FREELIEVED (Free + Relieved)

Am I the only one who measures their life by rolls of toilet paper? When I leave Costco with what seems like 2 tons of Kirkland Ultra Soft, I always think to myself, “Where will I be in life when I’m finished with all of this toilet paper?”

  • Will my kid be potty trained?
  • Will I have finally lost the last 20 pounds of baby weight?
  • Will it still be 120 degrees?
  • Will I be divorced?

Where will I be?  If you read my previous posts, you’d know that a few months ago, I couldn’t even afford toilet paper. This was distressing for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because I had no way to measure my life!

Thankfully, in many ways, I am in a much better spot mentally and financially than I was a few months ago.  I landed my dream job, working in real estate for a home purchasing company.  I am in the process of obtaining my Arizona Real Estate Broker license, and should have that soon.  My friends and family have pitched in to help us make it through life without starving these last few months, and for that I am forever grateful!

When I first made this blog public, I was prepared for the backlash to come.  Quite frankly, I thought The Husband would kill me.  I mean, he’s a Navy SEAL, and we live in a desert.  Sounds like the perfect combo for an unsolved Dateline Episode. Much to my shock (and awe) he didn’t have the reaction I assumed he would.  Instead, he seemed happy for me. He told me that I was a good writer and he was happy to see me utilizing my skills.  In fact, this conversation kicked off a month long period of him being—–wait for it—–NICE!! When I say nice, I mean so incredibly nice that I was nervous I would cave in my decision to divorce him.  We spent the last few months acting like a married couple. To say our separation period has been bizarre would be an gross understatement.

Needless to say, as of Nov 7th, I officially became a “divorcee”.  While part of me wanted to cave, and go back to the safety and security of the “known” a bigger part of me longed for change. To say the divorce day experience was traumatic would be a gross understatement.  There is something so tragic and depressing about watching your husband sign away a lifetime of hopes and dreams in mere seconds. Something so terrifying about being alone in life, knowing you have two kids, two dogs, and a household to support. ALL BY YOURSELF.  I. Am. Terrified. However, I have also experienced the most incredible feeling post divorce- it’s a new word I made up- FREELIEVED.  Words can’t describe the feeling of freedom + relief I feel knowing that I never –EVER-have to worry about being cheated on, lied to, and lied about again.  The fear of the unknown pales in comparison to feeling FREELIEVED.

So, here I am!  Single and ready to –NEVER EVER MINGLE AGAIN!  My relationship with a Narc has changed me in ways I can’t explain.  But one thing I know for sure is that I will NEVER- I repeat- NEVER….like never, ever, ever, date again.  I plan to buy a house and make my best friend move in with me.  Quite frankly, having a sister wife sounds way more appealing than being cheated on again. While our relationship had a tragic beginning and an even more tragic ending, there is a silver lining in that he brought me back to my happy place- Scottsdale, Arizona.  Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I could live here again, surrounded by saguaro cacti and my friends who love me dearly.  I truly believe I am the luckiest girl in the world right now.  And with that, I’ll sign off for today with a picture of my most favorite place…..

PS: Heading to Costco in a few and excited to see where this batch of toilet paper leads me….

desert

Love,

Avery

 

 

Owen

I freaking LOVE the name Owen.  When I think “Owen” I think rugged like the Rocky Mountains.  I think flannel shirts, boyish good looks, scraggly dirty blonde hair, athletic and manly.  I think of the sweet, kind, door opening, tire changing,  gentleman type. I think Chris Pratt in Jurassic World.  Chris could totally be an Owen.

jurassicworld-chris-pratt-789x1024

Upon finding out we were having a boy, I secretly, in the back of my mind, hoped we’d name him Owen.  However, where I’m from(the deep south, y’all), its not uncommon to use family names as first names.  So, before deciding on Owen we had to rule out all the family names first. My maiden name was Crapps – so clearly – that was out.

poop

My mom’s maiden name was Avery(my name.)  That was out.  My mother in laws maiden name however, was Cannon.  Something about that name we both loved.  Unique, manly, powerful, strong. I had visions of him being the Florida Gator quarterback and everyone would yell “Cannon’s got a Cannon”  when he ran out on the field.

Side note: My second son is named Porter. I also envision him as a Florida Gator quarterback with everyone yelling “Porter the Porterback” when he runs out on the field.

I may be a bit obsessed with Gator football but football IS LIFE in the south.

