names have been omitted in this post
It was Friday evening… my daughter was back and I was looking forward to us spending time together. Her brightly hued tennis shoes sat by the front door where she had taken them off and hung her jean jacket. Dressed in dark leggings and a t-shirt with her school logo on it her beach blonde waves bounced around her face as she happily jumped up and down…
"I'm so glad to be back!" She exclaimed and I leaned down to hug her and caught a whiff of strawberry scented shampoo.
"I'm glad you're here! I have missed you. We have lots to catch up on." I smiled, my brown-green eyes sparkling at her.
I asked her if pancakes sounded good for dinner and she nodded enthusiastically. As we headed in the kitchen to retrieve syrup from the fridge along with eggs and milk to add to the Bisquick I spoke…
"So, hey… "I said as I grabbed a stainless steel mixing bowl off an open upper shelf "I wanted to ask you… I sent you a text every night this week at bedtime telling you goodnight. Did you get them?" I asked her.
She furrowed her brows and took a seat on the turquoise metal folding chair at the kitchen table nearby, watching me slowly pour Bisquick into a glass measuring cup.
"Nuh, uh… "She shook her head, meaning no. She tucked her hair behind her ears and then snapped the hair rubber band off her wrist to pull her hair into a ponytail instead. "I didn't get them. Daddy must be blocking your texts on my phone." She informed me. Thunder began rumbling in the distance to the west… severe thunderstorms were headed in our direction, warnings of more rain, heavy winds and possible flooding were possible as the weather channel gave us continual updates.
"Hmmm…" I replied as I cracked an egg and added it to the mixing bowl. "Have you talked to him about this? Because this isn't the first time this has happened. This is an ongoing thing." I told her.
"I have…" She sighed "But he always tells me stuff like well, your mother's phone must not be working… or it must be an internet problem… or something like that. He just lies." She shrugged.
"How does that make you feel? When he does that?" I asked her.
"Mad… " She replied in a dejected tone that pretty much implied she was beyond over him not being the parent he needed to be. Her tone conveyed it all. I could hardly blame her.
"You could just tell him that you know he's blocking the texts and call him on his behavior." I pointed out… "You could tell him that you know what he's doing and you don't agree with him blocking your texts. I don't block his communication. He can call you anytime he wants on my phone… which he does."
"Because he'll get mad." She told me. Lightning flashed outside and the sky thundered.
"So? So what? He gets mad. " I shrugged. "You're not responsible for how he feels." I pointed out. "You have a right to receive communication from the other parent… whoever you're with. He's the adult. You're the child and you shouldn't have to worry about whether he's mad or upset or whatever. You should be able to respectfully tell him that you know what he's doing, that he is overstepping one of your rights, one of your needs and you don't have to put up with it, period. You are a person not a piece of property." I told her, fed up with his manipulative childish shenanigans.
"I know!" She agreed "But he will get mad at me and yell at me!" She wailed.
"What's the worst thing that could happen?" I asked her, "If you stood up to him?"
"He could take my phone away and then I won't have any way to call you! Which hewould do!" She exclaimed.
I exhaled and slowly poured some batter onto the hot skillet where it sizzled and began to set up… I set the bowl down and went to sit beside her in my knee length black leggings and oversized faded t-shirt. I slipped a bobby pin out of my hair re-adjusting it to hold the messy bun in place on my head... "You know what? It's important that you know how to set boundaries with people… regardless of whether they are family or not. Because there will be people in life who try to overstep what you want, what you need and just do what they want… learning to speak up for yourself is an important life skill sweet pea…" I explained to her gently… "It's not easy, but sometimes we have to do it. All of us, even grownups." We sat together and then I spoke "He is your dad. You must be respectful. Always. But you do have a right to speak up for what you need. The thing is… I get it that you don't want to do it. I understand that is where you're at right now… and in a way… that is totally okay. You're where you are and what you're comfortable with at this time. But it's so important to at least start thinking about what you could say… what you would say… just think about it, okay?" I asked her and gave her a hug.
Country singer Miranda Lambert sang the words...
"Can’t get revenge
and keep a
That line may hold true for most folks but it seems for a narcissistic sociopath it is completely possible for them to do everything in their power to make you pay for breaking it off and yet he (or she) can appear completely innocent to the untrained eye of others.
