names have been omitted and changed in this post
It was November; the month of family and being thankful, of pumpkin pie and gathering round a table to share thanks and count blessings. It was the month of cooler temps, our wedding anniversary and leaves changing colors before they dropped from the trees. I heard his footsteps as he walked through the kitchen door from the garage… he was home from his day at work. I turned back to glance at him where I stood at the sink filling a stainless steel pot with water to boil spaghetti for dinner. He strode in with his leather Kenneth Cole computer bag slung over his shoulder and stooped to drop it gently on the floor by the long foyer table. "Hey!" I greeted him pleasantly as the water spewed into the pot. I heard him sigh. Glancing up, I took note of his facial expression; he looked distraught and upset, almost like he'd been crying or was about to have a breakdown of some sort. Not like him at all. I wondered what this was about and immediately felt on guard. He either had bad news or I was about to get chewed out for who knew what. He walked over to the bar opposite me and leaned on the tall taupe speckled granite countertop with his forearms. Dressed in dress slacks and a crisp dress shirt he spoke.
"Hey…" but his tone wasn't cheery or upbeat. It was more like someone with a bleak outlook.
I bit "What's wrong?" I'd soon regret asking that question.
"I've had a really hard day. Really hard." He told me, his voice giving a hint of breaking. I studied him. I'd never seen him like this. Something had happened. But what?
"Yeah?" I asked cautiously giving him a wary look. "What happened?"
"Something happened today. I jus…" He trailed off and seemed to be trying to decide whether he should continue or if he even could. A pause took place and his voice wavered "I, I've just been having a tough time lately with… you know… "He trailed off again and looked at me pointedly.
My mind searched rapidly for what he could be talking about. Wait, it was November. This was the month. This was when he or she was supposed to have been born. Was that it? What he was upset about? He never ever talked about it. About the baby. About the abortion. Ever.
"I'm having a really tough time, I really need to talk about it." He said.
"I don't want to talk about it." I replied.
"Jennifer… I really…" He began but I cut him off.
"I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! I'm NOT talking about it!" I told him. I was willing and would discuss anything under the sun with him. Anything. But not this. Not ever.
"Jennifer…" He spoke almost pleading.
How dare he. I turned my back to him and placing the pot of water on the warm burner began breaking the stiff spaghetti into shorter lengths and dropped them into the water to boil.
"Don't bring it up again. I DON'T want to talk about it." I told him and taking a deep breath with tears threatening my eyes but not falling I left the room, jogging up the staircase to the master bathroom where I swiftly slammed the door shut mentally calling him every name in the book.
I should have had the baby. I should have been stronger. Braver. Women who made the poor choice of having pre-marital sex but having the baby were braver. I admired them. I should have just had it on my own. I shouldn't have even told him. I should have dumped him and then had the baby. Technically I shouldn't have had sex with him in the first place I chastised myself. All the should's in the world couldn't take back or fix what had happened; the sin that had been chosen. I wasn't going to be his soft place. Not in this. Not this time. It was asking too much. I had been his soft place through so much. I'd stood by him as the doting wife after learning unbeknownst to me he hadn't paid the taxes for three years and we'd had to sell our house and move to a dismal rental. I'd stood by him as he'd built a company in our garage to expanding nationwide and later into Mexico; supporting his dream and raising children much of the time solo. I'd stood by him as he'd continually allowed his mother and sister to treat me as less than and a leech. I'd stood by him for more than I should have ever done. I didn't even truly believe he was upset. I didn't believe he truly regretted it. I didn't believe him. I thought it was all just an act, a ruse to play on my emotions and gain sympathy. To draw me near him. It wasn't happening. I didn't believe he had any regret over what we'd done. On some level I had felt tied to him in our sin and then married him anyway. My mother had told me when I'd married him the abortion would always come between us and I hadn't believed her. She didn't know that we could overcome that, love more than that, I'd told her. Idealistic youth is so lovely until it punches you in the face. She had been right.
The abortion, the baby was always there; lingering between us like a silent invisible fence. Just like Jeremy. Invisible fences may not be seen but they are felt. And they divide. They divide and destroy sometimes no matter how much you try not to let them or wish it wasn't reality.
It was around this same time period he very suddenly wanted us to renew our marriage vows. Completely baffled by this sudden announcement I couldn't figure out where this was coming from. He was one of the most unromantic people out there. Practical was his middle name so I couldn't determine why he was suddenly all up in arms about us needing to renew our vows. And he wanted to do it up big; a big to-do and have a ceremony with our friends and family as witnesses. He wanted us to write our own vows, for me to pick out a dress and flowers. I laughed it off initially as what had to be a huge joke on his part, yet he persisted and I finally realized he was serious. To which I became highly suspicious. Why? I asked him but never received an answer that truly satisfied me. He was giddy as a schoolgirl about it and wanted to start planning it immediately. He insisted on buying me a new wedding ring and soon he had plunked down enough money to purchase a car on one at Robbins Brothers. Suddenly he was more attentive than usual and it was like we were dating again. But it was bewildering to me and I kept having a nagging feeling I couldn't ignore. I stood there staring at him like he was from another planet and unrecognizable to me. Who was this person? I became extremely agitated by this uneasy feeling I had regarding his new behavior and I shut down the whole ordeal. "NO! I'm NOT doing that." I told him.
