names have been omitted and changed in this post
I sat across from her at the table for two and set out two small plates with a variety of bread, jams and packets of butter. Two glasses of water and utensils graced the small table and the bustle of others around us made the small room warm and cozy. She sat across from me with her blonde hair in a ponytail wearing a hoodie. I wore skinny black jeans, a button down top and a scarf around my neck for warmth.
"Thanks Jen for getting us the bread and stuff." She said and passed me a stack of napkins she'd fetched for us.
"You're welcome!" I replied cheerily and began spreading a pat of butter onto a small slice of sourdough bread. We loved La Madeline and it was the perfect choice for this winter day to have brunch and catch up. She had ordered a quiche of ham and cheese with a side of strawberries and whipped cream. I had ordered a bacon and tomato omelet with cheese and a croissant.
"How are things?" She asked me as she dabbed strawberry jelly onto her bread.
"Good!" I said. "I'm loving my job. It's going really well and I get to be creative which helps." I told her.
"You design the menus and posters, right?" She confirmed.
"Yes… for the wedding receptions, special events. I love it. And I'm helping greet at the events so that's fun. "I glanced at her with a grin "You know I'm not big on dresses but the evening wear is beautiful to see." I admitted.
"I'm so glad to hear that!" She smiled "I love that you are doing something you enjoy. This is really right up your alley." She affirmed. "And… events are a great way to meet people! You might meet somebody!" She exclaimed with a twinkle in her eye.
I smiled and laughed "Oh, I don't know about that! Let's not get carried away! Besides, I'm taking a break from all that right now… just doing my thing." I told her.
She waved her hand like no explanation needed and spoke "Oh, I get it, enjoy your time! You're free!" She laughed… "Speaking of being free… how are things with your ex?" She asked.
"This week I was informed we have mediation coming up in a few months." I remarked and took a bite of my omelet. "Not to mention my laptop has been warning me my startup disk is almost full. I couldn't post a blog this past week. So I started searching on it for stuff of his that I can delete because he used to use it some. I've deleted thousands of his work related files and in those were pornography he had mixed in. I'm beyond sick of him… four years later and I'm still discovering how slimy he really was. It's been lovely." I informed her.
She sat listening and finally spoke "Oh my... well, that IS lovely. I'm so sorry, Jen. I wish I could make it all go away for you."
"Thank you… I wish too… "I told her. "My daughter texted me a photo of the new living room furniture they bought… his new wife Georgina is redecorating our old home." I smirked. "She has a pillow on the couch that says 'family'. I just kept staring at it like Really???? Family??? She left her kid behind in the UK. She married him and gained access to the US and now acts like she has a family with my children. I don't think so. It's delusional." I told my friend.
"Maybe Trump will tighten everything up so much she won't be able to gain access back in the US after she goes back to visit." She remarked.
I chuckled "Maybe!" and then asked "How are things with you?"
She cut into her quiche and took a bite. "I'm good, the kids are good... everyone is well at the moment so that's a win!" She laughed but then added "He still won't stop playing that video game and help me out. I want to scream but I don't have it in me anymore." She said with irritation and a tired tone referring to her husband.
"He's still stuck to that thing?" I asked her.
"Yes… it's all the time. It's all he wants to do. We don't spend any time together. And in the past when I've asked him to please put it away for awhile and help me out he acts all put out. He lives there too but for some reason he doesn't act like it." She observed as she dipped her strawberry into her small cup of whipped cream.
"Ugh, I'm so sorry... I hate that. Why does he think he's off the hook." I observed.
We are protective of our friends and cringe when we hear of how they are being treated. It rubs us the wrong way and we want to fix it yet can't. He needed to stop playing the game, grow up and get invested in his family. The root is laziness and selfishness. I hear it all the time from wives. Some husbands think if they earn a paycheck they've done all their supposed to do. But if he's not emotionally invested, as a partner what do you do? Women want an active partner. It could appear that these particular men want the benefits of marriage but no effort put in. The same could be said for women who are checked out. Likewise, what were their husbands to do?
So often in marriage if only one person believes there's a problem it equates to no problems.
She nodded "Oh, I completely agree. He works and thinks all his free time is his time. He's not single. It's ridiculous… but what do I do?" She asked.