Anyways, we settled on Cannon pretty early and that was that!  At the time, I found it a bit odd that my mother in law didn’t seem too enthused about us naming our son after her side of the fam.  I mentioned something to my husband at the time, just ensuring that we weren’t offending anyone or stealing this baby name from another family member.  He assured me all was well,  so I stored that in my subconscious and moved on.

It wasn’t until about month 6 of pregnancy, when I had my first inkling that I may want to rethink naming my son after my husbands side of the family.  You can scroll down to read “Christmas at Christmas Time” to find out why.  Long story short, my husband, who was on deployment, left our marriage while 6 months pregnant because I wasn’t outdoorsy or fit enough.  I went into preterm labor from stress, and spent some time in the hospital decompressing.  I was angry. I was distraught. And quite frankly, I was not too enthused about carrying on their family name through my child! In order to keep the peace and drama to a minimum(doctors orders), I didn’t let on that I was wavering in the name game.

Some advice. Never decide for yourself that things can’t get any worse because the Universe will surely deliver to you “MUCH WORSE”!!! It was around month 8 of pregnancy.  I was so close to the finish line I could literally taste the red wine in my mouth! I can’t remember if it was my mom or my best friend who called me first.  We don’t want to upset you, they said.  But we want you to know that it’s all over town that the baby isn’t actually your husbands. At first, I was honored.  You mean, like people think I’m Mary and the baby is the next Jesus?  “No, um not exactly” they said.  Um, (insert nervous hesitation) actually your mother in law told some people(half the town) that the baby can’t be your husbands because he wasn’t home when you conceived.  Everyone believes it’s not this baby.

Back to the hospital, I go. Distraught, hysterical, majorly creeped out that my mother in law was discussing our conception date, and of course, having contractions.  At this point, the nurses know me well, and I’m far enough along that they send me home on more bed rest. I go home. Pissed. Off.  You mean to tell me that I married a cheater, but now everyone in North East Florida thinks I’M THE CHEATER???? I told my husband, who was home from deployment at this point, there is no way in HELL that I am naming my son Cannon.  No way in hell.  His name will be Owen!!! I spent the next month fuming and secretly harboring my “Owen” secret.

God has a hilarious sense of humor.  Because when that baby finally came out a month later, let me tell you he looked just like my husband!! He still does:)))  “See, I TOLD you so” I wanted to scream while sticking my tongue out and shooting the bird at my MIL.  However, I’m a mom now, and mom’s don’t do inappropriate things like shoot the bird, so I refrain myself.

I’ll never forget the death stare of sheer rage and hatred I received when the “birth certificate filler outer” came into the hospital room and we had to admit we were naming the baby Owen.  I still get chills of fear down my spine seeing that look of pure disgust and fury.  My MIL stormed out of the room and the terrified “birth certificate filler outer” followed quickly behind.  “I’ll come back tomorrow for the birth certificate” the lady hollered on her way out.  A little while later, MIL called my husband to tell us that she’d thought about the name Owen.  Owen was a weak name, for a weak person, and her grandson was not weak.  She also said that his initials would be O.O. and that he would be terribly made fun of.

Lady. I lived with the name Crapps for 30 years.  Little O.O. will be JUST FINE!!!

The next day, my husband had to go to work, so I was alone with my MIL when the “birth certificate filler outer” came back by.  My stomach was in knots as I despise confrontation and absolutely hate awkwardness.  I just wanted to enjoy my baby and have a stress free drama free life, is that too much to ask?? Why is literally every single major life event tarnished by this family?  In hindsight, I should have kicked her out of the room and defended my wishes and desires.  Instead, I caved under her malicious stares, and dagger eyes, and wrote Cannon on the birth certificate.

My next post is going to be about “What Happens when you Marry the Golden Boy.” This is just a little taste of what’s to come if you dare to marry the Golden Boy.

It Starts With You, Mom and Dad!

For the previous 5 years, I have been cohabiting with three narcissists. One of them, I married.  The other two, I birthed. Prior to my recent “narcissistic awakening,” I was under the ignorant and ill informed assumption that narcissists, although vain and self centered, were relatively harmless.  Mean Girls, The Devil Wears Prada, and Gone with the Wind glorified and humorized this particular personality disorder. However, as with many things in life, it’s hard to fully grasp the magnitude of an issue or concept without personally experiencing it yourself.  I’ll spare you the gory details(or scroll down to read them, if you dare), but just know that my marriage to a Narcissist almost killed me.

