names have been omitted in this post
I gently pick up the bundle of bright green stems off the tan leather seat and exit the SUV. Slamming the door shut and clicking the key fob the doors lock and I turn to see my daughter's small hand reaching out for mine. I slip my hand in hers and my son joins me as we walk along the December grass... our vision colliding with wreaths gracing burial plots... spots of Christmas red, metallics and ribbon adorning them.
Pockets of dry leaves crunch under our feet like a rhythmic marching band of three.
We walk in silence.
There under the giant tree is the spot.
The three of us stand there fixed to the spot, silent…
huddled together in the cold wind…
freezing, despite the sun beaming down…
It had been five years.
Five years and no marker.
names have been omitted
My phone ringing on my bedside table…
Groggy, I answer. It's my dad telling me to go to the front door. Confused... was I dreaming? It was almost midnight. Nudging my husband beside me in bed to wake up... "Wake up! Mom and dad are at the door, I don't know what's going on." Stumbling... bare feet on carpet then hardwood. Throwing on a turquoise terry robe over pajamas. Sticking dirty fogged over contacts in my eyes quickly. Headed to the front door, him following close behind me. Opening it. Parents huddled on the front porch. My mother's forlorn expression...
The news that she had died.
"No, Mommy, no… " I gasped.
I hadn't uttered "Mommy" in two decades.
Shock. No. No. No. NO! Denial.
Pinch me. This can't be real. Shaking... make. it. stop.
Physically shaking... like I have a cold, my are teeth chattering.
Talking to one of the officers on the scene… there was a video of the altercation between my sister and her boyfriend outside the gas station… minutes before he gunned the truck and sped off onto the highway… right into an SUV head on. His truck had burst into flames trapping my sister. Someone managed to pull him out but not her… not her... why not her? Why him? It infuriated me. It made me see red. When he died the following morning I didn't care… in my hurting heart that next morning I saw justice of some sort.
All the hell that had happened… his abuse toward her… six years of hell… her bruises… my talking with her, my pleading with her to leave him… the strained phone calls… she died because of him… because he chose to drink too much and get behind the wheel… I wondered if she had been yelling at him… if the altercation was her attempting to get his keys from him.
The officer on the scene uttered phrases no one wants to hear... the words "toxicology report" and "dental records"... infiltrated my mind and made it scream to please wake up… going to the funeral home to choose a coffin… the flowers, white gladiolus, the card… tears, sobs… heaving shoulders, the kind of drippy runny nose that won't stop... wet upper lips... Kleenex. Lots of Kleenex.
the nightmares began… and then more nightmares…
THIS IS THE REALITY
OF A LOSS
FROM A DRUNK DRIVER
My mother's birthday… now my sister's burial day despite her protestations…
my vocal outrage…how insensitive… how un-empathetic… how horrible…
met with my father's indifference, coldness and detachment.
My complete and utter disgust at him…
How is this possible? How can someone behave this way?
Questions… questions… questions… racing thoughts…
wracking my brain for answers…
"Personality disorder" the therapist told me like she was telling me the weather.
Everything began clicking and the answers I'd needed
for the whole length of a childhood.
The answers stared me down. It was a mute point.
Answers that came too late…it was all too little too late.
I sat across from her sobbing in the midst of stark reality.
Dismal gray day, rain in the forecast…
her dismal gray coffin that matched the sky….
Hymn of Promise by Natalie Sleeth…
birds chirping and suddenly taking flight overhead as the service came to an end…
I wanted to sit there all day and into the night with her…
I didn't want to leave.
But I got snapped at like a child to get in the car…
"Let's go!" came the angry words.
I had never seen my mother look so frail.
My heart ached for her.
For my sister, the horror of it all…
it ached for all of us.
I got in the limo and looked back at the coffin…
thinking this must be just a nightmare.
I would wake up….
Our couch at home, I took up residency on it… masses of crumpled tissues did too… pajamas… dirty hair, dirty sweatshirt… month by month... seasons changed from winter to spring... staring listlessly as The Today Show airs and Matt Lauer babbles on about crap that doesn't even matter… why were they so happy, anyway?… feeling no motivation… I notice a "Life Is Good" t-shirt magazine ad and want to scream and cry "Like hell!"… grabbing the remote control, flipping, flipping, flipping channels… nap after nap… I change from pajamas to jeans to pick up my kids from school… homework… dinner… bed… tomorrow... next week… repeat of this depression….
repeat tomorrow and the next day and the next…
Repeat of this cycle I want off and yet don't know how to remove myself from….
nightmares… more nightmares… make. them. stop.
riding in the car was debilitating and sent me into a panic
"panic disorder" my therapist told me
Reaching out… angry and sad… crying out for God.
It was like that song… it was like He went off for a cigarette break…
and was off the job… like He wasn't watching out for her.
Why? Why? Why?
Where were You when everything was falling apart?
Needing comfort. Needing strength.
Needing something or someone good to believe in.
