Thursday, December 12, 2019

I Survived, It Was Worth It

My life has never been easy, I grew up in a low income home and was sexually abused by my stepfather, my real father never wanted me, and my mom and I had no connection. My grandparents, great-grandparents, teachers, and friend’s parents were my only positive parental guidance. After high school I moved to Cincinnati to get away from the toxic relationship that i had with my mom. I moved in with two guys and another girl. This small town girl was enamored by the “big city” life. I moved in, thought I was invincible and had an arrogance about me. At my core I was kind and still tried to make friends, and I did, many of them. They were all so wonderful, a few are still some of my closest friends today. One of my male roommates, became a close friend and I tried everything to make him happy. He told me to jump I would ask how high. I don’t know if it was because I was rejected by most of the other men in my life but I wanted so badly for him to love me and want me. I was so blind and addicted to his charm that I ignored all of the red flags of abuse that I was about to embark on.

My confidence and self worth rapidly fell and I was trapped. There were still days and slivers of hope that I would try to convince myself that those small rare moments outweighed the abuse, and honestly I didn’t even realize it was abuse i just figured that’s what love was and it was normal. I would envy the relationships my friends had with their boyfriends/husbands that were healthy and how happy they were with each other.  I slowly became a shell of who I once was, I did things that I never thought I would do, like drank wine until I went to bed.

Finally, I had the courage to leave and get divorced. I thought I was starting over, he put his charm on even stronger, and pursued me. For a couple years I did well avoiding him, and no one seemed interested in me besides him, so I started to open my heart back up to that possibility. I prayed and asked guidance from my Grandpa (who had passed but I still have a spiritual connection with). I thought maybe God was leaning towards getting back together with him but I felt nothing from Grandpa. I chose to get back together, it was a struggle at first because he acted like he was a hot commodity and I had to compete for him. I refused and he broke off what he had going with another woman and chose me. I finally felt like he had put me above others. I again ignored the red flags, I wanted so badly to be loved and to have my son with me 24/7 that I stayed and remarried him. I wanted another child, and along came out daughter.

Once she was born and my time was taken away from stroking his ego, he went back to the narcissistic asshole. The tension was hard at home and myself and the kids were walking on eggshells. I was depleted all over again. I couldn’t understand how I had friends, or why anyone would even want to be around me. I became someone I didn’t recognize and I was not the person, mother, wife, or friend I wanted to be.

After joining a women’s group at my church they prayed so hard for me and my marriage and I wanted things to work out in God’s vision, but what I soon realized was this was not how God designed marriage to be, this was not love, it was the exact opposite. I went on a spiritual camp with thousands of other women and my small group prayed for me and encouraged me to leave if I had to in order to save myself and my kids. I found a therapist that also led a class for survivors of abuse. I had originally thought that he only abused me emotionally, and since he wasn’t actually beating the crap out of me it was ok. The more I learned and the more I realized how toxic this was for me, I began to plan my escape. The point that changed everything was the day I realized he had been sexually abusive. Yes, your own husband can sexually abuse you. Every sexual experience with him was abusive. We never made love, I was never “freaky” enough for him, yet he would never tell me what he liked, well besides having a threesome and swallowing were priorities. There were many things during the 17 years I’ve known him that I let him talk me into, whether it was sexually, financially, spiritually, and emotionally. He made me believe he wanted to get out of debt but he had no impulse control and spent money we didn’t have. Am I innocent? No, I did my fair share of spending but many times it was against what my goals were because he would throw a tantrum if he didn’t get his way.

My friends, other survivors, and therapist encouraged me that I could in fact leave him. I could make it. After things were put into motion, I walked away from the house I bought and fixed on my own, and decorated. I walked away from many things that I cherished in that home so I could be free. A quote by Glennon Doyle struck me during this time “if a woman has to choose between saving her marriage and saving her soul, she must save her soul”, and that’s what I was doing.

My dear friend had just went through a divorce herself and invited my kids and I to live with her for the time being. I don’t think I could ever repay her for the generosity that she has shown my kids and I. We had nowhere to go and she invited the three of us in. I couldn’t make it on my own, and would have either had to have moved back home in with my grandma or in low income housing. I was scared the most of failing my children because I couldn’t put a roof over their heads. I had kept praying that God would make a way for me to financially get out of the marriage and He opened this incredible door with her.

Once I moved in, the biggest weight that I had been carrying for years had been lifted. I was beginning to sleep again, and perform better at work, and enjoying life again. After the final hearing, it was a relief but felt like another day, I just had a little bit more pep in my step.

Now, I’ve reconnected with an old friend from high school. He is someone I have had feelings for since Junior year but I never had the guts to say anything. Finally, after all this time, I was vulnerable and I told him how I felt. We are dating and taking things slow for now. He made the comment that God had a reason for having us wait this long before we got together, it was his timing and not ours. I have two blessings that I wouldn’t have had and honestly, I don’t know if I would have truly appreciated him as much as I do now. He makes my heart happy, and I feel like I am finally dating my best friend, he makes me feel safe and that I can be myself with him. I can’t stop smiling because of him. It’s as if I handed him my fragile shattered heart that’s been pieced back together, and he delicately took it in his hands and has held it like a newborn baby.

