Psychological Orphan

When he can no longer control you, he will control how others see you.

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed, LCPC, CADC, CSAT says that once you leave your narrcisist, you will lose 75% of your relationships and will become a psycological orphan. Following is a summary of his YouTube video blog: On Becoming a Psychological Orphan: When Losing Your Family is Good, But Hurts.

When you finally start setting boundaries and stop cowering to his control, gaslighting, and narrcisistic injuries, there are huge consequences. You will become a psychological orphan and you will lose at least 75% of your loved ones. It will be devastating and heartbreaking and will be the hardest fight you have ever engaged in. But if you are the SLDD (self-love deficit disorder also known as co-dependant) in your family, and the rest are narcissist and you finally call them out, you will lose these relationships. You cannot set boundaries in a hostile environment without being re-gaslit and broken down. Therefore, these relationships will become ghostly if they are kept at all but more likely than not, you will lose these relationships all together.

Narcissists are infused with shame which runs incredibly deep but they cannot experience it, process it, or acknowledge. So they experience the shame in the shape of a narcissistic injury. So instead of them feeling like they are the bad person, they project the shame back on the person who is setting the boundary. When you set a boundary, you should expect from the narcissist a projection of rage. He will attack you and the relationship will break apart into a huge bloody mess. The narcissistic injury is so severe that they will have to demonize you because otherwise they would have to consider that what you say may be true and they are unable to do so. You have to be prepared to be ostracized from the larger relationships as well. There will be few relationships left for you and you will become a psychological orphan.

These consequences are huge but they also pave the road for self-love abundance and your life starts to change. But being the psychological orphan never goes away. It is a hard situation to not have your family or friends but the advantages of giving up on toxic and hurtful relationships in order to find love and stability based on who you are and who you can be versus someone’s presumption on who you were based on their narrow, narcissist, selfish view of you is worth it. It is worth being in relationship with people who love you for who you are and for you to learn to love yourself. You might lose you family or friends but will never be alone or lonely again.

For me, I lost my family, many friends, and a church community and as Ross predicted, more than 75% of my relationships no longer exist. Jay demonizes me to my family and at one point my mother wrote him, “Wow! We no longer know Dee. That is not the Dee we knew!” Which makes me want to bang my head against a wall and scream, “Because” (bang) “I am NOT” (bang) “who he says I am!” (Bang!) My family is merely believing the projection that Jay has of me. However, I get it. I don’t judge them too harshly as I also believed his horrible, twisted view of me for years and started to live out of that view: that I was the f*ck up and the problem. He is a word-smith and knows exactly how to twist each word and phrase to make you believe what he wants you to believe and my family’s been duped, just as I had been.

And I have become a psychological orphan but I have also found some amazing friends along the way who speak truth into my life and who are in the trenches of this journey with me. They are truly amazing and are willing to be there for me when I am weak. They don’t look down at me from lofty heights but come and sit on that floor with me and tell me they are there for me. They encourage me when I am strong and cheer me forward. I have friends who have become my family and who allow me to be me. I have friends who like me, not despite my vulnerabilities and weaknesses but who like me for me – vulnerabilities and weaknesses and all. And guess what? I am starting to like me too.

Dee

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I Think he is a Narcissist

I think Jay is a Narcissist. I am not trained in diagnosis anyone but after reading countless articles on narcissism, watching dozens of videos on narcissism, and having been with him for about twenty years, I know what I see. There was one article I read on what you will never see a Narcissist do which I found helpful and I’m using it as my jump off point.

The Narcissist’s Never-Do List

1. Apologize. It is hard for anyone to apologize even if in a healthy relationship. However, a narcissist sees himself above reproach and never feels he has done wrong. His sense of superiority over others reinforces his belief that other inferior beings are always to blame if anything goes awry, even if the narcissist is responsible. Jay rarely apologized and if he did, there was very little depth to the apology and it would be vague and half-hearted and only if he could not escape the proof that he was to blame. Because his apology was half-hearted, I would try to get him to understand how he deeply hurt me so that we could move on from the issue. He would then turn it on me and told me I couldn’t forgive.

