“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Being a psychology and sociology professor, I understand the importance of both nature and nurture.  Nature is our biological inheritance and how our genes are affecting our behavior.  Nurture is environmental and says we are more influenced in our behavior by things that happen to us in our environment.  When this concept was first introduced in in the mid 1800’s, there was a debate as to which one of these is the basis for our behavior and was coined nature VS. nurture.  Now of course, we know that both our genes and our environment affect us with the only question being which is more influential in our lives. I believe (and this is just my personal theory) nurture is much more influential than nature.  I believe we’re born with a temperament but that we are ‘socialized’ into our personalities which in, of course, our behaviors reside.  I believe experiences are extremely significant and can leave lasting outcomes.

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So, why am I lecturing you today?  My friend and I were talking at school this morning, and we were talking about the hold Sarge has on me and how I’m struggling with being able to go no contact again.  As we were pondering this, she said this to me:  “Professor K, when are you going to stop using the REASONS for your co-dependency with Sarge as EXCUSES for your behavior?”  Wow.  This really intrigued me and I have been thinking about it all day.

First, I know that my being an empath is probably biological…like my eye color.  It’s just the way I’ve always been…as if it were bred into me.  But, when I start looking at why I can’t let go of Sarge…why I cling to men who are toxic…why I can’t accept what is in front of me, I have to go back to my past, and when I do, I see a pattern evolving:

  • Boyfriend #1 – dumped me
  • Prom Date #1 – dumped me (the day after the prom…hmmmmmm)
  • Psychologist – sexually abused me then simply acted like I didn’t exist when I began to question his behavior
  • Hubby #1 – dumped me
  • Hubby #2 – dumped me
  • Hubby #3 – dumped me

Hmmmmm…see the pattern?  I have NEVER ended a relationship on my terms and all of these dumpings, I believe, have made me want SSSOOOO bad to have a truly successful relationship.  The commitment.  Lasting love.  Security knowing that I don’t have to ‘be’ a certain way to be accepted by my partner.  I want to be needed back.  Wanted back.  And when things get tough, I want to be able to come together, not pull apart.

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When Sarge and I met, the love bombing was intense.  He was everything I had wanted and needed in my life.  We had so much fun doing things together, talking, laughing, cuddling, etc. and I was put on a pedestal which made me believe I was his dream as well.  He made me feel as if there were no other woman in the world for him.  Just me.  With all my foibles and all my faults.  He was perfect for me and accepted me for who I was.  It was an awesome feeling!  And I genuinely believed the relationship was going to be my happily ever after.

Of course, you know what happened next.  The criticisms.  The contemptuousness.  The manipulation.  The triangulation.  The infidelity.  The emotional abuse.  The physical abuse.  It was all there.  Yet I welcomed him back after every discard and never lost my emotional connection to him.  I’m struggling with that right now.  Every text I read from him, (and YES…I AM going to block him…I promise), brings that emotional connection back.  Just like that.

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So the question is WHY?  Why is that connection so powerful for me…for all of us who have been in such relationships?  For me, I see my past ‘patterns’ and to be brutally honest, being ‘dumped’ that many times by men I truly loved, makes me feel as if they just threw me away.  And what do you throw away?  Trash.  OK.  There it is.  I feel like trash.  Like I’m not ‘good enough’ to be in a relationship.  That I can just be tossed aside while these men move on in their lives.

Is that why I stay?  Because I simply can’t stand the thought of being thrown away again?  Are my past experiences of being discarded (nurture) paired up with my natural tendency to be an empath?  Who can blame me for hanging on?  Who can blame me for being co-dependent on this man?  Look at what I’ve been through…of course I’ll have hope for ANY relationship I might be in to be successful.  Because, in all my 50 years, I haven’t had that.  Period.

What’s that you’re saying?  That Sarge is toxic?  I know!  BUT…and there’s always a ‘but’…it was PERFECT in the beginning.  EXACTLY what I wanted!  I ache for that man who made me feel so accepted and loved and cherished and listened too.  He’s in there.  Somewhere.

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But he’s not.  He’s a narcissist.  He will never love me as a woman, but only as an object fulfilling his supply needs.  The love bombing was fake, but he did it so damn well.  So well in fact, that I can’t let go of the dream of getting it back in a sincere way.

But narcissists don’t change, do they?  I HAVE to accept this.  After I whined to my friend at school (and bless her heart for listening), we began to e-mail.  And this is what she reminded me of (word for word):

  • He’s already put you $21,000 in debt.
  • He falsified a title and basically STOLE another motorcycle from you.
  • He gave you HPV, DAMMIT!!!!!
  • He CHOKED you and didn’t stop until his son walked in!

“Come on, Profess K! GET MAD!!!!!  Say ENOUGH!!!!!”

And I know I need too.  I have to come to peace with my past ‘dumpings’ and not let those dictate my behavior in future relationships.  I have to STOP using the excuse of my past experiences and look at this situation rationally and for what it is.  I have to STOP saying:  “Well…I feel bad about myself because these guys dumped me so I can’t help but cling to Sarge.”  Bullshit.  I CAN help it.  I can use the past and learn from it…not hide behind it.  So what those men dumped me.  It was their loss.  It doesn’t make me trash.  It makes me 1 of millions who have been dumped in their lives.  It’s gonna happen.  I married my first hubby way too young…we were doomed from the start.  Hubby 2 and I just got too complacent in our marriage and by the time we sought help, it was simply too late.  Hubby 3 walked out, but he’s still in my life.  We talk everyday and I’ll always love him dearly.  High school relationships?  OMG!  I can’t believe those ended!!  And that psychologist.  He was a predator…another sociopath and his abuse was HIS problem…I was the victim.  I was innocent.  Him ‘dumping’ me was the best thing that ever could have happened.  The abuse needed to end.

