Something New

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

A new year! I have to admit that I am a sucker for new things. I like beginnings. I like to think that, with a little tweaking, things can be different. A new year offers a starting point for change.

At the same time, I am not one for big resolutions. Maybe I am too old for all that. I have a few things in mind that I would like to do this year, some good things; but I have learned that setting myself up to feel guilty is dumb. Instead, I will try to make small changes that will help these goals to be accomplished and celebrate whatever successful steps I make.

Can life be different? Yes! But the change has to start. If you do the same things tomorrow as you did today, don’t be surprised if tomorrow looks just like today. If you do the same things next year as you did last year, next year will be the same as last year. Change has to start somewhere.

So why not today? Changes in relationships seem so hard, so overwhelming. I can almost hear people shouting at their computers, saying: “Don’t you think I would change things if I could?” Yes, I think you would. But I also think you probably need a little encouragement to take the first steps. And, perhaps, permission to take very small steps in the beginning.

You see, we tend to think of change as something like getting a new job, a huge endeavor. Sometimes people just quit their old jobs and start the search for something new. Sometimes, they take much smaller steps. Maybe just beginning to think about your skills and what other company or vocation could use what you can do. Maybe taking an online class to introduce yourself to some new software, or some old software everyone seems to be using. Maybe talking with friends (who are not in a position to jeopardize your current work) about what’s out there. Begin somewhere.

Relationships tend to develop over long periods of time. If you were raised with a narcissist, you were probably well into your adult years before you began to see that something was wrong—and realize it wasn’t you. If you married a narcissist, you probably found out that something was wrong in a fairly short time, but you were convinced that things would get better. In other narcissistic relationships, the same thing holds true: it takes a while to figure things out. So the big change almost has to happen in small steps. Just understanding the problem begins the process.

I can’t tell you what the change should look like. Some choose to stay in these painful relationships. Some choose to leave. Some go no-contact. Others set firm boundaries and stay in contact. Some learn everything they can about beating the narcissist in his/her own game. Ask the Lord what you should do, then do what He says. Just move forward. Toward health and peace. Somehow. Starting today.

Here are some beginning steps. They don’t lead to anything in particular, but could lead directly to the change you need. This is not a particularly profound list, just common sense. Think of these items as permission slips for moving forward.

  • Begin a daily prayer for the change, asking the Lord for guidance and protection.
  • Begin a daily (or regular) journal.
  • Find someone who will listen and understand.
  • Find a good counselor.
  • Set aside some money just for you.
  • Take a class.
  • Eat a little better and exercise a little more.
  • Find a place to where you can slip away just to clear your head.
  • Read something you enjoy. Admit that you enjoyed it.
  • Write down your story.

You see, these are just ideas for first steps. Some of them might take a little preparation. Even preparing to take a step is movement. You can add to this list, I am sure.

It’s a new year. An opportunity for a decision. A decision to move toward change. You may not know what that change will be yet, but you can begin to move. No guilt. No shame. Not even much fear. Just a small step in the right direction. That’s how every great journey begins.


Filed under Narcissism

25 responses to “Something New

  1. Rachel

    Pastor Dave, a very Happy New year to you and your loved ones for a peaceful,God-filled, Grace-filled, healthy and properous 2016.
    This post is great! So gentle, so kind.
    I think we feel the need to make big changes because in a relationship with a N, everything is just so wrong! Where do we start? We need a miracle and we try to make one happen, but only God can do that.
    Thanks for the friendly encouragement to step forwards one pace at a time.

  2. healingInHim

    Thank you for this post. Dare I say it was a confirmation to my thoughts? My prayer as of yesterday?
    Yesterday was tough as emotional exhaustion overtook my soul again. A phone call to my counselor, updating her on circumstances had her encouraging me to keep moving forward; to accept that I must take control of ‘my life’ as others have been doing so for so long. Tearfully, I reflected on the day and the discoveries of just how much my abuser(s) truly care nothing for me but continue to put on outward appearances.
    Yesterday, I was numb and realized I also can’t keep putting on appearances. I explained to the counselor that what has me so terribly downtrodden is to realize that neighbours, “f”riends, “professing Christians” will not approach ‘him’ or the other abusers concerning their treatment of me. WHY? Why do they complain about other abusers but not the one’s associated with me? It makes me feel that my life does not count.
    I have to correct myself because I will say “I’m ‘feeling’ betrayed.” The truth is “I have and am being betrayed.” (it’s not a feeling; it’s fact) What many are actually saying is that it is okay for a woman to be used for sexual pleasure, raise a family, etc and then be tossed aside as if she is just a ‘dirty, worn out rag’.
    Forgive me for not sounding more positive but my cry is that in my weakened state, God will truly impress upon me clarity about how to move forward. I really have no support system to come along side me as adult children, siblings and many fair-weather friends have shown their true colours in abandoning me.
    My desire is to move ahead but I am exhausted with the directions I am presently in due to counsel that insisted on me being in my present circumstances … Covet prayers and I am praying for the many out there that are in a similar or worse situation; my heart grieves.
    A New Year? Yes. New Beginnings? Hopefully. But let’s also be realistic that unless the true Christians step forward and with God’s guidance help the vulnerable, nothing will change.

