Emotional Manipulation #10 – Projection

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Projection

In my research, many articles concurred that the narcissist projects their own image onto you. Necessarily, the narcissist is projecting their own selfimage/insecurities and concerns that hes the crazy one, bipolar and mentally unstable as a defense mechanism. Rather than turning inward and trying to selfevaluate and learn to own up for his own actions, Scott projected them consistently onto me. This also included behaviors that he/himself was conducting, yet accusing me of during the divorce.  

One day while in our home office, I did my sweep of the home computer history (he had hacked my files at that point) and saw that Scott had searched information about Bipolar Disorder along with articles about child custody when one parent is mentally unstable. Scott had his own work computer. There was no reason or need for him to use our home computer. Yet, he managed to leave printed copies of the articles on the office desk. I couldn’t decide if that was an accident or pure mental cruelty. Did Scott honestly believe I was crazy? With increasing regularity, especially since filing for divorce, Scott  repeatedly told me that I was insane, delusional, even bipolar. I also heard him tell this to our family and friends.

Even with my background studying psychology in college, Scott made me question my reality and sanity. I understood the diagnosis of bipolar. Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder marked by alternating periods of elation and depression. I wasn’t bipolar. Sure I had exhibited some symptoms of depression and anxiety over the years, even more so with the divorce, and with good reason! But Scott was so convincing, he actually made me question what I knew to be true. It’s difficult to explain precisely how he did it. But I learned over time in reading and researching how I got to that place in my life and the profound effect Scott’s manipulative tactics had on me throughout the years.  Plus, the court ordered psychiatric evaluations provided validation that I wasn’t the crazy one.

I thought it funny one day, during one of the Christmas parties we hosted for his employees at our home, that one of his staff referred to him as the “Master Reflector.”  I chuckled, because he had hit the nail on the head.  Like a boomerang, if you would express a concern or action to Scott that hurt or bothered you, instead of addressing your feelings, he would come back at you with angry, spiteful malice at full force.  Half the time you didn’t know what hit you. It was like taking a dart to the forehead meant to throw you off the subject at hand.

Throughout the divorce Scott would accuse me of various things such as dating, hiding money and spying on him, etc.  When in fact, he was the one doing those things all along.  He was essentially projecting his own version of guilt (if he’s even capable) and actions onto me.  Eventually it became crystal clear through my studies that Scott, exerting those declarations onto me, was merely projecting his own internal fears, insecurities and actions.

So, how do you cope when a narcissist projects back at you?  Best thing to do is to ignore their reply (usually it’s a question or a jab) and try to keep the initial subject at the forefront.  You may have to repeat yourself dozens of times asking the same question over and over.  Sometimes it’s like jumping on a crazy wheel that just keeps spinning.  Rarely, if ever, will you get the answer you want from a narcissist or even recognition of your feelings.  Instead most often you will feel attacked. Projection is a narcissist main defense mechanism.  When that happens, its best to walk away and just let it go.  Let it go…..

 

 

 

Emotional Manipulation #9 – Third Party Reinforcements  

May 6 – Third Party Reinforcements 

Narcissist need backup.  Their egos are massive.  They will convince/sway everyone to be on their side. You won’t win, you can’t.  They weave their victims into a triangle of defeat manipulated by the best of the best.  I was no match for the Silver Tongued Devil nor his maelstrom of Machiavellian schemes designed to isolate me from everything and everyone I had known and loved.

He took advantage as often as possible to build his case against me to our friends, family,  even our children.  On one specific occasion he purposely staged an event,  with no regards for our son who was caught in the crosshairs, to reinforce his case against me with our court ordered co-parenting therapist. 

Headbutt Incident – (Staging #17) 

We had been in mediation all day while our son was home alone during summer break.  It was a Monday evening and also golf league night for Scott.  I was sure he would leave Cooper home alone again on his parenting time as he did so often before.  

Settlement talks hadn’t gone well and my attorney suggested that I spend the night somewhere safe, away from Scott.  Knowing he was away that evening, I went to grab a few items that I would need to take to Melissa’s, my friends house for the night.  When I told our son, Cooper where I was going, he begged to go swimming in her pool for a few hours.  (Melissa also has two other children close in age to Cooper.)  Feeling sorry for our son, I agreed to take him while Scott was golfing.  I left Scott a message on the OFW site notifying him of our plans and assured him that I would have Cooper home at 8:30 p.m.  I didn’t think this would be a problem. The previous week, Scott didn’t come home from golf until well after 10 p.m., (then assaulted me.) My attorney was right, I should have grabbed my stuff and ran.  What happened next was truly unbelievable. 

I was surprised to see Scott had pulled into the driveway behind me at precisely 8:30 p.m., blocking my car in.  Cooper was complaining on the way home that he wasn’t feeling well and needed some sinus medication. Nervous, I explained that I was just dropping Cooper off as instructed and that he needed medicine that was located in his bathroom.   

Making excuses, Scott said that he didn’t know what to give Cooper and asked that I quickly do it before I leave.  Not wanting to leave our son in distress (which you know Scott would have claimed later) I caved and went back into the house.  Big mistake. Scott followed me. 

With my heart pounding, I quickly went upstairs into Cooper’s bathroom and proceeded to get the medicine, right where I said it was.  While I was pouring the medicine into the little plastic measuring cup, Scott followed me into our son’s room and began accusing me of taking Cooper on his parenting time.  He threatened that he was going to file a complaint with Child Protective Services and that no court would ever grant me custody because I was “a crazy psycho bi*ch” and more.   Sensing Scott had been drinking, and fearful for my safety, I turned my phone record button on and stuck it in my pocket. (I took my chances of going against the judge’s orders not to record – I knew I needed a safety net.) 

With my shoes in one hand and Cooper’s medicine in my other hand, I turned to exit the bathroom. Scott stood there blocking the door, all 5’11 and 175 pounds of drunkin’ rage.  Scott continued to yell at me as I repeatedly asked him, “Please leave me alone.  Please move.” 

Scott not moving continued his verbal lashing.  Over and over I asked him to walk away, to please move.  I was afraid to push past Scott, knowing he would claim that I assaulted him as he had done so before.  Continuing to repeat over and over for Scott to leave me alone and to walk away, I made the mistake of raising my voice to the Supreme Being.  Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde came over his face, like a mask being pulled down. 

Now Mr. Hyde, with a crazed look in his eyes proceeded to yell, “Oh, My, God! You just headbutted me! Oh! My God!” getting  louder each time.  Then to my utter shock, Scott began hitting HIMSELF on the forehead repeatedly! 

Continuing even louder, Scott then began to scream Cooper’s name over and over yelling, “Cooper, help! Mommy is beating me!  Stop Mommy!  Stop beating me!” “Cooper help!”

Scott continued his unbelievable act running out of the bathroom in search for our son who was downstairs at the time all the while slapping his own forehead and screaming that I was beating him. I stood there completely dazed, with the medicine and my shoes in hand wondering had that really just happened?  And, oh my God! I hoped that my recording worked!

Eerily serene, probably in a stupor at what I had just witnessed, I went in search of our son.  I found him downstairs alone crying on the sunroom sofa.  I handed our son his medicine and explained that I did not hurt his father and that I had to leave for the night. I kissed him on the forehead and left.   

Scott was in the garage waiting for me as I left, and pretending, YES pretending, to be on the phone with the police (I didn’t know that at the time).  I didn’t say a word, just got in my car and drove straight to Melissa’s house.  At 9:14 p.m. Scott sent me a message.  It said, “Don’t come home tonight. I’m fearful for my safety!”  At 9:16 p.m. Cooper sent me a message saying that he was afraid of his father.  He also didn’t feel well and begged me to come home.  I was crushed.   

I just couldn’t go back — fearful of my safety.  I was also worried about when and how the police would contact me.  According to Melissa, they would probably call first, then come to interview me.  (They never did.) Thank goodness I had Melissa, my retired police officer friend.  She got me through some of the worst of times. 

After listening to the unbelievable recording with Melissa, I was relieved that one could hear me calmly claim that I was not touching him and that he was in fact hitting himself.  Besides the fact I’m 5’2, and he’s 5’11.  It would be nearly impossible for me to physically headbutt the man unless I had a step stool!

Next Day – Stay Away 

When I returned home, in front of our son, Scott said, “Stay away from me; you hurt me yesterday.”  Scott had also sent correspondence to his attorney stating that I had assaulted him.  I couldn’t believe it.  Thank goodness I had recorded the incident and shared my story and recording with my attorney.  Kelly, my attorney, admonished me, angry that I had gone against the judge’s orders not to record.  Didn’t she understand my need for safety?  Especially given all the past times Scott had tried to frame me for something I didn’t do?  

Headbutt Continued… 

Before our co-parenting session, I shared the recording of the headbutt incident with our court ordered co-parenting therapist, Jessica.  I was taking a chance because I was essentially admitting that I violated the judge’s orders not to videotape or record. But I felt it was crucial that Scott’s behavior and attempts to frame me be exposed.  

During our therapy session together, Jessica gently led into questions about what happened over the weekend.  Without a twitch, Scott convincingly told her that I had attacked and headbutted him.  When she asked if Scott called the police, he admitted to lying about that, stating he was trying to scare me. And didn’t want to press charges against me (again).  I was shocked he acknowledged it, but then again it would be easy to disprove as there would be no police report.   

After sharing his very long and detailed rendition of the incident, Jessica said to Scott, “Did you know that your wife recorded the incident?  And, that she shared a copy of that recording with me?” . . . Dead silence.

Jessica went on to say that it was apparent that Scott had lied and staged the attack in attempts to frame me.  She also indicated that she heard me ask him more than a dozen times to leave me alone and to walk away, which he refused obviously in attempted to harass and traumatize me. 

Thrown off base, you could see Scott’s mind plotting what to say next.  Not surprisingly, Scott stuck to his story without a twinge of remorse.  As the seconds ticked by on the clock he said,  “Well everything I’ve told you is the truth.” That’s it.

Jessica’s reply, “As long as you continue to lie and not take accountability for your actions Scott, I can no longer be your therapist.”  So be it.  The session ended and we walked out.

Later that evening, I was amazed when Scott sent me a text asking, “Do you want this to be over?”  And “Do you still want a divorce?” Seriously, was he trying to save our marriage after he just tried to frame me and put me in jail! By this point I’d lost count of how many events Scott had purposely orchestrated and staged to reinforce his position with our court ordered co-parenting therapist in his claims that I was an abusive, unfit mother. This time, however, it backfired.

A few days later, forced to admit his lies, Scott called our therapist and took accountability.  It was the only way he could redeem himself.  It was that or explain to the judge why we were no longer seeing the the co-parenting therapist as directed.

Throughout the divorce Scott coldly and masterfully orchestrated more than 33 devastating attacks designed to make me look crazy and violent in attempts to get custody of the kids he hardly even knew.

Our therapist later testified against Scott about the events that happened that day which was a key factor as to his true character.  It was evident that he would do whatever it took to win. It was a game, one he had to win at all costs using whatever means and third-party reinforcements.

  

Emotional Manipulation #8 – Control

For the narcissistic psychopath, it’s all about control. It is the underlying core for all their behaviors. Why are narcissist control freaks? They need to control others’ behaviors to maintain their self-esteem and protect their vulnerable selves.   Toxic abusers love to maintain control in whatever way they can.  They isolate you by maintaining control over your finances and social networks.  They isolate and manipulate your friends, family, and social circles (alienation).  The narcissist micromanages every facet of your life, toying with your emotions in the process.  And, when they lose that control they attack, starting a smear campaign and stalking your every move.

It was evident from the very beginning that our divorce wasn’t going to be amicable like he repeatedly proclaimed so often.  My first taste of the extent that he would go to for control during our divorce started in the very beginning. He sabotaged my attorney and my initial filing for divorce then became the plaintiff. He then proclaimed he was the one divorcing me calling the shots throughout the divorce process.  It was a game that he had to win no matter the costs — financially; how it affected the children, even losing his job in the process.

He tried to control the finances, cutting me off proclaiming it was his money.  He refused to pay bills and attorney fees even though all of our accounts were joint.  He even went so far as to break the very Mutual Restraining Order violating his own Order to maintain the status quo, selling off E*Trade stocks, forging my signature and hiding thousands upon thousands of dollars in cash and going on a vacation and spending rampage.

Next was the fight over our master bedroom.  Forced to live in the same home, he continuously broke into the master bedroom which was to be my personal space, spending more than a thousand dollars on locksmith fees in the process. Even with an agreement in place that he would reside in the guestroom in the lower level,  the rules didn’t apply to him.  According to him, it was HIS house, HIS money, HIS bedroom and he had the right to access it anytime he wanted.  He controlled the house, and I had no safe place or privacy of my own.

When I shut down his access to my accounts, social media, etc. he went ballistic.  Going so far as to spending hundreds of dollars subscribing to people search engines. He accessed my files on our home computer and stole my IPAD.   It wasn’t until 6 months into the divorce I’d learned that he had also been illegally accessing my email accounts monitoring my every step and correspondences with my attorney.  He broke into my car repeatedly, even stealing my journal and files.  Again, it was HIS car, HIS house.  There were no boundaries he wouldn’t cross. The rules didn’t apply to him. He controlled it all.

When A Narcissist Loses Control:

When a narcissist loses control they will start a smear campaign.  They will do everything in their power to put you down, demean you, destroy your reputation to other people. Especially the persons that you have in common with them. They will utilize any piece of private information that they have about you and twist the truth into something that will make you look as though you’re horrible. They are masters at masking the smear campaign and talking about you as if they are in ‘concern’ for you. They do this to feed on other people’s compassion, and that’s how they rope others into their well thought out plans to try to destroy your reputation.

They will stalk you.  When we finally had a parenting schedule in place, for the first time in my life I had freedom.  Freedom to go and do whatever I wanted without having to get approval from him or a third-degree upon my return.    He went crazy, not knowing where I was or who I was with.  He couldn’t control where I went, but he went so far as to tracking and stalking my every movement.

How to deal with a Narcissist’s need for control:

So, what can you do?  Rule #1 with a narcissistic psychopath – Don’t engage.  They know what buttons to push, making it extremely difficult not to engage or react — which is exactly what they want. They will not take NO for an answer. They will try to do what they can to hold control over you, because they do not accept that you will not allow them to control you. Because they are diluted in the mind, they will stop at nothing to insert themselves where they don’t belong. Whether they show up at your job, interfere with your dating life, show up at your home unannounced, and share your personal and financial information with others.  They will stop at nothing to be in your life no matter how much you have pushed them out and said NO to them.

#2 Disconnect – Block the abuser from all your social media.  Block their calls and emails. Be private.  Don’t share information with mutual friends.  Be smart.  Change passwords, get a new email account.  Go on Stealth mode with your life.

Being free, truly free, is liberating, titillating and scary all at once.  You’ve been used to being micromanaged – your every moved supervised, directed.  Stay true to your inner voice and spirit.   They will guide you. Take the power and control into your own hands.  It’s your life.  Live it how you want to now.  The world is your oyster.

Emotional Manipulation #7 – Smearing

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Narcissists will slander you and report back to your loved ones, their loved ones, and anyone who will listen. They create stories that depict you as abusive and pretend they are the victims of your abuse. They claim that you engage in the behaviors that they don’t want you to accuse them of. They will also deliberately abuse you so they can use your angry reactions against you. A smear campaign sabotages your reputation and slanders your name so that you won’t have a support network to fall back on if you decide to detach and cut ties. Smearing you hides their own abusive behavior while projecting it onto you.

He called my family many times over the years claiming to be worried about me, concerned that I am mentally unstable and bipolar.  He seemed so caring and so concerned about my well being to my family members.  But it was all a ruse – an attempt to alienate me from my loved ones whom I seldom saw because of our continuous moves.  He was setting the stage – a well-planned and calculated one.

When isolation doesn’t work, that’s when the narcissist will attempt to launch a smear campaign.  By doing so, their preemptive strike sabotages your reputation and slanders your name so that you won’t have a support network to fall back on — especially when you try to break free of that toxic relationship.

He even contacted my friends on numerous occasions attempting to tell his side of the story during our divorce.  He was so convincing that many of my dearest friends began to believe him, even knowing what he did to me daily.  A Narcissistic Psychopath can be very convincing.  He will sell you your own shoes.  That’s probably why he did so well in sales.

