Indicators of an Evil Heart

evil heart

It’s hard to explain. Hard to explain to friends, to family, and especially to your church. People do not understand how your “charming” spouse could be so difficult that you would separate or divorce. He seems so likable! She volunteers teaching kiddos in Sunday School! He’s such a fun guy!

These people have NOOOO idea…

A spouse with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or an emotional/verbal abuser is a chameleon. They are experts at putting up a false self or image to others. And they are a terror behind closed doors. The contempt, manipulation, gas-lighting, dishonesty, name calling, criticism, lack of empathy and abuse is destructive to your heart and soul. But when you are in the middle of it, with your brain in a fog from all the confusion and lies, and your heart in shreds from being torn apart so many times by your partner’s cruel side, it’s hard to articulate clearly. It’s also easy to be in denial. Because it’s that bad. Continue reading

Weekend Wisdom – Reconciliation with an Abusive Spouse

Before our divorce was final, my spouse pushed for reconciliation. And he used the Scriptures as the bully stick to put intense pressure on me. I heard things like “You need to forgive me. You are sinning against me and God by not reconciling with me.” Note that I only heard him apologize in general terms. I was not seeing any fruit of repentance – not even a grape.  I didn’t hear a humble confession of how he had sinned against me. I wasn’t told how he would make amends. There was no evidence that he saw himself as the problem; in fact, he was still telling others the opposite.

Patrick Doyle in the video below explains reconciliation, and he outlines four things needed for it to work. This is the best information I have heard on the topic from a Christian perspective. If you are wondering if you should reconcile with an abusive person, this will CLEARLY explain when reconciliation is appropriate and when it is not. He also goes into boundaries, and why you need to be willing to put your relationship on the alter, or the person will continue to harm you. This may seem opposite of what we sometimes hear from the church, which seems to be ‘preserve the marriage at ALL COSTS’. However, that is not loving the abusive spouse or yourself well.

The video is long, but worth it!

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How Do I ‘Manage’ A Narcissist Through A Divorce?

I love Leslie Vernick’s books and blog and have listed them on my HELPFUL RESOURCES page.  She is a counselor, author and a wise Christian.  She speaks with boldness and truth,  and I like how she supports her views with scripture. Here is a post from her blog with excellent advice on divorcing a narcissist.  She echoes a lot of what I’ve said here previously; I think you will find it helpful to hear it again in her words.

HOW DO I MANAGE A NARCISSIST THROUGH A DIVORCE 

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Today’s Question: My husband walked out of our marriage the day our last son graduated high school. In the course of this separation, God revealed to me that there was another woman. I found them together in their favorite restaurant and even recorded them and confronted them at their table.

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Mediation with a Narcissist – Part II

“Mediation with a Narcissist” is the post that gets the most views on my website, hands-down.  I find that interesting. Mediation with a Narc is sooo very, very difficult.  Note the multiple times I use “very”. I could keep going.

Since this is clearly a topic that readers are searching for information on, here is a “Part II” with additional musings and thoughts:

HAVE LOW EXPECTATIONS:

  • Sorry to say that as the very first bullet point…but remember, narcissists do not negotiate well, if at all. They win. They have an all-or-nothing outlook and are too competitive and controlling to tolerate a fair outcome. They think they are smarter and more important than anyone else in the room, and they sure don’t want to be controlled by you, or your lawyer, or the mediator.
  • My lawyer said that the judges in our town want couples to try mediation first, so most people schedule one day. So, depending on your judge, you might need to try mediation even if you know its not going to go well.
  • A friend of mine who went through mediation had FIVE different days of mediation before they reached an agreement, and then they only came to agreement because the narc spouse had an compelling business reason for finalizing the divorce.
  • In my mediation, we got almost nothing done the first day. My lawyer said the main benefit of that day was that we got my XNarc’s financial information and understood the negotiating positions.
  • We got a little closer our second day of mediation, but mostly due to my agreeing on some custody provisions that have turned into a huge source of conflict. We did not reach a signed agreement that second day, even though I made an offer at the end of the day. Of course my XNarc said he needed more time to consider it. Due to Narcs excessively high need for control, I really think there was no way he was going to agree to something I had proposed in a mediation environment.
  • Because of this high need for control, their need to win, and psychopathically low empathy, I just haven’t heard of mediation going well with this personality disorder. They simply do not compromise well. They think they’ve done nothing wrong and it’s really all YOUR fault, so they are entitled to a better outcome than the other party.
  • In summary, be prepared with realistic expectations for your situation.

