Can a Narcissist Change?

It’s Narcissist Friday!

 

Over and over I get the question as to whether a narcissist can be saved.  Saved in more ways than one.  Could he ever become a Christian?  Could she ever stop being a narcissist?  In spite of my doubt, I have to say that such a thing is possible.

But what would that look like?  Would the narcissist all of a sudden become nice and thoughtful?  Probably not.  In fact, narcissists are quite able to adapt their behavior to whatever is necessary at the time.  They are accomplished liars and performers and they know how to get people to think well of them.  So, if you tell a narcissist that a change would look a certain way, you can be sure that he (if he is sufficiently motivated) will be able to accomplish that change—at least for a while.  As many of us know, the behavior associated with salvation is relatively easy to fake.

So I would look for something different.  The first change within the narcissist would be change in how he views himself.  The drive of the narcissist is to measure up to the image he has created for the purpose of being accepted.  If he were willing to reject that image and find rest in Jesus; that would be something.  The narcissist never really rests.  He must continually support and defend the image.  But Jesus gives us rest.

Many people have found healing for their hearts in Jesus.  People have found acceptance in spite of parental rejection, spousal abandonment, sexual abuse.  Finding and trusting the love of Jesus heals from the inside.  Those old shames or fears or angers fade away in the face of the love of Jesus.  To know that there is a person, a real and living person, who accepts you even when you fail, is a powerful balm for the soul.  The heart of the narcissist was broken long ago and narcissism is the working out of the pain and shame and fear that is left.  Jesus can heal that by His love.

But life patterns are hard to break.  As we grow up, we establish a system of doing things, a way of coping with the struggle.  If the hurt that caused our way is healed, the system doesn’t just leave us.  It has become the default we use through life.  The narcissist does what he does out of habit, that’s why it is easy for him to continue and hard for him to stop.  I wouldn’t expect compassion and empathy from the narcissist right away, but I would look for those things to be naturally expressed and I would look for a sincere desire to feel those things toward others.  If the healing within is real, then the healing on the outside can begin.

Jesus said. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Your treasure is what you protect at all costs, what you live to serve, what you never want others to touch.  No, for the narcissist, that is not the image.  Even though it seems like the narcissist treasures his image, the truth is that the image is what he has set up to protect his treasure.  As long as he can get you to focus on the image, you will not look for his treasure.

The treasure of the narcissist is that broken little boy or girl, hidden away and protected by layers and layers of insulation and shielding.  That’s where the narcissist’s heart is, with that little sad child.  Jesus knows that little child.  Jesus loves that little child.  Jesus can set that little child free.

I know there are narcissists who read this blog.  Please consider what I have said.  There is Someone who loves you, a person who knows the whole truth.  He knows your weakness and your failures and your shame.  Come to Jesus and let Him heal you.  If you write to me, I will talk with you and pray for you.  But you don’t need me, you need Jesus.

If you love a narcissist, pray that Jesus would break through those layers of protection and get to that child.  I don’t know what will happen for you when Jesus heals that child.  Trust that Jesus loves you as much as He loves the narcissist.  There may be dramatic change, but trust Him.

 

 

(Now, someone should be thinking: “But I’m not a narcissist and I still struggle with the hurts of the past and the patterns they created in my life.  Don’t we all?”  Let me come back to that next week.  The answer: the healing Jesus offers is strong enough for us to let those things go so we can be the people He knows us to be.  If you are a believer and have not found the rest He offers, then seek it.  It is there for you.)

86 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

86 responses to “Can a Narcissist Change?

  1. Penny

    The N in my life is 87, & no, she will never change. She is a pious, fake, empty, religious person, who has everyone fooled into thinking she is a Christian, including my husband, who she routinely emasculates (as well as all men). She is “Jezebel”: destructive & divisive. Her motto is “divide and conquer”. So, after 38 years of being repeatedly victimized, traumatized, demoralized, demonized, demeaned, marginalized, minimized, manipulated & vilified, I finally chose to have no relationship with her whatsoever. This also required that SHE have no contact with my disabled adult child, who is vulnerable and whom I must protect. This has caused distress for my husband, who cannot bring himself to see dear mother as the truly evil Jezebel that she is. I have blocked all email addresses & cell phone numbers, only to have her get new ones and make contact again. She is relentless and vicious, demanding power and control…thru money, religion, guilt, whatever. NO one dares to tell her the truth, and when I did, and held up the mirror for her, calling her into repentance & genuine relationship, she scapegoated me to the entire family. I am the problem. I am the black sheep. I am the bad Christian, the bad wife, the bad mommy, the bad daughter in law. She will not stop. She will not change. She will not repent. Ultimately, this means that she will not “bend the knee” to an Almighty God. She spouts scripture while she stabs you in the back, smiling as she does so. She ALWAYS blames others for her own behavior, but she never wants to change the behavior that caused the consequences. The Holy Spirit never convicts her heart. Never. Thus, I decided that I must change and in order to survive, I chose to “shake off the dust” in protest and to never speak to her again. This has been beyond difficult. It has strained my marriage to the breaking point. My husband is so accustomed the the “language” of this toxic family that time and again he misses her highly skilled, carefully crafted attacks at undermining our marriage and our family. I have been told to “take the high road’ and “be the strong one” and that I am not being forgiving. To this my reply has been to say that repentance precedes forgiveness, and the two are not synonymous. Her fake “non-apologies” are no longer acceptable to me b/c they mock Christ & what is cost Him. True repentance will always cost us; until we “deny self and follow Christ”, how can there be forgiveness? I do not want “cheap grace”, but deep, authentic grace. I long for what Bonhoeffer writes: “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ…..grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus… It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him. ” I do not want ANY relationship that demands so much of itself that it turns me away from the Cross rather than toward it. It is as tho SHE wants us to worship HER, and Jesus is just another prop in her bag of tricks. I don’t know why she even needs Jesus b/c she is never wrong, and thus has never sinned!
    I love my husband & I am sorry this wretched woman is his mother, but I can no longer expose myself or my family to her truly evil spirit. This is truly a spiritual battle the likes of which I have never seen, so unless the Holy Spirit gets thru to her, then there is no hope that I possibly could. I am obviously NOT the Holy Spirit, so I am choosing to stay out of her path. Sorry for the long response, but the pain of living with someone like this is unbearable, and far-reaching. It is as tho I have divorced her, but my husband cannot. It is hell.

    • Penny, I am so sorry that you have had to go through this for so long. Relationships like this can be so wearing and so confusing – and they make you so angry. The narcissist is able to make us look like the crazy ones, when we are just trying to cope with their meanness.

      Will she ever change? Probably not. Why would she? For the most part, life works for her. It costs the people around her, but she feels ok. So she will just be who she is. But you have different tools for handling her now. You have found the strength to stand up and maintain boundaries. You can identify what she is and what the relationship is. You can see why your husband responds the way he does. It seems to me that you have a pretty good handle on all of this.

      Let the Lord minister to your heart. You know that her version of the faith is phony. But you also know that the Lord knows you and loves you. You are acceptable to Him. He values you. All the things that you will never find from the narcissist or her religious system, you will find in Him. Once you are able to take your eyes off her and look to the Lord, you will find a peace growing in your heart.

      The frustration you have expressed here is echoed by so many who have and do live in narcissistic relationships. It is too easy to allow that relationship to define our lives. Instead, there is life and joy and love in Jesus.

      Please feel free to contact me directly anytime. I am praying for you.

      • Penny

        Thank you for your kind words; they are a soothing balm. I have reached out to those in the church who have knowledge of her behavior (which has dramatically escalated in the last year, & is not related to dementia or aging) only to be utterly ignored~not even a response! So for you to respond to a perfect stranger gives me hope. I am not crazy. I am weary of being labeled crazy or overreacting or being unforgiving. I am weary of the battle. I guess my biggest question is that when a family member harms the cause of Christ so casually, so constantly, so completely, at what point do you walk away? I have prayed my guts out and literally cannot tolerate her anymore; it makes me physically ill to think of being exposed to her ever again. In studying the prophet Elijah and Jezebel, I suddenly realized that if even this godly man was driven to hide in a cave after all that God had done thru him, then who am I to think I would not do the same? If even Elijah was exhausted by Jezebel, then surely this battle is a spiritual one. I long for a Jehu who will hold her accountable, w/o compromise or appeasement. Jesus tells us in Revelation 2 not to “tolerate the woman Jezebel” who leads believers astray and will not repent; is this a metaphor to the spiritual battle of seduction & betrayal via narcissism? Or am I just desperate for a link? Would love your thots on this.

  2. This is a great question! Actually, two questions. First, when do you walk away? Second, is this what happened to Elijah? I think the answers are connected.

    It is very difficult to stay away from a family member without creating more problems. Sometimes those problems are a reasonable price, I suppose. But I have had to counsel many people who are stuck with Christmas gatherings, phone calls, family visits, and other obligations that just don’t go away.

    So the trick is to stay away in your own heart. You see, the frustration you feel comes because you think you should be able to do something about her and how she acts. You want to have something to say that would put her in her place or something to do that would stop her from doing it again. But there isn’t really anything you can do to change her. So you have to be sure that you accept that and find contentment in yourself.

    Elijah’s problem was that he didn’t understand the real battle. He thought he was in danger. He thought Jezebel was going to find him and kill him, like she had with most of the other prophets. Yes, some of his weakness came from exhaustion, but some of it came from misunderstanding his role. He told the Lord that he was the only one left, you remember. The truth was that there were many more, 7000 in Israel. Elijah was not alone. Nor was he the one who was to stand against Jezebel. God was going to deal with Jezebel. Elijah had other work to do. Basically, God told Elijah to get back to doing the work he was called to do and stop worrying about what was not his.

    Sound familiar? Your MIL is not your problem. She is God’s problem. He will deal with her in His way. You are truly free to shrug your shoulders and walk away. If you have to see her, expect her to be nothing less than she has been and ignore her comments and manipulations. You answer to one God and she is not Him.

    This isn’t really mine to say, but it seems that your role is to love your husband and your family. You are free from her influence whenever you can let her go. Once she no longer matters to you, you can see her or not. There are all kinds of weird and mean people in this world and we have to encounter them from time to time. She is just another one of them.

    I know this is easier to say than to do. But not only can you do it, you should do it. She has no right to make you angry or frustrated or to take away your energy and life. Jezebel was not in charge of Elijah’s life. She was nothing to him. He had work to do, a life to live, that had nothing to do with her. Elijah happened to be in the same country as Jezebel and was called by God to deal with her false prophets, but that was it. You have to deal with your MIL because of your husband, but you don’t have to carry away anything of a relationship with her.