By this point, just a few months after filing, his family had totally cut me out of their lives, asking me to never contact them again after listening to his lies and tall tales. It broke my heart into shreds knowing that all those people whom I loved dearly, who knew me for thirty years believed the silver-tongued devil.  A leopard doesn’t change their spots overnight! My mother-in-law and I spoke weekly up to the divorce.   We went on numerous trips together, just the two of us.  When her husband died, I was the one there taking care of her.  She was my mother essentially, having lost mine many years previously.  Losing them hurt more than my marriage ending.  And that’s exactly why he did it.

 

 

 

 

Emotional Manipulative Tactic #6 – Snide Comments

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Emotional Manipulation #6 – Snide Comments

One evening while sitting at the dinner table with our children my daughter mentioned that they needed a judge for their upcoming DECA (Distributive Education Club of America) state competition.  Excited, I offered my services, having been the President of my club when I was in high school. Immediately Scott started laughing out loud in front of our children stating, “You don’t know anything about business,”  among other not so flattering comments about my intelligence.

After dinner when the children were in bed, I expressed that his words hurt my feelings, belittling me in front of our children.  Rather than showing any concern or empathy, instead he claimed I was overreacting.  I then went on to defend myself,  reminding him how much I was contributing to the family finances through my years working in the corporate sector and most recently doing various projects and side jobs while being a full-time mom.

His response, one that I’ve heard one too many times over the years was “She is so talented, too bad all her projects are failures.”  The fact was I didn’t fail.  While I wasn’t generating the income I would have liked, it was substantial and I was proud of my work until he made me feel otherwise – always knocking me down a notch.

On another occasion, one morning during our divorce while I was in the kitchen brewing a cup of coffee, trying to wake up, Scott walked in.  The first words out of his mouth were, “Why are you always so angry?”  I wasn’t angry at that moment; in fact, I had woken up in a relatively good mood that day, albeit groggy.  We hadn’t spoken a word, and now he was accusing me of being angry? 

That’s what a narcissist does. A narcissist will even go so far as to say that you are delusional, crazy, too sensitive, exaggerating, or making a big deal out of nothing.      They plant those seeds time and time again. When those snide remarks eventually take root, a person begins to believe what they say, making you doubt and question your own sanity, “Am I always angry?”  Am I a failure?

A snide comment undermines the actual content of a statement with a negative. It is disguised as a random thought, observation, or simply wondering. These comments wear on people when made as frequently as abusers do. Abusers fail to see the positive in praising you.    They can’t do so without making sure to remind you that you are nothing to them. When you continually hear that you are nothing, worthless, a failure, it’s impossible not to start believing it to some degree. Your self-esteem will take a nosedive. Mine sure did.

While in church recently the Pastor spoke about verbal abuse.  I felt as if he was speaking directly to me as I listened intently to his engrossing and insightful tale:  Imagine that each time you spoke you were spitting seeds that over time took root.  Each and every one of those seeds has consequences.  Eventually, those seeds grow and produce a fruit tree.  Good seeds grow into healthy trees, bearing good fruit.  Bad seeds grow into sick trees bearing bad fruit.   

A person is deceived if they believe that harsh words will reap positive results.  Instead, one’s tongue has an incredible ability to destroy what was once even a healthy tree; me, for example.  You know the old saying, “sticks and stones…?”  Well, words hurt more than any physical pain.  Having survived both, I can testify to that!  Unlike daggers, wounding words pierce your heart and soul.  Scott battered against my true inner spirit and eventually devastated me with his mean, hateful, and offensive words.

Once a confident woman ready to take on the world, I was now a shell of the person I used to be after years of tongue-lashings.  I realize now that he took a great deal of pleasure belittling me, insulting me, and being critical of me with his harsh words and snide comments.  All the while simultaneously beating me up with words, depriving me of anything that would make me feel special and worthwhile.  It was control – his control over me. A narcissist’s snide comments are destructive, shattering a person’s self-esteem into bits and pieces. 

Recovery is all about dissolving the influence of negative comments and demeaning treatment, as well as underlying feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem that such abuse over the years generates.  Listen to your gut.  You are not overreacting, exaggerating or crazy.  Recognize that the abuser is using snide comments in attempts to keep his control over you.  Don’t give the abuser that power by listening to those negative comments.  You are a mighty Oak.

 

 

 

Emotional Manipulation #5 – Guilt Trip 

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Narcissists are able to manipulate others so well because they are continually on the lookout for our vulnerabilities.  Once they hone in on what’s important to you, they will use those things against us.  Some examples of vulnerabilities might be our children, any self-esteem issues or insecurities we might have (weight, appearance, etc.), or fears – such as being alone or threats of violating court orders and finances in my case.  Money was a major issue during our divorce.

The narcissistic psychopath will place a guilt trip on you when they want you to do something for them. They will make note of all the sacrifices they have made for you, the gestures they have made for you, and any minuscule compliment they have paid you. Your actions should be in recognition and repayment of those things. And when you refuse to comply or pay up, they claim it is your fault, with no other choice available but to comply and wield to their wishes. 

It’s all your fault.  Somehow in someway, his cheating, lying, and other bad behavior is also your fault.  Perhaps he’s telling you that you needed to be home more, or to spend more time with him, lose weight, gain weight, dress sexier, dress less sexy–whatever.  According to him, his behavior is your fault. (This is the classic, “Look at what you made me do.”)

I can remember one perfect example where my narcissistic partner used guilt as his weapon of choice to get me to wield to his will.  We were living in the same house during our divorce.  Regardless of our agreement that we would each have our own separate bedrooms; he hated losing that one piece of control over me.  He would constantly pick my bedroom lock breaking in, insisting it was HIS house, HIS room, and HE should have access to my bedroom anytime HE wished.  So after numerous times of my privacy being invaded, I had hired a locksmith and installed a pick-proof lock.

I had planned to get away for a few days, leaving for the weekend.  Prior to my departure, my narcissistic partner insisted that I leave my bedroom door unlocked, providing him full access. Using guilt as an emotional tactic he stated, “If you don’t leave the door open when you leave, I will call a locksmith and personally charge you the $300 that it cost to open it.”  He was going to charge me for HIS breaking into my bedroom!

He knew I was concerned about the finances.  His spending was out of control. Yet, every minute of every day he was claiming that I was the one violating the court’s status quo order, holding threats of motions over me.    Pouncing on my vulnerability and fears, I fell for his guilt trip hook, line and sinker.  I welded to his wishes and left my door unlocked. He had guilted me into thinking it was my fault he had to hire a locksmith to break into my personal bedroom!

He also tried many times after that to punish me using guilt where our children were concerned. After various court appearances, regardless of his illegal activities and high priced attorney, it was my fault he was spending so much money on our divorce.  Then telling our son he could no longer afford to help with his rent one week before it was due because it was my fault.

The same day we signed our settlement agreement, after much negotiation, he stated “I hope you’re happy, I can’t afford to support our children’s education because of you.”  When I wouldn’t agree to his demands, he followed through on his threats telling the children all their college funds were gone because again it was apparently all my fault.

Deep down I knew it wasn’t true, but he had hit below the belt where it hurt most – our kids.  And he would continue to do so over the months that followed, trying to guilt me especially where our children were concerned.  He stayed true to his threats over the years, that if I ever left he would leave me with nothing, and turn my own children against me.  He certainly tried.  Alienation and disparagement are also common tactics the narcissist commonly use.

Once you learn these manipulative tactics, they’re easy to spot.  However, not always easy to control your way of responding to those actions that have been conditioned over the years. Especially when they prey upon your fears and vulnerabilities.  Stay true to what you know – what you feel is your truth.  And as I quote Disney’s Elsa “Let it go” as best you can.  You’re not crazy or delusional.  You have a right to your own opinions, beliefs and integrity.  Believe in yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Manipulation #4 – Setting Smoke Screens

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Narcissist throw a smoke screen over whatever it is that you bring up and use another issue as a diversion from the actual topic. Narcissist don’t want you to be on the topic of holding them accountable.  If you really want to talk about the issue that’s bothering you, you’ll have to  continually try to get back to the subject at hand, which is difficult in the first place.  And then of course there’s the fear of  their reaction.  

When I confronted the narcissist about anything, he would change the subject or make everything seem like a joke.  On one occasion during our divorce, after his constant invasions of my personal space I asked him, “Why do you keep breaking into my room and going through my personal files?” 

The Narcissist replied, “You’re the one that abandoned the family,” completely changing the subject in attempt to shift the blame. If I complained about his neglectful parenting, he would point out a mistake or event that happened years ago.   Somehow he would turn the tables on me.  

When I asked the narcissist about his non-status quo purchases during our divorce, he replied, “Why don’t you get a job so you can pay for all your drinking with your new boyfriend.” I wasn’t out drinking and I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time.  It was frustrating to say the least.  But over time I began to learn and recognize the pattern and his smoke screens.    It’s not me.  I’m not crazy.  

I also learned there’s no arguing with the silver tongued devil.  I would never win, nor would I ever get the answers to my questions through his smoke and mirrors.

Listen to Your Inner Voice

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Within each of us, there are numerous voices often that compete for our attention. It can be difficult to decide which one to listen to, particularly when their messages are all quite different, sometimes conflicting, and even alluring. One voice, however, is the speaker of truth. Among all your inner voices, your true inner voice is the one which encourages you, gives you hope, and pushes you to trust and believe in yourself. Conflict within oneself is often caused by dueling voices inside of each one of us. As we move through life, we get mixed messages from the various aspects of ourselves. Some of our voices, such as the naysayer or saboteur, can speak so loudly that they drown out the voice of truth. Listening to your true inner voice  often the voice of understanding, support, and self-assurance – can help lessen and even resolve internal conflict. 

If you’re looking toward the future but your faith in your ability to succeed in life is wavering, you will benefit from finding and listening to your true inner voice. You can connect with it by remaining relaxed and alert, while listening carefully. If you have trouble distinguishing your true voice from the others, meditation may be helpful. You may hear many voices as you meditate, but the one you should pay attention to is the one that speaks to you with love, understanding, and compassion. It will bolster your spirits and urge you to go after your dreams. And it will never cause confusion, remind you of past mistakes, or cause you to doubt yourself. 

The more you listen to and believe in what your true inner voice is telling you about your value and your potential, the stronger that voice will become. And the more you disregard the voices that can interfere with your resolve to succeed, the quieter those voices will become. Saying no to the voices that are judgmental and make you feel ashamed will help you stop being critical of your failures and afraid of success. By finding and strengthening your true inner voice, you will be able to ignore internal conflict and pick out the one that speaks the truth.

“The longer you listen to and believe your true inner voice, the stronger it will become.” Daily OM

Dear Narcissist’s Future/New Girlfriend

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Dear Future Girlfriend,

I am truly sorry for your loss.  Right now, everything is great as you’re in the honeymoon phase. But soon his veneer will slip, and you will be under his control. Whatever view you had of yourself before you met him, imagine a shadow and a husk of that. Whatever strengths and talents you imagined yourself possessing before you met him, shatter them all and start over from scratch. Your confidence and self-esteem will hit rock bottom because of the way you will be treated and manipulated.  You will lose yourself.  When he tells you that he loves you, he really means:

He loves knowing that through gaslighting, and other mind-game tactics, he can make you question your own memory, perception and sanity.

He loves the power he has to get you back whenever you threaten to leave, by throwing a few words of affirmation your way. He loves watching how quickly he talks you into trusting him when he turns on the charm, deceiving you into thinking, “this time, he will change”  He loves that he can make you feel he’s doing you a favor by being with you and throwing a few crumbs your way.

He loves enabling his self-serving behavior through verbal abuse and relishes how easy it is to diminish and manipulate you.  He loves the power to take advantage of your kindness and the pleasure he derives when he makes himself feel huge in comparison to you, taking every opportunity to devalue you with harsh words making you feel small and insignificant.

He loves how easy it is to throw a smokescreen over whatever it is that you bring up and use another issue as a diversion from the actual topic.  He loves to get you flustered, make you act “crazy” over not getting what you want from him, making you repeat yourself.

He loves having you to project onto deflecting all the issues about his own actions by shifting the focus onto something irrelevant.  He loves knowing how effective his tactics have been to keep you in pain when you keep telling him how much he hurt you.

He loves that you are there to blame, making you feel guilty to accomplish his goals and desires.

He loves deriving pleasure from depriving you of anything that would make you feel special and worthwhile with his harsh words and snide comments. He loves to exert his charisma and charm highlighting his positive attributes all the while devaluing yours.

He loves that he can isolate you through a smear campaign, keeping you from others who may nourish you, and break the spell of thinking they ever loved you; He loves making you mistrust them and that no one likes you.

He loves being the center of your universe, regardless of how he mistreats you. He loves alienating you, draining the energy from your life at risk of losing more and more of what you most value and hold dear.

He loves fixing and shaping your thoughts and beliefs, controlling your mind, so that you think of him as your Supreme Being.  He loves being in control of you like an addiction.

He loves how skillfully he manipulates others’ opinions of you through third party reinforcements, getting them to side with him as the “good” guy or “good” parent.

He loves how he can use his power to keep you down, doubting and second-guessing yourself, questioning your sanity, obsessed with explaining and defending yourself while projecting his own insecurities onto you. 

He loves you so much he will become obsessed with you, stalking your every move, always afraid you might abandon him.

He loves making you fearful, keeping you in your place. 

He loves the way he feels when he’s with you. Due to how often he hates and look down on others in general, mirroring feelings of self-loathing.

He loves to dismiss and punish accordingly with judgement and shame until you learn your “lesson,” and to take your place as a voiceless object, a possession 

to serve his pleasure.  He loves using you as a punching bag, to make himself feel good by making you feel bad about yourself or that you deserved it.

When he says he loves you, he actually loves trivializing what he did that hurt or embarrassed you, or how little time he spent engaged with you or the children.

He loves taunting and provoking you, over everything you say, any hurts or complaints you share to keep you on the crazy wheel, ever trying to explain yourself, ever doubting yourself with his altered reality tactics.  He loves to ride the crazy wheel.

He loves the way he feels when you are with him, more specifically, regarding you as a piece of property he owns. He loves the extent to which you enhance his status in the eyes of others.  He loves thinking others are jealous of his possessions.

He loves that he can make you feel insecure at the drop of a hat, especially by giving attention to other women.  

He loves you because, due to the self-loathing he carries inside, he needs someone who won’t abandon him.  Meanwhile he will be seeking comfort in others’ arms.

He loves the power he has over you and the feeling he gets from winning the game, regardless of the effects in has on you or the family.

Wishing you all the best,

The Ex – wife, mother, survivor

#Metoo

 

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#Metoo.  Women are abused in all forms. Not just sexually. One of today’s top news stories is about sexual abuse – something that allegedly happened 20+ years ago.  So what about those who find the courage to tell their true life’s story of verbal and physical abuse today — only to be subjected to fear through threats of retribution?

Someone needs to make a stand. Abuse in all forms is unacceptable. It shouldn’t matter the degree. Sexual, verbal, physical, mental or even bullying. It’s wrong. Abuse in all forms is wrong.

I applaud those who have the courage to come forward, sharing their trials and tribulations. It takes tenacity and grit. Unfortunately, even with freedom of speech, those victims then become the target of criticism and ridicule. Many times those courageous souls are then threatened with claims of defamation and slander — legal intimidation, only to placed back in the victim seat once again.

Our society needs to change.

If you agree…. share this message. Share it with your friends. Support the #metoo movement and for all those who have ever been made to feel less than or hurt. Now is the time to stand up – and shout from the roof tops “No More!” Listen, learn and help others.

Life is a gift. One we must cherish. Love and help one another.

January Recap ….

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January Summary – One Month Into My Divorce

Amicable?  Peaceful?  Let our attorneys work it out?   Scott had been anything but amicable one month into our divorce ‘process’ as he professed so often to anyone who would listen.  (They say hindsight is 20/20 – the following year would be ugly, malicious and devastating. I still can’t believe I survived it all, despite everything. Then there’s that age old saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”   … Call me Hercules!)

Over the course of the past month, Scott had sabotaged my client / attorney relationship, which compromised my subsequent filing for divorce.  He then filed as the plaintiff and had me served at the same time as my father’s open heart surgery.  He also tried to set me up and incriminate me by staging three separate events.

He continued to spin an evil web of lies and deceit that put me on a crazy wheel.  He maliciously used manipulative tactics like Gaslighting, Words of Affirmation, and Verbal Abuse.   Scott accused me of hiding funds and having an affair, things he was doing himself!