What makes narcissists SO toxic is their utter lack of empathy or remorse.  Due to their inability to relate to, or muster up any compassion for others, they live life by their own rules with absolutely no regard for the people they destroy in the process.  At the core of narcissism, believe it or not, is an extremely low and unstable self esteem. The often confident, cocky and, egotistical persona a narcissists portrays to the outside world, is misleading, as their true self is brimming with insecurities, doubt and despair.  In order to boost their non existent self esteem, narcissists embark on a life long quest to obtain what’s called “narcissistic supply.” For those closest to a narcissist, this is the point where things get painful.  Searching for supply can manifest in various ways,  but some examples include: cheating, withholding love, silent treatment, removal of financial support, distorting reality, put downs, constant criticism, comparison to others, gas lighting, pathological lying etc. Remember, this is a never ending search, so those closest to this toxic person will suffer for a lifetime. In order for the narcissist to feel good about himself/herself, he/she must make others feel bad.  When contemplating these relationships, I’m often reminded of a seesaw you might find at your local playground. In order for one side to go up, the other must go down, and vice versa.  Toxic relationships are a constant seesaw battle of up and down, up and down. It’s exhausting!

Young children, naturally, are narcissistic. I would know, I’m living with two of them! And while this may be a healthy stage of development for a short time, it’s our responsibility as parents to guide our children out of this phase and into a life lived with compassion and empathy.  Research has shown that narcissism is a byproduct of parenting. Yikes. We have much to contemplate and consider when raising children, but after experiencing narcissistic abuse as an adult, I am more determined than ever to make prevention a priority in my parenting.

Here are eight ways I am tackling Narc Prevention in our home:

  1. Don’t Spoil without Toil Have you noticed that your local grocery store is now the new Toys R Us? I’m just minding my business, trying to grab paper towels, while steering my kids around in a tractor trailer sized taxi cab, but of course said paper towels are wedged in between 400 Hot Wheels and a Cabbage Patch Doll. This used to frustrate me, but now I look at it as an opportunity to say no. Life has a favorite word and it uses it often: NO! Might as well teach children at a young age that they aren’t always entitled to a YES- even over a 99 cent hotwheel.
  2. Life IS NOT a competition I’ve heard horror stories of parents making everything a competition among their children. One recent story involved a dad who would encourage a dinner time battle, and the winner was the child who ate the most food.  This child would be able to sleep with dad that night, as a reward.  Not only does this teach unhealthy eating habits, but it insinuates that a fathers love is connected to achievements and that the only way to receive love is to “out perform” their siblings.
  3. Warm it up Children need and respond to warmth from their parents. This warmth should be unconditional and not tied to achievements or accomplishments. Of course, when a child scores a goal, or makes an A on a test, we want to celebrate. However, if the only time you are showering the child with attention and praise is when they make you, the parent, look good, then you are setting them up to believe that love is inextricably tied to achievements.
  4. Encourage Empathy Provide your children opportunities to learn empathy.  Volunteer together at a soup kitchen, watch age appropriate documentaries on poverty, or stop by a nursing home and connect with someone who might be lonely. Exposure to the plights of others is key to raising a well adjusted and grateful human being.
  5. Everyone is Special Yes, everyone.  Not just child 1 or child 4, but everyone.  We all have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.  As parents, it’s important to cherish and cultivate the interests of our children and not just the interests that make us look good as mom and dad.  Where I’m from(North Florida), football is life. If you have one child that excels in football, but another who excels in History class, place equal amounts of value and attention on both activities. Do not single out one child as being superior because he/she happens to excel in an activity that society deems “more important.”
  6. It’s the inside that counts Most nights, before bed, we talk as a family about what we like about each other, as people.  We prioritize internal achievements and not external ones.  For example, I love that my littlest(2.9) is always asking my opinion on things.  He likes to tell me what his favorite color is, but is genuinely curious about my favorite color too.  He shows an interest in those outside himself, and a genuine desire to learn about other people. This makes me proud.  My oldest(5) has a big heart. He is extremely sensitive to the pain of others and always wants to make sure that everyone is happy and content.  His concern for others makes my heart swell.
  7.  Practice compassion  If someone cuts you off in traffic, breathe and let it go.  Your children will notice!  Instead of assuming the worst, and screaming expletives out the window, imagine the other possibilities that may be at work in that drivers situation. Children do as they see, not as their told. If you set a positive example when dealing with the little challenges of life, your children will be better equipped to handle the larger challenges with patience and refrain.
  8. Appearances are an Illusion  Really. Who freaking cares what car you drive or how amazing your vacation you can’t afford was.  While vacations and cars are nice to have, don’t spend all your money trying to impress other people with these things. I vaguely remember a time in my early 20s where I spent so much money at the Mall of Milenia that I couldn’t afford the toll payment to get back home.  Talk about ridiculous. In case you were wondering, I bought Jimmy Choos. They were hideous, bright yellow and hurt like hell.