The narcissistic sociopath is many things… he (or she) is someone who seeks image and materialism over giving and charity, ego over others, bragging over humbleness and more. But what the narcissistic sociopath truly loves, what he (or she) truly lives for is….
Ah, yes… the punisher.
When we break up with or divorce a narcissistic sociopath we erroneously believe that we are bringing the toxicity that we have endured for whatever length of time to an end. And in many ways we are… it's such a blessing as anyone knows who has lived with a crazy-maker to finally pull away from the driveway for one last time and sigh "That's behind me, thank God…. on to the new chapter." It's truth for anyone who has signed the divorce papers and said a prayer of thankfulness for having gotten out alive… it's sweet reality for the one who thankfully never has to bar the door again from the psycho they married because they are scared for their life… or not having to recoil from hurtful words anymore… or even worse nurse bruises or wounds from physical abuse… yes, when the ending finally arrives and the new chapter starts it is so incredibly freeing… but in some ways… especially where children are involved… the hell has just begun when we say "Goodbye".
Because the children become PAWNS. The children become the INSTRUMENT used to punish you. and yes… it works… it does punish you. Because one, it hurts you to see your children suffer. Because two, it frustrates you to no end to have to "deal" with the continuing crazy that the narc wields. But at the end of the day… it's your children that truly suffer… they are the ones who are truly punished.
How does he (or she) use the children as pawns?
In what ways does the narcissistic sociopath punish?
Let's count the ways… there are so many… here are a few.
1. They block communication via phone, FaceTime, Skype, etc. They block texts, calls, etc.
2. They don't send back the children's medication, clothes, toys etc on exchange day.
3. They don't send you a health insurance card for the children.
4. They don't let you know about school plays, swim lessons, soccer games, doctor appts, etc.
5. They don't pay child support or it's always late.
6. They interrupt your phone calls or just hang up in the middle of your conversation.
7. They don't include your name in the school phone directory.
8. They don't include your information on the emergency card at the school.
9. They become involved way too soon with someone new and demand your child calls him or her mom/dad.
10. They grill your child about where you work, who you're dating, etc.
11. They keep trying to change the child custody schedule as they see fit and demand you agree or you won't see your children.
12. They keep threatening to seek full custody of the children.
13. They reply "Take me to court if you don't like it" when you voice reasonable dislike over their negative behavior.
14. They continue to bad mouth you to the children because you won't allow them to have the phone they (the narc) purchased for them in your home… because in reality you know it's likely bugged.
15. They take away anything you send with your child on exchange day and it mysteriously "disappears"… whether it's just personal hygiene items like deodorant or precious stuffed animals, gifts etc.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015
Building a great marriage based on God's word takes time, dedication and work. It's similar to building a house… if we don't begin with the basic foundation and check the blueprints, our house won't be very solid… it might even crumble, yikes.
We don't want to go into marriage believing in God yet then ironically not include Him in our marital relationship… that seems so silly yet it actually happens. Intentional? Probably not but it's damaging just the same. We want to be intentional in our marriages and our relationship with the Lord. Otherwise we just might wake up one day years into our marriage and see the glaring truth before us… yes, we believe in God yet we didn't once contemplate what He wanted for us and our marriage… instead we ignored our bibles, we didn't read good solid teaching and articles on what makes a successful Christian marriage and we didn't look to other couples who are in those solid marriages through our church and community or even seek our pastor for counsel when needed.
We can see that the key difference is commitment versus merely stamping a religious label or denomination on ourselves such as Protestant, Catholic, Baptist, etc and thinking our work is done. It goes back to the question Kyle Idleman poses in his book Not A Fan… are we mere fans or followers? As Christians our marriage should reflect actively following Christ not just being a fan… this means actions hold much more weight than pretty words.
So what can we do as believers to cultivate a great marriage that includes God?
There are several points to consider: Here are 3…
1. As a couple it's so important to take the time to read the bible together or even side by side and then taking the time to discuss. Also, reading articles on marriage that are Christian based can help bring discussion to the table for a couple… what is your perspective of the advice in it? Do you see any of those issues in your own marriage? Receiving daily devotionals sent to your email and sharing the ones that hit home for you with your spouse can lead to conversation as well.