2. Take Responsibility. Because the narcissist has built his identity against feelings of invalidation, he is intensely sensitive to shame and blame. The narcissist is so averse to taking responsibility, he avoids it at all cost and projects it onto others, particularly those closest to him: his partner. Jay was an expert at this. One example is that he turned my family against me and then pointed the finger at me and told me that I have “reconciliation issues.” He also tried to tell me that I was the one who wanted to move back to Canada from Australia which put me in a tailspin at the time. Now, it’s merely laughable.

3. Self-Reflect. Narcissists are terrified of their own shadows – the long hidden child within who was irreparably damaged and whose feelings of inadequacy the narcissist constantly overcompensates for. For the narcissist, self-reflection is dangerous territory to be avoided at all costs because it represents unbearable vulnerability. I don’t know whether Jay has the ability to self-reflect. He can write beautiful theological papers and deliver a sermon with depth but he is unable or unwilling to take the mirror and look at himself. When I am in a good place, I am sad for him. He is a product of the hurt he experienced and has been unable to deal with.

4. Forgive. For the same reason the narcissist does not apologize, he also never forgives. To him, everyone represents a potential threat. Life is a battle zone, and the narcissist is always fighting. Years ago, I remember reflecting; When did my marriage become about “winning.” Winning has never been important to me but it became increasingly important to Jay. I also had to stop apologizing to him because then he “won” and he was a good guy for forgiving me.

5. Act Selflessly. Selflessness is the antithesis of narcissism. Because the narcissist lacks empathy and has an inflated sense of entitlement, acting selflessly is beyond his comprehension. At his core, the narcissist has nothing to give because he feels his survival is at stake and nothing else matters. Narcissists by definition are locked in an inward spiral of unmet early childhood needs and grandiose compensatory self-beliefs. Jay is unable to give selflessly. If he gives, it is while patting himself on the back. I had a really difficult labour with our first child, and after he was born, Jay was so proud of himself for bringing me flowers that he was glowing at himself and patting himself on the back for being so thoughtful. It was hard to accept the flowers. I stopped wanting him to do things “for me” because he then made me feel as though I was indebted to him.

6. Express their Real Feelings. The narcissist thrives on attention and the introverted or covert narcissist will find passive-aggressive ways to get it, such as complaining and playing the victim. But when it comes to his feelings, the narcissist hides from others and from himself. Narcissists lack the self-awareness to understand the underlying feelings that drive their behaviour as well as the courage to make themselves vulnerable enough to share those feelings. The narcissist operates completely on raw survival instinct and is a stranger to his innermost emotional realm. I think what scares Jay the most is that I see him as he is. I no longer adore him as I did for so many years but I see him and know him and that scares him. He may play the victim to my family, his family, the seminary community, and to the church community at large, but I know who he is.

7. See Emotional Nuances. Though he may be clever, particularly at manipulating people and spotting their vulnerabilities, the narcissist lacks an awareness of emotional nuances and is prone to extremist black-and-white thinking. He tends to either idealize or devalue others and projects his own corrupt emotional agenda, believing that others see life as he does – as a series of games or battles to be won. Jay had a sixth sense to when I was weak. He sniffed out my fear and he pounced like a cat to a mouse. When I was weak, I knew to hide. When I was strong, he left me alone. I think our marriage was fine in the beginning because he idealized me and couldn’t believe he “got the girl.” As our marriage went on, and he got his Ph.D, became a pastor, and later a professor, he saw himself as better than me and devalued me and saw me as someone who was there to solely meet his needs.

Although I am not trained and one needs to be careful in labeling others, I believe Jay is a narcissist. I mean this not to put him down but for my own understanding and healing from his years of emotional abuse. When I am in a good place, I can understand that he is a product of the hurt he has experienced in his life – hurt that is not mine to share. With understanding, I can find further healing, and when we finally have separate living accommodations and the divorce is finalized, I can work towards having compassion on him because he to, is made in the image of his Creator. I don’t want to be a bitter woman and I know where my end point will be but right now I need some anger to fuel me to fight off the years of fear I have lived in and to fight for what I want and need – my precious children whom I love so much.

Dee

The Wounds We Bring In

I love my lover deeply. He is good to me and loves me completely and unconditionally. He loves even the unloveable parts of me. I now understand songs with lyrics such as, “Let me love you and I will love you until you learn to love yourself.” I always thought words like that were hogwash and meaningless but now I am finding meaning in them.