No one tells you grief is so exhausting, that it's comparable to a full time job... tiny steps, zig zagging through the stages of grief… therapy… talking about a loss helps so much as it helps propel you in healing… growing stronger… and as you muddle through the grief the "Why? Why did this happen?" nags at you like a hangnail or snagged sweater… trying to wrack our brain and figure out why God allowed this destruction to happen can drive us crazy. It's chasing something that we never can catch. This chase never ends well, it simply keeps us running in circles… like a little terrier after his tail, fraught in the circle of dissatisfaction. At some point we have to stop chasing and simply stand still… trust Him to bring beauty out of ashes, out of hurt, pain, loss and destruction.
keep. pressing. on.
Little reminders of my sister are always bittersweet... hearing her name always gives me pause... wishing for one more day... one more moment... yet thankful for having the time I had…I think of her every day and I'm so thankful the last words I told her were "I love you". I'm so thankful for God.
He was there all along.
names have been omitted in this post
Wearing brown boots standing in the bright green grass beside the spot that is hers… with two little ones huddled beside me… an unmarked spot… and yet she's there… the unmarked spot my father still hasn't placed her name on…. her unmarked spot that bears no sign of someone there except for our little bundle of flowers from the store.
The first words he spat toward her
once buried were:
"Well, you won't be causing anymore trouble!"
The unmarked spot that is his daughter...
brought here at the hands and wheels of a drunk driver.
Unmarked spot that to others may appear to be empty,
to hold no significance… yet it's the spot I visit her…
it's a spot of grief, loss and also... eternal hope.
One day I will see her again.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
It was the day after Thanksgiving… Black Friday… Target was packed with zealous shoppers… my daughter and I weren't there to score any flat screens, laptops or cameras… no deals, just the ingredients to make spaghetti for dinner that night. As I perused spaghetti sauces in search of the one I wanted my daughter waited patiently beside me in her jean jacket that matched mine and cowgirl boots. I was keenly aware of a couple nearby shopping as well. It was then that the woman's distinct voice caught my full attention…
"No, I'm not COOKING tonight! I'm eating leftovers. I cooked all day yesterday and now you want me to make another meal tonight?!" She exclaimed as she pushed an empty red shopping cart ahead of her with indignant frustration, running her hands through her medium length hair… she wore leggings and a lightweight gray jacket over a workout top.
It could be viewed as a classic "couple who has been married awhile argument" I surmised. In response to her outrage I heard him mumble something in return wearing jeans and a fleece jacket, his voice low and his words indistinguishable. I dared to look over at him with a wary look mixed with the thought of: "Dude, really?" wondering why on earth he'd risked asking her to prepare another meal after she had spent the majority of her previous day cooking Thanksgiving. True, she had responded harshly… her response certainly could have been softened… the exchange between them reminded me of how we often all get stuck in non-productive patterns in our relationships without maybe even realizing it.
I wondered how pleasantly different that entire exchange would have ended if he had offered to make the meal… acknowledging her hard work the day before, giving her arm an affectionate squeeze and offering to prepare them an Italian dinner for two. What if he had prompted her to go check out the DVD's and choose something for them to watch? What if instead of her coming back with an indignant, prideful, defensive etc response of how hard she had worked the previous day in the kitchen she had acknowledged he wasn't really wanting leftovers and offering a compromise of some sort? Maybe they could pick up Italian to go so no one had to cook. There were so many alternatives to what happened… instead of them walking away in huffy silence… her ahead and him trailing a couple feet behind like a scolded child.
3 Tips For Couples:
1. Show Appreciation For Your Spouse
It's so important to show appreciation for the one you're with. Like the scenario above, in some homes the wife does all the cooking, in others it's the husband… and in some household's both spouses work together on preparing the meals. But regardless of who is doing the cooking it's imperative that spouses thank each other for all the hard work they go to. If one person spent the day cooking the respectful thing to do is to offer to load the dishwasher or at the very least offer to help them clean up. When we speak words of life and or show our appreciation through our actions it shows our spouse what they are doing to contribute is not going by unnoticed.
2. Determine Your Expectations
We need to take the time to determine exactly what our expectations are in relation to balancing work, family, hobbies, household chores, even how we plan to handle our finances. If we aren't certain what our expectations are we can write down the various categories and look at them with a realistic view. It's imperative to see where we match up with our spouse and where we find ourselves possibly at odds with one another… how can we bridge that gap and try to find compromise? When we focus on the positivity of the areas we are in agreement in and then work as a team to find solutions to the rest we can stand in victory together.
