The Monster’s Legacy

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

I recently wrote an overview of the damage the flood from a year ago did to our little church building. It surprised me to look at the simple facts. We had to strip everything from the building, down to the studs in the walls and the concrete under the flooring. Everything was lost: all furnishings, wall coverings, fixtures, appliances, and nearly every small item. Our final costs, with a great deal of volunteer help, will be well over $50,000.

So, if the water only came up to three or four feet in the building and didn’t actually reach the rear of the building at all, why so much loss? Simple answer: mold. Invasive, destructive, smelly mold. Within a week or so, it had climbed to the top of the A-frame and penetrated almost everything in the building. Books sitting on the shelves, far above any water, were destroyed by the moisture and mold. All wood surfaces had to be sanded, treated, and painted. That meant removing all the drywall in the whole building. It took a crew of four two weeks and cost us nearly $19,000 just to stop the mold.

And our beautiful wood interior chapel will never look the same. Instead of wood grain, there is paint on all the beams. Instead of simple pews, we have steel chairs. It’s brighter and everything is new, but it is not the same.

Mold was the monster that changed everything.

I have a couple I talk with who have battled narcissism for many years in their extended family. We call narcissism “the Monster.” Just like the mold in our little church building, the narcissism monster has invaded nearly every part of their lives. It took years to identify it and more to understand the best ways to deal with it. And then there’s the monster’s legacy.

When the mold mitigation was finished, after so much damage and so high an expense, we still had all the work of rebuilding. When the monster has done its damage, the damage remains even after the monster is gone. Many people have written to tell me of the continuing struggles they faced after the narcissist left. Even when the problem is “solved,” and the monster is gone, the damage still affects us. In spite of the desire to move on, to start a new life, there is a lot of work to do.

Narcissism was the monster that changed everything.

Inability to make decisions, fear in personal relationships, nagging false guilt and shame, broken connections with others, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. These are some of the normal internal struggles. Then there are the external struggles. Financial stresses, custody and visitation issues, the need to find a job or the loss of a job, the physical consequences of stress, and so much more. When you look back at the end of a narcissistic relationship, you usually see a wide path of destruction.

And, again just like a physical disaster, there is fatigue. People sometimes have energy in the midst of battle, but find themselves drained and weary after the end. Not only did they spend precious personal resources to make the decisions and survive the conflict, but they borrowed energy and assets from their future. Now they simply have little to give to their own renovation and recuperation. The excitement that might come with starting new does not compensate for the drain caused by the battle.

I feel a special concern for newly single parents who have to minister to their children in the midst of their own grief and fatigue. Some of those who read this have been through that situation and are, in my estimation, heroes of a special order. Long after they should have been free to rest, they spent from their own hearts to care for children who needed stability and love. I have been so impressed by some of the stories I have read.

It is very important that we acknowledge the reality of the continuing struggle of those who have left narcissistic relationships of any kind. You feel drained, angry, discouraged, and lonely. You want to hurt someone and you want to crawl into a hole in the ground and what you really need is a good hug. You look around at the damage and wonder how you will ever continue.

No, things will not be the same. To be honest, some things will never be as good as they were once. But you will survive. Find support, someone to talk with, whatever agencies or ministries or good people will help. Take the help. Give yourself permission to screw things up, to go through the whole day with no measurable accomplishments, and to hide from the world once in a while. Don’t be ashamed of your occasional weakness or sadness or fear or even anger.

All of this is normal when the monster has swept through.

Is it wise for us to renovate our Chapel? It is worth all the work and expense? Some would wonder, given that another flood could happen. But it is important that we have a presence in that community. It is who we are. In another location, we would be different and we would lose even more. So we are a little wiser now. Paint will not be as susceptible to the ravages of mold. The flooring will be easier to replace. Our landscaping will, perhaps, be a little stronger.

Is it safe for you to trust again, to open your heart to others? Maybe not, but you are wiser and will be more careful. You know more of what to watch out for. And you are a person who needs relationship. Your kindness and patience and giving heart may have given the abuser the opening, but to change those things is to change who you are. There are other monsters out there, but you still have to be who you truly are. Be more careful, but don’t close your heart.

Rebuilding is hard work. The monster is terrible. But we do get through these things and there is life, better life, on the other side.


Filed under Narcissism

58 responses to “The Monster’s Legacy

  1. Kimberly

    Gods timing is pristine. This message was just what I needed to read for it expressed perfectly how I feel but couldn’t put into words myself. Thank you for taking the time to address and minister to us who have experienced these types of things

  2. Cookie

    This post describes the process perfectly! ” We had to strip everything from the building, down to the studs in the walls and the concrete under the flooring. Everything was lost: all furnishings, wall coverings, fixtures, appliances, and nearly every small item.” – this sentence is a good analogy of what has happened in my life in the past few years as I have re-entered the world of my elderly N parent. In that time, I have lost a lot – my job, my ministry, time with my friends – but I have also learned a lot. And as I detach and rebuild, I will not look the same as before. I am wiser. My goal is to be a person with high boundaries that surround a soft heart. There is loss and there is fatigue, but more importantly, there is God. I can already see that He is using all of this to make me more effective in career, ministry and relationships as I go forward. I understand now that no person should ever take His place in my life no matter how needy or “victimized” or manipulative or abuse they are. I am now truly His without any other unhealthy entanglements. And that is a great place to be!

