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JusJoJan Day Two — A Day of Reading: Narcissism, Toxic Relationships and Spiritual Awakening

January 3, 2015


I spent the day reading on a variety of things: articles on spiritual awakening, articles on Narcissism and toxic relationships, and tons of Facebook posts pretty much saying the same things… why do I stay?

Some people know that I recently left a 13 yr marriage that was mentally, emotionally and at times, physically abusive. I’d spent many years there at last resolving that my marriage wasn’t working and would never work. By the time I left in early October of 2014, I had no love left for my spouse, who is a Narcissist. There were two main events that caused this marriage to fail. The first was in 2005 when we moved 2000 miles away from my family and friends to Oklahoma, where he had family. I was isolated for most of the nine years we lived there because I didn’t have any family and made very few friends — friendships that would be strained by my husband’s attitude and constant bombardment of information about conspiracy stuff. The second event occurred when my husband, who was a truck driver when we met and married, left his profession and came off the road in 2008. This second event, more than anything, set in place a series of train wrecks for our marriage: he laid down rules and laws that he expected everyone (by everyone, that meant me and the animals) to follow; my leaving the marriage 4 times and returning 4 times, before finally leaving the 5th time in October of last year; realizing that I was married to a Narcissist who was never going to change; and lastly, falling out of love with my husband over a 6 year period. During these turbulent years, his confessions about sexual deviant activities and fantasies put a strain on our love life, we both had affairs, and I was deeply depressed, suicidal, and in and out of psych centers.

That is just some background information on why I now read a lot of articles and Facebook posts about Narcissism and toxic relationships. I wish I had known more early on in my marriage because it would have saved me a lot of heartache. I doubt I would have left Virginia to move to Oklahoma with him armed with the knowledge that with isolation comes severe abuse, mental and emotional mostly. I would like to think that as a fairly intelligent woman, if I had known he was a Narcissist early on, I would never have allowed myself to get so isolated. However, true Narcissists can keep their masks on for a sustainable period if the rewards are great. In my case, for 4 years he was able to remain, for the most part, a caring individual who wanted what was best for me, even if those “best” things were not what I wanted necessarily for myself. An example, I was considerably overweight when he and I first met and I was able to lose a lot of weight. By doing so though, my breast size decreased considerably. He is a large breast fiend. His solution to my problem was breast enhancing pills that he would hear about on the radio as he was driving down the lonely roads of America every day. He ordered them and near-demanded that I take them. Of course, they did nothing for me, except make me a little overly horny at times. This was his way of helping me, but really controlling and conditioning me. Red flags were going up all over the place and I didn’t see the signs.

What I have learned is that sometimes the signs arrive subtly, in small doses at first so as not to alarm, but overtime the signs get bigger and bigger. You would have to be blind not to notice them eventually… right? Not always so. I think I ignored the early signs because I wanted so desperately to be loved and have a secure life. He was a steady worker who was generous with his money, so long as the bills got paid, and since I was left alone 90% of the time, we didn’t get in deep with our relationship. It’s hard to really get to know someone when you only see them 2 days out of every 2 weeks for years upon years. I look back now and I realize, the signs were there. He was a control freak, always had to have things his way or he would throw a temper tantrum and destroy things. He began conditioning me early on for a life of isolation by stopping at the house in the middle of a work week for a quickie. I was to drop everything to satisfy his sexual urges. There was a running joke among my friends that if we made plans to do something, he would always show up. Except, it wasn’t a joke. It was the truth and it never seemed to fail. I learned pretty early on how horrific his temper could be if I didn’t comply with his stop-overs. Conditioning at its finest. Red flag! And I ignored it.

