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“It was September 2016, I was returning from a trip to Ecuador to overcome the pain of my separation after 20 years of marriage, when my mail and my networks began to fill with eternal messages and conversations. Fernando, a newcomer to Twitter, was publishing his fourth book and before going to press he had written and dedicated four poems to me.

Today I think that this was the first warning sign, or red flag, that I did not see.

With life unarmed I became an easy target to conquer. A couple of coffees, a few nice words and some dedication, and another love story was starting. In this one I was the protagonist, the pretty girl with cornstarch thighs, as she baptized me. Fernando was the opposite of my ex-husband: he did not have a stable job, he was not handsome, nor did he have to make big decisions under stressful situations. He also had no children who demanded another way of life.

With grown children, with the position of communications director of an organization and professor at three universities, I was totally in control of my physical and, above all, economic autonomy, so I dared to accelerate. We formed a relationship that adapted to the times of both of us and little by little we built the love story. After two years of relationship I lost one of my jobs and had to plan my life again. We had set up our shelter in my country house, the one that I paid for alone while I shared with him the expenses of the apartment that he rented in Santiago.

Until one morning everything took a radical turn. A few days before Christmas 2018, my mother and her husband had a very serious accident on the road. I had to travel urgently and I asked Fernando to accompany me to Chiloé. While we were traveling -me at the wheel- my mother became a widower and went into a catatonic state. The originally three-day trip had no return date.

I didn’t realize it, when I was already taking charge of my mom’s life. After 12 days she was finally discharged, but she was no longer a self-reliant person. It required care, daily visits to the doctor and solving many problems. In this scenario I was no longer the autonomous woman and the conflicts began. To avoid them, that summer I ended up leaving my mother’s house in Castro and while my daughter and my mother declared war on my partner, I rented a house in Nahuiltad. This is specifically on the top of a hill in Chonchi, 25 kilometers away from where my mother lives. In all that time, that Fernando stayed with me away from everything and everyone, I felt that he had to equate; More than being grateful, she felt that she owed him something. But as a friend would say some time later: “he had nothing to lose, no job. And you were the applause of him insured ”.

Raised under strict discipline I kept doing what I had to do. Every day I drove the 25 kilometers round trip to my mother’s and found a job as a journalist for an important event that gave me lights of a glorious future on the big island. But the event passed, my mother did not start with the duel and my finances collapsed. I made some websites, a couple of digital communication consultancies and I spent all my savings during that year without a stable job.

According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissism is “a mental disorder in which people have an inordinate sense of self-importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, conflicted relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” was enough google To realize. But no, I had to listen to Fernando complain because nothing was up to him. To say that no one would hire a Master in Musicology for a job on the Island, but the truth is that he never even approached a school or artistic groups and the Fondarts were not for him, because he was uncomfortable playing by the rules of the system.

While he exercised an hour a day on a bicycle, practiced the guitar for an hour a day, read and worked on his personal projects, I invented the wheel to generate money. I got a remote job with China, I advised a local company on internal communications and when the summer was over the pandemic arrived. Then the university classes returned, telecommuting began and Santiago was no longer far away. My life was back to what it was before. Or at least that was what I thought.

With money in my pocket again, I was able to start fixing the financial situation I was dragging on. That’s where other problems began: one night in the middle of an argument he started with sick jealousy, when he accused me of having a relationship with whom he did some freelance work in Chiloé. The argument got louder and he locked the door to the house and hid her. Me holding the keys to my truck so he wouldn’t take them, I locked myself in the bedroom. The next day the apologies and the overdoses of love would come, with a marriage request included.

Our debacle began.

I told my best friend, who had been home that summer, about what had happened. Then he told me that during a breakfast in which I was away for two hours doing a zoom with my client from China, Fernando had asked him to talk to me because he was sure that the two people I worked with were only doing it because they wanted to have a relationship with me. By the way, he asked her to open my eyes so that I realized that she was being manipulated by my mother and my daughter, and it was not good for me to be around them. She stopped him without being direct. Then we laughed about it, thinking about how irresistible I was to conquer someone who lived in China, but with the warning that they sowed distrust of my female clan.

As usual I kept going and again missed the red flags. I started the Rize on the bedside table and I began to have explosive vomiting that led me to face two endoscopies with perfect gastroenterological results. So, Fernando did the best he could do for me in those 4 years of relationship. He told me to go to a psychologist, because if he wasn’t able to control my reactions, we couldn’t save the situation as a couple. It was only then, with that therapeutic process, that I was able to begin to see what I was experiencing.

The culprit was me, my lack of impulse control, my mother’s dependence on me, and my bourgeois penchant for working for pay. The days of violent silence in which he did not speak to me or the constant criticism he had towards my profession, seemed not to fit in the balance of emotions.

I don’t know if it was in the second or third session with the psychologist that I realized that I was in the middle of an unhealthy relationship and that getting out of it would not be easy. So I began to weave my support network away from her environment. I decided to offer communication advice to a friend of years who lives on the island and who was running for a candidate, and with this I opened the door to periodically leave the house for activities in which he did not participate. In parallel, I met a Spanish colleague who lived on the island, whom I had met online as a Master’s student, and we created a project to work on together and months later the financial anguish ended. Without a doubt, it was my escape and containment to get out of there.

The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred the night I found out that my daughter needed to be urgently evaluated by an oncologist. While I was talking to doctors and comparing tickets to travel urgently to Santiago, he entered the bedroom and only asked me if she could take care of the delivery of her recently published book, as they had negotiated. I didn’t even answer him.

I returned from the trip with all the articulated tissue, I kept the situation calm until my son went to spend his vacation with me. When he returned to Santiago, I followed him the next day. From there I told Fernando that he would not return to the house. This was in March of last year.

When I went for my things, he assured me that it was he who gave everything in the relationship, he insulted me and asked me to realize that everyone manipulated me, except him. Weeks later he deposited $500,000 with me, part of what I had lent him more than two years ago, and to this day I wonder if he had it, when I needed it so badly. A week ago I met my psychologist and in an instant of complicity I asked him if Fernando was a daffodil. He looked at me and seriously said that he was and luckily I got out of there.”

Ivette (46) is a journalist.

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