  3. Seeing the Light

    Thank you so very much. You have also described it perfectly for me. In my case, my entanglement with a narcissistic father and a narcissistic husband has led to the complete breakdown of my health in a way I don’t know if I can get anything back. I can’t leave either. I can live differently – separated in our home – but I can’t get out until I can heal even a little because of how my health affects custody issues. I wish I knew how to find healthy relationships in this situation – still married legally and living together, isolated due to my health – even when I meet a new woman, which is very hard in itself, hoping for friendship – they don’t understand. Because we are under the same roof, they still think I am living as married, and talk to me about praying for him, for the relationship, etc. and and friendship stalls. They don’t get it. I feel so alone. I have blogs I visit like this one, but no healthy relationships with real, live people. I see the mold now and I try to stop it from spreading, but it’s still here, my children and I are still inhaling it, and I can’t even get to the clean-up and mitigation stage. It does help a little to read something like this and have someone out there be able to put words to it and understand.

    • I wanted to say I misspoke a little bit. When I said, “I have blogs I visit like this one, but no healthy relationships with real, live people,” I didn’t mean the people I have read and communicated with via blogs and the internet aren’t real, live people – in fact, they have been a lifeline to keep me going and seem like some of the most sincere, amazing people I have ever encountered. I wish I could know them in person. I only meant that I have no healthy relationships with people I can see and be with in person.

      • UnForsaken

        Seeing the Light, it’s lovely to see someone else describe what I struggle with in relationships. Most of the people I know are my N parent’s friends, making conversation impossible and pretty much isolating. As for health, my issues are ongoing but undiagnosed, effecting every day. I keep on thinking ” Someday, somehow….! ”

        On a bad day recently the Lord gave me this beautiful verse about His timing ( amplified ) :

        Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to ..the throne if God’s unmerited favor… that we may recieve Mercy…and find Grace to help in good time for every need – appropriate help and well-times help, coming just when we need it.” Heb. 4:16

        Thank you for reminding me that being in Scripture is being near God; when we are with Him ‘ alone’ doesn’t mean lonely anymore. Bless you, and Prayers for you and your little ones!

      • Thank you, UnForsaken. Thank you for the verse and thank you for your prayers.

  4. unofficialnarcissist

    This post is like bathing in empathy. Thank you so much. I struggle so much with denial and my ex-n’s words. They never match his actions, of course, but I want so desperately to believe he really is the person he thinks he is. Thank you so much.

  5. Beautiful post, a hard truth that holds out hope and compassion.

  6. Lynn Sonia

    Wow… nailed it perfectly. I lived with the “monster” for 25 years. Even though I have been on an aggressive journey of healing (counseling, inner healing, reading many books, great church help), I still feel the fatigue from doing ALL I could to make a narcisstic husband happy for 25 years. I thank God I am out now but am still healing. Your articles are giving me great insight into what I lived in and for that, I am thankful. Knowledge if power; the power to make right decisions. Thank you!

  7. Amanda

    Wow, How awesome of an article for me to read today as I saw it.
    I fully understand what its like being in the emotional clutches of a narcissist. I was raised by 2, and 4 other family members are the same. I don’t know what it is, maybe some sort of psychological pattern thats passed down in the family line or something? Im really beginning to wonder that. I feel blessed that I am not that, although I HAVE seen within me starting to feel or think or wanting to act out something like what I have seen all my life, and have had to consciously STOP myself and say,”uh oh, oh no, what the heck? I know where I’ve witnessed that before”! I developed clinical depression syndrome as a child and later, PTSD, among other things. But I never knew that I was “Co-Dependent”, which is what happens to almost all people under the thumb of a narcissist. In fact, a great majority of them become that AND “Covert Narcissists”.! Odd. But oh yes, I’ve had to really watch for that stuff even within myself. I have to constantly be in Gods Word to “check” myself , so to speak. My ex-N. has watched me online and then gone on as “me” posting as if I am the one who’s the predator, not him! He did exactly what N.’s are literally infamous for doing, without even realizing it! So now, because of that, I only post at two sites online from my home. No more. And I’ve warned the site persons to be aware of anything “funny” or “off the wall” like that.

    My questions are…….
    How in the world does someone get a narcissist to see their symptoms, and realize they really do have that issue and need help to get out of it? Is this ever done? Can it be done? I’m praying for this.

    • Valerie

      Amanda, a narc does not want enlightenment so attempts to give them that are futile. Their problem is not a lack of awareness…they are very much aware of their destructiveness which is why they are able to calculate it and turn abusive behavior off an on at will with the people of their choosing. Have you noticed there are people the narc will not be contrary with or question? People they will quickly talk with while giving you the silent treatment? People they will brag about while tearing apart most everything you do? Ever notice how they bring up topics or do things that you have specifically told them are hurtful? This is evidence that this is behavior they can indeed control.

      A narcissist does not suffer with narcissism. Their targets are the ones who suffer from their narcissism. People only change is if the cost of not changing costs them more than making changes. There is no “up side” for the narcissist to change. Their goals are not the same as a healthy person. They don’t have a goal to live in mutuality or unity. Their goal is power over. They don’t care if they lose relationships because they don’t have actual relationships, they have arrangements. They don’t form connections. I see it like a predator/prey “relationship” as they look for targets. Once they’ve acquired their target it turns into parasite/host “relationship”. They need the prey to be around awhile so they feed off it until it is no longer providing what they’re after.

      Focusing on your healing, Amanda. He has already taken up way too much of your precious resources! A narcissist can be very adept at getting people to believe they need to be taken care of and that its your job to do so.

