This story is the second one I want to tell in the context of "Self-preservation Under Narcissistic Abuse". I have contemplated telling this story before as an illustration of spiritual abuse, but have steered away from it because it is a decidedly unpleasant memory for me. Maybe it is more unpleasant for me than remembering events involving my family because this story ended badly. I never got justice. I always felt that my reputation was forever marred by it. "Where do I go to get my reputation back?" Well, nowhere. I was glad when we were finally able to move away from the area in 2004.
This event occurred around September of 2002, which if you're following the time line, was only two months before things started going to crap between me and my parents.
We had moved to a rural farming area in the Northwest. We quickly became friends with another family from the church we started attending shortly after moving there. They are lovely people who we are still friends with even though we moved from the area four years ago. These friends, who I'll call by the fake surname Bishop, had hearts several sizes larger than their good sense. They had two children when we met them who had been adopted at birth and were around six and nine in ages.
In 2001 the Bishops met an older couple who had been taking care of four of their grandchildren. Three of kids had the same father (the son of the grandparents) and all four had the same mother. The parents were drug and alcohol users. The kids had been taken away from the biological parents by the state.
Long story. I'll sum up. The Bishops decided to adopt these four children. It was a decision they rushed into and was really ill-advised. That was my opinion then; it is still my opinion now. My opinion wasn't asked for, therefore I withheld it. Time has only proven (to me) how ill-advised it really was. It took quite a few years to find out, but all these kids have FAS to one degree of another. They were tested by several professionals last year and found to have FAS and varying other learning disabilities. To say that the Bishops lives got complicated after the adoptions is to vastly understate the matter. The eldest of the four was a girl. Annie. She was only a few months younger than the youngest of the two (also a girl) who had been adopted from birth. Annie was a child from hell.
About nine months after the adoption, the Bishops home went up in smoke. Quite literally. Suddenly, a family with six kids and two adults was homeless. To complicate this tragedy, the fire had been set by one of the children. Annie was prime suspect.
At this time I and my family were attending the same church as the Bishops in a small rural town about fifteen miles down a state highway from where we lived. The church had been almost shut down by the regional church conference because there were only three members and no services had been held there in a long time. The Bishops had convinced us to start attending there with them to see if the church could be revived. Their interest in the church was augmented by the fact that their private business was operating in the same town as the dying church. Within a month or so twelve adults were members of this church. They lived in various small communities around this little church. My husband, myself and my daughter soon found ourselves wearing many hats in the effort to make the church run. I am resolved to this day to never join a small church again. The reasons are legion, not just because you end up working yourself to a frazzle. As if that isn't reason enough.
When a family with six kids is suddenly bereft of home and all possessions the church feels responsible to help. Churches of our denomination in surrounding towns started to rally to help in the first few weeks post-fire. The task list was huge. The first thing that was needed was to get this family out of their motel room and into a real house. A ramshackle old farmhouse about a half mile down the road from the burnt house was found available for rent, but it was in desperate need of some renovation. People came to paint, install cabinets in the kitchen, clean, etc. Clothes and bedding were needed. The community provided those things in short order. Seems that the thing most people think to give after someone's house burns down are blankets. The Bishops ended up with many more blankets and sheets than even a family of eight needs. Folks, after a week post-fire, the victims probably don't need more blankets. There are other ways to be more helpful. Use your imagination, or ask. Child care. Meal preparation. School supplies. Gift cards for Walmart so they can buy needed essentials. Just some ideas.
The fact that I was a close friend of Mrs. Bishop made me very aware of some of the more immediate needs of the family. Naturally, I jumped right in. I was cooking meals for them and bringing the food to the burnt out house while they worked to inventory their burnt belongings for the insurance company. Laundry was a major and immediate need. I undertook that pronto. Most of them, at this point, only had a few articles of clothing each and needed them washed overnight. Working in all the soot and ash means clothes get real dirty real fast. I would deliver the clean clothes first thing in the morning so they could leave the motel room with clothes on.
I am no saint and am not trying to present myself as one. There were plenty of jobs I wasn't willing to sign up for. The last thing I wanted to do was hang out for hours in the blackened basement breathing in toxic soot to inventory pencils and books. Given that Mrs. Bishop was homeschooling all six kids there were vast numbers of both. I would much rather cook a meal for eight, do laundry, provide moral support, drive miles to cart stuff around, and take the suspected fire-starter into my home than some of the other jobs that needed doing. And since I'm finite, I did what I was willing to do and had time for and left it for others to fill in the gaps. I didn't try to do it all because I knew that one person does not have the power to support a family of eight in dire need! But I attacked what I knew I could and was willing to do with energy and cheerfulness. Mrs. Bishop was relying heavily on me for moral support and help in trying to figure out what to do about Annie. Emotionally, that was an even bigger problem than even the fire itself.
This, I think, is the minimum background to describe the event that shook me up pretty badly.
For the third week in a row the scent of cooking food was wafting over the small congregation near the end of services. My house was not big enough to seat the Bishop's family and my own for an afternoon meal. During the week everyone ate outside at a fold-out table set up in the front yard. Anyway, it seemed logical to use the church's kitchen to warm up the food and then be able to set up large tables in the adjoining multi-purpose room so we could all sit to eat after church indoors without the bugs and dirt. A once a week treat for the Bishops.
Little did I know that someone was choosing to be offended over this arrangement.
An older couple had started attending our little church at some point. They were in their 60s, retired and very wealthy. I'll refer to them by their first initials. The woman was V, the husband, L. I only mention the wealthy part because this woman was obviously a very spoiled individual. I mostly just smiled vaguely and nodded when she would jabber on about some little trial she was going through, like being tempted to eat too many cookies. I kid you not. She would bring this up often. It was like, "I'm so progressed in my Christian walk that God is now left to deal with this tiny little sin of mine." She came across as shallow and silly and rather self-centered. Not nasty.
Well, her hubby had been to church without his wife for the first two weeks I had been using the church kitchen to accommodate the Bishops. He had smelled the food and then reported to his wife that the church was having potlucks and wasn't inviting them. This misapprehension was supported by the fact that he saw another woman of our congregation bringing a dish into the kitchen on these weeks. Several people from a nearby town's church had brought a casserole or two as well. But rather than ask anyone why he and his wife weren't being invited to a church potluck they simply condemned me as being evil and shutting them out since I seemed to be the one on charge of whatever was happening in that kitchen.
Both V and L showed up at church the third weekend after the fire. They were cool and aloof. I took little notice of that fact since I had a lot else on my mind and taking my time and energy. I had no reason to think that little ole' me was the cause of their attitude.
