Tuesday, March 13th, 2018
names have been omitted in this post
It was forty degrees outside and I sat in the driver's seat of my SUV peering through the windshield at my old home when married. Waiting. The street was pitch black... large sprawling homes and mature trees bordered both my left and right and I sat there with the engine off and shivering from the cold temperature. Good grief... why hadn't I thought to bring a jacket or blanket, I chastised myself. Dressed in black skinny jeans and v-neck white t shirt, hair pulled in a pony tail, I glanced at the time on my cell phone and it's screen illuminated the inside of the vehicle momentarily. It was a little after 5 o'clock in the morning now... I had gotten up at four o'clock. I wondered how I was going to make it through this day and already missed my warm cozy bed. Oh well... it was turning out to be a doozy of a week in the life of dealing with a narc ex. These types of scenarios become all too common and yet so unnecessary to deal with. I sat there with what could only be described as a chagrined expression on my face. The house was lit up with exterior lights and graced with evergreen juniper shrubs I had picked out at the plant store. I was facing the garage and as I sat there I thought of all the chaos that had occurred stemming from that house. "The house of divorce" as my ex liked to put it so eloquently during our divorce as every couple that had lived there had divorced... as if that had been the only issue under it's roof... gimme a break... that was only the tip of the iceberg.
My daughter had phoned the night before, Monday night and told me that her dad was planning to take her and her brother out of state for spring break. This was new news to me; their father had not informed me of his travel plans as is stated for him to do in the decree. Our previous decrees had always stated that any travel either of us did with the children we had to notify the other parent of our travel plans, hotel reservations, flight information etc, with two weeks notice. The decrees had also stated that I was to hold the passports for any international travel and upon his request I would hand them over once he had given me the travel itinerary information. The section on previous decrees that any travel must have a two week notice to the other parent had not ever specifically been modified. And regardless any good parent who is truly attempting to co-parent would willingly provide that information... not withhold it or it have to be asked for. Yet he hadn't told me of any plans. In fact when I had days before proactively reached out on Our Family Wizard and asked what his general plans were for that week of spring break and where our daughter would be; meaning with a sitter, with his mom or with him at work, the response he gave was:
"If we travel out of the country I will notify you."
Really? Clearly someone is cocky and thinks just because they have more custody now that enables them to do whatever they want. The court has foolishly given him so much power and control that now he has taken that as a green light to do whatever he wants... which he does. The night before on the phone my daughter had told me that he planned to take them to New Mexico. But considering his history of lying who knew if that was true or not. Regardless, he can't just up and leave with her whenever he wants and although he has full legal control over our son he also doesn't take it upon himself to communicate anything regarding him to me. He has them and I am on the other side of the fence trying to figure out how to access his side to no avail... that is the situation the court has put me in, no thanks to them. I check the time on my phone... six o'clock comes and goes... then six fifteen and then finally six thirty. Only two cars had passed me and one walker with a flashlight and golf club in their hand... probably questioning me... wondering why someone was sitting on a lone dark street all alone. A couple minutes after six thirty the garage door begins slowly opening. I open my cell phone and begin recording... the garage door opens to reveal him standing beside his newest SUV talking to someone in it... he closes the passenger side door, probably his new wife and walks around the front of it to enter the drivers side. He gets in and slowly the SUV begins pulling from the garage onto the driveway. Spotting me and his headlights beaming brightly into my face he paused momentarily at the end of the driveway likely taking a photo to show I was there... likely so he could later grandstand, scream and boohoo I was stalking him or some other bs that he likes to twist and spin. Nope, just gathering evidence because all I ever hear in court is “Well, were you there?!” from opposing counsel when trying to make a point in the case. Well, this time I am there; showing that yes, he IS leaving and doing whatever he wishes. His SUV finally begins exiting the drive and entering the street and he heads up to the stop sign. I stop recording and toss the phone on the tan leather passenger seat beside me, starting the vehicle and begin driving. I make a right turn onto the next residential street as he does and begin driving through the neighborhood.... eventually I'd reach the freeway at which point I'd make a left and begin heading home. But he, in front of me begins driving rapidly and running the stop signs. I come upon him on the next street after another turn and he suddenly slams the brakes hard. In reaction I brake hard and the pedal slams into the floor throwing me forward slightly into the steering wheel. Snatching my phone from the passenger seat I snap a photo of his license plate in response. If he was leaving out of state maybe it was best to have it, I realized. He puts the SUV into reverse to back up on me and I begin blaring the horn in response... probably awakening a lot of now angry homeowners nearby. He throws it back in drive and guns it, accelerating up to the main thoroughfare toward the freeway. Making a right turn he disappears and I slowly approach to sit at the red light so I can make the left turn toward home once it turns green.