But why???" He asked "I think it would be great! Why won't you do it?" He asked me with a smile.
"Because I'm not comfortable with it." I replied. Why did he suddenly want to renew our vows? In hindsight later I'd wonder if he'd been cheating and decided to "start over" and "re-commit" to our marriage and viewed it as a fresh start. With the way he'd brought up the baby that one November day I fleetingly wondered if he'd gotten someone else pregnant and she'd had an abortion. But he'd had a vasectomy after our daughter was born so that didn't make sense. Yet on some level I was so naive and didn't believe in a million years he'd ever really cheat. I also on some level didn't think he could get anybody. Surely I was the only one foolish enough to say yes to him. But we don't always see the truth right in front of us; where there's a cheater there's also yet another person for he or she to trick and win over.
"Oh, Dear, come on, "He chastised in good humor. I hated it when he called me "Dear". What were we? Eighty? But he rattled on. "It would be a good thing for us to do. You really wouldn't want us to renew our vows?" He asked seemingly surprised. He seemed genuinely shocked I wasn't on board with his proposal. He thought me being the romantic I'd immediately think it was a wonderful idea. And it would have been with someone I was happily married to and treated me with respect and kindness.
I stared at him like he was an impostor "What is all this about, exactly? Why do YOU want to do this?" I demanded. I wanted to know his intentions. I felt he was hiding something but I didn't know what.
"I think it'd be a great thing to do." He told me and tried to pull me toward him.
I shrugged him away and spoke "I don't think so at all. I think it's stupid and a waste of money." I told him… "Don't ask again, I'm not agreeing to this. And don't spring it on me as a surprise." I told him.
"So, what you're saying is you wouldn't marry me again? Is that what it is?" He asked, his tone suddenly changing.
I avoided his gaze. "You can take it to mean whatever you want." I told him brusquely. "I already told you I think it's stupid."
"Yeah, but… "He trailed off and stared at me like he'd had an epiphany of sorts. "That's what you're saying, isn't it? You wouldn't marry me again." He stated like he already knew the answer. I felt immediately trapped and wanted out of this moment. But it was too late; it was like being set up to fail; he already knew the answer on some level.
"You're right… I wouldn't." I replied and walked off with a terrible ache from my words that I tried to dull with the anger I had toward him and even myself.
There are some things said you can never take back. These are the verbal weapons that destroy a marriage. Even if you did take them back, deep down you'd know it was a lie. And so would they. The truth has already escaped and been placed in full light. The truth can often be discerned without any words spoken. Sometimes I can't believe I could be that cruel. Sometimes the guilt still nags at me having said that to him. It wasn't right.
I also know exactly who and what I've been dealing with since I filed divorce papers on him. Guilt is something he's not capable of feeling. Ever. I've been dealing with a man so incensed that he was divorced that he's done nothing but create complete havoc, grief and destruction as revenge toward me. He's lied, he's spied, he's used other people to stalk me on social media, he's used our children as weapons and he's drug me to mediation and court much more than necessary; enjoying as I spend down my accounts because there is no opting out when it comes to mediation and court. He's been nothing but a manipulative force to be ignored and at times exasperated with behind closed doors. He is not the boy I knew at nineteen, he is not who people think he is, he is a man I'm not proud to say I married. The only good that came out of the marriage were my children and because I have no idea what person at this point my son will become; all I can do is pray for him from afar and hope it's good and nothing like his father. All I can hope is the goodness left in him overcomes any bad. But I worry. And I worry for my daughter and the corrosion of her self esteem every time her father dismisses her and treats her as an inconvenience. The only reason he wants to have custody of her is to "win", to not pay child support and hurt me. My children and I have endured way more destruction than we deserved for the poor choice I made in marrying him. Losing your child, seeing them both used as weaponry and worrying how they will turn out is a horrible thing to witness whether you're a mother or father in this. It's not something I'd wish on anyone. No one should have to experience this kind of upheaval and ongoing stress, and yet so many people suffer in silence everyday doing just that. And eventually the ones who are orchestrating the destruction will pay… one day they will have to answer for their evil ways, at least to a higher power and when that day comes some sort of justice will take place. I question what his new wife thinks of how much energy he is putting into creating chaos for me; one would think she would raise an eyebrow at how much attention and money he's willing to throw my way. What woman in her right mind no matter how secure would be okay with that?
We have no idea when we marry someone that they may be personality disordered or else we'd have never married them in the first place. That's one of many things that frustrates me about the court system; they like to say "Well, you married this person!" No, I didn't choose this evil. They show their complete true colors later. Much later after you're in and it's too late. The courts have not a clue about the realities of being married to someone personality disordered. Later on in the marriage we may not yet know exactly what were dealing with but we know something isn't right. You can have great relationships with friends, co-workers and acquaintances but it will never be good with someone personality disordered. You can't make sense and order out of disorder. If and when you decide to leave there are things you need to keep in mind that will help you navigate this journey.