He tried other means of isolation there at last before we moved to Oklahoma in 2005. He was into the survivalist movement and wanted us to move to Idaho and live in an underground burrow that he was going to dig, in the middle of winter, no less. I had just recently been diagnosed with diabetes and he had no regard for my health. When I explained to him that a diabetic couldn’t live off the grid with no outside contact with doctors, he refused to hear it. The subject of my health would be a constant battle over the years. When the Idaho idea fell through, one of his brothers contacted him about renting to own a house he had in Oklahoma. This became the new battle cry and rallying point for his survivalist stuff. We would be moving and that was that. I went with him… leaving everyone and everything I held dear. And still, I ignored the signs.

What I’ve discovered from my article reading is that Narcissists love empathic people because Narcs have no real emotions of their own, only what feeds their egos. All the caring and compassion I thought my husband shared with me (had I found my soul mate?) was really what is called Projection. He emulated everything about me and projected it back to me, sort of like a mirror. Anything that I cared about from spirituality to animal rescue to helping the needy became passions of his, but there was one major difference: he only cared about these things to show them off, to pump up his ego and say “Look at me; see what I am doing!” It took me a long time to realize that he was not sincere. This is the kind of stuff that keeps people involved in Narc relationships. We believe they are sincere and when we realize it has all been faked, we cannot wrap our minds around it. We have to fix it. Empaths are fixers, usually people-pleasers too. This is part of our spiritual nature; we don’t like conflict and will do whatever it takes to make things right. But you can never do or make anything right with a Narc. They will always find something wrong with your methods because no one does anything better than a Narc.

What I have also learned about Narcs is that they secretly hate themselves. I know that sounds completely opposite of what one thinks of a Narc. All that rage and anger that they display when they don’t get their way… pent up anger toward themselves. Somewhere in their childhood something went terribly wrong. I’ve read it could be anything from molestation (my Narcs case) to Divorce (again, his case) to issues with siblings (also his case) and then if you throw in other factors like being bullied, you are most likely to create a Narc. What they learn is to separate their feelings, to departmentalize them. They become masters of manipulation and con. What separates them from other people who go through similar things and don’t turn into Narcs is that they cannot feel other people’s emotions nor display their own. You’ve probably heard similar things about Passive-Aggressives, but these people can still feel others’ emotions and their own. It’s all in some weird wiring in the brain that turns off Narcs’ emotions. So how do I know my Narc husband secretly hates himself? He left me a little clue recently in an email. He said that he was ashamed of his own sexual deviant nature, but isn’t being ashamed an emotion? Why yes, yes it is. So how to explain… I had sent him a message trying to explain to him how his sexual deviant nature and his sexual fantasies had scarred me. When he shared all of those things with me, he did not act like a man ashamed of his actions at all. In fact, he bragged about them with a smile on his face and twinkle in his eyes. More than likely, his confession was the truth. He was deeply ashamed; however, he could have been trying to garner sympathy from me too as a way to defuse my declaration. See, you just never know with a Narc. But that anger… all that rage, it has to be against someone and surely it cannot always be against me, especially when there were times that anything, even inanimate objects like a computer or the car, would set him off. So who is he really angry at? I still say against himself.

I have to admit, it is very difficult to cultivate a spiritual awakening in the midst of a Narc relationship. One minute you are praised for becoming enlightened, the next minute you are belittled for not being enlightened enough. I like to think of myself as being a very open spiritual being… open to other beliefs and religions. During the course of the latter part of my marriage, from 2011 until early 2013, I learned about a program called Celebrate Recovery. I was introduced to it by a woman that I met while on one of my stays in a psych ward; she was a fellow patient. We became fast friends and once we were both out of the ward, she offered to take me to the CR events on Friday nights. If anyone knows anything about CR, then they know it is a Christian based recovery system. They even have their own 12-step program. I am not a Christian, but was raised one and always believed in the Christ-like nature of people, regardless of what belief system they attributed to themselves. I became deeply involved in this system, attending CR nights, doing a 12-step, volunteering for a thrift store for recovering women just getting out of jail. This system/program helped me to evaluate my relationship with my husband. I still wasn’t aware of Narcissism then, as I didn’t have a name for the behaviors he was displaying. During the course of those near 2 years, I left my husband 3 times, staying each time with the lady who introduced me to CR. When I left him the third time, she told me if I went back to him, she was done helping me. I wish now that I had listened to her, but I ended up going back to him right after completing that 12-step program because I wanted to give my marriage another chance. My 12-step sisters were happy for me; my friend, who I was staying with, was not. She was the longest relationship I’d had while in Oklahoma and I allowed myself to be sucked back in by the Narc and isolated once more, and ended a good friendship in the process. But the seeds of doubt had been planted… it would take me almost 2 more years to leave him permanently, but it all began during that 12-step program and with the friend I had made… the program and friend that he criticized constantly. Maybe he knew?