I love my lover deeply. He loves me unconditionally. He loves the little girl inside me and holds her tightly; he loves the little girls that has deep wounds and hurts he tells her she is worthy and precious. He loves the girl who has experienced deep grief over losing her closest sister, the teenager who was raped, the woman who was emotionally abused, the daughter and sister who was abandoned by her family. He holds her closely to himself and whisper words of love and acceptance. He tells me her she is worthy and belongs.

I love my lover deeply. But he is not my saviour. He is not my rescuer. He is not my knight in shining armour ready to save the damsel in distress. That would be too heavy of a burden for him to bear. He is a good man and he loves me deeply but he is not my messiah. He is an agent in bringing me healing but he is not my healer.

I have a Saviour, a Messiah, a Healer. My lover is an agent of healing but it’s God who is healing me. I have so much to heal from and slowly, ever so slowly, I am.

Oh, but the wounds I bring in! I have deep fears of being rejected and I will quickly shut him out if I feel any sort of rejection from him. The moment my feelings of rejection is triggered, I am no longer in control of my response. It isn’t a rational but a purely emotional response. I try to fight it but it’s a big wound I bring in and one I have not healed from. I will shut him out for days and it is unfair to him. He counteracts with love. He counteracts with breaking down my walls with gentleness and acceptance.

I bring in a fear of judgement and being “wrong.” My lover has to tiptoe around land mines when he was to tell me I did something wrong. I quickly interpret it that I am deeply wrong and unworthy and unloveable and I shut down and shut out. He holds me close and tells me I am worthy and loveable.

I bring in fears of being trapped because I have been trapped in an abusive relationship for years and couldn’t escape. My lover offers me freedom and a choice to love him and accept his love in return. He lets me be me and loves me for who I am and not for what I give him.

I didn’t get a clean slate when entering this new relationship. All those hurts and wounds and triggers are there and I bring them in. The effects of the years of emotional abuse are deeply imbedded in me from which I need healing. I am becoming more whole and I feel less fragmented than I have for years and when I look back, I can see all the healing that has already taken place but I know the areas I still need healing. Slowly, ever so slowly, I am healing.

My rejection filter is fading and my unrealistic expectations of demanding his complete attention is lessening but those filters are still there. My lover meets my needs as best as he can because although they are unrealistic, he knows why they exist. He loves me completely and unconditionally and with love he breaks down my walls and slowly my triggers are lessening.

I love my lover deeply and completely. I believe God put him in my life because without him I would never have been able to escape the years of abuse I have experience. I would’ve stayed with my emotionally abusive ex because I was so small and weak. I know what the trajectory of my life would have looked like and it is not pretty. I would’ve looked perfect on the outside like a beautiful shell but I would’ve been empty and have no meaning in my life. I would’ve kept pushing that self-destruction button and my life would’ve slowly disintegrated. I would’ve lived out the belief that I was the f*ck up and the problem and proved my ex to be right. I believe my lover was placed in my life to help me heal and find hope again.

I love my lover deeply. He sees my potential and he holds my hand when I hurt. He whispers words of love and acceptance and he pushes me to be the best version of myself. He sees in me strength when I see my own weakness. He knows me and understands me. He knows the pain I’ve experienced in my life and he loves me completely that the hurt starts to lessen. He never discarded me when I was weak and small but walked along side me in my journey. He wants to see me big and no longer small.

I have a purpose and God has a call on my life. I don’t know what that calling is yet, but I will keep listening to his voice and when I am ready, I will respond with; Send me Lord!

Dee

Spirit-led

Going through a divorce is brutal and I have to trust God with what is most important in my life – my children. My ex is trying his best to alienate my precious kids against me and unfortunately he has had success especially with the eldest. I have prayed non-stop for my children and keep giving them over to God. “God, you love them infinitely more than I ever could, please put a wall of protection around them.”

I am opening myself more to God and him leading me. For years I’ve prayed that I would trust God but I saw God as punitive and ready to punish me for every wrong doing. The only way I could learn to trust him was for my perspective on God to change. I go to a different church and in this church God is big and almighty and loving and he is bigger than my problems. God doesn’t fit into theological boxes or in books on Systematic Theology. He is big and unknowable and loving. That is a God much easier to trust.