Scott started alienating me from our finances and stopped paying the credit card bills.  He refused to give me any money, which forced me to stay in the marital home for the sake of our children, and thus began my nightmare incarceration in his House of Horrors.  Scott blatantly began to violate the very orders that he put in place by cashing out stocks, forging my signature, and hiding funds.

Scott invaded my privacy repeatedly.  He started breaking into my files, my emails, my bedroom, and my car.  On two separate occasions I called the police, fearful for my safety.

Scott’s behavior started metastasizing like a cancer that, throughout our marriage, had been eating into the relationship, damaging it beyond repair.  Now, however, I was seeing how deadly and malignant Scott could really be. He set out to ruin my life and my relationship with our children, my very sanity.  To him, it was a game, one he had to win at all costs.  He gave me no choice but to play by his rules.

And just like a cancer, he didn’t care what he destroyed in his lust to win; eating my life away, piece by piece.

Here’s a Brief Recap of January’s Events:

EMOTIONAL MANIPULATIVE TACTICS (the first 3 of 17)

Emotional Manipulation #1 – Gaslighting  

Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt oneself, and to ultimately lose their own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.  Gaslighting statements and accusations are usually based on blatant lies or an extreme exaggeration of the truth.  The term is derived from the 1944 film, “Gaslight”, in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she’s insane by forcing her to question herself and her sense of reality.  When someone is gaslighted, the narcissist will tell you, “That didn’t happen.  You imagined it.  You’re crazy. You’re delusional.”  In a nutshell, the narcissist will lie and that instills doubt.  Scott now proclaiming that he never agreed to reside in the guest bedroom during the divorce was a perfect example.  It’s easy to see how powerful this can be, as it allows the abuser to deflect all focus from their own actions and shift it to something completely irrelevant. Or, Scott would twist it so I would doubt my perceptions of what really happened time and time again.

Emotional Manipulation Tactic #2 – Words of Affirmation

“Words of Affirmation” are just what you want to hear from your significant other – that they love you, how important you are to them, they are sorry, and how they will never hurt you again. The only thing is – you never hear these things from them unless you are extremely upset and threatening to walk away. Or when they feel the need to exert their power over you in some way. It could be when you’ve reached your boiling point, like a frog about to jump out of the pot, but these words of affirmation are what your abuser knows will get you to stop being angry and stay. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t a true feeling of love or respect for you. It’s just giving you what you want to hear (or gifts) to calm you down – that’s appeasement, not love.

Emotional Manipulation #3 – Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is when a person forcefully criticizes, insults, or devalues someone else. Characterized by underlying anger and hostility, it is a destructive form of communication intended to harm the self-concept of the other person and produce negative emotions in attempt to control another through non-physical means. Verbal abuse, and most other types of abuse, is caused by an underlying disorder. Most often, the disorders are borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or sociopathy. Healthy people might occasionally lose their temper, leading to an outburst, but a consistent pattern of hurtful verbal abuse can only be the result of a deeper problem.

STAGING

Staging #1 – Scott lied and sabotaged my attorney and filed as the plaintiff

Staging #2 – Amicable recording

Staging #3 – Scott planted a BB gun in my bedroom, claiming to be afraid for his safety

POLICE REPORTS

Police Report #1 – Missing tax files/chasing me into my bedroom

Police Report #2 – Locksmith, gaining key, and entry to my bedroom

FINANCES

– Scott excluded me from finances

– Scott depleted our local bank account

– Scott refused to pay visa bill

– Scott demanded my ring to sell for attorney fees

– Scott changed statement mailing address to his office

– Scott Sold E*Trade Stocks and changed statement mailing address

– Scott had E*Trade stock check overnighted

– Scott cashed $71,000 check at Chicago bank

– Scott removed/hid Puerto Rican Bank Statements

INVASIONS OF MY PRIVACY

– Scott refused to move to guest bedroom as previously agreed

– Scott broke into my bedroom repeatedly

– Scott hired a locksmith to break into my room and get a key

– Scott broke into my home computer files

– Scott hacked my personal emails

– Scott broke into my locked car and stole files

MY FIRST MONTH

– My father had heart failure, heart surgery

– I hired my 2nd attorney

– I hired a (CDFA) Certified Divorce Financial Advisor

– I met with Chicago Bank and got an ATM card working

– I began working on interrogatory questions

– I hired a locksmith

– I moved Scott’s items to the basement

– I called Police twice

– I began to research, read and understand

Our divorce wasn’t going to be amicable or peaceful as Scott professed over and over. He had declared war; trumpets blaring, sword drawn, and riding high on his horse.   He had always threatened he would do whatever it took to destroy me, to leave me with nothing and ruin my relationship with our kids. True to his words, January was just a small taste of things to come. In the months to follow it would get worse.  Much, much worse.

War of the Roses?  Nah, I wish.  That was peanuts.  It was just the beginning of my Year of Thorns.

 

One Year Ago – Liberation Day

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One Year Ago . . . a day of reflection

I’m jumping ahead here to my journal entry from one year ago on 9/11.  It seems to be a day of reflection.  What a difference a year makes.

I had met Scott thirty years ago to the day.  I remember vividly because it was my friend Karen’s birthday all those years ago back in college.  And being that it falls on 9/11 also makes the date easy to remember.  I will always remember 9/11 moving forward as my Liberation Day.  The day I singed our Settlement Agreement.

Psychiatric Evaluation Results 

Our attorneys had asked to meet prior to my deposition to see if we could finalize a Settlement Agreement regarding the few remaining issues prior to our scheduled trial to begin the following day:  Child Custody, Alimony and Child Support.  (Scott had already been disposed by that point.)

To my advantage and delight we finally received the psychiatric evaluation results that morning.  Scott’s entire case was based on claims that I was an unfit and uninvolved mother — which, after his deposition, we knew was a lie.  Scott couldn’t answer a single question regarding our children.  Scott’s only alternative was to claim that I was mentally unstable, bipolar, delusional, etc….  Everything was riding on the psychiatric evaluation results.  For us both! 

I received the results literally as I was walking out the door to meet Kelly, my attorney a few minutes prior to our Settlement talks.   I couldn’t read through the report fast enough as my heart pounded, with each sentence filling my heart with joy. 

The results were even better than I imagined! Having just read the report myself, I couldn’t help but gloat.  It was Scott’s final nail in the coffin.  He had no case against me.  He had to know that if we went to trial he would surely have lost taking into consideration both his deposition and his personal psychological assessment results.  Then there was my boat load of evidence pertaining to his forgery, perjury, documented abuse through police reports, hacking, evidence of staging and lying to our co-parenting therapist, plus my documentation of over 100 violations.  Scott really had no choice but to settle. 

*           *            *

September 11 – Settlement Agreement, My Liberation Day! 

During our final negotiations, we knew Scott wanted to avoid going to trial.  However, his settlement offer was much less than what I wanted, but significantly more than his original offer of ZERO.  Slowly over the course of the morning we made headway.  During our negotiations I stood my ground and refused Scott’s last offer.  I had calculated an amount that I thought was fair and refused to go below that amount.  (It still wasn’t what I wanted financially, but I also wanted it to be over!) 

My attorney, upset with my stubbornness, actually asked me to step outside into the parking lot.  As we stood there, Kelly with her voice raised proceeded to tell me while pointing her finger in my face that I was making the biggest mistake of my life if I wouldn’t accept their latest settlement offer. It was much less than I was willing to go; especially after my research in talking with my CDFA and court ‘calculated’ recommended amount.   I dug in my heels and for the first time I stood up to Kelly and said “I am willing to take my chances.  I’d rather go to trial than compromise my integrity.”  Which is exactly what I would have done if I had agreed to Scott’s pittance of an offer.  Up to this point I’ve been fighting for my life.  I was not about to quit, after everything Scott’s put me through not just this past year, but in all the years before.    My attorney couldn’t possibly understand the pain and mental anguish I’d endured. 

Kelly, not happy with my refusal, stormed back into the building.  Throwing her arms up in the air as she walked into the conference room announced “We’re going to trial.  Negotiations are done. Offer refused.”  Following a few feet behind Kelly I sat down and clipped the mic on stating that I was ready to start my deposition for our trial tomorrow. I was not playing around.  The look on Scott’s face was priceless, seeing I was dead serious, he stated, “I told you she would do this,” to his attorney and stepped out asking for a few words in private.  

Approximately ten minutes later, they came back into our small conference room where I was waiting with the court stenographer who was there to record my deposition.  Scott had agreed to our Settlement offer and alimony from our last round of negotiations (still lower than I hoped, but I could live on).  There was no reason to continue with my deposition nor preparations for trial. We also agreed that we would continue the personal property and status quo violation issues with the arbitrator (Big Mistake – Huge.)

The four of us proceeded to write out the agreement around the conference table dividing the assets effective September 1st retroactively.  We all were then required to sign the document.  When the papers came around to me, I had a last-minute thought and refused to sign. The silence in the room was deafening. I proceeded to state “I will only sign our agreement today if I get the dog.”  Scott had threatened all along to take the dog as well as the children from me.  

Scott actually began to refuse and argue, when his attorney hit him on the arm and told him, “Give her the damn dog!”  Scott reluctantly agreed, and I signed.   I was disappointed in the final numbers, but happy that chapter was nearly closed. I actually felt guilty that I was so happy – so close to freedom!  (I was so misguided — it was far from over.)

I was hopeful that the divorce was nearly over and the Judgement of Divorce (JOD) could be entered. (It wasn’t entered until January!)  We still had a few loose ends with the arbitrator regarding our personal property and Status Quo violations, but I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I was nearly free!  For the first time in what seems like ages I could breath and feel a sense of hope for my future.

Signing the Settlement Agreement was by far my biggest mistake leaving the rest of the issues in the mediator/arbitrators hands.  I should have gone to trial.  As part of our Settlement Agreement I agreed to waive all attorney fees.  This was also a huge mistake.   It wasn’t mutual.  Meaning that Scott did not agree to waive attorney fees and would come after me for Arbitration and Mediation attorney fees later.  Scott’s attorney fees were 2/3 higher than mine.  But Kelly insisted that it would be difficult to get reimbursed given that the fees were already paid in full.  But according to Kelly, going to trail would cost significantly more, and I would be taking a chance at recouping those attorney fees and sanctions.  One can’t predict the future, but in hindsight, I had already come so far, I should have taken the chance.  It wasn’t over.  Not even close and Scott would continue to bleed me dry after signing the Settlement Agreement.

*           *            *

The Aftermath 

Scott lost the battle; we both did.  The only winners were the attorneys.  Finally, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  I should have been relieved, happy that this war was nearly over.  But I had this foreboding feeling that there was more to come. (There was!)

As anticipated, the malicious messages came rolling in immediately.  Using all the manipulative tools Scott knew, he tried to shame me; guilting me by projecting his own insecurities onto me through a barrage of texts. Scott said, “I hope you’re happy. Now I can’t afford to support our children’s education.”  He continued calling me greedy, claiming that the children would suffer because of me!   

I couldn’t help but reflect how much money we wasted, literally thrown out the window, much in part to Scott’s actions (and significant attorney fees).  Yet he blamed me, using the only weapon he had left to hurt me, the kids. Just as I feared. Just as he threatened.  Scott had 14 days to write me a check for half the equity of the house, boat, cars and E-Trade compensation.  (Having those funds allowed me the financial freedom to move out finally). Scott didn’t want to give me one cent, but he  was a smart man, backed into the corner with his failure of a deposition and an even worse psychiatric evaluation in hand. He was a wounded warrior, out for revenge.

I should have refused to settle and gone to trial. What I didn’t understand at the time and do now is that the narcissist show their true colors in conflict. One should abandon all hope of a reasonable negotiation or mediation; the true narcissist does neither. The narcissist’s policy is to scorch the earth, destroying everything and leaving nothing behind.

Staging #3 – Gun

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January Journal Continued . . .

Not bothering to knock, using his key Scott let himself into the master bedroom, and approached me again with his phone in hand recording.  Clearly, Scott had carefully planned and orchestrated what he would say next.  Dropping the bombshell Scott said, “I’m afraid of you. I don’t feel safe in our home because you have a gun in your room!” 

Stunned, I stopped putting away the laundry, shocked at his comments. Had I heard him correctly? I asked, “What did you say? A gun?” 

In my bewilderment, Scott replied, “I know you have a gun in your room, and I’m notifying my attorney immediately.” 

After Scott turned around and strutted out of my bedroom, perplexed I searched my bedroom.  Sure enough, in the top drawer of my dresser Scott had planted a BB gun under some clothes.  The same gun we had used to shoot the iguanas to scare them away from relieving themselves in our pool in Puerto Rico!  It was an air pump BB gun, relatively harmless.  But Scott just accused me of having a gun in my room and recorded it, stating he was now afraid of me! Thus admitting at the same time that he had broken into my room earlier and gone through my drawers and clothes.

I contacted my attorney Bob the next day and asked him what to do?  With a chuckle, Bob said, “Carefully place the BB gun in a plastic bag avoiding making fingerprints and hide it somewhere safe.” I was completely dumfounded.  Had Scott really just staged something in an attempt to frame me?! Hell Yes! I didn’t think it was funny.  Not at all.  

My intuition was right.  And that was just the beginning.  I had every right to be afraid.

Certified Financial Divorce Advisor (CDFA)

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January Journal Continued  . . .

It was time to put my support team together.  After loads of research I learned there was such a thing as a Certified Financial Divorce Advisor.  That was exactly what I needed. I was still working on the hundreds of interrogatory questions and needed help, especially with the financial portion.  And so I hired a Renee, and asked her to review our taxes since, when living abroad, were very complex.  Scott’s company had provided the firm KPMG to prepare them annually. And I had many, many questions.

CDFA

The role of a Certified Divorce Financial Advisor (CDFA) is to assist the client and lawyer how the financial decisions made today will impact the client’s future.  And, after divorce how to best position your assets.

Back when we lived in Puerto Rico, Scott told me that KPMG had miscalculated our taxes as part of the tax equalization process and we owed $60,000.  I was shocked.  That was nearly our entire savings and we supposedly had to pay that money back to The Company. In all the years since, it never sat right with me.  Our taxes had always been around just a few thousand dollars that we either owed or received in return, not $60,000!  And the check for the payment was written to our local bank, not to the IRS, not to The Company.  When I had questioned Scott about it then, I was dismissed.  Scott said, “You don’t understand finances. You’re stupid when it comes to numbers.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.”  So now I asked Renee to look for that transaction and documentation.  Nothing.  I then asked my attorney, Bob, to add that to a second set of interrogatory questions for Scott.  

When Scott saw I’d hired the CDFA (using our joint accounts), in retaliation he began bombarding me with requests for my business records and receipts.  I crafted as a hobby and for stress relief.  I was crafting like crazy at the time!  Sometimes I would sell my wares at craft shows.  I spent more on supplies then what I made back in sales.  But Scott always refused to claim my income, concerned that it would raise red flags with the IRS.  Then Scott accused me stating, “I know you’re hiding money.  You’re a spending whore,” amongst other choice insults.  My hiring Renee spooked Scott — he was unusually assertive and angry. 

Renee was a huge help.  But I never got the answer about the missing $60,000 from Puerto Rico.  All of our Puerto Rico bank statements also mysteriously disappeared at that time during the divorce. We even went so far as to subpoena the Puerto Rican Banks. They refused to respond stating they were a US territory and needn’t comply with US rules and regulations.  Later I also hired a PI – to look for hidden funds.  Just for a domestic sweep (within the US) cost $750.  To do an international sweep I was told would cost thousands – thousands I didn’t have access to at the time.  I’m sure Scott got away with it all.  Living internationally, it was easy for Scott to stash cash.

 

 

Staging #2 – Amicable

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January Journal Continue . . .  

With his phone out and obviously recording, Scott approached me in our home office and asked, “What do you want?”  Scott then continued on to say for the camera, patting his heart and giving me the sad puppy eyes, “I just want a peaceful, painless, and amicable divorce.” I couldn’t help but laugh.  All his actions leading up to that point were anything but peaceful.  

I replied, “If you want our divorce to be amicable, as you’ve so often said, then please respect my boundaries.  Stop breaking into my room, my car, my files.  Our divorce is not going to be amicable until you are amicable.” 

“So, you’re saying you are a not going to be amicable?”  With a big grin, Scott then said, “Thank you very much.” He turned, and walked away saying, “Thank You. Thank You,” repeatedly chuckling under his breath walking out the door.   

(Over the course of the divorce, Scott would stage more than 30 events in attempt to set me up and/or even going so far as to trying to put me in jail.)

Police Report #2

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January Journal Continued . . .