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Wow!  I’m reading back through this and can’t believe what just came out.  I AM NOT TRASH.  I DON’T NEED A MAN TO MAKE ME HAPPY.  I DON’T DESERVE WHAT SARGE DID, AND I WOULD BE A FOOL TO EVEN THINK ABOUT IT AGAIN.  NO MORE EXCUSES.  I’m going to be in charge of my future…not sinking in the past.  And you know what?  Not always feeling as if I’m drowning is going to feel good.  Damn good.

This is what I know:  you can’t let your past dictate your future.  There comes a time where you have to take responsibility for YOUR actions and force yourself to forge a new path.  If not, those people that hurt you are going to continue doing so forever.  And no one deserves that.

Professor K

 

 

 

And Confusion Sets In.

In my post yesterday, I talked about how Sarge was going to be taking classes at my college and how upset I was that he will be so close to me…in my safe place!  He’s been texting me regularly since yesterday morning, and told me last night he is also joining the YMCA which is a block from my house.  So now, he’s going to be in my neighborhood regularly too.

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As we are texting, I am yelling at myself and saying, “What are you doing?!  What the hell happened to NO contact?!”  And, I thought I could handle it.  Because I told you how strong I was getting.  How much healthier I am.  And guess what?  I feel the negative thoughts starting to invade my mind again and confusion is setting in.  I feel like I’ve been sober for a couple of months, and someone is offering my drug of choice.  My rehab isn’t over, and that drug, for some reason, is looking mighty good.  I know it’s bad for me.  I know it hurts me.  I know it’s wrong to reach for it.  But just one more hit would feel so good.

Why do I think MY situation is different from everyone else’s?  That I can handle things? That I can be strong and keep boundaries in place when I interact with him?  I’ve been thinking about that all night (I barely slept), and my feelings are all over the place.

I’m feeling that maybe Sarge really is different.  Maybe his PTSD from deployments and child abuse issues are the problem.  Not narcissism.  And I feel such a shame that I let Sarge into my life…and if I can ‘prove’ we can be friendly and have contact, would that shame lessen?  I also know I’m a sucker for false hope…I always think there’s a possibility for so many things to get better. Letting go of hope is so damn hard.  Further, I’m the type of person who tries to love unconditionally.  I know I love my son in that way…there is absolutely nothing he could say or do that would change the love I have for him.  I try to do that in relationships as well.  So, I tend to forgive way too easily, and give in to things to please partners and show them that my unconditional love is real.  And, I’ve been betrayed before, by a psychologist who sexually abused me for years.  Sometimes I feel I have a ‘victim’ mentality and draw toxic men to myself.  It’s almost like a pattern or loop I’m in, albeit a dangerous one.   Sarge is giving me mixed messages…he’s acting as if nothing happened, while also saying he knows what a bastard he’s been.  YES, I know this is a very manipulative tactic he’s using, but being an empath, I wonder if for once, he’s sincere.

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Finally, there’s the denial.  I know it’s true that narcissists can’t love.  I know it.  But, I can’t accept it.  I can’t get to the place in my muddled thinking that Sarge never loved me.  That is was only one sided.  I believe if I actually say those words and admit there were no feelings on his side, I’ll break down.  All of the abuse, manipulation, triangulation, push and pull…would have been for naught.  I can’t face the fact I was just an object.  Just used.  One more time.  By another person who created a situation in which he had power over me.

That psychologist that abused me?  I thought he loved me. I knew what he was doing was wrong and I absolutely HATED what he forced me to do, but in my teen mind, I believed that him ‘wanting’ me was love.  And now I’m in that situation again.  Having to face the fact that I was nothing.  And you know what?  After being treated like nothing a few times, you begin to believe it’s true.

I feel like I don’t really matter much anymore.  That I’m just living my life by getting through my days.  Yesterday, I wanted to be Wonder Woman, and today, I’m feeling like I did weeks ago.  Just because of some texts.  It’s incomprehensible how narcissists ‘glue’ themselves to you, and then just play with you for their pleasure.

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OK.  I’m going to admit something that I believe is true.  I’ve done some bad things in my life.  I’ve hurt people.  I’ve lied.  I’ve stolen.  And I am convinced that Sarge might have been placed in my life as a punishment for my sins.  I know that sounds crazy, but unfortunately, with everything going on, my mind does feel off.  So, maybe because of the hurt I’ve inflicted on others, I deserve this hurt as atonement.  After all, we reap what we sow.

This is what I know:  narcissists know how to hoover…they know how to pull you back in, and I realize that NO contact is what I need.  I know that.  I really do.  But, I just can’t do it again quite yet.  And, I don’t know why the hell I can’t.

Professor K

A Roadblock.