You idiot, I thought in reference to him... you're driving like the psycho you are, trying to get me to rear end you and probably have the kids in the car as well... what a fine example you are setting as their father, I thought to myself. I hadn't been able to make out if the children were in the vehicle due to his dark window tint and the night sky still enveloping everything. I phoned the police and requested them to do a well check to see if the children were indeed home or not. Forty five minutes or so later I had my answer... they weren't. Their grandmother was there as she had just sold her home and was waiting for her new one to be painted before moving in. Having my answer I now had what I needed and thanked the police officer.
It stems from entitlement.....
The thing about people with personality disorders is that they feel entitled to make the decisions they make because they are operating from a selfish heart. Their heart is not set at love but me, me, me, and the only language a narc speaks is one of control and punishment. They must have control of everything... they become so enraged that they were left... in my case not only did I leave him I notified his new supply and told her he had been cheating on me with her... unbeknownst to her... to which she immediately dumped him. This further enraged him... because now he had no one... just who did I think I was, anyway? A smart person, that's who. The person who you were lucky enough to marry and never ever deserved. The person who married down to marry you and just didn't realize it at the time. The person who should have never gone out with you to begin with but stupidly did anyway. The person who if she had it to do over again would have not looked at you even once. The person who despite what you've orchestrated is strong as heck and relies on God to keep moving forward... counting on His good promises and blessings and steady assurance it will all work out and be okay despite the tribulations. The person who you should have treated better because you had someone who was counting on you to live life together beautifully with and you foolishly let her down again and again. The person who was at one time unknowing of your psychological cruelty... because despite what she'd already been through in childhood she thought... believed that you were different and better. The person who shared her whole heart and world with you and yet you disappointed time and time again and created your own dark island with lies, cheating, sex and who knows what else. The person who has continued on despite your continual destruction and spinning of the truth... who knows that you are not the good person you try to portray yourself as but instead a punishing, petty, mean hearted person. The person who has experienced so much good in others since walking away from you and renewed faith that not everyone is like you... thank God.
Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, they all use and abuse people. They use and abuse their children in custody battles to continue to emotionally abuse their ex spouse... and also financially. It gives them great power and joy (yes, it sadly gives them joy) to use the avenue of obtaining child custody often as just an excuse to stay in their ex spouses life and forcing interaction with them. My ex knows more than anything I want to regain custody and for him to leave me alone.
For me to say "I just want this to end" is just that. I want his litigation to end, I want my daughter back and I want a relationship of some sort repaired with my son. I want my ex placed under control by the court; by that I mean them recognizing that he is the issue and him being held accountable by them. And if I were to go one step further he would be ordered to pay me money for all the emotional damages and stress he has caused.
If my ex were to say "I just want this to end" it means something completely different. He would try to tell you that by that he means he wants me to step up and be the mother the children need; to pay the monies I owe on their out of pocket medical expenses and try to have a relationship with our son. He may try to come across as a victim but he's far from it. Him wanting it to end TRULY means he gets what he wants; full custody and control and I go away permanently... childless and either homeless or dead. That is the truth.
A sociopath is not going to go away. They will cling to whatever they can to keep contact... filing frivolous motions with the court, mediations, continuances, asking for co-parenting classes or therapy, being in contempt of court and not paying child support are all ways to keep contact going because then court hearings are scheduled and bam! .... you're back in court seeing one another. Narcs don't feel guilt for how they behave and their controlling ways, nor their contempt of court... and by continually pulling aggressive stunts via the children they put you in a position to where you must take them back to court or else they continue to up the ante.
