Since my last post over two years ago, I have decided to take my blog in a different direction, while still encompassing my faith in Jesus Christ in every post. The past two years I have learned so much, grown incredibly, and healed tremendously. I feel like I am a baby version of the woman I want to be. I am not quite yet “there” yet, and I feel as if I still have so much more growth that needs to take place before I am a viable source of information able to contribute to others’ well being. In the meantime, I have decided that my fears and insecurities have held me back for far too long and I am so tired of being held back from what I believe God wants to do in my life. That being said, I am going to do a recap so you can see how God has been working in my life, and hopefully gain a better understanding of how it all ties in to where I believe God is leading me.
I met someone while volunteering for a pregnancy resource center in October 2016, something I have wanted to help with for quite some time. I was never able to because my ex-husband did not want my volunteering to take away from the family. The man I met was exactly everything I had ever prayed for in a man. Our friendship grew into a sweet romance, and eventually we got married in March 2018. He has been so incredibly supportive the past couple of years, and I know God placed him in my life at the time He did for a purpose. We were planning our wedding for June 2018, but we didn’t quite make it. In December 2017, I entered into a long and arduous custody battle with my ex-husband, which not only drained me financially but also physically and emotionally. We cancelled our wedding for June, and decided on a small ceremony with our Pastor, mothers, my children, my sister and her husband. It broke my heart at the time because I have never had a real wedding and was looking forward to celebrating our love with our friends and families. However, our intimate ceremony took away all the distractions that a wedding should not be, and it truly focused on what it was meant to be, and I wouldn’t change one thing about it.
It was January 2018 when I started to unpack my emotional baggage from my previous marriage and enter into a journey of discovery and healing. My eyes were opened to the depth of abuse and deception I had endured at the hand of my ex-husband. I began to see things differently, seeing things I didn’t see before. I began to research the behavior I witnessed in my previous marriage, and I saw a common theme in all of them. Manipulative behavior, and all behaviors that pointed to something I had never heard of before, narcissistic abuse. What is narcissistic abuse? It is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. Some of the tactics used are gaslighting, silent treatment, demoralizing, perpetually violating boundaries, pathological lies, projection and a false public persona that is not in alignment with the one that is behind closed doors. The one I had never heard of was gaslighting. This was a new term for me. What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt into a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. My entire life began to make sense and come together. I had endured this for almost nine years while I was with my ex-husband. No wonder I was an emotional mess. I had anxiety attacks, panic attacks, heart palpitations, low self-esteem and melt downs where I could not even form a coherent sentence. When I received alerts from his messages it sent me into a tail spin of anxiety, panic, avoidance, nausea and fearfulness. After seeing a therapist, I was told I had PTSD due to the narcissistic abuse. I was reacting exactly the way he had programmed my brain to respond to his abuse. My therapist began to help me manage my anxiety, intrusive thoughts, work on setting clear boundaries in my life and help me stick with them.
I had to get my emotions under control before going to court though, and I wasn’t ready! I didn’t begin to see my therapist until after the first court hearing. So while trying to educate myself the best I could, I decided to learn everything I possibly could about going to court against a covert narcissist. I learned what to do, what not to do, and most importantly I hired an attorney. I was not capable of representing myself in court at that time. To make matters worse, I was not only going up against my ex-husband, but his fiancée was involved as well. She recently graduated from law school and decided to represent him. The fact that he had no legal fees, and didn’t care how much time we spent in court infuriated me. Then fear set in, and held me hostage for months. I would ruminate about the possible outcomes of what he may say, what I would say, then what he would say in return. Basically I was going nowhere fast and driving myself crazy in the process. I prayed for my judge so many times, that her eyes would be opened and she would see the truth. After the first hearing, she took away some of his custody and didn’t believe the lies the two of them concocted. I remember coming out of the court-house crying, hugging my attorney and thanking her for fighting for my children. God had worked effortlessly in that room, and I couldn’t take one bit of credit even if I tried. After the second hearing this year, we are currently in a place prior to the custody battle, almost the same amount of custody we both shared before. The only difference now, the fiancée has been ordered to withdraw as his representation or face zero participation in visitation with the children. I can look back now and see that God was walking in to the fire with me every single time. In those moments, I feared, I worried, and I said I trusted Him, but I did not have His peace.
After going through the trials I have this year, I want to speak out against narcissistic abuse and educate people about this. I understand why it is not recognized in our courts as domestic violence, it’s so hard to pinpoint, and sometimes impossible to know who the real victim is. It does not make it right. Coercive manipulation should be recognized in the courts and those working in the courts should be educated on how to spot the behaviors associated with narcissistic personality disorder. I want to help those going through a custody battle with a narcissist, whether it is learning how to parallel parent with them, or just get through their day-to-day lives. Being tied to this person for years to come is one of the most challenging experiences I have ever been through and others should not have to go at this alone. I hope and pray that my post speaks to someone who has suffered or is currently suffering from an abusive relationship. There is help. There is hope. I am proof of this, Jesus walked with me every step of the way, and carried the weight on his shoulders that I could not.