Today I was at school and had 3 classes to teach.  After my 2nd class, a prof, whose office is across from mine, asked if I had gotten back together with ‘that guy’ from last spring.  I said an emphatic NO and asked why he inquired.  He said that the ‘guy’ had been in our office hallway and looking at my teaching schedule on my office door.  Immediately, I get a text from Sarge (I deleted him from my phone…if I only blocked him, I would still have his number which was tempting a couple of weeks ago) saying that he was registering for spring classes.  At my college.  My campus.  My turf.  My safe place.  And I was extremely upset.

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I posted this info in a private Facebook support group I started, and immediately, my AWESOME friend ran down to my office and talked to me.  She could see that I was starting to cry and told me to stop!  “Don’t cry and get upset…get mad!”  And so that’s what I did.  I realized that crying wasn’t going to stop this from happening and I began to really get angry that he would dare invade my professional space!  I’ve been a tenured professor there for 20 years, so obviously, I’m not going anywhere.  And he could go to another college easily.  I talked to my friends in security and they know now if I call them, it’s going to be for a reason and I’ll need them ASAP.  They are my friends too, so I feel comfortable with that.

Now, this actually ties into something my friend and I were talking about last night.  He said he remembered seeing the movie “Evan Almighty” and a quote that Morgan Freeman (‘God’) said to Evan (Steve Carell) resonated with him:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

I thought a lot about that last night in terms of strength, happiness, and contentment…the things I’ve been praying to God for.  And I realized this…when we ask God for a specific ‘thing’, why should he just automatically grant it to us.  Wouldn’t we, as his children, learn so much more if he gave us the opportunity to have it?  To ‘earn’ it?  To work for it?  Isn’t that what parents often do anyway?  “You want a car, son?  You need to get a job and work for it!”  And guess what?  The kid who worked for his car is going to appreciate it and care for it much better than the teen who received the car without any effort on his part.

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When I ask God for strength, is putting Sarge in my environment an opportunity to harness my own inner strength and summon the courage to use it?  What about happiness?  Should God just ‘give’ it to me…or should he give me the opportunity to recognize the blessings I have in my life, and find my own happiness with myself and all of my friends and family.

Now, I know this quote came from a movie and I know Morgan Freeman isn’t God, but I also think this is what God does.  When I have just asked for things and haven’t gotten them, I’ve gotten angry with God in the past.  “Hey God!!  You said ‘ask for it and you shall receive’!  Well…I asked, but I sure didn’t get it!”  I wonder if God is shaking his head and saying, “Professor K, it’s right there!!!  Go get it yourself!!!”  And I think I’m learning to do that.

I feel REALLY strong today!!  We texted for a period of time (very brief on my part), and I didn’t get anxious, weepy, or upset.  Because I kept telling myself “YOU ARE STRONG!  IT’S IN YOU!  HARNESS IT!  USE IT!”  And I’m trying my best to do so.  I’ve been saying more and more positive things to myself, as if I’m taping over the negative reel in my mind.

OK…some of you are probably thinking that you felt the same way when your narc re-entered your life.  And maybe tomorrow, I’ll be anxious and upset.  But I know that strength is within me because I got a glimpse of it today.  Maybe it will be buried at times, but hopefully I’ll be able to find the tools I need to dig it out, brush it off, and use it well.

Now, I’m going to be very honest with you…and those of you who are my personal friends (all of you, sweet readers, are my blog friends!) might get distressed by this.  But, I can’t guarantee I won’t see him again before he begins school.  It’s tempting.  I want him to see that I’m stronger now.  More confident.  Feel better about myself.  And I know if I do this, the possibility of getting sucked back in is huge.  Enormous.  And I know that just seeing him once could set me back, and bring all of those negative, terrible feelings up to the surface again.  I don’t think I could go through that another time.  And I know my mom and son agree.  What I put them through this summer was horrible and they went through hell because of me.  I can’t do that to them again.

My best friend and I were talking on the phone today (while he was at work…naughty boy!), and he reminded me of all the things Sarge has done to me.  “Professor K…he used you and humiliated you and abused you and financially broke you and emotionally abused you and psychologically manipulated you and physically hurt you!!!  Remember this!  You are looking at/thinking about what you WANT something to be.  You’re chasing a ghost.  You’ve got to look at what WAS and understand that’s all there is.”

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Wow.  He’s absolutely right.  I keep telling myself that narcissists don’t change.  They don’t miraculously learn to love.  Learn to have empathy.  Learn to feel remorse.  They are who they are.  Period.

But, I have changed.  I have you all reading my words and giving me encouragement and making me feel as if people around the world care about what I say.  That’s amazing!  I have my support group and everyday, we post motivational things to each other and talk to each other when things aren’t going well.  I have my family who are trying so hard to understand the uniqueness of narcissistic abuse and help me through my bad days.  I have friends at school who have my back, and a best friend who would lasso the sun for me.  All of this is making me more confident in knowing I have a foundation of love and support from people who will be watching me like hawks!

I feel sorry for Sarge.  NO…not because he’s a poor narcissist with a disorder.  But because he’ll never know the joy that comes from having TRUE friends, knowing true LOVE, and experiencing growth and change.

But you know what?  We do.

This is what I know:  I was strong before I was pulled into the snare of narcissistic abuse, and I think I’m strong now.  Yes, I’m more wise about what Sarge is, but narcissists are experts at trapping their prey.  He did it once, didn’t he?  So, I know I have to be viligant and work extremely hard at not stepping into his snare another time.

