names have been omitted in this post
"It's the craziest thing I've ever seen... when I get up in the morning she's playing chinese checkers. When I get home from work she's playing chinese checkers. When I go to sleep she's playing chinese checkers. I guess she plays all day. That's all she does. I think she's flipped out." My father told me.
I listened to his words and watched how convincing he could be. It really was quite unbelievable to watch. I listened as he tried oh so hard to make me believe that she really had gone off the cliff of sanity into the dark depths of instability. I stood there listening as his tone was cloaked in fake astonishment and maybe even a little bit of tsk tsk and concern for her.
I knew better. I stood there staring at him.
OH, THE GAMES A NARC PLAYS...
Inside I was indignant and angry. I knew exactly what he was doing. I knew exactly what my mother was doing. I also knew that he knew exactly what she was really doing. But I took a deep breath and put on my best face of concern...
"Oh gee... I don't know... is she depressed?"
I asked him in a seemingly helpful tone.
He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders in that way he does and spoke "I don't know..." He paused and then looked at me "I don't know, kid... I don't know what to do..." Ah, the act of a caring and concerned husband.
I called my mother and told her what he'd said. She laughed. "The den is the only place centrally located in the house where I can keep an eye on him. He's saying I'm playing chinese checkers because I've gone crazy?... What a joke. That's funny." In reality she was on to his little scheme of how he'd been sneaking community property of value out of the house bit by bit. The process of stashing stuff somewhere else was a lengthy one and not one she hadn't noticed. Items were disappearing each day. It was almost laughable how he'd tried to convince me that she had mentally flipped out. It was almost laughable how he'd tried to orchestrate an alliance with me. It was almost laughable that he actually thought I'd believe it. It was almost laughable that he tried to act like he didn't really know what she was truly doing... keeping tabs on his activities. He knew and yet he tried to use the facade of innocence to his own advantage and act like she was crazy and appeal to me. If this wasn't a classic case of crazy-making I didn't know what was.
It was just a very short time later I discovered my husband's cheating. Our marriage had been unraveling like an old worn out sweater devoid of hope. I continually felt like the floor beneath me was laced in egg shells... and if I tried to engage he would blow and just walk off. He had his nose perpetually stuck in his iphone and it never left his hand or sight... his attitude was one of indifference toward me... he acted like he was never in the wrong and I was always to blame... he stopped taking me places and his newest mantra at nine o'clock bedtime was "Because SOME OF US have to work!!!!!" when I'd try to engage in pleasant conversation. During my childhood a similar line of "Because I have to WORK!" had been emitted when attention was sought. Little did I know then that I was dealing with the same toxicity that I'd grown up with... yes, slightly different... but in the overall scheme of things very similar all the same.
HINDSIGHT IS I MARRIED WHAT I GREW UP KNOWING...
My father and husband were both workaholics... work was the very bane of their existence.... they lived and breathed it. The vices they had were specifically different even though the overall themes were the same. My father found value in what he owned... antiques, art, etc while letting everything else like home and vehicles fall into dismal disarray. Material things were image and ego enhancers that were valued above family, connection and what mattered. My ex found value in material things but instead his vices were homes complete with updates and the best of everything... cars, techie stuff and designer clothes.
Like a high dollar call girl I was dangled by my father who enjoyed the "Your daughter is so beautiful" oohs and ahhs.... which gave him supply and made me feel extremely uncomfortable in his presence where he was concerned. I felt his attraction to me overshadowed his to my mother which was a sickening thought. "You could get anybody in this town you wanted..." He told me when I was on the cusp of adulthood. "With your looks you can marry somebody with a family name here in town." He advised. When we are viewed as an object it ignores the intelligence, talents and capabilities we possess. I was rather amused that he seemed to think that's how it worked; sit still and look pretty and someone will snatch you up like a prize. What he didn't realize is that he wasn't part of that world... of "family names", country club sets, etc... he could have been but that would have required him to set aside the spending on "collections" and "stuff" and actually do something of meaning in the community... like contributing in some thoughtful way by donating something extraordinary or monetarily etc instead of squirreling everything he had away and hoarding it. I knew he was saying that with the intention of using me to make himself look better... using me to fuel the ego and image in the fantasy of me latching onto another family of higher status. I told him "I have no interest in that" and then silently took notes observing more dysfunction over the years... noticing much more than I ever let on.