I had slipped out of the pew shortly before the end of services to check on the food in the oven. Only a few moments later I turned around to find myself face to face with V. She immediately launched into her condemnations of me. She prefaced her remarks by saying she was following Matt. 18's instruction to come to someone who has offended her. Naturally, I was completely befuddled as to what I had done to offend since my interaction with her had been nil for weeks. So I quietly indicated I was listening. She told me I was being cruel and had sinned against her because I was hosting church potlucks without bothering to invite her and her husband.
When I heard this I was actually relieved. A simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up in a moment.
No such luck.
I interrupted her with, "Oh, my V! That isn't what is happening! This isn't a potluck." I tried to explain how on church day I had no where else to accommodate the Bishops for a large meal so I was using church facilities to handle the situation. (I'll point out here this woman lived in a vast mansion of a house. I notice she wasn't offering to help with providing a house for a meal! She was too worried about her hardwood floors being ruined by little kids.) I told her that the logistics of gathering up the donated food as well as the food I'd prepared, then heating it up and serving it were most efficiently solved by doing it there at the church. I told her she could ask other church members and would quickly find out they were not invited to a church potluck either.
Her face remained cold and hard. She basically called me a liar by insisting it was a potluck. The conversation began to spiral because I then tried to appeal to her heart. I told her that I was exhausted (very true) and was just doing my best to help the Bishops. I'm sorry if she felt she had been overlooked but that wasn't the case. I was only minding my own business and trying to do what I could to help another family in a crisis.
At this time I knew absolutely nothing about malignant narcissism. If I had known anything I would have immediately spotted a giant red flag at this juncture. The more I tried to gain a bit of mercy and understanding the more of the opposite I was treated to. Her accusations escalated. The refrigeration unit was going full blast. She was one haughty, cold bitch.
Apparently she felt like my good deeds were showing her up, so she took it upon herself to show me how it was my fault she was looking bad for not helping. So far what I had said pointed out that other people were helping with the food. She immediately assumed this was because I had asked for them to bring food. I hadn't. A few other women figured that food was needed for church day and simply provided it without asking. V then told me she had asked me right after the fire to tell her if there was anything she could do to help. Why hadn't I called her and asked her to bring food? I told her I hadn't asked anyone to bring food. People saw a need and filled it. There was plenty of food therefore I didn't need to call anyone.
I vaguely remembered V saying to me within a day of the fire to call her if help was needed, but had not put any thought into it. It wasn't my job to tell other people what to do. Everyone else seemed able to figure out what to do without being told. I had not appointed myself master and commander of an organized help effort. It wasn't needed. Stuff was getting done!
At this point I was in tears. Part of that was the exhaustion, the other part was the supreme injustice I was being subjected to along with her cold and merciless attitude. At this point I reached exasperation. I threw my arms up in a gesture to demonstrate what I was saying, "V, what do you need!? A big flashing sign to tell you what to do? Other people have been able to help without me telling them what to do!!" I saw a look pass across her face when I had thrown up my arms and hands to look like it was a big sign. She stepped back half a step and raised her eyebrow along with this, "I have you now" look. I found out later what that look meant.
She continued with her accusations and cold, accusatory anger. I was beside myself. Dissolved. Desperate against the unfairness of it. Feeling like I was being kicked for only doing my very best. I was literally having a hard time breathing. It was just like getting a boot right in the mid-section. It was a feeling that resonated with a desperation I had felt in my youth with the same dynamic. Doing my best, getting back crap for it. My best efforts only perversely proving what a horrible person I was. Every effort to defend myself was rejected and used as proof that I was lying.
She shifted somewhat from the accusation I was throwing church potlucks because I kept slapping that one down and so she moved to a new accusation. She then told me I had no business using church property for a private exercise like feeding the Bishops. (How is that for compassion for the dispossessed Bishops?) V had married a man whose parents had help start up this particular church back in the 1940s. Although her husband had left the church entirely for all his adult life and had only started up attendance again in the last nine months they had this propriety sense toward the church. Like their last name alone gave them some kind of authority. So, she'd pulled out this new piece of crap from her back end to find another fault with me. In addition to everything else, I was misusing church property without asking for the express permission from the church board. A board that both my husband and I served on, and she and her husband did not! No one else had expressed concern about my "misuse" of church property. And never did. Reasonable people would never think to construe my use of the church kitchen as "misuse" of church property.
At some point this vicious bitch walked away from me while I was standing there, my face completely soaked in my tears. I was shaking in anger and grief. This whole scene went down unwitnessed by anyone but me. She had attacked me when I was alone and where no one could over hear. So, from beginning to end it was her word against mine.
She sidled right up to my friend, Mrs. Bishop. When I looked down the hallway I could see V talking with Mrs. Bishop and putting on a look of sympathy on her face toward Mrs. Bishop's plight. I couldn't stand it. I walked straight up to the two of them, rudely interrupted and said, "V, why don't you tell Mrs. Bishop what you just said to me back there in the kitchen." She was mum. There I stood, shaking and tearful; trying to get a witness, I suppose. "Tell her, V, how you are accusing me of something I didn't do. Tell her what a horrible person you think I am for simply trying to help Mrs. Bishop and her family! TELL HER!"
V needed to go somewhere right that very moment. She deflected my insistence she re-state her complaints to someone else by acting like I was a crazy woman and she didn't know what I was talking about. She turned on her heel and left the church.
This was the beginning of sorrows.
This post is long enough. I'll continue the story in the next post. For now, I need a break. I'm heading off for a nice, long walk in the sunshine. Next post I'll try to describe the fall-out from this event. It was the aftermath that made this whole episode much more painful. Disarmed by good Christians, I was denied the right to defend myself against the original accusations as well as the false ones which followed. My desire to defend myself was actually used by the pastor to assert that I was a weak Christian because I reacted emotionally. This was a man I had held great respect for. Ouch.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Denied a Defense -- Part One
Posted by Anna Valerious at 12:00 PM
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Another example of what evil the N can do. They are pure evil. This post has made me angry, Anna, it's bad enough that a good person was harmed, but a good person helping other people!! Makes me ill.
At some point it would be helpful if you would describe how you would now handle this situation, knowing what you now know about Ns. Might help some of us if we're in a similar situation.
Thanks, this one is tough for you, lack of justice really sucks, no closure. But you know that the victims of Ns rarely see justice, it's not part of the equation, we just have to believe that God's word is true when he says Justice is Mine.
At some point it would be helpful if you would describe how you would now handle this situation, knowing what you now know about Ns. Might help some of us if we're in a similar situation.
That is an excellent idea and I will do it. I have certainly thought about this and know I would react very differently should it happen to me today.