My eldest and I have a much more tenuous relationship due to his father telling him that I had an affair. My eldest and I had a close relationship and I am deeply saddened that we no longer have that. His father needed a friend and robbed our 16 year old of his innocence to gain a friend instead of a son.

This past summer when I was camping with my five beautiful children, God whispered in my ear. My eldest and I were talking over the campfire because he wanted my perspective on my marriage break-up. As I am going through the divorce process, I was very careful in what I said knowing that anything can be used against me. Also I want to protect my son who is still a child and should not be involved in adult problems. Further, I want my children to have a good relationship with both their parents. My children do not need to hear all the hurt that I experienced by their emotionally abusive and manipulative father. I was making a break-through with my son who has blamed me for the marriage break-up and at that moment God whispered, “Stop talking.” I didn’t listen to that voice and I regret that deeply. God was telling me at that moment to let silence do the heavy lifting and I listened for a couple of seconds and then resumed talking as if I knew better. I regret that so much. That possible mini breakthrough came crumbling back down and my eldest went back to seeing the marriage break-up as my fault which is not helpful for my son and my relationship to heal from this. It has led me to pray harder and be more open to God leading me.

The other day I was frustrated with my eldest because he was dawdling with getting ready for school. The others were ready and they were getting frustrated waiting for him as well. As the school they attend is in biking distance, I told him that he would need to find his own way to school and I left with the others. After I got back from dropping them off, I found he had locked himself in a room that needs a key to open up with. I was furious. I have that particular key and I got myself in. I said to him, “You have to go to school.” He responded, “I’m not going.” This nonconstructive conversation went back and forth for awhile and he then with a self-righteous look on his face, he placed his hand on his cheek in the exact manner that his father does and I was all the more livid because I saw in him his arrogant father. With that look of superiority on his face he said to me, “Why are you so insistent that I go?” I knew there was no budging him. My 17 year old son is in his last year of high school and I have no clout with him to make him go to school. Jay destroyed his and my relationship as mother and son and I don’t have any say over him any longer.

I played the my-sister-died-on-this-day-and-I-want-to-be-alone card which is a card I have never played in my life but I really did want to be on my own. My son became softer and decided to compromise and go to the library for the day. I went downstairs and stood by the kitchen sink with my palms down on the counter feeling so many negative emotions; anger, sadness, rage, helplessness. My son walked past me and left for the library.

And I prayed. God, if I find my keys (not really a given for me) I will go after him. I was leaving it for God to give me the words to say but what I wanted to spew at him was that he had the potential to be abusive like his father. That he has the same arrogance and that he had better change or he will turn into an abusive man. I was ready to throw those awful words at him. I was angry. I was angry at him. I was angry at his father. I was angry at how his father separated me from my son. And I was so deeply hurt.

I found my keys. I got into my car and sped after him. “Son, get in the car.” He responded, “No.” I got out of my car and instead of spewing all those hurtful words at him I hugged him and started crying, “Son, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I miss the relationship we once had. Thank-you for helping me with your siblings. I couldn’t have done that without you. I did so much parenting on my own and you helped me. Thank-you. I love you.” I blubbered on and on. I held him and cried and he hugged me back and said, “I’m sorry Mum and I love you too.”

That was all spirit-led. That wasn’t me. That’s not what I wanted to say to my son and I’m so glad God had a different plan. I need to empty myself of me and let God lead this. And this is all new to me. I come from a conservative church background that doesn’t talk about God speaking into our lives. It’s such a big learning curve for me and a walk out into a new and uncomfortable yet amazing place. As I leave room for God, he has space to work in my heart.

It’s love. Love is the only thing that can win in the long run. I will keep loving on my son. He and I don’t have that close bond that we used to have but I will keep loving on him. I will keep praying over him. I will keep turning to God for help in all this. I will keep leaning on him and resting my kids in the big hands of their Heavenly Father. I am not in control but I have a loving Father who is and he’s got this. If he can turn me from spewing hurtful words to spilling love and grace over my son when I am deeply hurt myself, God can do anything. And maybe one day my son and I will become close again.

