Letters … ~ Ch 6: Finding a Way Back

6bIf we look we can find blessings in what feels like overwhelming dire straits. They’re little oasis’ in a desert, four leaf clovers in a briar patch. If you’re reared in a life of faith they will show themselves. It’s up to us to look, find and appreciate them.

PreviousLetters… ~ Ch 5: The Pile On

Dear Grandchild,

The events of this “Letters” series began roughly five years ago when health insurance costs were rising and mine was no exception. “You cost more than you’re worth to me,” he stated flatly, determinedly, matter-of-factly, like every resource we had was 6ehis and my being alive needlessly drained them.

As bizarre as I find anyone saying such a thing (I trust you do, too), that is how he really thought (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Every article on the subject defines narcissists as keenly adept actors who pretend emotions that they witness in others because they are incapable of their own. Most bystanders find them very endearing on the face. A narcissist is never so vicious as when you leave them (stop giving “narcissistic supply“). That’s when you see what their character really is. (Refer to video in Chapter 3.)

I’d identified his narcissism, but I hadn’t studied it at length and being married for so long I didn’t know what to do with that knowledge anyway. Unknowingly, I had stopped feeding his ‘narcissistic supply’ by standing up for myself more, which I now know triggered this revelation. When I suggested we amicably part he immediately turned as vile in demanding I ‘get out.’ There was no reasoning and there wasn’t going to be any sharing. He wanted it all and in his mind it was all his. The pompousness of that attitude makes you want to barf before you slap them silly.

It was such a blatant revelation of truly despicable character that I found it pathetically mind-numbing. What do you say to something like that? Argue it? “Oh yes I am worth something,” like that? And that would get you …. where?

There were many things he needed to hear and there actually were things I could’ve said, though those would not have been the least bit decent. That was a critical time to stand up for me whether he listened or not, but I blew the opportunity and I live with that serious regret.

Thinking there was nothing more to drain from me, he justified stealing it all and putting me aside with less remorse than those who put-down an old dog. By nature of being a narcissist it took far, far less than words like his to “hurt” his feelings. Just forget to praise his cooking or yard work and see what that got you. (Unadulterated rage.)

6fThe good thing was, at his age he didn’t have another 20-years to bleed other women dry. Out of all of his prior relationships I was the longest running so I must’ve had a heck of a lot more ‘usefulness’ than he could ever find in any of them.

As he drug out the divorce tying to hang onto all of the money, making it considerably more tedious and ugly than need be, months of life trudged on as described in these chapters. By the time I was free of his narcissist hook everyone in my family but you and Dad were gone. The day of divorce Dad was ecstatic, the most gleefully excited I’d seen him in a very, very long time. It felt good to share that with Dad. God bless Dad.

A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones. [Proverbs 17:22]

From my packing to leave the marital home through all of the stages of suffering divorce one-and-a-half years later, I’d disciplined myself to make only “good and right” decisions. I left much more on the table than I took. I fought bitterness and anger, simply wanting to live without his angst. I didn’t want to give him my soul, too. I believed that’s how God would have me do it and that God would take care of me if I kept myself walking the honest, straight and narrow.

When divorce wrapped up I was pretty raked over the coals and didn’t benefit much from it other than freedom from him. By then I was willing to pay him to go away. Relying on the good principles I’d set for myself, I refused to counter his personal affronts in court as he lambasted me with grossly maligning lies. Apparently his approach worked better than mine.

With such a horrid divorce and all of the family losses on top of it, I kept asking myself where God was and why He wasn’t helping me. It felt like God wasn’t there at all. To keep bitterness from setting-in I concentrated on counting blessings, like how freeing it was not to be battered by someone every day. That mattered.

As time went on I couldn’t believe God would let me flounder in the intense pain of losing so many people; why He’d let me be so maligned by and among them; and why He wasn’t rewarding me with some reprieve of goodness from all of the goodness I’d tried to lay as a foundation. I had worked so hard to make only “good and right” decisions. Didn’t that count for anything?

As bouts of ill health came and went and I shoved handfuls of pills in my mouth every morning and night to stay alive, I began to tell myself that I do cost more than I’m worth. Why would God let me contemplate such a thing? Didn’t I matter to Him? Wasn’t He supposed to turn good works into some goodness of life? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

6hI fought doubt, asking those questions over and over and clinging to my faith by bare threads. I came to believe God had abandoned me or, worse, maybe it was true that God wasn’t real at all. (I am ashamed to admit that.) Then I reminded myself of all that He had saved me from over so many years and how many prayers He’d answered so perfectly they could only come from Him. I knew He was still there. I just had to find my way back.

There is a verse in the Bible to the effect,

“As the twig is bent so goes the tree.”

That entrenched pilot light of faith was my tether to God. Being reared in His word was the undying belief that flickered inside of me waiting to be ignited again, waiting to be useful again. If I hadn’t had the believing upbringing Dad provided I would not have been able to cling to that when all of life felt so hopelessly against me that nothing felt right, nothing relieved the pain.

I try to never take God’s good graces and mercies for granted no matter how hard life gets. You cannot imagine how much I prayed and yearned and sought peace of mind in traversing the experiences described in these chapters. Some things only God can handle, even when it feels like we haven’t time to wait; even when it seems no one is up there listening; even when we think we’ve given up and don’t know how to get it back.

You’re aware how I’ve encountered health issues of late. I call their medication “chemo light” because it leaves me feeling so very badly. I spend my days doing nothing but giving comfort to myself, remembering chemo and reminding myself it could always be worse. This isn’t as degenerating as chemo and that’s something to be very grateful for.

In weird ways I’m relieved to have a reason to do nothing but pamper myself. It’s like I’ve needed that for years so I deserve to do it without guilt. Just having the time and resources in retirement to do that is a blessing. I can’t imagine being a younger person trying to balance work and family while feeling this way. I am very blessed.

I recall one of my chapters mentioning how we expect to have “caring people” around us at this juncture of old age. Having settled here only a few years ago and hibernating from society since, I didn’t try to get out to meet people and, as anyone reading this series is aware, now I have very little family.

6iIt’s scary to be so alone in this time of life, but when I strip away the self pity I realize that I’m actually living a self-fulfilling prophecy least expected. Just because it’s not expected doesn’t make it bad — just different.

Now, when I think about people coming and going as used to be, that feels uncomfortable. Just as I was left alone when younger to figure things out for myself, that’s the same way I am today and aptly so. Just let me admire life from a distance. That’s about all the energy I have for it anymore anyway. And that’s okay.