By the way, I appreciate your anger. Seems that people from church were not willing to perceive that the appropriate reaction to this outrageousness was some good old fashioned anger coupled with some accountability for the perp. Accountability was spread between the two of us like I was at least half to blame for what happened. Sickening. It still sickens me. When I demanded to know what I did wrong that justified V's treatment of me that is when I found out it was my reaction that was wrong. More on that in the next post.
Hoo boy. This is so close to my ex MIL. Alone and no witnesses. Mine, however is a smiling extrovert who likes to stab both your heart and mind. Ever smiling. Pure poison.
My mother was similarly attacked for her good efforts in her church. The funny thing is, people who try to use their influence are always what they appear. It so happens that my father was the church treasurer. Those people who think their wealth grants them the right to run the church? My father knew that the same kinds of people were contributing chump change to the church treasury. Now that's an irony.
My mom was deeply hurt, and I think that led to her heart problems. Mom was way too much of a "turn the other cheeker". And she wonders why her children left the congregation. Abuse? No thanks.
OOOHHHH, this makes me hyperventilate. So many smiles behind the masks come back to me. And I'm about to leave the house to go have dinner with the vilest of all.LOL!! Yes, we MUST believe God 's Justice will prevail. I know He will send me extra Graces for doing what I need to do-put up one last front for my Dad's 80th Birthday dinner! With a bunch of the N's. God's already blessed me today--I'M the one that spent all day with my parents, crept into their bedroom with Starbucks & Birthday muffins with a candle. No one else gets that part of their lives-they all forfeited it for the "formalities." And I'll be the one helping him from his wheelchair to his bed when all the rest are gone home. THAT is MY greatest Blessing. So yes, God does reward His faithful servants.
Anna, I sooo feel your pain in that kitchen! My N's can't WAIT to get us ALONE!!!!! "In the dark" I call it. So no one else knows what goes on in the dark. And THEY know that WE know, & it gives them such perverse pleasure to know we're impotent about convincing anyone else.
Then the bystanders COMPOUND the abuse by pulling the "it takes 2 to tango" crap. As though WE MUST be guilty of SOMETHING!!!Bullshit!!
We are then guilty, on some level, in their eyes-just by default. That's the HARDEST part of all this. Even once we get through level after level of the pain of NC itself. It's the INJUSTICE of it all!! I could just SCREAM!!
Wish me luck--I CHOOSE to have a BLAST at Papa's party. F all the N's!!!!! Katrina
Wow, Anna, thank you.
I am so sorry that you went through this. I am so grateful that you shared it, in just the way you did, at just the time you did. I really needed to be reminded of what is done with good intentions once Ns get their hands on them.
I came very, very close to diving back into a shark tank today. It isn't a church, but there are definite cultlike elements. And, just as in your situation here, someone was asking for help that I was in a very good - really unique - position to give. I actually began preparing to give that help.
Then, thank God, I stopped and asked myself: What the h**l am I DOING? Trying to help a bunch of people who have never given me anything but the backs of their hands? Am I out of my tiny mind? Why on earth would I subject myself to that, ever again? I DON'T HAVE TO!"
There is amazing power in those four words.
I don't have to.
It felt very strange to choose to withhold a good that I could easily provide. But I forced myself to remember how other help had been received by the same individuals in the past. Then I forced myself to envision, realistically, how those same individuals would respond to help today.
Which was a very effective cure. But left me hankering to do something constructive... somewhere else... if at all possible... so, I figured I'd come here, instead, and thank you for your blog, which has been a beacon of hope and sanity through some of my own darkest nights.
Then I find this. Whew!
Thank you, "Anna Valerious", for your blog, which has been a beacon of hope and sanity through some of my own darkest nights.
May your name be praised and, in the fulness of time, may you dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Hmm... very familiar. It doesn't matter what somebody does to you, if you react 'inappropriately' the blame is shifted to you. Grrrr!!!!
That is a good description of how I grew up.
While reading this, my honest gut reaction was a desire to slap the woman... The foreshadowing that the church handled it that way... well, to quote Madeline Kahn in "Clue" - "Flames. Flames up the side of my face."
I can understand why you haven't wanted to write about this until now. And I can understand why you needed a break for a nice long walk. It makes me nauseous and angry to read the first part. I am already sick knowing that there is more to come.
This type of hypocrisy, abuse, and injustice from "Christians" is the most vile sort of bludgeoning one can endure. I have had to learn like you, the hard way, that all that glitters is not gold. I have learned to become very "aware" (without becoming cynical) of my fellow Christians. I used to treat them with a special type of idealism if they appeared to love the Lord, were in some sort of leadership position in the church, or were especially gifted in a particular area. I now realize that people can seem or even be gifted in "spiritual" matters and be emotionally unhealthy - which is a lethal combination. Lethal to you and me and countless others who find themselves crossing their paths. It is the highest form of hypocrisy which even made Jesus react vehemently when he encountered it. I swear, Anna, I don't know how some of them are allowed to walk the face of the earth and not be struck by lightening because of the way that they mock or tempt God by using Him as a front for their vile behavior. It makes me sick. And I think it will make me sick for the rest of my life. This is one area that still stirs me up on the inside.
No longer do I look the other way, excuse inconsistencies that point to larger issues, fool myself into thinking I'm not seeing what I'm really seeing when it comes to my fellow Christians. Even the ones that I used to "look up to" and think were icons of Godliness. I now know better that I must heed the warning signs and set up clear boundaries that steer far and wide from allowing myself to get into vulnerable situations with them. No more. No thank you... "fellow Christain" or not. No way. No how.
Only to those who consistently demonstrate that their internal world lines up with their external behavior will I even begin to link arms with in any capacity.
To "naive no longer"
An extremely hard pill to swallow, but swallow we must..
All the best as you step into the lair. Let us know what kind of shape you're in when you get out!
You made my breath catch in my throat with that lovely blessing at the end of your comment. From your lips to God's ears, my friend.
Your story is compelling. I am so relieved at the outcome. I'm so happy you stopped and thought it all through. Not everyone who asks for help deserves our help because not all claims are equal. Yes, those four words are life-savers. My maxim is similar to yours: "No. It is a legitimate answer." What rattles in my head after I say that is: deal with it. I am well beyond caring what others think of me if I say "no".
Congrats on your victory over being used. From strength to strength!
to quote Madeline Kahn in "Clue" - "Flames. Flames up the side of my face."
Thanks for the laugh, Katherine. This is our favorite quote from that movie. I crack up every time my husband does that little scene from Madeline Kahn in his best falsetto. Thanks to your using this quote I was able to get another performance out of him. WeeHEE!!
Thankfully, I didn't slap this woman during this drama. Never occurred to me. Damn good thing, too. As it was she accused me of "scaring her". More on that later.