Dee

Unknown

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my family over the Christmas holidays – probably in large part due to Jay taking the kids to visit my family in Ottawa. He has always been a buffer between me and my family; he has never been a bridge. What I mean is that I have not been close with my family since my sister died when I was fifteen and a half and I never found my way back with my family afterwards. Jay and I married when I just turned 22. Instead of helping me bridge the gap between me and my family, he stood in the gap and buffered between me and my family. My family doesn’t know me and when I look at them I think, “Wow, they are close” and I feel outside of that close circle called family. When we had a family reunion in 2017 and spent six days together at a camp, I spent months stressing about it ahead of time. I knew they would all love that time together and I knew I would feel like the outsider, the imposter.

My family doesn’t know me. My family loves Jay and he has taken my place in my family. He is the son my mother always wanted because he reminds her of her dad who too, was a pastor. She sees him as kind and gentle and he projects that well. She doesn’t know Jay. She doesn’t know that he is anything but kind and gentle. He may not yell at me but he roars.

My family doesn’t know me. I have not lived near any of them since I was nineteen years old. I am more than double that age now. I tried to bridge the gap on my own when I turned 40 and invited my sisters to celebrate with me in Toronto. I paid for us to stay in a condo for a few days and bought good seats to a musical. In all, I dropped $2000 on my four sisters hoping that with this time together I would bridge the gap between us. It didn’t but rather it did the opposite. I wish I hadn’t tried.

My family doesn’t know me and yet that doesn’t stop them from diagnosing me with all sorts of mental illnesses. My bully sister, a nurse, had told me that I remind her of her psychotic patients and has urged me to get a blood test. My mother has diagnosed me with PTSD and believes that I still haven’t gotten over my youngest sister’s death. They have diagnosed me with a hormonal imbalance and depression. Jay emailed a diagnosis of bipolar to my family and I think they have settled on that as my diagnosis.

My family doesn’t know me and yet they hurl hateful words about me. My bully sister talked about me as “that worm of a sister.” My sisters hurl awful and cruel words at me and have group emails in order to gossip about me. My family doesn’t know me. They do not know my heart. They do not know my hurt. They do not know I have been crying out in pain for years. They do not know the prison walls I have been inside. They do not know what it is to be emotionally abused.

My family doesn’t know me and so they try to drag friends from my past and present to give a description of who I am so they can further diagnose me. They have a hard time finding my friends because my family doesn’t know me and therefore, they don’t know who my friends are. The friends that my family know of are loyal to me and when my busybody sister tried to reach out to them they are met with silence. My friends are not interested in my sisters’ games.

My family doesn’t know me and they choose to believe Jay’s view of me which is that I am the f*ck-up and the problem. That’s been his view of me for years and I believed him for way too long. I have tried to get help and joined a women’s group. I have tried to change and each week after I left all I wanted to do was ram my car into a concrete pillar. I no longer believe his view of me.

I have been told by two counsellors that I have been emotionally abused and I struggled with that diagnosis myself because I have been taught to doubt myself and my reality for far too long. One counsellor went on to say that it was amazing that in spite of all what was going on, it was surprising I didn’t have any mental illness — especially depression. I told my sisters that was my diagnosis and instead of believing me, they called my counsellor The Enabler. The people who are trained in diagnosing me they refused to believe but rather, they who are untrained decided to diagnose me. They, who don’t know me, and whom I haven’t lived nearby in over twenty years, they from their armchairs in their living rooms across the country and province decide they have the right to diagnose me.

My mother wrote to Jay saying that she knows he didn’t emotionally abused me and that he has only treated me with “love and respect.” How would she “know” that? That is only a belief. You can’t judge what goes behind closed doors and she living provinces away definitely can judge what goes on behind our closed door. It hurts that she believes her ex son-in-law over her own daughter.

Blood is supposed to be thicker than water and it hurts that they refused to believe me. It hurts that when they saw I wasn’t doing well a few years ago, instead of listening to me, they thought I was the problem. They thought that that my problems were endemic to me and that I had a mental deficiency. I don’t understand why they didn’t stand by me and go to Jay and say, “Our sister isn’t doing well, what have you done to her!” Instead, they walked into my room while I was just waking up, rubbed my back, and condescendingly said, “Dee, you need help.”