I had not a clue. "I have no idea… "I told her. "Unplug the game and toss it out the window?" I quipped with my usual go to sass. I didn't see that going over well.
She laughed then sighed "Yeah… so I am fed up. I have tried to talk to him and he doesn't want to be bothered. So I just bite my tongue and go in the other room." She said.
I knew that when a wife stopped trying to address something with her husband was when he truly needed to be worried. When a wife throws her hands up and stops "nagging", "complaining", "discussing", "explaining", etc… whatever you want to call it…. when she no longer tries to be heard… he's on borrowed time because the clock is ticking and it won't be long before he might be handed divorce papers.
A woman who is still fighting for her marriage, for her relationship, for love will say: "I need x,y,z from you" or "Get off the couch and come help me" or "Can you please not watch the game today?" or "When you do this or that it really disappoints me, frustrates me, irritates me, etc". But when she no longer says anything? Yikes. That's a woman who is becoming detached… who is worn down… who is not heard and who is beyond exhausted and tired of asking for what she needs or wants only to be ignored. Her scream is now one of silence. It speaks volumes but he's not hearing the seriousness of it. Inside she's dying. She's merely existing… not living. She's becoming a shell of who she once was and is just going through the motions in her marriage. He doesn't think she's fun anymore. He just wants her to shut up and leave him alone. Finally she does. He's not "in love with her" anymore. He doesn't realize he has to choose to love. The renewed feelings of him "being in love" will appear again… it just takes time with purposeful love. Meanwhile she doesn't think he's an adult anymore and she's too tired to carry both packs on her back.
If your wife is no longer interacting with you and saying what she wants and needs it's time to seriously start working on your marriage if you truly value it… hopefully it's not too late but your time is very limited. Pick up her favorite dinner, light some candles, (this is not the time to initiate sex, hello!) and have a real and transparent conversation about how you can both make your marriage better.
(this can apply to wives as well)
Generally speaking, a lazy person; man or woman wants the easy way in life… they don't want to have to go to any effort other than what is absolutely minimally required and that includes anything and everything from effort in their marriages, to keeping a clean house, parenting and even their relationship with God. The lazy man or woman can be perfectly content sitting in a Lazy Boy chair and watching program after program, napping, eating to their hearts content and being a general slob. If someone is reminiscent of the sloth in the kids movie Zootopia that's not attractive. They have detachment and disinterest in others in their life and want the focus to be on what they desire… putting their needs first, which leads to this two fold problem… selfishness. They want what they want and that may be anything from the newest movie out on dvd, video game, iPhone, gadget, etc. They want to spend inordinate amounts of time doing whatever they wish… whether it's watching football games on the weekend while their wife does everything for the home and children or going to the movies, watching nascar, playing golf, watching star wars marathons, etc. These men have roots of selfishness in their hearts that stuntedly beat "me, me, me" while their wives become increasingly more and more unhappy perhaps silently withdrawing and resentful. Or perhaps the tables are turned and the husband is the one checked in on the home and kids… while the wife is out shopping, partying, meeting friends etc while everything falls on his shoulders. Regardless, whatever the situation, if God is not made number one priority followed by each person being genuinely invested in each other they will never reap fruit but instead… sadly, decay and destruction.
When we suppress our inner desires, our frustrations and needs from our partner whether male or female we are creating bigger problems in our relationship. We know that keeping silent about what matters to us is not the answer. When we continue to bite our tongue we further lose our emotional connection. But what about when we do speak up and we are not acknowledged? What if what we attempt to share is dismissed and shut down? When we are emotionally abandoned by our partner it feels like rejection because it is… anyone who has been rejected knows that pain.
Pornography is a type of rejection. No matter what new modern ways of thinking are trying to be promoted in todays world… porn is not condoned by God nor needed to keep a man interested, piqued, etc… it chips away… over time like an illegal drug you must take in more to get a better effect… or any effect. Eventually that soft porn becomes hard core and expands into more than anyone perhaps initially planned to explore. Porn also sets unrealistic physical expectations on women as well and is all rooted in satan's snare of deceitful fantasy not grounded in God's word of real beauty and truth. When husband's choose porn over their fleshly perfectly imperfect wife or the escape of a video game over a real and present connection joined with conversation it creates distance, division and eventually resentment. The amount of effort we put into anything often correlates to the final outcome. If someone is investing their time into porn, video games, etc, then their life or more namely their marriage will surely reflect it as well.