PRAYER IS LIKE ACTIVELY TAKING YOUR ALLERGY MEDICATION; if you know pollen and grass make you break out in hives you'd likely take your medicine right? Of course you would; it would act as your preventative against catastrophe. Reading the bible together as a couple is kinda the same thing… when we are pro-active and pray life over our relationship versus neglecting it's health we are doing a good thing!
2. It's important that both spouses are partners…. one particular verse may become twisted to ones own liking…
For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.
And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are his body.
Husbands may believe that since the scripture states their wife must submit to them that they then have the authority and discretion to do anything and everything they choose… however unloving. But the scripture is clear that husbands are to love their wives. It reminds us of a domino effect. If a husband is loving his wife; leading her toward God and making sound decisions that reflect Christ not the world… then his wife will gladly submit. Conversely, if a husband is not loving his wife and is treating her poorly, maybe even with emotional or physical abuse it only stands to reason that she may not feel loved by him… actions speak volumes and if a husband is behaving more like a jailer than a follower of Christ his wife and marriage will suffer.
Partnership is vital in a marriage; one person is not worth more in Christ's eyes whether man or woman… both bring wonderful, different but VALUABLE qualities to the table.
She may be weaker than you are, but she is your
equal partner in God's gift of new life.
Husbands when leading should do so with love not anger, wrath and control
Remember that you each have a right to be heard, to calmly and respectfully relay any concerns you have regardless of whether it is finances, in-laws, children, sex or even a vacation or new purchase. When we take the time to really hear (not just be ready with our response) what our spouse wants it shows we care and that their perspective is just as important… this can only serve to bring couples closer together rather than pushing them apart.
3. Couples need to protect their marriage from outside forces… satan is delighted to use any and all tactics he can to infiltrate a marriage; to annihilate love and any sweet expression of it. Satan's number one goal is to destroy… namely family. If the devil can destroy a marriage he will divide a husband, wife and children. Sex was created by God for married couples to show their love to one another and for procreation… it's so incredibly important for husbands and wives to utilize the tools they are given to protect their intimate relationship.
If you're struggling with emotions from a past relationship that included sex.. (or even that didn't) and it's overshadowing your marriage it's so essential to pray for forgiveness to God… just be honest with Him and admit this is a struggle and that you need help. Repent and commit anew to your marriage… follow God's will for your life; be obedient to Him, ask for strength and that no weapons formed against your marriage may prosper.
Shield yourself and your spouse from any potential sexual sin so it doesn't infiltrate your marriage; say no to porn and filth on the television screen, share email accounts and keep strong boundaries between yourselves and those of the opposite sex… turn to God and ask Him to chisel your mindset so that you each honor one another and show love in the healthiest of ways that please Him. God wants us to enjoy a relationship of sweet intimacy with our loved one and when we do that in the purest of ways it is sacred, unmarred and full of joy.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015
In 2014 a thirty nine year old Texas man was punched out for bravely standing up to a group of men who were cat-calling women from their vehicle. Upon him telling the men something to the effect of "hey, watch what you're saying…" one leaped from the vehicle and punched him in the face sending him to the concrete where he lay unconscious, awaiting medical help. This isn't the first time that men behaving badly toward women has ended in violence nor sadly likely the last.
This past Saturday after a gloriously fun day of sunshine, floats, Irish music, snow cones, barbecue and southern potato salad, my daughter and I left the St. Patricks Day parade we had attended and pulled into a gas station en-route home. As I exited the gas station a man entering spoke to me "Hey, what's up baby doll! How you doin?" Disgust rose within me and I instinctively wanted to respond, to lash out, as I thought to myself… Hey, Neanderthal, how would you like my knee to meet up with your testicles? But, no, I bit my Irish tongue. I ignored the comment and continued on, him emitting a low guttural sound of indignant ego-centric injury; bewildered I wasn't enthralled with what he believed to be a splendid choice of words. As women we may be blamed for these scenarios. Some may ask "Well, what were you wearing?" or think "Well, you're too sensitive, it could be viewed as a compliment, maybe you need to lighten up."
But the truth is… none of those responses apply, as women shouldn't be made to feel as though they are the ones with the issue.
It's really no different in the aftermath of a breakup. Some may tend to shift blame to the wrong person.