Divorcing A Narc: 3 Tips
1. It's never a good idea to show a narc your hand.
If you know their cheating, if you are planning to leave them I'd advise against tipping them off. Why allow them to have the upper hand? They are already going to be cunning so to give them a head start isn't wise. If you tip them off, if you confront them on their cheating and say "I want a divorce", "I'm divorcing you" you will be setting yourself up for major backlash. They will promptly tell everyone you've been behaving erratically, crazy, depressed, unstable… whatever they can come up with they will spread like wildfire and tsk tsk at how they are so worried for you, so upset and just not sure what to do as they lap up lot's of "Ohhh, I'm so sorry", "You poor thing" and "Bless your heart, I hope it gets better" type of statements and sentiments from others. They are setting the stage to make it look like you went off the deep end when this thing goes down the pooper all the while kicking you out of the house, changing the locks, canceling your debit and credit cards, clearing out your bank accounts, taking your vehicle, taking your children and making false allegations to have the police or cps on your back. Don't let that happen. Instead, keep quiet and take action. Say nothing, have your children with you, quietly file and have your spouses things out of the house the same day. Have the locks changed, get a protective order and or stay at a friends house or a hotel for awhile if you seriously fear for your life. Have someone trusted checking in on you or with you. Take half of the cash you have out of the bank (check your local/state laws for rules on community property) and keep it on you or go open a safe deposit box at a new bank to store it in. Get the scrapbooks, photo albums and sentimental items out of the house and stored somewhere they won't have access.
2. Mediation is a waste of time & money with a narc
Mediation is often touted by the courts as necessary to ensure everyone tries to "work things out" and resolve the issues without having to resort to court. The court is hoping you will come to an agreement so they don't have to see you. The judge would much rather just sign off on something you agreed to than have to listen to both of you state your cases and then have to intervene and make a decision for you. The truth is mediation is a total waste of time with a narc. The second brutal truth is this: Mediators are not there to help ease you through these issues in a "feel good manner" and help everyone reach a solution that they feel good about. The hard truth is they don't give a darn what you decide; they just want you to agree so they can say they did their job, get paid and move on. Some would tell you it looks better to agree out of court and not have to go before a judge. That's fear talking; stare it down and tell it to take a flying leap. It's such a loss either way: If you refuse the mediation (because we know it's never productive with a narc who merely bullies to get their way instead of compromising like a normal person) you will be viewed negatively by the court, your attorney, opposing counsel and anyone else they can yank in to judge you. If you do it there will be so much pent up frustration at your ex or soon to be ex's continual "no's" and shutting down any compromise that you will come within an inch of losing it. The way to handle mediation since you're pretty much stuck doing it is to grin and bear it. Opposing counsel uses mediation to find out what you want so they will be better prepared to annihilate you in court. So the best tactic when in mediation is to just ask: "Okay, let's get to it. What does he (or she) want?" Find out what the narcs terms are… because they have them, they want something. Already know what you're willing to give or not give. If what they want doesn't line up with what you're willing to do then just say "No, I'm not in agreement. Were done here. Thanks." You are under zero obligation to agree to anything you will regret later. This is not the time to begin feeling guilt or second guessing yourself. This is NOT the time to feel pressured to "agree" so you look agreeable. This is not the time to subscribe to people pleasing. Stay strong and walk. Don't breathe a word of what you want or what you're not willing to do. Once home, gather your documentation together and start preparing for court. I learned all this the hard way firsthand.
3. Be ready for the battle of your life with a narc
A narc's strategy regarding divorce and child custody is one of aggression. He or she is going to throw every dollar and effort into bringing you down and destroying you. They will call their attorney on every whim to spend down any actual settlement you may get. They will brainwash and try to take your children from you. You will be tested like you never have before. Impatient person? Get ready to have your patience tested ten fold and dig deep into near super inhuman strength to gain some. You will need it. Self care is mandatory to survive this so take care of yourself; get good sleep, eat well, exercise, get therapy, lean on your support system. You will need the distraction of your job and children; these are your lifelines in many ways, keeping your life as normal as possible. Narcissists are all about attempting to maintain control and if they can't; unleashing punishment. Divorcing a narc you run the risk of going broke, losing your home, your car and filing bankruptcy divorcing a narcissist. This is why you must pick your battles. You can't financially fight everything; pick the important stuff. If a narc has the financial ability to keep his or her attorney on continual retainer they will delight in continuing to file ludicrous things just to make you spend money you don't have. If you feel you're being pulled into court more often than necessary and your wallet nitpicked apart, ask your attorney whether you can get a reimbursement on attorney fee's. It's rare this is granted, but it's worth asking for. Keeping to the main issues like money (cash settlement and child support) and your children's best interests are what matters; not the dining room table or who gets the bedroom lamps. Working to keep your emotions out of the situation (yes, I know it's difficult) so you can stay focused on what matters is of the utmost importance. Take it one day at a time; looking at it as a mountain would overwhelm anyone. You know what you're dealing with so never underestimate them and be prepared to lose perhaps many small battles; just keep your eyes on the big picture; and lean on Him not the ways of the world for guidance, grace, power and strength to win the war.