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Weekend Wisdom – Repentance

 

 

ACTIONS speak louder than words.

When I filed for divorce from my XNarc, there were apologies, but those lasted sometimes a few days, sometimes only a few hours, before the blasts and zingers would come.  It was confusing at first to receive what seemed to be a heartfelt apology, only to be berated a short time later.  This quote seems to help restore sanity:

“ACTIONS speak louder than words. We can apologize over and over, but if our actions don’t change the words become MEANINGLESS.”

So remember, repentance needs to be time AND stress tested. The fruit of repentance needs to be visible to all, especially you.  The abuse, the control, the manipulation, the blaming, the raging –  it all needs to stop.  An apology, followed by unrepentant actions, is meaningless.

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Divorce Day Feelings

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Relieved.

Grateful.

Hopeful.

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Telling the Children about Divorce

I grieved at the thought of telling my children that we were getting a divorce. I knew this would rock their little worlds. Forever change their story. I stayed in a destructive marriage for many more years than I should have, primarily because I didn’t want to turn their world totally upside-down. It hurt this mama’s heart.

But what they were seeing and the way we were living was destructive to them, too.

I was dying a slow and painful emotional death and was becoming a shell of a person. I was having to deny the abuse that was taking place just to cope and get through the day.  I numbed every part of my heart. It was too painful otherwise. They were seeing all this, as well as the angry, disrespectful, and manipulative way that my spouse treated me.  They would think this was a normal way for a man to treat a woman, and would likely repeat the pattern.

When I decided to divorce my abusive and narcissistic X2B, I went to an adolescent counseling center and got some advice on how to tell the kids we were divorcing. Here were their general suggestions: Continue reading

Weekend Wisdom – “My Story”

Several people have asked why I started this blog. Why I tell my story.  Why I risk having my XNarc find out and go ballistic.  Here is why: I hope as you hear my story, you hear about hope that wouldn’t let go. You hear about love and life. I hope you hear of the grace that is greater than all my sin. Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in.  I hope as you hear my story, you hear of Him.

My story is a story of brokenness and rescue and hope and love. I pray yours is, too.

Enjoy this music by Big Daddy Weave.

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Difficult Days During Divorce

When going through a divorce with an abusive spouse, it is not a “collaborative” divorce. That is simply not possible. Everything is a battle. Everything. He will not be reasonable or fair. He will not care how you feel. He will have zero empathy for you and for the kids. He will use them as pawns to get what he wants. He will be vindictive and hurtful, and he’ll thrive on it.

Narcissists do not negotiate. They win.  

Sooooo…… there will be some days that are really tough. It’s hard to get through the day. It’s hard to put one foot in front of another. It’s overwhelming.

Those are the days when I ask Jesus to help my anxious heart breathe. I pray for God to scoop me off the floor and help me take one step at a time. I pull scripture out of my foggy, fearful brain: Continue reading

The Narcissist and Parenting Coordinators

WOW.  I wish you could be a fly on the wall during our last session with our Parenting Coordinator. It was amazing.

The Parenting Coordinator (PC) is a person assigned by the courts to help couples going through a high-conflict divorce do a better job at co-parenting. The PF can help negotiate changes in custody time, interpret custody orders, settle disputes regarding parenting issues, suggest better means of communication between the parents, and do a variety of other things that the court has defined as their duties. This helps keep issues out of the courtroom and legal system.

I am soooo grateful we have a strong, bold, experienced PC.  I was nervous going to our first few meetings.  I did everything I knew to do to prepare for a tough meeting. I exercised, prayed, reviewed my favorite scriptures, texted my friends to cover the meeting in prayer, and wrote down a few key points that I wanted to discuss.  I printed out some email and text exchanges between us that were particularly difficult, hostile or harrassing. I walked into the meetings not knowing what my narc X2B would say or what route the conversation would take.  But I also walked in with a peace that passes understanding because I trusted God was good and sovereign and that he loved me and my kids.