HEALING FROM LOSS AND WOUNDS...
Narc parents are ill but we don't get to sign up for what we are willing to accept and live with when were children. We get what we are given and we muddle through somehow... and then finally we are grown and we get to know our parents as adults... working through those old wounds of childhood as maybe new wounds are continually inflicted... either confronting them and receiving backlash or quietly assessing how we feel with each interaction or painful neglect. Enduring abuse of all kinds perhaps even gas-lighting, projection and triangulation. And as time goes by we try.... or maybe we step back... only to try again... and each time we are cruelly disappointed. We realize that the love we are trying oh so desperately to get isn't attainable with those it should be. So then we try to quietly comfort ourselves... we give ourselves a hug and try to soothe the child within us. And it's only after we go into those deep wounds where love should have been can we come to terms with the true amount of damage incurred. It's only after we admit we were hurt and we didn't get what we needed... can we begin to rub healing balm into scars long set in.
We may believe we have to look out for ourselves... afterall, we can't expect a safety net of love, protection and comfort from those who aren't capable. So we become too self-reliant, independent, self-sufficent, etc. Whatever the term, it really translates to: "I don't lean on others because I can't trust they will truly be there for me"... because another disappointment is too much to handle. We also may see the world as a battle ground... there is always someone out to get us... because if we can't trust the one who was to be there for us (parent, spouse, etc) how we can possibly expect someone else to be? We don a permanent shield of armor to protect ourselves; what we view as insulating ourselves from being hurt, keeping others at arms length... but we don't have to. We can remind ourselves that all parents are not capable of being loving. Not all parents are capable of being who they need to be for their child. But we can break the chain of blaming oneself for not being loved. We can break the chain by expecting our parent to change... because they likely are not capable. We can break the chain by not enabling or giving excuses for their behavior like "Well, he or she tried their best" which minimizes and diminishes what we endured. We can break the chain by replacing the negative and lies we've been fed by replacing them with love and truth. Proverbs 3:5 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Or maybe we suffer from anxiety from the lack of love. If we are a tightly wound up ball of anxiety and always ready to fight or flee... living a leave 'em before they can hurt us mentality... if we are unbelieving that we will ever meet someone healthy to love and be loved by... if we are closed to the idea of others being there for us, if we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, the next storm to hit, the next lemon to land in our drink minus the sugar we will remain closed off to so much in life. That is a life not lived. We can stop projecting into the future and remind ourselves to live in the present... connect with others and share our inner light and lively spirit because staying closed off isn't healthy and going too far into the unknown future produces nail biting and nerves. When we focus on the present gift of life the world doesn't seem to loom quite so large and scary. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Or maybe anger rules our life... maybe anger keeps us in control and makes us feel better about everything we can't control... like poor circumstances either chosen or not, or other people and how they loved or didn't love us. Maybe it makes us feel not so small and vulnerable... maybe it makes us feel not so invisible... maybe it makes us feel more powerful. But anger can be used for good or bad. Specifically anger can be a tool to fuel us forward and make us better, to grow and expand our dreams... or it can be a dangerous tool that we use to mask what's really hurting underneath... what's been missing... love. Operating with anger can affect us negatively in our personal life, our jobs and personal goals. Anger can be limiting in that it can push others away and create more problems than there were initially... acknowledging the initial childhood wounds takes great courage and wisdom... realizing that there are way more productive ways to release it and kiss it goodbye... exercise, boxing, running, shooting at the gun range, etc. When we look for positive ways to address not so pretty ways we've been coping... it's a win for us and everyone else. Ecclesiastes 7:9 ESV Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
The time is now... bend down and tell your inner child that it's time to stop living with these untreated wounds, with these roles you were instructed to play, these understandably familiar but unhealthy patterns all the same. Tell yourself you are more than how you were treated whether as a child or adult... remind yourself that all the crazy-making, gas-lighting, projection that you've lived is not something you deserved, it's not something anyone should have to endure, it's not how you are meant to live. You deserve to love yourself with the love you never received.
