Seeing the Change in Me! :)

Like some of you know, I’ve been seeing Sarge for the last few weeks, and I truly believed, with all my heart, that he was remorseful for his past behavior and was putting in the effort to make changes.  And I saw them.  And I was hopeful.  But yesterday, that hope crashed around me yet again.

OK…this is going to sound crummy, but I know Sarge’s password for his FaceBook account, and I haven’t gotten to the point of trusting him yet.  After 2 bouts of infidelity and the emotional/verbal abuse he put me through, I believe this is a legitimate reaction to my doubts about him.  Soooo…I logged in (and by the way, he has always had access to all of my passwords, accounts, home, etc.  He says he has never used them, but then again, I haven’t given him a reason too.) and read a conversation he had with a friend a mere week ago.  In their back and forth messaging, he told his friend he was on Tinder, had met a woman on social media who he thought was “hot”, and was still not over his ex-girlfriend.  Further, he said he was dating an older woman whose emotional needs were too plenteous to handle.  (And of course, NOTHING positive was said about me.  Nothing).

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Heh??  Really??  MY emotional needs are too much for HIM?  After a year of lies, manipulation, abuse, cheating, and gas lighting, MY emotionality is over the top?  AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!  Who the hell does he think is responsible for this?

Further, I’ve had to handle HIS moods as well.  The anger, depression, confusion, anxiety, unpredictability, raging…all of these emotions that stem from his PTSD and childhood.  I’ve also had to go through his changes of meds and bear the brunt of reactions to starting/ending them.  It’s hasn’t been easy for me either.  But of course, that’s OK!!  (Please say that sentence with a very snarky voice!).

When I saw what he had been messaging, it was yet another punch to my gut.  And I reacted as I always have in the past.  With crying and anger (rightfully so, I believe).  But this only lasted for a few minutes.  Really!  Because here’s the epiphany that came to me:  I was simply ‘responding’ in the way of a set pattern, and not actually ‘feeling’ the true emotion of the situation.  And the tears ended.  Just like that.

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I called Sarge, during the angrily crying bout because I was furious and wanted to confront him.  After a minute or 2, he hung up on me.  Just like that.  REALLY?!  I took all he had to give me this past year, and he can’t face the emotions stemming from what HE was doing to ME?  That he had been lying…again…and setting up yet another situation in which he wanted to cheat on me?  I was the bad guy for being upset…and HE was the innocent party taking MY abuse?   OOOKKKAAAYYY!  And here’s the most frustrating part of the deal:  he would (in front of me…that was always fun…) listen for hours (literally) to his exes rant and rave over mundane things.  Yet here was, caught in his own lies, and I don’t get the courtesy of ranting a bit myself?  Hmmmmm.  I think I deserved at least that much.

You know, once I asked Sarge if he would forgive me if I ever cheated on him, and he said no.  Heh?!  I forgave him twice!  Yet he acted as if that were his due.  That since I forgave him, the trust and respect I had once had for him would magically come back and he had no other work to set things right.  So what I afforded him twice, he’s wouldn’t be willing to do even once.

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Trust is a funny thing.  To have trust in someone is to have confidence in them…in their reliability, in them telling the truth, in their ability and strength (in this case) to change.  Trust is so easy to lose and so very hard to build back up.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.  Putting it together can take weeks, but tearing it apart…only seconds.  And to put it back together again takes even longer because some of the pieces are damaged from cramming them in or from the destruction.  How can a person not realize that when you destroy something, tear it up, it’s going to be a long, hard job to put it back together again?  Isn’t that just common sense?

When I was thinking about all of this last night, the one thing that kept running through my mind was that I’m an idiot.  An idiot for believing his words.  For seeing what I thought were positive changes, but what was really just a smoke screen.  And idiot for forgiving him after all he’d put me through.

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Forgiveness is a mercy, and since I feel pity for Sarge and all he’s been through as an abused child and then soldier, I felt a deep need to be kind.  To be loving.  To be giving.  Because I believed he would learn to do the same.  And because that’s who I am and I truly love him.  But instead, he treated me like a fool.

Do I regret letting him back into my life?  Nope.  Because I wasn’t ready to learn the lessons only a narc can teach you the first time around.  And sometimes it takes a hell of a lot longer than even that.  But I think I’m ready now.  And the forgiveness, kindness, empathy, and patience is going to be directed towards someone else special in my life.  Me.  And that’s the way it should be.

Prof K ❤

 

“What tangled webs we do weave…”

O.K.  I’m talking to Sarge.  Spending a bit of time with him.  And if you are asking why, I could do one of two things:  I could lie and claim I don’t know why I let this man, who hurt me so badly, back into my life.   Or, I could tell you the truth.  Let’s do that.

I guess the first reason is because of the feelings I still have for him.  I know that sounds crazy, and as I read in it print, I agree.  But, my heart can’t let go.  Wait, that’s a fib.  My heart could let go, but I simply  not ready to do that yet.