Today I returned home from Chicago to find that Scott had hired a locksmith and gained access to the master bedroom — the lock that I had installed just a few days prior.  It was pick proof, but not locksmith proof. (This was just the start of the Locksmith Fund …. more than a dozen visits over the course of the divorce costing more than $1,000.) 

“It’s my house, my room and now I have the key,” Scott said.  “There’s nothing you can do about it.  Legally I have the right to be here.”  Taunting me, he refused then to give me a key. There was no sense in trying to reason with him.  Even with our counselor reaching out to him, reminding Scott of our agreement, Scott will do what he wants, when he wants with no regards for my privacy.  He meant to torture me, throw me off balance.   

Scott went through my files on the home computer before.  This time I discovered he went through my personal files I kept locked in my bedroom.  Is nothing sacred?  Can’t he allow me one place to be my personal space?  No!  Now Scott had the key to use anytime he felt like gaining access to me and my room!  I won’t stand for it!  Not now.  Not anymore.  Why was he so obsessed with my personal space?  I just couldn’t wrap my head around it!  It was abuse no matter how you looked at it.

In a panic and angry I called the police.  How am I supposed to continue to live in fear with no privacy and no sleep?  I couldn’t just pack up and leave, forced to stay in the marital home for the sake of our children with no money of my own.  (Police Report #2.)

The police came shortly thereafter and asked Scott to give me a copy of the key. Reluctantly he obliged.  I asked the officer what I could do about Scott consistently breaking into my bedroom?  I told him how Scott had terrorized me numerous times in the middle of the night.  I told the officer how Scott had assaulted me before and how his anger outburst scared me.  The officer proceeded to tell me, “Legally you both own the house. Therefore, he has the right to access your bedroom, regardless of your agreement. Unless it’s written in a Court Order, there’s nothing we can do.” 

But one officer did suggest I contact the Personal Protection Order (PPO) offices as an option.  I had been there before back in October when Scott hurt me the last time. But that was a while ago.  Usually to file a PPO there had to be evidence of recent physical harm or eminent danger.  Did I have to wait until I was beaten again, or worse?  In the meantime I contacted my attorney – apparently there was an alternative option.  I needed to file a Motion for Exclusive Use of the Home.  It was obvious Scott was not going to let this divorce be amicable or peaceful as he repeatedly stated over and over.  His actions proved otherwise.

(Looking back, I think this was all a part of Scott’s intricate plan to get me out of the house with his constant invasion of my privacy. More on that later.)  

Exiled 

The following day I removed Scott’s access to all my social media accounts, including Facebook.  He went ballistic.  Scott couldn’t stand not having access to my accounts, by bedroom, my car.  I was a piece of property he owned and everything that went with it.

So in retaliation once again, Scott said he is taking our oldest son, Brandon to Las Vegas for his 21st birthday and our daughter to Miami for spring break.  Scott knows I don’t approve, which I stated on record.  Brandon had just gone on my birthday cruise, which was also to have been his early 21st birthday present.  Lindsey was going to California. 

I don’t understand where all this money was coming from?  I expressed my concerns while taping the conversation on my phone to Scott.  I stated, “these extra trips of yours were not planned jointly nor agreed upon. Therefore you are the one now violating the MSQ and MRO orders as you so often accused me of doing.”  Scott just laughed and walked away.  The rules didn’t apply to Scott.  (And, he got away with it all.  Spend now, ask forgiveness later rule.)

Chicago Bound

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January Journal Continued . . . 

I needed a break and I needed to get my finances in order which meant meeting with our bank branch in Chicago. Road trip time.  For the first time in months I actually smiled and felt a thousand pounds lighter leaving behind all that baggage — and Scott.  I couldn’t wait to be free.

Before I left, Scott sent a text demanding I leave the master bedroom door unlocked.  It was His room, His bed.  Of course I refused.  I hadn’t worked hours upon hours moving all his belonging to the guest room for no reason.  Who knows what he would do now – possibly start selling off my jewelry?  Hack my files?  Who knows! His erratic behavior and outburst were anything but status quo. Scott scared me. And he didn’t like it when I didn’t obey his demands.

Another text from Scott followed with, “Don’t tell anyone while on your ‘visit’ that we’re getting divorced.  It may impact my career.” I’m sure Scott doesn’t want me telling any of our friends about our impending divorce.  Besides, I don’t believe for one moment that a major Fortune 500 company will fire an employee for getting divorced.  It was all about his ego, and Scott’s need to maintain the perfect image.

Secret Mission

I went to stay with our friends Tim and Alyssa Johnson.  We met 26 years ago when Scott started working for “The Cereal Company” the same time as Tim.  They have continued to be our dear friends ever since. We visited them constantly over the years after we moved away.  They even managed to visit us while living abroad in both Ireland and the Caribbean. 

Now while staying with them in Chicago, I confided in Alyssa about the divorce.  She wasn’t surprised having known us for so many years and the struggles I’ve endured.  I asked her not to tell her husband, Tim, initially about the divorce.  First, I wanted to quiz him about the various savings and investment plans The Company offered.  Tim was close to the same level in The Company as Scott and I needed to know exactly what investments that entailed. So, over the next few days I cleverly worked in various questions about the plans and retirement programs that they were both participating in and took meticulous notes.  

Inside Scoop

Shortly after filing for divorce I’d reached out to another Company wife, Kim who had recently signed her Judgment of Divorce.  She had a difficult divorce as well, and warned me early on, even bringing me a journal instructing me to write down everything during the process. I am forever grateful to Kim for her advice and gift that day.  It’s the same journal I am referring to now.  She indicated that her ex-husband had failed to disclose a few of those retirement plans during their divorce. To her dismay, there was nothing she could do now to recoup those lost funds.  Knowing what had happened to Kim, I wasn’t about to let that happen to me as well and so I drilled Tim for information as best I could.

Retaliation 

Scott continued to inundate me with messages while I was in Chicago, now proclaiming that he was taking the kids to Florida for spring break among other things.  We had discussed this before and had agreed that, because our daughter had won the state competition for DECA, she was going to go to California for the national competition.  We simply couldn’t afford to do both.  Besides, we had agreed that she couldn’t take that much time away from both her high school and college classes. Scott just wants to punish me for going to Chicago. It was ok for him to travel and go on numerous “guy trips” each year.  But not ok for me to even take a weekend away.  That was his retaliation.  

(Scott claimed later that every time I left the house I was abandoning the family – even when I would drive an hour away to meet with my attorney.  He would state this repeatedly in our child custody and arbitration hearings.)

I spent a few blissful days with the Johnson’s free from obligations and divorce able to exercise my free will and just go with it.  I can’t remember the last time I did that.  I also made the rounds and visited a few other friends from the old neighborhood where we used to live in the Chicago suburbs.  Finally I met with our banking account executive and got access to the accounts online and a working ATM card. I informed him of our divorce and asked that he alert me if Scott made any other changes to our account. 

(I am surprised that our bank neglected to inform me that Scott had made special arrangements to cash out our E*Trade stocks at that local branch receiving $71,000 in cash just a few days prior.)

Moving Day

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January Journal Continued . . . 

I was exhausted by Scott’s continuous efforts to pick my bedroom lock, always having some lame excuse; claiming he needed access to the thermostat, the medicine in the cupboard or something else.  Our therapist Sally reached out to him, reminding Scott of our agreement that he would reside in the guest room. Finally forced to acknowledge our agreement, he was now procrastinating moving his stuff to the guest room stating he didn’t have time due to work constraints.

I couldn’t take another sleepless night by that point, and so that morning I proclaimed it moving day.    I called a locksmith who assured me that the new lock he installed was “pick-proof.”  After the locksmith left, since Scott refused to move his belongings to the guest room, out of the kindness of my heart (and for my sanity) I moved everything.

Initially I considered throwing everything out the windows like you see on TV. But that would mean violating the MSQ/MRO orders if I removed anything of his from the house.  Instead, I packed up Scott’s clothes and personal items and moved them to the basement, two floors below, taking one step at a time.  Stairs were difficult since my second knee replacement revision.  It took me hours and many, many trips, but worth every bead of sweat to get him out of my personal space. Being a bit obsessive-compulsive, I actually color-coordinated all of his hanging clothes and put the others neatly in the dressers.  Anything that didn’t fit or wasn’t seasonal I put into moving boxes and labeled each one accordingly. I then wrote Scott a letter and posted it on the master bedroom door explaining my actions. I asked him to respect our agreement so we could move ahead peacefully and amicably. 

When Scott returned home later that evening and saw the new lock I had installed on my bedroom door, he lost it and angrily began banging on my bedroom door. I was thankful that both the children were away, and tried to ignore his temper tantrum as he shouted, “You have no right to move my stuff!”  Further adding “It’s my house and my bedroom!”  He accused me of violating the MSQ/MRO orders, even going so far as to make a copy of the Orders and sliding them under my bedroom door.  Imagine what would have happened had I thrown all his stuff out the window! 

I felt safe for the first time in a long, long while having the new lock in place. I slept well that night. But that didn’t last long.  

Scott would later claim in court that I  threw all his clothes down the stairs. Thankfully, I took photos of all of his items that I had neatly moved, hung and put away.

F is for Felony

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January Journal Continued . . . 

Scott left again on another one of his business trips. I am beginning to question his ‘business trips’ which seem to be increasing in frequency.  Not that I mind. I am glad, even grateful, when Scott is away. I can’t sleep when he is at home, I’m always afraid he will pick the lock on my bedroom door, day or night.  

While Scott is away, the texts have started rolling in like a thunderstorm.  Scott continues to proclaim that our agreement with our marriage counselor never took place stating “You’re crazy. I never agreed to stay in the basement; you’re delusional to think that you have the right to lock the door and keep me out of my own bedroom!”

In another text Scott threatened, “I will call the locksmith when I get home if you still continue to lock the door.”  

Desperate and sleep-deprived, I reached out to our marriage counselor, Sally. I asked if I misunderstood our arrangement. Was I delusional?  Had I misinterpreted our conversation that day while in Florida?  That was one of the worst days of my life, holding my sobbing father after hearing his life was at stake, and then choosing OUT of our marriage per Scott’s ultimatum.  To my relief, Sally confirmed that “Yes,” during the conference call from Florida Scott had agreed to reside in the basement guest bedroom. She reassured me stating “I will reach out to Scott and remind him of the agreement.” 

I immediately took a photo of her text and saved it to a zip drive. I have started stockpiling loads of texts and emails against Scott should we go to trial.  (Thank goodness I started keeping track of literally hours upon hours of videos and recordings as well as hundreds of emails and texts, in addition to this journal.) This evidence will be crucial later when questioning my recollection of events, dates, times, etc. as well as my reality which has been brought into question numerous times because as Scott implied “I was delusional.”  However, I have come to realize this isn’t true. Our agreement with our therapist is a perfect illustration of the crazy wheel Scott kept me spinning on. I have to constantly reach out to friends, family, therapist, and my own journal to validate my perceptions and beliefs breaking down any self-doubt. 

While Scott was away on his current ‘business trip’ we later discovered that without my knowledge and approval Scott cashed out some of our stocks and took the check sent by overnight express from E*TRADE, forged my signature, and withdrew more than $71,000 in cash from our Chicago bank. Not only did Scott violate both the MRO and MSQ orders, he committed a felony by forging my signature! 

Police Report #1

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January Journal Continued . . . 

The kids needed cash for various things such as ski club and travel money for our daughter’s upcoming Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) trip.  Scott refused to give me or the kids any money.  So, I went to our local credit union and withdrew $100.  Scott even stated that he will not pay the overdue credit card bill that is in my name, purposely damaging my credit.   

I had opened a new card about a year ago to get the double airline miles.  When I applied online, I couldn’t figure out how to add another name.  Besides, I thought at the time I should start building credit of my own, having contemplated divorce even then. But I considered it a family account as I put all the monthly utilities and joint expenses on that card, most being direct debit and all paid from our joint bank account.  

“I refuse to pay for anything that isn’t mine; you have to pay for your own expenses and attorney fees,” he said. (I was so glad I had secretly began recording our conversation, showing proof of his attempts to alienate me from our finances.)

When I expressed “You know I don’t have any money of my own. It’s all in our joint account,” Scott then stipulated, “Well then, I guess you need to sell some of your jewelry or go get a job.  I’m not paying your credit card bill.” 

Having heard enough, I left and headed over to a neighbor’s house where we drank a glass of wine and soaked in her hot tub.  I did not want to have to deal with him anymore that day knowing there was no way I could battle with the silver tongued devil.  When I returned to the house later that evening, Scott pounced on me in the kitchen the moment I walked in the door.  He was obviously drunk, slurring his words and visibly angry with his stance.  

He wanted to know, “Where did you go?  Who were you with!?”   Once again if insinuating that I was having an affair.  Then he accused me of being drunk having noticed that I took a bottle of wine with me when I left earlier.  

Finally he got around to the real subject that was bothering him.  He had noticed the tax files were missing from our home office, and asked, “Where are the tax files!?” 

I explained, “I dropped off the tax files to be copied.” I did not tell him I had left the tax files with my new attorney. But it didn’t really matter either way.  His reaction was NOT normal, unless he had something to hide.

Because I had temporarily removed the tax files Scott was now accusing me of violating the MSQ and MRO orders. Scott then demanded to know when, where and with whom I left our tax files with?  When Scott didn’t get the answers he was seeking, I could tell his anger was quickly rising.  He stood within a few feet of me, purposely invading my personal space, screaming now within inches of my face demanding answers.  

Not knowing what else to do, I bolted, running up to my room.  Scott was right behind me as he chased me into the master bedroom. I managed just in time to lock myself in the master bathroom slamming the door in his face. Terrified I dialed the police.  I didn’t doubt for one second it could have escalated to physical abuse if I hadn’t locked myself in the bathroom.  He was crazy mad, and Mr. Hyde was banging on my door yelling “I’m pressing charges! You just assaulted me with the door!” (Keep in mind, I am recording everything.)

Not long after I made the call, the police came and made sure I was ok. The officer told Scott to leave me alone, and left.  Instead of listening to the officers, Scott’s irrational and erratic behavior escalated.  I had to take refuge in the master bathroom again while I heard Scott pacing outside the bathroom door shouting more obscenities and ranting. (Thank goodness I had video taped Scott’s erratic behavior that day, proving I hadn’t assaulted him with the door. It would come in handy later.)

When all was quiet and it seemed like Scott had given up, I went to check on Cooper. I hoped our son slept through the whole ordeal. I was relieved to find him sound asleep.  When I went to go back into my bedroom a minute later I found the door shut and locked. Scott must have waited for me to open the door, then snuck in while I was checking on Cooper. I was banished to the basement again without my PJ’s, toothbrush, and my medication.  I could have picked the lock, but I wasn’t about to sink to his level, nor did I want to disturb the drunken Supreme Being, afraid of his retaliation.  I’d had enough of Scott that night.  Best to stay away. 

Unbeknownst to me, Scott sold more E*TRADE stocks that day and requested that the check be sent to him via overnight express. Another MRO & MSQ violation. 

Words of Affirmation – Emotional Manipulative Tactic #2

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Emotional Manipulation Tactic #2 – Words of Affirmation

Words of Affirmation” are just what you want to hear from your significant other – that they love you, how important you are to them, they are sorry, and how they will never hurt you again. The only thing is – you never hear these things from them unless you are extremely upset and threatening to walk away. Or when they feel the need to exert their power over you in some way. It could be when you’ve reached your boiling point, like a frog about to jump out of the pot, but these words of affirmation are what your abuser knows will get you to stop being angry and stay. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t a true feeling of love or respect for you. It’s just giving you what you want to hear (or gifts) to calm you down – that’s appeasement, not love. 

After Scott’s last physical attack in October, I threatened to leave.  Scott then claimed to have an epiphany, that he would change and do whatever it took.  He bought me Hallmark cards of affirmation daily and wrote me letters stating how much he loved me and was sorry for all that he’d done in the past. (Looking back I think he was just buying time, hoping I wouldn’t press charges or file a PPO – Personal Protection Order.)

Upon returning from my birthday cruise (that he went on without me), Scott presented me with a beautiful platinum 5 diamond ring stating, “Happy Birthday. I love you with all my heart and I want to make (US) work.  It was the nicest piece of jewelry he ever gave me. But his words didn’t sound sincere, even then.  So Scott was making this grand gesture at the time trying to save our marriage by buying me gifts and showering me with words of affirmation.   “I will change and do whatever it takes” he proclaimed.   That lasted about a month, if that.  