What you are meant for is reaching for the galaxy, soaking up the world through travel, learning, art, inspiration, nature, good books, conversation and bonding with others... you are meant for being loved how you deserve and loving other's back. You are meant for standing in the sun, soaking up the aweness of life and it's beauty... you are meant for fun, for laughter, for games to be played but not ones that hurt or triangulate. You are meant for diving in oceans and wishing on stars... you are meant to create a new script... one that's healthy and sets the path for bettering the future generations of your family... you are meant to be free and not chained to a life that's restricting and dark. You are meant to be light as a feather and not burdened like stone. You are meant for light and to be one in the world.
names have been omitted in this post
I set my oversized handbag on my desk along with my car keys and stainless steel cup filled with ice water for my work day. I took a seat in the leather swivel chair and sank into the comfortable black cushion beneath me. Before me were two computer monitors, a keyboard and multiple neon sticky notes reminding me of this and that. Sticky notes are one of the best inventions ever. They must have been invented by someone with ADHD. A phone sat to my right with a rolodex, canister of pens and a stack of file folders. I loved my job but right then, that particular morning I wanted to be curled up in bed. During my divorce I had alot of adrenaline in me to keep me going but in the months after my divorce was final I crashed; I would curl up in a ball in the fetal position in my bed at home... under my Eddie Bauer white down comforter and hide from the world. Depression is such a stealth-like suck. I was in a much better place now thank God. Yet I couldn't stop thinking of the night before. Generally speaking I don't think I've cried but five times the past three years. I think I'm past having the energy for it. So when I'm overwhelmed I just stare into space thinking on on it all and feel numbness encapsulate me like a cardigan. I was functioning professionally on auto-pilot right now... smiling and saying "Good morning", nodding hello to folks as they walked by. I began putting my things away where they belonged before delving into my work for the day... telling myself to get to it... but inside I was thinking I really needed a break from life. You know... where you do nothing. Literally nothing. You lay on a beach with the sand beneath you and the sun above warming your skin and you hold a drink with something intoxicating in one hand and a water in the other for good measure so you don't get dehydrated. And you just lay there. Doing nothing. No doing. No thinking. Nothing. You are walking distance to your hotel so there's no issue of drinking and driving. All is well in the world, good and simple as a perfect shiny penny... as the blue waves roll in a few feet from your toes and the sound lulls you to sleep...
The day before had started innocently enough. My daughter, mother and I had gone shopping that afternoon... we hadn't bought anything but as always we'd had a great time. We'd picked up some tacos on the way home and after eating those for dinner we had some leftover chocolate cake from my birthday. We were discussing what to do next and see if anything interesting was on tv when I realized my ex had called for our daughter. Okay, no biggie. I asked her to call him back. But things started turning weird... she didn't want to. And it wasn't her occasional "Nah, I'm not really in the mood... I'll call him tomorrow" type of casual response. It was more like she was adamant she wasn't calling him. I asked why. She didn't give a response. Dialing the phone, I handed it to her and she relunctantly took it. He presumably answers with his usual cheery tone and then she turns and gives me a quizzical look and so I mouth "What?' at her not knowing what is going on and what he's asking her.
She shrugs her arms like she doesn't understand what he's asking her so I walk toward her and lean in to listen and hear his question. He's asking if she's used her fitbit. Whaaaat? I am so confused by now... "Where is it? It's at his house... right?" I mouth as her. She stares at me without answering. Now I feel dread inside me. Oh, no. No, no, no. I have a bad, bad, very bad sinking feeling now. My cell phone then goes dead and I stare at it... the battery had been low. Then I turn to her. "Where is it?" I ask her with an edge to my voice. "Where is the fitbit? Did you bring it here?" I ask her. She looks panicked and can't seem to get a straight answer out of her mouth. Her words are garbled.
