I love EF. I love talking to him, I love his company. I know he also loves me. I have tons of amazing memories with him together. Memories about talking, being close, generally having a great time, and NM lurking over us, like the Sword of Damocles waiting to strike. She either tortured me or him (only verbally, of course), or she only said her usual poisonous words: "You are plotting something against me." "I know that you both hate me." "I am sure I am not welcome here."
Over decades, NM installed fear in us. The fear of talking to each other when she knows about it, the fear of vengeance and retribution.
I have been planning this for a week. I needed one week to be able to talk to him at all (there was a very ugly incident with NM two weeks ago, and he was there, staying out of it as usual, but that's a different story), and then I have got myself together and proposed having coffee somewhere in town. He accepted it.
As the day approached, I was both extremely happy, and terrified. And I was wondering whether he would be himself (his true identity), or the co-narcissistic self (where he protects NM over everything else and tries to convince me of lying down to her, so that he wouldn't get tortured by her even more).
He was himself. We had a great time together, and talked, just as we always did, when NM wasn't around. When we arrived home (remember, they are my neighbors), he reverted into his co-narcissistic self.
He told me that his situation is quite unbearable with NM, since I haven't visited for weeks, and she is punishing him for it. He tried to convince me that I "have to" be smarter than NM, meaning that I should give in. That I should talk to her "just for a few minutes" (these usually last hours). That I have to this, and have to that.
And finally, I stood up to myself, while knowing that this will result in him being in further pain (and me being in pain because NM is purposefully hurting someone I love, she knows that this is one of my buttons she can push). I have told him, that I am an adult, and there is nothing that I have to do. I can decide to do or not to do things, but I don't have to. I have also told him to stand up for himself. I have explained, that I will not tolerate anything from NM that I find unacceptable. That I am absolutely not willing to be alone with her, even not for one single minute. And I have also emphasized, that if she dares to do anything, ANYTHING to my future children, I will go NC immediately. I told him that as long as she is able to act human, I will contact her also, sometimes.
I have emphasized again that I loved him, I loved talking to him, and wished to keep in touch with him no matter what NM does.
I know, that this wasn't nearly as difficult as standing up to NM will be, but it still exhausted me emotionally. And I am proud of myself now.