Barricading

It’s Narcissist Friday!

 

Closely related to the idea of isolating, where the narcissist keeps his/her victim away from supportive people and relationships, is what I will call “barricading.”

I have heard from several people that they felt trapped in the narcissistic relationship.  When it finally became time to leave, they realized that the money, the car, and the house were all in his name.  Sometimes those who owned these things in the beginning of the relationship found themselves without at the end.  Her house or car was sold because it wasn’t good enough.  But her name never quite got on the house they bought with the sale.  The bank account, into which her paycheck is cashed, doesn’t have her name on it.  The credit card has her name on it, but it is legally his account alone.  And, to save money, they use just one car—the one he takes to work.

Sometimes the plot is a little different.  The house is still in her name, but so are the multiple mortgages.  The credit card is shared, but maxxed out.  She has a car, but the payments are too high for her to handle on her own.

The effect of this manipulation is to barricade the victim in the relationship.  I have had several people tell me that they can’t afford to get out because the shared debt (on expenses only he understands) is too high.  Or that she doesn’t know how she would support herself apart from “his” money.  Or, to turn the tables, he can’t get out of the relationship because his debts (from her spending) would ruin his business and he would lose everything.  So these victims feel trapped, locked into dependence on the narcissist or stuck by the financial manipulation.

Perhaps even more tragic, in my mind, are those who cut short their education because the narcissist said a degree wasn’t needed.  Some churches support this idea for women.  “After all, aren’t most college co-eds just after the MRS degree?”  Since the only real value for a woman, in these churches, is to stay home and care for children, then any provision for her to survive outside the relationship would be somehow evil.  Narcissists find great support in these churches.

So here’s a common scenario (one I have heard many times; so, if you think I am telling your story, just know that it is the story of many others as well):  She meets the narcissist in college and falls in love.  She becomes pregnant and leaves college to move in with him somewhere far from her family.  Soon they are married and her bank account is brought into his.  She may work after the baby is born and that money goes into the same account.  Pretty soon there are two babies and she can’t work.  Suddenly the narcissist is no longer the loving husband and father.  Now he is angry and blames her for his problems.  If she didn’t spend so much, he says.  If she would just be a better wife.  And it goes downhill from there.

What is she supposed to do?  Well, she can tough it out and leave, raise the kids on her own as a single, working mother.  She can stay for the sake of the kids and endure until they are gone.  She can try to get a reasonable settlement from him in court, but that often doesn’t happen.  She can “drink the kool-aid” and believe that she is just suffering for her faith.  She really doesn’t have many good choices.

I know that sometimes I sound like Johnny-one-note, but you have to find ways to get yourself healthy.  An emotionally and physically healthy person sees many more options than someone who is depressed and weakened.  Start exercising and eating right.  Start tucking away small amounts of money for yourself.  Find ways to meet new people and make new friends.  All of these may be hard, but all are necessary.

And listen: if you are at the beginning of your relationship, with anyone, don’t let this happen.  Your degree may be better than a life insurance policy on him.  You have every right and reason to have your name on your bank accounts.  Don’t let him make you sign for any debt you don’t understand.  Hold your ground and keep your identity.

One more thing: if you see your daughter moving into a relationship with a narcissist, start a bank account for her.  You own it, but have it ready when she needs it.  Don’t tell her about it or she will tell him.  This is not faithless on your part.  You can hope and pray that the relationship works and you can bless the family with a wonderful gift in the future.  But it will be better to put it into an account for her than it would be to keep helping the narcissist with his foolish and self-centered money decisions.

Every situation is different.  Help me out here.  How were you barricaded and what did you do to overcome it?  Maybe you haven’t yet figured out a way to get out of the cage and others can help.  Share your story on barricading.

51 Comments

Filed under Legalism, Narcissism

51 responses to “Barricading

  1. I was lucky. Though my name wasn’t on the house, I was on a 10k line of credit tied to the home’s equity. When I wanted a divorce, I gave up the house. I didn’t realize at the time, that also meant all the debts that are associated with it – this included the home equity line of credit. While he still refuses to refinance it to get my name off of it, its not technically my responsibility. For years he was the only one with his name on the car, and a few years before I left for good, I left but had come back. Part of my demands for coming back was that I wanted MY OWN car. In MY OWN name. He agreed to this. So, luckily I had my own vehicle. My parents helped me with any bills I couldn’t afford until I managed to get on my feet and established my own lines of credit. I was married for 13 years – its amazing how these narcissists are all the same. I had no idea what I had gotten into. I am so relieved to be free now.

  2. prairiemom

    My friend was pressured by her N into signing a post-nuptial agreement just a few months ago (through VERY coercive means) which cut her out of most of their finances, should she ever leave. Now she has left him, and she is penniless. Instead of having the car which was promised to be “hers” for signing the post-nup, she is driving the OLD vehicle, which is the only one that was ever put in her name. He continues to pay for her phone, but we can all guess why that is (he has access to her phone records as long as the bill is in his name). The house, of course, is in his name. With the post-nup, he must be feeling pretty secure. I only write this to reiterate what Pastor Dave is saying: if your partner behaves this way, PLEASE make preparations for yourself. Protect yourself. Financial fallout on top of emotional/psychological fallout is even more difficult to deal with and makes it that much harder to leave and find health.

    • Let me add that narcissist love to intimidate. Just because you signed something does not make it legally binding. If you can show that you were under coercion or that you were deceived in some way or that the N did not keep his side of the arrangement, the agreement may not be valid. These things can and should be tested in court. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a women’s shelter or advocate.

  3. Tonya Scarborough

    For me at least, the kids are the biggest barricade of all, and ultimately the only reason why I stay. I have talked to lawyers and they both said that he is likely to get at least partial custody. If someone could guarantee me that I would get full custody, I would divorce in a heartbeat. But as it is, I stay so that I can always be with them and protect them from his lies and emotional abuse. He agrees not to take them anywhere alone because he knows I will divorce him in that case.