What do you do to prevent narcissism in your home? I am always up for learning more!

Is this weekend over yet?

I’m going to have to change my tagline on this blog.  Because this weekend, I was most definitely NOT surviving OR thriving. “Crying and Dying” would be more appropriate. The grief of my divorce hit me hard on Friday.  Have you ever cried so much that you couldn’t keep your eyes open? I found myself in that predicament last night, and my only option was to head to bed at 6pm. I tossed and turned for hours. Why is it that when I don’t have my kids, I can’t sleep.  My options for fun were limited since I couldn’t see, so I did what I do best: overthink!

I began thinking about time. Time is so bizarre.  It seems like just yesterday I was encouraging The Husband to sign up for his first 100 mile race.  He needed something to focus on and provide him with a sense of purpose after leaving the SEAL teams.  Just a few months ago, I found the perfect race for him/us.  Secretly planning on tagging along as “pit crew”, I sent him the link for the Run Rabbit Run Race in Colorado.  Something about the majestic Rockies spoke to us as a couple, and I figured the added elevation would give him the extra challenge he was searching for.  Meanwhile I could pretend to be athletic via my Patagonia Parka and North Face Thermos (full of red wine, duh).  It was going to be the perfect weekend.  Instead, I’m in bed by 6pm on a Saturday night and too blinded by tears to see. How in the heck did I end up in this terrible, awful predicament in just a few short months? How did I get here from there? Isn’t there a Deana Carter song about that?

The big race was this past Friday, and as you are probably assuming, I didn’t go.  Although he did kindly invite us(me and the boys) for some reason not being there hit me hard.  My therapist would most likely say I have finally begun grieving the end of our relationship, which is a good thing.  It caught me off guard to feel so poorly and I’m hoping the grieving process is quick!

In addition to feeling grief, I felt anger.  Pissed off, irrational, red in the face anger.  While listing to a you tube video on Narcissism yesterday, the expert, Dr Ramani Durvasula suggested that Narcissits are made, not born. Her exact words: “Narcissism is a byproduct of parenting”.  Yikes.  She went on to say that Narcissism is caused by simultaneously over indulging and under indulging a child.  How exactly do you do that?

Dr Durvasula provided some examples which I’ve posted below:

Overindulging:

  • Give credit for achievements only
  • Make sure you have the most fabulous family life
  • Focus on their appearance
  • Focus on having the best family vacations that you can afford
  • Insist that the child will be the best player on sports teams

Under Indulge:

  • Parent doesn’t value feelings
  • Parent isn’t fully present for emotional needs of child
  • Parent can’t be bothered with parenting unless it’s something that brings glory to the family
  • Only placing value on the exterior and appearances, not the interior self

I am no clinical expert, but I have to say I agree with her, 100%.  When I think back on early interactions with The Husbands family, I can see why he ended up as a narcissist and it PISSES ME OFF.  Perhaps, just perhaps, this could have all been prevented in the beginning and I could be living my happily ever after. For years, I used to tell The Husband that I seemed to be the ONLY person in his family who loved him for who he was as a person, and not just his achievements.  His Fan Club aka family,  fawned all over his accomplishments(there are many) and screamed from the mountain tops how wonderful and amazing he was.  I learned that he could kick a soccer ball en utero, was climbing trees by 3 years old, and at birth was already so incredibly strong that the doctor had to dislocate his arm to pull him out.  But what about his other qualities, I would wonder.  Surely, they’ll talk about some of his internal attributes, and how wonderful he was as a person.  Nope. At our wedding, the best man(his brother) gave a 10-20 minute soliloquy(I call it a soliloquy because I’m almost certain no one was listening) about why The Husband was the most important, amazing and achieved man of our time. “Umm HELLLOOO”, I wanted to scream.  This wedding is about US as a couple, not your obsession with your baby brother’s achievements.  While you’re up there bro, at least talk about how good I am at drinking red wine!!  It was actually at our wedding reception when I began to doubt myself as a person.   My achievements seemed minuscule and inconsequential and I was secretly thankful we had already said “I Do” before The Husband realized he was more deserving of the Gisele Bundchen type.  His families passwords for things all included the word “SEAL” as if they had no other personal identity besides their sons career choice.  To be honest, thinking back, our marriage was doomed from the start.  No one, and I mean no one would ever be good enough for the “golden boy” of the family.

