names have been omitted or changed in this post
It was a Sunday night.... my daughter was with us for the weekend however brief the time seemed. Our time together never seemed long enough... usually it felt like I blinked and she was back on her dads turf and I went back to my usual routine. I've been robbed of being a fulltime mother... no one tells you when you divorce that narcs steal time away from you with your children. She likewise has been robbed of time with me. And both my son and I have been robbed of a relationship entirely.
My daughter waltzed into the kitchen with it's blonde cabinets, pops of stainless steel and black countertops with a head of wet beach-like waves from her shower. All of us wearing pajamas and lounge clothes, she, my mother and I were all preparing our individual dinners. The day before on Saturday we had gone out... enjoying a treat of pizza at Uno's so tonight it was "make it yourself night". I stood before the French door freezer peering into it half hoping something exciting would jump out. But every time I opened the door again it was the same assortment of frozen foods staring back at me. "Hmmmm... "I trailed off aloud and turned to my daughter "What are you having, sweetpea?" I asked her.
"Oatmeal." She replied cheerfully. I glanced over as she emptied a packet of instant maple and brown sugar oatmeal into a ceramic bowl and began slowly stirring water into it until it was ready to pop into the microwave for thirty seconds. I reopened the freezer and stared in it again.
My daughter spoke to my mother "Maw Maw... what are you having?' She asked her.
My mother was opening a container of yogurt "I had a big lunch so I'm not that hungry... I'm having yogurt with some raspberries mixed in it."
The microwave did it's thing; rotating and cooking the oatmeal. Soon the entire kitchen was bathed in the delightful scent of maple, brown sugar and cinnamon. I spoke "Oh my gosh that smells good."
The microwave dinged that it was ready and my daughter spoke "You know... Georgina and Daddy have been fighting again lately." She told us. I grimaced to myself as I began looking through the freezer... hmmmm, frozen okra, frozen black beans and corn with onions and peppers, frozen fish sticks, frozen raspberries, frozen broccoli. And a lone frozen meal of Lean Cuisine cheese ravioli. Yum. That would be what I'd eat.
My mother spoke as she carefully folded fresh raspberries into her plain greek yogurt "What are they fighting about?"
"Daddy had a meeting with some people that flew into town... some salespeople. And Georgina," She paused referring to her dad's new wife "showed up at the office telling him she wanted to go out to lunch. But he was ordering in Jason's Deli since he had that meeting. He offered to order her something but she didn't want that. She didn't understand why he couldn't just leave on a two hour lunch with her when he had people in town. So she left and drove off mad."
"How's he liking the new office space he's in?" I asked her. He had recently moved his office space from his larger spot he'd had to a smaller space in a building on the west side of town. And even odder he was now in the same building I used to work in back in my twenties for a law firm.... in fact he was in the exact same specific office space that Jeremy had worked in across the hall... where we had met over twenty years ago. I had good memories in that building though... my ex's office being there certainly wasn't going to mar those for me. The irony didn't bypass me though. No one can tell me life isn't weird... because it just continues to get weirder.
"He likes it. " She replied.
I popped an omeprazole for my acid reflux and followed it with a drink of ice water.
I said nothing and pulled the frozen dinner from the freezer and set it on the counter. I loved ravioli. I proceeded to fix a small side salad to go with my meal. My mother took her yogurt into the den and my daughter followed with her bowl of oatmeal. A show called Kid's Baking Championship was airing on the flat screen and there were kids hard at work making cupcakes in a competition. My daughter spoke "I like this better than cable." She told us, gesturing toward the tv. I had recently had the cable removed and instead opted for Netflix and Hulu.
Dealing with the cable company was about the equivalent of pulling teeth or an argumentative ex spouse. "I'm glad you like it better. I do too, " I told her "I'm glad to be rid of Charter. It was a pill trying to get the cable removed." I told her. "I called and the rep thought that was the time to discuss all my other options. She wasn't taking no for an answer so I finally told her 'Lady, I didn't call you up to have a discussion about it. I called you to remove the cable. If you can't do that get me someone who can.'"