    Your MIL is the one who has the real loss here. She has missed out on a great relationship with a daughter-in-law who knows how to love. She has pushed away most of the people in her life. You have lost nothing simply because she had nothing to give. So you do your duty when necessary. If you can avoid dealing with her, you probably should. When you can’t avoid it, endure it like the dentist visit. Once it’s done, move on.

    I know this is blunt, but you need to be free. Thanks for doing this in a forum where others can read it. You would be surprised at how many need this. At the same time, please feel free to contact me either privately or here again. I do care and I am praying for you.

  3. Penny

    O my but i do love blunt. And yes, I agree that my role, my calling, is to love my husband and our kids. My vows are to him, not her. But when she maligns and manipulates my children as a power-play, to confuse & distort reality, I am more than conflicted–especially when one is a disabled adult who is vulnerable (and for whom I am a legal guardian) and thus I am bound by State law to protect from abuse, neglect, coercion, intimidation, etc. This raises her abuse to an intolerable level for me. At least the dentist serves a purpose! In loving my husband and kids, I am committed to protecting them as does God Almighty, “Jehovah-Jireh” ["Provider-Protector"], His children~how can I do any less? Or any different? My own mother used to tell me “don’t borrow trouble”, yet any interaction with this N is doing exactly that. Lord have mercy……

  4. Rodney

    Hi My name is Rodney. Yes i’m an N. I’m leaveing this not to be jumped on. But, to find the help that is out there. Yes, I can be cold hearted, Yes, I am always right. ( according to me) that is. But, something happen that made me take a good long look at me. What you say? I cheated on my girlfriend. Ok, I messed up. Yes, I did. Ladies you don’t have to tell me that. This is what kicked me in the head. ” I’m leaveing, and not coming back.” What did I do wrong this time? My favorite question. But, I new I was busted when the girl I cheated with was on the phone with her. Oh boy. Dog house, you say. She said the only thing that would make me stop and really look at myself. ” No, were not getting Married.” What the hell. Now, i’m looking for help. Okay, it look like one of those good lies, you say. No, this one here is the one that actually has my heart. And that won’t fly. What ever she wants. This one gets. Yes, I was an B hole ( Ya I said it). But, for the love of this woman. I am willing to get the help. So, is there any real help out there? Thank Rodney The N…

    • Hi Rodney! You are welcome here. I realize that you need a place to go after a kick in the head like you have received. I also believe there is help for you.

      But I don’t know how to help you apart from Jesus. He is the One who can reach into your life and heal you with the love you have needed for so long. He is the One who knows the whole truth about you, even more than you know about yourself, and He still loves you. If you are ready to let everything go and hold on to Him, you will find the help you need.

      I believe that you want to change, but I don’t know if you understand what that means. It probably means being willing to let this girl go. As long as your desire to change is for a certain goal, then you will be manipulating it. In other words, you will still be a narcissist. You will only be adjusting your behavior so that she will be convinced that you are a good guy.

      If you are willing to change for yourself, because you don’t like what you see in the mirror; if you are willing to change without strings attached, even to her love; then I can help you find the counsel you need. You will have to let me know the general area in which you live and I will try to connect you with a good counselor. Write to me directly at: dave (at) gracefortheheart (dot) org and let me know.

  5. George

    My father had 8 of the 9 traits of NPD. Many times during my childhood I thought of walking in front of a train (or at least hopping on one and seeing where it took me.) But I never did. I just moved away when I went to college and never looked back. But much later in life I had 2 experiences that really helped me see what I had been through and that I was not the complete loser that I had thought I was.
    Unfortunately, these are not things that others can simply go and do, so it can’t really be used as a prescription for how to deal w/ narcissism. First, I had brain surgery. Selective hippocampectomy was the medical term for it. And when I came out of that and was still a fully functional human being (and seizure-free), my self-esteem went through the ceiling.
    My second experience was when I became very good friends w/ my father’s girlfriend. My father had had numerous affairs when he was married to my mom and shortly after she died he hooked up w/ a woman the same age as my older sister. But that only lasted a couple of years and when she and I talked later, we completely validated each other’s feelings about my father.
    Because I was his only son, I (along with my mother) got the brunt of my father’s narcissism. When my mother was dying several years ago I went back to visit her and as my father and I walked into her hospital room, she looked at him and said, “Get away from me. You are pure evil.” In 50+ years of marriage she had never said anything close to that, at least not in the presence of the children.
    What’s almost as hard to take as the narcissist himself is when other people talk about what a wonderful man he is. It’s pointless to try to correct them so I simply avoid people like that. If you have a friend who is the child of a narcissist, I beg you: be understanding. You don’t have to dislike the narcissistic parent, but you can at least validate the child’s feelings and tell him/her that you understand. It will make your friendship infinitely stronger.

  6. Lori

    Dear Reverend Orrison:

    I have read many, many of your blog entries and almost without exception, they’re from victims of narcissism. I know that you said in this entry that there are narcissists who read this blog, but I have only seen one of them make a comment or admission of their narcissism, and that one seemed to want help only as a means to an end – to win someone back into his life. I want to change desperately, not to get someones love, but to REALLY change.

    I have been diagnosed (misdiagnosed?) with Bipolar Disorder since 1996. I have been hospitalized many times and have seen countless psychiatrists, therapists and social workers who have never diagnosed me as having any sort of personality disorder. I even brought it up last summer at a hospital and with a very good psychiatrist in outpatient therapy (the best I have ever seen) and asked them if it was possible that I have narcissist personality disorder, and uniformly they said “no;” that by even asking the question made it clear that I didn’t have this disorder. How I hope and wish that they’re right, because bipolar, which was hard to accept with all of the stigma associated with it, is treatable with medication and therapy. From what I’ve read, NPD has a very low cure rate – and even treatment is questionable.

    I see myself in so many of things written about NPD that I feel strongly that I have it, despite what the doctors say. However, one of the only things that seems to be paramount in NPD is a lack of empathy, love or remorse. I have done a lot of self examination, and, without being untrue to myself, I believe that have all of those things, but I have been cruel – particularly to one person who was really trying to help me, my sister-in-law. I have blamed her for every bad choice I’ve made. She still surprisingly communicates with me but I’m sure that is partially out of obligation to my folks and partly because she truly does love me despite the cruel things I’ve done and said about her.

    I need help. I know it. I want it. I need my family more now than ever, but I feel like even asking for it is, in some way (or will be viewed as such – mostly by me) as a manipulation. I don’t want to manipulate anyone ever again, but I fear that’s what will happen. I not only need them for support, but to help me be very honest with a therapist. I’ve always (even admitted as such to my family) that I want to be the “most popular,” patient – and that it was hard for me to talk to them. Now I see that by making this comment, it was out of pure shame to talk in front of the therapist. My mom has said that I’m a very good actress, and that’s why others have not been able to see me “going up” into mania as she has been able to do. Now I read that narcissists can become manicky and depressed.

    My family has resources and I know that they don’t want me to end up homeless or in prison. They want to help me and they already have done so much. I haven’t held a “real job” in years, instead starting my own business, pet sitting and dog walking. I have rescued many animals and love them all very much. Here again, I start to question my own motives – did I do this to become more highly regarded by others as a “rescuer,” or was it purely unselfish. I believe it’s the latter, but I don’t know. I do love them very much. I’ve also done quite a bit of volunteer work, but here again, was that to “puff” myself up in the eyes of others, or for the good in and of itself. I prefer to think it’s the latter – but, having read so much about narcissism, I don’t know. I did extremely well in graduate school; founding organizations; serving as Vice president of several school organizations; even having a new award given to me for my service. Was all of this done to be viewed as successful and wonderful, due to, again, the need to “puff” myself up and be well thought of in the eyes of others, or for purely beneficial goals for the school? I’ve always thought it was the latter, but now I just don’t know.

    I’ve had very good friends – and was quite “popular” in school. but they’re nearly all gone now. I thought, as did everyone else, this was a result of my manic and depressed behavior. Was this the case, or was it narcissism that drove them away?

    I am a Christian and even stood up in the Church when asked who felt as though they were a “teacher,” or “prophet” of Christ. I spoke (“in tongues?) when the others did. It felt real, but I don’t know if that was just a part of my narcissism. When I contacted my pastor after getting out of the hospital last year, I told her I felt lost and needed Him to help me.

    What am I asking of you? First of all, prayers. I believe that Christ is the only one who can truly heal me. Secondly, a suggestion of a counselor and/or a place (some sort of a group home?) in which I can live where I won’t hurt anyone, including myself, anymore – where I can get proper treatment and therapy to stop being this way. I live in CT but I would go anywhere to heal. I know that it will take a lot of work on my part, which scares me – as does this admission of likely being a narcissist and not just bipolar. I’m going to go to Church tomorrow to ask my pastor about this, but here again, I have to be very honest and not put on an act or a good face.

    I would appreciate any comments from you and the rest of your blog readers. Thanks for listening and for the hope you provide to me for change through Christ.

  7. prodigalkatherine

    Your level of self awareness and genuine concern about the effects of your behavior on others suggests that you do not suffer from full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Given your previous diagnosis of bipolar, what you are describing sounds more like Borderline personality disorder which is much easier to treat. Five years ago it had a much heavier stigma until long term studies revealed that borderlines who are committed to therapy have very high success rate.
    The key to success in therapy is commitment to a long process and not looking for a way around your pain- but rather to develop more effective strategies for coping with it. Your humility and desire to change will serve you well.
    I hope that this reaches you, and that you are doing ok.

  8. Cassie

    This is a great blog. The N in my life is 41. I figured something was wrong but I couldn’t place it. The verbal abuse got so bad a week ago when I found out he had moved and didn’t tell me. He had already started a new relationship with a younger person and says she is better than me. I felt so bad for him when I found out what was wrong yet I feel stupid at the same time I also feel like god has placed me in this position to help him. I truly believe this. It’s what helps me get through this.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Cassie, when you say “you feel like God placed you in a position to help him” I know what you mean. I always believed that God brought my wife to me but also I to her, to help lead her to Jesus. I tried and tried and tried. It just won’t happen. I experienced 10 years of the abuse, devaluation, yelling, put downs etc. But I am almost free. But only because Jesus freed me. Now all I can say is “Shat Next Jesus?” And wait.

  9. prodigalkatherine

    Cassie- after God sent Jesus it’s safe to say that he stopped being a fan of human sacrifice. Holding onto an N after he has devalued you will do you no good at all, and he will not appreciate your devotion, at least not in the moment. You need to mourn this. It’s ok to love him, pray for him, and wish him the best, but for your own sanity, please don’t hold on for the ride because he must be broken before God can restore him.