    • I feel you on being concerned about leaving the kids alone with him and I have to let you know, that if you are thinking about divorce, and there has been emotional abuse (or even physical intimidation) document it now. Do not wait like I did, until you’ve had enough and you leave with no plan and you’ve kept it all a secret. I never got proof of what he did all those years and now that we are divorced, he is accusing me of mental instability. He just got a temporary order to take my children. So now it;s too late to start telling what he did because no on believes me. If I could go back and do it again I would get my children into therapy, yesterday. Get them talking to a professional because then if he does what my ex did, you can subpoena the therapists. If you do this, then you will probably get full custody when you do leave. If not, then yes, he will get some custody and you will sit back and have absolutely NO control over what goes on at his house. My ex shoved his 25 year old girlfriend down their throat. Now, 2 years later he’s telling me that it wasn’t such a good decision and he should’ve allowed more time for “closure”. I hated to say “I told you so”, but actually, no I don’t. LOL. Put money aside. I guarantee he already is. Please plan before you leave. I know it’s hard to stay when you think your mind is made up, but heck, I already had for years so what is 6 more months, ya know?

  4. Helen

    The topic about the car payments being too high for me to handle rings true. I had an AHA moment when I read that. He brokered a deal for financing a vehicle w/my name on it. It’s been repossessed just a few days ago. I am just reeling w/this new insight. I fought my depression and him to finish my degree. I was so disillusioned w/the marriage I became depressed. I managed to finish and get my degree with a very good GPA-I always loved school and I know it helped me a great deal spiritually, mentally and emotionally to be there. It was one day a week and the courses were 5-6 weeks long. I am so thankful now I fought through all that. He is jealous of my degree, the little put-downs, etc, he said he was. Now he has shut my phone off. I’ve carried us financially through the entire seven years we’ve been together and the one tiny bill that he is responsible for, he cuts off. I am shopping for a phone this afternoon. I am responsible for continually accommodating his lack of character, looking the other way and going along to get along, no more. I mourn the marriage only in the way of how I wish it had been. I realized that I no longer wanted to be in the habit of being okay w/a less than marriage and to be treated w/such hate, cruelty, disrespect and utter disregard. I remember my vows and those things weren’t in it at all. There’s the truth and then there’s his words, actions and illusions. I choose the light and God. To Tonya, please fight for your kids, leave. I wish you strength, God will carry you.

  5. Carolyn

    Wow…this was a haunting read for me. I owned the house before we married and had more than 50K equity in it. After we married, I found out that he hid close to $45,000.00 in debt from me. He would pressure me and make all kinds of snide comments about putting his name on the mortgage. I never did. Why, because the man told one lie after another and I could not trust him.
    With his initial agreement, we went on a budget, and stuck to it. We paid off his debt in two years. He had never been in such good financial shape. He insisted on hot meals for lunch every day while I ate yogurt and apples. I financially carried us throughout our marriage because of the amount of child support he had to shell out. Do you think that even once he would show some appreciation for this…or say “thanks honey?” NOPE…all he did was complain about his “allowance” and how he could never have any “fun”.
    Throughout our marriage, he kept wanting me to spend money that we did not have. “You deserve a new car”….rather than “let’s stay within our budget and buy something used”. Luckily, I am ultra-conservative and will not put myself into debt. He always said…”he would take care of me”. He would suggest me quitting my job (which I love), so that he could take care of me. He did not have the income to do so, and was also paying child support to two other ex-wives. What sense did that make??
    The comment about how women went to college to just get a degree in “MRS”…was something that he said all the time. SCARY!!
    When we divorced, I was more fair financially with him than I needed to be. I made sure that he got back $$ that he had contributed during those 6 yrs. He was treated very fairly even though his name was not on the mortgage.
    Be careful…be very careful….and listen to your gut. If you cannot trust your N…you need to make sure that you have some means set aside to help you should you need to leave.
    N’s are as vindictive as they can be, especially when they feel like they are not “winning”. Watch out and be careful!

  6. UnForsaken

    Thanks to you All for the great comments, and for the artical full of Truth, David ! I keep wondering were I am exactly……I mean, what has he really kept me from doing, and is he really a N? Possative thinking also needs to be Honest, so I need your site. Quivering Daughters has also been a big help .

  7. Fellow Survivor

    Trapped. I know the feeling. My story is different but still the same. My ex N always had to have the biggest and best. 15 years ago we had a great house. 2 bedroom 1.5 bath and a 3 year old. Just the right size, with a pool and hot tub to boot. The best part were the payments. AFFORDABLE. One day she tells me if we can’t get a bigger house she will divorce me and find someone that will. Remember that statement. I heard it often in our marriage. “if you can’t buy me this or that I’ll divorce you and find someone who will”. Why was I such a wimp. The first time she told me that I should have told her hit the road, but I did want to get her everything her heart desired, even if we could not afford it. Anyway, I do the financial calculations and figure we can safely afford a $1600 payment. But NOOOO, it ends up being $2400 with about $400 a month in larger utility bills. I was trapped. Every penny I earned went into keeping her lifestyle up to date. (Image is everything) Based on our tax returns I contributed over $300,000 to the marriage more than she did. There were years when I was making and contributing over $50,000 per year more than she to the marriage. She is very talented and figured out ways to make about $20,000 per year extra, which all went to her. I didn’t know where it was or how it was spent. She started taking trips to Europe and New York regularly without me. I had to stay home and take care of our daughter. That’s where all the extra money was going. While she was spending $600 for a hand bag, I was having to put our daughters Christian Summer Camp on the credit cards, and now she blamed me for the CC debt. About a year ago I lost a big customer and a large part of my income. Now she makes more than I do. That was more than she could handle, making more than me. I begged and pleaded with her to help me refinance the house to lower the payment from $2400 to $1600, my original affordable number. She would not do it. She hired a maid we could not afford with a promise to pay her out of her side money. That lasted 2 weeks and then it was my problem. I gave up a Country Club Golf membership years ago so she could get the house and car she wanted. Sacrifice after sacrifice and when I need her, where is she? Gone. She flat out told me ” I want to be married to a man that makes more than six figures, I was hoping it would be you, but if its not, I’ll find someone who does”

    Narcissists keep two ledgers. On one they write down all the good things they have done for you. On the other the write down all your failings, weaknesses, and mistakes. They never account for what you have done for them. I truly amazes me how they think the way they do. Logic and reason are never part of the equation. Basically, she was a rent-a-wife. She will only stay as long as you can afford to pay.
    Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Thanks for listening.

