I can only afford people in my life who understand. It’s nothing personal against anyone – not even my lifetime abuser(s). Nothing is from here on out. There is only myself and my responsibility for myself. Into the fire we all must go and we all must go alone, one way or the other. As I flesh back together new, I’m relying heavily on the words of others who can speak my experience. Huge thanks to Greg Zaffuto for his generous provision of practical, powerful encouragement and support and for his example of allowing the devastation to break us open – together.
We MUST process the truth that this was abuse! We believed it was love when it wasn’t and we are in a place that is called abuse and the journey to recovery must start NOW that we understand JUST HOW DISORDERED this person was to our entire life. Unless you stop blaming yourself, you will never really get out because you will be upholding an image of yourself that someone else created, but not facing the facts and the truth. THIS WAS NEVER ABOUT YOU – it was about a Narcissist and predator that unfortunately found their way into your life.
From my Book – From Charm to Harm and Everything else in Between with a Narcissist! @ https://www.amazon.com/Charm-Harm-Everything-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…
There is a complexity that is involved here and that has to do with what has happened to YOUR psyche through this abuse – and what kept you attached to the relationship because of the emotions that evolved or better yet you were manipulated into believing were real. Without understanding this and educating yourself you continue to fight YOUR emotions/feelings until the truth is apparent. The more you get to know what they’re doing (their real agenda), what they are really like, see it for yourself with your own eyes, the more you observe and journal in your mind, the greater your desire becomes to not inhabit the Narcissist’s planet any longer nor be pulled into the gravity from the Narcissist. A better way to describe it is being seduced into this abuse by the extreme manipulation the Narcissist uses to trap you into their agenda.
FIRST and FOREMOST, most of us fell in love with a Narcissist – but it was FAKE, not real, a con job and a means for them to use us as Narcissistic supply. Huge and I mean ABSOLUTELY a huge betrayal and the sign of a highly-disordered individual. They thrive on admiration so they select an audience or a particular person that fulfills their need – and that is key here – we were objectified to fulfill THEIR NEEDS. Like a great actor does, a Narcissist draws from the audience/person to create a reality that is believable and we, as the audience, become engaged with the complete story – emotions, beliefs, feelings and all – we empathize with the character in that fake script. But this scenario is different because we PERSONALLY interact with this Narcissist and we didn’t know it is a huge con job and DANGEROUS at the time because our hearts are ruling our heads. We also didn’t know that the actor is not a fully functioning human being as well as lacks ANY empathy, nor do we know they are abusive and will destroy our lives and run off with whatever they can take from us. Read this very paragraph to anybody and they will probably shake their head in disbelief and think you are crazy. BUT IT IS THE TRUTH – so imagine if you will that it is just as crazy for us (target/victim) to relate to and try to put in a realistic perspective to create our OWN closure and recover from a predator that attacked our lives BUT we believed it was LOVE.
If we honestly evaluate what has happened during the aftermath, we can identify times where we were in full-fledged denial of the obvious facts. Our partners had changed and we chose to believe that their viciousness and cruel behavior was caused by something WE had done wrong – a big NO to that – and our denial was in response to the barrage of manipulation that a shrewd Narcissist used to fulfill their agenda. It was the pull of the positive AND negative conditioning that kept us frozen in confusion and denial. That Narcissist was studying and reading us and our emotions like a book and using them against us to CONTROL us. It is also not a sign of weakness or stupidity on our part, instead it was a slow and insidious process of extreme manipulation, betrayal and brain-washing that stole our self-esteem and changed us. It is not hard to understand how it could happen because a Narcissist employs a manipulation that warps human emotion – something that we all cherish and try to emulate into our lives – and that is love. Love is many things that includes happiness, trust, personal bonding, strong emotions, empathy, attraction, growth, etc. – a very normal, unconditional and REWARDING emotion that can be real with a real person – again the Narcissist was nothing even near real. They use this “fake love” to grab our trust, take what they wanted, then destroy it all right in our faces and manipulate us back in to take more and more until there is nothing left of us!
So, we fell (were conned) IN LOVE – but an unnatural, desperate, and abusive love is nothing even near a normal love and it comes with a great price – the truth of the extreme and hideous betrayal that steals away a person’s self-esteem, belief system, and worth. We constantly tried to adjust and fix the damaged relationship AND ourselves and in doing so, our Narcissist was just taking the supply they required with their arsenal of tools. Their manipulation, betrayal, control, lies and acting out “trained” us to provide them with supply OR groomed us to become one of their objects and then they stepped up the game to get the most if not ALL they could from us until they were caught and identified as the monster they are and then they tried to destroy us to cover up the abuse so they could run off. They controlled us to gain power and we gave them power with each and every change we made, BUT we also eroded our sense of self-worth. We didn’t give them the power to abuse us, we mistakenly opened our hearts and minds with empathy to make things right and return the relationship back to what we believed was love, but the Narcissist used this as the very vehicle to drive us straight into this fake relationship as well as our own demise – AND THE NARCISSIST HAD COMPLETE COGNITIVE KNOWLEDGE OF DOING SO!