Then I thought about the new people who do come and go in my life now. They are good and caring and so thoughtful. As are those tending to the home. I don’t have many needs that aren’t being met. Wants, maybe, but not needs (smiling). Given how I tend to be such a private homebody, I’m not sure I’d even want more people than this in my daily life.

I was surprised to realize just how “full” my life is given the limited desire I have to be active in it. God blessed me with newbie ‘loved ones’ and I’m so comfortable with them I almost forgot how much I do appreciate them. They are all considerably better to me than my own family (save Dad and you all of course).

God is good to me. He’s carried me and He’s let me walk alone. He’s led me to understandings and He’s walked silently to keep me company as I figured them out. He’s woven caring people into the moments of my living when I feared there could never be more.

The cleaning lady and I laugh a lot, she’s more like a daughter or lifelong friend than a paid helper. I buy household gadgets to give us new toys for play when she does her work. When she arrives at the door CeeCee scampers with the enthusiasm of a child seeing grandma bearing goodies. In many ways, I do have family. They’re just a very different one than what I’d envisioned.

6bLike that undying flicker of faith, I never lose hope, either, that God will make it possible for our broken family to mend itself. I don’t expect that, but I know He can if He wants and I keep praying He’s working on it. Maybe by then we’ll all have our hearts in a better place, be better aware of our own failings and less critical of one another, thus better prepared to receive each other in a brand new light. With God, all things are possible.

If we look we can find blessings in what feels like overwhelming dire straits. They’re little oasis’ in a desert, four leaf clovers in a briar patch. If you’re reared in a life of faith they will show themselves. It’s up to us to look, find and appreciate them.

Ever since a small child Dad would stop to peruse a clover patch for four leaf clovers. We’d do it together, even as I was older, and he always found at least one. Recently I opened a book he’d given me just before he died. Tucked inside its pages is the “I love you” of a four leaf clover he’d secreted there. Its plucked but still-green color feels like a bridge between where the two of us are now, he on the other side of life and me, still here, trying to find my own.

I cannot imagine living the struggles of life without faith that Dad instilled in me to do just that. It may be a long while before your young life experiences serious troubles, but some sort comes to all of us at one time or another. When you do, I hope you’ll reflect on these words.

Lesson Six:  No matter how bad life may feel in tribulation, take a moment to look for a good inside each bad you’re suffering. You’ll be surprised. God is so good. ♥

 

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Letters … ~ Ch 1: When I’m Gone (Video)

burialFamily are a lot like goldfish. Their affections grow to endure only what fits comfortably within their own environments. I watched what felt like helplessly as the family I thought I knew mutated into something wholly unrecognizable.

PreviousLetters to A Grandchild ~ Preface

Dear Grandchild,

As a grandmother, there are life-wisdoms I wanted to leave … those things that we only see clearly through a grandparent’s age and experience. There is one ‘wisdom’ in particular to which I hope you will give special caution.

Leaving this in my burial planning records, it started as a simple paragraph or two when it dawned on me that this really is my last chance to “chat” with you. No pressure or anything. There are so many things I wish I’d been better equipped to speak to over the years, when it might’ve made a difference. And no one wants to be forgotten or, worse, remembered in a poorly shed light of the less loving.

I kept believing the opportunity would come when our family would want to set differences right, but the time for that has passed; and it is clear by now, ‘setting things right’ defeats the purpose of all their years’ hard work. “It takes two to Tango” and here I am with the bulk of a productive life behind me. It is important you know what others don’t speak, else a life of unspoken truths die with me.

I’m sure this is much less relevant to others than to me, but it might mean something when you find yourself confronted with similar dynamics. I always took a back seat, never standing up for myself; convincing myself another’s feelings were more important; that I had bigger shoulders; that some day when it was most critical someone would do that for me. It’s been a long wait. So it seemed especially important now.

Knowing your spouse’s appreciation for genealogy, I began this by adding simple bits & pieces of personal history. The next thing I knew it had morphed into a book rather than a ‘few last words.’ In perfect hindsight now, how these tragedies unfolded speaks to surviving this family’s dysfunction more than it does the ill-equipped child turned matriarch who still struggles to navigate that terrain.

Stepping Back in Time

Not so long ago generations of family lived in one home, so learning from one another was an effortless occurrence. Oh, the richness of that life. I wish you & I could’ve had that, I’d like to know you better as the full-grown adult you are: What weighs on your mind and heart; your spiritual and worldly convictions; your ambitions and memories and regrets. What you think, why you think it and how you reach your conclusions. I very much cherish the intermittent blurps we do occasionally share. Those are very special to me, especially when we find laughter in them.

While trying to put cautions in written word, it occurred to me how much I don’t know about the whole person you’ve become and, given likely differences between our generations, maybe my ‘grandmotherly’ vantage would seem to underestimate you. The 40-some years between us allows you to be generally better-informed about the world than I was at your age; and your upbringing was considerably less sheltered than mine. I’ve always regretted that, for you, but being overly protected in formative years isn’t the blessing it’s intended to be, either. I speak from experience.

I can’t know where the potential overlap of ‘underestimating you’ starts & my naivete stops. School records reflected an IQ of 150, but I was emotionally stunted by an overly-protective authoritarian that demanded compassionate blind-faith in the face of everyone and everything that confronted me. Being reared to believe those principles were an integral part of being a good person, I lived them, they became who I was. I accepted everyone at face value and that staunch principle misguided me for countless years.  beaver2

A normal day of my formative childhood is no keener visualized than an episode of the old “Leave It To Beaver” TV series. That is a perfect snapshot: Living in a quaint safe town, the child of upstanding parents; the expansive sterile home with a father always in a suit or ironed khakis, a mother homemaking in flowing skirts and the only problems to solve being ironing out wrinkles of idealism. The stark difference in mine was a brother bearing intense resentment that I ever came along in the first place, but nothing’s perfect.

In the end, I also know that your age cannot possibly afford the knowledge it took a lifetime of experiences to gain, so I trudge forward with my ‘wisdom’ quest. Somewhere in between the differences of our personal histories are the twains where youthful inexperience and elderly wisdom intersect.

Ahh, To Be Young Again

When we’re young life is full & busy as we try to realize all of the dreams built into our eager hearts. Over time life can come to feel so endlessly mundane many of them fall-away or we find ourselves blindly following their crumbs wherever they lead us. Old age seems so off of our radars we don’t concern ourselves. It comes so much sooner than any of us envision, despite how we convince ourselves we’ll conquer that, too.