Contempt of court is purposeful behavior for a narc....
There is a huge difference between a person who is in contempt of court because they simply don't have the financial means to pay support or out of pocket expenses for the children... (myself) and then someone who is WILLFULLY in contempt due to their sense of entitlement... which is my ex... he doesn't believe he should have to tell me where he is taking the children. So then the typical scenario is; my daughter tells me what is going on, he finds out, he gets angry at her; yells at her, takes her phone and then she becomes angry at me because then she's in the middle and she feels punished by him for speaking up.... even though she knows he's in the wrong... it's a vicious cycle (unhealthy triangle) that wears down children and target parents.
But the court doesn't see it that way. The court slaps both our wrists and says "You two can't seem to co-parent and communicate". No.... that is not the issue, boys and girls. The issue is we have ONE person who is not following the decree and basic communication skills required as a grown adult because they choose NOT to. It's too bad the family court system doesn't see the issues with how they handle toxic individuals like him... It's too bad they don't listen. Too bad they stick their head in the sand. Too bad they're too ignorant for the job they have. Too bad they used their position of power to create more issues for our children despite what they are already dealing with. Too bad they were able to obtain the honor of a black robe and gavel when really they never truly deserved to have them... especially when targets of domestic abuse and children are counting on them for help.
some names have been omitted in this post
this post contains language
It was chilly in the family courtroom… I’m pretty warm natured but in court I nearly always need a sweater. Sitting on the stand in the 360th family court room, the opposing counsel was quiet for a change… he just sat there across from me with that monster I married staring right at me with zero expression and emotion. Dealing with opposing counsel is often the equivalent of trying to deal with a snake and pit bull all rolled into one… some attorneys play dirty and will go as low as humanly possible in their remarks when fighting. When it comes to a narc opposing counsel is often no better than our ex. I really had zero respect for attorneys in general at this point... when it came to the family court system you were deemed guilty until proven innocent… a sociopath is capable of manipulating those in the court room and committing perjury because for whatever reason perjury is not taken seriously in family law. You can lie your pants off and say your son is suicidal like my ex did, produce zero evidence of such threats and yet everyone listening will swallow it as gospel and shake their head with sorrow and give him a collective puppy dog expression of sadness.
Yet you? You, the normal functioning person is not believed when you point out incident after incident of parental alienation and any evidence you do have is waved off and dismissed. Family law doesn’t operate how it should and I question how attorneys sleep at night... people sell their souls but will guaranteed want an air conditioner in hell.
Directly before me sat the court reporter typing as quickly as possible and I could swear she had steam coming out of her ears she was under so much pressure. She took the time to give me an occasional look of disgust over her glasses as she clearly deemed me the worst mother she’d ever come across. Whatever, lady… I thought to myself… you have no idea what I’ve been enduring…. don’t be so fooled by the bs you’ve been fed. It was a lovely day as any day in court always is; the sun was shining brilliantly and I would have loved to have been anywhere but there. Instead of opposing counsel attacking me as was the usual way this time it was courtesy of the amicus Susan Duesler who took the lead and continually berated me with a line of brutal questioning and demeaning verbal abuse. I sat there continually trying to fight back but as the questions and attacks grew harsher with her actually having the gall to state she cared more about my son than I did… tears sprang to my eyes and I choked back tears.