    • Penny

      prodigalkatherine~your words in the first sentence were profound, have given my heart a clarity that was truly needed today. Thank you for them. Blessings~

  10. Penny

    Cassie~prodigalkatherine is absolutely correct! If you re-read this post, Pastor Dave also clearly says “.. I will talk with you and pray for you. But you don’t need me, you need Jesus.” Your N needs Jesus, not you. Jesus made the only sacrifice that will help him. That sacrifice is not you, it is Him. Let it be Him.

  11. narcissists will never change and giving someone hope that they will is not very good advice !! you will live a life of conflict, abuse and suffering and it will destroy your spirit if not your life. there is a reason doctors don’t treat them and don’t want to even try and help them, they manipulate every waking second , its there nature they cant stop. if you think your in a relationship with a narcissist the very best thing you can do to save your life is run and don’t ever look back. then pray that he leaves you alone.

  12. Cassie

    It just so hard. I have been praying for him the last couple of days. I still feel like Jesus puts people together for a reason. Some people should just be passing through and some are to remain in your life. My N really gave me a lot of insight on life even though it was fake. It’s just so hard cause I feel like I just have to do something. I have left text messages telling him that I know what he is and he needs help. I just get insult after insult. I also feel like this new younger person needs to be saved.use I

  13. Cassie

    I cannot stop thinking about this man wondering was any of it true. I got into a relationship with him when I was 28 years old. I am now 37. He has called me old and says I can’t touch his new girl cause she’s better and more beautiful than me. With all this said to me and more, I just feel so bad for him. I felt like if I try talking to him it will help break him dowus help him.n and talk. Jes

    • prodigalkatherine

      He has devalued you in his mind and in the perverse logic of the narcissist has convinced himself that you deserve to be treated like this. Not true.
      Unfortunately, by continuing to be available to him, you are implying that his actions are not incredibly damaging to you. I understand that right now you want to be the face of love to him in a first Corinthians 13 sort of way, but he has to feel the loss of you before he can stop taking your love for granted.
      If you continue to reach out (as I did after convincing myself that he “needed” me, and now regret doing) then he will label you crazy and turn you into a joke. Any normal person would respond with love and compassion to a person they spent 9 years with, even if they no longer wanted to be in a relationship. They would not rub a new relationship in their face. His taunting and devaluing of you suggests that there is cruelty in him that goes beyond normal breakup behavior.
      You will not begin to heal until you accept that the man you love has abandoned you in a very cruel way- and is a slave to whatever delusions have allowed him to do this. He can’t face the magnitude of what he’s done so he flips it around by saying it is somehow your fault (using looks, age and whatever else as an excuse).
      He has done a terrible thing.
      My prayers are with you, Cassie, as you begin to understand that you must walk forward in life without him.

      Lance Armstrong’s ex wife Kristin was similarly devalued when their marriage broke up. She turned to her faith to cope. She wrote an amazing devotional book called “Happily ever after” which was written to help women walk through the divorce process with grace and courage. This book was a lifeline for me back in 2007 when I was coping with being a newly single mother of four and my ex husband was wining and dining the new woman. It helped me keep from hardening my heart, and I am convinced that that is the only way to survive something like this. I recommend ordering it because it will give you specific guidance to make it through these early, difficult days.

      Walk with God through the pain. He will never abandon you.

      With love,
      Katie

  14. Cassie

    Katie thank you. Your words are so beautiful. He was actually saying that I look crazy and texted me saying he was telling this to people and the new girl and they laughed. My heart just goes out to him and it’s hard for it to stop. I will continue to pray for him.

  15. Cassie

    Katie thank you for suggesting the book and responding. I am so grateful to have found this blog. While in the relationship with him, I put myself into work and have no friends. He made himself my only friend. I gave him all of my off time. Now I am left alone. He says he’s not my friend and doesn’t care about me.

  16. Cassie

    I can’t help but think I will witness a miracle. To me he had changed so much in all those years. In the begining, I could hardly deal with him. Later, it was great. Toward the end, he started to go back to the way he was. I know they can adapt to what’s going on around them but it seems as though he could change.

  17. Cassie

    I really want him to feel like a normal human being, even if it’s not with me. Sometimes while I would sit and talk to him, he would say, “Sometimes C, I feel like you are not a normal human being.” I would wonder where is this coming from. Now I know it was him who felt that way.

  18. prodigalkatherine

    You have such a loving heart and have given so much of yourself. It is very likely that his overall functioning improved with you in his life. Sadly, his ego prevents him from seeing this. He extracted so much energy from you and then he dropped you. Imagine if the tables were reversed. Take a look at 37 year old movie stars with personal assistants. They look fabulous, young, and everyone gives them the credit for the beautiful image they created. That overlooks the efforts of the staff of trainers, makeup artists, stylists, agents, publicists, ect.
    In a sense, by making your ex your whole world (no doubt this was done with loving motives), you were a one woman “team” of personal assistants for your ex. You were likely his caretaker, psychologist, housekeeper, cook, career counselor and perhaps more. Who wouldn’t like to have that level of support in their life? Of course he “improved” for a while.
    In a good relationship, both parties invest in each other. You expend loving energy, but you also receive it so you never get depleted. For your ex to call you “old” at 37 tells me that you are likely exhausted from years of putting him first without him doing the same for you. His ego allowed him to take and take, and when you got sick or depressed, he held it against you and thought: “I deserve to be treated better”. He can’t connect his lack of reinvestment in you with the fact you are “old”. Please. You are younger than any number of beautiful celebrities who are in the prime of their lives. You are not old. You are tired. Read today’s blog post about rest, After that sort of rest, you will suddenly find your strength again.

    I know your love for him makes you want to continue giving sacrificially- as Christians we look at Jesus expressing his love for us in the ultimate act of self sacrifice. But consider this- even Jesus can’t interfere with the free will of a person who chooses to reject His grace. His precious gift of life to us is looked at as nothing by those who choose to reject Him out of pride.

    Sadly, your ex has the free will to choose his path too. The way he has treated you in the aftermath of the breakup suggests pretty serious spiritual issues. You continuing to invest your love is like you continuing to try to give him blood transfusions, and then having him dump those transfusions on the floor. You are wasting your precious life energy on someone who is very abusive to you.

    I am praying that you will feel the love I am trying to share with you by saying these things- you are not bad or foolish to keep loving as Christ loved. But Christ’s divinity allows Him to pursue the hearts of the willfully lost in a way that does not deplete Him the way it depletes you. Rest in the knowledge that He loves your ex just as much as He loves you and will continue to give Him chances to from evil. In the meantime, however, He wants you to get better from the massive wound that has been inflicted on you. God can love your ex even better than you can. So let him.

    In the ashes, give your brokenness to Jesus. He will give you new life. How do I know? Because He did it for me.

    Courage and Peace to you Cassie,
    Katie

    • Cassie

      Katie you are so beautiful. I love this post. I just cried. I think talking about some things is helping me and getting great response. I just can’t believe all that has happened. You said something in an earlier post about him feeling the loss of me. Can a N really feel that? I mean I am just so confused.

  19. prodigalkatherine

    Well, if your ex truly is a narcissist, (nothing you have said indicates otherwise), you were what is called his “secondary narcissistic supply source” for the last 9 years. What that means is- you are the one that kept him stable as the attention/praise from other sources (which are called primary sources because perversely, the narcissist prefers compliments from outsiders more than you) ebbed and flowed. You were a primary source in the beginning, and this new woman is a primary source right now. When the Narcissist is consistently getting attention from a new primary target, the secondary supply sources are treated very poorly, and often abandoned.
    But- the narcissist inveitably shows his true colors. No woman can stay a primary supply source and be in a real relationship- for that level of desire to be maintained the narcissist would have to be in a perpetual stage of chasing- never catching. That dynamic means that intimacy can’t happen if the level of infatuation is to be maintained. So- to put it simply- the more you love him, the more he is destined to take you for granted.

    So- you mentioned “his feeling the loss of me”.
    That will happen, but not until he truly understands that he completely burned his bridge with you. The reason he is not mourning the loss of you is that he holds the belief that he could have you back at any point.

    Inevitably, the new primary supply source will become less exciting (or may dump him when he starts to show his true colors). How long? Probably a few months- maybe a year. That is when your narcissist will return, expecting you to greet him with open arms.

    You have several choices:
    1) take him back and let the cycle repeat itself
    2) ignore him, make him chase you until you “give in”- and then take him back, and let the cycle repeat itself
    3) absorb the full blow of how awful what he did was, turn to God for healing your deep grief over this loss, and then break the cycle. You are a child of God and your life is precious. You exist as more than an ego prop for a narcissist.

    • Cassie

      Your words, your heart, your soul, you are so beautiful. I really appreciate you. You don’t know how much everything you have said has helped. I still go back and fourth feeling confused though. I can’t help but wonder how he feels. I have been praying for him everyday. Not for him to come back to me, but for Jesus to help him see what he is doing. I pray for him to talk to someone and open his heart so he can truly be free. But then I get angry again and I just wanna call him. I keep believing that all things happen for a reason. I just wanna know right now why all this happened or is happening to me. I don’t like this feeling. I want it to end.

  20. prodigalkatherine

    It hurts so much. I remember. And it’s not like you all of the sudden feel better. It’s two steps forward, one step back.
    I found that exercise was my release- as hard as it sounds, try to break a sweat every day. It helps you move through the pain faster and it also is nice knowing that the next time he sees you he will think “hey- she looks better than when she was with me!” This isn’t about trying to get him back. It’s about taking all that energy you were investing in him and channeling it into healing- mind, body and soul.
    The thing that helped me the most was the thought “My ex husband may have disposed of me but I am not trash. I am God’s daughter and God has good things in store for me.” You will heal, I am sure of it. But you have to stop thinking that you can heal your ex. Remember the flight attendant telling you to put your own oxygen mask – then you will be better able to help others. God is in control and will watch over your ex. Give that burden to Him.

    I am praying for you now Cassie, that you will find hope, and that you will know that you are never alone. This is a great time to google the famous “Footprints” poem. It is so true.

    Hugs to you, sweetie.

    • Cassie

      You are so beautiful. Thanks you so much. I googled Footprints. I feel better every time you respond. Thanks you so much. I feel so blessed.

  21. prodigalkatherine

    Cassie,
    You are a precious daughter of God.
    Claim Romans 8:28.
    None of this pain is for nothing. God has big plans for you.
    With love,
    a sister in Christ

    • Cassie

      Thank you Kathie for all your thoughts and support. You have helped me so much. I really needed everything you have said to me. Keep doing what you do please.