You have a very balanced and healthy outlook, and you expressed it very well here for the benefit of all. I completely agree that the tripping point is usually the result of how we idealize other Christians. As for me, I had in no way idealized this woman, but I certainly was shocked she could treat me as she did. I have a different outlook now on fellow church members...which I will explain more in the next post. This outlook will keep me from being shocked as badly if someone comes at me from out of the blue with vitriol.
"I don't know how some of them are allowed to walk the face of the earth and not be struck by lightening because of the way that they mock or tempt God by using Him as a front for their vile behavior."
Well put! Sounds like my brother, who is an N and hides behind a cloak of being a Bible guru. He rages, then the last time I yelled back, not even as bad as him, he told people later I was psycho and he was afraid I was going to hit him.
I'm now NC, but every time I think of it I ROTFLMAO. What a hypocrite. Where's that ligtning bolt when you want it?
Huh. I didn't get an engraved invitation to the last church potlock. I think I'm offended.
Well, you should be offended. Now you just need to find someone to take it out on. *heavy sarcasm*
Good luck wid dat.
P.S. Thanks for leaving a snarky comment. That is SO like you, offspring. :o)
Obviously she had built up a well of rage that was entirely independent of her shifting claims. My question is, in your opinion - at what level is she or is she not aware of lying?
Did she "really" think someone was having a potluck without her? Was she "really" upset that you hadn't walked her through 'helping homeless neighbors 101'? Did she "really" think property was misused? Is an N aware that they are stretching the truth for effect [feeling justified for whatever reason] - or are do they really convince themselves in the moment that they believe their own dumptruck loads of crap?
Anna & Offspring,
You guys are so cute! You sound like my family! I bet we'd have a blast together. Keep having fun! That's the best revenge of all...
To Anna & everyone else,
Thank you so much for the encouragement, prayers & good wishes--for my obligatory family weekend with the N's.
It's the day after the big shabang.God's hand DEFINITELY took care of the entire day, in every way. I went through the entire gamut of emotions. Dread, fear,impending doom. Discomfort,anger,hatred. Nonchalance, empowerment,strength.
Inner gloating &victorious gratification(at their obvious frustration & fury for not being able to have their previous effect on me). Acceptance that it would have dire consequences in their stepping up the vile actions against me in the near future. It would give them just one more juicy smorgasboard of opportunity to twist all around "out there".
From now until Kingdom Come--THREE HOURS WORTH of material for them to misconstrue to anyone who will listen, with shocking gasps of incredulity (Nooo-she DIDN'T!!!!)
But I got through it. Today I had the chance to regurgitate it out to my Lovely Sister (I should say ONLY sister) long distance. My children & husband re-hashed it with me today, so we could all get it out & be done with it. They all feel the same way about all my perceptions, & added their own. Which was VERY empowering. My children, who haven't lived the insanity with these ppl as long as I have, see things clearly from a young fresh perspective--& are actually sickened by these aunts & uncles. They just see right thru it all to the core evil & insanity.
For me...it just re-affirmed the level of evil. I could experience it in a detached sort of way, very clinically & see it pathologically. AMAZING!!! The worst offender-Sr.Jezebel_who usually starts the avalanche rolling--was seated in a position where she was unable to put on her show. (YAAY GOD!). Also, out of the loop of "importance" in the seating. Little Ole Me ended up in a most elevated position of being next to our parents, the guests of honor, & our parents were deferring to me all evening. Which certainly will bring her wrath down on me somehow. Probably sooner rather than later. I'm assuming it'll be ONCE AGAIN stealing my 21 yr.old son & baby grandson. Her ONLY trump card left. She tries to play it often. As well as do some more trashing of my reputation.
If a were a vengeful N, I couldn't have orchestrated the night in my favor, any more than it turned out without my trying. THERE'S irony for you,huh? One who is so DESPERATE for it, vs. one who couldn't give a shit about that kinda stuff. And who gets handed the GLORY?! Little ole me. It's almost embarrassing. But what can they all expect? THEY didn't build that trust level with my parents.
They're all too busy with their laughing & partying to notice what was going on with our parents. Talk about wanting your cake & eating it too!
At one point they had all said their goodbyes to our parents & turned & walked away to explore the rest of the building. I turned around & who saw a huge empty littered table--where a party had just been-& Papa sitting there in his wheelchair, with just Mom & my husband & children standing there with them. I looked at my husband shocked & mouthed "where did everyone go?"
then quickly recovered & said, "well ,let's get going" & we started wheeling him out to our car,etc--before our parents noticed they'd been deserted.
Insensitive, ignorant,spiteful little ppl. Too busy going to see the sights to have the whole group accompany them to the car & wave them off. NOT the way we were raised. And NOT the way MY children act.
A couple of the highlights of their insane N-ism & pervasive hatred towards me are:
1) They tried to ply my mother with alchohol just because I'd had a talk with my brother while he was leaving France about how she can't have any,its against her Drs. orders,because of her Alzheimer's,& I had the waitress switch it with water last time we went out. She still tries to get it, & my dad still won't stop her. So I dont supply it, Consequently she can only get it if someone gives it to her outside the house, which is rare. Jezebel's N husband loudly ordered it the second they walked in. I had to then discreetly chase down the waitress to undo the damage before she got it.Evil ppl!
2)Same Nhusb. gave my 19 month old baby grandchild a big long heavy butter knife to play with as a joke. Freakin sicko! They all laughed, as my son grabbed it away & gave a weak laugh.(He's somewhat in-between. The weak link in my family)
3) They never looked for the bill. They let my husband take care of it. They feel very entitled because part of their character assassination is our" access to our parents & their fortune". My husb had to sneak it so Dad wouldn't try to pay it, which we all know he would, as he always treats when the family gets together. But earlier, when my Parisian brother was near the car while we were getting dad out to go to the party, he overheard
Dad checking for his wallet & me telling him his $$ was no good tonight-his children were treating HIM. So they KNEW, that although I have access to his credit cards,we weren't letting this party be on him. Oh well--WE are happy to do it for HIM. I've been teasing my husb about how he just bought dinner for all his favourite ppl
The GREAT news is our father was OVERJOYED! It was SO worth it. My family & I got them home & settled in & left them joyfully re-hashing all the wonderful moments of the evening, like a bride & groom do when finally alone on their wedding night. THAT's the part I'll remember.
The other great news is that I won't have to see these ppl again until a funeral. And after that...
This never could have been this way without Anna Valerious!!!!
Thanks again. Love to all,Katrina
If this story was an ABC Movie of the Week, it would be preposterous. Truth is stranger than fiction!