Professor K

My Balancing Act…

To be honest with you, I never heard the word ’empath’ before I began studying narcissistic abuse.  Of course I know what empathy is, but using it as a noun and personal characteristic is new to me, and I love it!  As I started reading all I could on empaths, I kept saying YES YES YES!!  That’s me!!  Finally, I have a word that describes my inability to NOT get emotionally involved at such high levels and why I feel things so terribly deep.  All my life, people have told me I’m just too sensitive and I shouldn’t take things so seriously.  And I’ve tried.  But it’s like telling a narcissist to start feeling love and remorse!  Ain’t gonna happen!

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But, there’s a difference here.  I CAN change…and they cannot.  So, here’s what I’ve really been trying to work on:  balancing being an empath while also being a strong, assertive woman.  I was reading through my Twitter feed the other day, and someone posted that she was balancing being an empath with being a bitch.  And at first, I really liked that!!  But as I got thinking about it, I realized I don’t want to be a ‘bitch’.  To me, that has such a negative connotation and I picture a ‘bitch’ as being too selfish and aggressive.  I don’t want to be too empathic…but I also don’t want to be too combative either.  So, my goal is to nurture the empath in me, while also learning to be strong enough to say NO when I need to and to construct healthy boundaries to keep me safe from those who want to use me.

I’ve always felt too much.  I remember as a kid apologizing to stuffed animals if I ripped them or neglected them for a while. I truly felt what I thought would be their pain.  I remember not being able to hold my tears back in school when I saw someone get hurt and I always tried to help the kids no one else paid attention too.  I knew what that felt like.  I was a mess as a case worker for Child Protective Services.  I worked in this position for 2 years and simply couldn’t handle the horrors I saw everyday.  I never got the kids out of my thoughts, and their pain became my pain as well.  That job beat me down emotionally to where I knew I needed to really work hard at securing a teaching position.  Still today I feel for my students.  Many of them will share things with me that break my heart…and I can’t help but hug them, cry with them, and do anything I can to make it better.  Hubby 3 used to say it wasn’t in my job description to do this.  I shouldn’t be getting so involved in their lives.  I understood what he was saying, and knew he was trying to protect me from the pain, but what he didn’t get was that doing those things is in my ‘personal’ description.  It’s just a part of who I am.  Yesterday, my little dog was barking incessantly and I yelled at her.  I cried after I did so.  I felt bad that I yelled at this little creature who I love so much.

I know my son gets frustrated by my empathic nature.  He doesn’t understand how I can blame myself for things that happened so many years ago and still feel the pain of the situation.  When I think about leaving his dad and feeling as if I shattered my son’s life, I still cry and will sometimes even ask for his forgiveness one more time.  My emotions are such that they never go away…I can’t find closure easily since they are so deeply buried.  The first time my son got his heart broken, I was at a loss as to what to do.  To see my boy in so much pain was excruciating and I wanted to take that burden on myself.  He’s gotten past that breakup which occurred years ago, but I can still think back on the pain I saw in his face and tear up.

Empaths have a hard time letting emotions go.  We ruminate over the sensitive situations and wonder if we could have done something better or different to negate some of what happened.  Feeling this deeply is horrible.  And so VERY hard to explain to those who don’t.  Not that others don’t feel.  Of course not!  It’s just that empaths go a couple of levels deeper, and the deeper you are in something, the harder it is to claw your way out.

That’s why we are such great targets for narcissists.  With just a few interactions with us, narcissists know we are ’emotional’ and sensitive and want to help anyone and everyone we can.  (Unfortunately, we often don’t know how to help ourselves).  We get dragged into their lives with the love and fun they show us at first…and we think we’ve finally met someone who understands us and truly loves us for who we are!  Then, as we start to become devalued by them, we are chided for our sensitivity. We are told we are too emotional.  That we act ‘crazy’.  And we’re snidely asked why in the world we can’t control our tears.  Of course, this all makes us ‘feel’ as if we’ve done something wrong!  Everything was so good in the beginning…WE fell in love.  WE built a strong, emotional connection to this person and they were perfect for us.  So, it only goes to figure that it’s because of US there are troubles.  The rumination starts.  If only we had done this…or maybe we should have done that.  So we try harder.  We give more.  We invest more of ourselves, because the narcissist just needs to FEEL our love in order to be OK.  And when they don’t, the fault is ours.

No wonder victims of narcissistic abuse are so emotionally depleted.  We have given literally everything we have which is so so so much.  And in our eyes, even that wasn’t enough.  Depression kicks in…anxiety becomes almost unmanageable at times…and through it all, we still believe that if we show our narcissist just ONE more time how much we love them, that will make all the difference in the world.

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I’ve finally learned this just isn’t true.  Nothing will make Sarge love me.  Nothing will make Sarge have genuine feelings towards me.  Nothing will make Sarge feel remorse at all of the horrible things he did to me over the last year.  Nothing.