Romans 2:6-8 ESVHe will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
John 15:4-5 ESVAbide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Isaiah 26:4 ESVTrust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
names have been changed or omitted in this post
It was a friday night in February and my daughter was back from her week at her dad's. With that came the usual updating of news and what she'd been up to. I had made us a tray of turkey, cheese and fruit to share and we sat at the kitchen table with my mother catching up.
My daughter plucked a slice of cheese
from the tray and spoke
"Daddy and Georgina have been fighting." She told me.
"They've been married what? Roughly six months.
Is she going to get a job?" I asked.
I knew he expected her to get a job.
But if she worked she wouldn't be available
to join him on his business trips.
"Yes, but not yet… He just had her walk-in closet remodeled and he bought her a new purse for her birthday… I think Chanel and she just got all that new furniture for the main floor of the house. Plus he's flying her back and forth to London to see her kid." My daughter pointed out. "Georgina is always with him. She goes on Daddy's business trips with him. I don't think she trusts him. I think he can tell too…. because she wanted to go on the end of school year field trip as a chaperone with him and he told her no that she didn't need to go. And like... when she goes somewhere she has him go too. You remember, Mommy… when you and Aunt Danielle took that trip to Miami Florida? Daddy sent us to Grammy's house while you were gone. So he was probably cheating on you then." She informed me.
I nodded and murmured "MmmmHmm" in return and sat listening not at all surprised by this bit of news however many years later. That trip to Miami was in Summer 2011. I'd filed October 2012. Wish I'd known then. I would have left sooner. Of course my ex's mother had protected him and told me nothing… she was a classic enabler to her son. And at the end of the day no one could blame Georgina for keeping tabs on her husband, my ex… he'd cheated. Could he really expect complete trust from any woman?
I was always so amazed by men like him. Men like him (shown by their actions) get married, cheat and then after they divorce quickly remarry and then marital issues begin cropping up again oh so quickly. They never thought that maybe they need to stay single. They think: "If I can just find the RIGHT WOMAN". Men who continue to swing from one relationship or marriage to the next (and sometimes have children with multiple women) can't seem to figure out why their pockets are becomingly increasingly poor due to child support (Blaming the woman of course as one of my ex's biggest gripes is the support he pays to me for our daughter) and now add the costs of courting new women which can be exorbitant. These particular men can't figure out why their children are angry at them, why they can't get ahead financially and why they go from woman to woman; their personal lives are a circus act… they don't have a solid foundation because they choose to feed their ego through another "hot" woman they must have to secure more supply instead of choosing one woman for a lifetime and being faithful…
and which is also cheaper in the long-run.
Note: Likewise there are men who marry manipulative man-haters and personality disordered women who are sucking their bank accounts dry, brainwashing their children against them and making their life miserable. Yes, it happens to men as well. These men suffer just as the women who married misogynists and narcissist's.
Misogynist's may try to come across as very pro-woman supporters. But it's not true. Oh yes, they initially come across as "nice guys"… that's the charm of someone who is personality disordered. A narc or sociopath is always a misogynist. But in that "niceness" let's remember there is a big difference between nice and kind. Kindness comes from love, from a good and fruitful place. Nice (charisma) is so often just a mere facade because underneath is a plethora of lies, manipulation, an ugly spiteful heart. Reality is… a man who hates women but acts like he's the nice guy is a misogynist. Misogyny and personality disorder go together like peanut butter and jelly.
12 Signs Of A Misogynistic Man & A Man-Hater:
1. The Misogynist: Can't take a joke/be teased by a woman,
responds in anger; feels she doesn't know her place.
The man-hater: She is generally arrogant
and demeaning toward all men:
"They are all worthless, dogs, etc" and makes cruel jokes.
2. The Misogynist: Is competitive and takes all the credit
for a woman's noteworthy ideas in the workplace;
has zero respect for females.
The Man hater: She rallies with other
women against the men
in her workplace, she gives preference
to females when a male may be just as qualified.
3. The Misogynist: Abhors authority figures and likely
had a contentious relationship with his mother and
or a father who was abusive.
The Man Hater: Has zero male friends and doesn't believe
having them as friends are worth her time.
4. The Misogynist: Sulks and acts like a wounded child when
he doesn't get his way in life; he's unable to apologize or take the blame.
The Man Hater: One minute acts coy and flirty
and the next demanding, blaming, critical;
if her overall general mood is unpredictable beware.
5. The Misogynist: He continually
reminds you that he's "the man".
The Man Hater: She's selfish and controlling;
It's all about her; where she wants to go,
what she wants to do, etc. Expects
to be catered to in life and treated like a princess.
6. The Misogynist: Gives gifts and initially appears to have
a giving spirit but over time you realize his giving is only to
serve his ego and inflate it; and/or he gives
yet demands something in return; the whole
"I bought you dinner, I expect sex" routine.
The Man Hater: Uses you for sex/dinner/gifts/
money/new clothes and jewelry, etc.
7. The Misogynist: Believes most women are gold-diggers;
even if he finds one who is not will never trust she truly isn't.
The Man Hater: Has ulterior motives or believes men do
when it comes to financial/material assets.