When that part of life happens all that’s left are memory snapshots of the journeys undertaken with people we loved dotting their landscape. We always think of ourselves as the vibrant person we were in our youth, defying the ‘old person’ we inevitably do morph into and even after we already have. No one who lives long enough escapes that. That is when we need family’s affections more than ever. It’s natural to expect that the loved ones of today will be there then.

Maybe someday your generation will restart family reunions and you’ll find yourself gathered around a table with loved ones you all-too-rarely see, catching up with memories of old times like Family-Reunion.pngwe used to do. Dad loved our family reunions and God bless him for keeping them going as long as he did. They stopped (in terms of inviting me) when he died and that speaks better to my reasons for leaving this than any other could.

You’ll be the only one of your generation knowing this side of our family history. Others have invested themselves in rewriting it and, to great regrettable degree, they’ve accomplished that in trying to shed themselves in better light. When someone seeks to pull themselves above the rest, there’s always another who pays the price. For reasons you may innately understand, I was this family’s easy target.

We never know other people as well as we think we do and family is at the top of that list. If you don’t appreciate the ‘wisdom’ in this now, save it for when you find loved ones inexplicably disappointing. That day will come. In one form or another, the ‘wisdom’ interwoven here is at the core of all we find perplexing about humanity. Entire industries prosper from the subject, attesting to just how real and captivating those mysteries are. We never truly appreciate the evil within them until we’re forced to live it.

During my productive years, which are the bulk of everyone’s lifetime, I routinely denied myself to give to those around me, even when I had very little to give materially or emotionally. Your mother is the prime beneficiary. Dad’s second family and you boys rank right up there at the top. The list goes on … siblings, in-laws, husbands, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances.

A few stories that never get told because, in accordance with the values I was taught, I’m not prone to talking about my good-doings. I hoped by adding them here they’d better demonstrate my heart. (Doing this makes more sense when you read further):

As a young, struggling single mother, at Christmas I waited to pay on a layaway. A very old man ahead was placing a few dollars on an $8 pair of slippers he’d laid away as a gift for his wife. It was his second payment. The love he showed with what little he had was so absolutely touching, after he left I paid off the balance.

faithhopelove2In a grocery line a few months ago a mother ahead of me with her three boys spent $30 more than she had. She began removing all of the boys’ favorite items. I put the balance on my card and the lady had tears in her eyes in hugging me. I hoped it gave the people behind thought for the day, too. “Pay it forward.”

Then there was the young woman with a baby stranded at an interstate rest area to whom I gave $50 for gas and food. As soon as the money exchanged hands she ran to her boyfriend hiding in a nearby car and with a day’s bounty in hand they zoomed away (I can only hope not to buy drugs). We can’t get them all right.

I do love giving, of feeling love, of being able to make someone’s life a little happier or less burdensome. Praise God for the opportunities. That is the real me and with the same humility I was taught to love I’m not prone to tooting my horn. I give because I love giving, including emotional sacrifices when someone else needs those and which are often the hardest for any of us to give. I am confident in the goodness I am. I certainly am saddened by ‘my family’s’ efforts to pose me otherwise. But God & I know better.

Chapters that follow are written from the emotional angle of those endearing endeavors, whether anyone ever acknowledges them or not. That coming so naturally to me is what made it so easy for those less generous to take advantage.

Each family is different but I’ve heard of a lot more who share the traits about which I write than those who don’t. I assure you, in your generation of our immediate family the dilemma I caution is also thriving, alive and well. This identifies those danger zones. I write of a family dynamic, but the same principles apply to work and social situations.

We think ‘who we are’ is defined by the principles we live, but it is not that simple. That is not necessarily so. To others and especially those within a family, ‘who we are’ is a lot more about them than it is about us. After giving all of my productive years so loyally to so many and for so long, their abandonment of me in the end was an unfathomable outcome. In my overly-naïve state, I could never have foreseen that coming.

This is my true story of how that life trauma evolved and, I hope, how to not let it happen to you. I attribute my ludicrous naivete’ to being taught unrealistic ideals as a small child but when I came of age to practically apply them to life I was left grossly deficient of any parental guidance. My idealism never merged with application. Those unadulterated values lived in my soul, blindly guiding me from one life tragedy into another and none were more tragic than those of the last four-years.

Please peruse embedded videos, identified by “Video” in chapter titles. A couple are critical in understanding the psychology at play.

‘The Wisdom’ Within this Wisdom Quest

Family are a lot like goldfish. Their affections grow to endure only what fits comfortably within their own environments. I watched what felt like helplessly, with new spouses and newborn children growing into adulthood, as the family I thought I knew mutated into something wholly unrecognizable.

wisdom2‘The wisdom’ I leave for you is rooted in manipulation. Don’t think you know enough about this already — you do not. Manipulation is, by its very nature, secreted deep within the bowels of each generation’s search for importance within their family hierarchy.

Manipulation stems from insecurities and within a family unit requires crafty, deceptive rumormongering of more than one to make it work. Willing gamers are always the least secure. A more independent, concentrated form of manipulation is within the marriage itself and the gamer is always the spouse. Those types of spouses are, however, always on the prowl for a hierarchy weaker link, drawing in others to give their prowess strength of numbers.

The larger a family the more insecure personalities there are in it and the more dangerous their game. My biggest failing was – I was not insecure. I ignorantly loved and trusted, forcing myself to do that even when I sensed otherwise … because that pure grain of idealism is what was so staunchly etched into guiding me. That over-trusting unawareness, the confidence it mustered and the successes it achieved made me the natural, easiest family target of scapegoating.

Manipulation and rumormongering work to erode all we thought we knew about our family’s fishbowl. If we are secure in ourselves and especially when we’re young, it’s too easy to dismiss red-flag behaviors as mere glitches when they are anything but. When you sense a ref flag, it is a red flag. Pay attention to it. Never ignore your gut instincts – never.

My family being fragmented at an early age brought all the insecurities of a second stepfamily. Even natural families have their over-indulged favorites or diabolical gamers. It may be too early for you to see this in your immediate family, but it is lurking. Trust me on that. You may already have a sense of the red flags you’ve ignored because you don’t know how to commit to handling them yet. Trust your gut. Gut instincts are always reliable. Never ignore a red flag. Explore it. That’s your instincts telling you “wait a minute, you really need to look at this.”