    • Rachel

      Dear HealingInHim, so sorry to hear that those you should be able to rely on have turned away. You have articulated very clearly some of my feelings about my situation, thank you. I feel very let down and isolated too, amazed at how much people can choose not to see the abuse in front of them but can be outraged by it in more distant cases.
      Keep on stepping forward, be very gentle with yourself, don’t expect great leaps. Hang on to Jesus’ hand all the time, He can be our best friend, spouse, father, companion, all of these.
      Thank you for your prayers and I will pray for you too!

      • healingInHim

        Rachel, I definitely will be praying for you along with others. I’ve always known that I’m not the only one living in such circumstances and my prayers usually resonate with me telling God “… that I know I’m not the only one suffering … hear our prayers Lord, and strengthen us so that YOU may be glorified.”
        I also hope that everyone who visits ministries like this and those whom read the comments and yet remain silent … may everyone know that you are not forgotten.

  3. What I find so encouraging about this blog, this ministry , is the depth of understanding and compassion. And the amount of safe, practical advice to help us cope.

    One of the first posts I ever read here described small ways a person could hold on to their personhood and dignity in the midst of a narcissist relationship. Sometimes there are those of us who are truly trapped and must remain under abusive control to protect others / our children , from the full frontal emotional, verbal attacks of the narcissist.

    That particular post described how even just finding a special place, in your yard to call your own and to be your refuge was a small way of holding on to yourself. I did this for years, finding a quiet spot where I could pour out my pain to God and often I would leave a small reminder of that visit such as a rock I picked up on the path, or small written scripture verses on a tree limb Today in the aftermath of my life with a narcissist, I go back to those places of peace and they have deep spiritual significance for me. The little things are huge when you are forced by circumstance to remain in a relationship with a narcissist.

    Thank you Pastor Dave for such understanding and wisdom. Your words are life a life preserver of hope. Praying 2016 will be a year of peace and healing for so many of us that need it.

    • healingInHim

      Abidenhim –
      Precious words which complements Pastor Dave’s postings and ministry. As difficult as it is going to be I am sensing that I may be required to “find a quiet place” within this circumstance.
      Thank you for the beautiful prayer.

  4. Celeste

    “Read a book you enjoy and admit you enjoy it.” It is a reminder of where I was for decades. And am now gradually living freely since divorce. There was great difficulty in admitting that I enjoyed something. As soon as the N knew of a joy in my life, the gradual erosion and stealing of that joy began. He shredded nearly every piece of my joy in that deadly process of using every part of me to serve his purposes.
    I rarely told myself in silence that I enjoyed or liked something because somehow, it was as if he was living in my head, controlling my life from there. And he could rob me from within.
    It has required slow change on my part to get him out of my head and mostly out of my life. First, I came to the realization that no one else is going to stop him from destroying my life. I am the one who must do it. I was the one who had to begin the process of stopping him. It is a very slow process from within and without.
    However, it requires a support network; a few believing people who slowly and quietly surfaced, a good psychologist, resources like this one and ACFJ, and an alarm system that tells me when a lie has been spoken and then restate it with the truth.

    May all who read this post use their courage to move forward just a little. Sometimes moving forward seems like moving backward, but we must remember that we have never lived this life before. It is always trial and error. But we are definitely a resourceful bunch, if only we dared to admit it to ourselves.

    • Anne

      I know that pattern well. My ex would never share my joy in anything but the grandchildren, and he still had to be their favorite. It was as if he was always looking down on me and subtly making fun of my hobbies and interests. His were so superior, apparently.