      • Cassie

        My N has tried to contact me via text. He is acting like nothing has happened and asked me how’s life with my new man. I don’t have one. I also have a dog that he seems to love and treated better than me. Now he’s saying don’t keep the dog away from him. I haven’t responded or contacted him. I am still praying for him to have some peace and to talk to someone. I am trying to stay strong and let God carry this burden. Everything that Kathy has told me has helped so much and I read it everyday. It helps. Thank you again so much from the bottom of my heart. Don’t ever stop doing what you do!

      • Cassie,

        I have had little opportunity to respond to comments, but wanted to jump in here to caution you. Narcissists want everything. They think they deserve all of it. It doesn’t surprise me that he would want his new relationship and you. In fact, he would want everything you used to have together. The dog is almost certainly a ploy, much like projecting hiw own unfaithfulness on you. He probably cannot stand the idea that you would be happy or even healthy without him.

        So be very careful. Personally, I would caution you against responding in any way. He knows how to manipulate you. Stand strong and maintain your boundaries. Eventually this attraction or attachment will fade. More and more you will understand how he has used you and hurt you and you will see the truth about him. You are not responsible for his inner struggle, nor are you the one to fix it. Trust that Jesus can do whatever He wants and you can move on with your life.

        I am grateful to Katie for her support and encouragement (and wisdom) for you while I have been out of touch. Hopefully I will become more available over the next few days.

        In the meantime, I am praying for you.

        Dave

      • prodigalkatherine

        I really feel that Dave is 100% spot on and I am glad that he jumped in here. This is going to be very hard, Cassie. But whatever promises your N makes are about him wanting to have his cake and eat it too. This is not about the dog, or the fact he finally sees the light. This is about him wanting to keep your devotion after betraying you horribly.
        I am praying for you as this sinks in because I have experienced the utter horror of coming to that conclusion myself. It literally makes you sick.

        But I am writing to you as someone who survived it. Walk through the pain and let it all sink in. It will help you see the truth when you are getting the confusing messages from him. There’s no need to be cruel back- simply keep your self respect for not falling for manipulation.

        I wrote this poem 6 years ago after being where you were. It’s not a great poem (so please excuse the awkwardness of it) but it is about how to escape a narcissist. It’s called “Snake”.

        I am leaving because
        Your watery eyes full of crocodile tears do not move me.
        For I know you.
        I know that if I question those tears
        The wet trails will freeze on your face into slivers of ice.
        Those baby blues
        Will darken to grey
        Your pupils becoming the thin lines of snake eyes
        That do not blink
        As they behold their prey.
        Quietly you sit coiled
        And with your clenched jaw
        You conceal your serpents teeth.
        “No sudden movements,” I am told.
        “Don’t provoke a strike.”
        “Stay perfectly still and the danger might move on.”
        Unless…
        I move first.
        After careful planning
        I know which leg to lean on
        As I prepare to spring into action.
        My Goal: escape,
        For I will not offer my life as a peace offering.
        Reptiles don’t care about sacrifice.
        They know what they want
        And they take it.
        I must prepare for a strike and rise above
        The chill of inhuman eyes beholding an obstacle.
        I’ll move quickly
        To grab the neck
        And immobilize the jaws
        As the furious scaly rope
        Whips my arm.
        I don’t want to destroy the snake
        Only remove it
        And let it slither into the kudzu
        Where it will seek its next meal.

        I am done with you, snake.

      • Cassie

        Thank you for stepping in Dave and again thank you Kathie. The poem was great. I just keep thinking about everything and how much I wanna share my life with someone. I am getting older and wanted kids. I don’t have any. I will continue to stay strong and not respond to any contacts from him. As I read every day and get response I feel a little better.

      • Cassie

        I am done with the snake and I will just have to let him seek his next meal. I wish it did not have to be like this. The other woman should be around 22 or 23. If I had been with him at that age and he had done this to me, I think I would have been really broken and destroyed. I feel bad for both of them. He is going to ruin this girls life.

  22. prodigalkatherine

    Because you are escaping now, and not in ten years, I have no doubt that you will be a mother, if that is your heart’s desire, whether it be through birth or adoption.
    It is highly possible that God allowed the specific timing of your N’s betrayal to occur because He had decided that the “N” did not deserve any more of your precious energy. Knowing your kindness, it would’ve been impossible for you to “abandon” the “N”- it kind of reminds me of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart when the Israelites were being delivered from slavery in Egypt.

    So much life is ahead. There is joy. You have children who are waiting for their mother. If you falter in your belief that you are justified in leaving, do not leave for just yourself. Leave for them. The love you pour into children is never wasted.

    Hugs, Cassie.

    • Cassie

      I’m trying to stay strong right now but I am really thinking about my N. I know he’s not thinking about me but I can’t help it. I keep reading the posts everyday. I can’t wait to feel better.

  23. prodigalkatherine

    I am praying for you now.

    There is nobody who knows “better” than you what the right thing for you is. We all know about narcissistic patterns, but only you know your N.
    We are here for you, no matter how you choose to handle your situation.

    You will feel better. It will not be right away, but you will heal. Treat yourself with extreme gentleness, and bring your tears to your Heavenly Father. He hears, and he cares.

    We care too. And you are not alone in this.

  24. Shannon

    a great resource i had found is called “looking back from teh looking glass from Steve and Kim Cooper. i am hoping a N can change, as i have put so much time energy and love and fait into the father of my girls , and it has been a long road.

  25. Cassie

    On June 21st I broke and calledy N. I was out at a place with music and dancing and it made me think of him. So with that I texted him. He was so mean. He told me to pick up someone and take them home. I was devastated. I kept texting and kept trying to offer help. I just couldn’t help it. I felt I needed to try again. He finally called me and when he did, he wanted to only share the dog. Said he didn’t care about me only her. Also he would pick up the dog and if I’m with my man, he will say hi take the dog then drop the dog back off. He was actually more harsh than that with lots of cursing. I just wanted to get to know the real him and he wouldn’t let me. He said I was not his friend yet I feel like he’s the best friend I ever had. He tolde I need to get out more because I’ll feel free and he said he feels free. I cannot believe this has happened to me. I’m no one special, but it feels so bad. I can’t believe he doesn’t hurt. He’s great! I have recently changed my phone number and still pray for him. I also let him know that in the beginning of the relationship, he had told me some small detail about him being abused. He denied it and put it on me. I was never abused only verbally as a child by schoolmates and people that you run into in life that put you down. I wish I could go back to that day. I was not real sensitive at the time because I didn’t get the whole story. I feel like he doesn’t really want to be that way but just doesn’t know how to let it go. That’s all he can really do and that’s all I want. He had expressed a couple of times how his mom disappointed him. I really wish there were more I could do. It feels so bad.

  26. prodigalkatherine

    don’t beat yourself up. Leaving the N is a process. In many ways, the emotional ambivalence you feel, while very painful to experience, is protective in an odd sort of way. When your N still feels he has a grip on you, it allows him to wean himself from the support your provided in a way that is conducive to your safety. If he felt that he was being rejected, the level of cruelty he is currently showing would be directed into active revenge. His not feeling the pain as much as you has less to do with your value to him, and his delusion that he remains desirable.
    This illusion on his part is a good thing, because you can undertake the healing process without constant harassment. This is NOT about your lack of worth, beauty, or desirability. God is using your N’s delusions about what this breakup means to give you the space to begin a new life.
    I am praying for you now.

    • Cassie

      I feel so alone today. I miss my so called best friend. My N. God help me.

      • Cassie

        I don’t want to miss him anymore.

      • Cassie, you should think of your relationship with the N as an addictive drug. You are going through a type of withdrawal. He triggered certain feelings in you and you remember and crave those feelings. You are willing to ignore the bad, all the pain and rejection, just for a few moments of those feelings again.

        But, like a drug, the feelings were false. They were, in fact, lies to your system. They were always mixed with negative, but you chose not to see that. He hurt you all along the way, but you pushed away your understanding of those things because of the small amount of good you received.

        My best suggestion is that you ask yourself who loves you. A family member, a friend, someone who cares about you. They might not be the most exciting people and they might not ring bells in your heart, but they are good for you. Find those people and spend time with them. Again, think of yourself as going from the addictive drug to something healthy.

        Gaining health isn’t necessarily fun, at least not as much fun as most unhealthy things are, but they are real and good. Eventually, you will see what has happened to you and you will be very grateful for those who helped get you through.

        I will certainly be praying for you. Spend some time with the Lord doing things you like to do. Treat yourself and enjoy His company. He is with you.

  27. prodigalkatherine

    I know.
    It hurts and I have no magic answer.
    I care and I am praying peace for you , Cassie.
    You will survive. I know because I have been where you are and I am in a much better place now.
    A year from now your life will be much better than you can imagine.
    Just have a glass of wine and go to bed early.
    The pain will pass.
    xoxoxox

    • Cassie

      Thank you so much. I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
      I know it could have been a lot worse but it is so unreal to me. I feel like he will come back or something amazing will happen. I feel like right now I want his friendship. I feel so confused these days. One day I’m ok and the next I am not.

  28. Elizabeth

    I would like to comment that being a narcisist is extremely enslaving and I don’t like it, and I wish I could change my past a lot of the time so I could grow up “normally” and be Saved more easily. I’ve been trying to speak to Jesus for 8 months and it hurts me to hear when people say narcisist can’t change and they are so evil and i feel like they imply that Jesus didn’t die for me also. Just by reading my own words I can tell I’m self absorbed but the thing is i am enslaved to it. All the roots are from childhood. I had a mother who was very selfish and left a lot of pain an discomfort in me. my dad was a good dad but i quickly adapted my mothera behavior after they got a divorce and i began to become very selfish since then and i began to ignore and be away from my dad all the time and now i hate beig around him too. Thank you for being someone who understands the roots of a narcissistic person. I hardly feel the child in me anymore. Everyday I am empty and dry, and when I talk to Jesus I usually don’t hear anything from him because I know he wants to hearthe child in me speaking, not the fake self. There are so many layers to my heart that I can’t really even think of where my ‘treasure’ would be. Im lost, and i want to change Would you pray for me please?

    • prodigalkatherine

      I will pray for you. And I really think there is hope. You are facing some very painful stuff- but guess what? You are no less worthy of God’s love and forgiveness than anyone else. The fact you are beginning to allow yourself to feel painful truths indicates that true heart change is a distinct possibility for you. Cloud and Townsend write an amazing book on Christian spiritual growth and they explain the concept of godly sorrow- so different than guilt. Instead of being upset that your false self “failed”, you begin to mourn the pain your self absorbed behaviors have caused others. In facing that pain and asking God to heal you, the balance of power shifts between narcissistic patterns and God’s love. These next days/months will not be easy, but an end to the sorrow will come, and heart change exists on the other side. Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” I am praying that you will feel God’s deep love as you do the hard work of grieving. There is LIFE- much better life- on the other side. I promise. Hugs to you.