A late-comer in our family had a keen knack for charismatic persuasion and that was the sustenance for all that was to go bad in the years that followed. Those less secure found The Persuader a keen means to filling their emotional needs. It could be equated to a football game, with the more-experienced coach directing cunning plays while youthful offense & defense on the field carried them out. A couple could only observe from the bench trying to figure out red flags and what the score was.

With these tactics always employed clandestinely and, by that, uncontested, over time it develops into a dizzying, whimsical beehive of plotting and counter-plotting that had no scoreboard and no end. The game itself became ‘who’ the family was. Those less-secure tirelessly schemed to unseat those naturally born into the hierarchy in trying to gain an elusive place they perceived as more self-important. A seat they perceived as being self-entitled. They had to have it. They had to be it. The only way to get there was to unseat the subject of their insecurities’ disdain.

To people of so little self-esteem, it is of no consequence when their goals damage others’ lives. There is no “for the good of the whole” mindset. Damaging others is a deliberate intent. Scheming and plotting is a reflex like breathing. They’ve learned it innately and perfected it all of their lives. It’s second nature. In family it becomes a giggling whimsy of self-aggrandizing in who can impose the most cunning. Moral conscience does not apply. Those of moral conscience are the “weaker” prey. Depriving another of moral conscience is essential to reaching their goals.

The underlying dilemma is that people trying to fill an internal void this way cannot possibly accomplish what they seek, precisely because the hole they try to fill is innate insecurity that’s permanently built into their psyche. It’s like trying to fill a pitcher with a hole in the bottom. No amount of gamesmanship can fill their sense of void and unease about themselves, making it all the more necessary for them to try.

Just like trying to fill that pitcher with a hole, when the water coming in is greater than the water going out the pitcher begins to refill. Similarly, gamesmanship replenishes the manipulator in feeling good about themselves again. But because of the hole (their insecurity) that sensation cannot last, so they keep taking their psyche back to the well to replenish that feel-good feeling. The process continues never ending else the pitcher becomes a useless vessel.

Much like an addiction, manipulation offers a temporary satisfaction in sensing power, relief and feeling-good. Like an addiction, the more successful manipulation is and the more people they can bring into it the more they need those highs and the more practiced they become at attaining them.

Lesson One: Do not be a silent player observing from the bench. Your gut instincts are always telling you something important.

 

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Next: Letters… ~ Ch 2: Leveling & Scapegoating (Video)

For general information … video may contain foul language.

Letters to a Grandchild ~ PREFACE: My Wisdom Quest

retrospect1This series unveils epiphanies that shake a soul as much as ease a shattered heart. It proves it’s never too late to learn even when we think we’ve learned it all. This is a personal story of perplexing circumstances and the lessons learned in digesting its incomprehensible tragedy.

Dear Grandchild,

Retrospection weighs heavily with age. If not so for everyone, then either I need to know their secret or they need to know mine.

Purely by happenstance it’s a year to the day since I’d last posted. Given bouts of ill health, I’ve been making practical decisions like securing a grave and marker. I’ll rest back in the hometown between Dad and baby sister, both frequent subjects of earlier writings.

Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children is their fathers. [Proverbs 17:6]

Working through burial paperwork, it was odd to realize that Dad bought the plots when I was five and my sister was on the cusp of being born. Dad would’ve been your age now, myself the age of your little one. That brings generations closer in a more relatable way, imagining him young and not so unlike yourself. That was also when Dad & Mom changed my given name. I remember those days so vividly, with many visions of Dad in his signature khaki casual wear.

Dad kept a picture on the wall of his older brothers and himself circa 1930. It was professional for the day and then you were about five or six (again, Dad’s age in the photograph). You looked so much like him it was striking, everyone commented. You both were amazingly adorable looking with your coy smiles, big eyes hiding a twinge of orneriness and heads of curly dark hair.

I became a genealogy buff, so regardless where my PicDanBoonebody ends-up I wanted a grave marker. Dad’s line descends from England, from Daniel Boone’s aunt. Daniel is the renown 1700s American frontiersman. He was well known back in my day when schools taught proud American history. Your generation knew little of him. Sigh.

As most writers, I’ve spent a lot of this last year contemplating impressions of life, trying to determine whether I have any “words of wisdom” to leave for you. I guess we all want some insight that would be helpful to those we love … hoping we can help their lives by virtue of learning from ours. Living so long and the mere desire to do that seems like it ought to reap some fruit. If not, oh well. I tried. We can only try. So this is my “Wisdom Quest.”

This “Letters to a Grandchild” series describes profound lessons that only revealed themselves in the last few years. They are epiphanies that shook my soul as much as they eased a shattered heart. Despite my experienced years, it proves it’s never too late to learn from life and some of the most poignant lessons come late in it, just when we think we’ve learned all there is to know. The telling of this story unveils a perplexing set of real-time circumstances that I still struggle to accept.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  [Proverbs 4:23]

Until recently I’ve not been able to reasonably articulate the wounds of battle suffered in reaching these lessons’ understandings. As anyone with heartbreak knows, there are not adequate words to describe that kind of pain. But I know if I cannot get words written on a page then all hope for the truth of myrespect sister’s and my legacy, all hope for putting the aches to rest, is lost.

I may use the “protected” menu option if some of the stories get too personal. I’ve done my best to tell them objectively but they are so emotionally taxing it’s taken this long to get to a reasonable first draft.

These comprise what could easily be a tragic Lifetime movie. The horror plays in my head not unlike it did in real time. The ending is one I instinctively saw coming, regardless that I was determined to defy that logic until everything shattered into unintelligible pieces of gross disguise.

I had to fit the puzzle back together the only way it made sense and the picture that evolved was very different from any I could’ve imagined, nothing like the one that fell apart. Nothing would ever be the same. But the tragedy was necessary to get where I needed to be, to finally live with what really was, to once and for all put to rest life’s unrelenting pain.

The chapters will roll-out as editing and energy permits. My writing-goal used to be working through pain so I understood it. Believing now that I finally do heartunderstand it, I hope sharing will open eyes of those who are as naïve as I, before they end up in the same barren, “too late” old-age pit of regret and despair I did. If I can do that for anyone else then sufferings are made worthwhile. I suppose we all want to believe there is a way to make our sufferings worthwhile, to have them benefit someone. Now that is my writing-goal.

Every good and decent person deserves better. If this retrospection benefits someone else, praise God for that. Life is most often not what it seems.