I then looked over to my right at my attorney… he sat there uselessly quiet not interjecting or fighting for me. Staring at me in stony silence I realized due to him becoming suddenly mute I was screwed. Hindsight was he was allowing me to get annihilated on the stand and had virtually given up. My other attorney who sat to his right looked sadly at me… her expression of seeming pity and what appeared to be blaming upon me… like a scolded child; if I’d only done what they had instructed for me to do prior to trial in their office the night before… where they had demanded compliance from me; where they had chastised me over and over again like a three year old because I refused to have my photo taken with my ex and his new wife for our daughter. Like my daughter gave a shit. My daughter knew it wasn’t a good situation. She knew her dad had cheated. She knew her dad had alienated her brother against me. She had witnessed all the horrible things her father had done the past six years. And yet I was supposed to play a fake part and pose for a photo with a man who was emotionally and verbally abusive toward me and had stolen my family away… who had brainwashed our son against me. The truth was... it wasn’t my job to pose for a photo. At the end of the day it was all a farce and a photo did not address the TRUE issues going on. A photo did not address the fact my ex ignores most of my communication on Our Family Wizard. A photo did not address the fact that he refuses to return the children’s passports even though the decree states I’m to hold them. A photo doesn’t address the fact that he’s continued to alienate our son against me. I didn't hire two attorneys so I could be reprimanded like a toddler. My attorneys were trying to make something, namely a photo my issue when their job was to fight back FOR me, not roll over like two pushovers and play pathetic. An attorneys job is not to make nice in the courtroom because of future cases and the irrelevant need to be liked by the various personalities involved yet that’s often what happens.
No…. no…. I wasn’t going to play ball… I wasn’t going to pose for pictures and act like everything was pretty and ponies pooped rainbows and confetti. Sorry but not sorry. I wasn’t going to send my daughter the message of “its okay when people screw you over… you just bend over a little more; you stand beside them and smile when the photographer says cheese.” No… I wasn’t going to do that either. I wasn’t going to disrespect myself and demean myself and pose for a photo and make everyone else comfortable because they didn’t believe the truth and they found what had really happened either impossible or too uncomfortable to embrace as reality. So I stood up and from the stand I pointed right at my two attorneys and screamed...
“GET OUT!!! RIGHT NOW!!! YOU’RE FIRED!!!
BOTH OF YOU! You don’t want to fight for me?
Get the fuck out right now!!!”
It was only a daydream on my drive home but the truth is that’s how I should have handled the situation. That’s what they had deserved. And if I had it to do over again I would. As empaths we give people that have shown us who they really are or at least hints here and there... those glimpses of reality of their character way too much benefit of the doubt. I had initially erroneously believed the case had meant a lot to them... but looking back the lack of actions had said otherwise. We doubt our instincts and succumb to the fact they must really truly have our best interests at heart when they are really just screwing us over.
I don’t cry defeat... I might realize I need a break here or there or may realize I just need to bide my time before it’s best to act... but give up? No... and if your attorney is giving up because they can’t get you to pose for a photo.... they aren’t a very good attorney. It’s their job to review what you have and come up with a strategy. It’s their job to handle it and find what loopholes, what weaknesses the other side has and to attack mercilessly. It's their job to sift through the evidence and come up with the appropriate line of questioning needed for your ex. If they aren’t doing that then they are as useless as last months packet of coupons now expired. If they aren’t deposing who they should for trial, if they are not familiar with your case, if they are failing at their job because they didn’t even try then you have every right to pull the plug and fire them on the spot and without feeling any guilt.
Stop feeling guilt over people that don’t deserve it. We aren’t talking about a pet parakeet for God’s sakes... we’re talking about our children... and we shouldn’t feel guilt over telling someone to take a hike(!) when they aren’t looking out for their best interests.
I stepped into the dim front foyer of my home and my black heels clacked on the floor... the foyer table was graced with pretty crystal candlesticks, a stone bowl for knick knacks and two traditional buffet lamps that gave off a glow of low light. The mirror above the table reflected the space and I glanced in it at my disheveled bun atop my head... I was exhausted and yet it was time to have one of the most difficult conversations I’d likely had in forty one years.
”Mommyyyyy!!!” Came my daughters shriek and dressed in dark leggings and a robins egg blue top she came running up to me like always and gave me a tight embrace around the waist.
“Hey, sweetpea... how are you? I missed you today!” I told her and squeezed her back affectionately. I could hear water running in the kitchen and we made our way past the living room we didn’t really use with it’s gray sofa, round coffee table with hardback books on renowned artists and vases in hues of nature. Once in the kitchen I greeted my mother who was washing romaine lettuce for her salad.