8. The Misogynist: Bases a woman's worth on her looks;
he tells you: "You better never get fat…. I'll leave you."
(I was told this for years in my marriage).
The Man Hater: Is always trying to change you; makes
you feel not good enough.
9. The Misogynist: Likely believes it's okay
to catcall women; believes any attention
however negative is a good thing;
He wants women to remember their "place" and
shames them by objectifying them.
To that most women just wish they had a bat handy).
The Man Hater: Believing men are only good
for a few things; making money, sperm, sex.
Note: Women never take catcalling as flattery. At minimum they are annoyed. Many women are upset and frightened (rightly so) because they don't know what further intentions the man has. This reaction is heightened in assault/rape victims.Women may feel forced to carry concealed weapons because they are often the lesser physically strong of the two sexes. Because what is the other option? Defend themselves with bad words? Society has made this the woman's problem instead of the portion of men who act like ignorant animals. This conversation has only just begun on social media and we still have a long way to go in terms of actual progress.
10. The Misogynist: Demanding in
his intimate relationships;
You must wear a dress, No,
you cannot wear flats, You give me sex
when I want it, etc. Some men have never recognized the
fact that the majority of women don't dress for men.
They dress for themselves.
The Man Hater: Dresses seductively to lure and
seduce men but secretly loathes them.
11. The Misogynist: Unfaithful, can't commit,
uses women for sex,
openly leers at women.
The Man Hater: Can't commit, avoids
relationships, ghosts on men
12. The Misogynist: Sees women/his wife as a
piece of property and grabs her
inappropriately i.e.; OJ Simpson, Trump.
The Man Hater: She openly checks out other men
in your presence and doesn't have any sensitivity
toward your feelings about it.
For The Man-Hater:
Hating men is the after-effect of having
loved so much and being crushed so badly.
Let go of the hate; it's eating you alive
and stealing your joy.
The misogynist man hates women but they want a woman.
They want many women. They resent you, loathe you for wanting you in the first place. In their distorted minds you have this mind numbing power over them and their appendage through your looks, your body and your ways that they cannot turn away from. They take zero responsibility; they blame you. You, in your dress and heels, you in your cute little jogging shorts and tank top, you in your jeans and boots, you covered head to toe in your snowsuit; they find you hot and sexy.
Hot & Sexy:
Two words I personally loathe and think are the two
most misrepresented and overused words
to describe women since who knows when…
I guess whenever our society's verbiage as a whole sank to stupid.
He wants to date you, have sex with you and maybe even marry you. And if you turn him down all-you-know-what breaks loose. He is the nice guy kissing up to you, slathering you with verbal accolades (termed love-bombing) at how wonderful you are (translation; how wonderful you would make him look) and of course how hot you are. The love bombing is in overdrive to woo and win you over. If online when initial contact happens and he sends you a message on a dating site you may politely reply that you don't believe you are a match and not interested, but thank you… you are then accosted by a heinous tirade and incense at who exactly do you think you are???!! Who do you think you are to reject HIM? You, the LITTLE woman? He continues to rant that he IS a nice guy and you must be a witch with a capital B. The "nice" guy fades away just as quickly as the real guy makes his presence known to you. Eventually as a woman you learn pretty quickly to just not respond to any men on dating sites unless you're interested… I've experienced this first-hand over and over. The block button becomes your new best friend. After being chewed up and spit out multiple times you finally just throw your hands up and not engage out of complete frustration.
A man cannot hate women and expect them to love them. Oh, they may for awhile… maybe even years. But forever? No… a kind man's love is one that lasts a lifetime and her love for him does as well. (Unless she's the one personality disordered) A nice guy's "love" is fleeting, a facade and all roped in with ego, manipulation and a resentful attitude toward her. Eventually his mask will completely crumble and she will see him for all he truly is… she is either discarded or flees… she will be utterly broken and have to begin the tedious process of rebuilding herself and her life piece by piece. (This happens to men as well) While he merely saunters off in the sunset with a new "hot" piece of supply to feed his hungry ego… angry, hateful and vengeful toward the last woman that didn't satisfy him eternally. And so the circus begins and the next act will be like the last and so forth… him having no one but himself to blame for the upheaval his life is in.
"I DESERVE" = Entitlement
The fact remains: The world does not owe men a "hot" woman. Unfortunately our world has become so hyper focused on outward appearances. Not all but some boys (for example) grow up watching the Marvel comic movies in which the nerdy guy (think the Superman series) conquers the bad guy, comes to the rescue of the leading lady and then somehow she magically falls in love with him and he whisks her away; his award, trophy what have you, off into the sunset. There are a segment of boys fed this misguided message and swallow it as truth (just like girls are fed Cinderella and the hopes of a prince) into adulthood and may come to believe they too are owed a beautiful woman. Not one man is entitled to such a woman. (No woman is entitled to a prince.) A toxic man who does all the outward self improving he can will only make the outside look good… he can't get a heart transplant of kindness. Yes, we all want someone we find attractive and have chemistry with. Instead of saying "I deserve someone hot or sexy" and focusing on the outside as men and women perhaps our dialogue is better suited to what really matters: "I am worthy of someone kind."