 

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Next: Letters… ~ Ch 1: When I’m Gone (Video)

Transcending Family Dysfunction

Dysfunctional families are not the exception, they are the rule.family7

You may or may not be the person who finds their family an impossible love. You love them you just can’t take the rejection and pain of loving them. Maybe that pain is so bad or they’ve made you feel so alienated for so long you’ve opted for carrying their guilt just to keep them around. Or maybe, by being so outnumbered, you’ve convinced yourself it surely must all be you. Maybe you’ve figured them out or maybe you’ve spent years trying and regardless of those honest efforts you cannot come to any epiphany about what it is, about ‘you,’ that deserves such “hate.”

Been there, seen that, done that.

I haven’t blogged much about my experiences in this paradox, except around its edges, because the subject was so emotionally unbearable; because I hadn’t made sense of it yet (though, without realizing, truly I had); because no matter how honestly I tried to find that ‘awful thing’ inside of me that so merited my family’s disdain, I could not find it. That incessant coming-up-empty search, alone, was a huge indicator that what was going on was on a much larger scale than me.

family4The immeasurable pain of my family experiences is exactly what led to developing this WordPress blog, hoping to find answers through writing. But how could I hope to do that when even writing about those complexities felt so impossible? When I unknowingly did stumble on its truth (above link), I bore tremendous guilt for recognizing it for what it was; for that truth being the only thing that did make sense regardless how I wanted to reject the sense it did make. Surely I had to be wrong. I wasn’t.

Every time I re-learn how important it is to listen to my gut instincts yet another lesson reminds me of just how much I push those away. For some reason I keep wanting to give more benefit-of-doubt to others than they deserve and I keep failing myself in doing that. I suppose subconsciously it’s a mechanism that tries to go around the pain rather than transcending though it (which is the only healthy way of dealing with pain). I was so ashamed of myself for believing so poorly of my family that I wouldn’t even link that revealing old post (The Funeral) to others. It was such an intense pain that for six-months after posting it I couldn’t even try to write here again.

Still unconvinced of my own understandings, my solution was to start counseling and every time I went to an appointment I reminded him first thing of my reason for being there: “I want to understand why my family hates me. I don’t care how uncomfortable those realities are. I have to understand this – I have to know what it is about me that is so horrible.” I was the common denominator in all of that family hate so it had to be ‘me.’

Well, not so fast … .

family5Now I understand Family Scapegoating. I presume when this linked dialogue opens he’s addressing those who partake in it rather than subjects of it, because there was not one darned thing in what he said that was ‘uncomfortable’ for me, as he’d forewarned. Quite the opposite. It was 100% affirmation & validation of exactly what I’d come to terms with myself but refused to give myself credit for – to give my family credit for – which is why I am only now able to openly address it.

The link doesn’t differentiate between parent or sibling Scapegoating so I assume both are a possibility. I relate to it strictly in terms of four siblings. It seems logical to me that the more siblings there are in a family the better chance of one being made the subject of it. In my experience, as well, Scapegoating is passed-on to the next generation, wherein, by mere virtue of such vociferous promulgations, it self-validates.

I’d not heard of this term until now but apparently it is a soundly-acknowledged psychological foundation of behavior in most if not all families. It doesn’t mean families don’t love you. It just means they’re dysfunctional, which my counselor tried to tell me with less convincing clarity. If I had to make a choice of whether to be like them, as individuals, or to be all that is ‘me,’ I would definitely pick my personal integrity over theirs. And that is the very strength of character that one’s family most disdains.

Scapegoating is usually directed at the more sensitive, creative and successful family member. I perceive it as a potentially subconscious reaction in comforting oneself that others in the family need to do to make themselves feel better. They may not realize they are doing it (and some may well know they are), but it is no direct reflection on their love for you. It’s a protective reaction to their own feelings of inadequacy.

Scapegoating is when others find personal comforts by ganging-up on another because that one’s successes or strengths make the others feel uncomfortable. They will project their inadequacies on the one to ease themselves and, as the sayings go, “misery loves company” and “there’s strength in numbers.” Your ability to sustain a stronger character than what they perceive of themselves is actually what they do hate. The Scapegoat links (above & below) explain it much better, but I most certainly know and sympathize with the agonizing personal experiences of living it.

Your family can love you and still indulge this gang-style behavior. You’ve been selected – you’re it – because that’s what they need and, for what are actually good reasons about yourself, you’re the most likely prospect. There’s nothing you can do to change the dynamic without fundamentally changing your presence in it. How you go about doing that probably depends on how reliant you allow yourself to be on family. Maybe it’s worth it to endure where they’ve positioned you; or maybe it isn’t and you need to remove yourself from the toxicity all together.

Perhaps later in life than should be and at a particularly (the most) vulnerable juncture of mine, family Scapegoating slammed me to the ground so hard and with such piling-on that for sake of sanity I was forced to confront it – to transcend it. I’d known of its existence from afamily3 small child, in terms of it ‘being there.’ Until extreme vulnerability & insecurity of late-life divorce and carrying overwhelming burdens arising from those circumstances, I hadn’t had to face my family’s Scapegoating with any frequency and I could always return to the sanctity of my own living when it got too much to bear. Not so then – I had no sanctity – they were my only sanctity. How convenient for them.

When I most needed the support of family, when I was the most reliant on it, I foolishly believed that if ever there was a time when they would be supportive, surely it would be then. Only by adding unbearable pain to what was already unbearable pain, did I have to accept what was happening was in fact a viciously-behaving family vying for stronger positions within an already carved hierarchy that did not include me – that never had included me.

Deliberately-imposed cruelties by one then another and another were unimaginable on top of the loss of self & home already suffered. One coming on the heels of another was maddening. I spent days, weeks, months into years, journaling and journaling and journaling, searching my soul for what made me so unwanted. No matter how deep I dove, how honestly I looked at myself, the answer always came up the same: My heart was good and there was no logical reason for it – no logical reason that had anything to do with ‘me,’ but were resentments of me for being the survivor I, by nature, am.

The final straw came with my Father’s dying. Family made it so recognizable then that the mere blatancy of their behaviors gave me the strength & purpose needed to deal with it in the only way that did make sense: To walk away on my own terms. I had to remove myself from their dynamic and remove them from mine. It had come down to emotional survival. With my absence since not providing new fodder, much as not feeding fuel to a fire, I’ve wondered how long their stale misgivings of me could smolder before needing to turn among themselves for their next “weakest link” rekindling.

If you’re the subject of Family Scapegoating, take a few moments to understand it. It’ll not only save your sanity, it’ll save your heart. You can still love your family and they’ll still love you in their own ways, but sometimes that has to be from afar.

 

In conjunction with WordPress Daily Prompt, “Survival.”