      • Elizabeth

        Thank you. I appreciate your prayers and your kind words so much. And thank you for the book recommendation, I will definitely look into that. I have been feeling sorrow since just recently. It’s starting to make me realy understand what I have done to everyone. Thank you again from my heart I mean it.

  29. Repol

    ProdigalKatherine, this paragraph here:

    “you were what is called his “secondary narcissistic supply source” for the last 9 years. What that means is- you are the one that kept him stable as the attention/praise from other sources (which are called primary sources because perversely, the narcissist prefers compliments from outsiders more than you) ebbed and flowed. You were a primary source in the beginning, and this new woman is a primary source right now. When the Narcissist is consistently getting attention from a new primary target, the secondary supply sources are treated very poorly, and often abandoned.”

    ^This is exactly what I needed to hear. I am one week out from finally, after 5 years, stepping away from a narcissistic friendship. I am still involved in a marriage with a narcissist, who is just beginning church-required sessions with a psychologist. But what I haven’t been able to understand and accept is why these people are so wonderful at the beginning of a relationship. Why can I be so essential and important for a short window of time–long enough for me to believe that I’m safe as a friend or as a partner, and then so easily cast aside or even abused? I want to hold on to that early stage and believe that it is what was real–that something else just got in the way and it can still be fixed. But it wasn’t real, was it? It was just establishing supply.

    I know I am a highly empathetic person, so I am a perfect first supply for narcissists. At least I was. I’m so depleted now and so convinced by years of gaslighting (almost 19 with my husband, and about 5 with this other friend) that I am hardly able to be anything anyone needs any longer. Now I’m the desperately needy one, and I am so afraid of being an emotional vampire and harming anyone else that I don’t reach out often to others unless I am sure that I have something to offer them. And that feel inauthentic too. Last week, when this friendship finally ended, I did get the courage to ask one friend if she could make time to call me, and she did, and I cried over the phone with her. But then I feel so guilty of “taking” from her when I haven’t anything to offer.

    After so many years of narcissistic abuse, does it ever become possible to RECEIVE grace again?

    • prodigalkatherine

      I am not sure the pain of being devalued and discarded by someone you love deeply ever fully goes away. For that reason, I am grateful to have a Savior who has been described as “A Man of sorrows, and aquainted with grief”. Jesus knows how much it hurts to turn the other cheek, to love someone who betrays you, and the pain that comes from understanding a loved one’s free will enables them to leave you- forever- with no explanation or closure. The pain you are feeling has everything to do with this broken world that we live in.

      When I feel overwhelmed as I consider the trail of pain a narcissistic personality leaves on the lives he/she touches, I am tempted to despair. After all- this person has chosen evil, and the consequences of that evil reverberate in ways the narcissist is unaware of. But then I remember- while I can’t change the narcissist, I do have the power to direct my own free will into being God’s hands and feet. Just as the narcissists actions have a ripple effect, the person directed by the Holy Spirit can also have a ripple effect. You will never know the good your life is able to accomplish for God, but if you make the choice to turn to Him and shun the evil of returning hate for hate, you open the door for God’s power to touch the lives of all you come in contact with.

      You’ve been told you are nothing by the narcissist, now that you no longer are his minion doing his bidding. Narcissistic self centeredness prevents the understanding that other people exist apart from how they relate to/serve the narcissist. Don’t buy into that delusion. You feel broken? Empty? Used up? Well- that’s a sign that your false self that was dictated to you by the narcissist is no longer a distraction, which despite the pain is a good thing. Ask God’s Holy Spirit to fill your broken places. Without your ego (which is currently crushed by the narcissists devaluing of you), you are quite open to being used by God. Romans 8:28 talks about how all things are used for the good of those who God has called. The devaluation was a terrible thing- and yet- God is able to mold your heart and work powerfully within your soul because you have been so stripped of your own pride. Because you are broken, your capacity to yield your own will to God’s purposes is heightened.

      I think the biggest challenge, post narcissist, is believing that your life matters. After all, the narcissist asked you to make himself/herself your God. When that false God discarded you- it was the ultimate message of “you are worthless”. But the false God gave a false message. The true message is: the living God very much wants to show you the plans He has for your life- you were created for an important purpose. The feelings that will slowly replace the pain will be an understanding that your life is valuable and that your choice to be kind, gentle, and spirit led will have a ripple effect on the lives around you. When you understand that God changes your brokenness into something beautiful, the pain no longer brings despair- simply awareness that we are all created for God alone.

      • Fellow Survivor

        Katherine, you did it again with your response to Repol and you spoke to my heart as well. I was a great source of secondary supply for sure. I felt needed as if though I was the “tail” on a kite. With no “tail” a kite will spin out of control and crash. My N was always going out with the girls and doing all kinds of fun stuff. She absolutely needed to be part of the leadership of all the groups she belonged to. If she was not elected to a position of power she would become very depressed. I was always there to tell her that she was OK and the other women just made a mistake in not voting for you. Kareoke anyone? You could not take the mic out of my ex n’s hands. One time, and I am not kidding here, I came home and she was balling like a baby on our bed saying that no one liked her and she had no friends. I listed 20 women that were her friend or would like to be and kept naming names until she stopped crying. This was a grown woman crying like this about not having any friends when she had many.

        Anyway, Repol I am just a few months ahead of you in my recovery and there are still days when I can barely work much less think. I am terrified of being around other people that are not my close friends always. That did not used to be a problem. I actually gage my recovery on how much of the newspaper I can read, “with focus” without thinking about her and the life I thought we had. It always amazed me how little she valued what I did for her.

        WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS!!!!!!

  30. Repol

    I am so thankful I found this site.
    Katherine, your words are just what I need to keep reminding me of what is right, even though it is so hard. I’ve been clinging to Isaiah 53 all week. And I’ve been trying to believe Romans 8:28 too.

    Fellow Survivor–the way your experience imprinted on you is JUST LIKE mine. I had no idea the effects were so well defined. I too have a “new” social anxiety–fear of being around people without a close, dependable someone. I used to be fine in groups, even enjoyed them. Now I have to make myself go to gatherings and psyche myself up for them. I got double-whammied on that though, because I had become that way from so many years of my husband’s abuse, and at the time, about 5 years ago, when the effects of that were becoming unbearable (I was at that point beginning to break down; I did have an emotional breakdown about 2.5 years ago), there were two people I trusted and depended on to be in the group of people before I felt safe to enter in as well. And one of those turned out to be the narcissist friend I just let go of last week. So he built my dependency on him where I was already broken down, and then took me out further. No wonder I broke.

    And as for the loss of focus and fractured thinking–oh my goodness, yes. That is exactly what I have experienced. I know this sounds terribly boastful, but it is honest: God gave me the gift of intelligence. I am nowhere near as “smart” as I used to be. Reading became almost impossible. Connecting ideas overwhelming. I took a few IQ tests after my breakdown and found that I had lost 14 points. One of my children has some learning differences, and I have found that it is helpful to me to play the little games and do the focus activities that she does. She does them so she can learn to read. I do them so that I can relearn how to think and connect ideas and derive conclusions and make wise decisions. My whole thinking processes got stripped down to something like raw, unconnected wiring. I understand so much. Thank you for sharing that. I don’t feel nearly so alone, nor as crazy, right now as I have for such a long time.

    Praying God will show me how my life matters for his purposes, as Katherine says. I know I would never actually hurt myself, but I have longed for the end of my worthless life to come quickly. I would never be able to hear that from a friend or family member, about themselves, without wildly objecting and telling them how much they matter. That seems so wrong, and yet, it got programmed into me. I lost the ability to speak that truth of value to myself. Thank you for being messengers of hope.

    • prodigalkatherine

      I know how you feel. My memory of the early days was: he has thrown me out like trash so I must be trash. My children will be hurt if they are raised by trash, but I don’t want to hurt them by abandoning them so what if I get into an “accidental” car crash that makes everything simple because then their dad and his new wife can raise them in an “unbroken” home.

      Narcissistic abuse does a number on you. Today, I see that thinking as a lie from the pit of hell. It was not something my ex husband ever said to me, but occurred to me as I was numbly trying to make my way through those early days. For this reason, I firmly believe that when you are empty and depleted after narcissistic abuse, you are incredibly vulnerable to malignant influences. The best way to fight them is to read scripture over and over again. Ask God to write it on your heart.

      You need the memories of the word of God when the malignant voices in our culture convince you that you are worthless. You are not worthless. You were rejected as a source of narcissistic supply, which is what you were never created to be in the first place. It doesn’t feel this way know, but being rejected by a narcissist is a blessing. Think of God allowing Pharoah’s heart to harden against the Israelites so their escape was made possible. Were the Israelites any less valuable because Pharaoh had devalued them once they stopped being compliant slaves? No. Pharaoh’s devaluation and rage towards the Israelites were a reflection of his twisted, selfish heart, not the worth of the Israelites.

      I encourage you to write down and commit to memory Ephesians 6: 10-17. It describes the armor of God in a very literal way. If it helps you (it helped me), whenever self destructive thoughts came into my mind it helped to recognize I was under spiritual attack. I would try to find a bathroom (or somewhere private) and then “put on the armor”- piece by piece. Perhaps a goofy mental picture, but it worked, probably the same way that visualization works for professional athletes.

      You are not trash. You are a beloved daughter. Hold your head high.

      • Repol

        Oh, Katherine… I have gotten into my car to run errands, and many, many times, when I was doing them alone, prayed before starting the engine that God would let me blow out a tire on the tight, steep curve and go off the embankment. Accidental. My children wouldn’t think I had abandoned them on purpose. No fault.

        The armor of God is a passage that is very important to me. In fact, I wrote and published a children’s book on that about 10 years ago. Incredible, who I was then, and how much of that solid, competent, faithful woman has been eroded.

        I need a place like this. I have needed it for quite some time. Thank you so much for being here.