The room is suddenly spinning.
WHAT ON EARTH WAS GOING ON?
"WHERE IS THE FITBIT???! IS IT HERE???!!" I yell.
"No, Mommy! No! I didn't bring it!!! I promise!!!"
"I want to see in your school backpack! Right now!!!"
I exclaim, bringing my volume down.
"No, no, no!!!" She cries.
I point to her room "Go get your backpack right now!
I want to see it!" I urged her.
She runs to her room decorated in turquoise and pink. She grabs the backpack and brings it into the den... unzips it and withdraws a turquoise banded fitbit. It was on and flashing. Son of a biscuit... Fear courses through me. Complete fear, followed by anger and feelings of violation. I had divorced someone who knows how to hack anything. He knows how to put gps on anything. He is by far more technologically savvy than most people. Give him anything and the man can build a computer from scratch, a tracking device to stick on your behind, maybe a time travel machine... who knows what else. She'd returned to me on Friday. It's now Sunday night. I don't know what has been in my house for the past two days... a mere innocent fitbit or a fitbit with who knows what added to it... if that's even possible...
I don't know and in that moment I really don't care.
That's beside the point.
I know I can't trust him.
You can call it paranoia... you can call it whatever you'd like but I can't trust him further than I can throw him. Those of you who have lived like this know what I'm talking about. I have told him time and time again that zero electronics from him are allowed in my home. Yet in the past three years he's sent them and attempted to. I have told him time and time again that any electronics that come into my home will be destroyed and not returned. Yet he continues to pressure her to bring them. The fitbit is confiscated out of sight and disposed of. Once I return she explains how he pressured her to do it... to bring it. Of course he did. Yet she didn't tell me she had it. She wasn't off the hook. I tell her I'm NOT putting up with her lying. ( I understand her motivation for lying was because she knew when he pressured her to bring it that she was doing something I wouldn't allow and knew it was a bad choice yet did it anyway... she knew I'd be angry... yet her lying is unacceptable even if I'm angry. ) I explain that there will be consequences for her lying to me. That she was told beforehand to not bring the fitbit to my home nor any other electronics from his house and yet she chose to disobey. I explained that his actions had consequences as well... the fitbit was not being returned. I wasn't going to let him override the boundaries I had set for my own home.... if he didn't like them, tough.
She went to bed mad but woke up the next morning understanding of her consequences. No electronics for a week for lying. She admitted she'd made a bad choice, not done what I'd asked and lied. I was able to calmly explain the situation and why I reacted so intensely... she was rational and we seemed to find mutual understanding and hugged despite the mess. But was I tired. I was so freaking tired... and just wanted him to stop. Find a hobby. Find a second job. Find something to do besides finding new ways to cause chaos and uproar. Go spend time with your wife. Go have sex. Go on a trip. Go take a hike. Go do something besides causing problems. I knew he had chosen to pressure her to bring the fitbit to merely cause issues... hoping I'd find out, balk, come down on her and then she'd become resentful at me... ultimately siding with him.
He was trying to cause division between her
and I based on his actions he'd chosen.
He was trying to thwart my authority
and get her to turn against me.
This is what he does.
I'm not insulting the man.
I'm describing him.
People have no idea that when you divorce or get discarded by a personality disordered individual that these types of scenarios as described above are commonplace.
If I had been married to a plumber or a teacher perhaps my radar of concern wouldn't be on as high alert. But personality disordered folks who are in the field of technology, narcs who are cops, who are attorneys... they always present more risk to us... as they are in the perfect positions to abuse their knowledge and the system and use it to their advantage. I was married to someone technologically savvy. I know his abilities are far more advanced than the average Joe. And I know I can't trust him. That creates a potentially dangerous combination. To back down on the fitbit would have been sending my daughter the wrong message. I explained to her that I wasn't against her having a fitbit... that wasn't the issue at all... and before she had made her poor choice to bring it, along with lying to me, I likely would have purchased her one for Christmas to use at my house. But in light of the choices she'd made that wasn't going to happen now. I explained that my issue was her bringing something from his home electronically into mine... that I had my reasons why that made me uncomfortable... and I needed her to respect and trust that decision. She understood. She didn't necessarily like it and I agreed she didn't have to like it. But she understood.