‘Moving Forward with Clarity of Intent’ ~ Overcoming Personality Disorder (PD) Abuse

Because this is such a profound discovery, my immediate reflex is to give credit where credit is due, to Crystal Empath of WordPress, who led me to this source. Ultimate credit persondis2goes to someone I’ve come to find as an amazingly relatable, intelligent, well-informed and often humorous YouTube character, Richard Grannon. If you find casual profanity offensive you may not want to visit. I find his friend-to-friend professional advice well worth watching.

Grannon’s explanations travel a clear path for those who’ve suffered from a spouse or family’s Personality Disorder (PD) abuses, for healing, for getting better and for staying better. He helps identify, in plain terms, what we really persondis3face(d) versus what we thought we face(d) – how to react to that behavior when we are faced with it and simple methods for not being a victim of those behaviors again. Better yet, he offers easily understood healing mechanisms for how we might keep falling into harsh judgments of ourselves – and of others – that we don’t even realize we are carrying into other aspects of our lives.

Narcissism being tightly intertwined in PD “psychological warfare” and myself being three-years out of 20-years under it, I can personally attest that Grannon’s initial steps are absolutely necessary. He presents them with such simple, lighthearted clarity that his mere affirmations of what we already instinctively know, if only subliminally, are healing.

The more videos I watched the more I began to clearly understand – to literally see – how I’d reacted in the exact unhealthy ways Grannon described. Many are laid out right here on this blog in black & white, before ever knowing anything of him … e.g., becoming reclusive; seeking protective solitude; unrecognizable forces and hidden comforts in childhood guilt; and on and on and on. Posts here don’t scratch the surface. It doesn’t take a post named ‘PD Abuse’ to recognize how far reaching its tentacles are in one’s life.

Grannon’s methods for overcoming what can seem unending, haunting pain even yearspersondis later is a revelation that I very much need. Identifying why I react so angrily when seemingly unrelated circumstances – and quickly finding my way back from those – is remarkably practical.

One of my favorite Grannon videos (so far) is “How To Take Revenge On A Narcissist[chuckling], though not for quite so obvious reasons. I was indulging something I’d forbidden myself for years and he told me why. Oh, how I wish I knew this then. If you are still living in a narcissistically abusive relationship, I highly recommend that one. Regardless of the nature of your PD abuse, the video entitled “Don’t Run From Pain” (hence the title of this post) is absolutely critical – essential – to healing.

My WordPress Plan doesn’t allow for videos so I have to settle for Grannon’s links. I hope you will search him & watch the videos you find most relevant, from how to identify the personality disorder to how to deal with it; how to face the pain and, through that, how to make yourself whole again … and those are just the few I’ve watched so far.

 

Narcissism In Situ (Support Links)

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. [Mayo Clinic]

The term narcissism is German, derived from Greek Mythology where young Narcissus, a narc4hunter known for his beauty, fell in love with his image reflected in a pool of water. As if self-preservation in its purest form, narcissists strive to prevent any ripples in the perfect reflection of themselves they think they see.

Most important to say, the term “narcissist” is so over-used today as petty insult it does a grave injustice to victims who suffer under it in the spouses or family members who are. Know that. Understand it. In physical abuse you see marks. With narcissistic abuse, unless you know the abused intimately you’ll not suspect anything unsavory of their narcissist spouse. In fact, you’ll find any accusation of the narcissist hard to believe. (See professional comments beneath.)

In all sincerity, I am so sick of thinking about this subject the last thing I want is to write about it. I want to forget it, wipe it out of my head like the plague it is, but apparently that’s not how recovering from this abuse works. As I do with most troublesome things, I write to purge it. Here we go again. Maybe only those who’ve suffered the abuse know its difficulties, for surely I have lived a long life not remiss of sufferings yet this sort of prolonged haunting is highly-irregular for me.

Convincing myself that by not giving the narcissist’s abuse free rent in my head, I believed I had finally taken its power, was finally back operating under my own power. In many ways I have and am. But the suffering seems to have an afterlife … or I just narc6haven’t dealt with it in the right way yet. I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced this ineptness before, at least not so much that something felt so in-my-face like this does right now, even after a few years.

Once I come to terms with a difficulty – and I have indeed come to terms with this – it will subside into the shadows of optional recall. I was well on my way to climbing out of this dismal hole so it seemed any moment of any day I could think of it only in passing, when summoned, when reflection served a purpose. I’m angry more than hurt by its second life now, which might be a good thing, though clearly one goes in hand with the other.

Sometimes I fear the mistake I made was not addressing it, never verbalizing it, never giving it any sense of closing a door … never saying much of anything at all, really. I just silently walked off into the sunset as if it was another ho-hum-hiccup in life when, in narc1fact, it was the most unconscionable thing I’ve ever allowed to happen. And that’s the real clincher: I did ‘allow’ it for twenty damned years and I am so angry about that.

Narcissism was such an integral part of my everyday routine that, by the time I left, whatever words could be said of it felt too empty and meaningless to bother saying. Maybe that is part of its poison. By then I was painfully aware of just how purposeless words of your pain are to a narcissist.

I was not one who could intentionally hurt others, even when seemingly justified. But the one thing I probably should’ve indulged was hurling words back, in undermining his own self-worth, as that is a narcissist’s Achilles Heel. I don’t even know that would’ve mattered or only made things worse if there is a ‘better or worse’ in living with one. Maybe I’m better having a clean conscience even if I am the only one who knows about it, given all of the pathetic lies he weaves to justify himself. Maybe by not doing that I’ve somehow made the lies harder to come by or less convincing.

At the time of living under a narcissist I rationalized all of these common sense reasons why ‘allowing’ the abuse was the best alternative. At the time I’d underestimated its power. At the time, even in leaving, I hadn’t truly identified what narcissism is. I only knew it was everything that is wrong in the world and that I wasn’t going to live in its ugliness anymore. At the time I thought being the “bigger person” was the right thing to do, that that would have some illusive payoff in the end, that all things good would prevail and I was on the right side of good so that meant I would prevail, too.

Maybe I have prevailed and only the inability to see into another’s life so removed, in affirming some victory over it, is all that’s really missing. Why seeing that outcome for myself is so important I’m not really sure, but, sadly, witnessing his misery would comfort me. Since when someone else’s discomfort became something I wanted to see for myself, I don’t narc3know either. That’s not my nature. Maybe that’s part of narcissism’s poison, too. Maybe he’s gutted the goodness within me right down to its last mutating cell.