        I do not know what is going to happen with my husband. He has just had one meeting with a psychologist and we are at a church that takes this kind of thing (abuse) seriously, but still does not affirm divorce, even given the past history. If he were to become physically abusive again (it has been more than 3 years), then they would allow for it, but as it stands now, the expectation is that I would be wrong to separate or divorce. I have no actual hope, though, that he is really repentant or recovering. I think he is just doing the steps he needs to do to meet outside expectations. I was hopeful at this time of year 3 years ago. And then 2 years ago, all hope was gone and I was in the deepest pit of my life, hoping to drive off the cliff accidentally. A year ago, I was back to having some hope. But manipulation, belittlement, and theft (he wiped out our joint savings in April, over $11,000, and can’t say exactly where it went, why, or how he might replace it) have once again removed my ability to have hope. I’m just sort of numb and neutral, waiting for the next shoe to drop. But the church is optimistic, because he agreed to go to the psychologist.

        I’m just in a sort of limbo, not wanting to break up my family. Not wanting to give up on a marriage too soon. Not wanting to displease God who may have a purpose in giving me this trial. I want to believe he can change, but I don’t know if there’s wisdom or just wishful thinking in that.

  31. Fellow Survivor

    Repol, It was 5 years ago for me when I finally lost it too. The ex was doing yoga 7 days a week and my kid asked me to talk to her about it. I kindly asked ” Honey, will you please reconsider how much you are doing the yoga, it is interfering with our family daily routine” Boy, was that a mistake. I got hit with a narcistic rage so powerful it just blew me away. If fire could have come out of her nose it would have. From that day forward it was just one rage after another and I fought back. I am in the design and manufacturing business and about 7 years ago I wrote a complete patent application, turned it in, answered all the challenges successfully before finally letting it go. It was more a mental exercise than a business deal. Anyway, now I could no more read the “how to patent it yourself” book than actually write the thing. There is a support group that sends daily emails to me and one of them talked about in a divorce our typical energy focuses in a normal day. About 30% emotional, 30% intellectual, and 30% physical. Something like that. In a typical divorce about 85% of our focus is on the emotional side of our lives. However, when we have been through what we have been through it seems like 85% or more of all our focus in on the emotional side of our lives however this goes on for years and years and years. I remember sitting at my desk with my head in my hands not being able to function trying to figure out how I can “fix” this mess I was in. And that was 4 years ago. Like David said in an earlier post on article, they were a drug to us. We have to look at the good and great stuff that came with the N in our lives for what it was, just good times. But the bad times were really bad because whatever they did to us the message was clear “I don’t care about you”
    With these people it is always “their way or the highway” and eventually we all end up on the highway or worse.

    Repol, we will get better. Just ask Katherine. She is a great source of wisdom based on experience and I value her post a great deal.

    When my daughter was a little girl, you know the fussy 1 year old that couldn’t talk so she cried. A lot. I would hold her in my arms a say “let it out, let the cares of the 1 year old little world out” This site is a safe place for me to “let it out, talk about it until it makes sense. Please do the same. We are all here to listen and encourage each other.

  32. Repol

    Thank you for that encouragement, Fellow Survivor. And yes, I believe the 85% number. I believe it and I can’t stand it! I don’t want to think about myself all the time. I feel like I am crippled, unable to actually do much of purpose in God’s kingdom because I really am so concerned about myself now. It’s unnatural and really troubling.

    I have now a really strange situation related to ending that friendship last week. I wonder if I can explain here and someone can give me some advice.

    The friend was a young guy whom I had known since he was 9. He is now post-college and in his early 20s. His family came to the church we attended for a very long time when he was that young. They were known as a very legalistic family. I’m not sure if they are truly legalists in the deeply harmful sense, but they are very rules-oriented, performance-oriented, outward appearance-oriented. They have very narrow views on what a “real” Christian family looks like, and it is very turned inward, focuses on the home and not on the community or church body, and super strict about limiting hospitality. The home is not a place for open doors and outstretched arms. It is a private place and people outside of blood kin really are not welcome there unless it is some planned long-in-advance event. Likewise, one doesn’t nurture friendships outside of one’s blood family. The community should be one man, one woman, their blood offspring, and the offsprings’ future spouses.

    Well, this young man was, from the very beginning, obviously a misfit. He did not make friends at the church. He was alternately very shy and very performance oriented–going back and forth between manically drawing attention to himself, like he was onstage, to withdrawing like a hurt puppy. I could tell something was not right with him, and by his teens, he was clearly struggling with depression and loneliness.

    At that point in time, the church taught an inter-generational approach to encouraging and being involved with one another. (It has since grown away from that approach and now uses a model based on like-follows-like, doing more segmenting based on age, gender, choice of schooling.) So I started asking him to help me on projects: set up tables & chairs for church events; hook up the sound speakers, etc. He was willing and he began to open up to me as an older teen–18.

    And then he just latched onto me. Really desperately. It was as if he was dying for a friend, and I showed interest in him, and he latched on. And honestly, I was struggling at home. I have children, but I also lost 4, and from what the doctors think, they were all boys. I grew up with 5 wonderful brothers. Having this young man around was like having the son I never had (even though I would have been a fairly young mom had he been biologically mine–still, it was much like that). My kids liked him too. It seemed that we shared similar theological interests, poetry and music interests, film interests. I now see that he was doing the chameleon thing, because most of those interests have faded away over time.

    I’ve always had an open-door policy on my home for the teens and young adults that we know. It’s what I grew up with and it’s how I’ve always wanted my home to be. It’s not been very easy, though, because my husband prefers total privacy. Privacy let his abuse grow. Being on good behavior for others is not something he enjoys. But anyway, as much as possible, I encouraged the young people to come visit, play with the girls, talk about important things at the kitchen counter. And this young man came along in that trend. He would visit, read theological books at my house, we would talk. It was great. Until one night (ironically, it was the very night before this blog was first created, in April 2010), my husband came home from work with the dark cloud of doom over him. It happened often enough that I saw it coming and there was no way to stop it. He stewed inside himself for an hour or so, and then it all blew. It was a frightening episode involving physical grabbing, shoving, tussling, first with me, and then with the young guy who was trying to get my husband under control, while my oldest child ran for the phone, thinking she was going to have to call 911 on her own daddy. It as horrible.

    That is what I had been living with for 15 years. Usually, it was kept from the kids, but that night it was all out there. And the young man, for the next few months, really seemed to be concerned for my & the children’s wellbeing. He said the event “cemented him into our lives.” And our family-like friendship did grow. During that time he opened up to me that he had been molested by a slightly older male family member for about 6 years in his young childhood. He was trapped in guilt and shame and his parents didn’t know (at least as far as he thought; I later found out they knew some of the repercussions of the molestation, but they never pursued it to find the source, or to stop it). He was truly troubled. But once he admitted that to me, our relationship changed.

    I wanted so badly to help him, and he wanted so badly to hurt me. For the next 4 years that’s how it went. And over time, I began to see that, without the physical violence, he really treated me the same dismissive, mean, cruel way my husband did.

    I wouldn’t “leave” him until he got through college, though. I prayed for him and was available at every crisis, and there were many. I was the friend he would call in the middle of the night if tempted by porn (and that was often–a result of the molestation, it seems, which he never quite got to the point of taking personal responsibility for). I would talk and pray with him until he was stable. Then I wouldn’t hear from him again until the next crisis, or he needed a job referral, or something. If I asked to know how he was holding up, or even what he was enjoying in life, what he was thankful for (I believe in thanksgiving therapy), I was being stalkerish. I would be told in curt, harsh words to leave him alone. Until the next need arose.

    So finally, now that he is post-college and still doing the same thing, and my guts are in knots and I can’t keep a sense of peace, and handling one narcissist in my life is all I can do (if I even can do that), I let him go last week. I asked him to take whatever years he needed to go find out what he really believed about God and lovingkindness and friendships, and if he felt he could give of himself to be in a more balanced friendship, he could find me in a few more years, but for now, I needed the peace of not being his on-call and then throw-away person. And he got furiously angry and refused to let it end on a kind note. I told him I still cared about him and wanted the best for him and that my heart was never closed to him, and he objected, saying that if I wouldn’t stick with him while he worked out what he thought, then I was closing my heart already. And that I had no right to feel hurt by him. He should be free to act however he wanted, and if I felt hurt when he was mean, or wanted to know if he was OK and he refused, then I wasn’t getting my support from Jesus. (Guilt, yes, I can feel guilty for anything.) That was 9 days ago.

    Now, here’s where it gets even weirder and I need help. His mother is now contacting me, acting like she wants to be my personal best friend. She was never too keen on our friendship. She told him she was jealous of me because she didn’t want to lose him to “another mom.” (She’s about 10 years older than me.) She didn’t want other people to find out that there was a history of sexual molestation in their home. She wanted to keep the family secrets. But now, she wants to be my best friend.

    She is one of the most controlling women I’ve ever known and I don’t want to be sucked into her rules and regimens. I have always focused more on grace and loving others out of love for and obedience to God. She wants to limit and control all manner of interactions between people. (She suggested that the church needed to segregate homeschooled students in Sunday school and youth group from public school and private school students, so the homeschooled ones wouldn’t get corrupted.)

    And she truly stresses me out. She just texted me a few moments ago wanting to chat. She wants to get into my head, it seems. She wants to know if I’m going to counseling, and with whom. And I don’t want to share with her. I feel like I got some freedom from her son, which ought to make her happy, but now she wants to come on the scene. Just seeing that text makes me want to go get a glass of wine right now. (Something I try not to do when I feel like I want it–I fear becoming dependent.) But it turns my gut into spaghetti.

    What do I do? We don’t go to that church any longer (it did not know how to deal with narcissistic abuse at all; just cover it up and pretend, and endure because you’re called to do so). So I don’t have to see her out and around in regular life. Why is she pursuing me? Do I have the right to just say no? How do I do that without looking even more like a nutcase than I do now? I just need some peace and stability, and I won’t get that with her pursuit. I don’t even trust her. Why would I? How do I love her, respectfully, and love me at the same time? Will I ever be free?

    I think I’m going to cry now. And throw up. I just can’t take another one, controlling me, emptying me. Lord, have mercy, please!

    (So sorry for this too-long post.)

    • Hi Repol!

      I am thankful that you are here with us and I am very grateful to those who have been walking with you over the past few days.

      Your situation sounds so draining and discouraging. But listen: there are people here who truly care. You are a person of great value and potential and we don’t want you to forget about that. I will explain in a moment.

      First, let me give a quick assessment of what I see in your situation. First, your husband will either change or not. You can’t control that. If the abuse begins again, then hold him accountable and go public. There is little you can do besides wait and see. The young man seems more like a borderline personality than a narcissist, from what you have described. Borderlines tend to be more extreme in their mood swings and less predictable. They move from being dependent to antagonistic pretty easily and sometimes often. If that’s the case, he needs to work with a good therapist and your role in his life may be over. Unless I missed something, you are not qualified to give him the help he needs now. You can pray for him and still care, but always direct him toward therapy or other quality help. Finally, the situation with his mother must be frightening. You have the freedom, even the responsibility, to be healthy and to refuse her calls or contacts. You don’t have to interact with her unless you feel strong enough to do so . . . and you don’t seem to be feeling that these days. Yes, you have the right to say no.