My heart hurts to think back on The Husband as a little boy.  Curly blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and the sweetest smile.  To think that he may have felt his only way to receive love was through his accomplishments, breaks my heart.  To have your entire self worth based on achievements is an incredibly sorrowful way to live life as achievements can come and go, but your soul lasts forever.  While I realize it’s fruitless to think back on what may have been, I can do everything in my power to make sure my sons are raised to value empathy, have respect for others, and know that they are loved to their very core. Quite frankly, I’d be more proud of my kids for having a big heart than a big super bowl ring and I am determined to raise them accordingly.

Mamas(and Pappas) let’s do our best to raise happy, healthy, and well adjusted children!  Here’s hoping the next few days are better than the last.  Onward and Upward!

Victim on a Mission

I AM ON A MISSION.  To tell the whole world(well, at least all 10 of my followers) about narcissistic abuse. We all know about sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and physical abuse.  Why is the world still so misinformed about narcissistic abuse?

Had I been educated about narcissistic abuse in 2010(when I first met my Narc) I would have run for the nearest convent and signed up to be a Nun For LIFE!!! No more narcs and no more bad hair days.  Gosh, the thought of that brings me so much peace.  My psychologist insists I can have peace AND a relationship(with a non narc, of course) but a peaceful relationship sounds like an oxymoron to me. Perhaps, one day, I’ll get there!

I often hear “He sounds absolutely terrible. Why didn’t you just get out?”

In order to address that question, I think it’s important to understand the abuse cycle and also what a narcissist is.

Narcissists suck you in fast and they suck you in strong.  This is called the Idealization Phase and it’s the first phase of the abuse cycle. This phase is glorious.  You will feel like the most important person in their world.  You will feel understood. You will feel cherished. You will feel high on life.  This is an addictive feeling and becomes a drug and you literally cannot get enough. What you don’t understand though, is that this phase is fake.  Narcissists are stealth mirroring experts and they thrive on hiding their real persona behind a fake mask.  If you like cooking, they LOVE cooking.  They trained once, under Julia Childs, you know.   If you like the opera, they LOVE the opera.  Pavarotti wanted to be their mentor once, back in the day, you know……

When I first met my narcissist, he was training to be a Navy SEAL.  Due to his erratic and often unpredictable work schedule, we would often go weeks at a time without seeing each other.  This enabled him to drag the Idealization Phase out and I remained gleefully unaware of what was to come.  Ignorance really is bliss, y’all.  Within a few months of dating, he moved in with me.  I was thankful to have a roomate in San Diego as rent was not cheap.  I was also flabbergasted, but giddy, that he choose to live with me over his friends from SEAL training.  He showered me with gifts, compliments, date nights, wine, flowers-you name it!  My interests were his interests and he acted as if he’d never met anyone as interesting as me! This is called Love Bombing. And the icing on the Love Bombing cake was when he tattooed my initials on his rib-cage.  That officially SEALed (pun intended) the deal.  I was hooked. I was in love.

Apparently, he was in love as well.  With me.  And also with Brittany.  Brittany was an ex girlfriend from his college days. I don’t remember the specifics but I do remember the gut wrenching hurt and confusion I felt when I first came across the text exchanges with her.  There were many!  He told her she was the love of his life.  That he’d never forget what she was wearing the first time he met her. That he was planning a trip to see her. I could go on and on.  These messages were endless and thrust me into a river of confusion and chaos.  How could someone who tattooed my initials on their body be texting another women this way? Brittany was the first of many, many, women he triangulated me with over the course of our relationship.

This my friends, is The Devaluation Phase.  And boy did I ever feel devalued.  Nothing made sense. If he loved me so much how could he behave this way? Obviously it was me! My flaws! In hindsight, and with my current knowledge on narcissistic abuse, I should have kicked his sorry @ss to the curb and moved on.  Since he had put me on such a high pedestal and the Idealization Phase was so intensely intoxicating, I instead became determined to retain my position.  He became my drug of choice.  So I did whatever I could to keep my drug fix coming. I worked out with the intention of being as skinny as possible.  I colored my hair darker to please him. I updated my wardrobe to suit his tastes. I would stop at nothing to make him love me like I loved him.