    • Helen

      FS: Thanks for sharing, ‘rent-a-wife’, that was my husband in a nutshell. I was supposed to feel blessed by his presence in my life, he uplifted my sad little life by marrying me, he could have married anyone, women were lined up to be w/him. What was I upset about? I went to the door once and called out ‘where is everyone, where is this line of women?!’. What a maroon!

  8. Melanie

    I gave up a very well-paid job when we married over 20 years ago and started working for the business he had just set up. We drew small, tax efficient salaries from the company and worked long hours. We had separate bank accounts and every penny I earned was spent on household bills. He always gave me extra money if I asked and justified it but I never had any savings though he had investments etc. and put the house in his name. He controlled all our finances. He drove a Jaguar sports car and I had a cheap, practical car. When it came to divorce, I was given very good advice by my lawyer. It so happened that we had set up a joint account for tax purposes and a sizeable sum had been paid into it from the business for house renovations. She encouraged me to move this into my own account to create a ‘fighting fund’. If I hadn’t done this I would never have won a fair settlement. He tried to hide, move and undervalue assets. I had to work hard to fight the ‘barricading’ tactics. Early on in our financial discussions, before I had a lawyer on board, he did try to get me to agree that as long as he housed me, fed the children and ran my car that ‘I would have no further claim on any of his or the family assets’. This despite the fact that 20 years prior we were 50/50 owners of our business and I had raised by now four children and still kept up some contribution to the firm. He literally ring fenced everything that had been accrued throughout our marriage and almost managed to convince me that it was all the ‘family’ wealth and therefore by opting out of the family I had no right to it (he was already in a relationship with someone else and all the children chose to live with me). My advice – always expect the worst behaviour, don’t expect them to be honest and set aside money to look after yourself and to protect your rights. I never expected to have to take the steps I did, but then I had underestimated his ability and desire to stop me finding out the value of the marital pot. To this day I still don’t know for sure but simply ran out of money to keep digging. They barricade to stop you leaving and if you do they will hide it and fight you for all they are worth.

  9. Repol

    Everything above is accurate. Everything.

    I really appreciate this: This is not faithless on your part.

    Both my mother and my grandmother told me they believed a woman should always have her own bank account–something, anything put aside for herself, just in case of need or even desire. I didn’t believe them, and I thought they were being selfish and not submissive. I was wrong, but I thought I was setting my marriage up for failure if I did anything at all with “just in case” in mind. And then I got almost the worst possible case of a marriage anyone could imagine, and I had nothing of my own.

    My grandmother died two years ago. She had saved on her own, and in that process, she left me over $10,000. She left it just to me, not to me and my husband. I used a little of it to buy a small used car with cash, debt free. That is in my name only. I am using a little of it now to take the graduate school classes my husband would never let me do before, because he used up all the spare money and all the open credit on things we cannot even account for. Almost $100,000 in debt, paid off twice with home equity and one again from a friend who wanted to help, and still hanging around the $50,000 mark. But one class at a time now, as long as the money lasts, I am trying to get that degree I’ve wanted for 20 years. So many doors could open for me if I can do it. And my brain is being used again in the way it was always intended, though it is so much more difficult to think well since my breakdown.

    It is not faithless to set something aside for oneself. It is appropriate. And it provides a check and balance for both partners, even when there is no narcissism. I would do it so differently now than then if I had it to do over again, and I will do my best to convince my girls to be prudent as well.

    Thank you for this post. It’s so very real.

  10. Penny

    It seems that barricades are the exact opposite of boundaries. Boundaries are designed to protect you, while barricades imprison you. Boundaries are healthy, barricades are suffocating. Boundaries are safe, barricades are hostile. “Hold your ground and keep your identity” is sound and safe and wise. If someone demands you to sacrifice your true self, your essence, the person God uniquely created, the real you, then there is no real relationship, no reciprocity… .in essence, there is no “relating”. This is a HUGE red flag, with glaring lights and shrieking alarms. If they don’t want a real relationship, why don’t they just go marry the mirror instead?? If they don’t like how God made you, then go away! Unfortunately, because Ns are predatory, and many of us are “good Christians”, we see it too late. The hard work of repairing a shattered life involves learning to recognize those red flags, maintaining boundaries, staying safe, standing firm, trusting our gut and giving ourselves permission to be who we are. God loves us just as we are. He is not demanding. Neither should be a spouse. Blessings.

  11. prodigalkatherine

    Penny- I love how you contrast barricades and boundaries. So true.

    • Sunflower

      I agree with you, about barricades and boundaries. I find that Satan doesn’t have the ability to have new ideas, he just takes God’s and twists them into an ugly pretzel. Yet the church so often, instead of looking at the bad and trying to find the truth side of it, will swing the opposite way instead, and in that feed into Satan’s trap again. He is an angel of light, not a red guy with tail and horns. Like the super-submission doctrine.
      Back to the subject we’re on, the children and I were so stuck at home (some were teens with their own licence and not allowed to see friends, so to youth at church, etc.), and usually lived away from town, church, friends and family (of course). In Canada, child tax credit is split into 12 monthly payments and sent to the mother of the children (I wonder if someone in the government knew something!). Of course I was supposed to hand the check over to my husband. Eventually I decided that I wouldn’t, so then he would have sudden desperate needs (out of gas, etc.) on the day of the check. Finally I realized that I’d better go to town that day and spend the check before getting home. I weasled away little bits of it for a year, then bought my grown son’s old car. The look on my N’s face was one of shock, how could I do such a thing? He held out his hand for the keys. He drove around in it for a while, then came home and had decided that it was easier on gas than his, so he would park his, take the insurance off, and drive mine to work. Ha!!! I said (gasp!) NO!! How freeing that was! But he turned more bitter than ever that day, and I’m glad that I found out where his heart was. It became easier and easier after that to start being me again.

    • Penny

      hey Katherine–nice to hear from you. I trust you are well. Quite a lovely community we have here.