Blood is supposed to be thicker than water and yet they chose to put me outside of the family and adopt Jay instead. I am only welcomed back into the family if I “admit” that I am the f*ck up and the problem and I will not because I am not that.

Slowly I am healing. God is healing me because he is the ultimate Healer. And I will not accept any other view of me than that I am his child. I am not a f*ck up and a problem because God doesn’t make those. I am loved and I belong. I might feel like an orphan with my family but I have a big Father and he loves me. Maybe I don’t belong in my family but I belong to a church that says each week, “We family.”

Dee

The Perfect Wife and Mr. Right

I wasn’t just the good wife, I was the perfect wife.

I studied theology for three years and got my Diploma in Theology. I memorized pages of proof texts and had the complete Heidelberg Catechism memorized. I knew theological concepts and loved Systematic Theology. I was the first woman to graduate from this particular seminary that Jay and I both graduated from and which he now is a professor of that seminary. When he was working on a sermon, he would discuss it with me over coffee and ask for my feedback and I happily gave my thoughts which he would incorporate into his sermon.

I was the perfect pastor’s wife. I am outgoing and friendly. I love people and although I am an introvert, I am social. I hosted many people in our home in the place he was a pastor in. I visited the women and their newborns in the hospital. I made meals for the sick and for the new mums. I gave speeches. I looked for needs in the congregation and I looked to fill them.

I went to the gym and karate to keep my body toned. On Saturdays I would spend two hours preening so that I would look perfect for Sunday. I can do a perfect French manicure on my nails and would do that every Saturday evening. And on Sunday I would shine. I wore one of my lovely dresses and high heals. My makeup would be impeccable, emphasizing my blue eyes and my blonde hair would be styled perfectly. My mask was on and it was a beautiful one.

I made every meal, did all the laundry, ironed all Jay’s clothes, did all the housework, ran the errands, and in essence I single-parented, and when we moved back to Canada, I worked full time as well. My friends would visit but they would have to sit on a stool in the kitchen so that I could keep cooking or making veggie packs or whatever I felt I needed to be doing at that moment. I never sat down. I was exhausted.

When we moved back to Canada, we were so tight for money that I would search out deals on Kijiji, our local buy and sell. I looked for baby formula or diapers or anything else that I we needed and would go across town to pick up those items for cheap.

I was a wallflower and allowed him to shine and take the limelight. I adored him and looked up to him. But nothing I did was ever good enough. I remember thinking, “When did our marriage become about winning?” Jay always needed to be right and therefore I was always wrong.

Once I proudly made a dozen meals for the freezer for rainy days thinking that I was a good wife and mother who was taking care of her family. It took me much of the day to do and although it was a lot of work, I happily did it and felt accomplished for doing it. Jay came home, looked at the kitchen and complained, “That’s a lot of recycling for me to do.” I was so deflated. All this work, trying to please him, and he could only speak about how it impacted him: needing to bring the recycling from the kitchen to the garage — 2 minutes of work compared to the hours I spent making the family meals.

I ran all the errands because he constantly told me how busy he was. Looking back I was in essence a full time single mum to five and worked full time outside the house as well. I tried to do it all because he was “so busy” and then one time he turned on me and accusingly said, “You do all the errands so I never get out of the house.” I couldn’t win.

Another time we were trying to figure out the name of the builder who built our shed because a friend asked for his contact details. Jay suggested a name and I said, “No, I don’t think that’s it.” He went up to his study, rummaged around for awhile, found the business card, put it in front of my face and pointed with his index finger at it a few times to tell me in no uncertain terms that he was right and I was wrong. It was at this moment that I remembered thinking, “When did my marriage become about winning?”

Winning is incredibly important to Jay and the following story shows just how important it is to him. Once when my boys and I were getting ready for karate, my second son had a bit of a fall down the stairs. I went to him straight away to see how he was. I got him to move his toes and his foot and I said, “I don’t think it’s broken, but what do you think? Do you feel up for going to karate? Do you think you should stay home?” My son wasn’t sure but he decided to stay home just in case and I left with the other two for karate, leaving my youngest daughter to give him cuddles. His foot swelled up a bit so Jay decided to take him to the hospital the following day. I mentioned to him that I thought it was fine because he was able to move his foot around. Jay took him to the hospital and my son came back with a walking cast. Jay had a huge smile on his face and with an elated and almost gleeful voice said, “His foot is broken!” He was so happy that our son broke his foot which meant that he was right and I was wrong. It’s just crazy. I have learned the art of underreacting for years and I simply said, “Oh,” and walked away. His smirk left his face immediately.