Sadly, narcissists aren’t capable of real love.  My psychologist once told me that she believes The Hubby loved me to the extent that he can love anyone. In order for a narcissist to feel good, they must make others feel bad, including and most especially those they “love”…. And that, unfortunately, means a life of misery for anyone who gets too close.

The last and final phase is the Discard Phase. Once the narc has sucked the last bit of supply from you to fill his thinly veiled ego, they move onto the next victim. You’re left to pick up the pieces and gather up what’s left of your life. Trust me when I say, you’re lucky to be discarded! As awful as it was, I’m so thankful the final discard set me on a path to freedom.

Most people have some narcissistic traits and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  But a small percentage of the population has full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder. As defined by the DSM 5:

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a cluster B personality disorder defined as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

I’m impressed the experts could sum that all up in one sentence, I however, feel I could write an entire novel on the horrific aftermath narcissism abuse leaves on it’s victims.

More on Narcissism from Dr. Helen Okoye, MD, MBA, MS-Epi:

These identifying features can result in a negative impact on an individual’s interpersonal affairs and life general. In most cases, on the exterior, narcissists act with an air of right and control, dismissing others, and frequently showcasing condescending or denigrating attitudes. Nevertheless, internally, these patients battle with strong feelings of low self esteem issues and inadequacy. Even though the typical NPD patient may achieve great achievements, ultimately their functioning in society can be affected as these characteristics interfere with both personal and professional relationships. A large part of this is as result of the NPD patient being incapable of receiving disapproval or rebuff of any kind, in addition to the fact that the NPD patient typically exhibits lack of empathy and overall disrespect for others.

By now you MUST be wondering what the symptoms are.

The definition of NPD states that it comprises of a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts by early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

  • A grandiose logic of self-importance
  • A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty, or idyllic love
  • A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
  • A desire for unwarranted admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonally oppressive behavior
  • No form of empathy
  • Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
  • A display of egotistical and conceited behaviors or attitudes

Discovering Narcissism was a game changer for me.  I couldn’t believe that someone had condensed all the crazy making chaos into one neat, definable, and understandable term.  So THANK YOU to those people for your hard work and dedication.  You have brought immense amounts of peace and mental clarity to my life!

Christmas at Christmas Time

You’re probably wondering how I went from jilted bride to proud owner of two kids, two dogs and 55,000 Legos.

Alcohol. Lots of alcohol.  I wish I could say that church was the reason The Husband and I stayed together, but quite frankly I have to give wine all the credit.  After being released from the hospital and coming home to my Newlywed Nightmare, I began drinking massive amounts of Cabernet as a coping mechanism.  So much wine, that I’m pretty sure the employees at Central Liquor on Orange received extra bonuses that year.  You’re welcome!

Alcohol, heartache, and a crushed self-esteem does NOT lead one to make wise life decisions.  A few months after the wedding, and in the midst of discussing an annulment, one thing lead to another, and I ended up pregnant.  A baby changes things.  Who am I kidding.  A baby changes everything!  Thankfully this baby saved me from what was sure to be a lifelong AA membership and, at that time, also saved my marriage.

Baby bliss was short-lived.

One thing I’ve learned through my support groups is that narcissists have a habit of ruining every one of their victims major life events.

  • Engagement – check
  • Wedding – check
  • Pregnancy- check

The Husband deployed around month 3 of my pregnancy.  At the beginning, things were, for the most part, fine.  It wasn’t until December(month 6 of pregnancy) that it all went south.  His platoon had been given a special “work trip” to Manila. While there, he informed me that he and his buddies were going to have a night out on the town. This did not make me happy.  Keep in mind, it’s only been a few months since our wedding nightmare and I now have severe trust issues. That night, I managed to sooth myself and remain calm with House Hunter marathons and Velveeta.  It was a nice distraction.  After about 4-5 hours of pretending I wasn’t bothered by this outing, I started texting him for reassurance.  I could see that he was reading my messages, but not responding.  I sent more texts.  No response. More texts, this time frantic and desperate.  No response. I. Was. Worked. Up.  Visions of him lying in bed with a Filipino woman kept me up all night, sick with fear.  To this day, I still don’t know what happened that night because he didn’t respond until the next morning.  And in true narcissist fashion, he responded with a Triangulation Discard.  Lucky me!!