And to be honest, I don’t know if I could go through all of this again.  So I HAVE to become stronger…a Wonder Woman for myself!  Someone inside of me that has learned to say NO!  Has learned to build a fence around her heart.  Not a huge fence with barbed wire on the top.  Nope.  That’s overkill.  But a ‘smart’ fence that keeps the bad out, and lets the good in.  I need my inner Wonder Woman to warn me to trust my instincts more and rely on my inner helping nature a bit less.  To teach me how to put my best interests first.  And to guide me in saying when things need to end…before they become damaging to my spirit.  I need to be a Wonder Woman who still has compassion…but after expressing that compassion, can have it’s hold lessened so it doesn’t keep me bound.  My inner Wonder Woman needs to teach me to accept what I’ve done without ruminating over it time and time again.  And to accept the forgiveness of others and learn to allow closure to occur.  And most of all, my Wonder Woman needs to teach me how to forgive myself when I fall short.  When I do make mistakes.  And to stop me from beating myself up for not being able to use my empathy to fix others.  I’ve got to manage this emotional hole I have, and learn to use more effective tools in digging myself out when I do fall into it too deeply.

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It’s not going to be easy.  It’s a ying/yang sort of thing.  Trying to find a balance between my empathic nature and my inner Wonder Woman.  It’s going to take time, and work, and tenacity, but I’m ready to do that.  After all, doesn’t everyone deserve a heroine in their lives?

This is what I know:  being empathic is a magnet for narcissists.  They can smell them a mile away, and once they’ve spotted their prey, they are ruthless in making sure it’s trapped.  Learning to have the strength to manage that empathic nature is critical so we aren’t used, manipulated, and destroyed again.  If we can’t find that in ourselves, we’re going to keep stepping into these dangerous traps.

Professor K

 

‘Gotta Have Faith’ (George Michael)

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately, and wondering if my faith is getting stronger through this process of healing…or weaker.

Faith is a difficult thing to define.  I remember being in church as a little girl, and the pastor told a story about a tightrope walker that asked his audience if they believed he could walk across the tightrope without falling.  The audience said yes and he did it.  Then, he asked if they believed he could carry a chair across the tightrope successfully, and they said yes to that as well, and once again, he was successful.  He asked if they believed he could put something in the chair and carry it to the other side of the tightrope, and impressed by his previous accomplishments, they all said YES YES!  He did it.  Then, the tightrope walker asked if they believed he could carry someone over the tightrope while they sat in the chair.  YES YES YES…replied the ‘faithful’ audience.  And then, the tightrope walker asked who would like to be the first carried across.  Not one person volunteered.  Despite their ‘belief’ in his abilities…and the observations of what he really could do…no one had enough ‘faith’ to put themselves in his control.  I’ve thought about this story a lot as I’ve grown and aged…and wondered if I would be able to put myself so willingly into someone else’s hands to where my very being depended on them.  I don’t think I could.  I just wouldn’t have enough faith in this person to risk it.

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So…did the people really have faith in this man?  They believed he could do all he said he could do, until it was their turn to be a ‘test’ of it.  And then, the ‘faith’ left them.  This can’t be faith, can it…when it’s so easily discarded when the cost is personal.

In my Sociology classes, my students and I study the Donner Party.  I’m sure my American readers are familiar with this true story, but let me summarize for anyone who isn’t:  the Donner Party was a group of 90 emigrants who left Springfield, IL in 1846 to go to California to seek a new life.  Unfortunately, they were told by a ‘charlatan’ that there was a quicker route to California that would save them time and miles as opposed to the regular route other emigrants had been taking for years.  For some reason, even though the route had never been proven to be safe or even possible for wagons, the party decided to take it anyway.  Perils confronted them along the 1000’s of miles they had already traversed, and by the time they reached the Sierra Nevada mountains…the last range to cross until their final destination, it began to snow (eventually totally about 25 feet) and the people were trapped at the base of the mountain range for the remainder of the winter.  The amount of snow made crossing the mountain impossible.  The emigrants food quickly ran out and they ate anything and everything they could to survive…bark, dirt, leaves, cloth, hides…anything, but it wasn’t enough.  Finally, when everyone was literally to the point of starvation, including young children and nursing mothers, they began to cannibalize the dead.  Had they not, no one would have survived.  No one.  As it was, 45 survived, including many children and babies.

I use this story in my class to talk about deviance, groups, etc. but what I’m most amazed about when I study the Donner party personally, is that throughout this incredibly horrid ordeal in which their very physical and moral beings were being challenged in ways most of us will never experience, the members of the party never lost their faith in God.  Letters and diaries were kept so we have true insight into the thoughts of these men and women, and know firsthand how their belief in God never wavered, regardless of the hell they were experiencing.  Look at this (and the spellings/punctuation are as they are found in the original diaries):

 

 “Their feet were greatly bruised, and so swollen that they had literally burst open, and were bleeding so much, that the fragments of blankets with which they were bound up, were saturated with blood. But a merciful God assisted them in a wonderful manner; and after struggling all day, they reached the top, where they encamped.”

“…may God relieve us all from this difficulty if it his Holy will Amen”

“Calm but a little air from the North verey pleasant to day Sun Shining brilliantly renovates our spirits prais be to God, Amen”

“Wind about S.E all in good health thanks be to God for his Mercies endureth for ever…”

Look at this!  They thanked God for his mercy even after their feet had burst open and were bleeding profusely.  They asked to be relieved from this terrible situation BUT only if it was God’s will.  They had been suffering for months and were starving but praised God for a sunny day.  Their bodies were broken down and emaciated, yet they still thanked God for their ‘good health’ because they hadn’t succumbed to death yet.