      • Celeste

        Yes, I can identify. From very early in our marriage, I used a phrase which was true. “If I share an idea, he will adjust it 3 degrees so that it his idea and then it can happen.” So, sadly, there was nothing, nothing of my own or myself that I could share that he did not steal. I subtly agreed to that for 30+ yrs and then began to tell him “no, it isn’t yours”. It was a very, very, very slow process of moving forward. But I am so much more alive now.

  5. Tee3

    Happy new year, Pst Dave. Thanks a lot for your article. Now I know how to pray and what to pray for. I don’t know what this year holds for me because I’m still with my N husband, but I know that God knows the end of this year from the beginning, His will will be done in my life and He will work His best for me.

  6. Still Reforming

    Thank you, Pastor Dave, for this encouragement. Like you, I’m too old (54) for resolutions, but as I enter the first full year of divorce from a covert aggressive narcissist, to whom I was married two decades, I find myself oddly fearful. I have started to recognize red flags in people and also find myself ‘church-‘less, other than those I meet on-line. I’ve been invited to attend a church in my area – one that seems promising even, but I find myself trembling. Will I be burned again? I’m not yet healed from so may burns, so this post is both timely and helpful. Thank you. I’m treading cautiously, but moving forward all the same. God bless you, Pastor Dave, for your love, friendship, and ministry here.

    • Free at last

      I too was burned by churchgoers & former “pastors”. I have a very hard time going back to church. This does not mean I have forsaken God though. The opposite has been the case for me. After I left church I desired to know God. No longer was I willing to let anyone tell me Who God is our what He wanted from me. For the first time, I had a hunger & thirst for Him which drove me to study His word & have a relationship with Him.

      Over the course of the next few years I had a renewed love for God that I jealously guard. Now that tremendous healing has taken place in my life I feel ready to go back to church. My husband & I have spent the past few years searching for a church home. We have found one a few months ago we feel we can attend but I’m still so hesitant to get back in there. I hope over time we will regularly attend.

  7. Carrie

    Great advice…Small steps. The thought of the journey is overwhelming at the beginning, but it is well worth the effort to find that better you, with the help of Jesus, at the end of that dark tunnel.

  8. Sunflower

    This morning it came to me why starting to make changes is so hard. It’s like the n has been speeding for years and never got caught. One day the police stops him and tells him he can no longer do this. He shoots the policeman because he is angry that he was caught. “He (the policeman) is abusing me by making me pay this fine. I’ve never hurt anyone. He has no right. I like driving fast.” We should have put our foot down at the beginning but didn’t know that we should or even could.
    I read on FB today, “Where your focus goes, your energy flows.” They want to suck all our energy out of us, so when we shift focus, they panic and do anything they need to do, to get that focus back on them. And when our energy is finally gone, they don’t understand, they get mad. That’s why our detaching is supposed ‘abuse’.

  9. Savedbygrace

    Happy New Year Dave- thanks for this encouraging post.. the New Year is an interesting vantage point of both looking back on what was and reflecting and looking forward to what may be and dreaming..
    ‘If you do the same things next year as you did last year, next year will be the same as last year. ‘
    that to me is motivator enough to try something different!! and I totally agree with the small steps as a key to change
    big (((hugs))) to my cyber friends who post here… I am praying that you will have wisdom and discernment, courage and support Xx
    Martin Luther King said:
    ‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’
    wishing you all many ‘first steps’ in the New Year..

  10. C

    I am out of my 45 year marriage now for 9+ years. 20 years into the marriage I went to a psychologist who told me that I lived my beliefs and it all lined up. He said that my then husband made people think he was one person when in fact he was another. He never used the word narcissism. I thought the issue was situational and would go away. He did advise me to start saving money and to establish credit for myself, which I did.

    We then counseled with a minister and my husband pulled a good one on me and the minister had me apologizing to my husband.

    25 years later my husband revealed that he was still in a relationship with another woman. I called in our minister who had only been at our church for a few months and after meeting with us, he met with me alone and told me that my husband had a personality disorder. I agreed that I needed to get a divorce. He told me that I needed to get a female lawyer and got a recommendation from one of his parishioners.

    I believe that God sent my minister to our church to help me. I’m sure there were other reasons too. You see, he had grown up in my husband’s church and new him and his family well. He was from a well respected family in our small town and we all lived 100 miles from there when this happened. When I told my then husband’s sisters what happened, they almost had to believe it.

    I have read extensively on the subject and have slowly come to an acceptance of his condition. It’s not at all easy. It still makes me very sad. Our family has gone on, but there is a hole in it. So, if any one of you can take this information and use it to help you, please do. My feelings run in cycles, but at least I am not being lied to and I can make decisions about my life based on my own truth.

