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A genuine fear I had after I divorced my husband of 17 years was being sure to NOT pick the same type of man again. You know how they always say, “Oh, she has a type!” or “He’s always picks the crazy ones.” I didn’t want those scenarios to be me! After all of the shit I dealt with during my first marriage, the last thing I wanted was someone who was ego-centered, negative or possessive and jealous.

This man, my man, is nothing like that.

I was still seeing my counselor occasionally when Brandon and I first started dating. I expressed my fears of choosing the same type of man–I was kind of afraid my “picker” was broken. I remember specifically stating to my therapist, “It’s not like there’s a book on guaranteeing second marriages.” She quickly replied, “Actually, Lori, there is proof that marriages that are real and vulnerable–the kind of vulnerable where you can show someone your darkest sides or deepest fears, work. And from what you’ve told me, you’ve already shared that side of you with Brandon.”

She was right.

Through all of the growing I had done on my own after my divorce, I had learned to be open and vulnerable with Brandon. Because he made me feel safe. He made me want to be a better person, and if I had to break down and cry and tell him how scared I was before I could be a better person, I would do it.

Brandon wouldn’t try to fix me. He still doesn’t. But he listens.

He looks at life as an experience–not a contest.

He has a relationship with his parents–this is important.

He has a relationship with his children–this is more important.

He wants to protect me and care for me. I’ve never had someone be that person for me.

He doesn’t expect anything from me.

He looks at my children as if they’re his own and he feels their pain and their happiness.

He supports my goals, my dreams, and is proud of who I am.

He is nothing like my ex.

 


If you’ve been in a relationship with a manipulator, it’s very common to choose the same type of person again. Very. So if you’ve been there, how do you help yourself and how do you recognize if you’re falling for the same routine?

  1. Stay connected to family and friends. Manipulators like to get you away from loved ones and friends. If they have you all to themselves, your self-image is tied directly to them. You begin to feel happy when you do for them and sad when they tell you you’ve missed the mark–then you over-do to try to make it up. If you have a support system, you have other people who will help you to see that everything isn’t always your fault.
  2. ALWAYS work on your self-esteem. When you feel good about yourself, you’re less-likely to fall for their tactics. You’re also less likely to blame yourself or let the manipulator “label” you or put you down. A manipulator will try to get you to give up the things you love or that make you feel good. Again, they’ve got you right where they want you if you aren’t happy.
  3. Recognize when you feel shame or anxiety. When you are in a relationship, you shouldn’t feel shamed or anxious around your partner. If you feel “not good enough” or your partner is always angry or explosive around you, your response is to try harder to do better or to keep the waters calm. This is how they get you to do what they want.

Are you in a manipulative relationship?

Take this quiz from lifeesteem.org

Answer the following questions with a True or False.

  1. I sometimes feel confused about what my partner really wants.
  2. I feel that my partner frequently takes advantage of my giving nature.
  3. Even when I do something that pleases my partner, the positive feelings never last long.
  4. With my partner I feel that it’s hard just to be myself or do what I really want.
  5. Around my partner, I feel taken for granted.
  6. I seem to work harder on this relationship than my partner does.
  7. My partner has a very strong impact on what I think and feel.
  8. I sometimes feel that I am trapped in my relationship and there is no way out.
  9. I don’t feel as good about myself in my relationship as I once did.
  10. I feel that I need my partner more than my partner needs me.
  11. No matter how much I have done, I feel that it’s not good enough for my partner.
  12. I feel that my partner does not understand who I really am.

There are twelve questions in this quiz. If you answered more than half of them with True, you might want to consider exploring whether you are in a manipulative relationship.

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Exhausted.

At 6 months pregnant, I had been working full-time as an assistant to a Marketing VP at a big technology company. You would think that anyone who is in the upper echelon of a tech company would be computer-savy and have mad-skills when it comes to computers. Not that man.

