What to do?

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I have a comment on hold and I am still trying to decide what to do about it.  It is from a lady who has suffered in a marriage with a narcissist for many years.  She apparently wrote to remind those who are struggling in such marriages that they made a commitment before God and should stick with it.  The comment was very preachy, but also revealed a lot of pain.  Sometimes people write things like that for themselves, to convince themselves they should do a certain thing.

It sounds too much like preaching to others, though. You know, the sentences that are all in caps and the statements like, “My God tells me . . . !”  I don’t mind someone standing up for their own beliefs and decisions.  I do mind people who justify their decisions by mandating those decisions for everyone.  That isn’t fair and it isn’t right.  Each one must come to his or her decision based on beliefs, support, and level of pain.

So what should you do when you find yourself in relationship with a narcissist?  I don’t know.  I am not in your situation.  The best I can do is encourage you from the outside.  I believe that things like education and boundaries are important in any relationship and are especially important in narcissistic relationships.  If you are losing yourself, you have to do something.  There are many things you can do that are short of divorce, but you have to decide if they are enough.

At the risk of suggesting a formula approach, let me suggest three steps or three levels of action.

First, you should be safe.  Those who have read many posts here know that I consistently tell people they must get out of unsafe situations.  If you are undergoing physical abuse, or your children are being abused, get out.  Get to a safe place and tell others what is happening.  Whether or not you get a divorce is a decision that can wait.  Right now you have to get out.  We have all kinds of evidence that physical abuse escalates, gets worse.  Get out and force some change.

Now, that’s fine for physical abuse.  What about emotional or mental abuse?  What about the N who seems dedicated to making his wife think she is losing her mind (gaslighting)?  What about the constant ridicule and disparaging?  Doesn’t that become unsafe at a certain point?  Of course, and if that is happening to you or your children you should consider getting out.  You just have to realize that such a thing is much harder to verify and you may have more difficulty finding support.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t force a change, just that it might be harder.

Second, you should be healthy.  There is a time when being unhealthy becomes unsafe.  At that point, the options change.  However, there is usually a process of becoming unhealthy, during which you have to make preparations and try to find ways to health again.  Being healthy is important!  The only way to handle the stress of a narcissistic relationship is from a healthy position.  When you are healthy you can set boundaries, stop abuse, and gather support.

How do you determine that you are unhealthy?  Talk with others who love you and support you.  If they tell you that you are in an unhealthy situation and you are losing yourself, they are probably right.  If they say that you are changing and they are concerned, they probably have good reason.  Find a counselor and be honest.  Then find the way to health.

Third, you should be happy.  It is important to be happy.  I believe God wants His people to be happy.  I tell people all the time that I believe God wants marriage to be honored and the people in the marriage to be happy.  There are natural periods of unhappiness in any relationship.  Relationship happiness changes in mood and intensity.  But, generally, a relationship should bring happiness.

Unhappiness can lead to being unhealthy.  Most people don’t expect to be happy all the time.  Most people would like to be happy once in a while.  Some find that they are never happy in their relationship.  That’s the time to begin to ask health questions.  Examine the sources of your unhappiness.  Is it because your partner is cruel or distant?  Is it because you disagree on something?  If you find that you are regularly being manipulated or deceived or put down, you may become unhealthy.  Find someone to talk with.  Find a good counselor.

 

People from a variety of situations come to a blog like this.  Some are unhappy and are wondering what is going on in their marriage or family.  Some are unhealthy and are seeking answers.  Some are in unsafe situations and need support for making a serious change.  There is no simple “one size fits all” answer.  Some should stay.  Some can stay.  Some should leave.

Please don’t judge others.  You really do not know what they are going through.  I will do my best to keep comments that can hurt others out of our conversation, even though I hate doing it.  And I do pray for all of you.

 

17 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

17 responses to “What to do?

  1. I think that you should post the comment. I also think that this online community will have a variety of responses, all of which this individual will gain perspective by hearing.