3. Speak Up
When we take the time to tell our spouse what we want or need we are using our speech instead of silently sulking that "they never help us" etc. It's when we say "Hey, we need to do x,y,z… which item would you like to handle?" we are engaging in teamwork… not taking the role of a parent or martyr who later proclaims they "do it all", bemoaning up on a pedestal, only serving to guilt trip those around them yet actually spurring zero change in the dynamic at hand. Instead we can choose to give our relationship life, to speak up, encourage one another, say what is on our mind, ask for help and work together to find solutions.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
One of the most, if not the most viewed posts I've written is: Is He A Narcissistic Sociopath? 20 Signs That post has had so many views I find myself cringing if this is not a reflection of where the world is… leaving me to bewilderingly wonder if indeed narcissistic sociopaths are becoming the majority and those who are high on empathy are being emotionally annihilated faster than we can all count to twenty. But… joking aside, this post is an important one.
The other day as I was replying to a few comments on that post I typed in so many words that… "narcissistic sociopaths cannot be helped, that they cannot change". Since that time I've felt a tugging conviction and I believe that is where this post is coming from. Some may not like this post… but I believe this is something that needs to be said.
What I typed needs clarification.
A person may not be able to help a narcissistic sociopath change.
A therapist may not be able to help a narcissistic sociopath change.
But someone can help them.
If God cannot help a narcissistic sociopath change, if He cannot help he or she in ways that only He can… if He cannot SAVE them… then how on earth can He help us either?
It would be putting a limit on God saying He cannot help a narcissistic sociopath.
My saying "Joe" or "Susie Q" etc or "a highly qualified therapist" cannot help a narcissistic sociopath may certainly hold true… however, God being incapable to help he or she who is broken?... I cannot say that. That's the difference. This is a post that has been a long time coming and in that I don't want any reader to believe for a minute that the tortuous pain, grief and manipulation they have been through… many of them years on end (myself included) is okay, permissible, etc… because it'snot okay. I believe in distance, "no contact" and setting boundaries between a narcissistic sociopath and their target… it is essential for health and healing. At the same time… it is worth writing this post to point out that at no time can we say God can not save a narcissistic sociopath… that is entirely up to Him.
Narcissistic behavior is the stark polar opposite of the Christian faith… it only stands to reason to believe that when their core traits are those of manipulation, lying, image seeking, supply to feed themselves, etc that they won't go to God and admit their brokenness, their faults, failures, sin. Whereas the Christian faith is one of repentance… crying out to God seeking Him, His grace, favor, His forgiveness because we know we need it.
As children we may go through hurts, loss, pain and dysfunction as we live under the same roof of our families. We may endure horrific physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissistic parent… some flee from their childhood homes unscathed minus many or a few scars and some unfortunately end up modeling after their narcissistic parent… embodying what they grew up with… they are sadly never able to seemingly find that acceptance, that love, that peace that they so desperately desired growing up… leading them to feeling inadequate, unlovable, abandoned. Whereas others may have found eventual healing from within from the unconditional love of Jesus… a wounded child with a broken heart that grows into a narcissistic adult may struggle believing that Christ truly loves he or she. But it's true… He loves and He wants to heal you… He didn't sit down and draw straws on who He was going to die for… the narcissist, a sinner, a broken individual is included.
New International Version
"The King will reply,
'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
Being a Christian is reflecting God's love for others… even when they are less than lovely… when we walk a path of care and let God's love pour out abundantly without restrictions, without limitations, without a choosing of who to give it to… this true love comes from God. Knowing Christ died for us on the cross long ago… way before we were even the apple of our mother's eye enables us to express love, mercy and prayer to others regardless of our all-human fickle feelings and our wondering if it will be returned. We can remember we don't have to get worked up about what the "other person"aka the narcissistic sociopath (or anyone, really) is going to do, what they are thinking, etc… we can just extend love even if it's from a distance.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may abound more and more…
In going to God and praying for a narcissistic sociopath we can humbly relay our concerns about the individuals behavior, about the damage they have done…. and then let it rest… trust that He will take care of it as He sees fit… we must not boss God around and state that He must get this person under control (!) tempting as that may be… (guilty here on a few occasions in the depths of frustration). He doesn't take orders from us whether our life is all sweet as pie at the moment or down in the dumps. But He does want us to pray… which we can do… pray to Him about what is causing us pain, what the person has done to hurt us or inflict chaos… we can go to Him and ask for comfort which He will readily give us… after that, the rest is up to Him.
Anyone who has lived a life either under the iron clad grasp of a narcissistic parent or has been married to one… even worked for one, etc… knows firsthand that life with them isn't easy… stress, anxiety, walking on eggshells, abuse and tears are rampant… and support is needed… at minimum distance or preferably "no contact" is needed and affirmation that you are not alone as well… that's why I've written so many posts on divorce, co-parenting and child custody related to narcissistic sociopaths… because knowing you're not alone is the very first step toward recovery from these toxic relationships… not to mention sharing the red flags of their manipulation we can hopefully prevent many other's become unwitting targets by becoming educated about the behavior. But in the pain we've experienced from a narcissistic sociopath (personality disordered individual) … when we go to God and ask for comfort, when we ask for help, when we ask for Him to wipe away our tears… let's also humbly pray to God not just for the oppressed... but for our oppressors.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014