If God would have told me 17 years ago “look, you’re eventually going to be happy, and find joy, and peace, and have two kids and a good man. However, you will have to go through hell and back a few times before this happens”. I would take off my shoes and march through fire if that’s how I would get to the moment I am at now. The struggle, heartbreak, and work was worth every ounce of joy I feel now. Don’t give up, don’t let the lies of a narcissist discourage you because you can do this, you can survive, but you have to do the work. It is worth it.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

When Your Father is a Narcissist

If you know me personally, you know that the last 3 years have been the worst of my life. I have grown and changed so much in that time that by now you have probably noticed I’m a different person than I was before all of this. 2 years ago, I became aware of the situation I was in, and nothing in my life has ever made so much sense. Since I was a child, I was partially aware that something wasn’t right, but I always brushed it off as my imagination and love for storytelling. But now I know the truth. For the first 13 years of my life, I was a victim of emotional abuse.

I never imagined I would write this, let alone share it with anyone. My entire life I have never been completely happy, and I never knew why. I always had a voice in my head telling me that I was a terrible human being and that I could never do anything right. This voice was born from the abuse. Every time I made a mistake, I would receive an insult masked as a joke. Every time I cried or complained saying that these “jokes” made me upset, I was told I was “too sensitive” and needed to toughen up. To my abuser, what I wanted didn’t matter. I would ask him to spend time with me, but he always said “not right now,” but he would then come to me later when I was doing something and make me feel guilty for “never wanting to do anything with him”. Whenever he was home, he was either watching tv or in the gym, either way, I was being ignored. If he was doing one of those things, he wouldn’t hear a word you say. There were names he would call me, simple jokes to anyone else, but when they are repeated over and over, they start to wear away at your pride and self-image. His favorites were “piglet” and “box-checker”. He called me piglet every time I would get food outside of meals, he would laugh as he said it and I would go along laughing while telling him to stop. As I came into my teen years, I developed a negative body image, and to this day every time I look in the mirror, I see a fat “piglet”. He called me box-checker whenever I decided I wanted to try something new, for example, a new hobby. He always made fun of how I would “lose interest” in everything I tried. I was a child, how was I supposed to know what I wanted to do, how was I supposed to know what my interests were if I didn’t try a bunch of things first? Soon box-checker became “incapable of commitment” in my mind. I have to force myself to commit to something now because I believe that I will inevitably give up.

The way my abuser thought was that I was not my own. He and I would have screaming matches about how he claimed I was his property, how I belonged to him. By now I have done my best to try and forget most of what he’s done, but a lot of it will stay with me forever. One of the things he did that bothered me the most, he referred to as “butt-bees”. He would pinch my butt almost every time he came near me, if I asked him to stop and explicitly told him that it wasn’t ok, he would maybe stop for a few days, a week at most. I got to the point where if he came within 3 feet of me, I would say “don’t touch my butt,” out of a gut reflex. At the dinner table, he would interrupt me every time I spoke, then laugh at how I got angry. He would do this multiple times until I gave up on the topic and sat in silence for the rest of dinner. When he was out of town for work, the entire house was lighter and we all felt an odd sense of freedom, but when he came back, we would forget the old feeling and go back to trying to accommodate his feelings and every whim.

Today, he is not allowed to have physical contact with me by court decree, but he still texts me almost every day. I am not permitted to block his number or else I or others involved could get in trouble. I can probably predict how you would react to these texts; they would make you feel uncomfortable after reading enough of them, you would make the same disgusted face everyone else does. I, however, have grown numb to his messages, they don’t bother me anymore because I’ve received so many. In 3 years, I will be 18, when that day comes, I will change my last name, block him on every platform he could contact me on, and I’m moving out of the state. I am not allowed to be free of him until I am recognized as a legal adult.

I will never completely recover from what I’ve been through. My mind has been so damaged from everything I experienced it will still take me years to get to a place where I can even look at him without feeling terrified and sick. There are more things he has done than those I’ve written here, and I may never share those things outside of therapy.

Although I was never physically or sexually abused, I am still traumatized by what happened to me. Due to my abuse, I unfortunately have a hard time believing that those who are close to me don’t have ulterior motives in our relationship. I always believe that they are tricking me, or using me to get something. It will take time for me to get rid of this belief, and it’s something I fight every day. Additionally, his constant teasing and insults have made me feel as if I’ll never be enough, I believe that no one, besides my mom and brother, will ever truly love me because I’m so imperfect. I’ve always believed this, there has always been a voice that appears in my head whenever I do something wrong asking me “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you do anything right? Do you want everyone to hate you because of all your mistakes?” His words, and those of the voices, made me feel completely worthless, for a few years of my life I considered killing myself, and I thank god every day that those thoughts were never serious enough that I decided to do something.

Being around people is difficult for me because I feel as if I’m an accessory and they all have me there out of guilt or out of their aforementioned “ulterior motives”. I have a dark road behind me, and a long road ahead. My scars will never fully heal, I doubt the voices will ever entirely go away, but I’m going to do my best to rebuild myself as best as I can. I’ve already taken a big step forward. In October of 2019 I was diagnosed with depression, and about a week or 2 later I began medication. I have been doing much better since then, but my depression doesn’t account for everything I feel.

I look forward to the day when I finally get to leave my past behind and get to know my new self. I know that many people will never understand how damaging the effects of this abuse are. There is a specific term for the kind of abuse I experienced, but since my abuser is undiagnosed, I cannot officially call it or him what they are.

Every day I take another step. Every day I trust myself a little more, but I haven’t yet been able to make as big of strides as far as my feelings and reactions towards others. For now, I’m taking it day by day, and as crazy as it sounds, my experiences have made me stronger than I could have ever imagined, and I know that I will make it out of this alive.