We make choices everyday. When we chose something over our spouse we are saying on some level to them: "This is more important to me than you. This is more important to me than us." They may not hear their partner's silent scream of frustration but rest assured it's there. It's the silent scream on borrowed time. It's when she (or he) stops speaking up to be worried... if your goal is a divorce congratulate yourself on wearing her down to that point. She no longer has the energy to speak up. She no longer has the fire in the pit of her stomach to get worked up. She no longer has the desire to fight for you as a couple. The question is do you? If she's thrown her hands up the ball is in your court... someone has to be strong for the both of you at least for now. Stand up and show up for her. Otherwise just let her know now you don't plan to. So she doesn't spend anymore time suffering in silence.
names have been omitted in this post
I hopped into the den where my mom was sitting on the oversized taupe couch watching Shark Tank. I loved that show, it was one of our regulars we watched. The room was dim with just lamps lit and the flatscreen flashed across from her on the wall. She turned toward me and noticed I was hopping on one foot wincing in pain.
"What the heck? What's wrong with you?"
She asked incredulously.
I made a grimace "My foot is what's wrong. My toes, my feet... they keep cramping. They won't stop. One minute I'm fine, the next I feel like my toes are contorting like little gymnasts. This is ridiculous!"
She sighed "Well... when are you going to go do something about it? I told you what the problem is." She chastised me. I continued hopping on my left foot hoping some relief would ensue.
"I'm sick of this... " I told her. "It's everyday now. I feel like my name should be Hippity Hop… Hip Hop, please make it stop!" I remarked with sarcasm. She laughed and nearly lost her hot chocolate she was sipping.
"I had the same problem when I was eating gluten." She told me "I'm telling you there is a link. Since I went gluten free I don't have foot cramps anymore. I used to be up all night in tears because of them. The gluten is keeping you from absorbing the vitamins and minerals you need. That's why you're getting the foot cramps. That's why no matter how much Vitamin D you take your levels don't go up. You need to go to the doctor and get re-tested for celiac."
"My doctor retired." I replied.
Another sigh and look of exasperation
"You are so stubborn. You need to make it a priority THIS year to find a new doctor and GO!!!" She stressed to me.
"Alright... I'll do it."
I said resignedly and winced as I
continued my hopping dance around the den.
Unlike going to the doctor to see about whatever ails us and seeking a "fix" either through diet, medication or exercise… using that philosophy to fix a narcissist or sociopath just doesn't work. Unfortunately no matter what we try to do there is no magic pill, therapy or twelve step program to cure narcissism. Stubbornness on their part isn't the issue. The truth of the matter is... they aren't changing and we will see zero change unless we are the ones who implement it.
When I was dating my ex (at nineteen and then again at 22) he was so good at listening to all my past. Likewise he was good at playing on my sympathy card. Narcs have our deepest sympathies initially. His father had passed the summer before we met. As he pleaded to my sympathies of how horrifying and challenging it all had been... I saw an angry hurt young man who was so easy to talk to and was opening up to me. With my own childhood I could immediately relate to the anger part. That played a part in bonding us. And I saw a young man who was in awe of me. My biggest fear ever was being cheated on in a marriage. I told myself: He won't ever cheat on you. You can be sure of that. He has you on a pedestal and loves you too much.
It was clear he did... I mean, he said and did so many of the right things, right? At first. After Jeremy walked away in complete frustration at my lack of opening up and voicing my feelings for him I found myself rationalizing, believing the most absurd things about my one day husband and in that also one day ex like: Well, he's the "safe" choice. He's not in the least a wildcard. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he has a good work ethic, he is crazy about me. I may lack chemistry on my end with him but the care, love and solid friendship should carry us through and really… I mean, who needs chemistry too? Isn't that overrated?
What a fool I was.
At nineteen what do we really know?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
You can make an enchilada with partial ingredients but guess what? It won't be as good as the one with everything in it. For success you must have it all.
