn’t do anything to resolve it.  Sure, I may have asked for equality, for respect, for love…but in the end, I accepted less than what I wanted and deserved – in ways that included the following:

  • I didn’t establish healthy boundaries from the beginning, while I toed the line on the boundaries he set
  • Though I was often angry at the injustice of my treatment, there weren’t any consequences for his behaviors because I always forgave him
  • I’d often cover up the things he said and did.  I acknowledged his behaviors as selfish, but I was embarrassed for others to know that I was devaluing myself by accepting them
  • I always caved into his demands after his silent treatments when he would be gone for sometimes weeks at the time
  • I didn’t leave when evidence proved the relationship was toxic and he wouldn’t change. (I kept engaging in magical thinking)
  • The time we separated, I went crawling back to him and begged him to come back.  I didn’t know at the time that I was brainwashed and trauma bonded.  In his mind, that meant I was willing to accept whatever behaviors he took part in…and I did

The Conditioning

Looking back, it’s easy to see what patterns kept repeating in the relationship.  He made me feel devalued, worthless, and that no one else could possibly want me with all of my so-called “unacceptable flaws”.  And I subconsciously accepted this as truth.  Not willfully, of course.  It was due to his persistent and calculated planting of the seeds of doubt and humiliation.  He carefully tended the sprouts of my fading self-esteem and lowered confidence until finally, he was rewarded with a harvest of my full-blown self-denial and sense of worthlessness.

The Bargaining

By the time I’d reached the above-referenced point, my thoughts and motivations were mostly beyond my control because I’d been conditioned and psychologically manipulated .  However, I’d contributed to that state-of-being by sweeping his crimes under the rug in hopes that he would finally love me in the way I wanted.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was bargaining for a penny.  I exchanged my worth for his.

The Small Print

We all have our own reasons for deferring ourselves in order to gain love from someone.  However, if I’d been more aware of the economy of love, I’d have insisted on a more equal supply and demand.  Instead, I devalued my own worth so his could be inflated…

If you are in a one-sided relationship where you are taking part in these same behaviors, you, too, are bargaining for a penny.  The “wages” of love should not keep you in the red.

Copyright © 2015  Kim Saeed.  All Rights Reserved.

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Mary says January 24, 2015

I bargained for a penny.
I got a crumb every once in awhile.
I got hot and cold.
I got empty promises.
I got lies and deceit.
I got a song you played for me that said you loved me.
And wanted to put your heart on the table. For me. For us.
Little did I know that I was dealing with a black mamba.
A snake that was just like the one in the Garden.
Slithering through my soul.
I was just a woman.
No better than a rat you would devour for dinner.
Why won’t you just get out of my heart, my soul, my brain?
Why am I tortured like this?
God will help me-the Universe, my Spirit Guides gave me the dreams that said NO!
Don’t go there….
He will leave you to die a cruel death.
And he did.
Like the Phoenix-I built my funeral pyre, and dove headfirst and died-
Only to be reborn.
Wounded but alive, I still have my heart and soul intact-i am not like you
I will love again.

Holistic Wayfarer says April 1, 2014

I thoroughly appreciate your willingness to examine and own the ways you’ve needed to grow. BRAVO. And yes, boundaries are key in all relationship dysfunctions. There is also the cycle we all play out from our own upbringing and what we imbibed from our parents.


    Kim Saeed says April 1, 2014

    Yes, HW…I believe it’s called generational conditioning? Our parents raised us in the way their parents raised them and so on…and along with that came all the fears and shame, passed down through the generations.

    I read your “about” page and was piqued by your statement of reaching spiritual gestation at the age of 40. Perhaps that’s what’s happening to me…there is a definite shift happening, and I do hope to release all of those limiting beliefs I internalized throughout my lifetime.

    Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂


      Holistic Wayfarer says April 1, 2014

      Appreciate the articulate input. =) I’m excited for you. Thanks for the follow. You’ve joined a special community. I’d love to keep abreast, see how things unfold for you.


        Kim Saeed says April 1, 2014

        That would be delightful 🙂


kristalluvdbygod says March 30, 2014

Wonderful post, beautiful insight on how we become ‘brainwashed’. Still struggling with that, grieving the loss.