  12. Leslee

    Ha. My friend has been sending me your posts and they are so confirming. I read a book “Stop Walking on Eggshells” which was also confirming. You describe my husband who is also an alcoholic, and yes, I fell in love with him in college when I was 19. I worked my way through college and helped him with financial aid. Had no idea I was a victim. We married after 7 years of dating (never lived with him before marriage) and I worked for the first 6 years of our marriage. He would move us cross-country every time I was promoted. Our first child was born after 6 years, but I never spent a penny of “his” money on myself – I earned enough money teaching piano and childcare to pay for teaching my free art, science and kindergarten classes. I kept my own credit cards, and when I realized that he was spending all the money in our joint account, I opened an account in my name so I could pay the bills. I started his company and made him a millionaire. I figured I could live with all his affairs and discrepancies as long as I made a good life for my children and myself. Guess again. In 2009 I received foreclosure notices on both of our properties – he forged my signature on really bad loans. Then told me he was “losing” our company (WAMS). I went in, found the problems, re-hired his CFO who had previously quit due to my husband’s drinking problem, but it was too late. Then my husband said he was sick of California and wanted to move back to TX, so I should take 2 of the children and find a new place to live. I was so STUPID. I did it. He tried to kidnap one of the kids. The week before I was finally able to return, my son said “Mom, Dad is living with another woman.” Then my husband threw (literally) divorce papers at me and said “You forced me to do this… you left.” I tried mediation, reconciliation, sharing an attorney, etc. It has become worse and worse. I should have believed him when, years ago and drunk, he said “I’m going to ruin you.” I just didn’t understand that he really meant it. He did. Our homes, our business, my credit, our insurance… all of it is gone. And at age 52, how can I get any of it back? He won’t even sign off on the car I paid for. Thanks for listening; I could go on and on and on because what I wrote is just the tip of the iceberg. And I have a daughter….

  13. UnForsaken

    Penny and Sunflower, your words are so encouraging ! I only began to see the barracades as walls after my chilhood. Then, thankfully, I was able to begin to try to turn some of them into bounderies….they had built the walls, but ended up on the Outside! I love hearing your enabling stories !

  14. Penny

    It seems every story here involves a “nice” person, who is intelligent and loving and kind and capable and long-suffering and….did i say intelligent? Yes, yes I did: smart and industrious and dependable, and yet all of us got duped by a N. All of us! What does that tell us? Well for one thing, it shows how predatory and conniving and manipulative are Ns. It also shows that our lack of guile made us vulnerable to the N, because the N does things we would never even dream about doing, therefore when the N does it, we can’t believe what just happened. I spent years wondering why the N kept falsely accusing me of thing[s] that not only did I NOT do, but never even occurred to me to do. It was a rough day indeed when I finally realized that the N accuses me falsely b/c of the guile in their own heart. In other words, they simply assume evil intent in others b/c they so easily choose to DO evil themselves, so they don’t believe you when you say you didn’t do what they do naturally. (That last sentence will probably make sense only to the non-narcissist!) And they are so good at lying about it, making you look bad, assassinating your character. It is like every day and every thing is a battle, full of drama and deceit. Ns are utterly exhausting. When I collapsed and despaired, I couldn’t take care of myself, much less the N. So I stopped. And, in that quiet desperation and racking sobs, I finally screamed out loud “I DON’T DESERVE THIS!! I literally slapped my own face, b/c I “heard” a voice telling me “you are right–you don’t deserve this, and you are smart enough to change it”. What this tells me is that I had listened WAY too long to the N, when I should have given my intelligent brain more credit, and that I have now earned the right to see the truth and will no longer be duped by the emotional demands of a developmentally-arrested 6-year-old pretending to be an adult. The N dislikes adult behavior, and rages when they are told “no”. It was 19 months ago that I removed a huge barricade and set myself free. I made demands (horrors!), I made refusals, I made consequences, I drew a line in the sand and would NOT cross it, I stopped accepting gifts (even threw away an unopened birthday card with money inside–liberating!!), stopped accepting phone calls, then blocked email addresses and phone numbers. Believe me–I got flak from extended family, friends and others, but instead of caving in to those who protected the N (but never the victim) I finally listened to my brain telling me who to trust and who to avoid. The healthier I got, the more I recognized that it was okay to let go of those who were more invested in the N and the status quo than they were in doing the right thing, the noble thing, the hard thing. And guess what? I’m still standing.

    • Cecilia K

      “Ns are utterly exhausting.” So very true. I learned this after just two years with one – and that was just in a DATING relationship. I’m sure it’s 100x more so if you’re married or related to one – or if you’ve had to work with one for multiple years.

  15. Fellow Survivor

    Right On Penny. I could not have said it better myself

    • Repol

      Penny consistently has a way of wording things that seems to hit the nail on the head.
      I would never have been so (as I would have perceived it before) “self-assured” to ever refer to myself as “lacking guile.” It sounds downright unChristian to ever say that we are NOT sinful in every possible way. But yet, by comparison, it is absolutely true. I cannot predict the things that he will do, the untruths and deceit that he accepts as normal to his way of interacting apart from reality, and so I can never believe what happens as a result, or how he goes about responding to challenges that arise. I am always saying, “REALLY? WHAT?” baffled, blow away, blindsided, because I just do not have the guile to think and act that way.
      What do I have to become, then, in order to function alongside someone such as this? Must I learn to think like a ravenous predator? I don’t want to. I don’t want to become like that, suspicious, self-defensive. I want to stay “as innocent as doves.” I know Jesus said to be “cunning as snakes” too, but that feels like a reversal of sanctification to me. And I don’t want to go there.

      • Fellow Survivor

        Repol, I would ask the Ex ” if we brought 10 happily married couples in and we both gave them our side of the story, with each having the right to challenge what the other said, what judgement would those 10 couples have about the issues that divide us?” She would just say ” Oh, so you want me to become a good little church girl like all those other wives”

        I would also ask her ” when our daughter gets married, if her husband treats her the way you treat me will you be happy with him or angry with him?” She would not answer because she knew/knows her behavior is wrong but just doesn’t care. That is the big issue, they know what they say and do is wrong, but they just don’t care.

        This concept ties into Penny’s thought that we are without guile but a little differently. We are not sin less, but when we do sin, we know what we have done, said, or even thought is wrong and try to correct ourselves. Based on the two examples of trying to reason with the EX above, she knew what she was doing was wrong but did not care.

        One time she was doing something really stupid and hurtful and I flat out told her “you either know what you are doing is wrong and that makes you evil, or you don’t know what you are doing is wrong and that makes you clueless”.

