Posts from the ‘cheating’ category

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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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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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Setyoufree

TRUTH

It can be the most painful thing you’ll ever encounter, but it can also be the most freeing.

I’ve been deceived many times in my life–by many different people. Each time it was ugly and painful. Being lied to has to be one of the most damaging things to the human psyche. Mostly because you can’t explain it (well, sometimes we try to explain it away, but we can’t explain why someone would choose to lie to us). You have no control over it. You don’t understand it. And you certainly cannot fix it.

I don’t believe in lying. I am a truth teller. If my life were lived in the movie Divergent, I would belong to the group Candor. I’m not a truth teller in the rude, don’t-care-about-your-feelings kind of way. I’m just honest. Honesty may hurt someone you love, but lying to them over and over is more painful than the truth ever would be!

Why is it that people lie to the most important people in their lives? Why do men hide that they are speaking to an ex behind their girlfriend’s back? Why do women flirt when their significant other is away and deny it if they are confronted? Why do people sneak around, steal or cheat?

The answer: they are insecure.

My ex husband cheated on me because he felt old, undesirable, bored in his life, and he didn’t want anyone to know about it. He wanted to play the big tough jock role he’d always played so he needed a bit of a supplement to his ego in the dark of night where no one could see. This came in the form of the neighbor.

He lied to me time and time again. Even after I caught them texting (over 500 texts in a week). Even after I caught him at her house at midnight after he told me he loved me and wanted our marriage to work. Even after I found photos of them on dates in my safe along with $2,000 in cash. And even after he told me, “I never stopped loving you!” when I told him I wanted a divorce. Each lie was a ding in the armor of our marriage. Those dings can’t be repaired very easily. Lies always stick with you–they are in your head and heart and they don’t just disappear because someone says “I’m sorry” or “I’ll never do it again.”

Once you discover the truth, and you’re open to pay attention to the lies and deception, your life does indeed change for the better (but not until after the anger and desire to hurt someone leaves your body). Ya know why? Because if you are with someone who lies to you, someone who takes the most vulnerable side of you and uses it to their advantage to sneak around with another woman and meet her in the dark of night, you should be done. You deserve better. You’re better off alone than with someone who is insecure and deceptive and who chooses to not put your needs first–your need to feel secure and loved.

I’ve been lied to a few times since my divorce…by people I’ve cared about. Some I gave second chances to and some I didn’t. I don’t know if I’ll truly ever get over the lies. But I also know I’m not dwelling on them. I’ve learned the truth and I live the truth and I am free. I choose to be who I am and be secure in myself. If someone in my life chooses to lie to me, they are only hurting themselves.

 

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Vulnerable

The thought of being vulnerable to me used to be something that was such a far off idea–I don’t even think the word was present in my vocabulary.  Being tough and a “winner” was who I grew up to be–always wanting to be the best. I didn’t speak of my weaknesses, nor did I admit them. And after being with a man who showed me his “true” self on our honeymoon by screaming and yelling at me over the smallest thing (don’t ask), I don’t think I was ever completely open and vulnerable with him.

How sad is that? Isn’t that was marriage is about?

Anyways, I’ve since embraced showing my imperfections by learning to let my guard down. I’m not that good at it yet, but I am trying. Some of it comes in the form of perfecting the apology or by admitting when I need help. All of it is very foreign to me, so it’s like entering school all over again and learning to breathe.

On the long ride south to my daughter’s tournament out of town this weekend, I began listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. I’m a huge fan of Brené’s work, and I credit her words for helping me overcome some of the issues I’ve carried throughout my life. I felt very in-tune with the words as I listened, and I came to a better understanding why I have the personality that would stay with a man who gave me no love: Simply put, I never stood up and said, “I deserve to be loved as myself for who I am. I don’t have to be perfect to deserve love.” And on the flip side to that, he could never show me his true self for fear of being discovered that he, too, wasn’t perfect.