V sounds a lot like my sister. She'll accuse people of something crazy and when the truth is spelled out to her point by point-instead of apologizing she will twist things around and say something like,"Well, nobody told me anything." She is an expert at blame shifting, as nothing is ever her fault.
V is what I like to call "A Dinner Party Friend." A Dinner Party Friend is a person who is capable of helping someone is dire need, but won't. They come up with all kinds of excuses; I didn't know/no one called me/my cat is sick/it's trash day/I would have but I have to get my haircut. They are people who have accepted lots of help from friends and neighbors in the past, but have no interest in reciprocating. So, if you're having a dinner party, they'll be there, but if your mother is dying and you need someone to watch your kids for two hours after school so you can go to the hospital, you can bet your life that they'll be screening their calls that day. DPFs are best avoided.
"At some point it would be helpful if you would describe how you would now handle this situation, knowing what you now know about Ns. Might help some of us if we're in a similar situation."
I call it evidence. Maybe if you encounter people like this often get a recorder and if they start blasting record. Hard not to believe a recording.
"When I demanded to know what I did wrong that justified V's treatment of me that is when I found out it was my reaction that was wrong."
Oy that sounds familiar. My mom was mad at me if I fought back when my little brother was being nasty. I got more blame for reacting badly. Aaargh. Injustice is one of the most infuriating things to go through. Especially if everyone else like your religious leader is unjust also. Injustice can conjure up a lot of pain.
"Then the bystanders COMPOUND the abuse by pulling the "it takes 2 to tango" crap. As though WE MUST be guilty of SOMETHING!!!"
Oh how I hate that phrase. My mother uses it all the time. Especially if my brother argues with me and won't shut up. I then start defending myself and then she punishes both of us. Seriously I could just not talk and they could keep on going and going. You can tango/argue very well by yourself lol. I agree it makes me want to throw whoever is using it off a cliff.
Speaking of cliffs I so long to be able to just fly away that I can't stay at the edge to long or I might actually jump. It is such a temptation lol. Definitely not scared of heights.
I am not christian even though I am pretending to be one. If I left while still living with family. Oh my. They would never stop condemning me for not believing the "truth" when it is right in front of me. Especially my little bro. My dad the non n is the one I fear the most. In this church if your children leave it is a big deal and easy to blame yourself for it. Will be difficult when I leave.
In the classes they expect the same prayers the same answers. They don't want anything that is slightly different. They just kind of make it like you said something else. My opinions differ so greatly lol and I burst to say them in class. I try to be conservative especially when I don't believe in most of it.
What I see as unjust in my church is that men get all the power while women are just supposed to just raise kids as their divine role. No thank you. I want to make more out of my life than just that. Kids are great and important especially in how you treat them as we see, but the idea of your only purpose for eternity is making and raising them is depressing. There are other things to do too.
This church they don't accept anything other than what they believe say anything different and your dubbed bad or one of those people who might just leave. The looks you get when you say something a little different.
One time I went to church and I just moved so I didn't have any sunday shoes. Wearing sneakers I got the dirtiest looks when I walked around. Wonderful people weren't they? *sarcasm*
I do not like self righteous people who are downright cruel and sometimes just plain stupid. Everyone that accused you of being part to blame were being cruel and stupid.
This is a very compelling story and it reeks of selfishness to the ninth degree. This woman (V) should be the poster child for the Society of N's.
I believe that N people have sixth senses, they hone in on innocent targets. I believe that they plot their strategy, watch people, decide who their soft targets are going to be. Why is it that they attack only a person who is in the midst of doing charity, helping others? This comes as no surprise. I expect this V women, (maybe she is a lizard alien)....has adapted, like a predator, to fixate her N behavior on what Timothy says, (whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure , whatsoever things are lovely, or of a good report). I guess this is what the Bible means when it says we are hated by the world. The demons, last I heard, aren't on any coffee breaks.
Hmm... it's interesting. I am reminded that one of my mother's stock phrases, when she messes up - or doesn't get her way - or gets chewed on by a college professor/doctor/social worker/you-name-it for not doing what she was supposed to... "Well, nobody told me about it. How was I supposed to know?" Not her fault... *shaking head*
Hi Anna -
I am just getting to know you, but already I see so much to like and respect in you.
I am not sure about the word "defense" - its implication is that you have done something to defend -so right off the bat, things are twisted in the N's direction.
Maybe more on target is that you were denied your voice, your feelings, your intentions, your existence.
That's what it feels like. You have done nothing to defend, yet these twisted N's get us right from the start.
For the past three months, I have found myself in similar situations with various people, to the point where I am nearly out of my mind trying to get through to them.
Wondering if or how I could ever stick up for myself. Being afraid that others would take their side.
These vicious people stand as brick walls - no, more like rubber walls - bouncing everything I say back on me.
A long time ago, I would have put up with it, joining them in heaping the blame on me. But somehow, through this suffering, I have learned to stick up for myself - even when a whole congregation turns on me.
I often end up alone, sometimes in a crisis of faith, or questioning what is wrong with me that so many people seem bent on hurting me and then blaming me for it, robbing me of my voice and myself.
It is almost all I see anymore.
I think it is the most painful aspect of this, having my eyes opened to just how many people are bent on taking no responsibility for their actions and then blaming the victim.
I had a brutal 5-year relationship with a man who was hell bent on training me not to react to the cruel things he did.
But I read once on Kathy Krajco's site that my reaction - my anger - is my demonstration of my self-worth.
So for five years, as I questioned myself and my "crazy" reactions to his cruelty - my outrage - my insistence that I be treated better - I was actually sticking up for myself.
Now, looking back, while I was in the relationship I felt worthless and degraded, I was actually at my strongest.
I stomped my feet, I yelled, I wrote letters, I pleaded, I begged, I cried, I left him, I didn't answer the phone for months, I spoke out, I told people what he was doing, I did everything I could to protect my self-worth.
And I am proud of myself even though at the time I thought I was crazy because I couldn't hold back my reactions, my voice, my self-worth.
I am sad that I wasted so much time, but I am proud that I didn't give in.
With the death of good Tim Russert this weekend, I feel like as he was trying to set the political record for history, I have been trying to set my personal record in history.
Like Tim's, the necessity of that history, that record, may not be called out for years.
But when his next girlfriend talks about his cruelty to someone, it just might be someone who says, "You know, he did that to his last girlfriend too, she told me."
I think for an N, being exposed is maybe the only thing they really fear.
I am hoping to read part II of this, and I am hoping that someone is your witness - like Alice Miller says in her books - as long as there is one person who stands by you even in the face of horrible abuse - you will survive intact.
All you need is one witness who at least saw what happened, and when this N does it again to someone, that one person just might say, "You know, she did this to Anna before. I never saw the truth in that situation until now. Anna didn't deserve that."