      • Amanda

        Wow, so much of what you have said in your reply post is so close to home, so to speak! I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about!
        And yes, I do believe you are correct. Its so hard though for me to accept that he is the way he is simply becuz he CHOOSES to be that way!
        He could care the heck less! Ive wanted so so so much for God to “do something” in my ex’s heart and mind, something that would bring him to his knees before God! And I wish I could witness it. But alas, just like you say, God IS and has been calling me to just give it all up to Him, Trust Him, and work on myself with asking for His Holy Spirit to help me within.
        He said He would send His own Spirit as a “teacher’ and “helper”, so that is what I have asked for. I do trust in God as the “Master Over-see-er” of all of this that has happened to me, and over my life in general. But I actually am not even sure if I know how to do it! Its hard for me to understand. I just try to understand and ask God every day to help me, and to give me understanding about Trusting Him!
        Thank you so very very much for your reply, it really speaks volumes to
        me with my issue!!

  8. Sarah English

    My monster lives next door. I am in the process of rebuilding and it is so hard since I am reminded of it every single day.I’m not sure if I know how to start over.

  9. Jennifer

    Hi my name is Jennie and I am a Monster Mold slayer and survivor! Lol. Great post Dave. I love the mold analogy. It is a perfect description of the obvious and hidden destruction these people wreak on their unsuspecting victims. I have torn away the walls though. I have rebuilt, although it took me 6 years to do so with three years of weekly counselling sessions (thank God they were provided free of charge!). I can now spot “the mold” in almost a heartbeat so that I know enough to keep my distance and prepare those “high boundaries” around my “softened heart”.

    • Tammy

      Hi Jennie!

      I’m not on here much but read some of your posts. This one made me laugh out loud! I too am a Monster Mold slayer and survivor! and I’ll add Thriver!
      You and I and some other survivors are adding some much needed and healthy encouragement to the wisdom filled words of our dear Pastor Dave and it’s a good thing.

      I’ll try to get on here more and spread more encouragement from the place that Pastor Dave described as the “other side”. Yes there is hope. Jennie and I are living breathing proof.

      I’ll post a reply to this post below with a few nuggets/suggestions for clearing out the mold. It may be almost fall, but it’s time for some spring cleaning folks!

  10. I am so very grateful for finding this site! I eagerly look for it every Friday! Realizing I have been married to a n for 34 years took a huge toll on me. I was literAly unable to speak for two months. Now, with the support and a few sisters in Christ, I have started to pour bleach on the mold! My church has put me in a support/recovery group for codependence. I am learning to calmly speak truth to my narcissist husband, and remove myself from any conversation that will cause me to be provoked to outlAshing (it only would feed the n).
    I too question if we can get a narcissist to see their need for honest professional help? Praying for continued strength & hope. Praying with all of you and for you.

  11. What a great analogy your story is.

    “Inability to make decisions, fear in personal relationships, nagging false guilt and shame, broken connections with others, depression, anxiety, and loneliness.” This describes me perfectly after spending 30 years trying in vain to please my husband. Since at this point I am staying with him for the sake of the children still at home, I am wondering if it makes sense to work on getting stronger myself while I’m still here. I am working on being able to make decisions, forgiving myself when I mess up, and trying to overcome that never-ending nagging false guilt. I may be physically stuck with him for now, but I so desire to move toward growing stronger in spite of his nonstop efforts to put me down. Is this possible or reasonable? The thing is I don’t always know what effect my getting stronger will have on him, except that his attempts to control and manipulate will increase.

  12. Maggie

    I am deeply grateful for today’s post Pastor Dave. I have been strong but lately I have been confused. I have felt sometimes I must have been brainwashed .By that I mean there are times when I am checking my behaviors to make sure I have integrity and I have found myself almost abandoning myself. Almost accusing myself of what the N spouse accuses me of. I went through a very tough period recently around this subject. I have thought that I have at times behaved terribly towards the N and the truth is I have. I have guilt and a bit of healthy shame when I am not behaving as myself. The problem is I have lost part of myself because I lived with an N spouse for so long. It is like he said I was the problem and even though I fought hard to protect my truth over time I fell and I did not behave kindly and that is of course what he focused and focuses on. On the surface I think my behavior response over time surely looks like N behavior and that is a bit confusing for me. Recently I decided , in my EXHAUSTION ,that there must be some truth to the experience he describes with me, that is , he says , I am the one with the disorder . But I know I am not and yet I can from time to time “feel” like I am “bad” or “think” i am “unhealthy ” as he reports. I can even doubt myself when I am in deep prayer. I have recently felt like I am lying to God and I have even considered in a rare moment that I have led a double life as he did in the sense that I represented myself one way publicly and than another way privately but I think this is the nature of the effects of abuse and even brainwashing through 25 years of gaslighting and manipulation and control. He was playing a game of Chess with me moving me like a piece around a game board and there were times I fought back hard to protect myself not to hurt him. I am aware that it will take a long time to get better. All of this came upon me in a very fast and debilitating way recently and I am exhausted by just trying to share it all here BUT THEN I READ TODAY”S POST and I am relieved. I am forever in debt to this post Pastor Dave and to all who have commented. I know I am sane, I know I am capable of getting through this moment of the mold coming over me and I accept I will return to that strength again , in time, one day at a time. I have been deeply impacted by this N and his behaviors and I must be gentle with myself until God does His work in me. Surrendering some days minute to minute.