My days were filled with printing and answering his emails (yes, I said printing). He didn’t understand how to use email (it was 1997–email was main-stream by now), so he liked ALL of his emails printed and on his desk first-thing at 8:00 am. Once I brought the stack of in-box items, he would sit at his round meeting table (his desk was covered in “things to read”) and hand-write his responses to co-workers, collegues and the like.

While he read off of dead trees, I kept busy doing budgeting, meeting with other admins on processes, and training the new hires. I was well-respected and I enjoyed my job, but I was looking forward to the arrival of my first son who was due in 3 months.

I was 26. My husband was 27. We had been married for close to four years, and had planned this (and every other) pregnancy. It was a conscious decision to wait to have children, because I was insistent that I would not work full-time and have a daycare raise my child.

I had worked 2 jobs since our engagement and would typically be heading to the mall for work, but this night I was headed home. I was glad to be on my way to comfy sweats and a quiet evening.

My second job was working for a local photographer I had met when I was looking for someone to photograph our wedding. He couldn’t function on a computer, and I wanted to work off my wedding package so my parents wouldn’t have to pay for photos. It was a match made in heaven. I didn’t love working 2 jobs after the wedding day, but it was extra income, and my husband often worked late, so I figured I’d be earning more money for our home and our family.

My husband came home and was extra happy and talkative that day. He was in rare form, and seemed happy as a clam. I wasn’t sure what was putting him in such a great mood–he’d typically eat dinner and zone out in front of the television after work, but I was glad he wasn’t grumpy from work. He was practically giddy tonight. His words spilled out about his day and he somehow managed to mention that he and a few women from his office had gone to a strip club for lunch.

I’m sorry, what? A strip club.

I stood there in my hot-pink shirt, the hem just long enough to cover my expanding belly, and tears swelled in my eyes.

“You went where?” I asked him. His smile turned sour and he spouted off a few, “Oh, what’s the big deal? It was just me and Yvonne and 2 other girls…it’s not like we were watching the strippers! They thought it’d be fun!”

Yvonne and 2 other girls. Yvonne…the Yvonne who is nearly 40 with platinum-bleached, too-blonde hair, ginormous fake boobs she’s not afraid to flaunt, knee-high black boot, too-skimpy mini-skirt wearing can’t hack it in a real position so she flirts endlessly with mortgage customers to make money Yvonne.

I stared blankly at him in utter disgust and confusion. A) I didn’t even know he was the strip club type and B) His wife is 6 months pregnant and he’s standing here acting like what he did this afternoon is completely acceptable and can’t fathom why I’m upset.

“Do you know how disrespectful that is?” I shouted at him.

“Oh please!” He shouted back at me, not one bit of remorse in his tone.

The argument continued, and somehow, through the magic of the narcissist, he kept insisting this argument was now my fault. I was “overreacting” and I should be glad he went with women instead of the men in the office…because for some eff’d up reason, that makes it better.

As I argued with him I found myself lost in the swirls of deceit and smoke screens. I walked outside and sat on the steps in my back yard. It was almost March, and the grass was yellow and dead-looking still. The grass looked the way my insides now felt–dead, uncared for, cold and forgotten.

I had the phone in my hands and I slowly dialed my mother. I began explaining the story to her and tears streamed down my face. I was searching for validation, support and comfort…things I never received at home, especially that day.

That day.

The day I wanted to leave.

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It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

~ E.E. Cummings

I’ve been soul searching…a lot. After the heartbreaking news that I miscarried over the weekend, I found myself quite lost. As the news sank in, I told Brandon, “It’s like I don’t know who I am right now.” What a strange thing to feel. I had only known I was pregnant for a few weeks, and yet I sat on the couch crying with my husband trying to reach inside and examine who I was.

This loss has made me look at who I am in every way possible. As a mother. As a wife. As Lori. I see what’s important to me, now, more than ever. My journey has led me to who I am and I must acknowledge my journey as I step towards who I truly want to be.