The only thing we know for sure is that the N will do it again to someone else. That is when we will be validated. That is when the truth will be known. That is our "defense."
Sometimes it is a long wait. With your dignity and patience intact, just keep sitting by the river and your enemies will float by, I promise.
Thank you for sharing the events of your weekend with the nest of N vipers. It was a satisfying read! I'm very happy for you that things went so well, that your attitude was in the right place, that you came out the other side victor, and most of all, that your parents had a wonderful time -- thanks to you and your family. God bless you!
I used the word defense in the context of Kathy Krajco's post (that I reposted)about self-preservation in the face of narcissistic abuse. She talks about the right to self defense and how no one has the right to take away one's right to self-defense. Period. Believe me, self-defense in the face of narcissistic abuse was an issue in this whole affair.
One of the "money quotes" that I am illustrating by telling the story first of my sister's last "jab" and now about "V" is this:
Never, never, never preach prime-time morality at the victim making it a sin for him or her to yell right back at the abuser. Though yelling back may not be wise in all cases, it IS the victim's right. It at least lets him or her preserve self-respect through showing a backbone.
Christians are the absolute worst offenders in this way. They routinely disarm people from defending themselves against attack. That is what my story is about.
WOW! Did you ever hit it on the head!
Everything you said has been expressed before, through Anna's blogs & Kathy's & all the comments here of fellow targets!
I felt your words as though I'd written them!
I'm so sorry to hear that you have & are experiencing this horror. Yet, it is in the awareness that you speak of, that we finally find freedom. What I have found is that if I keep coming back here regularly, to "take my medicine" as I like to think of it, pearls of wisdom come to guide me when I need it most. God has a way of providing us what we need.
I have found that it gets much worse before it gets better-but THEN--when it gets BETTER--it gets better than I could have EVER imagined in my wildest dreams. So DON'T let yourself stay stuck in the pain. You DESERVE to move through it & get to the other side! I wrote last week about impending gatherings with my family of N's this weekend. You all strengthened me to face it. I then wrote the day after the event, how it went with my N's & how I got through it, as a result of Anna's blog. I wrote that I knew the fallout was coming. The "punishment" for not giving them the "supply" they used to COUNT ON. I knew it would come. Yet I could take it with placid acceptance of THEIR reality. And here it comes. It's already started today. I caught wind of it just through the TONE OF VOICE in a phone call with my brother who's returning to France. It tipped me off to the insane conversations that have gone on behind my back all weekend. In the past, that would've sent me over the edge.
Today, I just sigh & say, yup. Here we go. Everything is going according to the "path" in pathology. Without ME!! YYAAAYYYY!!
So hang in their through the pain that feels almost unbearable. You CAN bear it. Trust us. It leads to FREEDOM!! God's time, not ours.
I am in total agreement, I think I got "permission" to stand up for myself from Kathy's words quoted here by you.
Until I read that supportive thinking, I was always ashamed of myself for not being able to control my reactions to abuse.
I understand the hypocrisy in this, and I think Kathy talked about those most dirty smearing mud off themselves onto the cleanest person around.
When our virtues shine, they have to destroy us. It is vile and unfair.
That might be why people like us get targed more than others, we have virtues, character, integrity and compassion.
The people most dirty are missing these virtues, which is why they set themselves high up IN the pillars of the community. So no one can get close and see just how dirty they really are.
And fighting with them is like fighting with the tar baby - every punch is absorbed. We end up tangled and hogtied, while they laugh at our frustration and futility.
Look at what happened to Barack Obama - what his "minister" did to him.
Maybe too much light was on Barack and not enough on the minister, (who is on stage for a reason) - so what did he do?
He nearly brought down the chance for the first African-American president in order to smear an innocent man who was trying to do the right thing.
We can all tell that this "minister" did not truly believe that he was fighting oppression of African-Americans.
Because if he truly believed in this cause, he would seek to elevate Barack - not bring him to his knees - in order to promote an African-American into the most powerful position in the world.
When the minister's past remarks did damage, did he hold back? No. He huffed and puffed harder, forcing the clean person to build his house with bricks. Barack left his church of 30 years. He was betrayed before the whole country.
But I think good people saw this, and the minister ended up discarded. But not before he caused his follower great suffering and betrayal.
My ex-father in law was a Methodist minister, and when my son was born, I wanted him baptized Catholic, like me.
This man had married us (I was not allowed to be married in my church since we had a minister "in the family"), and he had to be center stage when we got married. Now he wanted center stage in my son's baptism.
"What role will I have in a Catholic ceremony? I should be allowed to stand up there with the priest - how could you do this to me?"
I told him, your role? You are the boy's grandfather. Did you forget that?
I asked him to say the blessing before the dinner following the baptism. He refused. We ate with no blessing.
It wasn't about the blessing. Or God. Or his new grandson. It was about the stage. I saw through it clearly, and he knows I did.
So all I am saying is that sooner or later, everything comes out in the wash. The only thing we have going for us is that the N's will repeat and repeat and repeat this behavior.
I know that if my N is with another woman now, sucking her in with that wonderful first few weeks in heaven, he will eventually do to her what he did to me.
It is a certainty, and it brings me comfort that it was not me, even though he smeared his mud on me again and again.
I got very used to living covered in mud.
And although I haven't had a chance to "defend" myself as I would have liked to, I believe I won't have to.
People around him who advised him and supported him and told him that he was a good guy (because of course they did not know the truth, only his version) will eventually see the pattern.
It will just take a while. But it will emerge. I have to believe that, there is no other way for me.
When we are denied a defense, I am beginning to believe that truth and reality will be our vindication. We won't have to say a word.
But the time it takes for that vindication to come can be agony. I am sitting in it now.
I heard a great sermon this a.m. on EWTN radio on, of all readings,
Jezebel!Book of Kings. It addressed a lot of the "self defense" issues in relation to the Word.
It said Naboth had every right, his GOD-GIVEN right, to refuse the request of Ahab for his vineyard. It was the "Promised Land" in those days. Meant to be kept in the family & worked to bear fruit for the Lord.So he had a good & just cause to be willing to resist for. He had a GRAVE DUTY to self defense, because OTHERS were DEPENDING on him. Of course, Jezebel wouldn't ACCEPT that he had any rights--& trampled all over them. To the tune of arranging for the powers- to- be to believe lies about Naboth & have him stoned to death. She then told her husband to go ahead & take the land he'd wanted, as Naboth was dead.
Fast forward to Jesus's time.
Love toward oneself is a vital priciple of morality.
Jesus defended himself to those laying hands on Him as though he were a common criminal!
Then told them He'd go along with their (Bullshit) only to have the Scriptures be fulfilled.
