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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The Narcissist and Boundaries

Narcissists don’t like boundaries. If you set a boundary, they will usually cross the boundary on purpose, to prove that you cannot control them. It’s like a challenge to them. Then, they will tell you how selfish or unreasonable YOU are. It’s crazy making, I know.

The first thing you need to learn is that the person who is angry at you for setting boundaries is the one with the problem.Drs. Cloud and Townsend Boundaries-2

To help me set boundaries, I got specific language and ideas from books or my counselor. I gained confidence by “sanity checking” it with another person and confirming that my boundary was wise and healthy.  When my boundary was crossed and tested, which it always was, I was prepared to stick to my consequence. Sometimes that meant walking away, or hanging up the phone, or not responding, or saying “never mind”.

One of the first boundaries I set was a physical one. I needed to feel safe in my own home. When my XNarc came to my door, I practiced that I could either answer or NOT ANSWER my door. I could choose to engage or not engage. If I answered the door, I decided I was not going to invite him inside. If we talked on the doorstep and the conversation didn’t go well, then I would ask him to leave. If he didn’t leave, I was prepared to tell him I was calling the police, and close the door. Then I was prepared to go and call the police. All of those steps may seem simple to some, but because my boundaries had been stepped on SO MANY TIMES prior, and I had been told how selfish and self-centered I was, it took me some time to work through those boundaries and have the confidence that they were healthy and normal and necessary.

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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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Weekend Wisdom – “The Broken Beautiful”

“You love to take broken things and make them beautiful.” What a perfectly fitting song by Ellie Holcomb. Let’s listen and remember these words on our journey of divorcing and healing from narcissism or abuse.

“I know I don’t bring a lot to the table, just little pieces of a broken heart.”

“There’s healing in Your name.”

“You say that you’ll turn my weeping into dancing, remove my sadness and cover me with joy.”

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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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An Upside-Down Blessing

I go to counseling once a week. If you have been married to an abusive man or someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), you know why. The fear, intimidation, manipulation, and crazy games they play are destructive to the feminine heart. I believe it SOOO goes against God’s desire for women. As Stacy Edridge writes, “…every woman is haunted by the question,“Do you delight in me? Will I be chosen, wanted, seen, fought for?”   In the case of abusive marriages, the answer is devastatingly clear – your spouse is NOT fighting FOR you, he is fighting AGAINST you, and his intent is to harm you. It is shattering when you get out of denial and face the truth.

So at counseling last week, I was working through my anger with how my XNarc treated me.

“Come to see it as an upside-down blessing,” urged my counselor. “And accept that it may not change.”

OK, that’s really not AT ALL what I’m hoping to hear from this guy.  I know from Al-Anon how important acceptance is, but to accept ongoing abuse, even after divorce, seems almost too much to bear. How long, O Lord, how long?

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Divorce Day Feelings

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Relieved.

Grateful.

Hopeful.

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Ambushed by Grief

journeySometimes, grief comes out of nowhere. We don’t expect it. We don’t want it. But it comes and takes our breath away. Disrupts our day. Perhaps our week. Waves of grief, crashing over our world. Waves we weren’t anticipating. It’s as if the bottom has fallen out of your life. It has.

When you go through a divorce, you should expect to be ambushed by grief. You are not crazy – you are grieving. This is so hard. The pain pierces deep within. It physically hurts. There are lots of tears. Deep anguish. It can take your breath way. I know.

We tend to do things to try to get quickly past the grief of divorce, but a friend warned me not to bypass the process. She said to feel it, process it, work through it, go to God. She skipped over the grief when she got divorced and had to come back to it, years later. She wisely told me to deal with it now, when it comes. Which it will.