Having a life application bible on a bedstand does not make a Godly man. Having pre-martial sex does not make a Godly man. Having an abortion does not make a Godly choice. It's a choice for sure. Not a good one. I wasn't seeking God so I wasn't seeking a Godly future husband. I had signs flashing before me. I just wasn't noticing or realizing the truth and enormity of them. He was so good... so good at making it like he needed you. He needed me in his life he said. Your sympathy and empathetic instincts kick in and you want to nurture him, (or her) make him feel loved, healed and adored. Because he (or she) has voiced so many times that you make his life better, you are so out of his league, he is the lucky one, he is the one who is blessed, he is the one who never deserved you. You are so far up there high in the sky like an angel whose been promoted you are blinded by the stars in his eyes for you. But wait... because eventually one day you will endure shock and bruises. One day you will be falling to a very dark and dismal place because he (or she) will yank the pedestal out from under you. And when you fall suddenly the tables will turn.
THE PREY AND THE TARGET…
They prey on your need to be loved. Especially if you never had that from your mother or father. (We really need to love ourselves before we seek a relationship with someone else) They prey on your need to empathetize. They prey on your need to fix. They prey on your need to help. They prey on your sympathies and need to listen. They prey on your need to put all that pent up love you have into someone. They prey on your cheer leading skills. They prey on your need to build others up. They prey on your need to follow rules; knowing you won't cheat on them, you will always listen to them and you won't pull anything shady, outrageous or illegal. They prey on your need to heal them.
They prey. That's what they do.
They are hunters and you are the target.
One day you find yourself viewed by them as old hat, passe, out of date, washed up, worn out... you get the idea. That's now you in their eyes. They suddenly strut around like a proud rooster; their ego fluffed like cocky feathers flying in the wind. You wonder what the heck is happening and why the sudden attitude change. It's like your planet has shifted. Suddenly you can do no right… you, the man or woman who at one time could do no wrong. Suddenly everything you do or don't do is wrong, annoying, boring, etc. With a narcissist, like eggs, eventually you've gone bad, you're past your use by date and now the punishment phase begins. Maybe the silent treatment. Cheating, Adultery. The gas-lighting, the stone-walling.... whatever they decide to pull from their arsenal of weapons they do and you stand there blinking in bewilderment at why they are treating you this way.
There is no fix.
There is no remedy.
There is no medication.
There is no therapy.
None of those things will work with someone toxic.
You aren't here to be someone's savior
however lovingly well intentioned and tried.
If it was only so easy to just send them to a doctor for a test, a shot in the rear and a cure. But it's not that easy. For many it means the daunting realization of having to leave or facing the painful reality of being left. But the good news is you CAN move on. Don't let them make you doubt yourself. You can change. You don't need someone at the cost of losing you. You are capable. Don't let them stop you. You are someone who has such a good heart, such a wonderful soul and that's why you were chosen by them. They saw all that pure empathy shining from your heart like a prism of color and beauty and they knew they had struck gold. Keep on... keep being golden… even if it's on your own.
names have been omitted in this post
I had the house to myself... the three stories were quiet other than the occasional sound of a bird call outside or a plane flying overhead. The floor to ceiling bare windows overlooking the back edged in water offered an expansive view and I could watch egrets take flight from the dock down below at the outskirts of the property. I heard the ping of the stainless steel toaster and knew that meant my Eggo waffles were now crispy and hot. I snatched them up and placed them on a white plate and reached for the syrup. Usually I took the time to heat it separately in a small bowl but this morning I didn’t feel particularly motivated to go to the effort and decided squirting the cold Aunt Jemima syrup on them sufficed. Still dressed in gray plaid pajama pants and a charcoal gray sleep shirt I padded barefoot to the dark stained antique table holding my plate. As I did so my eyes spied my laptop sitting open on the granite kitchen countertop.
The laptop computer was opened to Facebook and my glance took quick note that the little red message icon was lit up showing I had a new message along with a new friend request. Immediately the usual ambivalent feelings stirred in me upon seeing I had a friend request and wondering whom it could be. Just seeing that red icon lit gave me trepidation. Someone from my past was reaching out. That past that often seemed like it belonged to someone else because so much time had passed. Yet other times felt like it was yesterday but was still mine nonetheless. But who was it?