So now on our part (the normal person in this relationship) who believed there was reality, honesty, integrity, love, individuality, etc., AND a real relationship – we only tried to follow the natural flow or path of a relationship. THAT is what is difficult to reconcile and that is also called ‘cognitive dissonance’ or accepting a new reality that our beliefs about something (like this manufactured love) is so directly in opposition to the real truth that we are NOW presented with – in other words it takes a GREAT deal of reconciliation to get to the closure that we were abused. We didn’t know that we had inadvertently set the stage for Narcissistic attacks and rage when we only tried to express our basic needs in our relationship with them – and that is a BIG NO with a Narcissist because it is always and only about THEM and their MANY needs. A thief steals from you when you least expect it and they NEVER leave you a personal gift in return for what they stole – not a give and take situation – ALL TAKE like a Narcissist! Like a spoiled child, a Narcissist will act out in rage against the individual who is keeping them from getting what they want – constant supply, admiration, adulation and total control over their target. The hardest aspect to acknowledging this is accepting that we were JUST the next object for this Narcissist to use and this was SITUATIONAL abuse.
During what I call my “processing phase” I thought about all the arguments that seemed to come from nowhere and escalated to an “out of control” status for absolutely no reason – that is what describes the conditioning or grooming process. There were never any questions asked BUT there were always accusations from my Narcissist CONCERNING me. I was everything evil, everything mentally ill, I was perverse, having affairs, lying, cheating, stealing and anything else that the Narcissist could think up. It was the creative and DESTRUCTIVE mind of a highly disordered person acting out of their deep seeded pathology. These were diversions and projections of what the Narcissist was actually doing and they were shoved down my throat in an effort for this Narcissist to release from the shame and blame they should HAVE OWNED themselves for their hideous acts, lies and betrayal. Next it was to attempt to slowly but surely make me feel unworthy like I was all of these things wrong and bad so that I would keep changing to meet this Narcissists needs and be vulnerable. This defines the relationship with a Narcissist – totally and hysterically dysfunctional with an edge that serves the Narcissist’s agenda always. I reflected on some of the Narcissists arguments or statements that were uncharacteristically insecure and childlike to me at the time. It was such a surprise coming from an adult but I justified it and wrote it off as this Narcissist’s “immaturity.” I wanted this Narcissist to be the person I believed the Narcissist to be when my heart assigned itself to loving this Narcissist and I was resolved about my beliefs. If you love them, you will accept them for WHO they are and work with them, time will work to heal all of this and the bigger picture was what was important. Too bad I didn’t realize the PSYCHOPATHY behind all of this. REMEMBER there was a great deal of “love bombing” so the Narcissist could gain our trust to get us to believe they were GOOD at first. I wasn’t overlooking the obvious because I wasn’t seeing the WHOLE picture or the lies, cheating, betrayal, brain-washing and everything else that is kept so hidden from all of us – this is why it is classified as abuse or better yet psychological terrorism/abuse.
That is, perhaps, the most difficult and devastating outcome of a Narcissistic relationship, mustering up the strength as well as adopting the position to accept that your partner was just pathologically abusive and cruel AND now you must abandon them and the relationship COMPLETELY. It is a difficult and unnatural process to have to dump your past completely, as well as your emotions, dreams, plans, the family structure (they abandon/abuse their own biological children as well), all of the years you spent together and the memories that are also fake. IT IS AN ABHORATION of human life as well as human dignity to use/harm/destroy another individual in the manner a malignant Narcissist does. After you get there you are then left with the arduous task of finding and repurposing yourself again.
So here we are with the truth. We have to stand up again and brush ourselves off and start walking forward again and realize our own culpability in the exchange with this malignant Narcissist. We believed it was love when it wasn’t and we are in a place that is called abuse and the journey to recovery must start and NOW that we understand JUST HOW DISORDERED this partner was to our entire life. Now we MUST go “no contact” because we have educated ourselves with the truth and we have to stop anymore attempts on their part to abuse us anymore.