I am not proud to admit that, but part of healing is admitting what we don’t want to confront about ourselves so I will. I want to see some sign of remorse, some vindication, some indication that “what goes around comes around” really does happen … some Godly recompense … some will of the universe for all that’s good & right to finally set things back in order.

Before this I’d never referred to myself as a ‘victim’ of anything. Even now, here writing this, I have trouble saying it. If there is anything that can make someone a victim – even those who are strong, independent, self-reliant people (if not especially those people) – narcissism does. Perhaps that’s how narcissists choose their prey. It takes strong, independent people to be willing to give of themselves to a fault; and their self-reliance is what the narcissist wants for themselves. It’s a natural attraction when you think narc5about it. Maybe those slight-of-hand compliments of character should be enough to satisfy me.

Having made significant progress I was trekking along quite nicely, believing narcissism’s abuse was finally fading into some fabric of the past. By sheer happenstance I stumbled across an article on the subject. The words were so indelibly poignant in coining my twenty years of living in its thieving tortures that all of those sufferings came right back in the lap of my today, right back into my living world, as if I’d never fought to leave them in the first place. Narcissistic abuse was a part of the living breathing me all over again as if I’d not escaped at all.

All of the sudden I felt just as helpless as when living in it. All of the sudden I was more angry than ever before, more frustrated than ever before. All of the sudden what were only stale understandings had reinvented themselves as if put under a magnifyingnarc2 glass – every spec of narcissism’s granular ugliness jumped out at me with crystal clarity. Suddenly I grasped exactly what was only subliminally experienced back when I simply knew it had a name.

I could no longer ignore the infinite glaring truth of just how despicable a narcissist’s incomprehensible greed for self-serving absorption is and, along with it, how morbidly abusive all of the goodness that they take for themselves is. Everything that was ever good about me or that I’d ever given to anyone else out of that goodness was run up some flagpole of ridicule of me for all to enjoy. I had to admit how starkly I’d laid myself open as the most dimwitted pawn in the most vicious and bizarre games of psychological warfare.

Something is very wrong with being forced to relive that after you’ve gone to painstakingly great measures to eradicate it. Can there ever be peace? I pray this is only one of the many phases to healing. This is such a sick feeling of self.

The article I happened across is so pristine in describing exactly what I lived that I hope it is helpful in recognizing narcissism’s indicators. I should’ve left my narcissist at its very first signs and there were so many of those. Shoulda, coulda, woulda … .

 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Gaslighting,” excerpted below, in part citing Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-love – Narcissism Revisited on gaslighting, or ambient abuse.

According to Sam Vaknin, there are five categories of ambient abuse and many times, they are a combination of these components in play by the abuser:

  • Inducing Disorientation: The abuser causes the victim to lose faith in her ability to manage and to cope with the world and its demands. She no longer trusts her senses, her skills, her strengths, her friends, her family, and the predictability and benevolence of her environment. The abuser subverts the target’s focus by disagreeing with her way of perceiving the world, her judgment, the facts of her existence, by criticizing her incessantly – and by offering plausible but specious alternatives. By constantly lying, he blurs the line between reality and nightmare. By recurrently disapproving of her choices and actions – the abuser shreds the victim’s self-confidence and shatters her self-esteem. By reacting disproportionately to the slightest “mistake” – he intimidates her to the point of paralysis.
  • Incapacitating: The abuser gradually and surreptitiously takes over functions and chores previously adequately and skillfully performed by the victim. The prey finds herself isolated from the outer world, a hostage to the goodwill – or, more often, ill-will – of her captor. She is crippled by his encroachment and by the inexorable dissolution of her boundaries and ends up totally dependent on her tormentor’s whims and desires, plans and stratagems.
  • Shared Psychosis: The abuser creates a fantasy world, inhabited by the victim and himself, and besieged by imaginary enemies. He allocates to the abused the role of defending this invented and unreal Universe. She must swear to secrecy, stand by her abuser no matter what, lie, fight, pretend, obfuscate and do whatever else it takes to preserve this oasis of inanity. Her membership in the abuser’s “kingdom” is cast as a privilege and a prize. It is not to be taken for granted. She has to work hard to earn her continued affiliation. She is constantly being tested and evaluated. Inevitably, this interminable stress reduces the victim’s resistance and her ability to “see straight”.
  • Abuse of Information: From the first moments of an encounter with another person, the abuser is on the prowl. He collects information. The more he knows about his potential victim – the better able he is to coerce, manipulate, charm, extort or convert it “to the cause”. The abuser does not hesitate to misuse the information he gleans, regardless of its intimate nature or the circumstances in which he obtained it. This is a powerful tool in his armory.
  • Control by Proxy: If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbors, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

If you feel that you are the victim of gaslighting … at the hands of a narcissist, you have the power to make changes and to leave the toxic relationship. Before ending a relationship with someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder … the only thing worse than being married to these individuals is to divorce someone with [it]. I encourage you … join in-person support groups or online support groups such as My Emotional Vampire, Respite from Sociopathic Behavior, After Narcissistic Abuse or One Mom’s Battle

 

Your Day In Court ~ Surviving a Narcissist

Surviving twenty-years of marriage to a narcissist and taking the high road during a divorce from one is next to impossible. Those accomplishments alone should bear high standing in the court of moral justice. For better or worse (pun intended), my spouse was a “sociopathic narcissist,” which made the experience all the more indigestible.

The most revealing trait about my narcissist was their favorite adage and how often they repeated it, “What good is a friend if you can’t use them.” Mine derived such gratification from saying it, like a joke only they got, he’d chuckle aloud every time. I never understood the humor in it – I do now. There are many red flags in loving a narcissist, but you keep excusing them, unbelieving any human being could possibly be as morally corrupt as their subtly leaked inferences imply.

A narcissist’s goal, from the beginning of “loving” you, is to convert your life energy into something useful for themselves. If you tag along for the ride of how they use your life, all the better, it’s one less prey they have to (re)groom. When they think they’ve exhausted all there is of you you’re no more valuable than their last discarded wad of toilet paper. That’s no exaggeration – that’s just a fact.

Of course you don’t accept this until it’s way too late, but coming to the understanding is important no matter how late you do it. They are keen at confusing with manipulative ploys intended to keep you around until nothing is left. They want it all, every last drop. Their biggest dread is someone else benefitting from what’s left of you, because that means they’ve lost something, they’ve calculated wrong. And narcissists cannot be wrong. They’re too smart they think. How “smart” they really are depends on your value system.