Part of me wanted nothing more than to just swiftly shut the laptop and go about my day… back to my breakfast that was waiting for me, to my errands and the signs of spring outside. It had been a very mild winter and the outside world had begun to prematurely explode with spring colors and temperatures in the sixties. Tiny green buds were about to bloom into delicate white fluffs on our bare crepe myrtles and would soon resemble snowy umbrellas. Pockets of yellow daffodils were in full bloom in our flowerbeds and it was only February. I was suddenly anxious to get on with my day and forget whatever was awaiting me in my inbox but curiosity overcame me. Pushing my feelings of dread aside I used my long nimble fingers to hover the cursor over the inbox icon then clicked. I had no idea what to expect next. Relief ensued, washing over me. It was a sweet friend from high school reaching out, wondering whatever had happened to me our junior year, as I had inexplicably disappeared.
I had hidden my past for years. In the early years post returning when anyone had asked "Where did you go to high school?" I would freeze and feel panic overcome me. I sometimes wondered if people knew the secret I was holding and yet in reality no one had a clue of the enormity of what I was hiding... much tucked away like a dirty napkin in one's pocket. I had been advised for years to not speak of what had happened... to not speak of my time gone. I was the embarassment of the family. Leaving home at seventeen I had fallen from the pedestal of being the golden child to the scorned black sheep of the family. Yet the truth was I had always been seen as a second place prize for not being born a boy. You can't continue a family name without the right set of genitalia. You can't continue a family legacy when you're the beginning of three disappointments due to merely being born girls. You are the consolation prize and chronically reminded of it... your paternal grandfather chastises your mother for not "producing boys". Like it was her job to satisfy a job requirement. She with a transparently icy tone let him know: "Actually, it's the man who determines the sex of the baby... not the mother." But of course her words fell on deaf ignorant ears. My grandmother's lips would purse as she didn't hide her disdain for my mother... because she felt threatened by another woman in her midst. My grandmother was in charge and only liked me because I was her spitting image. My two younger sisters were openly regarded with derision and dislike because they favored my mother's looks more... but only behind closed doors. In public she was the adoring grandmother... it caused division between my sisters and I and always left me feeling like I was in a tug of war of allegiance.
As children we love our grandparents dearly and yet with keen eyes we see the dynamics of how they treat others. We have our perspectives of them as children and then later as adults... maybe trying to grasp and come to terms with the gap that resides between the two. The way my grandmother treated my mother... at best like an unwelcome guest in the family... but really as an outsider barely tolerated, as a child had me chronically feeling as though I was a traitor to one woman or the other. But ultimately as I sorted out the ambivalent feelings... as I grew older and married... had children of my own and then had my own mother in law who didn't care for me I gained more perspective... I could appreciate the moments I'd shared with my grandmother as a child baking pies, playing dominoes and singing old Judy Garland songs... yet I now realized the true enormity of what my mother had endured. My mother had already suffered in a marriage that wasn't healthy and yet instead of my grandmother joining with her... banding with her in support and two women being there for one another... she made it worse. She made it known my mother was not who she wanted for her son, edged my mother out and worse lied outright to me about her. At seventeen when I returned from being gone and was sent by my father to live with my grandparents my grandmother and I would talk into the wee hours. One night she told me: "You weren't planned. Your mother found out she was pregnant with you and called me upset saying she didn't know what she was going to do. I had to go to their place and talk to her. She was worried about what your father would say." That night I cried myself to sleep in the quilted guest bed in their home. Later... much later... over a year when I shared what my grandmother had told me to my mother... she blew... she told me my grandmother had lied... she went to my father and relayed what had happened. He confronted my grandmother who gave me a piercing silent look and denied ever having said it. I was floored and indignant. Of course my father believed her and once again as always his loyalties were not to my mother but instead the cord he'd never cut from his mommy. That was their marriage in a nutshell coupled with his fits and control behind closed doors. He had his real true family; him and his parents. My mother and I and my two sisters were a family on our own shoved to the side. I tucked that moment away in my memory. I realized no matter how much someone claims to love you they have every ability to hurt you... maybe just in the hopes of using you to hurt someone else. Collateral damage happens chronically in families where narcissism lives. It was these scenarios that I grew up with... where people didn't actually talk to each other transparently about how they felt but instead alliances were attempted behind closed doors, insinuations were made and glances were taken note of... you never could be certain where you stood with someone... triangulation and agendas were rampant in the shadows and if you stood strong and openly called someone out on their bs... you were deemed a troublemaker and ostracized.