I was about to change the subject and ask her about something related to school when she spoke "You know... Daddy and I went on a walk the other day..." She said and took a seat on the couch, curling up on one end of it. "And he said something interesting."
I cringed as I tore rinsed lettuce into smaller pieces, placing them on a plate. "Really?"
"Yeah, he wanted to know if I thought you would want to move... that he really wants to move to Florida. He and Georgina want to buy a second home there. She is always talking to him about it. I think he wants to ask you to move out there because he wants to but he won't ask you because of how bad he's acted toward you and figures you'll say no. I just told him I don't know. He also told me that he knows what he's done isn't right but that deep down somewhere in his heart my brother still loves mommy." She told us.
"Oh really?" My mother exclaimed "Well... did you ask him what exactly he's done? What he's referring to?" She knew the list was so long who knew where to even begin.
My daughter shook her head... "No... I didn't bother. Because he lies. I figure he will just make up something. Or he will change the subject and ignore me. He knows what he did." She replied.
I bit my tongue. I could say a lot yet I refrained.
When we go through this journey... namely a divorce and then recovery from narcissistic abuse and often more likely than not parental alienation or domestic abuse by proxy... whatever you want to call it or term it... we become worn down. Sometimes it's becoming worn down due to a lack of self care and sometimes it's due to a fading faith that God will do anything to help repair the situation... oftentimes it's a combination of both. We allow the lies of the devil to get to us... at first perhaps tiny doubts begin to creep in and before we know it maybe out of pure exhaustion from years of weary battle we succumb to finally throwing in the towel and giving up on God.
We don't feel strong anymore.... maybe we don't feel as strong as we did at the beginning of this journey. And maybe that's understandable. We're human after all. We aren't super hero's in capes and seemingly emotionally invincible against the attacks against us. But we do have God. We have Him and most of all His word. As humans we often tend to go by how we feel. We may become dangerously close to worshipping our feelings like an idol. But feelings are very fleeting... how we feel today may be quite different than how we feel tomorrow or even in the next hour. Comparable to the rollercoaster hormones of a teenager or menopausal woman we may fluctuate in how we believe our journey is going... one day we may feel with confidence that our situation is going to resolve soon and then when our ex rears his or her ugly head our feeling of confidence may also go sailing out the window.... then leaving us feeling shattered and dismayed.
Faith is taking God at His word despite whatever fluctuating feelings may come and go. Faith is rooted in what God has told us. Unlike what a narc has said... which is lie after continual lie we know God isn't a liar... He will be there throughout the process. Our circumstances may change and who we married may change by the masks he or she wears but one thing always remains the same... God's word. God's word is that "The word of the Lord abides forever." 1 Peter1:25
So when we face a mountain of problems that just seems to stack upon layer upon layer ahead of us... everything from the narc alienating us from our children to the narc taking our possessions, taking our home and attempting to ruin us financially... when we have lost all faith in men or women that they can be faithful and so we throw up sky high walls in the name of self protection ... we can still choose to walk by faith and believe God's word. Feelings aren't wrong... we are human and part of our being is being made to feel.... which at times may feel like both a curse and a blessing. But when we let our feelings of anger and disgust for the narc to override our faith in God's word... nothing good comes of it... and He sees our response to life's adversities... whether we are trusting ourselves and our own ways or trusting Him. Are we trying to control the situation and the outcome or are we trusting in God's higher plan? Usually it's the first one. What we can do in response is pray. We can run to Him and share our burdens we are dealing with.... upon crying out for help we can then deposit our troubles into His hands and leave them be... letting Him take them on and leaving our fixer mentality at the door.