        That ingrained since of entitlement makes getting what they want or doing what they want so strong the damage done to others just doesn’t bother them. They just don’t care. I am so glad I am not like that. Its just to bad I fell in love with her in the first place, but she was exciting and fun. The feeling of being used and taken advantage of by someone you trusted is just really hurtful, especially after all that you have done for them. That’s the hardest part for me. All the nonsense I put up with for so long and when you finally just tell them you are not taking the nonsense anymore they leave. But first they tear you down emotionally, physically, and mentally, just for fun of course.

        Its to bad we don’t have one of those “system restore” buttons in our brains like our computer has. You know, if you download something onto your computer or some other problem pops up, you go to system restore and your computer will reset to a previous date. If I could just restore my mental, emotional, and physical state to what it was 15 years ago that would make things so much easier.

  16. Fellow Survivor

    I am laying in bed this morning having my conversation with God asking “what next?” Asking to be motivated again. Asking for guidance about what I am supposed to do next. Asking for mercy. In Samuel, King David is having a particularly hard time and he is telling the prophets basically ” let God do with me whatever he thinks is right to him” That’s sort of where I am now. I don’t understand why this is happening to me, I don’t feel I deserve it. I have raised a daughter up to follow The Lord with a gracious heart, I have always believed in Him beginning earnestly when I was about 13. So why is this happening to me? That is the question I struggle with today.
    One of my favorite bible stories is about the man who approached Jesus and asked ” If you can heal my daughter” or something like that and Jesus incredulously retorts “IF I CAN?” The poor guy just asked God himself “if he could do something” Like God has limits or something. I always get a kick out of that story. But the young man then says ” I believe, help my disbelief” That is where I am now spiritually, ” I believe, help my disbelief”

    • Helen

      Fellow Survivor: I’m getting better. As I move forward these two weeks when I walked away, I have less and less of those moments. I set a goal of three projects a day to complete, I can do more if there’s time and energy, I stay at three. I tell myself everyday there is joy in these ‘chores’ and the things I do, no matter how big or small because I ‘get’ to do them. I get to help a family member, I get to take care of my home, my horses, my pets. I get to do a lot of things now instead of being blindsided by another’s disregard, disrespect, dishonor of me. I lead now w/God’s love and guidance. I ask less and less ‘why?’ and ‘what did I do to be hurt like this by someone who says he loves me?’ The disbelief is fading and joy and gratitude are taking it’s place. This is God’s promise for me for healing.

  17. Penny

    Repol & Fellow Survivor: I SO understand “help me in my unbelief” and also wanting to be “innocent as a dove”. Bear in mind that God is “mindful that we are but dust”. He knows we have limitations, and yet He also told us to be “be shrewd…be innocent”. In a very real sense, Jesus said this as a command. Why? Because the enemy is a lion, prowling about to deceive, attack and destroy us and our worship. We MUST be aware of the enemy, b/c we live in a fallen world. In studying these words, the Greek-English translation for “shrewd” is rendered to be “cautious, patient, & aware”, but it also combines “visceral and cognitive aspects of thinking” (meaning to use your gut and your brain–really!) It is a word that is difficult to translate into English, but it implies “street smarts”. At the same time, the Greek translation for “innocent” means “without guile” or, literally, “not mingled with destructive or sinful motives”, meaning there is no duplicitous nature in it. (The N is so often duplicitous or disingenuous.) Therefore—“innocent” is not synonymous with being “naive” (like Eve was in the garden) and “shrewd” is not a reversal of sanctification, but rather, shrewdness is discernment. Charles Spurgeon once said that “discernment is not knowing right from wrong, but rather, it is knowing right from almost right”. I think this is what Jesus meant–and the only way to get there is through the Holy Spirit. It is about wisdom, not knowledge. The N may have a lot of knowledge, but they have NO wisdom, b/c they have no worship. The N cannot worship God b/c they behave as a god. They have created an idol unto themselves, and demand that you worship it. If you are “shrewd”, your gut & your mind will reject that because of your “innocence” (discernment) in knowing only God is worthy of worship. The N is so busy protecting & polishing & propping up their “perfect” image/idol & demanding adoration & attention that there is literally no room for a Savior; they are on the throne, and there is no room for the King of Kings. For those of us who recognize our Savior as Lord of Lords, and the only One worthy of our worship, this creates a dissonance in any relationship with an N who demands a place reserved for God Almighty–and that dissonance is from the Holy Spirit; it is just and righteous and sanctified. Why? Because God calls us to the Light, to the Truth, to Holiness, and He will not share His Holiness with another. He can’t. He is God and we are not. Neither is the N! God NEVER calls us to a lie or to sin or to deceit or wickedness or evil or duplicity. Because the N is so often ALL those things, ALL of the time, it makes it nigh-unto-impossible to stay in a relationship with them, b/c they are always trying to usurp the position of our Savior. In our desire to “seek His face” (as the Psalmist says) we cannot seek or serve another’s face–and it makes the N completely insane. So, Repol, it doesn’t mean you have to think like a ravenous Predator, but rather, to know the Truth so well, so completely, so intimately, that the thinking of the ravenous Predator is easily discerned by you to be false. You will no longer be duped. You will not be conflicted by the clever truth-twisting of the N. And Fellow Survivor, your “stubborn” belief in a loving God and Savior Who allows your “disbelief” will be honored by Him as He slowly and carefully brings you to a place of healing. I too remember (and still have) what I call a “stubborn clinging to the Sovereignty of God” that sustained me when I cannot see ahead, and do not know what He is doing or where He is leading… but I do know HIM, and that is ALL I can know sometimes. The N will try like crazy to turn your eyes off the cross and onto them! Resist that and remember that the only thing you can do is to look at the cross. Everything else can be a blur or a mirage or a mystery, but the cross is real and genuine and true. Go there and worship.

  18. UnForsaken

    Wow, Penny. You said a lot that touched my heart, but esp. about N’s hating adult behavior and No. You go girl!
    Fellow Survivor, Helen, both of your comments were Exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks for the enabling encouragement and re-focas!

  19. Repol

    Penny–that Spurgeon quote kind of blew my mind. That applies so well. And so much “Christianese” about continuing under suffering (which allows pointless martyrdom instead of redemptive sacrifice) would fall under the “almost right” category, wouldn’t it? Deny oneself, we are told. But one must HAVE a self to deny, right? And sacrifice for good, yes. But Jesus’ sacrifice was never pointless, ineffectual. It had purpose and he knew it.