Growing up I was deemed the troublemaker. It's like it had become my middle name. I had been the outspoken one, the one who called it like it was... and very often that's not a popular way to be. Because sometimes no matter how much truth you speak with tact, grace, love and well intentions (or try to) people don't like hearing what you have to say. Eventually I saw it as a strength instead of something to feel guilty or shamed for... but that took a really long time. My younger middle sister lived quietly... unlike me she stayed away from questioning our father and his actions... her solution was to chronically bite her tongue and eventually just leave... she moved out when she was still a teenager. It was all any of us wanted to do... leave. Because living there was miserable... but that left our youngest sister behind and with that came all sorts of horrible consequences over the course of a six year period that would eventually lead to a permanent loss. The what if's ensue and leave you questioning everything... if we'd done x,y,z would she still be here? If we'd done x,y,z what would have changed? If you've suffered the loss of a loved one you know that stuff has the ability to drive you crazy because the beating up you do to yourself can be all consuming if you let it.
On a September afternoon in 2008 when we went to my grandparents home and met my grandmother at the front door to let her know my sister had passed she stared at us blankly... her alzheimers had taken over and she had no clue who we were talking about. "Our daughter, mom! Our daughter! She died!" My dad had snapped at her angrily as we entered and filed past her one by one giving her silent somber expressions. Her astonished gasp infiltrated the house and I carefully took a seat on the edge of the fine cream antique chair she'd had custom upholstered in Scalamandre or Lee Jofa as she always fancied in the Town and Country magazines. The grandfather clock chimed in the nearby entry and I heard my grandfather call out to my father from their back master bedroom. My father excused himself from the room and I sat staring blankly in silence as my grandmother sank into a nearby chair and kept saying over and over "Oh My God... Oh My God... the poor girl..." detached, like my sister was just anyone. I felt the living room start to spin and tilt slightly as tears sprang to my eyes and I could hear my mother weeping in a corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run. Unknowingly at the time the ADHD magnified wanting to run by a million. Renewed rage in me ensued. I found it so ironic that my grandmother now escaped the reality of the final outcome of all the horror we'd endured for years... alzheimers had not just stolen her memory but also the realization, the reality, the effects of what we'd lived and what had come of it all. It made me want to scream and hurl all at once as the floor seemed to engulf me. She had escaped fully understanding the final result and yet here we were being slapped with it like a stone cold pan. She at that point still recognized me... and would for a few years... but as she slipped away more and more I stopped going to see her... each visit became increasingly more difficult and I wanted to leave it all behind. It was all more than I could emotionally handle at that point on top of the grief of losing my youngest sister while also juggling a demanding husband and two children.
Growing up in a narcissistic family you endure so much... in our case there was not just the agendas, the pristine image sought, the fits of rage and division... but also being closeted away like unsocialized pets. We weren't allowed to have friends or lives. We weren't allowed to have voices or feelings. We weren't allowed to have a close connection, nurturing and affection. We were controlled and told, conditioned on what to think, how to feel and what to believe. It's comparable to living in a cult and only seeing glimpses of how others live make you realize how limited your childhood is... as a child or teenager you instinctively know something isn't right but you aren't sure what it is... and living a restricted existence sets you back for adulthood... leaving you wholly unprepared and thus life so much more challenging than necessary. You realize you can't run. It's what you want to do. Understandably. But you must stay put and go through the emotional work needed. You eventually begin making sense of what you lived... you perhaps substitute how some would cope with drugs or alcohol instead turning to music... you engulf yourself in hard rock... angry hard rock and embrace the pent up no's you've been told for years, you embrace the understandable anger you feel and you slowly find the rage dissipating and you disentagle yourself... it takes years... tears and more tears are shed... you drive and drive... driving is one way to lose yourself to the wounds that need to be soothed... hours upon hours pondering on it all and working through it... you finally go to therapy... where you gain additional insight and affirmation on what has happened and as you work through it you fly away to a new place... a healthier place.