    • Maggie…. you hit the nail on the head when you used the word “Gaslighting”. Your behaviour is a reaction to his behaviour… That is exactly what the Narc wants us to do…. REACT…. it is impossible not to…. it is because we have an inner need to defend and protect ourselves. When we do…. no matter whether we are gentle or not….. it will be turned against us. Denial and projection are perfect tools for the Narc. No matter what happens, what they do or say….. no matter how we bring them to task or tell the truth…. they will turn it back on us, blaming us. Lying to cover the truth. It IS as you say, like a game of Chess….. they move their pieces and push our pieces around too…. we are not in control of our own pieces with a Narc. The Narc wants us to feel guilt and shame….. that is how they control us. We need to break out of that…. the guilt and shame belongs to them. NOT US. We are the victims….. not the perpetrators. It is a most terrible thing to be manipulated and harmed by a Narc…. the longer we stay, the longer the hurt and the longer the recovery period. You ARE SANE….. the Narc wants you to believe you are not….. that is the purpose of gaslighting. If they can succeed in gaslighting they use that to convince their friends, our families…. the court, the police…. everyone…. that we are crazy. So important to keep your head screwed on tightly…. know who you are, read the blogs here, understand the processes they use…. and get safe. God is the only one who can heal us…. Counselling helps… if you can find someone you trust. Someone who understands issues of domestic violence and Narcissistic behaviours. Above all know that you are understood and cared for and about by people on this Blog…. those who do understand. Those who recognise the truth. I pray that you will find peace.

      • Maggie

        Thanks Annie for the words of encouragement ! I know all of this to be true. I do know I was “reacting ” to him. I do know i was weak recently and that let it all back in for a brief period. I am committed to complete integrity with God, myself and others.
        This was such a gift yesterday and the comments are very affirming that this the experience of being in a relationship with an N.

  13. healingInHim

    It’s the end of the day and I made myself take the time to read this post. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments … BUT … felt I just had to share how much this post impacted me. You’ve described me. I am still “here” … with the polite, indifferent roommate … after being emotionally and sexually abusive he has announced he is moving on; content to live as room mates as it would be too costly to divorce me. I have gone for legal separation, July 31 but am doubting myself because… well, because I am just sooooo tired; really tired! … and having a difficult time concentrating and making ‘wise’ decisions. After 38 years of trying so hard to keep smiling and covering up and ‘he is moving on’ in life!
    He feels secure because even the adult children have abandoned me b/c they have chosen the ‘wide road’.
    Thank you for this post …. I’m preparing to get some rest; shall wash the tears that are streaming down my face – I ache so much – my 18-month granddaughter is not allowed to see me … I will not deny my Lord & Saviour. This is a battle and I would really appreciate just one man coming forward to defend me against such evil. I do not feel safe in any church.

  14. Roxanne

    Well said .. Sometimes I wonder if I should just give up ever thinking life could get better…but your article gave me hope . Thank you.

  15. Valerie

    Great post Dave! This is such an accurate picture of the reality of life after the devastation of a narc. When you realize your entire relationship was not real and you experience this kind of evil, it strips you of your innocence. I know I will never be the same because I can never get that innocence back. It is isolating and lonely because only those who have suffered this kind of abuse can truly appreciate what this person can do to brainwash you and have you deny any form of reality. They take you emotionally hostage until you start to look to them for relief from the very trauma they are inflicting (trauma bonding or Stockholm Syndrome).

    It truly is a mold that must be thoroughly cleared to prevent even the smallest infestation to grow and therefore damage any new building that has taken place. I believe the key to clearing this mold is Truth! We can’t take our memories and pain to the dump and leave it there but we can bleach and sanitize the mold’s harmful effects by saturating it with Truth to minimize or destroy any further damage.

    • Jennifer

      Valerie, I am going to gently correct you. You did not lose your innocence. You lost your naivety. The opposite of innocence is guilt and you were not the guilty party. The opposite of naivety is worldly-wise. You are now wise to the game and it is their guilt which has been uncovered. YOU are still the innocent party, but much wiser and stronger now. (((hugs)))

      • Valerie

        Very thought provoking Jennifer. I haven’t considered myself guilty but what you said is true about being worldly-wise (as opposed to naive). I look at it like this: children think of a Ferris Wheel in terms of a ride and cotton candy…in essence FUN. Many adults, however, see a Ferris Wheel as a place a potential danger to fall out of. The Ferris Wheel is no longer an exciting, fun place but one to proceed with extreme caution. A child enters the Ferris Wheel with no thoughts of falling out so they can enjoy the ride and embrace the excitement. I feel I have lost my innocence in the sense of no longer being able to enjoy the ride and feel excitement. I see danger- not around every corner- but I can never run to a Ferris Wheel in reckless abandon. While that may be wise, it is also sad. Another way I look at it is that my experience with a N has been like seeing something gruesome. I can walk away from it but the image will haunt me forever by coming up in my mind even if unwelcomed and I can’t “unsee” this gore. I mourn that loss of what I feel I was robbed of- what I referred to as innocence. But your way of stating it sounds more positive! 🙂 When others don’t/can’t see through my husband I do see them as naive. Thanks for that thought!