She and I caught up on our day as I placed the groceries I'd picked up on the way home in the refrigerator and pantry. Then I led my daughter to the oversized taupe couch that compassed the den and both my mother and I flanked her on it. Wrapping my arm around her I pulled her close and spoke
"I wanted to talk with you.... okay?" I spoke and she nodded.
"What happened with court? Did you find out what the judge decided?" She asked me curiously.
I felt tears springing to my brown green flecked eyes and tried to blink them away... usually it worked but not this time... like tiny pools they filled and threatened to spill over. I hugged her tight and spoke "We did... She decided to give most of the custody to your dad." I told her.
She physically pulled away and began crying... tears rolling down her cheeks and using her hands to cover her face. She then leaned back against me again and sobbed, her blond brown hair shielding her wet face from me. Between sniffles and wails she spoke "But why??? Why did she do that?! I told her I wanted to live with you more!"
I sat there feeling helpless, both of us victims of a system that had failed us and also two attorneys that had left us without a paddle. We had been targets of my ex for six years and now this was the outcome of his continual unrelenting child custody litigation. This was the sad and unnecessary outcome... a girl completely beside herself because she knew she had been brave and spoken up for what she needed to with the judge and had been ignored. She had watched as her mother had fought and fought and yet now sat beside her crying as well. She had witnessed time and time again how her father had gone after her mother in family court with zero cause other than to punish her because she had been brave enough to walk away and leave him.
"I know... I'm sorry sweetpea.... I don't understand it either. It's the system... they don't care. And your father lied on the stand. He said you had read the blog and they believed him." I told her.
"But I haven't!" She protested emphatically. "He just lied and said that to get them to side with him! To get them to pick him!" She exclaimed with mounting anger.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will perish.
I had been the mom who when the kids were younger and we were an intact family I went to the effort to alternately bake a chocolate cake with my daughter because chocolate was her favorite and making a vanilla one with my son because that was his favorite... I didn't want anyone to feel like their preference wasn't heard or important. I was the mom who stayed up till one o'clock in the morning working on handmade scrapbooks for both children so their memories would be saved and intact as adults. I was the mom who volunteered in my daughter's kindergarten classroom on computer day and ensured each child's laptop was set up for them to have computer time. I was the mom who quizzed each child on their story they read to ensure comprehension and encouraged them individually to always read because reading opens the door to so much information and knowledge. I was the mom who fought for more special need assistance for our son because with Asperger's he needed to have access to all the necessary resources to lead a full and thriving life. I was the mom who didn't give blanket statements of "you're so smart!" but "great job at trying!" because I realized they wouldn't always feel smart but they would always feel good that they tried. I was the mom who read Thomas the Train stories until I was blue in the face and ensured they always used their manners no matter what. You look back and see the work, the energy, the time, all the late night hours and love poured into your children... knowing you'd do anything to ensure they were safe and cared for both emotionally and physically and you feel defeated. You lost and it really wasn't your fault and yet you feel responsible. When our kids are young they look up to us like were invincible; like we can take control of any situation and fix it... as adults we are supposed to know what to do and be able to rectify things. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen and then we feel as though we failed our children. And that's the worst feeling ever.
"I'm so sorry, sweetpea... he and his attorney did whatever they could to get what they wanted. But I've fought.... I've fought and fought... you know that... " I told her with exhaustion, "I have kept fighting... and I've spent all the money I've spent to fight because you're worth it. I'm going to keep trying." I told her. I was out of money... between the divorce itself and the continual child custody litigation I had spent well over a hundred thousand dollars... money that was to be invested for retirement... money that was to be grown and watch thrive. But now it was all gone. It was such a mess and such a bitter pill to swallow... I had lost my son, I had lost all my money and now my daughter too. For absolutely zero justified reason. And what was even scarier is I'm one of hundreds of thousands of other good parents who have gone through the exact same thing.