      But I get the feeling that you are a person full of compassion and that you truly want/need to express love and care for people. Part of your struggle is that you are afraid to care now because you have been hurt so much. The answer is not stopping the compassion. That just hurts you more. It builds up like a blocked river in your heart and, if it isn’t expressed, it can turn to bitterness or self-abuse. Don’t be afraid to help people. You need that.

      So, take this for what it’s worth: find a group of people who need someone. Visit a nursing home or a women’s shelter or the children’s wing of the hospital. Reach out to encourage and bless people who can’t really hurt you. You don’t need to form deep relationships with these folks, but they will know that you care. I have a friend who is handicapped and is from a situation much like yours. She reaches out to service men and women across the world. She organizes goody bags and letters of encouragement and she writes to many. She is ill-used when she cares for her family, but she is greatly blessed by these small ways to encourage someone.

      You are an intelligent and loving person of integrity. You are needed in so many ways! Too many don’t care. You do. And, yes, caring opens you up to abuse. But holding it in is worse. That’s what you have been feeling, at least in part.

      You are very welcome to contact me personally by email at dave at gracefortheheart.org. Please just know that you are the subject of many prayers from the folks here and we truly believe you are a person of great value. Whether or not your situation changes, you can still feel the blessing of expressing your love.

  33. prodigalkatherine

    Oh wow. That is a complicated situation. Crying and throwing up are Ok because they help you release excess emotional energy.

    I do not have specific advice because I understand that the situation is very tricky. The only thing I can tell you is that God loves this young man more than you, or anyone else possibly could, because only God knows the whole story. None of the kindness you showed was for nothing. To draw back for a period to engage in self care is appropriate. It does not negate the connection in the past.

    He sounds like a confused young man, and his presence in your life triggered some unresolved grief in yours. Yet- when things were good, you were able to bless each other and not feel alone in the world. There is no need to overthink that right now. You need to recover from the intensity, but I am firmly convinced that when we are able to speak to each other’s brokenness in a non exploitative fashion, we are doing God’s work even if the immediate outcome of that connection is ambiguous feelings.

    Try to rest. You don’t have to solve the mysteries of why God allowed this self absorbed young man to be in your life. You don’t have to understand and bond with his mother. Be patient, be kind, and give of yourself until you can no longer give from a place of authenticity. It’s ok to withdraw to heal. Jesus withdrew from the crowds and his disciples into the desert when he was emotionally exhausted. God nourished his soul in the desert and renewed his sense of purpose.

    There are so many mysteries- but one thing is clear. God wants to heal you. You need to allow the time and space for that to happen. To create boundaries (temporary or otherwise) so that you may experience quiet and God’s still small voice is a good thing. Yes, God wants you to love others, but for now you are called to experience his healing grace. Rest assured, He is in control, and he will meet the needs of the people in your life who ask too much of you.

    • Repol

      And I’m really wanting to call and check on him today. Wondering how he’s coping. He could be fine. He could be a total wreck. I feel like my own dear son is estranged from me, but I know that if I reach out to him again, to try to care for him, it will snap back at me again and I’ll be right back where I was.
      I just wish he would, in true humility, realize how much has been lost and say sorry for all the painful and diminishing words and all the yo-yo’ing, and just let us be real, encouraging friends again.

      • prodigalkatherine

        Hey Repol-
        Very glad that Dave jumped in here. I like his suggestion about doing your best to direct your compassionate heart in a different direction. Having contact with this young man who may react in a destructive fashion may not be the best choice right now because it could cause you so much damage. No need to shun him (if he reaches out, respond with kindness) but no need to initiate interaction until you are further down the road. You are looking to heal, and that is your first priority. The desire to act compassionately towards others is a beautiful one, and I think Dave is right to simply ask you to channel those energies in a direction where the chance of blowback is less likely. You are in my prayers.

  34. Repol

    I wish I could print out your reply and paste it publicly in my house. I can’t. But I wish I could. It would help me so much to see it regularly.
    I do need to rest. The journey is too great for me. I need to be fed by angels for a little while until that still small voice safely woos me out of my cave. God is not in the whirlwind or the earthquake that I’ve been listening to for so long. I do need the rest.
    Thank you, Katherine. Again. So much.

  35. Repol

    Thank you Dave, and again, Katherine. You are both right.
    I did not make any contact and now the day is done. I am taking the time to think through and recognize the destructiveness of the “what ifs.” What if I called and he didn’t answer, didn’t call back, or answered and told me to get lost? Well, I’d be back at square one. He belongs to God. God can and will meet his needs. But yes, if he contacted me, I would be kind, and glad to hear from him.
    Instead, tonight, I invited my babysitter to linger after I got home from a meeting at the kids’ school. She is a young woman who couldn’t go to college this fall because of an as-of-yet undiagnosed health issue. We sat at the kitchen counter talking about her experience and my own, which involved illness that took me out of college for months at age 20, and set the course of events that would lead me to a saving knowledge of Christ.
    That was very fulfilling and pleasant. She’s a dear girl.
    Life goes on. I keep thinking of Fellow Survivor, too: We will get through this.

    This is a very grace-filled and grace-giving community. I haven’t met many like that out in the 3-D world. Thank you for such kind, gentle encouragement. It’s a cup of cold water.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Repol, (this post is what I mean by just letting it all out) I think I mentioned earlier that some days are OK and some aren’t. In the beginning everyday was horrible almost unbearable. Now I have some good days and some bad days Today is a bad day for me because I am going to have to face the Ex one way or the other and I am having a hard time processing that unavoidable fact. We have a teenage daughter and this week she is with her mom, who oddly enough we nicknamed momster years ago, not knowing how accurate that label actually was. Anyway, when this one week with me the next with momster started I would call and text my daughter every night. Although she did not tell me so, it was making it hard on her to adjust to the new “life” we both have been thrown into. So, now when she is with her mom, we don’t text or call each other. Which makes it incredibly hard on me because I put her to bed every night and woke her up and got her ready for school almost everyday before the divorce. I am sure this will change soon, but for now I think when I call it just reminds her that “dads not here”

      The thing about the ex is that she just really scares me. I have seen and listened to her slice and dice up both her enemies and her friends over the years and now I am viewed as an enemy. Its kind of creepy, to be a grown man and be terrified of the woman I once loved so much. Repol, I don’t know if this metaphor fits into your situation with the young man, but I think of it like this. Suppose someone you know and trust starts hitting you over the head with a baseball bat. In future encounters sometimes they beat you and sometimes they don’t, but you never know if they are going to hit you or not. Well, its the same thing with the ex. She is out to intentionally hurt me and she knows exactly where to hit where it hurts the most. This is why no contact is so important, so you don’t get hit. However, instead of a baseball bat they use words. She has conditioned me to be afraid of her so she always could get her way. I have to break free from that fear and the only way to do that is to stay away. This is my rant for the moment. I wish it made me feel better but its not right now

      • Repol

        Fellow Survivor,
        I cannot imagine what it would be like to be separated from my children, even part-time. That has a lot to do with why I never wanted to consider divorcing, even in the most dangerous of days, from my husband. It is what I dread most if it ever came to that. I hear the pain in your description of not being able to put her to bed at night during those times.

        As for the description about the real hurt and the fear of what might come out of the blue next, yes, that too is (again) such an accurate description. I was thinking of this today. The severed friendship hurts. The absence & the things that are lost which were good before all hurt. The reality of living in a fallen world in which even the best intentions can’t always fix broken things hurts. But it’s a different kind of hurt than the blind-siding, seemingly unwarranted, personal attacks. It’s a hurt of the reality of brokenness, but not the hurt of an ambush or attack.

        And I think I can process this new kind of hurt. It isn’t as acute and bitter and outright personal as the in-contact hurt was. I still wish it wasn’t this way, but I’m adjusting to the reality.

        And today was pretty good. I worked from home and was quite productive. I completed an assignment for the grad school class I am taking and turned it in online (a first, and quite an accomplishment for me, given my recent mental state). I have all four children together with me now and it’s happy. Apart from my prayer and Bible time this morning, I allowed myself only one reflective/grief break, and that was to listen to a single Alison Krauss song called Stay. It’s really a romance song (Aren’t they all? Why doesn’t anyone ever sing about pure friendship?) but a lot of it applies to the feeling of loss and yet hope that one day, maybe 20 years from now, things can be set right. And then I set it aside. Maybe tomorrow will be even easier.

        Things with my husband are peaceful right now. We went to a meeting last night at the school and then spent a few minutes together alone at a restaurant before coming back home. It’s clear to him that I’m distressed (I’m also worried about kids–one has an ongoing health issue, and she plus another were away at retreats last night; one has learning issues and she’s in a bigger class at school than I would like, the baby just started school, and she is timid and shy; her teacher talked about obedience and punishment, and not once did she use the word grace; I’m worried for my baby), but he didn’t condemn me or berate me for letting my emotions get in the way of whatever his immediate goals are. It was actually a nice evening.

        One foot in front of the other. Thank you all for letting me “let it all out,” for sharing your stories, and for dealing so gently with me, Dave, Katherine, Cassie, Fellow Survivor. God bless you all.

  36. Cassie

    Hi Repol. I have been reading and it’s so sad. I don’t have many words of encouragement, I’m sorry. Getting help from all of these people have really helped me.It’s a wonderful community.Everyone has been so kind. What I can say is stay strong, pray and continue to come back and read, it helps.

  37. Repol

    Well, the sense of peace didn’t last too long.
    When I checked the mail today, there’s another new bill. My husband has taken out a $5000 loan somewhere. This is in addition to a $4500 loan in both our names he took at our bank about 2 years ago, and has made payments on so rarely that the added interest and fees has kept the balance up around the same level, never coming down.

    I has asked him back in May, after finding out about the loss of all our personal savings, if the bank loan was the ONLY debt in our personal names (other than our house), and he affirmed that it was. But now he says that this loan has been around for many months; he just had the address changed so the bill comes to our house now instead of a P.O. box he has and uses for business.