Apart from all of that, I live and I love again. It is an amazing life because now, I accept that there are people in this world who represent darkness and evil. It is not my place to fix them, make them better or to even tolerate them. Life is good without narcissists/psychopaths. I know myself better, I am myself, I love and enjoy and find the world a wonderful place to live in. I have good and great relationships. I know that I finally faced the truth and worked through it. I was not a deer frozen in the headlights and stayed in that position dazed forever. I was an adult with many resources and I learned to use them. I accepted that abnormal people had entered into my life. I accepted that they left damage in their wake and I needed to get them out of my life. Unless you do that, unless you stop blaming yourself, you will never really get out. You will be upholding an image of yourself that someone else created, but not facing the facts and the truth. THIS WAS NEVER ABOUT YOU – it was about a Narcissist and predator that unfortunately found their way into your life. Educate yourself and go “no contact” AND educate others once you understand the reality of this abuse and the damage it does to many undeserving and beautiful people. No/minimal contact! Greg
You’ve heard the stories, more than once. You’ve probably experienced it first hand in your institutions of worship, jobs, social circles, your own families – many more times than once. This thing is not rare.
It’s when the person you least expect, someone you respect and admire for having a seemingly perfect life, often perched high on a pillar of some kind of authority, abruptly falls and is revealed to be the antithesis of their meticulously crafted public image.
It’s always shocking. You never saw it coming. You have a hard time reconciling your own very real feelings of love and appreciation for what this person has been and meant in your life with the horror of the reality once it’s exposed. You are left reeling and trying to figure out how to move forward with any kind of trust and goodness, knowing it’s for these very qualities you were targeted and exploited.
That’s what this thing is.
I don’t blame you for thinking I’m crazy, considering how very vocal I was in promoting the perfect family and marriage that up until very recently I would have sworn upon my children’s lives that we had. No. I don’t blame you at all. I mean, gah!…just LOOK at us.
I get daily Facebook memory reminders documenting exactly what and just how many glowing things I social media bragged about my husband this time a year ago, 2 years ago, 5 years ago. My devotion and public declarations of adulation were all part of being the super codependent and cover that I was and that he needed me to be in order to hide the reality of what he is and had always been doing in the shadows. Now that I and our children know just how depraved and disordered that reality is (and more and more just keeps coming out), going over every memory of our lives together and every picture as a family without the blinders is like cyanide-laced salt in our gaping wounds. There is no surviving that. That family is dead. He killed it. Now he wants to kill me through negating my existence, destroying my reputation and impugning my integrity in the eyes of anyone he can get to believe him. His hatred for me knows no bounds. Why? Because I dare to be an individual separate from him, no longer feeding his wants, his needs, his agenda, no longer supplying him with the “good boy” “good father” image he is incapable of maintaining on his own…and because where I go, so go the kids and his entitlement to them.
Surely you’ve heard tale of families devastated by a spouse who’d been living a double life, maybe with a secret second family or salacious criminal underworld activities, who abruptly abandons their unsuspecting family, taking EVERYTHING and leaving them with NOTHING.
That’s what this thing is…at least what he’s been trying to do for a good 2 years now, though he has always been what he is. The only “abrupt” part of it is for those who finally dare to wake up to face the devastation and hell to pay for doing so.
I don’t blame you if you haven’t believed me up to this point – if you haven’t seen it yet for yourself; if every perception you have of this person contradicts the image of the monster I’m describing. I don’t blame you if in the war of “He Said/She Said” (that’s now at final showdown) you find it much easier to believe him. The pain, injustice, and indignity I’ve experienced as a result defies description, but I don’t blame or resent you.
I don’t blame you for questioning the appropriateness of how I’ve dealt with this on social media and through blogging as a cry for help, though I’ve repeatedly and exhaustively explained the psychopathy at play here; that not only are these creatures incapable of acknowledging, much less taking any responsibility for their actions and the devastation and chaos they wreak, they get off on torturing and discarding their victims, projecting EVERYTHING on to them and denying them any closure or any kind of relationship whatsoever, and turning everyone they can against them. Any person with a shred of empathy or humanity simply DOES NOT DO THAT. Monsters do.
I had to go public and draw him out to do the only thing one can get one of these creatures to do – defend their image to the death (their own) – and let him undo himself in order to get to some kind of resolution and closure to this nightmare. I will say one good thing about these things – they are utterly predictable once you know what it is you are dealing with. Any and all private conversation between the two of us (which became impossible many months ago) wherein I desperately tried to get to some sanity and working relationship for the sake of our kids, begging him to be any kind of functional father in their lives, was always met with the most foul cruelty and deflection, which I have thoroughly documented – and kept private. The kids have not seen it (though they’ve seen plenty for themselves displayed by him). My lawyer has. If he pushes it, a judge will as well. He will no doubt push it. Did I mention these creatures are nothing if not utterly predictable in their rage and self protection and promotion at the expense of everyone and everything else? They truly believe themselves to be omnipotent and above any and all accountability.