One example of how women are still sometimes viewed as no more than mere pretty objects to be patronized or dismissed and any intelligence is deemed as irrelevant is on the show Shark Tank. As women age their physical beauty fades to some degree no matter how stunning initially (as the bible says beauty is fleeting) which causes many of them to become invisible… only confirming the fact their presence is only notable in their beauty and youth. Each week I notice Barbara and Lori… the two women on Shark Tank get dismissed by some of the male entrepreneurs. These are wealthy, accomplished and very intelligent women who have despite many obstacles in a often male centered world gotten where they are. And yet at times the male entrepreneurs on the show don't blink an eye in their apathy when Barbara or Lori state they are declining taking on their product they've pitched and why. These men never saw the value in partnering with them in the first place so they feel zero loss when told "I'm out." I then watch as these same men then eagerly look to the male sharks for a deal… like they are automatically more competent because they are men… versus looking at which shark would best fit their specific products needs. As women teaching our young girls today… we have to set the expectation of being taken seriously by our male peers.
"Dear men, as women we are not here
to be a feast for your eyes.
We are here to lead, create and inspire."
- Jennifer Gafford, www.gracepowerstrength.com
Today so many songs are empowering young women like Rise by Katy Perry but yet some also send the very opposite message we ladies want to convey. The song by Daya Sit Still Look Pretty has a good message in that women aren't here to be pretty objects ogled at by men, to be independent and not just let a man choose them… yet in that same song she states "Call me HBIC". Women don't have to refer to themselves as what men insult them with; girl's today need to be taught that we can be strong without becoming self demeaning and nasty in how we represent ourselves. We can be a proverbs 31 woman and feminist. A Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of worth and beauty. She has the inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She uses her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in her life and the lives of her loved ones.
Proverbs 31 & Feminist?
I believe the two can co-exist; We can say no to sexism and misogyny. We can be strong and independent. We can earn the bacon and fry it. We can keep our maiden names if we desire when we marry. We can serve God with all our heart. We can stand up for survivors of rape and fight rape culture. We can teach young girls boundaries and the right to say no. We can say no to the absurd idea that "boys will be boys". We can break the glass ceiling and support other women's successes. We can respect our husband and help him as needed. We can teach our children the love of Christ. We can even express our anger in a safe and civilized manner at the injustices women still have to overcome worldwide like sex trafficking, lack of education and beatings for not adhering to their husband's demands… we can choose to be pro-life, choose to be mothers, choose to have careers, choose to stay single, choose to not have children, choose to love God in obedience and as an authority, choose to stay home and run a household, choose to adopt, choose to run companies and STILL expect/want our husbands if we so choose to have one to ante up and lead the home spiritually; treat us as partners with a voice and brain and be the Godly men we desperately need them to be in an otherwise unGodly world. And we want a world where men want this as well.
Last but not least, a classic remark misogynistic men like to make when a female has the right to be frustrated, disappointed, hopping mad, etc is: "Oh, you must be on your period", "It must be that time of the month", "Mother Nature is rearing her head" or "Here, have some Midol and a cupcake". It's their way of negating your emotions, your very real justifiable reasons for being mad as a hen; like that he failed to show for another school performance, he continues to cleave to his parents over you, he bought a sports car without your input, he cheated, he sold your house without asking, he failed to pay the taxes, etc. Instead, he states you are being irrational because Mother Nature has obviously hit you and then he laments how he's suffering because of it. Having a period can be one of the most painful and inconvenient things about being a woman. I can guarantee the one day a month you need to wear a dress or want to wear white pants you'll be on your period. Throw in unexpected cycles, headaches, stomach upset, cramping and nausea… it's miserable to go through. Having a period is no excuse for women to behave ugly nor equally is it an excuse for men to use it to minimize or dismiss a woman's concerns or act like just because she's upset that must be the reason.
If you've been with a misogynistic man or a woman who is a man-hater you know life is a living hell with them and no matter what you say or do nothing can change their attitude toward the opposite sex when their hatred of them is so deep and sometimes sadly rooted early in life. Sometimes the only change one can make is whether or not to continue to tolerate the poor behavior they've been enduring… and that goes for women and men.
Late Spring 2016
names have been omitted in this post
I had driven for an hour… it was a sunny late spring day… the type of day you open the sunroof and with it release all your worries and cares you otherwise hold all too tightly in your neck, back and shoulders, sending them on their merry way. It was a day of Orange Fanta sitting in the cup holder, the wind ruffling my hair, cropped leggings and an oversized tunic under a jean jacket and slip on wedge sandals. It was a day of summer being on the cusp of our reach and with it all the wonderful possibilities of lazy nights outside on porches enjoying fading sunsets, carefree fun on blankets with picnics, late night drive-in movies and motorcycle rides to escape the daily grind of adulthood. Stereo systems blasted beside me from other vehicles as I exited the freeway toward my destination. I made the right turn onto a main thoroughfare and not much later was sliding a key into the apartment door I had reached. The lock released and I pushed open the heavy door, entering and locking it behind me. The interior was dark… my sandals made noise on the tiled floor as I crossed the entry space and I could hear Pearl Jam playing softly in the background. I was accosted with cigarette smoke in the air and a candle was burning on one end of the work table nearby. I approached it and set my handbag down on one end and took a moment to gaze at the long table's contents, my eyes trying to adjust in the blackened room. Canvases and easels of artwork were spread everywhere along with brushes, palettes and tubes of paint… a mini art studio was set up in lieu of a living room. Growing up in the art world and having painted myself prior to my divorce I was at ease in this environment. Beyond the easels and artwork was a small couch and recliner chair. He sat in the recliner chair silently taking a drag on his cigarette.