Wow.  So many of us face things in our lives that are very much less than what these people endured.  They lost family members, children, they starved, they lived in make-shift cabins under 20’ drifts of snow so that they were basically buried alive, etc.  yet their faith never diminished.  They still thanked God for what they had and asked this HIS will be done, not theirs.

This humbles me more than I can say.  After hubby 3 left me, I asked God over and over again “Why? “and I wondered if he even cared about me anymore.  In the midst of the abuse with Sarge, I asked God why HE was doing this to me.  How HE could allow one of his children to go through such an awful situation.  And now, as I’m trying to recover and heal, it’s still about asking God, selfishly, to remove my ache and burdens quickly.  As if I’m the one calling the shots and don’t have the faith that He’ll do what is right for me.

Really?  Is my faith so weak that I question it whenever something bad happens?  And what I call bad is all a matter of perspective.  Yes, I’m in pain, and I’m not minimizing the pain all of us are in.  Not by any means.  But when my nephew was killed in August, and I saw the pain on my sister-in-laws face, I never had seen such hopelessness and grief to that magnitude in my life.  And I realized, no matter what I was facing, I had my son and family  and friends and that was blessing enough in my life.  How I’m sure my sis wished she could change places with me in a heartbeat.  I’ll heal.  I know I will.  Yes, there will be scars, but I’ll be able to go on in my life with lessons learned.  But guess what?  Her son will never be back.  She won’t walk on this earth another day of her life not thinking about him and missing him with all of her soul.

I think faith is easy during the ‘good’ times in our lives.  It’s easy to thank God when things are going the way WE want them too.  But, I think when things start to go badly, we almost ‘blame’ God and ask ‘Why me?’  And I guess the answer is ‘Why not?’  I know it’s a cliché, but life is hard…it’s not going to be easy.  It’s not going to be fair.  It’s not even going to be something we can understand.  So we blame God, and our faith wavers because of it.  Is that true faith then?  To only have it solid during the good?  How can that be real?

My son is a self-proclaimed atheist.  I absolutely hate that term, and it breaks my heart everyday that he lost the belief he had when he was younger.  My son went to parochial schools because I wanted him exposed to religion early and to be in an environment where he could express his faith freely.  I remember him beaming on the day he was baptized, and the first little book he read all the way through to me was a children’s Bible he had received as a baby.  At one point in his childhood, his dad and I would tease that our son would become a pastor because he was so pious!  I don’t know what happened.  His faith left him around the same time his dad and I divorced and I fear it was because of this he stopped believing in God.  He denies this, and says he just ‘grew up and realized the fairy tale of it all.’  He asks me how I can believe in something I can’t see.  Can’t hear.  Can’t touch.  Can’t feel.  And what he doesn’t, or can’t, understand is that I can do all of those.  I see a rainbow or a gorgeous butterfly and I see God.  I hear him in the music of a tide and can feel him as I rub my cheek against the face of a newborn.

I think my son wants God to prove himself.  But here’s the thing.  If I have to PROVE to my son that I love him, I would be offended.  Because what level of proof would be necessary and how can he not feel and have ‘faith’ that what I say to him is true?   I don’t want to prove it to him.  He needs to accept it.  And believe in it.  And know that no matter what, I’m here for him.  No matter what, my love will never waver.  That’s faith.

When justifying their disbelief in God, people will say this to me: “If there is a God, why does he allow for childhood cancer?  Why do good people get killed?  How could he let the holocaust happen?”  And to be honest, I don’t know.  There is absolutely nothing I can think of that could justify any of these things.  Nothing.  And those things make me angry.  And to be very honest, disappointed that my God WOULD allow such things to happen.  But that doesn’t kill my faith.  I have to have FAITH in God that his plan is the right plan.  Faith.  No matter what.

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This is what I know:  faith can be a very difficult thing to sustain during the bad in our lives.  And for me, despite other losses I’ve encountered, recovering from narc abuse has been the hardest for me to endure.  I’ve tried so very hard to keep my faith strong and to thank God for all he has blessed me with.  But, I’m human.  And at times I lash out at Him, and ask how he could allow this to be done to me.  How he could allow it for any one of us.   I have to believe though,  that God is in control.  That there’s a reason for this.  A reason for everything.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want it to happen.  But real faith isn’t dependent on my own issues and situation.  It’s dependent on my confidence there’s a God who is in control and needs me to give myself in to that control.  I have to have faith he knows exactly what he’s doing.  I need to sit on that chair, no matter how scared I am, and allow him to carry me over the abyss.

Professor K

 

 

Mixing it Up

I can’t tell you how many Introduction to Psychology classes I’ve taught over the last 23 years, and every time I teach one, I go over the stages of grief as theorized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.  I used to think these were ‘static’ stages.  That you would stair step through them, starting with the first and ending with the last.  A nice, clean grief process that followed a pattern which could be counted on and understood.  Yep.  That’s what I thought and when I have lost people in the past, the stages did pretty much go the way they were ‘supposed’ too.  But, we all know that NOTHING with narcissists proceeds normally, and I’ve found myself thinking about these stages and finding myself experiencing some of them at the same time…moving through them out of order…and really not able to predict what might be coming next in my ‘grief’ process.