No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
I am not a lone ranger... but one of an increasing army of angry outraged parents who want the truth exposed in pure light... who want their situation repaired and justice to be served... and will not stop fighting for the truth to be exposed; the truth of who we married and the truth of a broken and corrupt family court system. We will not remain silent. We will not go quietly. We will not give up.
names have been omitted and changed in this post
He sat beside me, and I took a sip of my drink... the alcohol slid down my throat and I relaxed a little more... relaxing is still somewhat foreign to me. I'm always on guard and feel the need to stay in control... sometimes I get chastising from people about it, but I think it's natural for so many of us after narc abuse or really any trauma like rape to feel the need to stay in control. Maybe because we've felt our world become out of control. Yes, we know logically control is a joke... none of us really have any control in life minus our own actions but in that we cling to the idea of having some... however misguided, delusional or silly. At the end of the day if we are enduring the continual litigation of a narc either in divorce or child custody motions being filed we will likely feel very little control over our life which in turn may cause us to grasp tightly to whatever we can. I hear from so many survivors and thrivers of narc abuse that it took several years of clinging to the familiarity of life... cocooning oneself in comforting and stabilizing life routines is often what helps us in our healing.
Whether it's a consistent schedule, pj's and ice cream, favorite shows or Friday night bubble baths, gelato and yoga... we can choose what works best for us. Perhaps it's that working a job and recovering from a past abusive relationship takes all your energy... that's okay.... grief is time and energy consuming. We may feel the desire to add more to our plate at some point but if we aren't ready it will be premature and set us back. It's okay to take the time you need to heal... and then slowly become more open to new friendships, interests, love, goals, and risks as we find peace, healing and ourselves once again. Our goal after narc abuse is to live life to it’s fullest and not ever subscribing to another limited existence that we lived with the narc.
Country music played in the background... Justin Moore sang ‘Somebody Else Will’. The other patrons, some wearing jeans and boots sat a distance away talking and laughing. The atmosphere was dim and lively and he studied me in the darkened corner of the indoor patio where we sat together.
"You know.... I’ve been reading some of your blog posts and I don’t know about all this narcissistical sociopathical stuff.” He said, waving his hand with a smile and I burst out laughing at that.
He grinned at me and then continued “I mean… you seem to know what you’re talking about, you’re the sociopathical expert. You write really good, you know that?” He asked not really waiting for an answer and continued… “I don’t want to get on the bad side of the blog and all… “He said with a grimace and I smiled, “But I was reading and something I read jumped out at me. You wrote that love isn’t enough. You said that you have to have more.” He told me.
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s enough.” I told him… “You have to have so much more... compatibility, interests, similar backgrounds.” I affirmed. I wasn't going to sign up for golf, bike riding or football if I hated those activities or pastimes... it only made sense we'd become resentful of our partner if we were chronically dragged to do things we didn't like to do.
He shook his head,“Yeah, I read that… you wrote that you have to have all this other stuff. It was exhausting. “He sighed and gave me a chagrined look. “You have it all complicated like some big equation that has to be solved.” He said.
I laughed and suddenly pictured the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon is figuring problems at the chalkboard… “Like that scene in Good Will Hunting at the chalkboard?” I teased.
“Yes maam!”” He exclaimed and laughed “Let me tell you something… you know all about this stuff. And I have no doubt you’re helping people. I think it’s great! I have no doubt you’re making a difference. But when it comes to love and it not being enough…. “He shook his head “I will tell you, my dear, on that you are full of bs.” He told me.
My eyebrows shot up and I gasped “That’s just mean!” I exclaimed indignantly. “I am NOT!” I retorted hotly with an amused look. He and no one else could change my mind otherwise. I liked him but took what he said with a grain of salt. When it came to most people’s opinions on dating or relationships especially after narcissistic abuse I’d listen but then stick to whatever worked for me.
He sat up a little straighter in his seat and spoke “I'm not trying to get you mad!" He exclaimed with a grin and gesturing with frenzied hands toward my bun atop my head "I don't want to see bobby pins going flying out everywhere!" He added with a laugh.
Holy cow. I laughed at the imagery of that.
During my marriage every weekend it was NASCAR. My ex laid on the couch and watched those cars go round and round like hamsters on a wheel. If it wasn’t that it was football. Or he was resentful because he wanted to go on a bike ride and I had no interest. “I believe you have to have more... it’s an issue even in the best marriages.” I told him.