    As a woman who has been through the divorce process, I can understand why Jesus hates divorce. Even if a narcissist is being divorced, it doesn’t mean that the victim’s life will improve. In my situation, my thirteen year marriage ended and then I made poor choices in dating partners, not from a place of rebellion, but because an upbringing with narcissistic abuse and a dysfunctional marriage left me with no “radar” and both my children and I experienced the danger of being temporarily at the mercy of 2 predatory individuals.

    It is a matter of principle for me not to share the private details of my marital breakdown because I feel that some things need to stay private for me to feel I have done my best to honor their father. But I asked for the separation because I was deeply embittered after years of feeling hurt and that promises had been broken. He then met someone else and asked for a divorce so he could marry her, leaving me as the primary caretaker of four children between the ages of 3 and 9.

    While those who know my story tend to respond sympathetically and it might appear that I am the victim, I do believe my divorce and resulting vulnerability were the results of events set in motion by my own hardness of heart. At the same time, I believe that God used our marital separation to set me free from a marriage that was not honoring to him. He has brought me to a new understanding of his mercy, and through this process opened my eyes to my pride- to the attitude in my heart that said “You did everything right and were a loyal wife and you don’t deserve to be with a person who repeatedly breaks promises” Self righteousness is an ugly sin.

    And yet- it was more than self righteousness that led me to ask for a separation, it was the conviction of the Holy Spirit that something was irretrievably broken and my four children were going to be raised in a 2 parent home where the parents didn’t love each other, but still played the role of the church going upstanding members of society. When there is hate underneath a perfect image, it breaks the heart of children- I have already lived this truth.

    I love the concept of “severe mercy”- because that is the consequence of my hardened heart that has played out over the last 7 years. In a million years I never thought I would be called to be head of my household as a single mom. Yet- that has been the way that God has allowed this situation to unfold. And in every step and misstep I have taken He has been my Comforter and Redeemer. I do not look back today with regret.

    My separation happened because I obeyed the still small voice that compelled me to speak the truth about my disintegrating marriage and my own hardened heart. Their were consequences. But Romans 8:28 rings so true for me. God works in all things for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

    For those Christians who judge others who made the choice to end marriages I can only say this: sometimes a marriage has become so sick in its power imbalances that health can not be fully restored to either party until a period of separation and spiritual intervention occurs. Is it possible for God to save all marriages? Yes. But just pretending a marriage isn’t broken makes me think of Jesus’s angry criticism of Pharisees when he called them whitewashed tombs full of dead mens bones.

    Ultimately, God wants to save his children. The institution of marriage is a thing he created, and its outward appearance of perfection must never eclipse the image of God that he desires each of His beloved children to manifest.

    Sorry for the long post, but I always most appreciate the comments when opinions are backed up with reasoning/facts/scripture and this is a complicated topic I didn’t want to deal with simplistically.

    • Thanks so much for this. You have trusted us with your heart. I can’t add anything but to say that Jesus does love you and He works His good in spite of and through these difficult circumstances. I am so glad you have Him!

  2. Tonya Scarborough

    Excellent post. I appreciate the message that it’s OK to stay as long as you’re taking care of yourself and are able to protect against the narcissism, especially when there are young children to consider. The law doesn’t recognize abuse like gaslighting and manipulating, not that I’m aware of. If you leave, then your children will be alone with this person. Could be better to show them how to be strong against manipulation, and still full of the joy and peace of the holy spirit. That’s my situation, in any case. And sometimes it is necessary and OK to leave.

    I think some people don’t realize that writing in ALL CAPS with very many !!!!!! is not so convincing, but more a sign of aggression that makes me, personally, doubt and question what that person has to say. Anyhow, good supportive post, whether you end up posting that particular message or not. Thank you.

    • Thanks Tonya! I strongly believe that one healthy and loving parent can make a difference. Eventually children will understand who loves and who does not. It might be work to undo damage and manipulation, but it is the right work and it does matter.