The writers of Scripture knew and wrote about grief. Paul explains that we are not exempt from grief, but instead, he teaches how our grief is different than those without faith.  He writes in 1 Thess. 4:13 that we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” King David wrote similar words 1,000 years earlier in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Jesus echoes the grief with hope message when he speaks gently to our grief in Matthew 5:4, calling us blessed and promising comfort. As I grieve, I remind myself that I grieve with hope

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We All Are the Brokenhearted

I love the amazing writings of John Eldridge. He sees life in such a refreshing and honest way.  He also talks a lot about our hearts. Anytime I see something about “brokenhearted” I really pay attention.  Here is his blog about our broken hearts:

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We All Are the Brokenhearted

When Isaiah promised that the Messiah will come to heal the brokenhearted, he was not speaking poetically. The Bible does use metaphor, as when Jesus says, “I am the gate” (John 10:9). Of course, he is not an actual gate like the kind you slammed yesterday; he has no hinges on his body, no knob you turn. He is using metaphor. But when Isaiah talks about the brokenhearted, God is not using metaphor. The Hebrew is leb shabar (leb for “heart,” shabar for “broken”). Isaiah uses the word shabar to describe a bush whose “twigs are dry, they are broken off ” (27:11); to describe the idols of Babylon lying “shattered on the ground” (21:9), as a statue shatters into a thousand pieces when you knock it off the table; or to describe a broken bone (38:13). God is speaking literally here. He says, “Your heart is now in many pieces. I want to heal it.”

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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

What Does the Bible Say About Divorce?

As I was deciding whether to separate from my verbally and emotionally abusive husband, I wanted to know what the Bible really said about divorce.  I knew the words “God hates divorce” and I had read what Jesus said about divorce in the New Testament. But I also knew that what I was experiencing was death.  It was unbearable. Untenable.

I knew in my heart that this could not be what God wanted for my life.  

As I talked to more people, read more books, and understood some of the context behind the various scriptures, I gained hope. Perhaps God valued me as an individual as much, or more, as he valued the institution of marriage. Perhaps he valued my safety and my sanity and my heart. Perhaps what what some churches have taught in our current-day culture (“marriage at all costs”) is a simplistic view that doesn’t look at the culture or context of Jesus’s words. Perhaps we aren’t expected by God to stay in relationship with a spouse who is contemptuous, deceptive, manipulative, controlling, full of rage AND unrepentant and let them continue to sin against us. The Bible says a lot about not associating with unrepentant sinners.

One article on what the Bible says about divorce that was enlightening and gave me hope was this one by David Instone-Brewer. Hopefully it will be meaningful to you. Continue reading

Weekend Wisdom – Stop Pretending

I lunched today with a dear friend 5 years ahead of me in the post-divorce healing process. Over fabulous Tex-Mex, we shared both our food and our hearts. I shared that I had been afraid to tell my friends what was REALLY going on in our marriage and get help. Coupled with my shame was the knowledge and fear that the slighted provocation would make my husband all the angrier. There was a prescribed silence I was unwilling to break. So I carried on for years, pretending that life was fine, finding ways to cope, numbing my heart, and creating a false self.

So now, I stumble forward on this journey towards healing my heart and finding God. And not pretending anymore. I think this post by John Eldridge hits the mark:

The journey forward

click here for the full Ransomed Heart blog…..

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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.

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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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Weekend Wisdom – Healing from Abuse

When you begin healing from Narcissistic abuse, you change for the better, dear one.  You come out of the fog. You become alive again. Jesus told us He came to give us life, and not just a “barely getting through the day, walking on eggshells” life. He came to give us abundant life.  (John 10:10)

I think this summarizes the healing process well:

Healing from Narc Abuse

Love and blessings,

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Weekend Wisdom 9.12.15

This is a great excerpt from John Eldridge’s book, Waking the Dead.  He tells us that Jesus wants to heal our broken hearts. Really.

He asks what that statement evokes.  For me, it evokes some unexpected emotions, like doubt and fear. After experiencing emotional abuse/verbal abuse, you tend not trust anyone. Not even your own instincts. You sure don’t want to trust the Creator of the Universe who could have rushed in to save the day and changed the ending of the story….

But the question also evokes hope.

Hope that He is faithful and true. Hope that He is good and sovereign and He loves me. I want to believe He will continue to heal my broken heart. And yours, too.

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