I don’t blame you for not wanting to believe you are being used and manipulated in his smear campaign against me as he projects every atrocity he has committed against his wife and children on to me, accusing me of being the abuser, the liar, the sexual deviant, the substance abuser, the crazy person, and the one alienating him from his children. You’re not stupid. You, like most normal people, probably think yourself to be a good judge of character and a person of integrity, so I understand more than anyone how nearly impossible this is to believe and accept, because…
I didn’t believe ME for 25 years – my own instincts, my own eyes and ears and experiences; being held captive in a perpetual state of distraction and manipulation away from the truth that was RIGHT THERE from the very beginning and all the way through.
I don’t blame you because the reality is too horrific to be believed. I continue to wake up most mornings in blissful forgetfulness. The effects of a quarter century of delusion don’t disappear overnight – if ever – but there’s a split second of not being conscious that the man I loved and trusted with everything I am and almost died giving all of myself to support is a monster intent on destroying me and attempting to use his own children, whom he also exploited and betrayed, to do it. There’s a split second of not remembering my marriage, my family, my entire adult life of ministry has been a massive sadistic con and that I’m living my worst fear as a single mother bearing 100% of the burden to care for my children’s physical, mental, and spiritual health while fighting for our lives against a predator and master manipulator – their own father – who has financially, emotionally and physically (me in particular) devastated us.
But then, like Groundhog Day, the crushing, stabbing shock of that reality I still desperately don’t want to believe rushes in again, morning after morning. That’s the numb state I’m (barely) operating in each day, putting one foot in front of the other to do what I’ve got to do to free myself and my children – all the while knowing there are so many mutual friends, two decades worth from a lifetime of ministry, who believe I am the monster and he the blameless, pitiful victim.
No. I don’t blame you. I thank you. I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt who my true friends and family are and those, regardless of the length or nature of our relationship prior, who absolutely are not and never really were.
I have an incredible base of support of friends and family who are measured in realness, not numbers or whether or not they are a boost to my image, who genuinely love me (and all humanity) as much and often times better than themselves, which by Jesus’ definition (whether they claim him or not) makes them true worshipers of God and worthy of my trust and admiration, regardless of whatever demonic slur the monster and his ilk may place on them and me in an attempt to undermine my support and avoid exposure.
I think most of all I don’t blame you because of what THEY have not said about any of this to this point.
I can understand how anyone would think that if anything I’ve been saying about the monster were true, surely these four would be backing me up. Well, here’s another one of those too-evil-to-be-believed realities that these creatures deal in – using their biological children as pawns and playing them against the other parent. He had a several-year head start on me knowing the day was approaching when I’d wake up and his jig would be up. It’s called triangulation, and it’s the sickest form of psychological manipulation there is to use your own children in this way, to warp their reality and turn them against their own mother. The two Littles were honestly never of any use to him in that regard. He was never involved in their daily lives or care in any way beyond show. They saw and understood first hand my devastation and their father’s increasingly bizarre and frightening manipulations and hatred towards me. Libby in particular has always seen straight through to what passes as his soul from the moment she was born and has handled the insanity and heartache of this last year like the absolute badass rockstar she is. The manipulations, rejection and abandonment killed JoJo’s infinite affections for his father and only exponentially strengthened them for me.
The reality for the Bigs, who really are the key to it all and the only ones with a voice anyone would listen to, is much more devastating. They weren’t there. They were away at college, which is when things first began to unravel and go very, very sick and dark. You see, you don’t leave these creatures or get to exist as a separate entity or have any kind of a life apart from them – it is not allowed. They consider it an absolute betrayal for which you deserve to be punished. And punish they absolutely do, the spouse in the sickest most covert ways, and then the children once they too awaken to the horror and are no longer useful to manipulate and use against the primary source who is being devalued, smeared and discarded.
I’ve known what he is since December, but I had to leave the Bigs out of it completely as the monster doubled down on his spin and diversion in the battle to control the narrative and maintain control. Both of the adult kids were in psychological distress, completely separate (or so they thought) from their parents’ insanity, before our world fell apart in November. I had to focus on being the help and support they needed (which is still an epic struggle) while letting the thing, that is no father by any definition other than contributing half their DNA, continue to poison them with his lies and hatred while I remained silent and bided my time, not knowing when I’d have enough evidence to take him down, but that I eventually would and that he would end up being his own executioner. In the meantime, as excruciating as it was to watch, I HAD to let the Bigs see it and figure it out for themselves. Anything I would say or do would only be used against me.
That’s what this thing is.
That time is now. The Bigs have seen and they do fully understand, and for that I both rejoice for me and deeply, deeply grieve for them. He was his own executioner at his daughter’s graduation. He sabotaged the entire weekend. After not seeing his children for 6 months nor showing any interest or involvement in any aspect of their lives that are now here in Nashville, all he could do was sulk and glare and continue to spew his hatred toward me to the kids and demand they come to see him this summer and insisting he was going to get joint custody. I poked the monster in those bloodshot, frenzied eyes nonstop for those few precious hours we had with him, knowing it was the only chance I was ever going to get for him to break for all to see. Part of their predictability is being able to trigger a narcissistic rage response by challenging them. It’s incredibly easy (and very dangerous) to do, but I went for it and got what I needed in spades.