That limited philosophy of "the horse that couldn't be tamed"
as he put it has been released from such binds...
She's soaring to new heights and unstoppable. She, (as maybe you have) lived through it and survived and not just survived but thrived. Fly on... fly on and continue to lead those who are afraid to get up off the ground... fly for those who can't because their wings were clipped... fly for those who need you to speak for them because they no longer can... fly on and soar high in the sky because you weren't meant to be tethered and kept in a cage of a limited life. You were meant to ascend into a new chapter with more than just a dream but a real life filled with peace, a life filled with friends and fulfilling connections, a life with affection that gives life sweetness, a life infused with songs sung with hope. You were meant for being loved by someone who's not scared by what you've lived... whose not frightened by what you have been through but instead views you with awe and pure love. You were meant for someone who will take more than a chance on you but that knows you are worth every chance they take.
-- this post is dedicated to my sister with love --
names have been omitted in this post
"What got you through your divorce?"
She asked me.
I looked at her and grimaced.
"God, my Mama, cream cheese danish,
country music and my friends."
Maybe some folks when asked that question would have said "Alcohol, kick-boxing or my Daddy's money." But no matter what the answer, no matter who or what got you through your divorce you know if you're blessed to have it in your rearview mirror that you're thankful to have miraculously made it to the other side. You know how long it takes to get a divorce finalized (way too long... expect in most cases a minimum of a year if you're lucky) and you know all the ways you must reassess, adapt and learn in the process of this major life change. Because when you go into it you have so many ill pre-conceieved notions of what it will or should be like... and so often those are incredibly wrong.
It's like going into anything. I may have thought riding the Conquistador at Six Flags Over Texas would be perfectly fine... until I exited it and my face turned green as beans and I was sick right there on the pavement. When you're not sure what to expect or you have pre-conceived notions as to what will happen or specifically what should happen you can end up feeling like you got blindsided. Those should's can cause you alot of grief during the divorce process on top of what you're already dealing with in regards to the person you're divorcing. The longer the divorce process drags on we lose time in our process of healing. Understandably it's so easy to get swept up in the lengthy and tiresome ongoing life event that is divorce that we may focus on things other than what would perhaps be in our better interests. This post will hopefully help in re-directing focus to the positive and help with the healing process.
We can stop and think back on the many experiences and memories we shared with our ex... and how they made us feel. When I was married my ex didn't want me tagging along on his work business trips even though I would have enjoyed going and voiced as much. After we divorced he made many remarks that I hadn't wanted to go with him. It's amazing how the truth is twisted by them. Or maybe your ex criticized how you did everything... maybe you were a target for them to attack whatever you did... from how you loaded the dishwasher, how you folded the laundry, how you dressed, how you parented. Yet you weren't allowed to say anything to them about anything or you were met with fits of rage or stonewalling. Perhaps it was chronically open season to berate you but you couldn't criticize them no matter how constructive, tactful or well-meaning. When someone's goal is to make you feel inadequate, stupid, inept, etc... you don't need that. We are called to be up-lifters not haters. Reflect on how their behavior made you feel... and realize that those feelings say alot about how they are, how they treat others and their character... but not you.
2. Go No Contact Or Minimal.
If you can go no contact you should as gaining that distance will help you begin healing faster. Focusing on your ex and/or abuser leads to riding a continual wave of negativity which does nothing but cause you more stress. Admittedly, when we go no contact it can be incredibly difficult as we are trying to disengage from someone we've intimately shared life with. The narc will likely push back and become furious at your attempts to ignore and remove yourself from the pig pen... pushing for more interaction. They will likely amp up the forms of punishment and chaos but hang in there... from personal experience I know it's hard but keep your strong stance and distance. It will eventually get better if you don't react. If you don't have children with a narc it's obvious with a lack of co-parenting needed that going no contact may be easier. But when it comes to co-parenting there is still the option of minimal contact. My ex and I have nearly zero contact and that's for the best. It's healthiest for me and enables me to be a better mom because then I'm not subjected to his abuse. We utilize Our Family Wizard for messaging and even that occurence is rare at this point in time. Ultimately you have to find what works best for you... I think the key to all of this to remember that we have CHOICES. It's when we feel a lack of choices that we begin to feel powerless and then despair follows. Remember that we have the power to choose how to interact, respond, etc... we have way more power than what we may give yourselves credit for and what we will or will not tolerate.