      • Jennifer

        You can still enjoy the Ferris wheel as an adult, you just do it with a few boundaries, like not rocking it for all its worth when you’re stuck at the top. Lol. And you can still enjoy this Ferris wheel called life. You are aware of the image of a child falling out of a Ferris wheel because of that reckless abandon he has. You enjoy life now with boundaries and in safety. That’s all. I know it doesn’t feel that way at the present, but give it time and it will. ((((hugs))))

  16. Lesley

    Thank you for understanding what it is like to come out of a relationship like this, so many people -even those who love you dont understand. My heart was touched and encouraged by your post.

  17. Penny

    Sometimes I want to turn the air blue with every cuss word ever invented. sometimes I want to scream in the shower, into my pillow, underwater, in a closet, in my car with the music turned up. Sometimes I can’t catch my breath, like I have been body slammed by the Monster. One night I even laid on the floor and literally pulled my hair out in clumps and tore my favorite beach dress into shreds and cried for hours….all because of the Monster. That was 3 years ago now, and I keep a small piece of that torn dress in my Bible; I wrote the date on it with a sharpie, and it is there still as a reminder of the day when I began to slay the Monster. The metaphor of the storm, the raging waters, the flood, the mud and the mold is so powerful. I hung on….and I cried out and I screamed and I fought & I clung to Truth & I am sick and tired of the Monster and I resent what it has cost. Sometimes I feel like it’s a sunny day full of hope and peace and promise and I remember what it was like to be me and to be loved for being me….. but other days there are dark clouds and rain and more mud, more lies, more bruises, battles & unprovoked attacks by the Monster….but I am determined: to get up, to stand up, to stand tall, to keep going, no matter what mud is slung onto me. I am not the mud or the mold or the Monster. The Monster is those things, but I am not. I am not. I am in Him, and He is good. He is Good.

  18. Crystal

    This post was so meaningful to me. I’m facing the reality more honestly of the Monster in my husband. I’m faced with all the things this post describes. I have to be strong to do the necessary separating, but I am so tired, so scared, so angry, so depressed, so hopeless. Except that I do hope for a brighter tomorrow….maybe two years away…..and I count on God’s grace to carry me through the arduous, painful journey ahead. It will be hard, but not as hard as the last 11 years of marriage have been.

    • unofficialnarcissist

      It is true that it is hard to untangle from the dark mess of a life you have once with a “Monster”. But I’m telling you, the light on the other side is so freeing, and you will be MORE able to receive God’s grace and goodness when you are not constantly fighting a situation that causes depression and hopelessness. Stay strong…you will get there! I lost weight, could not sleep, was a complete mess. I made it through and things are not perfect and like this post says, they won’t ever be the same, but they are SO much better.

      • Jennifer

        I think the primary task of the narc is to take your focus from where you want it to be and to put it on themselves. In the case of Christians, the narc feels he himself is and should be god in your life, and so your focus is off God and on them. You are so busy trying to figure out the mind of the Narc, that you can’t concentrate on figuring out the mind of God.

        When you get away from the Narc, you can get back to God. At least that’s how it has been for me.

  19. unofficialnarcissist

    I forgot to say, coincidentally, there was an incident with my ex (actually, several) that I called the “Monster in the Basement” episodes. It was where I dissolved into a begging, pleading, on-my-knees mess to get him to listen to me, and him repeatedly saying, “no!”. No shame for myself for degrading myself to such an extent, because I did what I had to do to cope at the time. But I recall his face, stony and hard, set firmly against any pain I was having, largely on account of his behaviors or remarks. These “conversations” happened in the basement. It is so interesting to me how others call these people “monster” too. It fits. I will never beg someone to listen to me again, and I don’t have to.

  20. Notquitefree

    This was an excellent post. Thank you.

    I am afraid the mold has infected my in law’s family – my FIL, my SIL, possibly my BIL (he lives far away and I haven’t spent much time with him, although I feel he has N tendencies), and definitely my H. My SIL has borderline personality disorder. She was married for a brief time and put her ex through hell when they divorced. They have been to court numerous times, and it has cost them untold thousands. She has since lost sole custody of their son.

    I have not filed yet. I am reading much, getting stronger, learning, arming myself. I pray that things would go smoothly, but I am terrified of the D process, and all that will happen after I leave with the children. He is a smooth talker, and knows how to lie. He has led a double life for years.

    In the beginning, all I could do was cry. My heart was (and still is) so broken. However, now that I am reading many things and knowledge is power, I am angry. Angry at what he has done to me and the children, angry at his inability to care about us or provide for us all these years, and angry at what he may do (I pray he doesn’t……).

    • Notquitefree

      And you know what else burns me up? Friends, loyal friends who have walked with you through this valley of death, who seem exasperated that you keep asking for prayer re: terrible marriage situation, verbal and emotional abuse, say that it CAN’T be abuse and why don’t you just get a job to help out financially, because that is probably a big part of the stress……..?!?!? Are you kidding me?

      A big part of the stress is the N taking a job that HE wants (even though it pays less that half what he used to make) and spending all the money – say on guns and ammo. Now that’s a big budget buster!