January Journal Continued . . .

I awoke to Scott shaking my shoulder. I bolted upward and asked with my heart pounding a million beats per second. “What do you want now?” indignant that he had picked the lock, again.   Sleep was becoming difficult.  I never knew when he would ‘pick’ the lock and let himself into my bedroom.  My bedroom had become my invisible prison.  It was the only place I felt somewhat safe.  But was it?  After all, according to Scott it was HIS house, HIS room and HE could enter anytime HE felt like it with no regards to my wishes, privacy or our agreement; which apparently never took place.  I was crazy and delusional.

Standing over me in the dark Scott clamored “Where’s the ring I gave you for your birthday? I need it back!” 

“What?  It was a gift.  I’m not giving it back to you” I said, refusing his demands, pulling the sheets up trying to protect myself (and hide the ring I had on). 

In the most patronizing voice Scott could muster, he demanded, “I need it back so that I can pay attorney fees!” He said, angrily shouting at me, now holding out his hand expecting me to comply. 

Groggily I actually laughed with disgust upon hearing this. Rolling over, turning my back to him I replied, “Nope.  Sorry” hoping that he would go away and leave me alone.

I firmly believe if it came in a box, wrapped with a bow and a card that said Happy Birthday, it’s a gift.   If he feels that he needs the money that badly, let him sell one of the numerous watches or electronics I had bought him over the years.  It was ridiculous – and why that ring?

Not happy, Scott replied “Well, we will just see about that after I speak with your attorney. Good luck on paying your attorney fees!”  He knew I didn’t have any money of my own, that all our finances were held jointly.  And, he was making sure that I didn’t have access to those funds. Threats and more threats filling me with worry and fear.  Exactly what he wanted.

It took me hours to fall back asleep after he stomped away. Damn him for making me worry, not to mention scaring the hell out of me in a deep sleep. I had the ring on, thank goodness, and I was scared he would try and rip it off my finger.  I bet he had gone through my jewelry already looking for it. After that night’s incident, I wouldn’t put it past Scott to take anything of mine worth value.

Once again, we later learned that day Scott had sold additional E*TRADE stocks and changed the statement mailing address to that of his work office. That way I wouldn’t see his selling/moving of our funds. This also was in violation of both the MRO and MSQ orders.

Battleground – January

War of the Rooms

I made a mad dash for the master bedroom, purposefully going to bed earlier than usual to claim my ground.  While I was sound asleep, Scott picked the lock once again. Startled, I awoke to Scott poking me on the shoulder.  Obviously rattled with a angry tone he asked me, “What did you do to MY (not our)  Merrill Lynch account!”  

Stunned and baffled why he woke me up, I assured Scott, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.  I haven’t done anything to your account.”  Reluctantly and obviously agitated, he gave up and stomped out.  I was grateful he left, and didn’t climb back into my bed again.

Stupidly, I admit that I had left all the finances up to Scott. It was my job to pay the bills and run the house.  Scott would always make sure there was enough money in the checking account to cover those bills each month.  That was our arrangement over the years. Scott invested our savings into various stocks through E*TRADE, Merrill Lynch, and into investment properties.

New Attorney #2

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After much searching, and five consultations later, I found and hired a large firm with a good reputation to handle my divorce.  I explained my marriage history and warned my new attorney, Bob, that I think this was going to be an ugly divorce.  This was already evident by Scott’s threats and behavior already.  Bob reassured me that this is normal, and that his large firm will protect and serve me well. I signed the appropriate documents, handed Bob my retainer and a copy of my original filing for divorce along with our box of tax files for him to copy.

Interrogatory Questions

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After I shared my new attorney’s information with Scott, we immediately received his interrogatory questions for me to answer. Bob was stunned. He has never seen such an extensive packet of questions.  According to him, I have just 28 days to complete literally hundreds of questions. These ranged from the typical financial questions to the ludicrous such as “#121 – Describe your current emotional and physical state,”  or “#78 – Why do you think you are a good parent?”  Those types of questions weren’t simple yes or no answers, and will take me hours upon hours to prepare.  I can’t figure out what Scott hopes to learn from his extensive list of questions.  I am a simple housewife.  I have nothing to hide.  All our bank accounts are joint.  In return, my attorney sent out a standard set of interrogatory questions for Scott to answer with a few tweaks here and there. 

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Financial Alienation 

Since the day we decided to file for divorce, Scott has put me through deliberate and intentional alienation from our finances.  He shut them down, stating it was his house and his money.  Scott refuses to give me money, knowing I don’t have a working ATM card with our main bank in Chicago.  I always thought it was strange that he kept our bank account in Chicago, even while living abroad.  After we moved back to the States, Scott still kept that account, even though the bank is more than a three-hour drive away.  Scott coordinated most of our banking and managed the checkbook.  We had opened a small account at the local credit union who financed our mortgage, but there is never much money in that account.   

It wasn’t until months later that I learned Scott had once again hacked my Yahoo email account; once at 7:17 a.m., and again at 8:39 a.m. that day.  He was also busy violating both the MRO and MSQ Orders moving joint marital funds around and selling off E*Trade stocks. Now it all made sense, why Scott was so upset when he had problems accessing the Merrill Lynch account that day.

Gaslighting – Emotional Manipulative Tactic #1

Like a stubborn child stomping his feet, having just returned from his ‘business trip’ Scott flatly refuses now to move his belongings into the guest bedroom or basement.  Not only that, he claims to never have agreed to sleep in the guest bedroom.  Nevermind our conference call with our marriage counselor and the half-dozen messages where Scott states he would move his belongings before I returned home. The guest bedroom is part of a walk-out basement with full-sized windows, a walk-in closet, and a full bathroom.  It’s larger than most apartments.  We live in a 6,500 square foot home, with a 2,500 square foot finished basement.  Scott refused to respect my boundaries. He has to have control. Always. With utter disregard for my privacy and the original agreement, Scott stated “It’s my home, my bedroom, and I have the right to come in any time I want.” Looking back I should have had that printed on a t-shirt for him, having heard it more times than I could count over the course of the divorce. So much for an amicable and peaceful divorce.

Then to add insult to injury while in bed that night, I couldn’t believe it when I heard Scott picking the lock on my bedroom door!  Frightened I quickly hit the recording button on my phone.  Scott nonchalantly entered and walked to the bed in his boxers and wife-beater t-shirt. To my shock, he climbed into my bed while I was still in it! He put his ear plugs in and blindfold on and proclaimed “It’s your turn to sleep in the basement.” Then he rolled over and turned off the light.  The Supreme Being had banished me to the basement — and so I went like a good, obedient girl.

 As I laid there in the guest bedroom bed I thought “If that’s how he’s going to act, the war over the master bedroom is on!”  What is his problem? It is pragmatic that I sleep upstairs in the master bedroom. Scott travels a significant amount of time.  I am the primary caretaker of the kids, waking them up in the morning and getting them ready and off to school every day.  Plus, that was our agreement with our therapist during our conference call when I was at the hospital in Florida with my father.  Of that I was certain — I’m not crazy or delusional. I can’t believe Scott now claims that conversation never took place. I thought to myself, “Who’s the crazy one now?”  I was so frustrated and sick of all of Scott’s games already.  I needed help, and a new attorney. 

Emotional Manipulation #1 – Gaslighting   

Gaslighting” was one of Scott’s strongest manipulation tactics.  Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt oneself, and to ultimately lose their own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.  Gaslighting statements and accusations are usually based on blatant lies or an extreme exaggeration of the truth.  The term is derived from the 1944 film, “Gaslight”, in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she’s insane by forcing her to question herself and her sense of reality.  When someone is gaslighted, the narcissist will tell you, “That didn’t happen.  You imagined it.  You’re crazy. You’re delusional.”  In a nutshell, the narcissist will lie and that instills doubt.  Scott now proclaiming that he never agreed to reside in the guest bedroom during the divorce was a perfect example.  It’s easy to see how powerful this can be, as it allows the abuser to deflect all focus from their own actions and shift it to something completely irrelevant. Or, Scott would twist it so I would doubt my perceptions of what really happened time and time again.

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You’ve Been Served

January 

Now that Scott had sabotaged mimagey attorney, I was in the process of meeting with different law firms to represent me.  I was shocked that most charged for the initial consultation fee ranging from $200 and up.  More than once, Scott said he wanted to keep our divorce private, claiming that he didn’t want his employer to know, as he was afraid it might affect his job.  Scott repeatedly said to me that he wanted a “peaceful” process and preferred that our attorneys work out the details for the divorce. He was so adamant about keeping it quiet I had this eerie feeling he was up to something and I needed an attorney, pronto.

I was a nervous wreck.  It broke my heart that I couldn’t be with my father during his open heart surgery.  Scott was away traveling on another one of his numerous business trips (looking back I don’t think this trip to Dallas was for business).  And, my intuition was right; Scott had already begun to cast his evil web of lies, deceit and illegal activities.  The first was when the phone rang.  It was my sister-in-law, Allison, calling to tell me my father made it through his open heart surgery and is in recovery.  While on the phone, my son, Cooper, came to tell me there was a man at the door. With the phone to my ear getting the run down on my father’s condition, I went to see who was at the door.

The man standing on our front porch turned out to be a process server. He handed me an envelope in front of my son, and said, “You’ve been served divorce papers.”  Imagine if, at that moment, I had been told my father had died! What happened to “letting our attorneys work it out” as Scott said previously? 

I was steaming mad.  I was certain that this was a deliberate attack, planned for the day of my father’s open heart surgery and in front of our son, no less!  Scott also knew I didn’t have an attorney yet.  So much for letting our attorneys work it out.  He was a heartless bastard.  And that was only the beginning. Things quickly got worse; much, much worse.

Later that evening when reading through Scott’s filing for divorce I was dumfounded.  He now claimed that he was divorcing me, due to the fact that I’m mentally unstable, among dozens of other lies and untruths.  I was appalled to read that he also considered himself to be the primary caretaker of our children, (due to my mental instability) and that I had abandoned the family frequently.  I was literally in shock of the contents of his filing.  My original filing for divorce was your basic:  unreconcilable differences, joint custody, blah, blah, blah.  It was abundantly clear now that Scott was out for war.  And that he planned to follow through on his threats to destroy me and take our children away from me.

I also learned that Scott had submitted two other orders along with his petition for divorce.  One being an Ex Parte’ Mutual Restraining Order for the Preservation of the Marital Estate (MRO), and the other, an Ex Parte’ Order to Maintain the Status Quo (MSQ).  These orders stipulated that neither party could remove or sell any marital property or do anything out of the ordinary in our day-to-day activities.  I was fine with that as it protects us both. In fact, I had written something similar into my original filing.  Little did we know at the time, Scott had already begun selling off our E*Trade Stocks – hiding joint marital funds and violating the very MRO/MSQ Orders he had filed. 

Amicable?  Peaceful?  Let our attorneys work it out?  Scott was out to destroy me and I was scared as hell.

 

Staging #1 – Sabotage

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 January – Time to Go Home   

I did as much for my father as I could.  I’d found a surgeon who agreed to do surgery in two weeks.  In the meantime, I’d hired a nurse to assist my father daily. The kids were now back in school after the Christmas break and Scott was back at work.  I couldn’t avoid it any longer, it was time to go home.

Scott assured me through texts that he would remove his things from the master bedroom before I returned home. We had agreed with our marriage counselor during our conference call that day I was at the hospital in Florida that he would remain in the home during the divorce (to my chagrin), and that he would reside in the guest bedroom.   I was still very apprehensive if we could both live in the marital home during the divorce.  Scott was still continuing to send me horrible texts messages, claiming what a terrible wife and mother I was.  I’m not sure what he was trying to gain by doing so?  His threats that he would destroy me if I ever left him, still echoed through my mind.  I’d hoped they were just that, threats.  Why would Scott want to destroy me?  I was a faithful, loving and supporting wife.  I gave up my career to support his and gave him three amazing children.  

Home

My first night home I was disappointed to find that all of Scott’s crap was still in the master bedroom.  He failed to move his things to the guest bedroom as he had promised. I ventured out of my bedroom to grab a bite to eat.  That’s when Scott asked to speak with me regarding our decision to divorce. Reluctantly I agreed, accepting the fact that I couldn’t put it off any longer.

 “Do you still want a divorce?” Scott asked, with tears in his eyes. He stated “I haven’t hired an attorney yet. It’s not too late to change our minds.” He seemed so sincere.

With a lump in my throat, I replied, “Yes, I want a divorce and I’ve started the paperwork.” Scott pleaded that I reconsider our divorce – almost a half-hearted last-ditch effort.  He finally conceded when he saw that I had made up my mind. 

Scott then asked “Oh by the way, can I have your attorney’s name and contact information?  Once I hire an attorney of my own we can have them work out the details. No need to bring the children or work into this.”  Thinking nothing of it, I shared my attorney’s contact and firm information with Scott. (Big Mistake.) Relieved to have that conversation done, I headed to bed.  

Little did I know that Scott had already found out I was filing for divorce from my friend’s husband, and he had hired a high-priced combative attorney out of Detroit.  Each time Scott’s attorney appeared in court, it cost more than $3,000 just for the drive time, paid with our joint account.  And there were many, many court appearances ahead.

Sabotage – Staging #1

Scott lied.  It was all an act.  Scott hired an attorney previously and tricked me into giving him my attorney’s name and contact information.  With that knowledge, he’d hired her firm for his company. That’s when my attorney called and claimed that, due to a conflict of interests, she could no longer represent me. Catherine pulled my filing for divorce.  

I was furious knowing it had to be Scott’s undoing.   It was too much of a coincidence. Catherine had been my attorney on retainer since 2014.  I had signed and submitted my filing for divorce more than a week prior, thinking it was entered into the court system.  To Scott, this was a game he had to win at any cost.  Scott sabotaged my relationship with my attorney and filed himself.  (I was able to verify Scott lied later when reviewing our finances and saw that he had hired and paid his attorney from Detroit 3 days prior.)

Narcissistic Injury

Now Scott becomes the Plaintiff, and would proclaim at every opportunity to anyone who would listen that he is divorcing me in the months to follow. It is all about his ego.  The termination of a relationship represents rejection and abandonment; two things the narcissist fears most.  Narcissists have a deep, inner fear of abandonment and will not make it easy for one to have any type of amicable break-up.  They suffer from what Sigmund Freud calls “narcissistic injury.”  Since the day I left on our anniversary and throughout the months to follow Scott would accuse me of abandoning the family over and over.

Over the following year during our divorce, Scott staged more than 30 events changing the course of our divorce through lies and deceit; making me look like I was crazy and/or attempted to put me in jail.  Sabotaging my attorney #1 was just the beginning.  Amicable?  LOL

 

 

Loneliness – Part 2, Loneliness v. Alienation/Isolation

woman looking at sunset

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Loneliness is normal. It can be both a good and bad thing.  On the positive side, solitude can be an integral and indispensable part of the human condition, absolutely essential to self-exploration, growth, and understanding. It’s in those moments that forces you to reflect, research, learn and understand which ultimately leads to healing.  

Many times loneliness is triggered by certain life circumstances out of one’s control such as death, children heading off to college, parents separating or finding yourself single when all your friends are married.  Other times, loneliness comes from alienation/isolation from your friends and family members. Narcissists have an arsenal of abuses, but isolation is one of their foremost weapons. My ex knew one of my greatest fears is being alone.  

Knowing this, Scott isolated me from my family and friends, enabling him to manipulate and control. Moving as often as we did, it was easy.  Not only that, when it comes to their partner and children, narcissist isolate them from the outside world, from one another, and even from their own sense of reality.

I recently read an article that loneliness is is related to sense of self: the less solid and stable sense of oneself there is, the less connection to our innermost true self or “soul” we have, the more likely we are to suffer from painful loneliness. In a way, we are unable to fully appreciate our own company, to amuse ourselves, to be good friends and companions to ourselves. This commonly occurs when the narcissist makes us question our own feelings, thoughts or values, which results in low self-esteem, bad boundaries, pathological anxiety, and an inability to tolerate aloneness because of the loneliness it brings.  In a sense, we are unconsciously missing and lonely for ourselves.

Once I made the conscious decision to leave Scott, beginning with my Lightbulb Moment, I struggled — and so I began to research and educate myself.  I also reached out to friends and family for support.  Tragically, when survivors reach out for support, their family and friends often dismiss their experience, due to the fact that the narcissist had already planted those seeds of alienation and launched a smear campaign, further isolating and confusing the survivor.