3. Therapy, please.
Therapy with a trusted therapist is incrediby helpful and reassuring. Find a therapist who is knowledgable about narcissisism and sees the value and importance of going no contact. Interview a few before choosing one. Finding someone who can testify in court if needed on your behalf might be helpful. Find someone who is a soft place for you to fall in all the crazy-making behaviors endured. The therapist I had during my divorce was truly a gift... it was through her I realized what I was dealing with; a narcissitic sociopath. Her understanding of the disorder and recognizing the signs by my detailed experiences relayed to her combined with her empathy helped tremendously and kickstarted my understanding of exactly who I was married to. My second therapist in the aftermath of my divorce being final was a good resource in emotionally guiding me through the continual court filings my ex orchestrated and being a sounding board regarding my children's emotional health. A therapist can also help us overcome our self-doubt that has been planted in us due to gas-lighting and help us find our solid footing again in the world... becoming more self assured and emotionally stronger.
4. Responsibility + Acceptance.
Once you accept that this was your life and what happened things will begin to shift and good things will take place. You have the power to re-write your story and how it will end. I chose someone who I see now was clearly not good for me. I married a man who I'd made the poor choice of having pre-martial sex with and getting pregnant. I then made the selfish choice to get an abortion combined with his urging to "get rid of the problem" and yet later married him. That was one of my biggest signs in hindsight. No man who truly loves you will condone you aborting a baby that is half yours and his. We can acknowledge the poor sinful choices we've made but that doesn't mean our life is now devoid of hope or meaning. You are loved, forgiven and beautifully strong. The world will continually try to pull you down with potshots and smug glances, maybe act like what you went through didn't happen or wasn't that bad or will tell you you're a victim and should milk it for everything you can. You can say no to all of these unhealthy mindsets and instead adopt healthy ones. Yes, you may have originally been a victim... I prefer to use the word target... but that doesn't mean you have to remain there. Some of us have been through truly horrific situations, for many people situations that they didn't ask for and were targets but we can all start fresh and make the rest of our life the best of our life.
5. Utilize Self Care.
No matter what I've been through a common theme of thought over the years has been: Some people have had it way worse so suck it up and keep going. And it's perfecty fine to give yourself a pep talk, to tell yourself to keep going. And yes, there are people who have had it worse. But the thing is... this is YOUR life. Stop the comparisons for a moment and acknowledge the difficulties and challenges you've personally been through. Then give yourself much needed love and care. During time with an abuser it's common to not indulge in self care which ends up being very detrimental to our health. Instead of doing things for ourselves we likely spent much of our time catering to the narcissist or sociopath in our lives. Now is your time to self indulge and splurge if possible. Take the time to do things that are comforting and caring to you.... whether it's pedicures, listening to music, journaling, enjoying tea and a good book or jogging with friends, etc... even indulging in hobbies that perhaps you weren't allowed to dabble in before; photography, dance, music, painting, etc... taking the time to care for yourself is much needed and will help your body relax after all the tension, stress and anxiety a narc releases into our life.
It's time to take a good look at our life and ask ourselves some vital questions. When it comes to divorce or really any major life change... the loss of a loved one, a milestone birthday or the beginning of a new year it's good to review our life, reassess and ask ourselves: Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going? Then make changes according to where you want to go in life. Do you want to go back to school? Start a business? What are your goals and aspirations? What is your passion? What are your talents and natural gifts? It really comes down to this one question: What kind of life do you want to live? Don't be afraid to try new things. I got into real estate a few years ago... I had always wanted to try it and looking back I'm glad I did. Yet I realized if I was going to put that much time and effort working (which is pretty much 24/7) on a career then I sure as heck wasn't going to hand over a large portion of the profits to a real estate company to pocket. That infuriated me. I could sell houses but if you lack passion then what good is it doing? So I left real estate. I then made futher adjustments and at the urging of a male friend began searching for where to launch a new website. Going back to school is wonderful but not for everyone. Delve into your passions and gifts. Then use them to make the world a better place. You have this one life and opportunity to live the life you want to live and make a difference. Seize it.