So much for the N's good old "turn the other cheek " crap!
Thank you for your kind words, it is good to know there is a safe place for me.
Your encouragement that although this gets worse for a while, it does get better, helps so much, because it has really been bad lately.
I didn't know I could feel so low and so alone in the world.
I am one of those people who has no one to put on the "IN CASE OF EMERGENCY" line. So I just hope I don't have an emergency for a while...
And you nailed it too, by talking about "punishments."
My ex-N (who swooped in after my husband of 10 years left me for another woman when my son was 3 months old) is an extremely wealthy and charismatic man.
He punished me to no end when I didn't fall in line.
One night after being punished because I actually asked him to do something with me he didn't want to do, he dumped me off on the side of the road.
Later, in a drunken state, his mother told me that to be with him, I needed to do what she did with his father...learn to say OK to whatever he wanted.
His family banished me from their property, would not allow me at Christmas dinner, and was as cruel as could be because I would not learn to say ok.
My son and I have been alone every Christmas for four years. The first year he invited us, but we were not good enough to bring again - I would not behave.
I was too loose of a cannon for a family with much to hide.
He dangled carrot after carrot, telling me if I could just behave and control my reactions, I would eventually get them. He would give me a taste every now and then, but only a taste.
If I would misbehave, he would eat the carrot in front of me again and again.
At one point I was on the floor, telling him I wanted to die because he had made me feel so worthless, and he took out a wine glass, poured himself a drink, and toasted himself and what a good guy he was.
I was suicidal twice with him. This last time, as I was in agony, he told him I didn't make him happy anymore and he has left me.
Another punishment. When he feels I have been deprived of his carrots long enough, he will come sniffing around again. He has put me through this for five years.
But with the help of Kathy, Anna, and so many others I will resist him. I did it once for six months, while he called three times a day with marriage proposals, promises blah blah blah. I didn't answer for six months, but eventually he wore me down.
This time he won't. I can fight this. I have the tools I didn't have before.
That is what Anna and all those who care enough to untwist this crap do for those of us out here.
They save our lives.
If any of you are having problems with the blog loading like I am, my husband says that Amazon has been subjected to a "bot storm". Whatever that means exactly, it translates to my blog pages not loading right. I'm getting annoyed. If this doesn't resolve soon I'll take down the widgets for awhile until they get their problems resolved.
For future reference, please folks, leave the defense of your favorite presidential candidates out of the comments. This blog is decidedly unpolitical and that is on purpose. There are many and better ways to make a point about narcissistic abuse than to defend whatever candidate you feel is being wronged. What you may think proves the point will not prove any such point to about half the readers.
Future comments that stray into the U.S. presidential race will likely not be approved. This is not the venue for that. Thank you.
Please accept my apology. I was simply using that as an example of how the church can hurt someone - and this was a very public example.
It was not intended to support anyone but another victim. I wasn't telling people to vote for him, I was simply acknowledging that someone we trust deeply can turn on us when we need them most.
And as far as I know, not everyone will always relate to my specific examples personally, but I had offered them in good faith as a way to participate here.
But it is your blog and I thought I would be welcome, obviously what I have to say isn't helpful.
So I will silence my voice.
Truth be known, I was speaking to someone whose comment I would not be approving, not you. I approved your comment, as you'll notice. But your comment invited another comment which was definitely of a slant which showed obvious support for their candidate. Please do not take offense. Please remember your comment was approved. I was just asking that in the future other examples be used to make points on narcissism. I hope you'll not leave because of my attempt to keep my blog on topic.
I DO hope you will continue to join us in discussion, as you have a very valuable voice that I know has already helped me. So I venture to say has also helped others who've been reading your notes. In case of emergency? That's easy! Your friends here at Anna's blog!
Your description of your Ex-N was most horrifying to read. What you & your little child have been through as a result of this abuse.
The vivid & chilling image of him dangling carrots in front of you & then eating them in your face, is pure evil. Unfortunately, evil we are all too familiar with. Keep coming here. You are so right in saying that the help we get here is lifesaving.
This truly is life & death stuff we're dealing with . As you & so many others have affirmed.
Anna, thank you for keeping us on track. We all have our own life experiences, philosophies, & opinions. I would never want someone who needs to be here with us, leave without getting the help they need & deserve.
Anna, thank you for keeping us on track. We all have our own life experiences, philosophies, & opinions. I would never want someone who needs to be here with us, leave without getting the help they need & deserve.
Thank you, Katrina. I don't want anyone to leave either. I do need people to recognize that this blog is "private property" in the sense that I alone own its content. It is necessary for me to control the content of the comments to the extent that it strays from the intent and purpose of this blog. So, in that sense, people can't say just anything they want to here. Comments need to be in line with the blog's purpose, and ultimately, that is my decision to make. The comment that followed up on Lilygirl's comment showed me how quickly this line of comment was getting derailed. So this is why I asked everyone to please keep the politics out of it. I had to reject one comment...I wasn't relishing the idea of not approving others which may yet come.
I do not want my blog to become an adjunct to the Obama campaign. The same goes for any of the candidates.
I am so sorry everyone. Thank you for the clarification.
Katrina, it makes me feel good to know I might have said something to help you. Your support means a lot to me too.
It is tough to admit how low I got in this abusive relationship and then to find out that I had offended someone here made me think for a minute that there really is something horrible about me.
For the last few hours it felt like the wind got knocked out of me. I would hate to offend anyone, especially those of us who have been through so much.
Anna, I respect you and your judgement and thank you for the way you handled this.
Again, I apologize, I don't want to derail anything, and my point had nothing to do with politics, just that we are all vulnerable, no matter who we are.
But I can see where I might have opened a box that should stay closed. I am very sorry.
I'll be more aware next time. I liked this thread, I'd like to get back to it.
I'm so happy you're back! You have no need to apologize; you were not being disciplined for some misbehavior. No one was being disciplined. I'm just steering a ship here; tryin' to keep the wind in the sails. You are guilty of no offense. If you were here I'd offer you a mug of my finest coffee (and it is damn good coffee!) and we'd watch a funny chick flick.
Thank you for your gracious response. I appreciate it much. We all understand how hard it can be to trust people to have our good interests at heart given what we've been through. I think you'll find lots of good-hearted folk here, of which you are one.
Thank you for posting this, Anna...