"I didn't think you were coming." His deep voice came at me in the darkness.
I turned, making my way through the maze of artwork and found him sitting in the recliner. He studied my face intently and waited for a response.
"I had to make a stop first." I told him. I'd had to drop a t-shirt off at my exes home for our daughter.
"Everything okay?" He asked.
"No…" I murmured.
"You want to talk about it?" He asked with understanding in his tone.
"I thought you were going to quit." I asked in a caring tone, ignoring his question and gesturing to the cancer causer resting between two of his fingers. My usual go-to-way of handling stress in life was humor but not today. Another tool I used was subject changing when I wanted to avoid a topic. I had always been excellent at changing the subject… but not with him. It never worked with him. He always managed to steer back to whatever I wanted to avoid.
"I am… I'm weaning myself off." He told me "I've cut back significantly."
"That's good." I encouraged. I believed him. He wanted to quit. He had tried so many times.
He put his cigarette out and ran his hand through his hair.
"You ready to get started?" He asked, gesturing to my portrait he was working on nearby.
I gestured for him to move over and make room for me on the recliner. He looked surprised and puzzled but acquiesced and moved aside to let me squeeze in between him and the arm of the chair. He peered down at me tucked in beside him… "Hey, Jen… you okay? You never said what was wrong." He pointed out. I knew it. He'd noticed.
"Can we just not talk about it?" I asked him, feeling a headache coming on. I glanced up at him, "I don't want to talk about it… He's been causing more stress recently and I just… "I trailed off, suddenly incredibly exhausted by the conversation. I didn't need nor want to discuss it. I just wanted some comfort. I didn't need a fix… there was no human fix unless you were a judge with a brain or someone who could get me a new life; ID, papers, millions of dollars and a place there was no extradition. Third solution would be enough money to pay him off to leave me alone… everyone had a price he always said and yet for the fun of giving me grief I didn't believe he had one when it came to this situation. Some people just enjoy causing unmerited grief in life. Hence the possibility of any of those solutions coming to fruition were slim to none.
Instead of always scrambling and over thinking
to find a fix or solution often what we need
to be doing is praying to God about it.
At the end of the day prayer was the best solution to this and having faith God was giving me the grace, power and strength to move forward, grow and be chiseled … therefore there wasn't much to discuss. It was one thing for me to write about it… to share the ins and outs of what my divorce and the child custody issues to follow had entailed… for others to glean encouragement, to be able to relate to it, to find comfort, hope, understanding and even say "Yes! Me too!" in fellow frustration and… lastly to give those who can't relate an eye opener of what it's like to deal with someone personality disordered. But in that… I didn't always want to talk about it. Sometimes it was nice to pretend for five minutes or more that he and the issues he caused didn't exist. Focusing on the storm makes it bigger not better. Friends and work often provided me a much needed distraction from it that I dearly appreciated. Sometimes it was refreshing to just have a regular life and actually live it. Humor also helped immensely. God doesn't expect us to put our life on hold just because were in a mess but to trust and keep pressing forward.
New International Version
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for
which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
"Hey… it's gonna be okay… " He said soothingly. "I think you're exhausted." He observed. It was true. I hadn't been sleeping well and was maxed out. " Why don't you just sleep? I'll sit here with you. Take a nap and if you feel like it we can work on the portrait later… okay? And if not I'll bring it next time I see you." He offered kindly. I could have cried like a baby. Of course I didn't. I nodded with tears that threatened but didn't fall and simply fell asleep curled up in the crook under his shoulder. Hours later I'd wake in a panic at how late it was and fret that I should be home by dark… him saying I would be but insisting I stay for pizza first... pointing out I hadn't even eaten. After eating greasy pizza on paper plates and going over plans for the portrait he ensured I had a cold bottled water for the road, stressing that I must text him I made it home safely.
Sometimes in life we don't need discussions… we don't need explanations or long tired over-spoken synapses of how this or that happened…. when we are already at our emotional limit of coping and have been enduring all too much for too long… when we are feeling exhausted maybe from not sleeping well and specific stressors in life that have piled up… sometimes all we really need or want is someone saying "I get it. You're exhausted. Come rest." Sometimes all we need or want is rest in the crook of a strong arm or the warm hug of someone we trust… someone who is a place we can fall safely and not worry of being judged, taken advantage of or used for hidden motives. It's in those moments where no deals are made like we lived with for so long but instead where real love flows freely… where rest and healing can happen because nothing is expected of us. And those moments are the really great ones in life.