As Brandon and I go through the final steps of selling my house and prepare to move into our new home together, I find myself flooded with emotions. These emotions weren’t making much sense to me, but I could feel the uprising within me and had to spend some time sorting through things. Inside my mind, I felt as though I was wading through a foggy swamp trying to establish which direction I was going, where my next step should be, and trying to gain footing that felt comfortable and stable. All of this confusion is, I’m sure, because of the move and the instability in my life right now as we try to get financing in line, sell my home, and begin anew.

Included in all of this emotion was a good chunk of fear. A fear of selling and leaving my home, my stability after my divorce (my safe place), and moving forward with my new husband on our new path. A fear of rolling all of my equity into this new home and actually having to depend on this man to be present–to make the mortgage payments with me. A fear of moving the final step away from “my” life into “our” life. He is the first man I’ve had to depend on since my ex husband, and taking that final step is a scary thing.

As I pondered my feelings (by spending some time alone and doing the “work” to discover all that was bothering me), I uncovered the ugliest fear of all–a fear that this new path will bring stress, misery, arguments and perhaps infidelity into my fairly-close-to-blissful marriage. After all, that’s what happened in my first marriage. Now, to say that out loud (or type it in black-and-white) is absolutely absurd! People who cheat choose to do so because they can. They choose it. They don’t all cheat because of life and stress and mortgages. But my feelings were real. My ex husband began relationships with women other than his wife soon after we finally bought the “home of our dreams”. The stresses of life had burdened him, he had began to fall into a routine of work/alone time/TV and it was obviously he was escaping. He chose to reach out to other women. He would rather do that than admit his fear and frustration to his wife of 17 years.

Last night, I needed to have a heart-to-heart with my husband. I had to recognize my fear, validate it on my own, and I had to open up myself to exposing the deepest, darkest places in my heart and my head and share all of these things with him. And as a tough girl who was raised to “kick dirt on it” and “suck it up”, that was an extremely scary thing. (I’ve been practicing vulnerability all along in our relationship as a way to heal and let myself been seen, but for some reason, last night was very real and very scary.)

I’m learning so many things about being truly vulnerable. To be as though you’re standing there naked, alone, with all of your ugly skeletons in your closet and messy baggage from your past and telling the person you love, “Look, this is me, and I need you to love me.” is what it’s all about. While vulnerability is a terrifying thing, because you expose your weaknesses and fears and imperfections, you can also gain so much from it. As Brené shares, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.”

Brandon was quiet as I spoke to him about the hurt from my past and my fears about the future. Some of this isn’t new to him. He held me in his arms and just listened. I needed to be heard and hugged. Sometimes just that little bit of reassurance makes things seem so much better. Everything I shared didn’t mean I think he’s a cheater. It didn’t mean I didn’t want to move. It didn’t mean I compare him to my ex husband. It meant that I have been affected by my past–it meant I needed him to love me with all of my skeletons and messy baggage.

I dared to ask the questions I needed answers to and told him about my shattered feelings I dared not show to anyone. Would he have the guts to tell me if he were ever unhappy in our marriage? Or would he just leave? I explained to him how degrading and humiliating it felt to feel “thrown away” and disregarded after my first marriage. It was such a blow to my confidence. I cried as he hugged me–some of the tears from fear, some from gratitude of being loved so deeply, and some of it from relief of carrying this “burden” of being scared to depend on anyone ever again. I also worried what he was thinking. Will he think I’m crazy? Will he think I’m being a baby?

The most interesting thing about being vulnerable and being OKAY with it is hearing those fears in your head and not giving them any weight or credit to allow them to grow larger. It doesn’t matter what Brandon thinks about me and my fears or about all of my ugly scars from my past. He’s chosen to love me for me. He’s chosen to stand by my side and shoulder the pain and fear right along with me. He may not understand it, but he will carry it with me because he has seen the deepest most vulnerable part of me and loves me all the more because of it. And for that, I’m blessed.

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49ersvsSeahawks

How can a single football game make me feel nauseous, angry and sad all at the same time?

No, it’s not the playoffs.

No, I didn’t have any money riding on the game.

Yes it was a close game, but I wasn’t freaking out about the outcome.