I grew up trying to be perfect and trying to please everyone. I was not strong then. I was afraid of disappointing people. I was too shy to use my voice or to stand up for myself. I could be strong and stand up for others, but it was difficult to put myself first.

My journey has led me to strength.

I was molested briefly as a child, and back then I had no voice to tell someone or to stand up for who I was. I worked on finding my voice through the years and gained confidence in myself. Later, I married a man who was sweet at first but turned controlling and possessive because I was beautiful and confident and he didn’t like it. My confidence wained and I gave up friends, activities and interactions because I wanted to prove I wasn’t “cheating” or “finding someone else.” I survived being married to a narcissist and I survived a divorce from him, too. I continue to stand up to him when he bullies me or my children, and I grow stronger every day because of the love of my husband and our children.

My journey has led me to strength. I am strong and I am a survivor.

Who am I? I am Lori. I am smart. I am an athlete. I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am creative. I’m a friend. I am loving. I am nurturing. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am giving. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am real. I am a survivor.

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Lost the baby yesterday.

Feeling numb. Sad. Robbed.

It took a few weeks for the idea of becoming a new mom again to sink in. But once it did, excitement grew, plans started forming, and dreams were imagined.

And now?

I’m not really sure. Brandon and I are in pain. Neither of us has experienced such a loss. We are lucky his employer gave him the day off to be with me. We are numb.

Who am I? Where do I go from here? I feel the need deep within me to nest and nurture my family. Nothing else matters right now. Life is a gift. Kids are a blessing.

I am lost.

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I’ve connected with many women (and a few men) through this blog who are suffering through divorce with a narcissist. The road is long and it is hard. You find yourself staring into space and wondering what on earth you did to deserve such a curse to have to deal with such a wretched person. The narcissist isn’t mean and awful when you are doing as they wish. They are pleasant and giving and almost sweet. But once you turn away from them, or DIVORCE them, then the gloves come off and you see their scaly skin and all of the ugly warts they covered over the years.

Some of the most awful things come from their mouths. They will type the most ridiculous things and they will hurt anyone, including their own children, to get back at you. As a girl who’s lived this drama roller coaster (and who still is), this is why I tell you to only communicate in writing by email/text!!!

One of my e-friends, iamfindingaway, was appalled when I told her the story of when I kicked my ex out. You see, the minute I told him I packed bags for him and I wanted him to move out and wanted him to go think about his relationship with “the neighbor” and realize that this marriage is something worth fighting for, my ex ran to the bank and took our money–lots of money–out of our savings account. He didn’t care how it affected his kids. He didn’t care that I quit my job to work on our marriage “issues” and had no way to pay for things because he took the money. He only cared about covering his sad, pathetic ass. Typical NPD actions.

As I thought about this moment, there were many others that came to mind and I was immediately rushed back to how hard life was just after initial court date/beginnings of the divorce. My stomach turns as I think about each of them, but I want to share some of the stories for those of you out there who are dealing with the devil–literally. It’s NEVER easy. Ever. And I’m sorry for that. But you’ve gotta know that after the storm comes the sunshine. My life has been proof!

Here are a few of the highlights lowlights:

On our first Memorial Day post-marriage, I had plans to take my kids to see their grandfather’s grave. My ex’s father had died one year prior (an event that was a catapult into his mid-life crisis, if you ask me) and I told him I may take our kids to see their grandpa’s grave. He was vicious and controlling in his response:

I will ask you only one time to move forward with your life and not take the kids to my dad’s grave, or any other family things on my side. Taking the kids to MY dad’s grave and any other {last name} family thing is MY family and my business, not yours! If you would like to take the kids to your families graves that is your choice. I would never interfere and take the kids to your family’s stuff. I feel very strongly about this and am willing to get a restraining order against you so you cannot do this going forward. If I hear you have visited my dad’s grave I will be contacting my attorney.