And while we’re on it, I often wonder what it is I’m actually grieving.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  Am I grieving the loss of the relationship I had with Sarge?  Am I grieving because I know he never loved me…never cared for me…never wanted me as a human being but just as a supply to fulfill his own selfish needs?  Am I grieving that I will never look at potential mates again without the fear and ‘paranoia’ they could also be narcissists just priming me for another victimization?  Am I grieving the loss of his kids who I adore?  Am I grieving the loss of my heart?  My spirit?  My confidence?  My self-image? My self-esteem?  Myself?  Is it me I’m grieving for?  Or Sarge?  Or, is it all of the above?  I’m really not sure.

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Bill Watterson – https://thecomicninja.wordpress.com/tag/calvin-and-hobbes/page/6/

When you study Ross, you see that her stages of grief are these:

stages-of-grief

  • Denial (this isn’t happening)
  • Anger (how dare this happen)
  • Bargaining (I’ll make a deal with you…)
  • Depression (I can’t believe this happened to me)
  • Acceptance (It’s happened…and I have to move on)

Here’s the problem in dealing with my grief from narc abuse…my stages look like this:

denial, depression, anger, depression, bargaining, denial, depression, bargaining, anger, denial, anger, depression, anger…and you get the point.

My ‘stages’ are a complete roller coaster…exactly like my relationship with Sarge was.  BUT wait…I just realized something as I’m typing this.  I’ve been using the term ‘relationship’ to describe what I had (or didn’t have) with Sarge, and that’s really a misnomer.  A relationship is 2 people who connect together…who have an emotional and intimate bond.  Bond.  Like 2 pieces glued together as one.  That is not what we had.  I had a one-sided ‘interaction’ with him.  Not a bond, but me being just one piece trying my best to connect to this man who I realized was made of a material that could never take hold.  Could never make a connection at all.  It’s like trying to put tape on sand and thinking it will stick.  It won’t.  There’s just nothing there to adhere to.  So, I guess from now on, I need to use the word interaction.  It’s much more descriptive of the situation.

Getting back to my stages of grief, I’m going through them in such an unpredictable way that I don’t know, day to day, which one I’ll be experiencing next.  Some days, my depression is less, and I’m feeling more anger.  Then, like a tidal wave, the depression comes back, worse than ever, and I feel I have to apologize to my friends and family for being down again.  Depression is almost a constant, and anger surfaces from time to time, and it’s been doing so more frequently.

I’ve also bargained.  I’m going to be honest.  When Sarge left the last time, I prayed that God would ‘cure’ him of his narcissism, open his heart to me, and be the person I saw him being in the first stages of our ‘interaction.’  In fact, I prayed a lot.  A whole lot.  God didn’t answer that prayer.  Or, did he?  Did he know that without a ‘soul’, Sarge simply couldn’t be what I needed him to be, so he cut me free from him?  Was God protecting me from further hurt?  I truly think he was.  I believe that God knew how deep I was sinking and how close to hurting myself I was.  And as my ‘Father’, he chose to save me.  To get me out of the abyss I was in, so I could move towards light and life again.

And, I have to admit this as well, I bargained with Sarge many times.  I told him how I understood narcissism now (he is self-proclaimed) and I would build boundaries that would reign in his behavior and give me more power and control in what could be a true relationship.  I told him I would give him more space when he needed it.  I would better learn his cues and behave accordingly.  I told him my love could fix him.  And I believed it.  I still do.  I’m sorry…but I do.

I’m also great at denial.  When I look at pictures of us together (and I try very hard not too…in fact, I’ve cleaned them all out of my office at school so that’s a good thing), I see happy times.  I see our smiles.  I see a man I still love.  I don’t see the monster in the picture, and I wonder, who am I writing about in this blog?  This great guy who I rode horses with and played mini-golf with and went hiking with?  He CAN’T be that bad!  Maybe he’s NOT a narcissist.  Maybe he’s just a very mixed up man who needs a good woman to help him heal from his past.  Then, I look back at my post on the characteristics of narcissists and I understand that he is one…and he can’t be fixed by me…and this ‘interaction’ is truly over.  Denial is so damn easy though.  And sometimes I need this journey to be easier.

Have you noticed what stage I haven’t mentioned at all.  Yep.  Acceptance.  I can not bring myself to acknowledge I was in an abusive, toxic, narcissistic relationship that hurt me to the core of my being, changing me forever in so many ways.  I can’t accept how depressed and anxious I am all the time.  How much debt I’m in which literally makes me feel as if I’m drowning.  I can’t accept this man never loved me.  I can’t accept that.  I can’t bring myself to recognize all of the love was on my side only.  Because that makes me a fool.  A victim.  And admitting this to myself, and accepting it, is something that’s going to take a long time.  I know I need to eventually get to this stage.  I have got to get to acceptance to have closure.  But right now, that door is wide open.  And I’m worried about what I might let inside.

This is what I know:  nothing about narcissistic ‘relationships’ are real or normal or typical of any other relationship out there.  And dammit, that makes the healing and grief process abnormal too.  It’s amazing how powerful narcissists are…they can change everything in your life so very drastically.  Including yourself.

Professor K

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The Rose Colored Glasses are Off!