Understanding this helps explain what you find so hard to understand in one of these relationships. It offers comfort in finally settling your love-tormented soul. It wasn’t you. It wouldn’t have mattered what you did or didn’t do. The moment your existence stopped feeding their increasingly selfish demands they ceased needing you.

Narcissists are incapable of regret, being just as keenly apt at excusing or justifying their abusive behaviors. It’s as playing a video game where pleading forgiveness is just one essential level of getting farther in it. They feign your life values as bait on a hook but their rules keep changing based on what’s best for them at any given moment. They convince you that their momentary needs are all that’s reasonable so you keep changing your values trying to keep up only to find those change again when their needs change – again.

It’s never about love. Love for self is all they know. It’s never about you. Pretense of love is the ruse they polished early in learning to snare prey, much as a pedophile grooms and snares victimized children. Anyone with a value they can steal would’ve fit the bill. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. You kept dismissing the red flags.

Depending on the stage of the relationship – whether you’re still buying into them; beginning to question them; or you’ve figured them out – when caught red-handed they respond, respectively, with erupting temper tantrums, consoling calm or tearful pity-me regret, or powerfully silent, ridiculing smirks that say without saying a word, “See how wonderfully sly and manipulative I am, you fool of fools.”

When it comes to the dirty work of divorce narcissists haven’t the personal wherewithal to initiate it. They’re weak that way, maybe lazy is a better word. Their game is to progress abuse until you do it for them, in the process sucking every ounce of what’s left and making it easy on themselves. Why do the hard work when you can coerce someone else to do it for you. They think that keeps their hands clean for continuing to disparage your character, further elevating their own illusion of good standing (“leveling”). They’re so self-righteous they’re oblivious to others who already see what they are.

They have no sincere shame or humility – none. Only if you survive through the last phase do you see their glaring void of moral character, a stripped façade revealing the vile being that is them underneath. The charade was only necessary when you believed it. The truth of who they are is so unrecognizable you would never have figured it out on your own had they not taken such demented pride in putting their manipulative genius on display. To them it’s merely the end game that proves their superiority. That is their pleasure, their delight. The gloves are off and only they know how to play this dirty – come and get it if you dare.

Early in this late-life divorce my Father, a man who knew my naturally feisty, rebellious spirit best, expressed bewilderment at why I was being so uncharacteristically timid. The mere impact of Dad expressing his dismay caused me to recognize just what effect this narcissist had had on my life, on who I was versus who I had become

It dawned on me that what seemed to happen all of the sudden had actually transpired over the course of 20-years. It was cunningly piece-mealed as a poison, in doses almost too slight to notice … but my narcissist knew exactly what he was doing. My easy, generous and want-to-please nature made it all the easier for him to do. I own that. I laugh now at how foolish I was, it being so genuinely naïve for a woman of my age and intellect.

When this was unfolding – from subtle daily degrading and unrelenting nagging whisked in a brew of inexplicable, violent verbal rampages and insatiable needs for attention to what were clear bouts of faking real tears – I kept making empathetic excuses. I kept believing that because I was strong enough to see the façades, I knew the differences. I convinced myself that as long as I recognized those things then I was in an okay place.

I had wholly underestimated the magnitude of living those permeating evils year after year for 20-years.

Late in the marriage my narcissist relayed a whimsical quote as being attributable to his grandfather. In 20-years I’d heard all the stories so imagine my surprise when he suddenly attributed a well-known quip of my grandfather’s as being his own personal experience. This was no mistake, no lapse in memory, no misspeak. This was a glaring example of how easily-manipulated he’d come to view me and how wholly irrelevant even bold-faced truths had become. It was self-indulgent stroking of how far he believed his ‘genius’ could push the envelope.

At that moment I realized to what ludicrous degree narcissists steal from others – even their personal experiences. He liked my family’s story; he wanted it; he took it. As if money transferred between bank accounts, now it was his. He’d argue with condescending insult anyone saying otherwise. Truth, even though he knew it, had no place interfering. The transaction was done and he wasn’t giving it back.

During a divorce hearing he viciously lashed-out at me as if I had wholly victimized him. He was so convincing I felt guilty regardless that I couldn’t make sense of what he was saying. Later I learned what he’d accused was a consequence of his illegal tax filing after separation, having absolutely nothing to do with me. But he was so convincing at feigning justified rage he’d convinced even me I must deserve it.

These examples demonstrate how self-serving narcissists are in taking what they want. Narcissists have no presence of mind of other people or truthful events, past or present. They only know meeting their own wants and needs and they do that with intense tunnel vision. They know exactly what they’re doing. They do believe their own lies while they’re telling them. That’s how they get away with being so convincing. To them it’s survival and they will not hesitate to sacrifice you for their own slightest gain. They must have it all. Anything less and they’ve lost and they cannot lose.

By the time Dad posed his question of timidity to me, I had come to believe I was incapable of fighting against such a perverted power of evil and, in many ways, I was. I still hadn’t come to accept the truly despicable nature of narcissism; and I had no comparable resources within me to fall back on. “Fighting fire with fire” wasn’t even a viable option.

All I had was truth, which narcissists spend all of their time and expertise dispelling. After all, that is their life’s work and they’re good at it. Twisting an “all about me” perception into someone else’s rational reality is what they do. They’ve remolded your own truth about yourself to you, so distorting an outsider’s vision of that is like kindergarten hopscotch.

As could be expected the divorce itself offered little consolation for all the years of my investment, financial and otherwise. I just wanted out from under his diabolical control. In the end that was satisfaction enough.

For a while I was angry about it. But I knew the unbecoming cancer of bitterness and I did court2not want that for myself more than any consequence I might’ve wanted for him. It’s almost a year since divorce and I am only now removed enough, settled enough, to write of it. Now vengeance is in God’s hands and that’s nothing to be taken lightly. No amount of embellished story-telling or self-serving genius can help. Personally, I don’t find that “smart” at all.

We will know them by their fruits” and “beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” I came out of this considerably better financially and more content than in all of the twenty miserable years living in his world; and certainly smarter than in all the years before living in mine.

The lessons taken are the value of the pain in having lived them.

As the horse thief said before they hung him, ‘I’ll never do that again’.

 

Post Script: Below is an EXCELLENT article found after writing this blog, which describes my experience perfectly and provides links to research & support groups. In part,

Before ending a relationship with someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any type of Cluster B Disorder, I advise you to seek a therapist who is knowledgeable on this topic.  I have discovered that the only thing worse than being married to these individuals is to divorce someone with a personality disorder.

From “Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Gaslighting.” A must read.