We need to take the time to explain to our children about boundaries and that even though they may not understand the whole picture or our personal reasons for setting them that there is a reason and they are out of love and protection not meanness or control. We need to remind our children that setting boundaries in general is a healthy thing to do and that they are never too young to begin setting them for themselves. We can explain to our children that yes, we may be angry with them for their choices... but we will always love them.
10 Examples of What Narc's Do :
1. Bug your phone
2. Put a gps tracking device on your vehicle
3. Spy on you and your family/friends on
all social media or have others do it for them
4. Have police connections to wipe away any
trace of you having filed a complaint on them
5. Hack and trace your activities on your computer
6. Coerce you or forge your signature
on documents like tax returns, etc
7. Harrass you via text, email, phone calls
even though you've broken up with
them and told them to stop
8. Break into your home
9. Pressure you to allow them to come to your
home for child exchanges versus a public place
10. Stalk you at your place of work, your home,
etc trying to scare you or have interaction
names have been omitted or changed in this post
Wearing grey lounge pants and a faded navy t-shirt I sat propped against two oversized Ralph Lauren pillows in the four poster king sized bed. The laptop was balanced on my lap over the dove white down comforter and I glanced at the time. Almost one o'clock in the morning. Beside me was a tube of Argan Oil Peppermint scented hand lotion… I was addicted to the scent of peppermint… I overbought peppermint Chapstick during the holidays when they released them especially for Christmas… so I'd have enough to last the whole year. The strong scent of peppermint filled the room and made me more alert at the late hour it was. While others slept I nestled in the cocoon of my bed and typed into the wee hours but it made me happy. My mind traveled to the conversation I'd had earlier that evening with my mother regarding my recent breakup…
"It was not a good match. I could see things… you two were not going to be good long term. You need space to do your own thing… that's one of your biggest things and he wanted all your time… he had nothing else going on. He's fifty… I had suggested you maybe date someone older, yes… but I didn't mean someone who didn't match your energy level. You are a go-getter, you want to get things done… you'd ask him what he did all day and he'd reply he hadn't done anything but hang around the house. He may not have had to work but because he wasn't working he expected every second of your time. That doesn't work for you. He was too needy. You were pushing him further out in your day to get some balance and I knew it was only a matter of time before you snapped at him because then he kept pushing for more." She told me.
I nodded "No, I see all that… I completely agree." I'd told her.
My brain is like a million tabs on a computer open at all times and with ADHD thoughts randomly pop in like movie highlights jockeying for attention and competing... my memory is unreal when it comes to some tiny detail twenty years ago... but ask me what I ate for dinner last night and it's a fog. Mulling over my recent relationship and the issues in it, my thoughts traveled to the night he'd suggested we watch Good Will Hunting. As the movie began playing he asked "What's the name of the girl in this?" I'd glanced at him and spoke "Minnie Driver." It's funny how we correlate certain things with specific people. Jeremy. We saw it when it was released in 1997 and I hadn't watched it since. When the scene played where Minnie Driver's character tries on the different glasses... she's beautiful... she's being goofy and laughing... completely at ease with herself. Jeremy had laughed appreciatively, turned to me sitting on his right and said: "What an awesome woman." She wore a tiara and a glowing rudolph nose. Matt Damon's character looks at her like she's the cutest thing he's ever freaking seen. Then they go get cheeseburgers I think.
I'd winced for years at that memory. His words. I couldn't be that at the time for him. I couldn't be myself. I couldn't share myself. I couldn't open up. I lived in constant fear of being rejected. What if I opened up and he didn't like my past? What if he didn't like what I couldn't change or undo? What if he didn't want to take on my baggage? What if he couldn't love me that much? I felt so much angst and fear. What if he walked away? And in the end what we fear ends up happening. We lose chances when we don't take that risk of putting ourselves out there and surrendering to vulnerability.