    Kim Saeed says March 31, 2014

    Thank you for sharing. I think the grieving is the hardest thing to overcome…

Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

Beth, you are correct; I get a lot of feedback from people who met their N-partner in high school or in young adulthood. It’s very hard, especially if the victim is a woman and didn’t gain any skills to where she might go out and find suitable employment that would support herself and her children…

It’s really quite sad, because even with all the wonderful help that the Domestic Violence centers provide with transitional housing and such, those dwellings are normally in less-than-desirable locations, so the environment is still not conducive to a higher sense of self-esteem, etc. So unless there are family or friends willing to take the woman and her children in, she is faced with a very difficult decision…though I know a lot of women who choose help from the DV centers because at least then, she and her children won’t be emotionally/physically abused any more…

Thank you for your comment 🙂

bethbyrnes says March 30, 2014

Most of us chose this kind of relationship when quite young and naive. How could you possibly know at that point, what you were getting yourself into? I think the brainwashing is key — you don’t get out, especially if children are involved — because you are convinced by the other, that the problem is you. So, you think, wrongly, I have to change myself and then he will find me acceptable. Because abusive people choose partners in whom they perceive self-doubt, and then nurture that self-doubt slowly and systematically. By the time you realize (if ever) what is happening, you have already invested a great deal in that person and it is hard to admit you wasted your time. You have helped people here, by laying all this out. Thank you!

Carrie Reimer says March 30, 2014

Kim, very good points. I used to always say to JC that I didn’t do anything to deserve the way he treated me and that he didn’t respect me.
It wasn’t until after we split that I realized that I was “asking” for respect not insisting on it and I was saying I didn’t deserve to be treated that way, but he was treating me that way and I stayed, and the treatment got worse. I think it was when he came back a year after we split to tell me he always loved me, didn’t I know that, hadn’t he told me. I said it was kinda hard to feel the love with your fist coming at my face and you calling me an F’ing selfish bitch. His reply was, “Its kinda your own fault I hurt you, you kept taking me back.”
Probably the only honest thing he ever said to me.
From that point on when someone didn’t treat me with respect I told them they were being disrespectful and if it continued I have left the relationship. That goes for all relationships, family, work and a lover whenever I get one.;) I was afraid to be too demanding, afraid he’d leave me. and where did it get me? He still left and I didn’t even respect myself by that point.
Before JC I was all about respect, I don’t know how it got to where it did, like you said, I was brainwashed and I will never allow anyone to disrespect me again.

    Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

    Thank you so much for your comment, Carrie. It’s certainly a difficult lesson to learn, especially in adulthood when we’ve already invested so much time and energy into the relationship.

    As I told another commenter, I wish there were a way to get the message out to young adults about these personality types. I was 34 when I met my N-Ex, and honestly, it was a very hard lesson…learning about my codependency and always looking to others for validation.

    I entered into another relationship where I found myself doing the same things and it was like a switch was flipped and it all came to me at once…that I didn’t need outside approval. I vow to be myself and if someone doesn’t like it, then the relationship won’t survive. I realize I’m not perfect, but as Marilyn Monroe once said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

    It’s my new life motto…and as you said, it goes for everyone in my life.

StrongerSoulSurvivor says March 29, 2014

Great, insightful post! I see so much of my ex in it. I was sold a lemon (quite probably we all are, because these people rarely reveal their true, parasitic self until we are hooked) and asked for an exchange when I really should have just dumped the faulty goods earlier.

We get what we accept, we just need to find a way to resist the conditioning and trauma bond.

    Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

    Thanks, StrongerSoul! I wish the high schools would incorporate lessons on avoiding these personality types. It sure would do the world good…because otherwise, most people just don’t know these people exist. I didn’t, and I was about 34 when I met my N-Ex…

Julie says March 29, 2014

This post resonated with my own experience. Felt good to know I am not alone.

    Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

    Thanks for stopping by, Julie. Sorry you went through this, too. Are you still with this partner you refer to?

Teela Hart says March 29, 2014

This post painfully but truthfully rings true. Great post and poem.

    Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

    Thanks, Teela. I hope our posts can help others before they end up investing years of their lives that can never be regained, such as happened to us…

      Teela Hart says March 30, 2014

      So do I….

Phill Ferreira says March 29, 2014

Reblogged this on The Story of my Twin Boys , Oliver and Oscar Ferreira and commented:
Sound like my marriage on a one pager ! ……

    Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

    Phill, thanks once again for the re-blog. I am sorry that you had to endure that in addition to your boys being alienated from you…I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

      Phill Ferreira says March 30, 2014

      Thanks Kim , it’s a hard road but I am sure we will get there in the end !

        Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

        Keeping my fingers crossed for you 🙂

          Phill Ferreira says March 30, 2014

          Thank you very much 🙂

Tela says March 29, 2014

I absolutely love this post!! I read some of ‘me’ in your words!!! Great great post & poem.

    Kim Saeed says March 29, 2014

    Thanks, Tela! Yes…that poem resonated with me on many levels 🙂

    navigator1965 says March 30, 2014

    Kim, I chose to reply to Tela’s comment v. doing my own, to reinforce her enthusiasm for this superb post. Outstanding post, really loved your use of the poem as an analogy for being in a narcissistic relationship.

    Tela, couldn’t agree more–it is a great post & poem combo.

      Kim Saeed says March 30, 2014

      Thanks, Navigator! This poem is one of my favorites, and a great reminder when mapping out my life goals.

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