I usually walk out of our PC meetings tired but grateful.  Grateful that the PF has spoken bold truth, grateful that someone else is seeing what’s really going on here. The narcissist may not change much, but at least I have a credible professional who has seen the patterns and can try to help.

In the last few meetings, the PC told my narc X2B a lot of tough things.  He said he was controlling, negative, manipulating the kids, and needed a therapist. To be totally fair, our PC had feedback for me, too.  He told me to try to use the words “parenting time” instead of “custody time”. Check. I’ll work on that. Continue reading

Denial and Fear in Abusive Marriages

“The first step in dealing with an abusive spouse is to get out of denial.” Dr. David Clark, Ph.D

Why did I stay so many years in a marriage that was increasingly abusive? Fear, denial, and a misunderstanding of the Christian concepts of forgiveness and submission kept me emotionally hostage in a destructive marriage.  Mostly, I was scared to death to make a change.  Scared to rock the boat, scared of his rage, and scared of the impact a divorce would have on my children. But now I know the truth:

Scared is no way to live.

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Weekend Wisdom 9.26.15

If you decide to separate or divorce from your abusive or narcissistic spouse, you will be misunderstood. Friends, well meaning or not, will give unsolicited advice. Some of it will be helpful, some stunningly hurtful.

journey

This is your journey, not theirs. It may not be the journey you want to be on. (It sucks. No other word describes it so accurately.) BUT it’s the journey we ARE on. Until others walk a day in your shoes, they will not understand. Move forward. Forgive them. Find friends who do understand. Remember that God understands and loves you deeply.  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness. I will build you up again.” Jeremiah 31:3-4 

Love and blessings,

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Recognize the Games Narcissists Play

When I finally understood the narcissistic “games” that my spouse was playing, it was a relief. It explained so many things. While scary and upsetting, it provided sanity as well. There was a reason he did the manipulative, mean, controlling things he did: Narcissism. The label didn’t excuse his behavior, instead, it gave me a framework to understand behavior that had been so confusing. I realized I wasn’t the crazy one. And I wasn’t the only one.

Early on, this humorous yet serious list of “Games Narcissists Play” explained so much to my confused and foggy mind. By recognizing these games, I was able to stop playing some of them. I couldn’t change HIS behavior, but I could recognize the game being played and change MY responses. Or I could rehearse a response beforehand to a predictable game.

I referred to this list over and over. It helped me keep my sanity. It gave me strength to stop playing the games. Game #6 “Keep Away” was especially helpful, as it helped me stop responding to the jabs, accusations and lies. Don’t play these games. Take your ball and go home.

Games Narcissists Play

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Staying Sane While Divorcing a Narcissist/Abuser

Here are some truths and quotes that have kept me sane during my divorce. It is easy to forget the truth. It is tempting to slip into denial. My counselor said multiple times that his job was to “keep me sane during this process.”  I think he knew, much more than I could imagine, how crazy-making and difficult it would be to divorce a narcissist/verbal abuser/emotional abuser.

My narcissistic X2B would often cause me to think that I was the crazy one. He argued circles around me. He re-wrote history as we were discussing it. Then I researched and educated myself on the many games that narcissists play to keep us off balance, under their control, upset, co-dependent, and walking on eggshells. I learned to stop playing those games. I couldn’t control what he did, but I could stop my part of the insanity.  So here are some truths I remind myself:

Remember that Narcissists Lie

They lie. It’s what they do. Expect it. Don’t be so outraged when it happens. Settle yourself down. Breathe. I’ve learned to calmly yet assertively state “That is not true. The truth is…XYZ.”

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Narcissists and Abusers are Bullies during Divorce

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Uggh. I got bullied this week by my narcissistic X2B, and I’m feeling like the little kid on the playground. It stinks. But it happens a lot with abusers and narcissists.

“Narcissists will bully their way through life and relationships, while appearing as if they are living the ideal life. Adult bullies rely on a “massive denial of reality” to maintain their lives.”  James F. Masterson, M.D.

Bullying can be done in a lot of ways. With the narcissist and abuser it is likely to be repeated, intentional acts designed to enforce power and control over you or others. They may do this by intimidating, coercing, criticizing, accusing, or using words to hurt you. Narcissistic bullies are typically loud, pushy and overly-aggressive, and they make decisions by bulldozing you. See the synonyms in the definition of “bully” above. They perfectly describe the narcissist and abuser.