  3. HOPE

    I just found this blog a few weeks ago, and have been reading the Friday posts over and over. They have been very helpful. In January I finally sought counseling for myself and after only the first 10 minutes my counselor suggested my husband might have some “very strong narcissistic traits”. I bought a few books about narcissism, found this site, and continued counseling. We will be married 20 years in May and have 5 kids between the ages of 9 – almost 16. I am somewhat disappointed so far reading these posts (I haven’t read them all yet – am working my way through the years) that not much is written about help for those of us who are stuck in the marriage. I would be hard-pressed to say I still loved my husband so staying in it out of love isn’t the problem. I feel the fall-out of divorce would be horrendous, worse than the marriage now. A lot of the advice is to get out, get away, don’t play his games, etc. Maybe I am just impatient. I would appreciate any advice, comments, encouragement, etc.
    Thanks

    • HOPE, I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to respond to you. You are right that there are few practical helps for those who want to stay in the marriage. In fact, almost all the narcissist discussion sites I know of will strongly encourage people to leave the relationship. I hope you are able to go through the archives here and read some of the things I have shared about setting boundaries, ignoring the narcissist, and maintaining your support network. I have even tried to write about some very specific things like Christmas and family visits. Of course, marriage only represents some of the narcissistic relationships I write about.

      I understand that not everyone will or even should get out of the marriage. In fact, not all marriages are romantically happy and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is very hard, in a day like ours, to live in a one-sided relationship, especially when pain comes from the other side. But some have been given a special grace. Just know that it is good and right for you to set boundaries and keep other supportive relationships. Narcissists don’t like anything that threatens their control, but you have to stand your ground.

      You are welcome to write to me again here or privately through the contact link. I do care.

  4. John

    Thanks for not promoting a one-size-fits-all solution. I believe those approaches (and people claiming to speak for God) gives religion a bad name. Nobody knows what God wants for themselves let alone for others. That is arrogance (narcissism) not Christianity. Sometimes telling someone to stay means you are exposing them to abuse, plain and simple. Sometimes telling them to leave may actually make them dig their heals in and stay. People make their own decisions.

    A very wise person taught me something very simple but applicable here. Before making any important decision in life, consider yourself and consider others. Everyone will not be made happy by decisions where opposing interests clash. The best we can give each other (and ourselves) in these instances is the consideration of how it will affect those involved before we decide.

  5. Fellow Survivor

    When children are involved the decision becomes more complex. In my case my soon to be ex wife is a double opportunity abuser. When I am around I can protect my kid, but when I am not, look out. One time my baby girl was crying on her bed because her mom had come in an attacked for whatever reason. I tried to rationalize the situation about mom having a bad day or whatever, and sometimes you just have to put on the Armor of Christ to protect yourself. But that does not make a kid feel any better. My daughter and I were at my councelors this week and she flat out describes the cycles of abuse without even knowing it. The tension, the attack, the half apology, the peace, the tension.etc. I looked at her and said, whoa I completely understand what you are going through. So now that I am out of the house she needs to learn how to defend herself. The councelors advise was that the next time she attacks, just ask her if she means to hurt me. If she keeps attacking then you tell her that me and my car are leaving to go to dad’s. Great advise.

    One other huge component of this decision is what are we, as the sane parents teaching our kids about how much abuse is acceptable. When we stay and “take it” what are we teaching them? Do I want my kid to put up with what I have had to, no way. The best thing we can do is teach them that at the first sign of abuse, put a stop to it right away. No second chances. Even the disordered abusers life will be better off if you put a stop to it right away. So we need to teach our kids what is acceptable and what is not. If you are on this site you know what that means. No lying, no put downs, no cheating etc. If your spouse says something to you that makes you feel bad about yourself, then its time to evaluate the motives of the other. I can;t remember the verse but Paul teaches basically to only say things that build up and not tear down.

    I have been in this war for over 10 years and its not fun. I have tried to get my soon to be ex to see “HIM” but she just doesn’t want to. My daughter has led her mom in bible study once a week for a year, but still she just doesn’t want to see “HIM”.

