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

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.)

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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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.

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Obituary – death of a marriage

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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 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.

__________________________________________________________________

“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.

 

quote 2

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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