So where has all of this led me today? My readings have shown me that I still have many questions about Narcs and toxic relationships. And as long as I have questions, I will continue to seek out more and more articles and books on the subject. What I am also realizing though, is that eventually I need to let all of this go. I need to stop holding on to the bitterness from my marriage. I need to let go of the thought that I failed. I gave it my all, but my all would never be enough. The spiritual message that I took with me from 2014 was Acceptance. I could no longer change things, so I accepted it and now I need to move on to things I can change.

From → Journaling, Prompts

  1. My relationship with a Narc wasn’t a romantic one – she was my best friend. She ended up isolating me from the father of my children – incredibly manipulative. I have a recommendation for you for a book to read: (I hope the link works… it looks long. πŸ˜› ) The author is a friend of mine who went through a marriage and divorce with a Narc… he does an excellent job of getting into the nuances of what a Narc really is, and what they do.
    Excellent post, Lori. I wish you all the best with your recovery. Recovery of the self a narcissist steals from his/her victim is a slow process to get back, but it is possible.

    • Thank you, Linda… I will definitely look into his book. And I am so sorry you had to endure what you did with that “friend.”

  2. Having had been in one and coming out of it some years ago, I can totally empathize.
    Let this New Year bring loads of of Hope, Light, Strength and Happiness in your life.

    • Thanks KG… I appreciate the well wishes for a better 2015. I wish the same for you. Love and Blessings.

  3. Wow! This post just took my breath away. You’ve done a masterful job of summing up “Mr. Toxic,” as I refer to him. I was married to a narcissistic man for 19 years, finally left for good on the third attempt, and then took several years to rebuild myself to a point of worthiness. Unfortunately, I believe that we as caretakers fall into those relationships just as the narcs do, and two years ago I found myself in a similar situation that had disaster written all over it. For some reason, this separation has been more painful than my divorce. I think it’s because I feel like I let myself down by attaching to a man like that for a second time – a fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me kind of thing. My heart continues to hurt, but through therapy, writing and a major increase in self-awareness, I’m confident that I will never be in a relationship with a narc again. Congratulations on having the courage to leave and good luck as you rebuild yourself. I look forward to following your writing.

    • Thank you so much for reading and such a wonderful comment. Once I began researching Narcissism, I discovered they were all around me… my mother, sister, brother, 2 of my dearest friends, all of my previous love interests… I realized that I am a magnet and hopelessly drawn to them. I’ve sworn off of love interests for now… my heart is still too damaged from my marriage and I have a lot of healing to do. Congrats to you as well for leaving both of those relationships, as painful as it was to do so. I look forward to reading more of your writing too!

      • My departure is very new, and I’m still struggling with the newness of it. I know it was the right thing to do, but I feel very lost right now. For the first time in my adulthood, I have no one to take care of or focus on but me, and whereas it’s long overdue, it’s also petrifying. I am also taking a man sabbatical, so I can heal, then process my unhealthy patterns. 2015 is going to be our year! πŸ™‚

      • Yes, when you are left with only your self to care for and focus on, it can be scary. I’ve had small periods of time in between relationships to do this over the years, but apparently I didn’t do very good jobs of it as I would fall from one bad relationship into another. This time I am determined to take full advantage of ME time. Best wishes to you on your journey… and yes, 2015 is going to be a great year for ourselves! Love and Blessings!

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