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Weekend Wisdom 8.22.15

I’m trying something new….something called “Weekend Wisdom”.  Each weekend I’ll post my favorite quote or thought on faith, divorce, healing, abuse, or narcissism on this blog. Some of it may resonate with you. Take what you like and leave the rest. I find these quotes to be good reminders for my heart that I’m not the crazy one, this is challenging, but that I will be OK.

So here goes….week one!

Ever wonder why, if you are the one filing for divorce, that the abuser is SOOO angry and mean….even thought THEY are the one who made the situation so bad that you feel like you had no other option? 

divorce narcissist

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Are There Biblical Grounds for Divorcing an Abuser?

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Here is an excellent and thought-provoking article by Barbara Roberts of A Cry for Justice on the biblical grounds for divorcing an abuser. The scripture she uses is descriptive and well-applied. It should bring clarity and comfort to abuse victims all over the world. I forwarded the article to my church elders and asked for a discussion.  Let’s celebrate the spread of this courageous message to more of the Christian church!

OPINION | Barbara Roberts

Monday 10 August 2015

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Mediation with a Narcissist

mediation narcissist divorce

I was pessimistic. I told my lawyer that scheduling just one day of mediation would be a waste of time, knowing the excruciating level of detail that my narcissistic X2B likes to go into on any given topic, especially these topics. So we scheduled two days of meetings with the mediator, a few days apart.

We wanted to attempt to settle the financial and custody parts of my divorce so that we could avoid going to court. My lawyer told me at a high-level how the day would go. But my X2B is difficult to negotiate with, has unmanaged emotions, and he often sabotages discussions at the very end, after hours and hours of work. It’s typically “his way or the highway.”  So I could not imagine what mediation would actually look like for me.

As a Christian woman, I wanted to apply my beliefs.  My beliefs that I should fair, respectful, honest, and try to honor God through a difficult day. I wanted to trust God, and believe that He would give me a peace that passes understanding.  (Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”)

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Negotiating with a Narcissist (AKA Terrorist)

Negotiating with an abusive spouse or a Narcissistic is like negotiating with a terrorist. The consensus advice is: “DON’T DO IT!” There are good reasons not to negotiate with a terrorist – they are unreasonable, they are manipulative, they lie, they are crazy, and they usually don’t give you what you want, even when you agree to meet their demands! I read somewhere “A narcissist doesn’t negotiate. They win.”

My narcissistic X2B has proven this over and over and over.

Negotiate with a narcissist

We recently got into a negotiation over trading custody time. Once again, I ended up losing. I am well educated, had a successful career, and can usually handle my own, thanks. But things don’t go well for me when we negotiate over the kids. He uses my concern for their well-being to get more time, better days, special events, etc. in exchange for the time we trade. It’s hard when the kids are pawns. But I’m learning. Learning not to let him bully, manipulate, control, or intimate me, all of which an abuser is well-skilled at doing. I’m also leaning to stick as closely to the custody orders as possible. I’m learning to say things like: Continue reading

10 Things To Do Before You Separate or File for Divorce from a Narcissist

Writing-Pen-PaperDivorcing a narcissist is the fight of your life. While going through a divorce is not easy for anyone, when the person you are divorcing is a narcissist, it can be an absolute nightmare. The day you file the paperwork, it’s “game on”.

A Forbes article by Jeff Landers on divorcing a narcissist accurately describes what to expect.  “Do not expect a narcissist spouse to be cooperative or go away quietly. During a divorce, narcissists can be manipulative and exploitive, feeling neurotically entitled to get whatever they want. Narcissists blame everyone else for their problems, and because they are so self-centered, even while bullying their spouses they often perceive themselves to be the victims. True narcissists believe they are above the law and feel that the rules do not apply to them, making them notoriously difficult to deal with. It is common during a divorce for narcissists to:

  • refuse to provide financial information and documents
  • refuse to negotiate
  • refuse to listen to their own lawyer
  • defy court orders
  • use the children as pawns

Because they are so competitive, narcissists love the adversarial nature of the legal system and excel at manipulating it to their advantage.”

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