Love. It's something we all want and yet not everyone gets. It's sad but unfortunately the hard to swallow truth. Some people go their whole lives not experiencing the love they've given or not knowing anyone intimately special to give their love to. We all want to believe in the fairy tale… in the nonsensical philosophy that there is one special person out there wanting and or trying to find us. But the truth is that's not reality. Love can be a feeling at times or even initially, yes… a wonderful dopamine injected world where everything fleetingly comes up roses… but it's also a choice… a choice we make with purpose even in the difficult, maddening and disappointing times. Our prince or princess, our king or queen isn't coming… instead over the course of our adult lifetime we may come in contact with those who might potentially be possible candidates to fall in love with and then choose to marry. Timing plays a part as well… even if we meet someone amazing if we aren't both at the same emotional or maturity stage needed it may fail. Who we choose is not fate, it's called free will. Not as romantic sounding as the cliched idea that we each have a soulmate out there and not meant to be negative but much more realistic.
The truth is God isn't going to say: "Marry him" or "Marry her"… we can look for a Godly man or woman, yes, and if Christian should… but in that God isn't going to start waving a flag and go "Hey! Pssst! Over here! This is THE ultimate one!" Although it would certainly make life easier if He did(!)… unfortunately, it's just not going to happen, as He has given us each the choice to choose just as He's given us the choice to choose Him.
Paint Me A Picture of What Love Is…
What we can do is look at what the character is of the person were dating…. do their traits match those of a Godly man or woman? Are they someone who is representative of Christ? Are they living a life of kindness? What state is their heart in? Whether we are Christian or not…we can ask this: Are they bearing fruit or rot and decay? No one wants to be with someone who has a heart of deceit, manipulation and meanness. How do they treat you? Perhaps even more important is how do they treat others? That is incredibly vital to observe. How do they treat their friends? Family? The waiter? The man or woman taking their order at the drive thru? Most telling is if you're dating a man what is his view on women? Any man who lacks respect for women in general will lack respect for you. No matter what your political views we can see that Donald Trump is a perfect example of a man who holds zero respect for women. Any man who believes crass jokes are okay will believe he can subject you to the same. Any man you date whose best friend behaves poorly toward women is not someone you want to date… he's chosen this individual to be his best friend… it says much more about him than what you may initially realize. I learned this lesson the hard way firsthand in my marriage. Looking to the future anyone I date I will carefully discern their closet friend(s) character. Look closely at the character of those close to who you date. It matters.
Maybe that's why it's so hard to come to terms with our choices upon realizing we out of our own free will chose wrong. If our goal is to be equally yoked but only one person chooses God we aren't a match. Yes, unfortunately it happens. We marry and either didn't see any signs because they were well hidden, or maybe we saw signs but not enough to give us more than a slight pause and then sped full speed ahead to marriage… or we saw signs and blatantly ignored them. Whatever the scenario we now have this bittersweet gift called hindsight and with it any and all the painful consequences of our choices.
Life Was Once Black…
But There Is A Palette Of Color & Light Waiting…
Perhaps now we are in the next chapter of our life… maybe we are divorced and have taken the chance of dipping our toe in the dating pool… only to have been burned a couple times and realized we chose wrong again. The question is are we aware? Are we aware of how we chose wrong? Are we learning anything? When I was married I was with a man who is very Type A, a go-getter, a high achiever, traits similar to me (minus my adhd that often throws me for a loop and highjacks a tendency to be type a which can actually be a blessing as it gives me the ability to laugh at myself) and additionally a first born like myself… put aside all the adultery, lying and crazy-making behavior he's orchestrated and he was not a good match in hindsight.
After taking some time for myself post divorce finalization I with great trepidation yet hope began dating. The first man I dated was at best unmotivated. He was the complete opposite of my ex in regards to drive. The second man I briefly dated appeared to be a great match but come to find out not divorced yet which caused issues and conviction to which I soon cut seeing him short. The third man I dated was even less motivated than the first. I started realizing what I was doing… On the first and third relationship I was going from the extreme of being married to a high achiever to dating lazy and complacent. The consequences of their behavior led me to feeling great frustration at their lack of get up and go. And because they weren't pursuing any purpose in their life they expected me to fill their every moment and attention. Good grief. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I began evaluating what I did like about the two men that had drawn me to them in the first place. The first one could be incredibly nurturing and yet disappointingly in the same week be incredibly clueless and cruel. The third one was easy to talk to, shared a great sense of humor but gladly served from a heart that also held quite the ego. I realized that whoever I one day dated seriously long-term must have balance and priorities. He had to have a healthy work life balance… he needed to have goals and ambition, yes… but he also needed to know that wasn't the be all end all of life and that faith and family are the ultimately most precious priorities.
After we leave behind the narcissist or sociopath we've been with we can look forward to the future and in that if we one day decide to dip our toes back in the dating pool take heart in knowing we are not alone… others are finding their way as well… admittedly we may not have all the answers but in that we have the great ability to learn lessons which is molding us for something greater than ourselves… to be transformed and humbly share those lessons and love with others… and that despite the mess God is right there beside us, as our suffering matters to Him and in that it brings us closer to Him and then to others… to share that light and enable us to minister better to others yet giving Him the glory. Just like a canvas that has been painted black He can bring color, light and hope back into your life once again.