Enter Christmas.  No, not that Christmas.  Christmas, as in Christmas the super fit, super famous, and super athletic blonde beauty.  The Husband face timed me the next morning.  Not to apologize, of course, but to inform me that our relationship just wasn’t going to work out, after all.  He needed someone more like Christmas.  Someone fit, and athletic, and outdoorsy.  Someone who wasn’t afraid of heights.  Someone he could go rock climbing with. Someone that was confident and wouldn’t blow up his phone on a night out with friends. He further proceeded to tell me that we had nothing in common, never had, and never would.  But, as a parting gift, he wanted me to know that he would still be “super involved” in this babies life.  Also, in case I needed a more real world replica of his “ideal woman” I should know about Katy.   I did know about Katy, a little bit.  She was another wife on the platoon and, like Christmas is super fit, super athletic, super beautiful. Katy and Christmas were everything I’m not.

I couldn’t decide if I was confused, devastated or both.  I sobbed so much it made me start to wonder if humans produced a never ending supply of tears? My mind started to disassociate.  Where were all these tears coming from, anyway. My brain? My heart? Is the fluid on my brain actually just tears?  The stress and heartache overwhelmed my body.  If I had been more fit would he still have strayed? What if I was a better cook?  Maybe I could face my fear of heights and then he’ll stay? I envisioned myself at the top of Mt Everest. My fingers were black from frostbite, but hey- who needs fingers?  My already fragile self esteem took a massive nose dive.  Pretty soon, the stress and despair took over my body and the contractions came.  I was only 28 weeks pregnant.  This was NOT good.  Somehow, I was able to pull myself together enough to make it to the maternity hospital.  Sure enough, I was in pre -term labor, they confirmed, with a really painful and really uncomfortable swab test.  Modern medicine is a wonderful thing.  My stay in the hospital was relatively short as the doctors were able to stop labor and calm me down.  I remember telling the nurse what was happening and she sat with me and held my hand as I sobbed.  To this day, I have a fond affection for nurses.  I was sent home with strict instructions for bed rest.  Luckily, I was able to make it full term and my sweet baby boy was born that next spring.

Narcissists have no soul.  They have no empathy.  They don’t care about repercussions or the path of destruction that they leave behind in their wake of abuse.  All they care about is obtaining as much narcissistic supply as possible. Anything to make themselves feel better. If you are currently involved with a narcissist, or suspecting you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, run don’t walk to the nearest exit. The vicious cycle of Idealization, Devaluation, and Discard will continue over and over and over again until you’ve lost your sanity and perhaps your life.

Had I known about narcissistic abuse during this time, I would have been able to make more informed and stable decisions about my relationship.  Instead I internalized the rejection and worked harder to ensure I lived up to his unattainable standards.  I can’t go back in time and inform my 30 year old self. What I can do though, is spread the word and share my story in the hopes that it reaches just the right person at just the right time.

 

 

 

 

The Harvard Discard

You don’t know what you don’t know.  And for the last 8 years I had no idea I was married to a narcissist.  Sure, the signs were all there.  But I was blind to see them.  It wasn’t until the Harvard Discard occurred that I actually sought out a therapist to figure out WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED to my marriage.  And lucky for me- I found THE BEST PSYCHOLOGIST!  We weren’t even halfway through my first appointment, when she said to me “The Husband sounds like a narcissist”.  I sat for a minute.  Contemplating.  “No, there’s absolutely no way The Husband is a narcissist.” I sat for another minute.  Contemplating.  It was then that I realized I actually had no idea what a narcissist was!  In my mind, and what’s often portrayed to us in pop culture, is that narcissists are vain, self absorbed, and shallow.  What isn’t common knowledge however, is just how dangerous, abusive, and vile narcissists can be.  Especially if they rank higher on the narcissistic spectrum.  My narcissist is so high on the spectrum, he’s actually closer to a psychopath or antisocial personality disorder.  My Psychologist later met The Husband and the diagnosis was confirmed- Narcissist.

Narcissists follow a very predictable pattern of behavior in regards to their relationships.