He shook his head and smiled “You are over there talking about all this stuff that people need when all people need is to have someone who really truly loves them. If you have that… trust and respect… everything else will fall into place.”
I shot him a look of ‘Uh, huh… sure, whatever’ and smirked with cynicism. “I don’t believe that.” I replied.
He leaned in and gazed at me “You know why you don’t believe that? Because you’ve never had a man really love you.” He took a sip of his drink and gazed off momentarily then resting his eyes back on mine “Haven’t you ever had a man treat you right?” He asked me.
I grasped my glass and taking another sip drifted off into the distant past “A really long time ago” I admitted.
“Who?” He asked me.
“Jeremy” I replied “It didn’t work out.” All I could then think to myself was it never works out... but I bit my tongue and didn’t say it.
"So you broke up with him too.” He stated.
I shook my head "No, he broke up with me." I replied.
"Oh my God!!!" He exclaimed with visible surprise. This was new news to him. He only knew about my other relationships. “No one breaks up with Jennifer, she breaks up with everyone!” He told me flabbergasted.
I chuckled, grimaced, rolled my eyes and spoke,
"Not that time... but otherwise, yes. They didn't treat me well." I replied.
He gazed at me with his dark eyes and gave me a sympathetic look that conveyed he saw the past hurt. I studied his face, dark hair, kind eyes, beard and large build. He looked similar to Jeremy. It was actually quite eerie… He too, was a mix of crown, Altoids, meaningfulness, warmth, kindheartedness and insight. It was weird. Was it hot in here? I cleared my throat and took another sip of my drink… then switched to sipping ice water as the room was becoming warmer. I was feeling the effects of the drink and being a lightweight I hadn’t even finished half of it. I began yanking at the scarf around my neck trying to loosen it a bit so I’d cool off. Alcohol always made me feel overheated which I found irritating. No one else seemed to have this issue. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat feeling very vulnerable and suddenly wanted to step outside into the night air where it was cooler. I wanted to escape. But that was my automatic go to response and my pattern so I decided to stick it out and stay in my seat.
He perceptively shook his head like he could read my mind and helped me take off my scarf which he plopped in my purse beside my chair. He spoke “I’m sorry you have not been treated as you should have been. You have the kindest heart of anyone I know. And I’m sorry you don’t think love is enough. But when you’re surrounded by people who care about you, who love you, who you can trust all that other stuff doesn’t matter so much. Because you all have a common thing… which is giving your love to people. And that’s powerful.” He told me… “I’m going to prove to you love is enough.” He stated with assurance. I stared blankly at him without words… I didn’t know what to say. And I nearly always have a reply or witty comeback.
But as much as I sat there without words, the truth is... a person who truly loves you won’t believe you aren’t worth the effort. They won’t subscribe to the idea that they can put in a little effort then throw their hands up because you’re suddenly an irritation or inconvenience. When it comes to love... it’s the one who loves you and loves you consistently that ultimately proves their words carry weight and their actions are not some cheap knockoff.
So how do we move on from the initial post-narc throes of despair of "OH MY GOD MY LIFE IS ENDING RIGHT NOW!", and "I CANNOT BELIEVE HE (OR SHE) DID THIS TO ME!!!", and even "WHEN IS THIS GOING TO GET BETTER???" ... to "Life seems to be improving....", and "I've had a good few days, weeks, months... , Wow, this past year has been better than previous years... I feel like I'm making progress...to "I feel lighter, less heavy and more and more like my old self... definitely different now after the abuse but more like myself than ever... ", and "He (or she) is really sweet or he (or she) is kinda cute... Oh wow, I'm noticing stuff like that again... I wonder what dating would be like", and "I feel like I'm in a good place; my job is going well, I have some financial savings again, my kids are my number one priority but I wouldn't mind expanding my plate to include more time with those I really care about... " and "Taking time for me is not selfish but absolutely necessary and enjoyable...." and "I know and own my truth and will not bend it to make others more comfortable or accept less than what I deserve.”