What was supposed to be Kathryn’s graduation party ended before it ever had a chance to start. Not even giving it 5 minutes, witnessed by my parents, all four kids and my soon-to-be son-in-law, Jimmy started in with custody talk and my mom and I took him to task; me with open disdain, that he obviously relished (which was exactly what I needed my kids to see) and my mom with superhuman gentleness and grace. It was her love that he was powerless against and sent him into a panic, erupting in a fit of violent rage, slamming his fists on the kitchen counter so hard the house shook and screaming that I had emasculated him and that none of it mattered, all of this within inches of my mother, my hero, who just seconds before had been consoling him with her arm around him. He then inexplicably stormed out through the garage without saying goodbye to his children who were all huddled on the stairs crying. We didn’t know if he would come back and if so in what state. We didn’t know if he would get on his plane the next morning. We all silently scattered that night, no party, and waited. We didn’t hear anything until 3 days later when I received an email. The entire thing was how devastated HE was that none of us had called to apologize to HIM and more raging against me. He never apologized to Kathryn, only to Libby when she blasted him via text on the Xbox a few days later, but of course he insisted to her that it had really been MY fault. She would have none of his bullshit (a total freakin badass, that girl is, I’m telling you). She and JoJo have since agreed to block him on the Xbox rather than have to be the adults telling him they don’t want to talk about living in California or hear any more of his hatred for me. They are noticeably remarkably happier, carefree and more loving to each other and everyone else since then.
What you also won’t see or hear from Jimmy as he goes on his final social media self promotion tour as jilted, abandoned and woefully maligned father, is that Kathryn has told him he is not to come to her wedding out of fear he will be violent towards me and my family, my sisters in particular, for whom he continues to voice incredible disdain for calling him out publicly on Facebook a few months ago for things he’d actually done and said. Both Kathryn and Ryan have written to their father telling him they want him out of their lives in order to end his reign of terror and chaos in this family. Otherwise, Kathryn has asked to be left out of the upcoming legal proceedings entirely so she can focus on her wedding and marriage and real life in some semblance of peace. I’m respecting that as much as possible, though of course the monster has not.
Ryan is the man. Literally. He has become one overnight. He has taken on the role of father figure for Liberty and Joseph. Talk about unbelievable. I cannot wrap my mind and heart around this and I’m not sure I ever will. He doesn’t have to, but he is doing it willingly and is a natural; devoting more attention and affection and understanding of their individual personalities and needs than their actual father ever did or ever gave him, which was zero.
That monster has always been what it is, a shell of a human and emotional vampire. We just couldn’t see it because…
That’s what this thing is.
So, one more time…I don’t blame you for not wanting to believe reality when it’s taken me 25 years and countless trips to hell and back in order to see it.
But if you don’t believe me now in the war of He Said/ She Said and continue to support him at my and my children’s expense and even collude with him in a custody fight – fuck yes I will blame you, I will resent the hell out of you, and I will purge you from our existence. The monster will be exceedingly happy to have you as supply on which to feed and he’s welcome to have you, as many as he can get. The only ones that matter see and know him for exactly what he is and never was and understand what has to happen and are with me 100%. I’m going to let the only voice that matters be the last word before going radio silent until we are safe on the other side of this. If you are going to believe anybody, it should be our 20-year-old son, James Ryan Dickenson, who said, “Mom, he is never going to hurt you again and he is never getting these kids. He’s going to have to get through me.”
Here is his Father’s Day message:
When I read your FB text last night, I instantly related.
You are so consumed with your own pain that it makes me feel like I’m not your [relationship descriptor redacted].
Get on some meds you psycho bitch!!
No I am not [wonderful] but I think I am kind, and you were kind to me so I hope you will find peace and happiness in the future.
No time and in no way is it appropriate to be rude, unkind, cutting, demeaning, speaking out of rage and anger, and belittling others. I have seen you do each of these things with a measure of generosity. I have watched you shred those who even mildly suggest that you’re out of line.
Hi JD, I just wanted to say “Me Too”. My emotions are too raw to say anything beyond that, but ME TOO sister.
You need to get off Facebook and find some real friends.
I have a whole bunch of emotions there for you my friend. Anger, sadness, frustration to name a few. I haven’t been publicly posting on your timeline but have been following to some degree. You can – no, will – rise above this and find your own sense of self and all that entails.