      • healingInHim

        Notquitefree – Over time it makes you wonder who are truly the loyal friends?? My spouse has retired and was always seen to be a quiet faithful financial provider. The abuse was sexual and very emotional. Several years ago he explained that “we are married on paper” – this is a business marriage.
        We had agreed to home educate the now adult children …who have now turned against me. They favour him b/c he never questions them. His family and mine were abusive in that behind closed doors they would make accusations against me. Husband would never defend me, saying I was an adult and could defend myself!! So, what is marriage all about? For years I made him look like the perfect homeschool Christian Daddy …
        So, yes, now that I am being honest, only a few select friends believe me; encourage me and yet realize just how difficult it is to move out of the situation with my health compromised and at my age … Many, oh so many feel “Well, it can’t be that bad”:-( It’s a very lonely retirement and he is ‘content’ to live as room mates.
        CRYING OUT FOR JUSTICE had a recent post on loyalty:

      • Jennifer

        You said, “…For years I made him look like the perfect home school Christian Daddy …”

        I did the exact same thing, and I’ve since come to the conclusion that we do this sort of thing because we desperately hope that they will be, and so as to delude ourselves into thinking that things aren’t that bad, and that they are the perfect whatever.

        You aren’t the only one who has done this, that’s for sure.

  21. healingInHim

    Jennifer – You are so right – In so many ways I kept thinking that as he saw how faithful I was to our marriage by never speaking badly of him to anyone that he would soon desire to do the same in return. It’s not like he ever spoke badly of me; he would allow others to do so; namely they were criticizing my faithfulness to the Scriptures.
    And truly the Lord has given this man some very good talents. How sad that he has now decided he is not a Christian and thus is using all the good the Lord has brought into his life for his own benefit.

  22. Sarah

    This gives me permission to give me more grace when I wonder why I have no energy lately. Thank you

  23. Kitkat

    I recently decided to leave the church that I love because of a N ex-friend who attends there. Before I left, the church was dealing with another N who was creating all kinds of havoc with the other members, bullying and causing arguments. When I confronted this other N on issues relating to how she handled building policies, (special favors for some and not others) and that she couldn’t run things in such way. She abruptly resigned. Since I have left, the church has let this other N back in, and she is even giving job interviews. I was amused that she was telling one of my friends that it was my fault that she resigned. I have been getting several phone calls from the other members in the church pleading with me to come back. But I fear that one of the reasons they want me back is to deal with their N. Before I knew that this other N was back, I was contemplating on returning. But since I found out that they are letting this other N back in, I am not so sure. I do not want to be the savior who repels N’s at this church. This other N has intimidated some of the elderly women at the church, and has had arguments with at least a dozen other people. She has an explosive temper and she forced her way into handling a memorial service for a long time member who passed away recently, even though all the arrangements for the food had been taken care of. They decided to let her handle it, and there wasn’t enough food to go around. And she became angry when others brought food in and lashed out very explosively at one of the people she hates at the church because of it. I believe that this should be dealt with by the pastor. I am not privy to his handling of this situation, but his stance is that we must love everybody even those that are difficult. He said that his job is to protect the sheep, but sometimes he has to deal with sheep hurting other sheep. I am not so sure this is the case. As with my ex-friend and this other N, I don’t believe they are sheep. I think they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. If these people are driving the sheep away, shouldn’t the pastor be the one holding these people accountable? Shouldn’t he be the one to put his foot down and say this is unacceptable behavior? This is my dilemma, as I would like to return to this church as, for the most part, they are wonderful people. But I also, don’t want to fall into the role of policing difficult individuals. It was stressful enough having to deal with the loss of the N ex-friend. And I have enough stress right now with my son and his family waiting for the all clear to leave for W. Africa as missionaries. Your opinions and comments please. Many thanks.

  24. Kathy

    The legacy – the mold – the N’s damage takes a very long time to heal. But in addition to those of us who have been the target of the N, I see a legacy also bestowed on the flying monkeys, the enablers, who are so blinded. And that’s when I’m able to count my blessings, thank God I was able to go no contact.
    The ones who do the N’s bidding have severe problems — alcohol addiction, isolation, an inability to think for themselves, emotional and psychological problems. And they continue to defend the N, depend on the N for guidance although they are adults and don’t even live with the N.
    My pain is still real. My children’s pain is still real.
    But we escaped. And we thrive.

    • healingInHim

      Kathy = So much of what you say describe me. I’m still “here” after 38 yrs; living as room mates officially as of this Spring although it really has been much longer in many ways.
      Just this morning as I have attempted to ‘move on’ I find myself so emotional which he detests. I’m feeling too overwhelmed about moving out before winter arrives and yet have started proceedings for legal separation. (lawyer says I can stay as long as I can cope emotionally b/c the house is joint, however I have never felt it to be mine:-( ) I definitely suffer from “inability to think for themselves” … Some days are better than others but the legal paperwork; having all family members turn against me, etc … it’s very overwhelming.
      A neurologist has ‘highly requested’ that he receive psychiatric counsel but he refuses because he feels he can cope if I would just ‘stop wanting to talk about issues and change him’. He is also aware that besides counselors, others have encouraged me to leave. I became emotional again this morning over his cool, calm indifference towards me after years of sexually and emotionally controlling me etc. Finally, he says, “You have to make a decision for yourself if you can’t live this way … can’t you think for yourself?” This is painful after years of him always deciding where we lived; only visited his family, kicking me out last year because he felt I had caused him to have a stroke, etc …
      Leaving is not that easy at my age; no job and no vehicle. I am slowly gaining some friends but it is difficult. This house has my footprint in every room. What do I take; what stays?
      My three adult daughters favour him as after all the years of so-called Christian home education they have all decided, including my husband that they are not Christians and certainly don’t want to be like me:-(
      I covet everyone’s prayers. I’m feeling so defeated. I have a job interview but with stress related health issues not sure what I should do? God does.