As you can see.... this process of leaving to eventually standing on that mountaintop and singing praise and gratitude for standing in our new chapter is exactly that... a process. It's a process of our thought process changing over time from catastrophic thinking(!) to questions that we ponder(?) and wade through in figuring things out to realizing newfound truths(!) about ourselves, the narc, the abuse and our life. And that's okay. It's normal and to be completely expected.
TRUSTING OURSELVES AGAIN... after a #narc
First we must learn to trust ourselves again. Which is hard after being swept into the world of a pathological liar. This is a huge undertaking because we must be able to listen to our gut instincts and trust our intuition in order to do much in moving forward.... we must be able to trust ourselves when our gut tells us a therapist is not good for us and or for our children and is actually detrimental. We must be able to trust ourselves when the narc tries to paint history one way and we know better. We must be able to trust ourselves when scrolling through a dating site and something tells us a particular person is shady. We must be able to trust ourselves when a co-worker begins to triangulate a group of employees and we feel bad vibes stemming from that interaction. Trusting ourselves is something that is needed in all areas of our life and it’s worth the time needed to do so.
STICKING TO OUR BOUNDARIES...
Likewise once we are adding more to our plate and embracing a larger circle of friends and maybe a relationship in our life it’s crucial to stick to our boundaries when we see questionable or downright shady behavior. If someone is putting pressure on you in a relationship that’s a red flag. If they are pressuring you to meet their parents, asking to meet your family, asking nosy questions... if they are suddenly wanting every second of your time those are red flags. If they are pushing for immediate emotional intimacy and physical intimacy it’s time to pull back and reassess; moving on because if they cannot respect your timeline, your needs, wants, etc... they never will. If they claim to be a Godly man or woman and are relentless in trying to get you in bed; cut the cord. If they are stepping on your values cut the cord. If they are love bombing you and putting you on a pedestal; building you up, voicing how crazy they are about you, praising you incessantly, showering you with gifts (it’s essential on this to determine whether it’s merely wanting to spoil you as you’ve been together a long time; looking at the length of the relationship, a self esteem issue and trying to “buy your love”, or truly someone personality disordered) and expecting a sexual relationship all too soon those are huge red flags that it’s time to detach and walk away. Having those necessary boundaries and being willing to enforce them are essential in dating so we don’t find ourselves sucked into another narcissistical vortex.
LET LOVE DEVELOP NATURALLY...
When it comes to our new chapter after narc abuse it’s so important we take things slow. Letting relationships organically grow and naturally develop. There should be no timeline on this or that... your relationship should not read like a must do list of immediacy and pressure. I don’t know about you but I’m in no hurry... what’s the rush? The ultimate outcome is typically marriage... so if that’s not something you foresee in your near future (2-5 years) then what are we speeding things along for? If someone starts harping on their age and how they aren’t getting any younger; let that be their problem. Perhaps they need to find someone who is looking for a timeline that matches theirs. Getting on a dating website is something that may often create an instant relationship today; we may go from being single to being in a relationship nearly overnight. It stands to reason a friendship is always preferable first to immediately jumping in “love”. With a friendship in place first you’ve likely seen whether they are who they claim to be. You’ve likely seen them interact with many other people and observed them at their best, worst and in between.
It’s seeing, realizing you can trust this new person which takes time. No one should demand instant trust from you. Why are they demanding that? What’s it based on? Your relationship with the narc was built on you catering to he or she. You were there to make them happy, to boost their ego; you were essentially a drug for them and when the effects wore off they claimed you were no good. But a truly loving relationship is two people knowing it’s based on mutual trust that has been developed over a long period of time. With the narc you were likely worried that if you didn’t please them you’d be tossed aside; instead now you should have a strong sense of security and knowing this new person isn’t going to turn on you. Someone who truly loves you realizes you are worth the effort; they see you as the gem you are and won’t prey on it.
Love is kindness. Love is caring more about you than being right. Love is putting more importance on others than our ego. Love is being a friend first and foremost. Because the hard truth is if someone is not capable of being your friend they will never be capable of loving you.