A perfect example of me not being able to win is this: he resented me for working and yet because of his decision to move the family back to Canada, we didn’t have the finances to do it on one income like we had been able to do in Australia. I had told him back in Australia when he was contemplating the move that we couldn’t do it financially. His pious response was that “the churches would provide” and he moved us all back to Canada anyway. As I predicted, I needed to work. Yet he resented me for working. A perfect no-win situation.

I remember the moment I stopped trusting Jay. I don’t know the date but I remember exactly what part of the highway we were driving on. I was asking him yet again what career I should be pursuing because I came to the revelation that I would be working for at least the following 15 years. I had been asking him this question for about two years. As we were driving home I asked him this question once again. I was still trying to do whatever I needed for the family. And yet again he condescendingly said, “What you’re doing is fine. You’re good at it.” And at that moment I remember thinking; he only wants me to make his life comfortable. He does not want me to better myself. I supported him for years when he was a Ph.D student but he doesn’t want to support me for a few years in any vocation of my choice. His interest is only in himself and he views me as only there to support him and never in a reciprocal way. After that moment, I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself. I no longer trusted him.

I wasn’t just a good wife. I was a perfect wife. And then I finally gave up. This wasn’t a marriage. My value to him was solely in what I did for him. I told him from the beginning of our marriage that he was selfish and over the years he became not only selfish but entitled as well.

I am finding my value and worth again. I found my karate belts in the back of a closet on the rack that was made for me. My belts were in sad shape and were mouldy which is rather disgraceful for something I have proudly achieved. I washed each one and re-tied them on the belt rack and hung it up on the wall. I found a picture of me in my gi after getting my first degree black belt and I hung that up as well. I found my diplomas from the seminary and from the teacher’s college which I have graduated and found a place on the wall for those as well. It’s not that I find my worth in these accomplishments but simply that these accomplishments are a part of me and they deserve to shine.

Jay never commented on my proud display. He does not want to see that I have worth outside of him and apart from him. He broke me down but I am getting back up again.

I was the perfect wife. I don’t ever want to be a perfect wife again.

Dee

On the Road to Healing from Emotional Abuse

Abuse is a game for the abuser. He only plays to win and he set the rules so that he always wins. As long as you are stuck in his game, he will always prevail. If you engage in a power struggle to attempt to win at his game, you will only lose and become frustrated and angry in the process. Remember, this is his game, and he will always set it up so that he wins and you lose. It will never be any different.

When you are able to understand this concept and fully grasp it, you gain a tremendous amount of strength. When you free yourself from getting sidetracked, distracted, and weighed down from the various issues at hand, you free yourself from your abuser. After years of dealing with an abuser, it is easy to view him as all-powerful, larger than life, and having total control. Try to remember that you have given him most of that control. He is only mortal. He cannot control your thoughts, dreams, or desires. He cannot control how you choose to spend your time or the quality of your other relationships unless you let him.

Up until this point, you have immersed yourself in his reality, believing the things that he told you and the messages he gave you. You worked hard to change his mind in an attempt to make him understand your reality. Remind yourself that your reality is real to you. Your feelings are valid and they matter. You do not need to justify yourself to anyone. The most important thing is to be true to yourself, and in so doing to live your life accordingly.

Recovery takes time. Be patient with yourself. Healing is not a straight line, and often growth is painful. Practice compassion for yourself.

If He’s so Great, Why do I Feel so Bad? Avery Neal

I am freeing myself from Jay’s control over me. I was going down a road of self destruction but I now understand that his abuse was the cause of that. I am not fundamentally flawed. He caused me to feel powerless and helpless and without hope and therefore I became self-destructive because I believed his view of me and his view of me is awful. His view was that I was the problem; that I was wrong. As I free myself from him more and more, I free myself from my self-destruct button which I had for years. My self-destruct button has shrunk and is nearly non-existent now.