    The post “Why doesn’t Jesus change the narcisist’s heart” was very helpful to me. God will either open her eyes “or not”. At some point we all must simply say, we have run the long race and fought the good fight.

  6. Fellow Survivor- your perspective is probably accurate, even if it is tragic. Why? Because when you stop engaging in the cycle of abuse by accepting a false apology as a real one and allowing the cycle to continue, you are playing the ultimate game of chicken with your marital stability.

    A year before I asked my ex husband for a separation (that ultimately ended in divorce) we had a close friend visit us from college. It’s amazing what an entitled spouse will say when they believe that they will always get “one more chance” if they go through the emotions of offering an apology.
    In front of me, my ex said- “I am a jerk. I like being a jerk and I can’t really help it, anyway. That’s why having a Christian wife is awesome. Even if you really f*** up they just get quiet and then all the books about relationships come out for a few weeks but if you say you’re sorry, it’s over. No harm, no foul.”

    I am the biggest believer in the transforming power of God’s mercy because it has been the touchstone in my personal faith. God’s mercy to me when I was utterly broken came after my understanding that despite my best efforts, I was failing at being the woman and mother I wanted to be. But I couldn’t abandon false pride until I was broken completely.

    The narcissist is no different in the need to be broken as a precondition to “getting” the reality of a sinful heart needing mercy. The difference lies in the narcissist’s willingness to prop up a sick self by periodically expelling all negative feelings about life onto a safe target. As long as they have someone who will participate in the cycle of abuse, they can self medicate by dumping their negative feelings in rage attacks on someone who doesn’t fight back. Only when there is no one available to serve as human dumping ground can a narcissist even experience the precondition for grace: truly experiencing their long broken hearts. Only in that desperate space of humiliated ego can the possibility of heart change occur.

    Thankfully we serve a loving God. As soon as a genuine cry for God to fill the broken places passes the lips of a sinner is uttered, the Holy Spirit can enter. Perhaps the end result of this work is not apparent, but redemption is now possible. By denying an abuser the ability to self medicate by dumping pain on you, you clear the way for soul change to happen.

    • Joy

      That is an excellent response. It describes my position now…divorced from a narcissist after almost 30 years of marriage. I thought I would never, ever divorce, but eventually I had to to save my own life/sanity. It was like I was fleeing abuse..because I WAS. I’m still struggling to separate from him emotionally because we still have contact due to our grown children and living in a very small town.

  7. Fellow Survivor

    Katherine,

    In my case I never really ever got an apology. The way it has worked for her is to attack first, then I withdraw, then there is quite, and then SEX. After the sex, then there was peace for a few days. I always felt like, great we are going to be like we used to be. I even told my daughter one time that me and her mom had finally worked it out. Her response was ” no you haven’t, it will just start up all over again”. The “enough” moment came when she engaged in the attack but I zipped my lips and told her I am not fighting anymore, no more words from me. Then she escalated into physical violence by kicking me in a bad spot for a guy. I demanded a real apology. I wanted her to admit that she did it, tell me she was ashamed she did it, and that it would never happen again. She tried to seduce me with the sex but I wanted the true apology first. The next week she again tried to seduce me, and I again refused until she offered a real sincere apology. I told her the yelling and screaming had to stop and that it was not going to work anymore. The apology never came, we were never intimate again, and now we are divorcing.

    Unfortunately, she is self medicating as you put it by sleeping around so it is hard on me right now. I struggle with the temtation to do that also but so far I have resisted. Thanks everyone for letting me share this story, it does help to let someone, even a stranger, know what has been happening. Right now I am just trying to find myself again. I keep thinking “Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus.”