1. Free To Be Me With You
If your thing is having your independence and freedom to "do your thing" some folks would say stay single or don't be so selfish. But the thing is it's vital to find someone who also has their own thing going on and "gets it"... hopefully there is a natural flow of each person doing their own thing and then coming together to share in that whether it's exercise, hobbies, etc. (Otherwise one person may end up feeling smothered and the other one jipped). Hopefully there is a partnership that gives space and yet supports one another's goals and dreams. An unhealthy person will never encourage you to follow your goals and dreams... like a caged bird you are kept from flying. Like an accessory to their goals yours will typically be seen as a competition to their ego.
2. Be Confident And Surrender To Vulnerability
Only you know deep down how you feel about someone. Only you know what they tell you in those private moments you have together... those wounds they endured in their childhood and are brave enough to tell you in the darkness of their familiar space. Only you know how you feel when they share the innermost painful things they have dealt with... the affection you have for them, the love that swells inside you for them and how you want to kiss away all their hurts and make it better... how their pain tugs at your heartstrings. You close your eyes and realize looking back you failed. You failed to share how you felt when they were oh so beautifully brave to open up to you... and yet you couldn't do the same for them. Like a thief you withheld. Of all things you kept love hidden away like a sweet but hoarded trinket in your pocket. You held back and didn't tell him that whenever he was walking toward you his smile was the loveliest sight to ever see... comparable to Christmas Day. Live in the moment and speak up... because it's all you may get... it will be over all too soon and your chance will be much too late.
3. Be The Light Not The Darkness
When we truly love someone we want them to be the best they can be... we love who they are in the now of course... but we also see the viability of their dreams and encourage them to go after them. We delight in their passions, their God- given gifts and press them to utilize them. But if you feel like you've become a lesser person of who you were... if you feel squashed, trapped, devoid of passion for life, if you feel like you've become a diminished version of you... or worse if you lay in bed at night wracked with guilt and a torn heart due to this person pulling at you like a puppet on strings toward isolation, misery, pain, manipulation and sin... it's time to reassess. It's time to face the brutal truth; this person may not be good for you... are you merely not making yourself a priority in a healthy relationship or is your partner leading you down a path that is not for your best self or health? If it's the first one it's time to make changes and love yourself while loving them too. If it's the latter it's likely time to cut the cord and move on.
4. Promises Of Love Followed Through
When someone loves you and hears of the pain you've been through (we've all been through pain, loss, grief to some extent) it should affect them; they will want to make you feel loved and for you to never question their love for you. No one is perfect and grace and should be given... but not as excuses for bad behavior. If they try to tell you they would treat you better like in the Shawn Mendes song... if they keep clicking their tongue and shaking their head at what a jerk your ex was yet coupled with promises of how "they will/would treat you better" watch the actions. If they compare themselves to your ex and then screw up in the exact same ways like cheating, leaving you hanging when you need help, making sexist comments, etc, the relationship is taking the same path as before merely with a different person, a different face. They (he or she) may try to spout how "they are different" in a good way... but words are cheap.
5. In A Warning Is A Blessing
If you're being advised that the person you're dating isn't good for you don't fall into that mind-stupid trap of: "Oh, they must be jealous. They are trying to get them for themselves." No. Most people aren't going to go to that much effort and today many people are pretty hesitant to "get involved" even if and when it's truly warranted and they need to. So if someone is telling you the person you're dating is bad news, take heed and believe them. Maybe the red flags continue to pop up that this person is not good for you as you pray for discernment and guidance from God. Regardless, consider these things a blessing and be thankful you narrowly missed something terrible. It's always better for us to stand on our own two feet alone than to be linked arm in arm with someone who is leading us down a path of destruction.
Dare to get the love you want... dare to not rush but wait for nothing less... dare to be bold for Christ and realize you are worth oh so much in His eyes and deserve a love that is a blessing not a blight... dare to ask Him for someone good for you and for you to bless... dare to recognize love and acknowledge you have it... dare to tell he or she you know exactly what you have and dare to love them because tomorrow isn't promised.