To make matters worse, very few people truly understand narcissism, isolating sufferers even further. is just one more way that a toxic narcissist will abuse you. Everyone needs a certain amount of social and interpersonal connection and contact to maintain a healthy emotional state as I stated in my previous blog – and the truth is, this need is nearly equally important as other basic survival needs like food, water and sleep.

When isolation doesn’t work, that’s when the narcissist will attempt to launch a smear campaign.  I will talk more about this later in my blog.  By doing so, their preemptive strike sabotages your reputation and slanders your name so that you won’t have a support network to fall back on — especially when you try to break free of that toxic relationship.

Many people lack the imagination to understand things beyond their immediate experience. But, to add insult to horrible injury, narcissistic personality disorder is so particularly complex, insidious, ruthless and destructive that it is virtually impossible to comprehend unless you’ve lived it (or something like it) first hand. Even if they know something about the disorder, most people have no idea what narcissistic abuse really entails.

How to Find Support

Survivors of narcissistic abuse often try to go it alone. Fortunately these days there are many resources about narcissism and its related trauma. Books, blogs, websites, online forums, and YouTube videos, often created by survivors themselves, are now widely available. But they don’t replace personal support. There are many people experiencing what you are going through. Seek them out through your network of friends, support groups, and online forums. If you have a loving partner, educate him/her about what you’ve been through. Find a therapist who is trained in narcissistic abuse recovery. Don’t let the narcissist continue to isolate you even after he is out of your life.

Loneliness can often take you into the deepest depths of despair.  Don’t let the narcissist win.  Now is the time to swim, kick back to the surface, reflect, understand and find those people who support the best you.  Find what makes you happy. Be happy with yourself. Believe.

 

Isolation pdf

Loneliness – Part 1

I’m deviating from my book a bit – and doing some introspection/self-evaluation.  For me, loneliness is my greatest fear.  I’ve moved a lot.  I was isolated, from friends and family always having to start over.  Maybe that’s why I stayed in a toxic relationship for as long as I did. I hate to be alone, plain and simple.  I’ve never done sit and still well.  Now, as I sit here alone in my home, its hard.  So hard.  The silence is deafening. But I have lots of friends, thousands. All over the globe. I have thousands of Facebook friends. I support the U.S. postal service significantly during the holidays sending out hundreds of Christmas cards to those I care about. But I’m lonely – lost in a sea of people.

And now I find that I’m surrounding myself with new people, that don’t necessarily (for a lack of words) build me up.  I constantly try to fill that void.  Instead, I’m “pimping” myself out – metaphorically. Just because I hate to be alone.  I find friends who want to use me…..  essentially a door mat.  Or those who fill a need.  But don’t really care.  Why do I do this?  Why, after all that I’ve been through, fought for, do I allow this emptiness to permeate my reasoning? Fear plain and simple.  It’s powerful.

Then there’s those people who, I believe my guardian angel brought into my life for a reason — to help me when I needed it most. For those of you out there, you know who you are, thank you. You are a gift that I will be forever grateful for.

Loneliness can hit anyone at any time. Sometimes you might not even feel lonely for an obvious reason, and what you’re experiencing could always be connected to other things like depression or anxiety. But it’s true that a lot of people tend to feel lonely during big life events. Maybe you’re moving house. Maybe your parents are getting separated. Maybe you’re going from high school into college. Or maybe you suddenly find yourself single, and all your friends are married.

Loneliness is painful. Clearly the pain is one in which the lonely individual feels damaged, as though somewhere their spirit was crushed. It hurts to feel lonely and it hurts even more because we don’t have anyone to share it with.

Feeling lost, having no sense of direction

Very interestingly, in my reading individuals described lonely as a feeling of being lost, and not knowing where they are going. This is true in my case. Why do I feel so lost when I am lonely? I think it’s because other people help give us a sense of meaning and understanding of the world. When you have a problem that you can’t figure out for yourself, what do you do? You go and talk to someone else about it.  Especially us girls.  We talk it out.  People help us to figure out what talents we have, what our good points and our bad points are. In other words, people help us maintain a sense of identity.

When we are lonely, and no one is around to give us support, we can begin to lose our sense of identity, no one is there to point out our mistakes, to give us a different point of view, to praise us when we do a good job. Then we tend to fall down that rabbit hole that the narcissist made us believe.  We can become encircled in our own delusions and thinking without the benefit of others to break us out of the vicious cycle. It is no wonder then lonely individuals feel lost and confused, it’s because there is no one out there to maintain our sense of identity, our sense of self.

Feeling of Nothingness

Another frequent feeling is that of nothingness. It has also been described as a void, a black hole, an abyss, hollow, and empty space. Basically there is a feeling that something is missing. When we break up with someone, or we are missing someone we loved dearly, we often describe that feeling as a hole in our heart, an emptiness somewhere in the space of our chest. Even if that relationship was toxic.  What is this emptiness that we feel? This emptiness is a hunger for others, for others to be close to us, for others to love us. When we are hungry for food, our stomach growls, we get an empty feeling in the pits of our stomachs, we can’t stop thinking about food, and sometimes it even hurts.

Overwhelming Feeling

In some cases, loneliness can be overwhelming, so overwhelming in fact that lonely individuals may feel like they are about to burst! There is a feeling of despair, not knowing how much more of this painful loneliness one can take, feeling as if one is going to break apart at any minute. It’s like blowing up a balloon past its normal capacity. People who are lonely may feel this way because very often one is experiencing a wide variety of emotions and experiences, and yet there is no one to talk to, no one to share it with. Imagine having a problem with no one to discuss it with. Imagine making the greatest discovery of a lifetime, and yet there is no one there to share it with. These feelings may just be pushed down inside our minds, pushed into a bottle. But there is only so much the bottle can hold, there is only so much our minds can handle. If we don’t tell others, if we don’t share, if we don’t let it out somehow, we may indeed burst.

So I write.  I share.    I know I’m not alone in my loneliness.

alone-beautiful-boardwalk-247314

Obituary – death of a marriage

broken heart love sad

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January 8 – Obituary

I packed my father’s things and brought him home from the hospital today.  I set up interviews and hired a nurse to assist him over the next few weeks with his medications in preparation for his surgery.  There were just too many for him to keep straight.  

Obituary

After dinner my father pulled out one of his yellow legal pads and handed it to me along with a perfectly sharpened No. 2 pencil that he always managed to have around as a retired engineer.  As we sat there together, he asked me to help him write his obituary.  Somehow, it comforted us both.  He had lived a good life—married to the woman he loved for over sixty years.  He and my mother had raised three wonderful children and were surrounded by grandchildren in their later years.  He had run a successful company for years that he later passed down to my brother, Greg.  He had travelled the world, sailed the seas, and still went skiing even into his eighties.  He was truly blessed with a full life and loving relationships.

That’s when I realized I didn’t quit my marriage.  I survived it.  I know deep down I am making the right choice.  It is hard to accept that my marriage had failed.  But I knew Scott wouldn’t be there for me to the end, holding my hand if I ever got ill like my father had for my mother.  Scott isn’t the type to hang in there when times get tough. Scott proved he was nothing like my father; Scott lacked compassion and integrity.  I deserve more.  I deserve better.  Filing divorce papers was like writing my own obituary:  “We had good times, raised three kids, travelled the world, blah, blah, blah…”  

Big Mistake

During the conference call with our counselor at the hospital I told Scott that I planned on returning home on the 11th and would prefer that he move out.  I wasn’t surprised when Scott refused.  Scott was not willing to look for an apartment claiming that we needed to save money.  Aware of Scott’s abuse over the years, our marriage counselor assisted us with this agreement as we hashed out the details.  Scott asserted with our counselor during that conference call that he will remain in the house, agreeing to sleep in the guest room until the divorce is final. Scott assured us both stating that he wanted the divorce to be an “amicable and peaceful process.” LOL

Having Scott remain in the house was a huge mistake. . .  I had no money of my own, all of our finances were joint.  And for the sake of the children I was forced to stay in the marital home during the divorce process, even when he refused to leave. I had asked for a monthly stipend, that he of course refused.  It wasn’t until later that I learned in order to get a mortgage, you need to show income for at least six months.  By his refusal, he essentially locked me in his invisible prison.  

I suffered through stalking, verbal and physical violence, hidden cameras, malevolent financial intrigue, and his flamboyant and unpunished violations of court orders.  I lived in a House of Horrors and was imprisoned in a dungeon built by his malice. Months following resulted in court hearings and appearances for Exclusive Use of the Home, and Personal Protection Orders – all because he wouldn’t leave or let me leave.  For the narcissist, its all about control — and in this case, about revenge.  How dare I abandon him.

I had no privacy, no safe place. He broke into my bedroom, my car, my files, my emails, –  stating it was his house/his property and that he had every right to invade my privacy whenever he felt like it.  On more than thirty occasions, he carefully orchestrated devastating attacks designed to make me look crazy, even staging events trying to put me in jail.  He set out to destroy me, just as he always threatened.  Words cant even begin to describe what I went through that year.  But somehow, I survived and lived to tell the tale. . 

In or Out?

I strongly believe it was Devine intervention I didn’t get on the plane that day.  Just a few days later after my ‘Lightbulb Moment’ I got the call.  My father had gone to the Emergency Room.  I immediately drove across the state to be with him.    Many tests and procedures later, his team of doctors determined that my father had gone into severe congestive heart failure.  He was lucky to be alive.  Thank God I was there to be with him over those days…..  

I’m skipping around a bit….. 

 

bright cardiac cardiology care

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January 7 – Are You In or Out?

The doctors told my father to put his affairs in order; the prognosis was not good.  They were uncertain if he was a candidate for surgery; that was up to the heart surgeon to determine. With just the two of us in the hospital, I watched my father weep like a child.  After my mother had passed, he had been counting the days until he could join her.  Just a few months prior, he had checked another item off his bucket list when he jumped out of an airplane on a skydiving excursion.  But now, faced with the reality of imminent death, he wasn’t ready.  I held my father, sobbing myself, as he said over and over again that he wasn’t ready.  He didn’t want to die or spend his final days in the nursing care facility where my mother had slowly and painfully passed.  It was heart-wrenching. It was one of the worst days of my life.

I couldn’t believe that Scott planned a conference call with our marriage counselor today of all days.  He knew I was in the hospital with my father.  But that didn’t matter to Scott.  (The universe is all about him.) 

I had to wipe my tears as I stepped outside of the hospital to get a signal on my phone.  I was worn out — my heart ached for my dying father.  But Scott insisted that we speak with our counselor immediately as soon as she was available after the holiday break.  Up until then, we had gone back and forth about next steps through text messages.  One minute Scott would beg me to come back, professing his undying love. Minutes later Scott would send horrible accusations and lists of reasons stating what a rotten wife and mother I was.  It was like dealing with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona.

Meanwhile, I reviewed and signed my papers filing for divorce a few days earlier.   I had retained a lawyer back in 2014.  Divorce was something I had contemplated for a while now. I told a few of my closest friends over the last few days that I am staying in Florida for a few weeks and that I had filed. (Big mistake, somehow Scott found out from one of my friends.) However, while sitting on a bench outside the hospital during that conference call with our counselor, I gave it one last college try.

With the three of us on the call I explained to our marriage counselor what happened and my decision to stay in Florida needing time to consider next steps.  We then proceeded to tell her that we had discussed divorce.  

“What do you want to do?” Scott asked. 

 “I will consider staying in the marriage, but I want a trial separation,” I said, needing more time to my plan my escape. That’s when I suggested we take turns in an apartment.  

That was unacceptable to Scott. He gave me an ultimatum stating, “Either you are in or you’re out?”  

Without hesitation I said  “OUT.”

(This was a pivotal point in the divorce.  Forced with an ultimatum, there was no going back now.)

Returning to my father’s hospital room I told him what had transpired on our phone call.  As we had no divorces in our family, I was afraid he would be upset.  He already had enough on his plate, fighting for his life.  

Instead, he congratulated me, saying “Finally, I thought you would never leave that asshole!  I’m so proud of you.”  I was shocked.  It was not the reaction I had expected at all.  I was so relieved.  It touched my heart that my father was proud of me for standing up for myself.  

January 1 – A New Year

man with fireworks

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January 1 – Supreme Being 

It’s a new year — that’s an understatement.  As I sit here alone at my brother’s kitchen table in Florida I thought “At least the invisible prison I was locked in was predictable.”  The vast unknown is far more terrifying.  My brother Greg and his wife Allison took off for a few days on a boat trip, so I offered to watch their dogs and spend a few days alone contemplating my next steps after my light bulb moment. I explained to the children that Mommy just needed a few days to herself and would be returning home shortly.   

Sitting here while painting a water color in their Florida home, I decided to watch Leah Remini’s Scientology New Year’s Eve marathon.  According to their website, Scientology “leads one to a growing understanding of one’s relationship to self, family, groups, the human race, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe, and the Supreme Being.” I felt amazed at how all those people had become so brainwashed, blindly following David Miscavige, the leader of their church, investing huge amounts of time and money for a cause or religion they believed in. 

(I was oblivious to the fact that I had done exactly the same thing over the past thirty years.  Scott was my Supreme Being, and I was the one being brainwashed, alienated, forced into financial dependence, and manipulated into staying in a very toxic relationship.  My very own House of Horrors.)

Unbeknownst to Scott, my attorney is preparing papers for divorce.  I’ve been working with her assistant getting it ready to file.  Unfortunately, it’s the holiday season, so staff is sparse and court hours are limited. I can’t believe it’s come to this.  I know I’m doing the right thing.  Scott’s continuous messages berating me only further validate my decision.

 

Verbal Abuse – Emotional Manipulative Tactic #3

While on one of the few girls trips that I was ‘allowed’ on, my girlfriend, Kaitlin confided that she was having problems with her marriage. I was shocked, as they seemed so happy. Kaitlin proceeded to tell me that her husband was verbally abusive. I was dumbstruck. It was hard to believe. She is one of the strongest women I know. Not only is Kaitlin extremely intelligent, independent and successful as CEO of her own company, she is stunning – the whole package deal and could have any man at her beck and call.  How had Kaitlin of all people put up with that kind of demeaning, abusive behavior?

However, much of what she said resonated with me. Scott and I had been seeing a marriage counselor for a while at this point.  And, when I expressed in the past to Scott that his words were hurtful, he would always say I was overreacting, being dramatic, exaggerating; completely disregarding my feelings.  So, when I returned home after that trip, I bought a copy of The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. My world changed with the first page. (more on that later)

patricia evans

In my book Year of Thorns, I refer to 17 emotional manipulative tactics of the narcissistic psychopath that I learned to identify in my path to recovery.  This was an important tool in my research to understand what happened to our family while we lived with someone with a severe personality disorder (that I learned later), and the challenges I faced throughout the divorce process.  By understanding the guiding principals and motivation behind those manipulative tactics, it became easier (over time) to identify each one and how best to respond (with practice).   I’m taking a detour from the order in my book, and introducing the first (and easiest) tactic to identify in this blog:

Emotional Manipulation #3 – Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is when a person forcefully criticizes, insults, or devalues someone else. Characterized by underlying anger and hostility, it is a destructive form of communication intended to harm the self-concept of the other person and produce negative emotions in attempt to control another through non-physical means. Verbal abuse, and most other types of abuse, is caused by an underlying disorder. Most often, the disorders are borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or sociopathy. Healthy people might occasionally lose their temper, leading to an outburst, but a consistent pattern of hurtful verbal abuse can only be the result of a deeper problem.

At first, I thought the problem I faced was verbal abuse, and that’s how I first started finding help. I began to read everything I could get my hands on.  But in my situation, like most, the verbal abuse was only one part of a bigger and more serious situation. This was true in Scott’s case, where he was later diagnosed with a personality disorder in his psychological evaluation. Part of my understanding of Scott’s disorder lead to my “light bulb moment”, where confusion and hurt suddenly opened up to insight — and the first steps to protecting myself (by identifying his emotional manipulation tactics) and to healing.

 

Now What?

anniversary beautiful birthday bloom

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December 28th – (After my lightbulb moment) Happy Anniversary

Once I made the conscious to decision to leave Scott, letting the hotel screen door slam as I walked out, I wiped my tears and pulled myself together.

I was eerily calm riding in the back of the beat up old Uber van. The driver barely spoke English and couldn’t find the hotel I booked last minute. I had called my brother, who has a place in Marco Island. He said I could stay with him for a few days while I figure out next steps. So I picked a hotel midway between Sanibel Island and Marco, near the airport in Naples where my brother graciously offered to pick me up in the morning.