  8. I am so sorry for your pain, Fellow Survivor. In clinging to your faith you are making the best possible choice. My prayers are with you.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Katherine,

      I am so sorry about your situation. I am so wrapped up in my trouble that I didn’t even really pay attention to the abuse you were suffering under. When your husband says “I’m a jerk and I know it
      so its good to have a christain wife that will always forgive me” thats really low. The difference in your ex and the other Narcs we deal with is your husband just verbalized what the rest of them must be thinking.
      My soon to be ex’s family is very wealthy and she would say, “isn’t it enough that you get to enjoy this extravagent lifestyle”. The thing that I was protesting was her trips to NY City with a friend with a very bad charater with a history of making very bad decisions. It appears we both put up with more than we should have and they just ran all over us. It is interesting that in my case this behavior didn’t raise its ugly head until my daughter was about 5 years old. The child was the hook that she kept me tied down with. The two stupidest things she ever told me were, 1) “anything for daughter” like thats a bad thing, and 2) “you’ll never leave daughter”, meaning ” I can do anything I want and you will never leave me because you love our daughter so much”. Now that’s just pathetic.

      Again, both of our spouses were saying the same thing. ” I can walk all over you and you will always forgive me or atleast forget whatever it is that is causing the pain” And we did. We did forget and forgive to keep the peace.

      As mentioned in a previous post, I tried so hard to tell her about Jesus and my daughter tried so hard to tell her about Jesus, but she just wasn’t interested.

      The first big rage hit about 5 years ago because I gently asked if she would “please reconsider how much she is doing the Yoga classes” Somehow that was a threat to her false self. I had never seen anything like that in my life. If fire could have come out of her nose it would have.

      5 years later and she is now deeply into the yoga, seeking her spiritual awakening through the tranformational powers of yoga.
      My daughter is afraid for her mom because she wants to be with her mom in heaven and she knows her mom is not going to get there through the false prophets of yoga.

      I told my daughter that maybe God can only do his work if she is separate from me. Who knows, maybe she resists Jesus just to break my heart. I do know that God’s grace is available to everyone and all I can do is wait on the Lord and Trusts that Jesus has a plan for her. I’ve tried everything so all I can do is Wait and Trust because even after all the cruelties perpetuated against me I still love her. I love the broken her thats buried inside somewhere deep down, but this image she has created for herself, I don’t know that person.

  9. Ama

    The letter you described sounds like something my mother would write. She is married to my father. He is an alcoholic and has been verbally abusive to her for decades. He might be a narcissist but I am not sure if he is because does have the ability to be emphatic. He is bipolar and possibly borderline. Anyway, my mother is a narcissist for sure. She stays with my father partly out of insecurity but mostly because of money. She would have to get a job if she left him. She is a covert narcissist. She loves being a victim. She gets some sort of payoff with being a victim. I think because it brings attention to her and she gets a lot of sympathy from others until they figure her out. Everything is about her. She has no empathy for me or for others. She pretends to at times but then brings the focus back to her. It is not uncommon for a narcissist to marry another narcissist. She hides behind religion. If I try to have a honest conversation based in reality she will throw some religious statement up rather than be real. I asked her to go to counseling at one point. She never said yes or no. Instead she threw up some statements about how God is showing her some things and she has a great new religious book that helps her. Then she never went to counseling or made any changes. She often uses the, “My God wants me to____.” when in reality it is what she wants. She is fluent in Christianese as I call it. As a child she often would tell me that I was displeasing God when in reality it was more like she didn’t like what I was doing and did not like that she could not control me. At this point in my life I have very little contact with her. I still deal with issues of guilt. I feel like they are my children. Children that I never wanted. I feel sorry for them. I still fear her and her wrath even though I hardly see her. I feel guilty completely cutting them out of my life but I also feel happier when they are not around.