It's all really hard to do... you know why? Because many times we want to call God up like the cable company, ask for what we need in the midst of our despair and then when the desired outcome doesn't appear there's no higher up or supervisor to be transferred to to complain. Yes, were angry. Yes, were frustrated. Yes, we might even cuss and cry. I've been really angry at God for not "fixing" my situation. I've given Him more talkings to than a teacher gives a child in detention. Has it done any good? Nope. He loves us and disciplines us (and maybe sighs and shakes his head) simultaneously. I feel like I've taken a respite from God lately... maybe I put Him in timeout. Some non believers out there would say that it was justified. But you can't be angry at someone who doesn't exist I suppose. And despite my feeling of frustration from my circumstance I can still thank Him for so many blessings. God is good. He cares for us each and everyday. He walks with us and wipes our tears and holds our hand... He is with us to the very end. I encourage you today to go to Him in the midst of your circumstance, in the midst of your feelings and tell Him how you feel. Be authentically honest and forthright... accept and admit your circumstances and feelings yet proclaim that they don't override His word and you trust in Him... and then do something radical... thank Him for being with you on this journey... trusting His word outshines any darkness the narc tries to throw your way.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2018
names have been omitted in this post
It was a cool March day that included rain and a bleak sky... our recent warmer temperatures had been temporarily interrupted by a spring shower. I had made my way across the parking lot spotted with pools of rainwater and entered the six story building to attend the therapy session scheduled that day. Dressed in faded boot-cut style jeans and a well-loved dark buttoned shirt with the sleeves rolled back I now sat on the loveseat across from the reunification therapist with my hands clasped in my lap… the nearby tabletop lamp was bathing the room in a warm glow. The therapist, with smooth just past chin-length blonde hair that flipped up at the ends smiled at me and took notes as our session delved in further. I was really ready to have this process behind me. I had done individual therapy for several years during my marriage… in the event of my youngest sister’s passing and in that also dealing with residual issues that stemmed from my time gone in high school… and my rocky relationship with my father. Upon filing for divorce I had then routinely met with my children’s therapist regarding our son and daughter’s emotional health for several years followed with my own individual therapy during my divorce and even post-divorce. I had no doubt therapy is sometimes needed, useful and even a blessing… but there also comes a point where you’re in a better place, ready to move on and just live life. I wanted to successfully reach the other side of this process of reunification and not have any more therapy sessions on my calendar… hopefully that would be sooner rather than later… because anyone who has been through this knows… with each new therapist, amicus, ad litem, attorney, you have to re-hash the entire ordeal and you get really tired of semingly repeating yourself over and over again… wondering each time if THIS time you’re actually going to make some progress and real change for the better will take place.
She spoke, “You have to admit your ex is in a really tough position. The court has ruled he has to be encouraging and give support to this reunification process between you and your son. If he doesn’t he faces reprimand from the court and yet if he does encourage him to do it he likely faces backlash from your son… he will definitely be the target of your son’s anger.” She pointed out.
I nodded “Oh yes, I see all that. And considering he’s alienated him from me how difficult will it be for him to now tell him he must do the therapy and forge a relationship with me after telling him otherwise for how many years? Wow, I imagine our son may come back at him and call him a liar… I mean… now he’s having to tell him what? ‘You just need to do this for a while to make everyone happy… and then you can just walk off?’ Nothing would surprise me anymore at this point…. “ I murmured.
She looked at me thoughtfully and tilted her head… “Yes… you really do have to have some empathy for your ex considering the anger he may endure.” She told me.
I felt my blood boil instantly. I cringed and shook my head “I don’t feel any empathy for him… not one bit. He did this. He caused this, where we are today. He cheated, he ruined my family and then he alienated our son from me and then if that wasn’t bad enough took more custody of our daughter.” I paused then added “Any consequences he faces here forward from the children is the fallout effect from his own behavior.” I retorted.
"How do you believe we are to make progress on the reunification therapy when your son is living with your ex?” She asked me, her question taking me by surprise.
“Well…” I said “I think that’s a very fair and good question. My ex will have the opportunity to undo any progress made in this process. Honestly I don’t feel comfortable having our son live under my roof considering his past aggression. That leaves looking at a third option that would be neutral during therapy.”
She looked at me with interest and nodded “So what about looking at that? Maybe a family member that could take him during this?” She asked me.