It was the fact that my ex husband was in San Francisco with his new wife watching our favorite team.

I haven’t been bothered when the two of them have traveled or gone to MLB baseball games in the past. It hasn’t phased me one bit. But the Niners games he goes to still seem to be the knife in my side that twist a little when he goes.

3 years ago, when he and I were trying to work through the final breaths of our marriage, I proposed an anniversary surprise. After finding out he was involved with another woman in our neighborhood and kicking him out of our home, he told me that he was frustrated that our life was only about our 4 kids and that he wanted to travel and have fun, I did some research and found that his two favorite football teams were playing in San Francisco on our anniversary weekend.  What were the chances? I thought to myself This is totally a sign! We need to go!

Our anniversary was in November. He liked the idea and told me, “Let’s book it. This is my way of showing you I’m looking towards our future and I’m committing to you.” So I planned the week of our dreams. We both love sports, and we were faithful 49er fans. I couldn’t believe he said yes! He’s typically a penny pincher and would always say, “We can’t afford that.” to anything involving spending money, so I was thrilled! (I was also falling back into my pleaser role and was trying to make him happy and woo him back into the marriage by competing with the new relationship with our neighbor. She seemed to feed his ego much better than I could as the “old” woman of his past.)

That anniversary trip never took place. A month prior to our anniversary, I came to the gut-wrenching realization that our marriage had taken its last breath and all that was left was a cold, still figure that would never live again.

I asked my ex to cancel the flights and sell-off the football tickets (it was his fault we were getting divorced, so I wasn’t going to deal with all of the tasks involved in canceling the trip). I remember the conversation like it was yesterday…

HIM:   “Oh I’m not selling the tickets.”

ME:   “Oh, you’re not?! You’re seriously going to take her on the trip, aren’t you?!”

HIM:   “No. I didn’t say that…I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.”

The emotions that rolled through me were very familiar by that time. I’d experienced these feelings almost daily for almost 4 months: Betrayal, fear, anger, frustration, abandonment.

Yesterday’s football game brought up those feelings all over again.

His new wife doesn’t even like sports. She is a pleaser and supports him in all he does (sound familiar?!) so she goes. He purchases football and baseball jerseys for her to wear and tags my children in the photos of the two of them on Facebook so I can see the them. Every.damn.photo. Interesting!

Like I said earlier, the trips don’t bother me. I have no desire to be alone with that man anywhere on the planet. It’s that feeling of betrayal that comes back to me like a stealth bomber rushing through the black midnight sky. Moments like these sneak up on me and it takes me a few hours to sort through what I’m really feeling.

What am I feeling?

Sometimes I want to scream out to him: hoping that he’ll hear and understand, but I know he never will.

I always wanted to travel! Why did you never take me anywhere?

Is that why you started seeing someone else? So I would divorce you and you would only have to pay child support and all of your extra money can now go to your selfish activities without taking your children to any of the games?

Our children go without: you tell them you don’t have gas money to take them to their friends, you won’t give them money to pay for the tax on a video game, you buy them used clothing, you won’t let them turn up the heat at your house because you “don’t have the money”, but you travel and go to professional games and send the kids photos and they get mad. Do you not see it?

Sometimes I still get angry. Not as much as I used to, but sometimes I still do.

I worked hard on that marriage. I always worked and I raised our 4 kids while he worked and enjoyed being in his garage on the weekends. I worked full-time with 3 kids under 3 to put him through school a second time so he could support our family–After graduation, our plan was for me to work part-time and be home for our children. Now that’s all gone. And my kids suffer. Their mom is gone to work every day until 5:30 and they come home to an empty house. They are shuttled to-and-from sports by friends, grandparents, and coaches. He isn’t there for them, even though he says he is. He is only a father when the court-designated visitation time comes up on the calendar.

I realize that days like these will pass. They always do. But that doesn’t stop them from coming occasionally And once days like those pass, I remember to breathe. I remember to look in the faces of my children and love them. Money and trips are not what happiness in life is about. They know this. They know it’s about love and time.

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