  10. I haven’t responded for awhile, however David’s ‘block’ on this topic moved me to read carefully and respond. Some times we can say some things which are not helpful and/or confusing and David has a responsibility to monitor these. The gist of the conversation at the beginning was not about staying or going but about staying when you are a Christian because of the marriage vows made before God. It is these vows that cause much heartbreak and confusion for the spouse no matter what is going wrong in the marriage that is painful and heartbreaking. I can understand where this person is coming from because I have been there too. Twice. I have been a Christian as long as I can remember, yes with ups and downs along the way. I am 64 now but it has been a rocky road. I have never stopped loving my Lord and have known He always loved me…. no matter what. I married my love when I was just under 19 (he was nearly 26). In those days you needed parental permission. I convinced my Mum that I loved my boyfriend dearly and did not believe in Divorce as I understood God hates divorce and believed it was forbidden. My husband later became a Minister of religion (age 43) . I understand now he had Narcissistic tendencies from his Mum (his Dad died when he was 13). We had many ups and downs and many times I wanted to leave him. There was no support, nowhere to go… 4 children kept me there as well as did my belief in God. He was not attending Church for the first decade in our marriage. He had alcohol problems as did his Mum and Dad. He could cut me down with a word, shut me out with silence, be sweet and nice to other women and not talk to me, go running to blow away the cobwebs and not talk to me… blame me…. he never hit me but I felt unhappy a lot of the time. Five years were happy, he stopped drinking but when he went into ministry his commitment went entirely to “them” and not me. He began drinking again. He had huge boundary issues and finally due to overwork, stress and boundaries…. he had an affair… I found out accidentally…. he lied about it for 9 months, but I had hard written evidence. He was not defrocked or sacked…. I was treated as the perpetrator as lies built up. I wanted counselling and help. He agreed to one session and then turned against me, culminating in him getting a divorce after 33 years of marriage (we had our 30th Anniversary when I found out). It was not my choice to divorce. It was not my decision. I had no choice whether I was a Christian or not. Australia has a no fault divorce. I also did not believe in remarriage after divorce. It took me a long time to recover from this broken relationship. I did not lose my children or my faith, but I did lose a part of myself and a part of my heart. I prayed and waited. 8 years Later I heard that he had married her and was still a Priest. I had to stop hope and stop the wife love. I was devastated. I did have long term counselling and was healed, well and moved on with my life, believing that I would stay single. I came to understand he had broken the Marriage vows by adultery and defiling the marriage bed. I believed I had a right to divorce him but not the other way around as he had committed adultery so the bible was clear. After 10 years, I met a man who manipulated me, swept me off my feet. I met him through mutual friends, he had Pastors and high powered Christians and business people as friends. I believed in his christianity and I believed in him. I fell head over heals in love and we married. His Pastor friend even married us…. that gave him much credibility. When I left I discovered he had beaten 2 previous wives and a step son, had AVO’s out on him, used guns in violence (as he did with me), the Church supported them through counselling and advising her that they stay together. He tried to strangle her on their wedding night. He had been violent all his life, he also ripped women and others off financially. I knew nothing about this. I divorced him becoming final in Feb 2012. Leaving him after 2yrs and 10 months marriage and every aspect of domestic violence occurred. He would use the bible to convince me that working out our marriage was between him, me and God. I became depressed, feeling suppressed, overwhelmed, powerless, isolated, ashamed… all of those things, then it would be OK. The final straw came when he tried to strangle me, then attacked me twice after within minutes. I knew I had to get out but had to wait for a safe time. God gave me that safe time as we had a huge flood and had to evacuate. He cost me over $40,000 with his financial abuse. I got the Police involved and had an AVO. I nearly got sucked in