    I am learning. I am learning. Thank you.

    Fellow Survivor, “I believe; help my unbelief” is something I call “the daily cry.” I know. I hear you. Blessings to you today.

  20. Fellow Survivor

    Penny, very inspirational and well researched post. Helen, UnForsaken, and Repol thank you all for your support. It means a lot to me.

    Penny, as far as being shrewd and on alert for this bad behavior, I was aware of this a long time ago, but I just tolerated it because I loved her so much. The very first sign was when we were dating 25 years ago. She told me she “hated her dad, he was the worst dad ever”. I should have turned tale and run right then and there, but no, I felt sorry for her. Actually all the stories about her horrible childhood allowed me to justify in my mind all her bad behavior and tolerate it. The next sign was right before our wedding. The church we were getting married at was very conservative and the Minister would not allow pictures during the actual ceremony. That was the first time I was witness to the way over the top rage attack. It was actually quite scary. I visited several other churches to see if they we could get married there. That’s how crazy I was to do anything for her, even way back then. The next big sign was about 3 years into the marriage. We were discussing when to start a family and she freaked out and started the rage attack on me. I raged back which is so unlike me, but I did. She called the cops that night. Right then and there I should have hit the road. Penny, the signs were always there and I was aware of them, but I chose to ignore them.

    In the end my spirit was just so broken. It was my spirit that pulled back from the abuse. The last 5 or 6 years of our marriage I didn’t believe a word she said. As previously stated both my daughter and I tried, tried, tried to share the Gospel with her but she would have none of it. This was a selfish effort on my part because I know, anyone that follows Jesus just can’t treat others the way she treated me. My daughter even expressed a fear that she would not see mommy in heaven because of her lack of faith.

    The thing that really pushed me over the top was her new found love of Yoga. After all those years of trying to open her eyes to the truth of the One True Loving God she decided that the spiritual aspects of yoga were more suited to her taste. That really put my spirit into a tailspin.

    I know this is a wasted pointless dream, but even now I know how God felt when he was talking about t Israel. When Jesus said something like this ” Oh how I wish I could gather you up and comfort you, but you will have none of me” I still feel that way about the ex. When we were dating and during our marriage I would hold her and tell her ” I will hold you tight with all my might and never let you go” Not in a possessive sense, but as a reassuring statement. I think I might start crying now. But I guess its better to get it out than let it all build up within.

    Thanks for listening everyone. I truly do appreciate it very much.

  21. Repol

    Fellow Survivor–I never thought of it before, but yes, my husband hated his mother before we got married. They seem to have some sort of functioning peace now, but he absolutely could not stand her and told horrible stories about her. Why didn’t that communicate anything to me? I was truly naive. I believed him. I was 25 and not astute about worldliness. My early life had been very normal. Not terribly sheltered but not exposed to any sort of horror either. I just didn’t put anything together at all. Looking back, I know he told tall tales about his own life from the first meeting. He doesn’t connect his words to any sort of reality–not for telling about experiences, not for making long-range plans, or even plans for what’s for dinner or when the kids should go to bed. Words are completely detached from actions and consequences and events in real life. It took me 19 years to realize that, so the info is brand new to me. You say eventually you couldn’t believe a word she said. I am just having my eyes opened to that: not a single word, even about regular, everyday things, such as how much the car insurance will be. Words are ONLY a means to get out of a current situation or conversation. They do not connect to anything else but that one moment.

    This has to be some sort of mental illness, doesn’t it? People are made in the image of God. His word-deeds are totally unified. He speaks and things happen. He tells “I will do this,” he does it faithfully, then he affirms “that’s what I did.” A person who has no connection between words and deeds has to be deeply broken in his construction, doesn’t he?

    • Tonya Scarborough

      I’m not sure what all the differences are, but I think that NPD is listed as a disorder, rather than a mental illness.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Repol, When my ex told me she hated her dad and why she did I didn’t believe anyone could be that bad. But trust me, he is. The problem is, my Ex became his Golden Child. He has left a trail of devestation in lives behind him that you would not believe.

      One time at Christmas about 7 years ago, we were sitting around the dinner table and the ex’s mom made a statement that she could not understand why her 3 daughters would even go see their dad because he was “a horrible husband and and even worse father”. I innocently said, ” for the same reason Jessy James robbed banks” The mother in law was clueless what that meant so I answered “because that’s were the money is” The Ex was furious with me but not with her mom. The mom just said the dad was ” a horrible husband and and even worse father” and the ex is not mad at her mom, but at me for pointing out the obvious. The dad is rich and the girls were trained from a very early age to “perform” to get the money.

      To make a long story short, the ex’es dad is trying to make my daughter his “golden grandchild”, which means she would become his slave like my wife has become to him. I will not allow it. Oh, the stories I could tell. Her is a link that sums up what happened in my life by Linda Martinez, another very good writer with a focus on Narcissism.
      http://thenarcissistinyourlife.com/narcissistic-daddys-girls-become-narcissistic-spouses/

      If anyone wants to hear “Daddy” Narc stories I would be glad to tell them, but they are legion. He is the main reason for our divorce pure and simple. Fortunately for me, my daughter is protected by the Cross, so she is untouchable. I really mean that.

      Just a quick story. The dad had an old lake house that my ex wanted him to rebuild for the last 20 years. She would not even go down there anymore. About 3 years ago we were repairing our marriage so what does he do? He decides to build the new lake house with my ex in charge of course. There was a 20 year old boat at the house that always broke down. My ex pleaded with the dad for years to get a new boat. One week after our divorce, guess what? Yes, a brand new boat. Yikes. I did not stand a chance.
      Thats my rant for the day. I still don’t feel much better but its nice to be able to share what’s in my heart.

  22. UnForsaken

    Dear Repol, it often feels like it has to be at least a momentary mental fip-out, however I had a grandmother with a mental condition. Put them together in the same room (AAAAAh!), and the feeling was similar….but not exactly. Perhaps because Ns know somewhere deep inside ? A nyway, it doe s’nt make much differece in what our safety measures should be. Dave is so right “Stay Healthy “!