Really? A restraining order to not visit a grave? I can laugh at this response now. But just after leaving a NPD person, you are weak and frail. When I read this, I was actually wondering if I was doing something wrong. Could he get me in trouble for going to the cemetery? Still can’t believe I let him bully me on this one.

There were numerous times he refused to take my son to his games because “my parent time is more important than his sports”

I want to be clear about Thursday. Are you “asking” me or “telling” me that {insert child’s name} won’t be at my house on Thursday at 5:30? Just to be clear with you that parent time is more important or takes priority over {child} going to baseball. This is not your decision whether or not he misses his games over my parent time. We have had this discussion too many times and I’m tiring of re-visiting the topic. In the future, I suggest that you ask me versus telling me he won’t be at my house when he is legally scheduled to be.

The man never budged. On many times I told him, “Please think about the children in these matters and don’t expect them to give up their activities. Their lives should be kept intact as much as possible. They should not have to sacrifice their activities because we are divorcing. Keep this in mind.” These pleas fell on deaf ears. He knew that if he threatened or didn’t take my kids to their sports, I would dance in circles to give him what he wanted to give the children their sports back.

He was angry that our kids had sports during his “parent time” and threatened and wanted his nights changed. I stood my ground and told him, “Our four kids are very active. On any given day of the week, the kids have activities. Their lives should not have to change because we are divorced. We agreed on Tuesday and Thursday visitation nights, and that is the schedule we will stick to moving forward. Their activities will be planned on every day of the week from now until they are 18. That is just how it goes. Your time can be spent at her practice supporting her, just as my nights with them are spent doing the same. I am at soccer, baseball, softball and football on my nights to support them. You wanting to trade because their activities mess up your time is not reasonable. Parent time can be spent supporting them. Consider {daughter’s} needs instead of only your own.”

On one occasion he actually told me he would remove my daughter from the soccer field if I EVER showed up at her practice during “his parent time!” How absurd! Really?

FYI- you are legally obligated to deliver {insert daughter’s name} (and the other kids) to me on my parent nights.  I will decide whether or not parent time is more or less important than her soccer.  The judge and attorneys already told you this on multiple occasions so don’t try to scare me with your BS. I will tell you that if you continue to show up to the kids practices etc. I will simply take the kids and leave, which is in my legal right. If you are unwilling to change days and I decide for {daughter} to miss a practice on a Tuesday and/or Thursday then so be it. I gave you the choice of making adjustments to help the kids and you said no. This has nothing to do with feeling uncomfortable with you there. It has everything to do with spending time with the kids without your interference. I know you have a hard time not interfering, but you should let go. Once again, this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the kids. I am thinking of the kids, I suggest you do to. I can see you have the kids best interest in mind. What a joke! In my opinion you seriously need some help.

It’s bullying, abusive behavior at its best. Not only do you have to deal with control issues via the kids, but also regarding money. To this day, my ex refuses to pay for any of my kids’ extra curricular activities. Our divorce decree states “parents will split 50/50 the costs of all extra curricular activities” to which my ex added in the paperwork “when agreed upon in writing” because he didn’t want me to enroll them in “frivolous” things. Fine. But when the first payment for competition baseball rolled around at $500, he spinelessly responded via email “I DON’T AGREE.” To date, this man who played baseball through his school years and in college and helped to enrolled these kids in sports right along with me does not pay ONE PENNY towards their sports. He tells me to “take it out of child support!” Even though he knew this was a huge issue we discussed in mediation and he agreed to it. His conscience feels just fine letting me pay for all of it.

At first, it infuriated me. But now, I have a husband by my side who reminds me, “We don’t need his damn money!”

So how do you deal with an individual with NPD who is abusive, rude and controlling? My advice? You don’t. You ignore the beast and the threats, you let your stomach settle down and your anger disappear and you remember that you are strong and powerful and an amazing person.

enraged

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