again during relationship counselling but have now managed no contact for over 18 months and never want to see him again. I have struggled with the Christian thing again. Did I deserve this as I remarried? I think not. Am I being punished for some reason? I think not. Did I ask for it? I think not….. ACTUALLY I KNOW NOT. Did God want me to stay and get killed (violence had escalated that was obvious and the verbal abuse was horrendous). I have had Christian counselling and am now having treatment for PTSD. I am safe and I am never going to risk that situation again. I have done everything I can to learn about Narcissistic behaviour and Psychopathic behaviour so that I can understand the way things pan out. I am so happy and so is my adult family that I am safe. I can never ever believe that God is punishing me for divorce or marrying. I also do not ever believe that leaving and divorce was wrong. I did have marriage counselling with him but he manipulated the counsellor and it became all about him. He also wanted me to drop the AVO and trying to get me to not talk if I was subpoened in his gun charges case. He got abusive in counselling trying to find out if I had dobbed him into the police…. any change…. none whatsoever. I knew I had to stop and I did. I am at peace with God and know 100% that God did not want me to stay. Firstly my first husband broke his marriage vows when he was emotionally unfaithful to me with many women and finally sexually unfaithful. He broke the marriage vows and defiled the marriage bed. God hates divorce but he allows it…. and rightly so. With the second situation…. he broke the marriage vows when he manipulated me into marriage to use me and my finances and my name to give him credibility. He broke our marriage vows when he first hit me, and every time he abused me…. he did not honour his wife and protect me. He did not honour that he should love his wife as Christ loves the Church. If I had stayed I have no doubt I would be dead. The lies he told to everyone including his Solicitors and the Police and the counsellor were enormous. Would I marry again? No. Am I OK. Yes. I am still in treatment but know that anything I did or tried to do for our relationship was to no avail and made no difference. He moved on long before the divorce was final. I really feel for good Christian people who stay and are abused….. the problem is the Church has given us false teaching about these things over many centuries… we stayed because there was nowhere to go and women belonged to the man…. first their Dad and then their husband. I remember Bishops and Priests telling women to go back to their husbands as it was their duty and quoting the bible. There was and sometimes still is, no accountability, churches preferring to cover this up just as child abuse has been covered up in society over the years. Domestic violence needs to be “outed” and dealt with openly. Get out and be safe…. take the children, go to a refuge, get the Police involved… there is much support, mainly secular, but churches are starting to stand up and be counted thankfully. Two different Churches at different times did not stand up and be counted for me. I had to leave. The first church was my home for decades…Its people like David who are getting the message out amongst Christians and I thank him for it. Children are very damaged in these types of relationships and it is better for them to have a chance at peace and love. What message does it give to children if they are in a Christian household and observe that it appears to be OK to to hurt, snarl, hit, rage etc. God loves us, Jesus wants us to love each other as He loves us. Remember that even Jesus shook the dust off His feet and walked away from His hometown. Some people do not change, their hearts are hardened and their consciences are seared. By the way I am a registered Psychologist and people thought “I should have known better” and “Why didn’t I leave”. I was no different to anyone else….. I am female, caring, nurturing and a human being. I got manipulated and caught. Now I am free and will do everything I can to help others in these situations.This includes helping Christians to understand that God does not support or tolerate violence in marriage and understands that this violence breaks the vows in marriage. He hates divorce, however he does permit it. It breaks His heart to see his family being devastated and hurt… he will allow the person to do something about it… in the end if the abuser doesn’t stop or get help, the victim has every right to leave. Bless you all and thankyou David. Nothing can tear me away from the love of the Lord.