  23. Penny

    Repol, Fellow Survivor , Unforsaken, et al: check out the Narcissists Suck blog: http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/search/label/Perverted%20love
    There is a wealth of information there that you may find helpful as you continue on your journey. Scroll down on the left of each page for a host of of topics. It will inspire, encourage you & strengthen you– but it will take a while. I think Dave would approve.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Penny, I just love Anna. Her writing is so powerful and she does not mince words at all. During my most difficult times I could only read Anna Valerious, the Bible, and Graceformyheart post. That’s just about it. For months I could only scan the sports page but not really absorb what I was reading. Forget the rest of the paper. Now I can read the sports section with focus and just scan the rest of the paper. I am not there yet. I have probably 100 of Narcissists Suck posts printed out and I read them from time to time.

      For those of you not familiar with the Narcissists Suck Blog the last word in the name is meant to imply that Narcissists Suck the life out of you. It is not a pejorative term. She also writes from a Christ Centered perspective in many of her posts. Her writing style is excellent, flowing, and sometimes fun. However, these are old posts, she has moved on so there is not interaction on her blog like on this blog. Thanks for Sharing Penny.

  24. UnForsaken

    Wow, thanks Penny! Will do!

  25. Joy

    One thing I will say, is to not believe your N when he/she tells you that they own the car/house/etc. because it’s in their name. Check with an attorney to see if that is true. The car and truck were in his name, as were many other things we owned. The day I went to an attorney, with my knees shaking from tension, to talk about getting a divorce was a revelation and a relief to me. She informed me that in our state if the item (house, car , etc) was acquired during the marriage, it was marital property and belonged to both of us as far as divorce was concerned. I heaved a sigh of relief. It meant if I decided to divorce, that I would have a vehicle and share in the profits from the house. I also learned that in our state, things you brought to the marriage, or inherited from your family are not marital property…so I got to keep some family heirlooms I was afraid I’d lose as well.

    Ns are very, very good at making things look impossible for us, and making us feel as if we cannot leave. I really thought that having things in his name meant he owned them, and not me. I thought I’d end up with nothing. Thank God for laws that protect us from that kind of deceit.

  26. I loved this post. This described my life to a T. I met him after I had lived on the west coast for only a year, having moved on my own from the North East. It’s like he tracked my scent and new that I was vulnerable. You know how they loved “wounded birds”. I planned to go back to school and I got pregnant. I was unlucky and was extremely nauseous during my entire pregnancy, so I couldn’t work. He was all romantic in the beginning about the notion of having a family together and making a child that was part of both of us. It wasn’t long after I was sick, pregnant and trapped that his attitude quickly changed. He had to build his career first. I was to of course, work, go to school and care for the baby with no family, his nor mine, to assist. I worked, it became too much, and I stayed home. I worked and then stayed home. All while he built his career.
    When I did work and started making a career, he would complain that I was’t there enough, when I was not working, he would complain that I didn’t bring in any money. And so it went until we had our next child. He took care of the money, while I dug my head in the sand. Or I should say, he spent all our money. I stayed for the children, I wanted to leave for the children eventually. The thing that kept me back was exactly the financial hole you described, I was not on the bank account, things ended up not in my name unless they were debts. I never thought I ‘d be able to support myself on my own. He never wanted to hang out with my friends, yet he put me down for not having many. Everything we did was around his friends and interests. After a while, I just gave up on having any interests.

    Then one day, I left. It was hard, but what I was in finally scared me more than the unknown. I have gotten screwed by the legal system. I barely make it while he lives like a prince. I have raised the boys while he gets to “babysit” every other weekend. I do the homework, the laundry, the emotional support, he takes them to games, dinners, movies and parties. Now I am faced again with his dirty tricks, he wants the kids so he can have all the money. I have no choice than to rise above it. I can’t fight him and win. The boys are destroyed and I have to pick up the pieces. The good news is that, like you said, you can make new friends, discover what you like, and it’s never too late to find yourself. Thanks for shedding light on this subject!

  27. E

    I slowly became aware of my situation almost as it was too late to get out. Since the N is my mother, many of my parents generous acts of support for me also kept me tied to them. She rarely supported any effort that brought me closer to emotional or financial independence.

    Some glaringly obviously examples which I’m ashamed to point out fit many of the ones listed already.

    Before I knew what it was, I tried to set a “boundary” by taking my mother’s name off my bank account. I never made a huge gesture of it, knowing her response would be negative, but instead used my impending marriage as an excuse. (Yes, she still could look at my account and I was about to be married!) This was a small step, one of many I should have taken years ago.

    My advice would be to look the gift horse in the mouth if the giver is a narcissist. If it is your N mother telling you not to get a job, to work for her, that getting married is a hazardous pursuit and the world is against you…don’t listen. Do not accept the help that keeps you close to your narcissist…the car in their name, the money that only pays for trips with them, the bank account with their name on it “for safe keeping…” Leave your home church if she’s there, find another place, and start being who God intended you to be. I am not finished breaking all the barricades she used to isolate me, but finding my husband and support people has been the greatest part of this whole journey.

    • Kate

      Wow, my heart is with you, E!

    • Fellow Survivor

      E, I can so relate to your story. I am a male, so the female species also produces these creatures. In my case my ex N’s, super over the top N dad, bought my wife with trips and he even built her a house. Every time we were getting close again, he would offer more extravagant gifts Trips to New York, trips to Europe, whatever, but always without me. The final hook was the million $ house. Its his house of course, but she has access to it whenever she wants. He lives out of state and the house is a lake house about an hour and a half from our city.

      The kicker came when the N dad tried to “buy” my daughter. Like you said, beware of the gifts. This man offered my daughter a new car, but only if she went to the college he graduated from in a po dunk town. He only wants her to go there so he can brag that he got her into the school. Its a long story, but my wonderful daughter told him, thanks for the offer, but my dad and I have discussed this and my dad is going to get me a car when I go to college. His response was “if you don’t go to this X college don’t expect any help from me” He told this to my 15 year old daughter, in front of me. He is worth 10 million dollars and he says this to my baby girl. His first and only female grandchild.