I thought on it and finally shook my head “There just isn’t really a good choice.” I told her regretfully “I mean, his mother is an enabler and helped with the alienation.” I pointed out referring to my ex mother in law. “And my sister has a full plate with kids, one who has special needs and a husband and she works fulltime. So that doesn’t work. My mother lives with me and that isn’t an option because my son has anger toward her as well from the alienation. The only people I can think of would be the neighbors he spends all his free time with… but we aren’t related…. I don’t think you can ask someone to step in and take on that much responsibility you aren’t even related to… it would be asking a lot and I wouldn’t feel it would be right to do… I couldn’t ask that of them.” I told her.
She nodded and took notes, “I would agree with you… what about a foster family? Taking him for the interim?” She asked glancing up at me.
I immediately felt a sense of overwhelming protection for my son “Oh hell no…” I told her “That’s not happening. It’s no secret a lot of foster families are abusive. I’m not trying to make the situation worse.” I informed her sharply. “I don’t know if you are aware of this but much of the system is corrupt.” I added.
She didn’t say anything and the silence hung in the warm hued room. I let it hang like a wet piece of laundry that needed to dry… taking my time and then finally I spoke “Look, I just want this fixed, okay? I am tired… I am so exhausted. This mess just goes on and on and unless you’ve been in this and gone through it you just don’t really understand. It’s extremely depressing and isolating to go through all this... the divorce, the alienation, the courts. Basically what this has been is domestic abuse he’s waged against me by using the children. That’s what this is. And the courts don’t see it for what it is. They don’t understand anything about personality disorders and alienation… they think it’s all me. They think I pushed my son away when I only stopped contacting him because after offering time and time again to go to dinner, get ice cream, etc he blocked me on his phone… and then my ex told me our son didn’t want to talk to me anymore, that he was scared of me when I tried calling his phone. It was just getting worse not better the more I tried. My ex has twisted and spun everything to suit himself. The courts don’t look at cheating as an affront to the family and an upheaval to the children’s lives. They don’t recognize that when someone is cheating they are CHOOSING that new person over their kids… because they are risking their family unit and the children’s stability.” I told her.
She nodded “I agree, the courts don’t see it that way. They just state the marriage dissolved over irreconcilable differences. Most of the states are that way now.” She replied.
I smirked and shook my head “Yeah, it’s a shame, really.”
She nodded and spoke "So, what would you say if I told you that now your son is saying ‘My mom abandoned me and didn’t want me?’ … “ She asked me.
My jaw nearly hit the floor “Oh really? So that’s it, huh? That’s the new bullshit his dad is telling him to say?” I shook my head with disgust. “Funny how it changes… years ago in 2014 he was saying ‘I’m scared of her.’… after I called the police on him because of his fits. So now which one is it?” I asked.
She nodded and spoke “Now apparently he is saying you didn’t want him when he was a baby. That you wanted a girl.”
I paused and sat there a moment reflecting back on the time period leading up to when we found out I was pregnant. I remembered telling his dad at the time I wanted a girl. I remember wondering, stressing, even having anxiety over the prospect of having a boy… I had been the eldest of three girls growing up. I hadn’t had any brothers, no male cousins and honestly had no clue about how I’d connect with and raise a boy. I think that’s a likely understandable and maybe even common reaction to being uncertain about caring for an unknown… But in that I also knew at the end of the day the most important thing was regardless of whether we had a boy or girl was we had a healthy baby. I had expressed fears of raising a boy to my then husband and my preference for a girl and yet even I knew regardless what was important was to have a healthy baby. But that’s the thing about being married to someone personality disordered…. while you lay beside them in your most intimate and vulnerable moments and voice all your fears and uncertainties and even desires… guess what? THEY ARE TAKING NOTES. They are silently taking down everything you say and compiling it away in their heartless filing cabinet… only to use that information against you one day…in revenge like a cobra they lie in wait… waiting for the perfect opportunity so that they can use it to annihilate you any way they can.