    • prodigalkatherine

      Annie-
      I am so sorry. And I can relate. I dealt with two predators after leaving a Christian narcissist- both pretended to be Christians and stole money from me. One broke into my house while I was sleeping and then assaulted me and held me hostage after I made it clear the relationship was over ($18k had been stolen). I filed a police report but didn’t go to trial because I couldn’t bear letting my children know what happened to me. Also, he threatened to kill me and I believed him- enough to have my brother come live with me for the next few months. Outside of this forum I have shared this with very few people because people (including fellow believers) often blame the victim when something horrific like this happens because they don’t want to imagine it happening to them. After this experience I understand why so few rapes are prosecuted.
      I handled the second one a bit better by asking for the church to help me once he started to stalk me. It turns out he was a “drifter” who had allegations of sexual abuse following him. He had pretended to be a man of God with his own business and talked a very good game. Turns out, he was homeless and had intermittent rage issues and took $8k from me in “loans” in the 4 months we were dating. He pushed marriage aggressively because he knew the incredible (but secret) damage I carried after having been assaulted. It was so tempting because I was just so scared to be alone after my brother moved out.
      If I could say anything to women who have newly escaped a long term marriage to a narcissist is : BE CAREFUL. You radar for detecting creeps has been damaged during all the years you were silenced. You are easily intimidated and have an invisible bulls eye on you that attracts predators.
      If I could change one thing about how I handled the immediate aftermath of my divorce it would have been not dating. I made the mistake of getting involved too soon because standing on my own two feet was scary after years of being treated as incompetent. I thought having a new man who said all the right Christian things would keep me safe.
      During the year after my divorce I lost the ability to cry. I was like a robot because it was the only way I could manage the pain and be mom/primary caretaker to four kids. Sadly, I didn’t really begin to deal with any of this pain until last spring. I prayed a lot, but had such a broken heart it was impossible for me to be in a relationship without major trust issues getting triggered. I tried to date over the next four years but I would end things quickly because I was terrified of being taken advantage of, which was probably good but also may’ve hurt some guys who were not predatory. The scariest thought for me is: I am too damaged to love. I think I’m going to stay single for a while.
      Getting counseling (not just from the church) is very important for dealing with PTSD symptoms. Because I am a single mom I didn’t want the kids to know how badly I had been hurt- also I was so ashamed. When bad things keep happening it’s hard to feel like it’s not your fault even if you know rationally it’s not ok to be assaulted or stolen from.
      What I wish Christians could understand is that sometimes a woman who has existed in the protective bubble of the church finds herself on her own she may make bad choices- not out of defiance or lust but because she is scared and sad. I was a faithful wife who was mistreated (badly) in marriage over a 13 year period. Little did I know that the danger did not stop then.

      Christian women who are considering leaving a narcissist- PLEASE be careful. You will wear the scarlet letter if he pins the divorce on you, and you may lack the survival skills modern dating requires. If my story spares anyone this sort of pain then it is worth the effort of telling it.

      But as I end the story, let me tell the PS. My four children and I are OK. Neither predator is a problem today. While it hurt so much to not engage on a fight fire with fire level with my ex husband, the instinct to respond with gentleness, not defensiveness to infidelity and abuse and to not “out” him publicly caused me the pain of public shaming initially, but has resulted in there being space for him to confront himself and be a better man after the narcissistic crisis of divorce. He has since remarried and has a little girl. Every time I look at that precious little girl I think, “Romans 8:28”. Without the pain of the divorce she would not be here. My ex husband has become a much better dad to the four kids he had with me and provides well for us now. He has also tearfully and sincerely apologized for some deeply painful things (that I will keep private) that he never would have “owned” before. His arrogance and cruelty is gone. He has said to my children that he is so sorry for how he treated me and that I am a wonderful mother. Full reconciliation and healing has occurred with his family. The forgiveness that has transpired can only be described as heaven sent. While sometimes it hurts to not be there to be getting the benefit of the “reformed” man I can only think- maybe God has a different plan for me. Maybe God has had to teach me through these experiences that I can never look to a man to “make everything better”. Only through these painful experiences could I come to realize that Christ is the only true head of a household, and sometimes a woman is called to lead a home even if she is scared witless. God will provide the strength.

      I look around and see that I have everything I need, even if I do wish for a husband someday, for the companionship. I have 4 healthy children who have survived these 6 years with 95% of their innocence intact. They don’t know the worst of what happened to me. They have a way better relationship with their dad than before the divorce. And I have the greatest gift- I know in my bones that I have been fiercely protected from evil by a God who knows and loves me in a way I could never understand when I was a “good Christian girl” full of pain and self righteousness over the “sins” of my husband. And a man who very much qualified as a narcissist in 2006 is a changed man today, and a precious little girl is in this world. For anyone who thinks that they will not survive the pain all I can say is: YES, you can. How? Because He will carry you tenderly in the palm of his hand through the fire, through the danger, and to a safe place. Read Romans 8:28 and claim it. All things are possible.

  11. All interesting comments and good points within your post. All the best

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