      I looked him straight in the eyes and told him he has no business deciding where my daughter goes to school. Only, me, her mom, the college Councilor at her school, and my daughter.will make that decision. Within 3 months he had worked my ex N over and turned her heart away from me because I would not “get with the program”

      One of my ex N’s sisters has not seen her dad in 5 years. She was in some serious counseling for a long time until she learned no contact. But my ex N is the golden child and she mirrors him perfectly. That’s when our problems started, when she mirrored him back and then she became what she pretended to be, just like him. Its all just so very strange.

      • E

        Fellow Survivor,
        I feel like wealthy narcissists can afford more barricades or even use withholding help as a type of barricade, as your N father-in-law tried to dictate where your daughter would go to college. It was good you stood up to him! My mother married just the right person, someone who has rarely if ever denied her anything, no matter how expensive or whimsical or over the top. My mother made sure she married “well.” She betrayed her true materialistic nature in casual conversation, as if everyone felt the same way and had the same goals. She assigns devious motives to my husband to suggest he was sniffing around to fund his career at her expense (far from the truth, he works very hard and it was she who insisted on giving him anything if it was given.) She sounds very much like your ex in the way she feels a rich lifestyle is more important than an abundant life.

  28. E

    I forgot something that stands out from my college days. When most people would consider premarital sex, drugs, and other frowned-upon activities as rebellious acts, is it telling that mine was applying for a part time student job on campus? My mother had always railed against such pursuits, saying that if I needed money why didn’t I ask her? She would gladly give me some money. I quietly applied for a residence life position and told my parents only after I was accepted. My mother’s response was dismissive, as if I had simply announced the weather. Later she used my “little job” to justify her rage when I couldn’t come home to visit her at a moment’s notice (and she gave little notice.) One time she told me to forget about coming home for Easter because it appeared I was just too busy for them with my “job.”

    I wish I had known about narcissists then! I wasted so much time feeling I was bad on all ends. Bad daughter, bad employee, bad student.

  29. Fellow Survivor

    This is a subject we have not discussed. Physical Health. How has the destructive abusive patterns and crimes committed against we victims affected our health?

    In my case, tremendously. 6 years ago, before the first full blown rage attack I was a Bone Marrow match for my Uncle who had Leukemia. They took more blood and ran more test than you can imagine and all came out A-OK. (The first rage attack did not happen until I quite reading my lines correctly and deviated from the script for her play by standing up for myself)

    Fast forward after 6 years of total stress from the constant battle, I feel like I have post dramatic stress syndrome. My blood pressure is out of site, my hip has deteriorated, and I can still barely think clearly. I sometimes think there is no tomorrow and whats worse, I don’t care.

    Anyway, one of the signs was apparent during the bone marrow process. The first time both my daughter and then wife were with me during the process. About 3 months later there was a relapse and we needed to do the procedure again. As far as my daughter was concerned, she was a comforting agent for me and I also wanted her to witness selfless sacrifice as a life lesson. She was only 11 at the time so she could not drive. My ex N told me she wouldn’t take my daughter, school was to important and she could not miss. There is much written about how Ns must have all all all of the attention. The ex couldn’t stand that the attention was on me. As a side note, 3 months later my ex N took my daughter out of school for 3 days to shopping in NY so I guess that whole missing school thing wasn’t that big of a deal.

    • Cecilia K

      Fellow Survivor, Such a heartbreaking read, and so hard to understand. I know that’s nothing new in our community.

      I like your analogy to deviating from the script in her play. That same general revelation came to me one time when I deviated from my ex-boyfriend’s script. When he stonewalled me for a few days one time, I think he expected me to call him and apologize for my “offense” (what I inferred to have been not staying on the phone long enough), and plead with him to forgive me and promise to do better, etc., etc. Instead, I decided he was telling me He was through with Me, and since I didn’t want to get back on the roller coaster, I deleted his contact information and de-friended him on FB. When he discovered I had done that, I got nasty emails saying what an unchristian thing that was to do, etc., etc. Although, yes, he did initially send an “apology” for whatever he had done to upset me, but that turned into rage after I said I forgave him and that I had waited a few days to take that action. (Actually, I was wondering what I had done to upset Him, but since I Was also upset that he was punishing me for no reason, I went ahead and answered to me being the upset one.)

      Anyway, I remember thinking similarly, that I had not played along the way he expected me to respond (according to his “script”, as you say), and that was just unfathomable and unacceptable to him.

  30. April

    Hi, I’ve never commented on any article ever before but this post was so so accurate I needed to let you know. My dad is a narcissistic – I’m 28 years old and still live at home and in the last week my mother and I have finally been able to label him one. Our whole lives he’s just been extremely difficult and unbearable but we never realized it was a disorder. I can’t tell you the support these articles have brought me. I’m not crazy, he’s not “just a jerk”, my desperate need to be alone isn’t just me! I had to comment on this particular post because it was the one that struck home the most. My father has my mother in so much debt she literally cannot leave him. He’s lied, forged and withheld information from her to the point she’d had to work through chemo treatment to be able to keep her home. Why? Because now she’s so far in debt with no foreseeable escape, he’s able to rage “well if you want me to leave you’ll have to pay all the bills on your own!” [knowing full well she can’t] which a few hours later turns into announcing “I won’t leave, because you need my help” as if he’s doing her a favour. The absolute worst part of this? I actually feel guilty posting this and I haven’t said the half of it. But it’s ok – because now I know I’m not alone and that’s what your posts have given me – so thank you.

    • Cecilia K

      I think I felt a little guilty when I first started posting, too. Although, I’m not sure if it was more guilt or more fear that somehow my ex would stumble onto the site somehow and see my posts. I use a fake name and haven’t i.d.’d him by name in any of my posts, but even so, I was a little nervous, because I was still afraid he might sue me for libel or something or at the very least, verbally attack me. Not much chance he could win a libel suit when he’s not named, but that’s just how paranoid I was about him seeking revenge and punishing me for making him look bad.

  31. Tee3

    My parents gave me a car after we got married and he sold it because we have 3 cars. I got a loan and bought another car. He begged to sell it because needed the money to start the ministry. He didn’t take me to work with his car, always having an excuse. my parents gave me another car because went to visit them in a taxi. after a year, he sold it because he was trying to sell his but without any success.
    I got another loan to fix his own which I’ve been using. He tried to tell me the car was still his but I shut him up. When I go to renew the licence, I will also get a Change of Ownership on the car.

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