Yes, I wear glasses.  I got them in 3rd grade and was so proud of them!  Even though contacts are so great now and Lasik surgery is more affordable, I’ll never get rid of my glasses…they are like a part of me.  In fact, my mother says they make me look smart.  Apparently, I look pretty dumb without them! 😉

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When I met Sarge, my glasses were rose colored and he could do nothing wrong.  Nothing.  In fact, for a while, I thought he was as close to perfect as I’d ever find in a mate.  Now, of course, I realize he was mirroring me to give me exactly what I was looking for.  After a while, small things would pop up and I’d excuse them easily.  He had a bad day…he was worried about finding employment…he didn’t like having to live in his grandmother’s basement, etc.  Of course I rationalized his behavior and words…he was near perfect and even he could fall from the pedestal I put him on at times.

Our first couple months were awesome.  We’d go out to dinner (me ALWAYS paying) and he’d say:  “Where does Professor K want to eat?”  He said I deserved to make choices and decisions because my needs and wants were the most important thing to fulfill.  Wow!  I picked the restaurants, the movies, the activities and I thought how wonderful this man is to want to please me so badly.  Then, the devaluation started to occur, and suddenly, my wants and needs weren’t acknowledged at all.  Everything we did centered around him, and if Sarge was having a bad day, I’d have a bad day too.  Obviously, co-dependency kicked in because of his ‘love-bombing’ and I believed I needed this man in my life no matter what.  Plus, my rose colored glasses would see these infractions in a more understanding way.  What he said wasn’t his fault…he had been abused as a child.  What he did wasn’t his fault…he had PTSD from his military deployments.  I knew he COULD be ‘perfect’ for me so of course, these things were just blips.  Nothing to worry about.  Things would get better.  But of course, they didn’t.

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After Sarge left me for the first of many times, I started thinking logical for once and made a pro’s and con’s list…here it is (verbatim but with current commentary in parenthesis) :

PROS:

  • Sex (GREAT at first…then he would withhold it and act like I was a nymphomaniac if I wanted it)
  • Fun riding motorcycles (of which I bought and still owe for… $14,000).
  • Cuddling (when he felt like it and I deserved it)
  • His smile (that was the best part of him and it always melted me)

CONS:

  • Hurtful/horrible words
  • No emotional empathy
  • Lack of support from family attacks (he never defended me…and his family was ruthless at times)
  • Lack of communication
  • Physical abuse
  • Closes self off
  • Never reaches out to me (I had to initiate everything after the idealize stage)
  • Moved out without telling me
  • Acts embarrassingly in public (like a child)
  • Always has to be right (and if he wasn’t right, there was a justifiable reason for it)
  • Selfish (financially, emotionally, sexually, etc.  After Sarge got his first paycheck after finding employment, he bought a $600.00 helmet instead of paying me back for things or getting me something…for some reason, that really hurt.  I made him an awesome t-shirt quilt, bought him a guitar because he said he wanted to play, got him art supplies, etc.  The ONLY thing I have from him is an infantry badge.  At first, I was extremely touched by this, until he ordered more of them and I realized it was not a unique thing.)
  • Never says thank you (nor did he teach his kids to thank me either)
  • Discloses our personal life to others (I can’t believe the things I expressed to him and he would tell his exes and family…it felt extremely violating.)
  • Allows his exes to hurt me (the ex he cheated on me with actually came to my house and put a note in my mailbox saying I was to stay away from her and her children because I was so dangerous.  Me.  Dangerous.  I’ve worked with kids and students all my life and have never ever treated anyone badly.  I have no idea what he told her for her to say that but it was such a blow to my good character).
  • Makes his exes a priority over me (it’s funny…his ex girlfriend can say and do anything to this man…anything.  And he accepts it and forgives it.  If I even tried to bring up a subject he didn’t like, he would either shut down, pull away, or berate me.  Hmmmm.)
  • Has a dysfunctional family (his mom and grandma would never have accepted me although his brothers liked me, as well as his cousin and grandpa).
  • Says and does inappropriate things around his children (even with his kids, he was the center of everything and his kids cry out for attention. I really worry about them.)
  • Addicted to his phone and very secretive about it (hmmmmm…)
  • Won’t follow through with committments

What’s interesting is this, even after writing these down and saving them…looking at them often when he was gone that first time, I still took him back again and again and again.  It’s as if my logical side took over just that once, and then his pulling back and pushing in played on my emotions to the point I could look at the imbalance of this list, and still take him back.  When I made this list, he hadn’t cheated on me yet and even after that, I allowed him back.  Twice.

But guess what?  My rose colored glasses are coming off!  I’m seeing this now so much more clearly.  And over the last couple of weeks, I keep asking myself what I saw in him and why in the world would I ever want him in my life.

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Want me to tell you why?  Because I became addicted.  He played me and manipulated me and indoctrinated me to where I would accept anything.  And I did.  But the more time I’m away from him, the more clearly I’m seeing him.  That’s something I’m so thankful for.  I feel like at least some of my rationality is back, even if my emotions are still a wreck.  The glasses are off.

This is what I know:  after you have been pulled into a narcissistic relationship, your ability to see things clearly is severely altered.  And when people point things out to you, you simply cannot understand why they don’t see the great person underneath the actions.  And I’m going to admit something to you…if he were to come to me again, I’m very scared my emotions would rule.  I pray I would never take him back, but then again, I stayed with him so much longer than I should have.  If he hadn’t discarded me, I’d be with him still.  Distance is making me smarter.  Closeness would make me a victim.  Again.

Professor K