I found it oddly helpful to hear that I have given him that control because then I can take that control back. I am big and he is small, not the other way around. I believed him to be larger than life. I adored him. On Sundays I would stand a step behind him, body turned towards him, and look up at him adoringly. His reality was my reality. Now I am taking it back. My feelings are valid. I am not wrong. And slowly, ever so slowly, I am healing. I am no longer that fragmented woman I was but I am becoming whole. I am discovering who I am and I am starting to like who I see in the mirror.

I am no longer a victim. I will not give him power over me any longer. He is not larger than life and he does not deserve my adoration. I can make decisions and they aren’t wrong. I am not helpless. What happened was not my fault. I did not deserve to be treated abusively. I own that I allowed him to treat me poorly but I did not deserve to be treated that way. That was his choice and his decision.

I am learning to forgive myself. I wish I had ended things earlier but I wasn’t strong enough to. Jay has used this past year to turn my kids against me and things wouldn’t have gotten to that point if I ended it sooner. But here’s the thing – I couldn’t have because I wasn’t strong enough. I need to forgive myself for that. I remember him taking my daughter away from me on Mother’s Day and I was too weak to stop him. I would never allow that to happen now. And I finally have hope again. Hope that God can turn this for good because he is bigger than my problems and he is bigger than Jay.

One of the ways in which I am helping myself is with hypnotherapy. So funny, I never thought of doing that before but what hypnosis is doing is going to my brain on a subconscious level and telling me I am worthy, I have value, I am loveable, I have intrinsic worth, and I am worthy of respect. My worth is not in what I do for another but my worth is in me as a human being. I am learning to be compassionate with myself and at peace with myself.

I am learning to take time for myself. I take baths and read books. I’m blogging for my own healing as a way of coming to terms with what has happened to me. And after this is all done, I will start working towards my third degree black belt.

I am learning to lean into my feelings instead of numbing them or trying to escape them. My feelings are not good or bad, they just are. I have a long way to go in learning how to lean into them and just feel them but I am starting and it’s hard but as BrenĂ© Brown says; You can choose courage or comfort but you can’t have both. So I will continue to practice leaning into my feelings.

One thing I am developing is the art of setting boundaries. I was never allowed them with Jay and so I’m not very good as setting them. He saw any attempt of mine to set a boundary as a challenge to erase that line in the sand. My natural tendency is that I love to please others and make others happy but often at my own expense. I am getting better at this but I also have a long way to go. This is something I am working on because I want to create a sense of self instead of trying to shrink myself to what I think others expect of me. I also need to do this so that I don’t allow myself to be abused ever again.

I am also learning how to take and not only give. This has been hard for me because any time Jay gave, he made me feel indebted to him. He was doing something “for me” and patting himself on the back while doing it. I had such a hard time receiving from others because of fear that I will be made to feel indebted to that person. I have never been good at receiving but much better at giving. I was my sister’s carer for years and felt lost after she died. Now I am learning that I am valuable and worthy of good things.

I am slowly letting go of fear. My counsellor told me that I can live in fear or faith but I can’t have both. The fear I lived in was debilitating. I constantly walked on egg shells that when visiting my osteopath, she made a comment that the pain in my calves was because I was literally walking on my tiptoes. I have tiptoed for years, figuratively and literally and I have had to relearn to walk again.

I am learning to love myself and no longer allow Jay’s perspective influence my view of me but taking God’s view of me and he loves me because I am his child. His view of me is what matters and he loves me infinitely more than anyone ever could. And from this starting point I will develop a sense of self. Who am I? What are my preferences? This is the third time I’ve had to rebuild my identity. The first was as my sister’s carer, the second as a pastor’s wife and this third time my identity will not be wrapped in any person. This time my my identity, my sense of self will have it’s starting point will be I am a child of God.

My co-worker prophesies that God will use all this for his purpose. Without knowing my life story, she prophesied that years ago and I believe she is right. I pray to God that after I am through all this and get my kids through all this, that he will use me in whatever way he sees fit. I don’t know what my future will hold but it is amazing to be able to dream again. Right now I need to get myself and my kids through this and then I’ll bring my future to God. I’m sure he has a plan for me and guess what? It’s not going to be making one man’s life as comfortable as possible.

No way!

I will be big.

Dee