    • Still Reforming

      Thank you, C, for your testimony. All of your words are helpful to me. I wonder why I am so sad – and yet, I know why at the same time. I’m only 1/2 year divorced, and I find myself more sad than not, even though I am thankful to God for the deliverance after a 20+ year marriage with a covert aggressive narcissistic man who still is in the church where I served and worshiped for nearly a decade. They support him and love him, even knowing that he abandoned us (wife and child) financially and physically. It’s so topsy-turvy. In one fell swoop, I feel like I lost my whole life, and yet, I never really had any of those people. It just takes time to absorb all this. I find myself like a turtle in a shell these days, fearful of peeping out.

      • Noel

        I understand how you feel. I felt that my home was sort of a cocoon. I would venture out and see people, but I felt the urge to come home and be by myself. It was my way of healing. I didn’t feel confident enough to expose my fragility. Luckily, I had a few friends that I could trust.

      • healingInHim

        The last few comments … have continued to speak to me … I just don’t have anyone that I truly trust, except for the Lord. God has not provided flesh & blood to come to my aid.
        This past Christmas and New Year has been tough. For some reason others continue to send ‘cards’ addressed to both of us… these are old school friends whom I had embraced, although he had wanted to stop visiting with them when he first professed Christ. It’s strange, painful and almost like they are rubbing my face in the whole mess. They don’t ask him “why”; they accept the fact that “people like him change” and of course consider me way too religious and can’t blame ‘him’ for stepping out of my life … and now he says he will not discuss ‘his faith’ with me?
        He spent the summer with friends that we had stopped visiting with for years because ‘he’ claimed he was tired of rehashing ‘the good ole days’? Now I’m out of the picture and I guess he feels the freedom to ‘drink’ as much as he pleases. He would blame my presence for making him feel he needed to abstain in the past?
        Sorry for rambling… I’m really hurting even with God’s Word to help heal.
        Thank you all for being so patient with me. Must go for a walk and finish up tasks. Please pray that I can complete my college course and keep focused so that the Lord’s name may be glorified. Presently, I’m exhausted, however my marks are very good and the other women are curious about me – it’s like they think Christians don’t have the intelligence for anything … except if you are a ‘worldly christian’.

      • Still Reforming

        I’ll pray for you. And I wish I were near you so I could walk and talk with you at length. I hear the hurt in your words, and I get it. I get the loss of all of those years and people you hoped would understand. Because like you would be there for them, they aren’t for you. If they were ‘real’ or honest, you could tell them and they’d want to be a true friend, but they’re not. It’s so upside down.
        I’ll pray you complete your college course. I’m glad you’re in it. I’ll pray for your focus, and also your rest. That’s one thing I’ve been struggling with lately as well. Rest. If I don’t take Advil PM, I don’t sleep well, but I don’t want to be addicted to it. When I try to not take it, I awaken every two hours and then I’m up super early – and it leaves me more weary than I already am. So I take it just to get sleep.
        Yes, re: academia looking down on Christians. The current worldview is that if you have faith at all, it didn’t involve reason, which is absurd. It’s actually the other way around. Again, topsy-turvy.

  11. healingInHim

    Still Reforming – Thank you for praying. Yes, you get it! I’ve read your comments on other ministry threads. The fact that we are able to share and pray for one another because of internet access is a great blessing provided by an awesome God. To be honest, one of my reasons for being cautious about ‘moving out’ is it would also cut me off from Christian, prayerful interaction via the internet. I know that is the scheme of the enemy and he is using this sinful relationship to try to wear down my devotion to Jesus Christ. (it would take quite some time and finances to receive internet access because of my remote location)
    My prayer is for all victims to be very leery of the “wolves” and also the “roaring lion” who seeks to devour and is ever lurking in the shadows.

  12. Healinginhim and Still reforming, I am praying for you both. From my experience these things take time to work themselves out…praying for you both to have endurance to walk through each step, and for you to have rest and refreshment between the steps. I understand the sleep issues too. I used a cd that played rain falling and it helped me to relax at night.

    • Still Reforming

      Thank you, Abidenhim. You are a real sister in Christ and a true friend. (((((((hugs)))))))

    • healingInHim

      Thank you for the prayers and encouragement and joining Still Reforming in giving you a ((hug)) …. 🙂 ❤
      Yes, many precious true believers in Christ found here.
      Thank you Pastor Dave for your heart of reaching out to the vulnerable by providing this blog/ministry.

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