The hardest part is not the darkness. No. You can still imagine things to look much better than you feel them to be in the shadows; imagine things to be what you wish them to be, need them to be, want them to be.
No, it’s the light that is devastatingly hard and why most avoid all but selective exposure. One cannot pretend in the light for their own comfort or false notions of safety or perfection.
I brought (have been bringing) my entire self into the light for a while now. I was not in any way prepared for the very last things to come out, which in actuality were THE thing it’s all been leading up to. I guess it would be more accurate to say I was finally ready to see BECAUSE of all I’ve been through – to have to acknowlege just how dependent I’ve been on “love” in the shadows – the idea of something I wanted it to be verses the reality of what it actually is.
My physical circumstances have more or less been the same for quite a while and will not be radically changing. I’ve been sleeping (when I’m lucky) and crying alone in bed and have been carrying the bulk of child raising for years.
But what is the thing that terrifies and crushes me? It’s the exposure of an idea that I’ve clung to my whole life as false that causes the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced. What a strange thing to admit…to be violently detoxing from the loss of an idea like it was heroin. But that’s exactly what it feels like. I’ve needed someone to be something they could never be and I numbed and sabotaged and stole from myself, denied my instincts and my true knowing and handed over my power in order to get and keep the fix I thought I couldn’t live without – to believe he was what he was not and could not be – to place an impossible burden on him. It’s what we’re all conditioned to do to each other. He and I are, and have always been, extreme cases. We don’t do subtle…ever.
In the light, there is only love most real for whole persons (myself first) separate from any selfishly projected ideas or expectations of them. It is a brutal, brutal detox to let go of my desires and let it all be whatever it will while resisting the urge to counter spin in my favor as every fiber of my being screams for resolution and relief!! But the light is no fix. It is the abrupt and harsh exposure of what truly IS.
I have to let whatever IS – BE…hands off…free to be and do and be seen for what it is by whoever can and will.
The darkness will kill ya, but damn do I miss how good it felt even at its worst compared to this. The light feels every bit like torture and death right now.
I have moments of unprecedented clarity and calmness that punctuate the baseline aching void of despair that at times swells so intensely that I feel like I could literally drown in the feeling of loss and fear and “I DON’T WANT THIS!”
God, please have mercy and get me through this withdrawal to a place of peace, wholeness and love in myself. 45 years worth is a lot to work out of my system to get clean.
The only way out is through and there is no going back or unseeing. Woe to those who have seen and known the light and then reject and deny it, because that is the blackest self-imposed darkness rooted in a self-loathing lie that will kill all ability to genuinely love or accept love fast and permanent.
I exposed the love of my life who is a part of me to the light he once used to guide me to, and then I let go as a final (and first, really) act of unselfish love for him. To do so meant the death of my addiction and codependency and sent me reeling into this tortuous detox. There is nothing but pain for me in it. He has kicked and screamed and spat and spun violently all the way, directed just at me, because he knows I will not and cannot hide anything anymore. It all comes into the light, but I cannot keep him with me there.
Whether in light or darkness, he is who he is and will always be the love of my life.
Into the fire we all must go, one way or the other, and we all must go alone. All I can do is be my own light and to do so I must burn.
I held a funeral for my life, our life, in pictures yesterday. It was an odd but necessary few hours of letting go; odd in that I was the only one in attendance and, unlike most funerals where photos are brought out and displayed, I was permanently putting away and deleting.
One by one our smiling faces, snuggling bodies, tender stances of 25 years from the beginning to the end removed from digital memory and social media documentation. The “perfect” couple, the “perfect” family no longer on display. Some still exist as hard copies buried in boxes in the home where we built a life together and loved two more lives into existence. Some adorn the walls. They are yours now. Most have been deleted into nothingness, never to be seen again except in my mind’s eye where they can never be erased. It is where they belong and will forever remain as they were only ever truly mine to begin with – my reality that I loved sharing with the world – until that world disintegrated.
I was happy in each one, a genuine permeating fullness kind of happy that I only feel when I’m close to you. Each and every picture of the two of us elicited dozens of glowing comments from friends and family.
Now, they are just mine. My mental timeline. My history. My reality. My truth. It was real. I was not pretending. That has never been who I am. I may miss the mark in mind boggling fashion much of the time…but I am inherently sincere, even in my greatest delusion and confusion.
No amount of evidence, pictures, words of truth written or spoken seem to make any difference in what you’ve made up your mind to believe, and you’ve never believed I was happy with you or ever could be. Yet you always liked our pictures together, telling me how beautiful I am when I’m happy. Well, you giant idiot, who was I with in the pictures being my most beautiful?
