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.
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.
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.”
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.