  25. Kitkat

    Kathy, thanks. I had thought that with the number of people who have been asking me to come back, that perhaps my N ex-friend would be a non issue now. As I have been told that she doesn’t speak to many people at church now and she is starting to alienate herself. However, this other N has been there since her childhood. Although she doesn’t attend church services she somehow feels that she should run the show. When she resigned in Dec. there was a tremendous relief from many of the other members of the congregation and we started to rebuild what she had broken. But since I left, she has come back with a vengeance. My thoughts are that I don’t want to place myself in a situation where people are reliant on me to deal with issues they need to handle for themselves. This woman should have been dealt with years ago. Her mother attends the church regularly and she is much loved. So I think people put up with her, because they don’t want to hurt her mother or they are just plain afraid of her. As she is a very large and imposing individual. But I don’t want to pour all my energies into trying to rebuild when, not only this N but also my ex-friend are there to destroy everything that we try to do. We have a team of people who are trying very hard to do the right thing but I am wondering if I should cut my losses and just move on, because no one wants to address or keep in check these very destructive personalities?

  26. healingInHim

    Several comments have addressed the issue of narcissm within the church. Recent ‘comments’ at ACFJ blog might be of interest. Today’s comments at the prayer request post deal with this. Scroll down to twbtc September 11, 2014 – 10:27 am
    ACFJ has sadly confirmed that very often churches harbour abusive people and re-victimize the abused:-( They would highly recommend we remove ourselves from such places …. they are not true churches.

  27. Tammy

    Pastor Dave, the mold analogy is fantastic.

    Is it exhausting to live in a “mold” (Narcissist) infested life? A resounding YES. As you said, it permeates everything and leaves you drained, angry, discouraged, and lonely. Just plain worn out and emotionally drained and nearly paralyzed.

    Is it worth it to rip out every last spore of mold and rebuild? YES! I am yelling from the other side, YES!

    I didn’t have health problems and I did have a car and a home, so I grieve for those on here that have such obstacles in their way. There is no easy solution. I can tell you that little by little, you can tear away at the mold and let the sunshine in.

    I don’t know it all but here are some suggestions of some things you can do to gain the strength you need to rip out the mold and rebuild. These are in no particular order.
    1. Read Pastor Dave’s blogs on God’s Grace and Love. His Love and Grace is beyond comprehension
    2. Listen to Christian music. I’m listening to Third Day’s “Cry out to Jesus” and although I can’t sing, I’m singing it to “Seeing the Light”, “UnForsaken”, “healingInHim”, “Notquitefree” and others that are hurting and downtrodden.
    3. Read your Bible.
    4. Set firm boundaries and call abuse what it is. There is NO excuse for mistreating someone. Do not allow them to abuse you any longer.
    5. Make a plan for yourself and any children to no longer live with the abuser. If you are married, secretly put money away for that purpose. There are books available on Amazon that give advice on divorcing a Narcissist. Be prepared before you leave! Make decisions carefully and not out of raw emotion. If there is physical or sexual abuse, leave regardless of how prepared you are.
    6. Stop being a source for their Narcissistic Supply. It is so hard not to react, but go as “No Contact” as you can possibly go.
    7. Get counseling. If you can’t afford it, find a support group. I went to a Divorce Care group at a church I had started attending. It was very helpful and it was free.
    8. Rid yourself of negative people in your life, especially ones that excuse the N’s behavior.

    Many of you hope that your Narcissist will somehow change and you have waited decades for that to happen. I did too. That hope within you was not created for that purpose!

    God created within you a hope and a longing for a relationship with HIM. That emptiness you feel because your hopes have been crushed can be filled with a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    In John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

    It’s time to clear out the mold and let in the light.

    • Right after number 8 you add unofficial nine. Many of you hope N will change. Yes that is where I am stuck. I am thinking not so much change, but change back to the person that didn’t live to belittle me. change back to the person that was nice, friendly, charming. My friend. I feel like this N took over my friends body.

      • Tammy

        Ah! Trying to cope – you are right. #9 needed to be “STOP hoping that your Narcissist will change. And there are dozens that can be added to the list.

        I was so on the same page with you at one time. However, my story, your story and countless others reveal the truth. The nice, friendly, charming, friendly behavior that you saw at first was actually an Oscar worthy performance! Anyone can keep up appearances and act nice until they have you sucked into their world. You don’t think that way, so it just doesn’t make sense. You want to believe that the first impression of them was the truth, so you stay. But it’s a fantasy. It’s NOT reality. They weren’t later possessed by an evil twin. THEY ARE THE EVIL TWIN.

        Mold. Narcissism. Let’s do some HOUSE CLEANING!