We woke up this morning at 3 a.m. to the first day of our new life having shed every last remnant of the old. We’re each free, Babe; free to create and present our lives as we wish going forward. If you want to take some new pictures of us together to have for yourself, all you ever have to do is ask…and I’ll be happy to be beautiful next to you. I’m going to be my own happy and my own beautiful regardless, but I’ll always want to be that with you. Always.
Hello, my name is Jennifer and I’m a ridiculously fearful avoidant personality in love with an absurdly dismissive avoidant personality who loves me too. Together we are a textbook perfect psychological shit storm.
For me to finally understand exactly how fucked up we are and in what ways is, quite frankly, a massive relief. Every single pillar of certainty that I’d been led to believe was unassailable has toppled in recent years. Throughout this process, I’ve been clinging to what I considered to be the central pillar, convinced it was the one that would never, could never, should never fail. Then it too began to crack and pitch and I could no longer depend on it for safety and comfort.
And that’s the sickest/saddest part about the whole thing- it had never provided me the stability and protection I’ve always craved. No, this “central” pillar never stood still. It was perpetually restless and roaming, resistant to anything and everything that sought its support. Yet I’d been conditioned to believe that it must be that for me and had convinced myself that the reason it wasn’t was entirely my responsibility. If I threw every bit of myself into “supporting” this pillar, i.e. clutching ever tighter as it jumped and swayed precariously, feverishly patching cracks to keep up appearances (we’re good…we’re solid…we’re fine), it would eventually be still and strong and a source of stability and safety around which the rest of my life could nobly function.
It’s actually quite the comical visual. Everything else in my world had long ago disintegrated into rubble and ashes, yet here I was still insisting it was right and good to chain myself to the remaining wobbly and wild pillar that wasn’t even holding anything up and was aggressively trying to shake me off for my own good as it approached terminal collapse.
Up until 3 days ago,
choking on spite in spite of what seemed like the never-going-to-end 9.0 temblor that had disintegrated everything I thought should be but never really was, this remained my unshakable belief –
If this one falls, I will die. If this one goes, I’m an ultimate failure. If this one crumbles, I’m the biggest shameful idiot there ever was.
I would not allow myself to let go until the shaking stopped. My God, my God…please MAKE IT STOP! I’m so exhausted and spent and empty…make it stop…make it stop…make it stop…
Then let go, you dear delusional girl. LET GO of the thing that is shaking so violently and let it crumble. You won’t die if you let go…but you surely will if you keep trying to hold it together. Let go, Love. Let go. Let everything die so that you can finally live.
And I did…right there standing in front of the kitchen sink doing the dishes. I saw it. I understood fully and gave myself permission to do what up until that very second had been unthinkable – give up on my marriage, my idea of what this thing is supposed to be and let it collapse all the way.
The crushing, debilitating panic instantly vaporized. There was no crash, no boom, no implosion, only instant relief and supreme stillness. In that divine stillness such fullness, warmth, nurturing and belonging.
Oh heeeeeey, there They are, Whatever God There Is, or rather – there I AM. Then it began bubbling out of me. A wide, wild grin took over my face followed by unconstrained giggling before finally erupting into deep, somewhat maniacal laughter. I’d imagine it’s the same euphoria one would feel upon realizing they and their loved ones were alive and safe after a disaster, even if they’d lost everything else to it.
And that’s where I am. It’s all gone. All done. Everything, and I do mean everything, that was but actually wasn’t, is rubble. It’s sunrise and I’m getting my first look at the scene after the quake storm (as my oldest Big used to call it when she was little) and I’m happy. Giddy, in fact. I’m in no hurry to clean up or rebuild. I can’t even think about that right now or what it might look like. All I know is that I don’t need to know anything and the future doesn’t have to be any certain way. There is no should be or should have been. There are no supposed to be’s.
Will a couple of middle-aged, highly avoidant personalities find a new way of being together now that everything has fallen apart? Yes…they will…in some capacity, but I no longer have any expectation for what that must look like nor sense of obligation that I should. Whether what is to be exceeds my wildest dreams of fulfillment or is something wholly undesirable that I never imagined for myself or my family (reality is certain to be somewhere on the spectrum in between)…I AM going to be OK.
There only IS what is, and right now is sacred and pure and I’m not about to rush through this gift of serenity and stillness in the aftermath of the Great Reduction. I’m going to rest here, just me and Whatever God There Is, who have always manifested Themself to me in reality, and find the comfort and security I crave with Them as I laugh/cry in unhinged relief as the encroaching light incrementally reveals all that is now after the shaking. I’m alive, goddammit. I’m alive…and for the first time in my life not lonely and afraid.
Oh, there I am. You lovely, demented girl. Take a beat and then let’s get to work building up YOU – the central pillar – strong and true. Who knows what beauty these hands are capable of creating with what IS now that they’ve finally released their death grip on what never was.