After Scott left me in full panic mode in that small hotel room to go have dinner with his mother and kids, his last words echoed over and over. “Suit yourself. You’re being selfish. You’re overreacting. You’re a horrible wife and mother. How dare you abandon your family. You’re a fucking psycho bitch.” Plus much, much more. Happy Anniversary.

Then the messages started rolling in from Scott. Most would think your partner of 30 years would be worried. Show concern. Ask if I was ok. Beg me to come back. Or, even give me space to breath. Nope. Instead I was inundated with hateful, spiteful, messages. Even lists. List of all the times he ‘claims’ I left the family. Lists of times he claimed I overreacted. Lists upon lists of mean, hurtful, hateful words.

It was abuse – verbal and mental abuse at its finest. I’d already come to recognize the signs having read Patricia Evans “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” that really started it all on my path to understanding and breaking free. (If you haven’t read it, you should.) More on that to follow.

Both Scott and the kids had the following week off for “winter break.” So, I knew I wouldn’t be putting a burden on anyone with my absence. I just couldn’t fathom getting on that plane tomorrow. It’s difficult to explain how strong the feeling was — like a lightening bolt hitting me with complete clarity. Call it sick sense, panic attack, divine intervention, who knows. I had no doubt whatsoever I was doing the right thing. I knew I had to make a change and now. My life depended on it.

It didn’t really hit me until the kids called after their dinner. They wanted to know where I went. All I could think to say was that I wasn’t feeling well and decided to stay with my brother and family in Florida for a few more days while they headed back to the arctic tundra where we now reside in Michigan.

Now in the airport hotel room, the tears began to flow. This time in great waves. I cried for my children. I had stayed in this marriage thinking that by keeping the family unit intact, I was helping them.  Instead, I was doing the opposite.  I had hoped this vacation would bring us all closer together.  But it only verified what I knew to be true but couldn’t accept; our family was dysfunctional.  That’s not the message I want our children growing up with any longer.

I cried that my marriage had come to an end. The very foundation of my marriage was broken and couldn’t be fixed.  That became abundantly clear when my knight in shining armor wouldn’t go to battle for me.  He didn’t want to put a mark on that glossy veneer.  Scott’s threats over the years haunted me. He said he would destroy me if I ever found the courage to leave. And I believed him.  I cried because I was scared as hell. Now what?

In the Beginning

We met in college.

I was an over-achiever. A member of a sorority and the governing board. I was heavily involved in their events while pursuing a double major. I was also a Student Senator and assisted the President of the University by hosting events and providing tours to special guests.

The cheerleaders were at one of those special University-sponsored events to hype up the crowd. That’s when I first saw him. Yes, Scott was a cheerleader. He was totally my type. Clean cut, he had thick, sandy brown hair and piercing baby blue eyes. He had chiseled features, a strong jaw, thin lips, and a small, pointed nose. He was just like the hero in a romance novel: tall, broad-shouldered, and in amazingly good shape because of his cheerleading.

We started dating shortly after that night. People often commented that we looked like Barbie and Ken – although I was a rather short Barbie. Scott seemed like a good, Catholic boy. He was working in the dorm cafeteria to pay his own way through college. He was a cheerleader. He wasn’t into drugs. He was polite, chivalrous, opened doors for me, and pulled out my chair. On our official first date he treated me to frozen yogurt at TCBY, picking me up on his moped. Scott didn’t have any money, scrapping together what he could to pay for school. He came from a very modest family of four children and grew up in a small town. I fell for him, hard.

* * *

I gave Scott nearly thirty years of my life. We were married right out of college, both having achieved our degrees. I had a good job planning special events and Scott was managing a group of nightclubs. Our lives were on completely different schedules.

People ask me, what it always bad? No. The honeymoon phase was AMAZING. Our sex life was off the charts. Our chemistry together was. . . explosive (in a good way). We couldn’t get enough of each other. He had this pure animal magnetism.

Sure, there were warning signs early on. He cheated on me while we were dating. Then later, shortly after we were married, I discovered that he had gambled away all of the money we received for our wedding. We also had arguments where Scott’s temper scared me. Just one year into the marriage, we were already at a crossroads. But, Scott professed his love, begged me to stay and got a day time job with “The Cereal Company” that moved us to Iowa. Luckily, I was able to transfer with my company as well. Thus, the cycle began.

We were moving every couple of years; each time, I had to start my career over again, always putting Scott’s first. During the 27 years of our marriage we moved more than thirteen times, both within the United States and abroad, where we lived as expatriates. Five years into our marriage, while both of us were working full-time, we started our family. During the years of never staying long in one place, Scott’s career continued to grow while I gave up my career. I took part-time jobs. Later I started my own home-based business to support him while raising our children. When our youngest was just six months old, I sold my business and we moved with Scott’s career internationally.

Our first international assignment took us to Ireland. I was not allowed to have a work visa as part of the Expat package with The Company. I was busy adjusting to living in a foreign country, raising our three children and immersed myself into the culture volunteering my time and joining the school PTA. I became the quintessential “executive wife,” raising our children and playing my proper role. We had live-in au pairs which gave us the opportunity to travel significantly visiting one country or another. Having live-in childcare gave us the opportunity to “date” again. Life was good. For the most part. I missed my family and friends terribly. Essentially, I was alienated — Scott and the children were my only constants in my universe. We travelled extensively, visiting more than 20 countries while Scott was in charge of sales for Europe. It was during that time while on a trip to Amsterdam that Scott found his passion (and addiction) for marijuana, which would only increase over the years.

Scott’s second assignment took us to Puerto Rico. I didn’t know the language but continued to try and contribute to the family finances through various odd jobs. I sold jewelry and my paintings as well as guided snorkel tours for the resort’s guests, many of which were celebrities. We lived in a high-end beachside resort community that featured four ocean side golf courses, multiple fitness centers, full-service spa and even a waterpark complete with a lazy river and water slides. We were living in paradise.

During that time I also wrote and published my first children’s book, Animal Bridge. I continued in my role as the boss’ wife, which was typical of the group and culture where we lived. I joined the school board, planned charity events, and was essentially Scott’s personal assistant. I planned and hosted Scott’s staff holiday parties, dinners, and other special events. I ran errands managing many of his day to day activities.

animal bridge cover

Scott was in charge of the Caribbean, el Jefe, or ‘the boss.’ I’m sure Scott received A LOT of attention with his good looks and prestigious position. We travelled extensively, hopping from one island to another in the Caribbean and British Virgin Islands, living the picture perfect life in our high-end beachside community. It was resort living 24/7. Scott had no problem adapting to that island party mentality. To those around us, it seemed like the perfect life — glamorous even. The good times were really good. The bad were worse. Much worse. I was living in hell, trapped in paradise. (That’s all for another book later.)

I raised our children essentially as a single parent while Scott traveled a significant amount for his position with The Cereal Company. Each time we moved, we had to start over. I had to find new schools for the children, doctors for the family, and new friends. Because our oldest son had special needs, this was an especially challenging job.

I also began to develop some physical ailments. While we lived in Puerto Rico, after years of hitting the moguls skiing as a youth and later when tennis took its toll, it became imperative that I had to have knee replacement surgery. Shortly thereafter Scott convinced me to go on a spring break trip with the kids to St. Marten. I was hesitant having just had my knee replacement a month earlier still in pain and walking with a cane. But I didn’t want to disappoint Scott or my children, so hesitantly I went.

I agreed to a family excursion to a famous beach that day. It was post card perfect strewn with tiki huts and restaurants. The sun was beating down, glistening on the clear blue water calling my name — the perfect place to do my physical therapy. Getting into the ocean was easy, however, getting out was a whole new ball game. I sent our son to get help from his father, not more than thirty feet away working on his tan. Then, just as I feared, the steep incline coupled with the waves crashing proved to be too much for my unstable knee and I fell.

Our son who was eight years old at the time, ran to his father and pleaded, “Mommy needs help getting out of the ocean, she’s in trouble!” Scott, obviously irritated at having his quiet time disturbed, ignored our son’s plea for help.
“Mommy will figure it out,” he said. Upon hearing this, our daughter jumped up and came to my rescue.

After our daughter helped me out of the thrashing waves, I hobbled out of the ocean and sat there in the sand in shock, hurting and trying to gain my composure. Taking a few minutes to catch my breath, a few kind bystanders brought me some ice from the local restaurant. I sat there in tears from the pain. I felt mortified as my bathing suit had filled with sand in every orifice possible when the waves had rolled me around like a rag doll. Reluctantly, more out of obligation now at this point seeing the crowd around me, Scott finally got up from his beach chair and slowly wandered over to see what he could do to help.

Words can’t describe all the emotions I was feeling as I made the trek to a little makeshift shower to rinse off. I didn’t emerge for quite some time. I sat there sobbing with the realization that my well-being didn’t matter to Scott. In fact, in Scott’s eyes I knew he now considered me to be broken and discardable. Scott had no patience for my physical limitations. I was no longer that token wife, skinny and fit. I was used and broken no longer serving his ego.

As the years went by and Scott climbed the corporate ladder, so did his ego. The verbal and physical abuse also escalated, as did Scott’s substance abuse. While living abroad, these issues caused us to seek marriage counseling. When Scott’s abuse got to the point where the policia in Puerto Rico wouldn’t help, I knew I was trapped and in trouble.

Scott continued to control me through the finances as well. He made me believe we didn’t have any money because of poor investment choices he’d made when he bought three properties in Orlando, just prior to the crash in 2008. Scott lost over half a million dollars on those investment properties. Our entire savings was gone. Or so I thought. Scott also invested heavily in the stock market without consulting me. Many times those stocks went belly up. Considering how intelligent Scott is in the sales field, he wasn’t investment wise.

When I threatened to leave Scott after one of his physical assaults, Scott threatened that he would leave me with nothing and turn our children against me. Scott devalued me and made it clear I would be left with nothing, making me believe I couldn’t make it on my own. And, given some of my health issues, made it clear I would no longer be covered under his health insurance. I most certainly couldn’t afford it on my own should I leave. Or so I thought.

After we moved back to the States, I can honestly say I gave the marriage 100% and tried just as hard to save it. I enlisted the help of marriage counselors, therapists, and even a family coach. Although I’d had two knee replacement surgeries by that point, I still tried to help with the finances by crafting and working part-time decorating while taking care of the children. Of course, Scott always placed his appearance and work as his priority, and rarely helped around the house or with the children. I even hired an attorney as soon as we set foot on US soil, contemplating divorce back then. I wasn’t sold that this new beginning was just that. You can’t change a leopard’s spots.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I knew in my heart I had given all that I could. I needed to break away from the invisible prison Scott kept me in. I needed space to heal, find clarity, peace of mind, and focus to find myself once again. It was imperative that I show my children that every person deserves respect and dignity; something they never learned from Scott. I was at fault too. I failed to set proper boundaries over the years which only got worse as time progressed.

This divorce was the battle of all battles, and I was up against Goliath. The only winners were the attorneys. Ironically, the day I met Scott was the same time that “War of the Roses” debuted in theaters, circa 1989. Nearly 30 years later to the day we met, on 9/11, was my Liberation Day from Scott – or so I thought. That was just our Settlement Agreement. There was much more to come.

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“So now you’ve got some knowledge setting the scenes to come. What is a psychopath? What is a Narcissist? Our history. How we met. Then leading to my light bulb moment on our wedding anniversary when I knew it was time to break free. The following blogs will be my journal entries of my Year of Thorns when I started the divorce process on my road to recovery and freedom.”

I will never understand fully, or even begin to comprehend Scott’s need to destroy me. I understand now its all a part of his underlying sickness. But to this day, it’s still difficult for me to wrap my head around it all. I only hope that he will “Let It Go” one day, allowing me to live in peace and stop using the children as weapons.

Please Scott. Stop.

Why stay in a relationship that is toxic?

 

Why Did I Stay? 

Why did I stay despite everything?  Many of us get into unhealthy situations because our partners held up a facade. I felt I had met my soul mate — that one special person in the universe just for me. It’s no surprise that I fell in love with someone like that! Scott once seemed perfect, but once I was married the relationship changed slowly over time due to children being born, job changes, and other major life changes.  Eventually I began to see a completely different side of him.  It was clear that I had married Dr. Jekyll and was living with Mr. Hyde, or the Supreme Being. The person who once seemed perfect became an angry, demeaning, demanding, and harshly critical narcissistic psychopath.  Sure there were warning signs from the very beginning, but I was in love and felt an obligation to stay. Plus the sex was off the charts.

For most people in abusive relationships, we carry around with us internal obligations that tend to make us want to stay in the relationship. One being the feeling of love for our partner. These feelings can persist and be very strong even when our partner doesn’t give or show us love in return.  We stay because of the few crumbs fed to us along the way with words of affirmation and/or actions along the way.  Like a carrot dangling at the end of a rope.  The second is a feeling of responsibility and obligation to our partner, our family, and even others beyond that. Our disordered partners often work hard to build up this feeling of obligation, hoping it will keep us locked in despite the way they mistreat us. 

I also stayed because of the way Scott’s manipulative behavior effected how I viewed myself.  He made me the victim, and my acceptance of that role allowed Scott to keep his control over me.  Scott projected his issues onto me, leaving a husk of the person I used to be, to feed his ego. I didn’t see through Scott’s ruses.  I didn’t call them out fearful of his repercussions.  I allowed Scott’s behavior to go unchecked by not actively taking a stand against it — and for good reason.  When I did stand up to Scott, he punished me, abusing me both verbally and physically.  I failed from the beginning to set proper boundaries. 

 Scott started the negative comments and hammered them home until I believed it entirely. When you start to feel so low and worthless, you genuinely believe that they are your best option. You believe that no one else will ever love or accept you because that’s what they’ve conditioned you to think – even friends won’t accept you. Because of that, you fear the thought of being alone (one of my greatest fears).  You think no one else will fill the gap in your heart that has been pried wide open with manipulation and malicious criticism. You fear that all the insults and criticisms were true. I let harsh words and his poisoned opinions rule my thinking. 

Alienation was also a major factor why I didn’t leave. While living abroad for ten years having three small children including one with special needs, I just couldn’t pack up and leave. We moved so frequently it was easy for Scott to alienate me from friends and family that supported me. I was also alienated financially, having given up my career to support him in all our moves.  We relied solely on Scott’s income. My career was long gone.  I was terrified at the thought of getting a job having been out of the workforce for so long with my skillset being significantly outdated, or so he made me believe.  

The rest was fear, plain and simple.  Fear of the unknown and Scott’s continuous threats I’d heard so often:  if I ever left, he would leave me with nothing and ruin my relationship with the children.  Scott did exactly that.  But I did survive, and I hope that our children will one day come to understand his illness and forgive me for staying as long as I did in a toxic relationship that ultimately dragged them into the middle. 

We often stay in abusive relationships for reasons that are healthy, even though the situation isn’t.  Scott projected his insecurities as a detached parent onto me making me question my sanity and parenting abilities, the very thing that mattered to me the most. Then there was my internal conflict to keep the family unit intact for the children.  But soon I realized while my vows were pulling me in one direction, the need to care for myself and my children in the other direction had to be my priority. I had to save myself and my spirit if I was going to take care of our children, stopping this dysfunctional modeling, hoping they would learn what a healthy relationship is eventually. 

When we think about making major changes in our lives, our thoughts naturally go to the world around us. We not only want to do what is right in principle; we also want to do what others will approve of. I guess one of the things that surprised me most in my educational journey was how strong this feeling was for me. I was always a people pleaser, needing validation and social acceptance. I hated being alone. I was really carrying around a strong feeling that an awful lot of people would judge what I did, especially living in such a small community. Even writing my book/blog, I worried what others may think knowing what happened behind the closed doors of our seemingly perfect Facebook life. 

I felt shame and embarrassment; I never thought I would get divorced, no matter what Scott did to me.  I had to work hard to get a handle on this. In reality, people didn’t really care. The negative judgment from others really isn’t there. The thought that I am a good mother because I kept my family unit intact needed to be set aside, replaced with thoughts that are centered in more basic ideas. “I am a good mother” because I care about my children. Now I have the courage and ability to hopefully be a role model to my children. I want them to also be free from their father’s manipulation to truthfully assess the goodness of their lives. I am a “good person” because I love and care for myself, my children, and for others.  

It’s time to believe.

Believe . . .

To accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth.  

Hold (something) as an opinion; think or suppose.  

