Good morning! Here’s to a beautiful new week! Fall officially begins this week..and I don’t know about you but I am ready for it. Grab a pumpkin latte and join me for a few minutes as I share more of my journey.
Last week, I introduced you to some facts about narcissism. I shared that I was married to someone who displayed the signs. I spent many years, both in the marriage and since, trying to understand how I got caught in a relationship like that. While I do not believe it was my fault, per se, I do believe that some of my character difficulties led me to be a prime target for a person like that. Narcissists and pathologically-disordered people look for those they can prey on, so to speak, and who will feed their need for power and adoration; often this is unconsciously!
I share what I have learned about myself in order to help others as well as to be transparent. This is essential for inner healing. I grew up with low self-esteem, and without a strong sense of self. I believe that the devil capitalized on this by using many people in my life to confirm how I felt. I remember at the age of six, a teacher called me “Jenny.” I have always preferred being called “Jenn” and I asked her, nicely, to please call me “Jenn.” I have not forgotten the sneer in her voice when she said “I’ll call you whatever I feel like calling you.” I remember shrinking into myself at that moment with the heat of embarrassment on my face. I learned that standing up for myself meant shame. Later, in my teen years, I had a teacher who regularly called me into his office to make disparaging remarks about my behavior, telling me my mother had asked him to do so. (I later learned this was a lie) One of the things he told me was that my clothing stimulated the boys, and the reason he knew was because he was a boy. Imagine trying to make sense of this at age 13!
Of course, I experienced normal kid things. Mean friends, particularly girls, what felt like horrible rejection from boys, and teenage angst. I often felt alone in these situations, with no real comfort or help in navigating through them. And to top it off, religious teachings of “turn the other cheek,” “think of others as better than yourself,” and throw in a little works-oriented theology, and voila…the uncertain me emerged. Sadly, I also bought into the philosophy of happily ever after marriages, and needing someone to be someone.
In walks the charming person who seems to offer what I’ve been looking for. Wow! He loves to talk, and writes awesome letters, seems so open and honest. How refreshing! He seems to want to know all about me and what I like…and, oh my word, he likes to work out like I do! Surprise visits from Oregon, with tears on parting after a fun weekend, declarations of love and a huge move to California to be with me. This must be it!
Less than one year after marriage, I was already looking for that person who no longer existed. He no longer enjoyed talking to me; in fact, he tells me he has never liked talking with me and prefers to be left alone. Suddenly, my way with finances is “stupid” and he will have no part of it where before he couldn’t sing my praises enough over how well I did with planning and saving. Attempts to stand up for myself resulted in nasty fights…and I got angrier inside. The hurt turned rage simmered constantly, and depression, loneliness, self preservation and defensiveness were now on steroids.
“Marriage is forever.” “Don’t give up on someone.” “Pray harder.” “Honor and respect your husband.” Yet, here was this one I was to honor, love and pray for pointing out my faults and failures. As the years went by, I made a life for myself, of sorts. I had a great group of friends, Bible studies, my church family and my own family. I found joy sometimes while battling the disappointment I lived with at home. I failed often, letting my rage out at him but feeling even smaller inside after. What little sense of self I had began to die. The rage began to show itself more, which led to accusations and feeling small inside. But, I have to stay, right?
Until next week,