A couple weeks ago I met a friend for lunch and after her sharing the updates of her life I shared the good news I had a new job, that I enjoyed my work, liked my boss and found my co-workers delightful to work with. I explained that post divorce I had at times been beating myself up for the fact I hadn't had a career during my marriage. I had worked part time here or there but for the most part as a whole I had primarily been a stay at home mom. After marrying and starting a family I had wanted to be at home with my children, especially when they were young at least… I had wanted to give them that stability and enjoy their childhood. But then post divorce I found myself occasionally thinking if only I had worked, if only I had done this, if only I had done that… I'd be further ahead, I'd be financially set, I wouldn't be focused so much on bills, savings and retirement.
But as I did that… I realized it was fine to acknowledge I could have done things differently and even to say I wouldn't make the same choices in the future, but not in taking on more blame where I shouldn't.
In a self-imposed blame game we may attempt to act as the aid, the salve, the repairman, or woman, to an ex's poor behavior. Maybe we find ourselves thinking: "Well, if I'd done x, y, z, I wouldn't be in such a mess… if I'd done THIS or THAT it would have offset his or her screw up aka infidelity." But we cannot make someone behave. We are then subscribing to the false idea we can control someone else's actions.
Like those guys who were cat-calling and the guy at the gas station sometimes people truly are to blame for poor behavior and less than swell circumstances. Yet they may or may not take responsibility for their poor choices. In hindsight we can all take responsibility for where we could have done better whether it be in our marriages, friendships, even our parenting. The problems begin when blame starts getting shifted to others, when people won't own up to their part in a situation. Or alternatively issues start when we begin blaming ourselves for something instead of having a balanced and healthy view of it or merely our hand in it amongst others contribution.
No matter what your marriage was like; no matter how amicable or even "War of the Roses-like" your divorce was… there are lessons to be taken from it. One of those lessons is learning to give yourself grace. Not an excuse for bad behavior but yes, please don't beat yourself up with all the coulda woulda shoulda's post relationship. It may be tempting to go there but at the end of the day give yourself sweet, sweet grace.
It's never wise nor healthy to take on the role of the victim in our failed relationships. It deems us powerless in our past where we had choices but either refused to make them or simply naively believed, hoped, that a grossly dysfunctional situation would get better. Both men and women are capable of being married to narcissistic, sociopathic people… those who marry them are without a doubttargets… but we don't have to sign the dotted line as a victim nor a target for infinity. We each have the ability to move on, to take responsibility for our portion and then rebuild our life to reflect that blessed insight.
Taking responsibility post divorce for what areas we could have done better in, even what we would do differently if in a new relationship, takes clarity, maturity and wisdom. In life we can learn from our past and forge forward with more information to make better choices in the next chapter(s) to come. In taking responsibility we need to be cautious in how much we are assuming… are we accepting the whole pie as ours when it burned up? Or are we accepting responsibility for a quarter of it? Or half? What was your role in it burning to a crisp? Do you even have one? Don't accept the entire pie as yours if portions of it truly belong on someone else's plate.
If you grew up as the black sheep, the scapegoat in a family where a narcissist was the head of the flock and always found fault with you… then you may have grown up in a pattern of being told you were the sole cause for x,y,z to happen… even if that wasn't reality. It's never too late to say "No" to that unhealthy pattern, even years later and reclaim your life… you don't have to accept blame and gross responsibility from others where it doesn't apply… instead you can subscribe to a new outlook, one of clear, concise objectivity…
And like the pie just accept the slice(s) that belong to you.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015
7 Steps To Release Blame:
1. Acknowledge your anger
2. Talk about why you're angry; with either a trusted therapist, friend or pastor
3. Use your anger in a healthy way; start a new project, hobby, career, workout routine/class, volunteer, write/journal, find ways to channel that anger into something positive and life changing.
4. Acknowledge any fears you may have; are you afraid you will never find someone and live a life all alone? Are you clinging to blame out of the fear of failing financially? Maybe a general fear of the unknown future?
5. Can you make a list of what you did right in your relationship? What things could you have done differently?
6. Acknowledge any improvements in your new life; there have to be some no matter how small. Celebrate those and think of how to add more.
7. Focus on each of your daily choices because you are in the drivers seat; are you reaching for the Ben n Jerry's when a run might be more beneficial? Is isolation really better than meeting up with friends? Being aware of our daily actions can dictate if we spring back from a divorce or stay stuck in the pain of the past.