Believe in yourself, your intuition, your courage, your strength, your future.

 

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My Lightbulb Moment

It was the last day of our Florida vacation.  I was running late.  All five of us, Scott, our children, and I, were crammed into a small hotel room with two double beds and a blow-up mattress. Our kids varied in age from twelve to twenty-one, and we were all ready for some space. The kids were in the hotel room and everyone was fighting and arguing. Our two oldest children were speaking to me like Scott always does — with complete disrespect. They learned it from him.  Or maybe I should say they never learned respect from him.  Then, I snapped.

I couldn’t breathe.  I was in tears and trying to keep my temper intact.  

Maybe it’s a panic attack?  

I don’t know.  I’ve never had one before.  

 “I‘m not feeling well,” I told Scott when he entered the room with his drink in hand, stepping over luggage and strewn clothes everywhere. “Something’s wrong.”

It was Scott’s responsibility to plan our anniversary dinner that evening, which turned out to be dinner with our kids and his mother and her husband. Our marriage counselor had suggested we take turns planning a date night, and it was Scott’s turn that night on our anniversary. I wasn’t expecting any grand gestures, but I was hanging on to hope by a thread.  I hoped that Scott would make an effort, knowing I already had one foot out the door.  I had met with the YWCA Domestic Abuse Advocate a few months earlier after Scott had beaten me — again.  I had also met with someone at the Personal Protection Order (PPO) office and had also considered filing assault and battery charges at that time.  But Scott professed his love, actually admitting he was wrong for the first time in our nearly 30 years together. I believed him.  

Earlier that day, our family had decided to take a trip up to Captiva Island to enjoy our last day of vacation at the beach.  I was exhausted having tried all week to make our family vacation a happy and memorable one.  It wasn’t easy.  I was hoping to end our last day of vacation on a positive note.  

On our way back to the hotel after the beach, Scott and Lindsey, our daughter, were arguing.  I tried time-outs, but tempers continued to flare. Cooper, our youngest son, was in tears in the backseat of the car as Scott and Lindsey got louder and louder.  In an attempt to divert or stop the argument, I suggested that Scott pull over at a nearby beach. I said that I wanted to search for driftwood, hoping we could all just breathe. Scott agreed, and our daughter, grateful for the reprieve, joined me.  

After we got out, Scott decided that he didn’t want to stay. He sped off with a sting of gravel spraying in our faces.  It was a blistering hot afternoon, so we waved the cloud of gravel dust from our eyes and headed down a narrow path to the beach, with the understanding Scott would be back in an hour to pick us up.  I was hoping that would give everyone enough time to calm down.  It was a small beach, just under and around a small bridge.  There was parking for a handful of cars.  You couldn’t walk far and there wasn’t much to see as we ventured out, but I thought there may be a few pieces of driftwood, as it was an outlet to the ocean.  There were a few other people hanging out, fishing or taking in the sunshine.  Lindsey and I wandered awhile, then took a few pictures — she wanted a couple good photos of herself from our vacation.

Hot, tired, and thirsty we were disappointed that Scott never returned as promised, as it was now well-past an hour. I repeatedly called him and got no answer. Two hours later, needing a bathroom desperately, I called his mother. I asked her to tell Scott we were ready to be picked up.  Scott was not happy. Not only had I called his mother, but he was going to miss happy hour at sunset on the last day of our vacation.

 Okay.  

Now back in the hotel room the five of us were getting ready in a mad dash. We wanted to be on time for our anniversary dinner with his mother.  I was last in the shower with only a few minutes to throw myself together, thanks to our teenage daughter. The kids were being disrespectful and argumentative with me.  Instead of defending me and correcting their behavior, Scott jumped on the bandwagon with them. 

That’s when the light bulb came on.  That one defining moment was like the final drop of water into a billion drops collected over time that creates a flood.  The gates opened and there was no stopping it.   For the first time I dialed in and listened — listened to my inner spirit who was screaming with fire, fury and frustration.  Moved by such an extreme feeling of discontent I knew I had to do something.  Fueled by powers of prayer, I had a moment of clarity.  It was crystal clear.

To an outsider, it may have seemed like nothing.  So what?  A crappy day; dinner with the mother-in-law; no roses.  Big deal.  But inside, it was the culmination of years of abuse.  My heart and soul were screaming.  It was time to protect what little I had left of myself.  It was fight or flight — the physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. 

The very foundation of our marriage was broken.Living in my comfort zone was easy.  But as I sat there on the creaky, old hotel bed, I felt like I was buried in a pile of rubble, unable to breath.  The walls were crumbling around me.  No longer able to detach and deny, I accepted the truth.  My reality.  With this discontent rising up like a kettle about to blow, I knew that something had to change.  I had to change.  No more brokenness.  No more abuse. I needed to rebuild my life, not just for me, but for our children.

Not wanting the kids to see my distress, I told them to go ahead to dinner with Grandma and her husband without me.  I wasn’t feeling well and went into the bathroom and wept.  Scott knew I wasn’t ok, but it was apparent that I didn’t matter to him.  

“Suit yourself,” he said, leaving to take the kids to dinner. 

Now, I know that Scott is a narcissistic psychopath.  The universe is all about him and how things affect him.  But I didn’t know that then.  That night I gave Scott many opportunities to help me keep US together – a last-ditch effort to show me he could be different. That he could still change my mind and save the marriage.  Was I overreacting?  I didn’t think so.

A short while later, Scott texted me, “There’s a wait for the table.  I can come get you if you’re finally ready?” 

Again, I explained, “I’mnot ok.” I really wasn’t.  I couldn’t catch my breath and felt like I was going to faint, breaking into a cold sweat.   I knew what I had to do.  Scott only got angrier.  How dare I stand him up on our anniversary; in front of his mother, no less!

“I can’t believe you’re acting like a child.  What am I supposed to tell my mother?” he said angrily. He wasn’t worried about me.  It was all about him.  

That’s when I knew I needed some space. I couldn’t fathom getting back on the plane the next day with Scott and kids bound for home. 

So, I told Scott, “I’m leaving.”  

 “What do you mean?  You’re over-reacting, being selfish.  You’re making a big deal out of nothing,”  he texted. Something I’ve heard all too often.

 “I need some space, time to think,” I replied.  He didn’t respond like some might, begging me to stay or making any effort to be reasonable.  

Instead he said, “You’re a terrible wife and mother.  How dare you abandon us. You need help, you’re a crazy bi**h.”  That was it.  My proverbial last straw.I collected myself as best Icould, packed my bags, and called an Uber driver, letting the hotel room door close behind me.  quote 8

Narcissistic Psychopath for Dummies

This is my first blog – as part of a series where I share my journey as I struggled to break free of a Narcissistic Psychopath.  I hope others, like me, will learn to recognize that YOU are NOT the crazy one.  Believe in yourself and a happier future.

The Narcissistic Psychopath for Dummies

I was everything my ex-husband, Scott, needed me to be. Scott picked me because I was a caring, loving person that he could exploit. I was brainwashed, manipulated, and orchestrated into an intricate web, which fed Scott’s insatiable need for control to mask his own insecurities. Gradually over time, Scott defined me. He told me who I was, what to think, how to feel.  As the years passed and my struggles continued, I suffered mental anguish, anxiety, and emotional pain.  I lost confidence.  I had self-doubt.  I was depressed.  I began to have problems sleeping, and the stress took its toll on me physically.  I became a husk of the person I used to be. 

Finally, I acted on my truth.  I stood up for myself and my children.  When my doctor asked me if I felt safe at home and I couldn’t answer “Yes,” I knew it was time to make a change for my mind, body, and spirit. I took my marriage vows seriously; however, my biggest obligation was to our children. To properly nurture and care for them, I had to be whole and functional.  With the abuse over the years, and because Scott was an uninvolved and detached parent, I felt a strong obligation to stay in the marriage for their sakes.  It got to the point where my vows were pulling me in one direction, and my need for safety and sanity pulled me in another.  I had to make a choice:  Either I keep my commitment to Scott, losing my peace and possibly the ability to properly care for our children, or I care for myself and my children, first and foremost. 

The problem was that Scott had distorted my sense of reality over the years through shame, guilt, and intimidation — to make me believe that, at some level, I was an unfit parent and couldn’t live without him.  I believed that by keeping the family intact I was doing what was best for our children.  This would have made sense in a healthy relationship, but ours wasn’t even close. I tolerated Scott’s abuse and my isolation, even allowing him to damage my relationship with our children over the years – the same children for whom I had stayed in the marriage to nurture and protect. 

But I didn’t realize Scott was the sick one, nor did I consider the impact that our modeling had on the children until my “light bulb” moment. Children learn to do what they live with.  In a severely dysfunctional home like ours, our children learned dysfunction.  We were unable to co-parent as long as Scott dominated the household and alienated me through his manipulation and brainwashing.  This made it nearly impossible to have a full and healthy relationship with my own children. 

In the end, it finally came down to safety.  Our home was not emotionally safe for me or the children.  My obligation as a parent was far more important to me than the obligation of staying in the marriage merely to keep the family “intact.”  It was time to break free and set a new and better example for my kids.  I knew Scott would continue to turn them against me.  I only hope that I didn’t wait too long to act; that someday they will see the truth and learn to identify and enjoy healthy relationships. 

I knew divorcing Scott would be difficult.  But there was no way I could have anticipated or prepared for the level of discord and calculated manipulation that Scott aimed toward me to ruin me and my relationship with my children, along with the threats of poverty.  I had married a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It was during this process that I discovered Scott truly is a psychopath. 

What is a Psychopath? 

A normal relationship might use love and trust as its currency, but a relationship with any psychopath has a wholly different purpose. They use you, benefit from you, and thrive off of controlling you.  They lack a sense of empathy, a conscience, and guilt. Scott presented himself with a flawless veneer. Every now and then, between the good moments, you would catch a glimpse of his true self, blowing up at a person or impatiently smashing something.  This is who he truly is.  It’s in those instances that I slowly learned that a psychopath wants to inject chaos, anxiety, and insecurity into your life.   

Half the time I didn’t know right side up.  A psychopath is frightening for many reasons as they are incredibly sharp and intelligent. They’re calculating, capable of planning ahead, scheming, and concocting plans that leave most normal people confused. Psychopaths understand exactly what they’re doing to you.  Match that with a charismatic personality such as Scott’s who was then the perfect salesman, showman, and entertainer.  Scott was very successful in his company position. In social settings, the party started when he arrived.

Of course, Scott was smart; he realized the need to keep up appearances. His need for social status to accomplish his goals was one of the few things that held him back from being even more ruthless and devastating. Scott possessed many masks, all of which hid his true self, reminding me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Scott was toxic and abusive, always overstating his ability to be kind and compassionate to hide his true character. 

I learned during my divorce that I was dealing with a completely unpredictable human being with zero conscience.  Zero empathy.  Zero remorse.  While the normal person understands the ramifications of divorce, the psychopath sees it as only one thing:  a game to win regardless of the costs.  No matter how much money it took, no matter how it affected his children’s lives, even when he lost his job in the process, Scott had to win.  Mix that need for power and control with a self-absorbed ego, and you get a Narcissistic Psychopath. 

What is a Narcissist?

A narcissist is a person who is completely and overwhelmingly absorbed in themselves. They are the center of their own universe, and they carry that belief into how they interact with others.  What is difficult to assess in the beginning is that narcissists can seem very nice, generous, charming, and caring.  Then slowly, as their masks slip, things begin to change.  They will morph into a black hole of need, demand, and criticism.  The list of things that can upset them continually grows until you’re walking in a minefield, trying not to be punished for offending them. 

A narcissist will commonly choose someone who was raised to be co-dependent as prey. Co-dependent people tend to be nice, sweet, reasonable, and eager to please.  That was me. They can be taken into the narcissist’s sphere because they don’t see what is coming, and they don’t believe people can be toxic and cruel for no reason.  Most people don’t know how to defend themselves against a chronic and malicious controller.  They just can’t see the hurt coming and, over time, are destructively conditioned to take more and more of it until they start to think they are the “crazy” ones.   

My relationship with Scott wasn’t unlike the old tale of a boiling frog that goes something like this:  If you place a frog in a warm pot of water and slowly increase the temperature over time they don’t react or realize it until they end up getting cooked in the boiling water. Whereas, if you placed a frog into a boiling pot of water, it would immediately jump out.  By letting the small and seemingly harmless wrongs slip, it could overtime, add up to deadly. Scott was bad for me.  I just didn’t realize it until I nearly boiled to death.  Once I made the conscious decision to jump out of the pot in order to survive, I wished there was a guide to which I could have referred – How to Divorce a Narcissistic Psychopath for Dummies. 

I thought I was prepared. In hindsight, I was naïve.  A narcissist will take control by any means at hand. The entire basis of Scott’s case in this divorce was to prove me mentally unstable and an unfit mother.  I was neither, but over the years my marriage to Scott had me doubting myself and questioning everything I previously held to be true about myself and the world. The psychological warfare I endured both during the marriage and through the divorce was crushing.  Here’s a list of what I learned in my battle with a narcissistic psychopath: 

How to Divorce a Narcissistic Psychopath for Dummies:

  • Keep a journal and record everything – this is SO important. 
  • Get the BEST lawyer – even if the cost seems too high. I paid for his. 
  • File.  DON’T TELL ANYONE, not even your friends, until they are served the papers. 
  • You want to be the Plaintiff. Attorneys will say it doesn’t matter, but it does to a narcissist, and I believe it will sway a judge.
  • Stash money away. You can bet they have — and planned it many years ago. 
  • Hide anything that has value BEFORE you file. They will try and take those things.
  • Spend now, ask forgiveness later.
  • Lock up everything.  Files, journals, your car, your purse. 
  • Change all your passwords. 
  • Buy a burner phone. 
  • Open a new and private email account to communicate with your family, friends, and attorney(s). 
  • Get a good grip on your finances and record every expense. 
  • Do not believe ANYTHING they say – EVER. 
  • Demand a psychiatric evaluation. 
  • Breathe.  You will waste many tears and have many sleepless nights. 
  • Take the case to trial.  I should have. 

There were so many times I said to myself, “I can’t believe Scott did that!”  I couldn’t have anticipated his actions.  It was impossible to wrap my head around how a person could do such inconceivable things.  I was a faithful wife for 27 years, sacrificed my career to support his, and gave Scott three amazing children.  I was a good mother and wife.  No, I was an amazing mother and wife.  How could I have been so blind, so dumb?  Nearly 30 years went by in a blink. 

I was mad at myself for not seeing it sooner and angry at Scott for everything he did and would do throughout the entire process.  The hardest part of the divorce was learning to forgive myself and accepting that it wasn’t all my fault.  I had been brainwashed, manipulated, and controlled by the best of the best; I was the boiling frog.  I could never have foreseen what Scott would put me through in that year, and even if I had, I couldn’t have done anything differently. Scott gave me no choice.  Everything I did was in reaction to his actions.  I didn’t have time or space to plan any offense of my own; I was forced to continually play defense and play his game. For Scott it was all about winning.  Over the following year, Scott would do whatever it took to win, conquer and destroy in our own version of War of the Roses.  This is what happened, and you may expect when attempting to divorce a narcissistic psychopath: 

What to Expect When Divorcing a Narcissistic Psychopath:

  • He will sabotage your relationship with your attorney (I had three). 
  • He will break into your room and your car. 
  • He will steal your files and journals. 
  • He will hack your personal files and email accounts. 
  • He will stalk you. 
  • He will place hidden video cameras in the house to watch your every move. 
  • He will stage dozens of events designed to get you arrested and jailed. 
  • He will commit forgery. 
  • He will perjure himself without any thought for, or fear of, the repercussions. 
  • He will physically attack you. 
  • He will go on a vacation rampage.
  • He will hide money. 
  • He will call your friends and family. 
  • He will call you crazy, delusional, and mentally unstable. 
  • He will never accept defeat and will fight literally to the bitter end (even over something as trivial as used gift bags!). 
  • He will never leave you alone. 
  • He will turn the children against you. 

When I told my friends I was writing a book/blog, I would reference the old movie War of the Roses, explaining that I was writing the modern sequel, only no one dies in the end. Throughout the following blogs I will be drawing from my personal journal of my daily struggles and discoveries during my Year of Thorns.  I’ve also referenced the 17 Emotional Manipulation Tactics of the narcissistic psychopath that I learned to identify in my path to recovery.  This was an important tool in my research to understand what happened to our family while we lived with someone with a severe personality disorder, and the challenges I faced throughout the divorce process. 

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