I spoke “There’s only one person who I told that when we were trying for a baby that I really hoped for a girl… only one. And that’s my ex. Wow… sounds like he told our son that just to create more division between us. Only a monster would do that… tell a child that. My son has changed the story from he’s scared to now I didn’t want him… his father just changes it to suit himself.” It reminded me of when my own grandmother had lied to me at seventeen; when my mother had discovered she was pregnant with me she was upset because I wasn’t planned. My mother when I went to her about the conversation was furious because what my grandmother had said couldn’t have been further from the truth and my grandmother who had never liked my mother merely wanted to cause a rift between my mom and I. I had been down this road before and it was all too painfully familiar… people like them try to create rifts and triangulation between family members simply because they can and it amuses them… there is no hobby to satisfy a narc like playing chess with people and their lives.
She nodded, taking notes “So do you have a support system for all of this? How do you get through it? Do you have people you can lean on?” She asked me.
I nodded and spoke “I do… I have close girlfriends I can lean on… I have my mom and a particular close guy friend… he knows of the situation very well…. He gets it. He told me that my ex is never going to stop… I just have to take it one day at a time and make the rest of my life the best I can.” I replied.
She smiled and spoke “I think that’s very good advice… it sounds like he is someone who you can really trust to give you good advice.” She told me and then asked “Is he someone who you think could potentially meet your ex and maybe help the situation?”
I practically laughed “Oh God no… I wouldn’t want them to meet. I don’t think that would be a good idea at all considering the damage my ex has done.”
“Why wouldn’t you want them to meet?” She asked with curiosity.
“Because however much deserved he’d probably like to kick my ex’s ass.” I replied pointedly.
It's a tale as old as time... boy meets girl... they fall in love and before long one realizes it's not really love but instead a despairingly slow death of their marriage and family... leading to a permanent fracture. Eventually more hurt is inflicted as the one who was cheating wields more damage using the children as mini weapons of mass destruction. It's essentially domestic abuse that has continued well into life post divorce; when two lives should be well footed in new chapters... where if co-parenting isn't possible at minimum parallel parenting should be utilized. But instead the court system gives more power and ammunition to the one who is already sinfully guilty of wreaking havoc and loss.
The court system hands them the bullets for another round and stand by as the sociopath continues shooting at you yet blames you for being hit... it's a system that is detrimental to families because the court system does not understand this behavior; this psychology and the mind of a manipulator. They do not understand that evil exists outside a criminal court room and poo poo you away as being hysterical, lying, high strung, paranoid and dramatic or exaggerating. They do not realize they have given power to the one who really needs to be handcuffed, who needs to be tied up and locked up. They do not realize the devastation of your heart they have contributed to. They do not see or do not care what has happened to your precious babies and your demoralization as their mother. They instead aid and enable the monster you unwittingly married and then chastise that you married he or she... like you would have knowingly married someone so evil... like you would have willingly procreated with legs wide open like an open house with someone so despicable. You're treated like trash and kicked when you're already down. You feel stripped of all refinement and nobility and instead are talked to like the lowest pond scum possible. Then ironically you are met with hands outstretched for child support or monies paid for out of pocket expenses on top of it... and when you don't pay up(?) you're called a deadbeat and a loser... when you simply cannot afford the expenses and are in contempt not out of willful contempt but pure math that doesn't work because you've been set up to fail.
It's something no one should ever have to be subjected to. I guess what makes it all worse is it's fueled by the same person who once told you "I love you".... but divorce or not... no one who is truly capable of love can become the monster you've endured. No one who can truly love can strip a good, loving and morally sound parent of their children. No one who can truly love would wound your heart like they have. So we can go back to the beginning... they never truly loved you to begin with. They merely used you. They used you to look good. They used you to have a family. They used you to get ahead. And then when it all soured and your time and supply was up... ding! they exacted revenge upon you... and it worked. It makes for one hell of a life and one hell of a story... because as we all know it's a tale as old as time... revenge makes for one hell of a story and makes many lives hell.
Proverbs 21:15 ESV
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
Romans 12:19 ESV
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Hebrews 10:30 ESV For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”
And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”