  1. Idealization Phase
  2. Devalue Phase
  3. Discard Phase

My very own personal “Discard” came swift and it came without warning.  It. Was. Brutal.  But first, the backstory.  The Husband had been accepted into a program at Harvard called the Program of Leadership Development.  It was mostly online but with a few quick trips to Boston throughout the process.  Side note: The Husband likes to tell everyone this was an Executive MBA.  It’s not.  Narcissists are masters of exaggeration and embellishment.  My first inkling that something was amiss was during his second trip to campus.  Right away I began to feel that something was wrong.  He wasn’t contacting me much, if at all.  He hardly texted, called or checked in on myself or our two sons.  Apparently Harvard assigns Life Coaches to the students that they can utilize throughout the length of the program. I was able to talk to him briefly on his “off day” and he divulged that his personal Harvard life coach mentioned to him that he seemed unhappy.  She suggested he was unhappy because of our marriage.  Ignorant Life Coach also informed him that she left her marriage and that while it was difficult, it ended up being the best decision she’d ever made.  Shock number one was that an unqualified Harvard Life Coach would be dishing out marriage advice regarding a relationship she knew nothing about.  Shock number two was finding out that The Hubby was unhappy.   I. Had. No. Idea. The week before he left for Harvard we thought I might be pregnant.  He was thrilled.  We were happy.

The Husband came home from Harvard, and swiftly and abruptly ended things with me.  8 years and 2 kids later, gone.  All gone.  Among his list of reasons for leaving included: I gave him PTSD, he can’t look at me without feeling rage and despair, he hates my guts, I’m a terrible mom, I’m a drama queen, I create financial issues, I never did anything nice for him, I drink too much wine, I suck at housecleaning etc etc. The list was so long it would require it’s own blog post to go into it all.

I mustered up enough strength to pack up my belongings and drive to my girlfriends house, where I laid in bed and didn’t get up for weeks.  Suicidal thoughts rushed through my mind.  Depression was threatening to consume me.  Confusion, hurt, anger, grief, heartache like I’ve never known before overwhelmed my heart and my mind. Nothing was making any sense.  Until it did.

Luckily I had access to The Husband’s Instagram account.  So I logged in.  The first thing i saw upon this login was that he looked up a woman by the name of Kristine.  The Hubby never uses Instagram. Ever.  So the fact that he was looking up another women set off  immediate alarm bells.  The next time I saw The Husband, I asked about Kristine.  His face turned as white as a ghost and he looked like he was going to faint.  My heart sank.  In true narcissist fashion, he denied and deflected.  By this point in our relationship, I know better than to believe any words that come out of his mouth.  You’d think a Harvard grad would be intelligent enough to cover his tracks, but no, not my Harvard grad.  The phone records told me everything I needed to know.  He had been texting/calling with Kristine starting at Harvard with things really picking up after he returned back home.  They spoke on the phone most days, and sometimes up to an hour and a half at a time.  While I was lying in bed in complete agony, he’d already moved onto his next victim.  Or victims. I busted him looking up and messaging with other women too.  Narcissists have a constant need for Narcissistic Supply(ego fueling).  When a partner stops fueling the narcissist supply(me) they will discard the person(Harvard Discard) and attempt to find it elsewhere(Kristine, etc ).  The cycle starts over with the new victim or victims(Idealization, Devaluation, Discard). Some experts would say that The Husband wanted me to see the phone records.  Narcissists LOVE triangulating women with other women.  It’s enables them to maintain control and feel powerful

In the weeks that followed The Harvard Discard, things got worse. Much worse.  He changed all of our bank passwords so I had no access to money.  He would occasionally give me some, but never enough.  Some days I was so broke I had to shower after going to the bathroom because I couldn’t afford toilet paper.  Meanwhile The Husband was off taking fishing trips to Mexico and driving 2 hours to the mountains every weekend.  Emotionally I went through the ringer. One day he would tell me I was the love of his life and that we’d end up back together one day. The next day he would tell me the sight of me filled him with an all consuming rage.  Life on the emotional roller coaster was physically and mentally exhausting.  One morning after dropping off our son at Kindergarten, he looked me directly in the eye and said “What have YOU DONE to make me want to take your sorry (insert cuss word) back.  Nothing- You’ve done absolutely nothing to make me want to take you back”.  I immediately shut the door to his truck, opened the door to my car, drove to pick up my friends dad (who is a lawyer) and went and filed for divorce.  It felt SO good to get my power back.  There have been minimal, if any, regrets.

It’s been three months since The Harvard Discard.  I have learned so much about The Narcissistic Personality Disorder and through educating myself I have found immense healing and peace.  I am tremendously grateful to those who have gone before me and shared their stories via online forums, in books, and through podcasts.  Finally, 6 years after my wedding heartache(see For Better or Hearse blog post), things were starting to make sense.  I hope by sharing my story, other Narcissistic Newbies will find peace and comfort as well. Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of narcissistic abuse it’s hard to see it for what it is.  I remember telling my dad that my Psychologist suggested Thomas was a narcissist.  His exact response was “You had to pay a psychologist to tell you that”?