  28. Annie

    This post describes my life perfectly. It is everything I am feeling but couldn’t put into words. I am new to the word narcissist but not to what it means. By that I mean for the past 13 years I have been dealing with a narcissist husband but didn’t really know what a narcissist was until I had some family members and dear friends help me see what I was living with. I had been so brainwashed into thinking that this was the way life was and I just needed to accept it. Although I felt that a marriage was not suppose to be this way, and a husband was not suppose to act this way I didn’t know what to do. Every time I tried to express concerns about our marriage I ended up getting it thrown back in my face and made to feel as the one with the problem. By the end of the conversation I was the one apologizing!! He was constantly twisting my words around to make himself look like the victim and still does this. My now ex-husband had created this image of me in his mind and what is worse is that over the years I lost who I was and started to see myself and the person he had created me to be in his mind. I was the “whore” he said I was. I was the selfish B**** who never appreciated how hard he worked for me and our kids.
    I lost myself and my will to fight. It was easier to just not argue and to keep everything inside. I started to close in. I started to build up walls around me and started to accept that this was how my life was going to be and I just need to accept that. I knew this wasn’t how a marriage was suppose to me but he made me feel so unworthy and so low that I didn’t feel I had any other option then to stay with him. I couldn’t make decisions on my own, at least that is what I was told, so how could I ever live without him?
    I am thankful to say that 2 years ago with the help of friends and family and most importantly God, I am able to see more clearly now. I was able to see that this was not my fault and I was not the person he made me out to be. I did divorce him 2 years ago but still have to have regular contact with him because we share joint custody of our 3 children. It has been a very difficult road and I know it will not be over for a long time. He has made life difficult for our three children and for me since our divorce. I am thankful that my kids do see his selfishness. I am thankful to be able to be there for them when they need to vent their frustrations. My N ex-husband only thinks of himself and doesn’t care if he hurts me or the kids. I am thankful that I was able to learn more about the Narcissist through a dear friend and also this website. I am thankful that I am able to open my children’s eyes to this type of behavior so hopefully they will not have a relationship like I did. I am thankful to have been shown the mold and I am working every day to get rid of it. God is my strength and I see how much he has brought me through and will continue to do so. No the battle with the N ex is far from over. I know there will be many difficult days ahead for my children and me, but I see who he is and with God’s help we will persevere.

  29. Sandy

    Pastor Dave thank you. You truly have a gift of explaining this awfull situation that some of us experience into words that we all need and understand and in a way heals us and make us feel less alone.

    Thank you God bless

  30. Amy Z

    Thank you for this, it comes at the perfect time for myself and a friend to whom I am forwarding the article. People such as yourself really are the reason I am able to move forward at all. Thank you again.


  31. I want to publicly post this article everywhere and SCREAM from the rooftops: “THIS IS ME! This is why I am how I am now! This is what I’ve been through!”

    I’m so thankful you understand, Pastor Dave. While I have been lovingly supported here recently, it is still distant support. It is more the absence of condemnation, I suppose, than it is the actual presence of something sturdy and dependable. In part, I suspect, that is because I am separate but not divorced, and people want to be careful not to have a role in causing a divorce even if they may want to support me as I make my decisions with autonomy.

    But I am so very tired, and I still have 6 1/2 more months before I will be legally free. I truly did borrow energy from my future to make it through the past, and the Piper is calling it due now. I can’t take care of myself physically because I just don’t have the energy to do it any longer. I’ve neglected getting a mammogram in three years (my mother died of breast cancer) because I know that if it showed cancer there, I would just roll over and choose to die rather than fight it. The fight in me is gone. I want more than anything a pair of kind human arms to just collapse into for awhile, like ICU, until the strength can come back but there is no one who can carry me through this. It is so lonely, and I can’t even show it. I cry when I’m alone and after the girls go to bed. I don’t want them to see me crying still. I cried for the last three years of the marriage, all the time, because The Monster broke me so completely.

    Will it get better? It seems like such a long road. A long, lonely, often darkened road. I know this is life in the wilderness. I know I would not go back to bondage. In that sense, I can be thankful that God has set me free. But at the same time, I need more nourishment and I don’t know where it comes from. I am wiped out, and no one understands.

    • TTC

      Repol, I understand. My situation is different but the absolute craziness seems to carry through from story to story. That is the hard part, no one will understand. You have to dig deep, deep and then a little deeper and know that if it is to be, it is up to you. Say “If it is to be, it is up to me”. My favorite saying. God helps those who help themselves. Why do I say it. Why do I think it. I don’t know. Crappy childhood, crappy life. i know one thing for sure. If it is to be, it is up to me. And this I know. God helps those that help themselves. You can surprise yourself. It is hard to find champions but not hard to find people to applaud you when you finish the race. Weird but true. I may be talking in the abstract but hopefully you can follow along. The whole reason I got tangled up with an N was because I was looking for someone to help me. My spouse took a nosedive into depression for a while. I did not know what to do, who to turn to. All I needed was a little advise and friendship. But when you open yourself up to another, you open the door to be hurt. I trusted this person. In the end I was discarded without warning or reason. I am forever changed because I am so hurt, so offended, betrayed, baffled, And my mind goes back to If it is to be, it is up to me. So I was discarded because Apparantly I’m not good enough. Well we will see about that. I have found some fight and my wish for you is find your fight. This is not how the story will end.

      In my heart, I know when reading your story that there is someone there for you to collapse into. Maybe not now, but they will be. First you get strong, be the person you want to be. I have faith for you that the pieces will fall in place. My prayers to you REPOL.

  32. ShelteredUnderHisWings

    Wow, so many comments! I was set free from a narcissistic husband four years ago already, and I’ve made so much ground. But I needed to read this article today. Thank you for reminding me that I’ve been through a lot and I had to “borrow energy and assets from my future”. Sometimes I just fall flat. I don’t like that I can’t handle stress the way I used to. I feel pathetic because I get weary easily. I have two little children, and am about to go to court with my ex. 4 years on, the battle still rages. I should go easy on myself. But it can be hard living with my mother who is ‘superwoman’. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and we’d be pretty lost without her. But so hard to live with a woman twice my age who can do so much more than me.

    Thanks for all these narcissistic articles!! I haven’t found such a thorough exposure of narcissism from a Christian viewpoint before. God bless you!

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