As I’ve been writing this blog, with Sarge being the principal reason behind it, it’s as if Sarge and “__” have become 2 different people.  It’s almost like Sarge is now a character I’m only writing about, while “__” is a different person all together.  Have you ever heard of cognitive dissonance?  It’s when you feel mental discomfort/anguish because you are believing in 2 different and conflicting beliefs, and your mind is going back and forth, trying to figure out how to make sense of this dichotomy.  Rationally, I know Sarge and “__” are the same man.  I get that.

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BUT, it’s as if Sarge is Dr. Jekyll and “__” is Mr. Hyde.  And trying to reconcile that these 2 men exist together (the good man and the evil man) within “__” is very difficult to do.  It’s much easier to put all of the bad that happened to me onto Sarge, while I remember all of the good when I’m with “__”.   And yes, this sounds like an excuse with an impressive psychological concept backing it up, because I suppose it is.  But it’s the only way I can see “__” and quash my hurt feelings.

Another reason I let him back into my life (in a very limited way), is simple.  I love him.  Period.  It’s not rational.  In fact, it’s nonsensical.  But I have to admit it’s true.  There is still love in my heart for this man.  But I realized something last night as we were talking.  I’m not in his.  And it’s not because he’s a self-proclaimed narcissist, which I’m strongly reconsidering is really Adult Reactive Attachment Disorder (more about that in my next post), it’s because he loves (yes…loves…) his ex.  The woman he cheated on with me.  The woman who broke up his marriage…abused him…destroyed his belongings…interfered negatively with his military career…and still plays him for her own fun.  Yes.  This is who he loves.

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You know, when I believed he didn’t have the capacity for love, I better understood, however painful it was, that it wasn’t necessarily a lack in me…but a lack in him instead.  But when he talked about his love for this other woman last evening, it took my breath away.  One moment, he says he hates her to the point of wanting to seek vengeance for all she’s done, and the next, he’s talking about her goodness and how happy they once were.  As he was saying these words, I realized something.  It applied to me as well, which also showed me how deeply these feelings reside in him since I’m experiencing the same things.  At times I hate him.  At times I love him.  At all times, he has enough of an emotional hold on me that I can feel these different psychological states so passionately.  That’s what he doesn’t understand.  To hate someone…to talk about someone (no matter well or not) …to ruminate over someone (like he does) …to tell the same stories about someone over and over again…shows love.  If you don’t love someone, you are not going to be intensely invested in them, regardless of how confusing that investment is.

Sarge told me he was letting go of her.  As he said it, I could see in his face, and hear in the tone of his voice, this was a process that was going to take a lot of time and effort.  A process that pained him.  I asked if he had any love in his heart for me and he said he did.  But how can you have 2 people in your heart at the same time?

Do I?  I know I still love hubby 3.  But it’s not a passionate, “in-love” type feeling.  It’s a love based on a history together, a friendship, and a sense of family.  He’s my friend.  In fact, all of my friends have a place in my heart.  However, the difference to me is clear:  I love them dearly, but I love Sarge passionately.  Sarge though, loves ex passionately, and although I believe he does have some feelings for me, it’s not the same at all.  She’s the ‘love’ in his heart.  And I’m thinking I’m just the ‘left-overs’.

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I guess the question is this:  how can I continue to interact with a man who doesn’t love me ‘best’?  Because of my own loving nature and the fact I’m a forgiving person?  Now that I know he does have a capacity for love, will he be able to love me back?  And is it really love he’s feeling for his ex?  Their relationship was toxic from the start and began with an open marriage.  She is an un-medicated bi-polar and is also (from everything I’ve heard) a narcissist herself.  Maybe they are just tangled up in this abusive web both contribute to and understand.  Personally, I feel they ‘feed’ off of one another.  They both manipulate, triangulate, and use each other in so many different ways.  They both want to ‘win’ this continuing fight that always seems to be present, and because of this, neither will let go first.  After all, that would be conceding to the battle, and narcissists need to win.  If so, their relationship will never be over, and where does that put me?

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I’m not a stupid woman.  But I know I’m a woman who is still working very hard on creating and maintaining appropriate boundaries.  I’m also reminding myself, again and again, of the pain Sarge put me through.  Last night, he was talking about the pain his ex heaped on him, and I expressed it was exactly what I was going through myself.  He tried to deny it though, by saying his pain was worse.  It’s almost like he can’t comprehend what he DID do to me and the effects it had on my heart and soul.  He minimizes his abuse of me, while talking regularly about what she has done to him.  And guess what?  The stories are damn similar.  He can feel the pain from her.  But he can’t yet admit, nor apologize, for the same pain he inflicted on me.  At one point, he asked if I’d ever been hurt enough to contemplate suicide.  And I said yes.  This summer.  Because he wasn’t here to see my breakdown, he has no comprehension of what I went through.  It’s not real to him.  It’s just a time when we were apart for a couple of months and he was living his life, while I was wanting to end my own.

So, where do I go from here?  I know where I need to go.  I know the healthy route to take.  I know I’m getting so much stronger and I know I will survive if I let him go.  The thing is, I don’t want too.

This is what I know:  letting go of a narcissist is so very difficult to do.  They entangle you in a web and to extricate yourself from it is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do in a relationship.  And unfortunately, that web, at times, can be a comfortable home.

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

 

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:

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  • 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