Endless-loop thought: – How did I get here-AGAIN?
I did everything I knew to do, everything I’m supposed to do, and once again, it just doesn’t fucking matter. It does not matter what I do, think, say, not do, not think, not say…the only one who matters, the only one I want has left me isolated in the horrible void – the upside down – to desperately try and fill his own with ???…whatever it is today.
Here I am back in San Diego. Again.
If we’re destined to repeat this cycle, I sure as hell hope it includes the miracle desert restoration.
It’s a hope I didn’t have the last time I was here.
Fuck you, San Diego.
Holding out for Blythe, our oasis in the desert – home, creation of new life, family.
That’s the last time I remember being truly happy and whole – there.
Praying (screaming into pillows) to Whatever God There Is that we can get to there from here…again.
Some days are better than others. Most of today was pretty good. Tonight, I’m drowning.
When I discover I hurt someone, I become undone. I will do everything in my power to do no harm in the first place, to stay out of the way, be the good girl, and not cause anyone any trouble. So when I inevitably DO cause someone else pain, distress, discomfort (even if utterly unintentional), I will go to extremes to adjust my behavior to “fix it.” In the case of real harm inflicted by me, that’s a good thing, and I own it quickly.
If it’s a matter of someone else’s discomfort, sometimes a compromise on my part is the loving thing to do. Other times, their issue is theirs alone and I have no business owning it, and changing my behavior to appease them is wrong and unhealthy for everyone concerned. I’m getting better at distinguishing the healthy path in relationships without jumping to my default mode of losing myself to keep a false peace.
Where I’m having the hardest time right now and feeling very out of control is how I handle defensiveness and resistance from people when I show them how their actions are hurting me. Because I’m so damn sensitive myself about causing others any discomfort, when someone isn’t responsive to me and my hurt (and if I express it to them at all, that in and of itself took a tremendous amount of energy and courage to do)…
And when I am crushed I lose all sense and control.
The more significant the relationship, the more devastating it is. It doesn’t matter how well I understand the person and how they tick and which dysfunctions drive them to do what they do. When I show someone as clearly and rationally and honestly as I know how that THEY ARE hurting me and they push me off, or worse, double down on doing the thing that causes me pain or makes me afraid, this is the only way I’m capable of processing it –
That my pain is invalid and/or threatening; either way, greatly unwelcome to be expressed.
Me being hurt is the sacrifice they are willing to make for their own survival.
I DO NOT MATTER. I am not worth it. I am unloved and unlovable.
This is, of course, a total PTCS (posttraumatic church syndrome) issue. I just typed and then deleted the story behind it. It’s not worth telling at this point other than to garner some “Oh, you poor darlings.” I don’t want or need that right now. What I want and need is for the damage that was done to my psyche and soul to stop wreaking havoc in my closest relationships.
The last year of marriage has been our hardest to date, and that’s saying something if you’ve read our stories.
Jimmy and I both experienced intense abuse and hardship solidly together as a team over the last 5 years, both doing all we knew to do to survive as a family. We’re also both incredibly damaged on the other side of it and our needs in survival mode are very, very different. They do not play well together at all. Getting too close to the hurt (vulnerability) triggers him, so he avoids, self medicates, numbs and distracts himself from it. I desperately need to make sense of my pain and get as close to it as possible. Vulnerability is my salvation. To be dismissed and left alone in my greatest, deepest pain where I AM because it is too much, spirals me into crushed crazy person mode.
We’ve never been easy, but we’ve always been beautiful…until this last year. We had to separate emotionally from each other, and now physically, just to survive. This makes me so devastatingly sad and angry because I’ve always known just how beautiful we are together.
I don’t think you ever could see Us as beautiful because you couldn’t see yourself and your part of our equation that way, masking your fear and doing anything to stay one step ahead of the shrieking demons of inadequacy and failure nipping at your heels. Those goddamn demons finally overtook you this time…and I’m glad. There’s nowhere left to run and you’re going to have to fight to the death to get them the hell out of our marriage so we can get back to being beautiful together.
We had a way of being together that worked well in the context of our old life. When that died, so did our way of relating to each other.
It had to. Everything had to die.
Fight hard and die ALL THE WAY, My Love. We both have to.
New life WILL take hold. We will be beautiful together again. But we’re not going to look anything like we used to because we cannot BE anything like we used to. We are, neither of us, the same person we were just a little while ago. We are each transitioning and have to, by necessity, go it alone with Whatever God There Is in this process.
It’s OK if I go first.
I’ll be here waiting, Babe, when we’re both ready to be beautiful together again. Even at our ugliest, there is nothing and no one I’ve ever seen that compares to Us, together. You will always be the only one who matters; the only one I want and need, the only one I need to want to see and love me as deep as I go.