Emotional Manipulation Tactic #12 – Fear

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Fear can be paralyzing, especially when we are stepping into the unknown. It’s one thing to think about making changes in your life (divorce). Or even deciding to make changes (to leave). But the real kicker comes when it’s time actually to make those changes happen (to move out). And that, my friend, is where all of us run smack into fear. It can be totally paralyzng. The Narcissist FEED on that fear, making you believe that you can’t make it on your own, that you’re not worthy. Then there’s the fear of what if’s. Can I make a living? How long will the divorce process take? Is it best for the children? Can I afford the fight? You can bet your last dollar that the narcissist will threaten to take away the children, threaten to leave you with nothing and tell you that no one will ever love you again.  

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

I was also afraid of being alone, pure and simple.  Alienation was a significant factor why I stayed as long as I did. While living abroad for ten years having three small children including one with special needs, I couldn’t pack up and leave. We moved so frequently is was easy for him 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 his 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at the thought of getting a job having been out of the workforce for so long with my skillset being significantly outdated, or so he made me believe. How would I support myself and my children?

His controlling and abusive behavior didn’t end when I finally found the courage to leave.  In fact, it got worse.  Much worse. I had no money of my own, and for the sake of the children, I was forced to stay in the marital home during the divorce process when he refused to leave.  I suffered through stalking, verbal and physical violence, hidden cameras, and  flamboyant and unpunished violations of court orders.  I lived in a House of Horrors and was imprisoned in a dungeon built by his malice

With the help of his greedy and unscrupulous lawyer, he coldly and masterfully orchestrated devastating attacks designed to make me look crazy and violent in attempts to get custody of the kids he hardly even knew.  The police were called to our home (10) times during our year of divorce.  He lied, cheated, and stole.  He staged more than (33) events and recorded them as false “evidence”.  He dragged me into a maelstrom of Machiavellian schemes designed to isolate me from everything I had known and loved.

But to his chagrin, I survived – thrived once free from his control!  Once I determined to knock those walls down, everything started to focus into a plan, albeit slowly testing my patience. I chose to jump out of that pot of boiling water and began to take control of my life. Yes, MY life – not his, not our kids, but MINE. By eliminating the ignorance of the “what ifs” and fear of the unknown, I began to eliminate the anguish allowing myself to make my own choices, move forward one battle at a time and change my life, piece by piece.

Once I accepted that fact and that I deserved better, then I could begin my road to recovery, feeding my spirit that so desperately wanted to be happy. I changed my thinking process entirely, working diligently to “Let Go” all those evil thoughts and memories that were conditioned in me, allowing me to accept MY truth and MY reality. I wasn’t crazy! I’m an amazing mother, and I did the best I could. No regrets. Move forward.

Hopefully readers, through my journey, learn a few things about the divorce process and that the only winners in this game were the attorneys. But I did win in some ways. By understanding my light bulb moment, I overcame my fear of leaving my invisible prison; I realized that I was abused by the person I loved, who truly didn’t love me back.  He wasn’t capable o loving me as a person; he only loved what I could do for him.

To this day, he continues to threaten me – to sue me over my Blog.  Once again, his perception is that the world (and my blog) are all about him.  However, according to the Judge during one of our numerous court hearings (three years later still continuing), that I have the constitutional right to tell my story, my truth.

And so I write, not to defame or disparage. I choose to share my experiences to inspire others how to break free of an abusive partner while learning to identify common manipulative tactics of the narcissistic type and how to deal with them.

It’s so crucial for women to speak their truth, which is the most powerful tool. By sharing my journey through my Year of Thorns, I hope inspires others like me to stand up to the injustice, bullies, and tyrants, who made us victims. Abuse in all forms is wrong.

If you’re in a toxic relationship, get out. It’s not healthy for you or the children. IT WILL NEVER GET BETTER!  For those out there who are depressed or scared in a toxic relationship and fearful of the unknown, know there’s hope at the end of the rainbow, even in the worst of times. Hold onto that inner spark of strength; have faith in your guardian angels; and listen to your inner spirit, who will guide you.

Slowly over time, you will began to identify their emotional manipulative tactics.  YOU will learn not to engage or accept those devaluing messages thrown your way. As long as you stay true to yourself, your beliefs and all that you hold to be true in your heart, YOU will find power in your passion. YOU will be victorious, independent and free no longer harnessed by fear or control!

In Steve Maraboli’s Unapologetically You, he writes “We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, you are here and now with the power to shape your day and your future. You only get one life.”

As you gain clarity about who you truly are, not by how others define you, you can become who you are meant to be.  As Oprah once said, “You don’t become what you want. You become what you believe.” Believe in yourself.

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.)

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.