    I feel like I’m just living on a sand dune. I can never predict what’s coming next. Words don’t mean the same thing to me. When I say “all,” he hears something different. When I say “no more debt,” he agrees, but the agreement doesn’t mean anything. We don’t speak the same language. We don’t have the same convictions. How can I take care of and provide for a family like this? I don’t earn enough money to take care of all of us alone, or save for retirement, or college, or to put back what was spent from savings which was supposed to be there to take care of medical expenses and emergencies. I can’t do this alone, and we just can’t agree on how to live it together. I think he has to have a debt addiction. My brothers and one friend thinks he’s probably gambling. One even suggested that he might be supporting a woman or another family somewhere, but I can’t believe that. I just can’t believe he would do that. And I think I’d have to know. I just think he cannot deny himself any thing he wants, so he spends extravagantly (he just bought some fancy TV antenna, because we agreed to cancel cable TV and Netflix to save money… but instead of saving money, he went out and bought this fantastic antenna and special digital tuning boxes and power cables with the first couple months’ worth of savings).

    It’s just a losing battle. Do I even keep trying to make plans? it’s like he needs to live in a halfway house with someone always looking over his shoulder and making the decisions for him.

    • prodigalkatherine

      I think that you are gaining evidence that no matter what your behavior is, your husband is going to act selfishly. At a certain point, you will need to weigh your options about whether the marriage can continue or not. I can’t tell you what to do, but I do advise thinking in terms of providing the best possible futures for your children. Pray for discernment.

  38. Repol

    I would be excommunicated for divorcing him based on only financial grounds and history. Our church denomination does not believe a man’s lack of sacrifice or self-control is grounds for a divorce, even if it is sin. They would call that “the woman’s trial.” They would allow it if he commits adultery, and they might allow it if he becomes violent again though it seems from what the leadership has said, they would want him to experience the civil ramifications first and they would want me, again, to wait to see if that would bring repentance or cessation of the activity permanently–which means keeping myself in an unstable situation.

    I can’t be without the church, even as flawed as it is. Does that make it an idol for me? I know I’ve struggled with that. But I can’t imagine raising my girls without the church’s help in teaching, nurturing, the godly examples of a few individuals in it. Is God asking me to choose to suffer indefinitely? Or is he asking me to choose between some sort of righteousness/responsibility and the church? It is so unfair that I would be the one excommunicated, but that is how it works. The believer stays. Period. If I have to leave, they will say I am not living in the power of the Holy Spirit and not “taking up my cross daily.”

    He has used that threat of excommunication against me in the past. He knows how much the church means to me.

  39. Repol

    What if life never has any happiness in it again?
    This is so not the mother I wanted to be. It’s not the home I wanted to have. It’s not the picture of womanhood and dignity and the respectful, affirming, positive marriage I want them to hope to have one day.
    If parenting by example is the best thing you can do to teach your children well, how can I possibly do it right under these circumstances? If I submit to the church and to my husband, I am showing my girls that I give up my dignity and subjugate myself, my good, their good, and even sound societal principles to his selfishness and lack of self control. What does that tell them about womanhood?
    If I don’t submit, them I break up the family. I possibly get kicked out of church. They have to deal with the trauma of divorce. There could be custody issues. I can’t even begin to think of everything there is to consider.
    But I can’t seem to find happiness or even general contentment with all this up and down and uncertainty and futility and vigilance.

    • prodigalkatherine

      I can’t tell you what to do, but I understand that being excommunicated/shunned by your social network/support system is another layer of your situation.

      It seems pretty clear that you need to diversify your support network. If you do have to go down the road of divorce (not saying that- the key word is IF) this sounds like a situation where you need to have all of your ducks in a row. You need to have short term housing contingency plans for you and all of your children. You will need your own savings (I recommend saving at least $500, preferably more) before you can undertake a battle like this. I also think you need a good lawyer who is skilled at helping women in domestic violence situations. They understand the bullying and are good at thinking strategically to prevent nasty surprises.

      If you decide to leave, you must brace yourself for the nastiness to become very bad for a while. Instead of the long-suffering wife that he is disdainful towards, but understands is necessary on some level, you will become “the enemy”. Hell hath no fury like a narcissist scorned (because that is how he will see it.)

      Please don’t be discouraged by my words. Understand that I have been in your shoes, and that I am in a very good place now, but quite a bit has happened over these last 7 years. It is a challenging process. The way you will survive whatever path you take is to ground your emotions in the understanding that you must now act in a way that guarantees the best possible outcome for your family. You must rely on God to make you strong, and to not be derailed by angry thoughts of revenge, despair over the task before you, or fear that you can not survive the battle. The issue is not what the narcissist will do: it is a matter of God being sovereign, and you letting God work.

      Try not to think too far ahead. If you are called out of your marriage, it will be for a very specific reason. For now, your job is to “get strong”- build a closer relationship with God, build more support relationships outside of your church, get your papers in order and set aside some emergency funds. Then, if you must leave, you can.

    • Repol,

      I am so sorry that you are suffering in this way. You ask some powerful questions, ones that are beyond our right or place to answer. We will join you in taking this to the Lord. He knows what He wants for you.

      I believe that the Lord loves you. He wants the best for you. If His best for you is to endure this trouble, then He will be right there with you. He will not abandon you to your pain.

      You face a hard decision. I would suggest that you are not in the place to make that decision right now. To choose to stay or to choose to leave are both options that seem overwhelming to you. Instead, pray like crazy and prepare. If you are not prepared to leave, you are not able to leave. Get some things in place. Katie has suggested that you try to set aside some money. I think that’s good advice. You should have a plan. Where would you go? How would you support yourself? Would anyone help you (family, friends, etc.)? What would you do for the first week? The first month? The first year? Is there another church that would welcome you and love you? Do you know a lawyer? Is there a women’s advocate center nearby? Staying may seem easiest just because you don’t see any real options. Once you have options, you can make a better decision. And preparing is not the same as acting.

      I am going to be blunt and step into something I dislike. Your church sounds like an extension of the abuser. This is surprisingly common and is usually something the abuser planned. If the leadership of the church believes that suffering is “the woman’s trial,” they are certainly part of the problem. Suffering may be part of life, but to suggest that a woman becomes more spiritual by continuing to submit to an abusive husband is unfair and unrighteous. A man should be held accountable for his actions. Suggesting that they would stand by while you are physically abused, to see if he would respond to “civil ramifications, is irresponsible and enabling.

      I believe in the holiness of marriage. I hate divorce. But I also hate the abuse and cruelty that often happens within the marriage relationship. I believe God hates that as well. No one should have to be afraid of their spouse. No one should be depersonalized by their spouse. If you need to get away from your husband, there are steps you can take before a divorce. You can charge him with abuse. You can get a restraining order and separate from him. You can do a lot before a divorce is final. Cross that bridge when you get there.

      Ask yourself why you need that church. Is it because they have the only message of truth? Is it because you owe them something? Or is it because they have convinced you to be afraid of separating from them? Sometimes being excommunicated from a church is a blessing, particularly when that church is not following Jesus.

      Please hang in there. Yes, there is hope, even promise, of joy and peace in the future. You may not see it now, or even believe it is possible, but there are many who have walked your path and have found inner peace. Keep connected here. We do care and we are praying.

  40. Fellow Survivor

    Repol, Just a note to say I am thinking of you tonight. Be strong. These days will pass. I typically try to have a since of humor, so her goes. Do you remember the song that goes “Mama said there would be days like this, there would be days like this, mama said” Well, she actually didn’t say there would be days like we are going through, but there are those days. We are all thinking about you. And you too Casie. Katherine made it to the other side and WE WILL TOO!!!

  41. Penny

    Repol: you know the truth. You have the truth. You just need to give yourself permission to act on the truth. “The Church” did not save you, Jesus did. Whatever suffering we are called to, it is for the cause of Christ, NOT for “the church”. Christ longs to protect and bless and encourage and lift up His Bride–not to abuse and demand and beat her into submission. Katherine said a while back that after Christ’s sacrifice for us it is safe to say that God is no longer a fan a human sacrifice. YOU are not the sacrifice–HE is. Don’t fall for the guilt trip that makes a mockery of your life in Him.

  42. Repol

    I don’t know how to change anything.
    I don’t know what to do.
    I found out that Sunday he went directly to an elder and did what he always does. He makes some sort of admission (never complete, but always, immediately, goes to a person in authority or a person of social status) so that there’s a witness on his behalf who can say, “Look, he’s trying. See how transparent he is! Poor guy. He’s such a great guy; he’s just had a hard time.”
    He did this after he put his fist through the wall by my left temple. He did it after he broke a lamp throwing an 18-year-old kid into in the presence of our children. He did it after he publicly humiliated me by lying about details of our sex life to another (male) person, and I would not let it go until he admitted his desire was to control me completely; he did it after I found out he wiped out our savings.
    When he can’t escape guilt, he runs to tell someone else, who has a role of importance, and they all think he is just such a “great guy!” because of it. Picture the words, with the fist pump in the air. They love him.

    I can’t support us alone. He’ll break us if I stay. Is there any possible way?

    • Penny

      Yes, but NOT there, not in THAT church with THOSE people. You need to shake the dust off your shoes and leave. PLEASE do as others have said: save up a little money, find a shelter, get out, walk tall, trust Jesus, not men; like Nehemiah: don’t tell anyone what God has placed in your heart, just go. You are NOT trapped–you are free, redeemed, unchained, forgiven, blessed. Please–you have a great mind & heart, you know the truth; act on it. God did not call you to be abused & exploited, but to be loved and treasured and set free. What are you waiting for? How much worse does it need to be? you are not being cared for now, but abused in the name of Christ. It is preposterous! This ichurch is deceived & deceiving, and God’s own heart is angry at how they are wrongly applying His word. Believe me , there are other churches who do NOT do this! Follow Jesus & trust that God will provide “the ram in the thicket”. He is faithful. He is faithful. Really–He is. Seek His face.

  43. Sad

    You can not be a narcissist And a Christian ( spirit full) at the same time.
    So yes a narcissist can drastically change thrue the Spirit of Christ.
    I’ve experienced myself. My ex turned to the Lord Jesus. Jesus filled his heart with love and he was a very nice loving men. But he fall back sad enough. He went from a loving, trusting. Devoter Christian. Father and man. Into a cheating selfish, lying. Psychopath again. And this time “his demons ” came back 7 time stronger.
    Pray for us. And for your own narcissist. And yourself to heal from it. A narcissist Can only change if they chose Jesus en stick with Him. People do not underate the evil spirits of satan who work thrue people. You can not cast them away with medicans. A psychtric. Read the word of God and protect yourselves and childeren. Pray pray and pray. Do not let evil come near you or in your house

  44. Angela

    I am learning that my mom is a narcissist.

  45. Angela

    My mom is an N. I am just finding this out. I can’t even explain my childhood. When I have tried…. Well, most do not believe me. To top it off my dad has Aspergers. I have been made out to be the bad guy. It sucks!

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