I am still letting this all sink in! After a few days, my memory is being jogged of numerous 'samples' of my experiences with churches over the years....and how I just stuffed them....thinking it was 'just ME'....or 'I'm not taking this right'....or 'They don't understand'. I didn't fight it...or stand up for myself....I just walked away. Partly because I KNEW it was a double-standard...and partly because I just figured I was a 'loner' anyway and didn't know how to 'belong'. Until you wrote this specific example, I didn't know I was hurt as deeply as I am....or how discouraged I was about churches....about Christians.....about ANYTHING to do with 'defense'. It always felt hopeless and pointless to even attempt it....couldn't at home....couldn't at church.....couldn't in marriage....couldn't at work...IT WAS JUST ME! It seemed that there was no place to appeal....without drawing more fire than I was already eyeball deep in. The only GOOD thing that came out of it, is I DID turn to God above and turn it over to HIM as more only source of reference and comfort....(though I still thought I was wrong somewhere and He would just have to 'deal with me' as He would.)
When I walked away from various scenarios over the decades, the only thing I had in my heart was: "God help me....I cannot do otherwise." (I think this was said my Martin Luther when he walked away from the Catholic Church...feeling some of the same feelings. He was distraught and in great turmoil about leaving his Church. He never wanted to LEAVE, he was only looking for some reform in things that had gotten off track. I only use this....not as a slam on Catholics...please!....I'm more Catholic than I am Lutheran these days.....)
Anyway....thank you for posting..all of you....It is so good for 'mulching' and resolve.
I woke up this morning and checked in, and found tears streaming down my eyes when I read your post.
It has been a long time since I have felt genuine kindness, since someone offered me a cup of coffee and a funny chick flick.
Thank you from the bottom of my broken up heart. The tears are here again.
Okay, back on track...
I was thinking this morning in the shower (where I work everything out in my head, sometimes I even "tell the N off" while I am in the shower)
Anyway, it goes with your analogy of the sail and the ship and how my N used to try to control my reactions.
I was always in trouble, being punished, for my reactions, as you were in this case.
Of anything controlling my reactions was his goal. Always.
So say I am on a deserted island, and have been starving for weeks.
He pulls up on his yacht, blue blazer, gold buttons and captain's hat. I am in rags, starving, on my knees crawling to him.
He says he can't take me with him, as taking me to the hospital would deter his trip to Belize. But he promises to pick me up on the way home.
I am so grateful that even if I can't go with him now, that I have a chance to be rescued soon anyway.
So I am grateful to him instead of being angry (after all, he is my only hope, so I can't anger him).
I ask him for one small favor, while I wait, may I please have some food, as I am starving.
He says, of course and gives me a look of disdain that I am crazy to have ever considered him heartless enough to leave me there without food.
I am as happy as I have ever been in my life. I will eat. I will survive. He will rescue me.
He goes inside the yacht, and comes back seemingly empty handed. But he isn't.
In his hand is a small jar of caviar, the most expensive kind there is.
He has a small spoon and scoops some out, offering me a half of a spoonful.
Without thinking, I eat it up.
He stands above me, looking at me with hard eyes. He expects a thank you.
I don't thank him, but keep looking for more.
"Is that all?" I crazily say.
He turns dark.
"How dare you you ungrateful bitch. Don't you know how expensive that caviar is? It is never enough for you. I am sick of offering you so much and you reacting this way. You don't deserve anything from me."
He turns and pulls off the beach. I am there, punching myself for being so stupid and ungrateful.
Why couldn't I see how kind he was? Why can't I control my reactions? I am disgusting and worthless.
As he leaves me there to die as punishment for my repulsive behavior, he turns to his crewman and says,
"I tried so hard to be kind to her. I gave her the best of everything I had. If I give her an apple, she wants the orchard. It would have never worked."
The crewman agrees. "These bitches are never satisfied."
So he receives comforting support for his cruelty, because, of course, the crewman doesn't want to lose his job on the yacht.
And I starve on the beach.
That is exactly what he did to me. Exactly. It is pure brainwashing.
It is evil, and as I was living it, I didn't realize it. It helps so much to hear others call it that. I haven't heard it before.
**big hug** You're a sweetie. I want to thank you for the analogy you just wrote. Wow. It is such a clear illustration of "Stockholm syndrome". It illustrates so succinctly and in clear pictures the dynamics of the brainwashed toward their abusive captors. Powerful illustration. I appreciate that you have given it to the readers of this blog because I know many will be able to relate all too well to what you described. Stockholm syndrome is a very real phenomena...it is a survival mechanism. A victim in the clasp of an abuser is simply trying to survive and the abuser is their only hope for a savior. I have made the point in a post somewhere about how it is essential, after having escaped the captor, that we de-program. Talking to others about what happened is one of the biggest steps in that process of breaking the captor's spell.
Thank you for your comment. It makes me glad I overcame my reluctance to tell this story. Maybe I'll find the courage someday to tell a couple more stories that came from this church experience. I do not know why it is, but this little church experienced the depredations of three, count'em, THREE narcissist women. V was the last in that succession. She was the least problem of the three to the church in general. The first one was a terror to the whole church even though she did most especially hate me. She singled me out for particular censure. The second was a woman with no particular brains or sophistication so she was easier to deal with because the church could see SHE was the problem. She did not mark me out in particular for anything, thankfully. The whole church pissed her off just because we'd took her up on her complaints. We relieved her of being in charge of the "kindergarten" class because she'd complained so long and vociferously about it. The church committee meeting (which involves the whole congregation, not just the board) thought they were doing a kindness by voting to close the only class for SS lessons we had in the church. The kids could sit with their parents and we'd make accommodations for them in the adult SS class. She sat right there as we voted. Didn't say anything, then went all crazy that night after she got home causing a crisis for her family. Needless to say, after this two year church experience I have not been willing to sign up at any other church. I learned that the church as a whole has a problem knowing how to deal with evil members. THAT is where my perplexity always came in. I was shocked and disappointed at how few people are willing to stand up against evil in the church. It is very discouraging. In the name of Christianity, evil is allowed to prosper. I find it utterly repugnant. I was more disaffected by the reactions of the church leaders to evil than the evil doers themselves. Without these willing accomplices evil would find no great success in their depredations.
God bless you. I so appreciate you. Your analogy touched a deep chord in me as I know it did in a lot of us. It sums up the essence of our existence before we finally are able to rise up in strength and dignity and say "No Longer!" Keep on the path that you are on. It is lonely and it is difficult, but it gets better and ultimately you will have much to replace all that you have lost.
With respect to your last comment... I am as shocked, perplexed and disappointed as you are with the church and its dealing (or lack thereof) with evil within its walls.
Although this doesn't deal directly with the problem as you've described it, there is a good book called "The Emotionally Healthy Church" by Peter Scazzero that you may want to check out. It addresses how the vital link between emotional health, relational depth, and spiritual maturity can shed new light on painful issues within the church.
Thanks, NNL, for the book recommendation.
The book I found most helpful, although I found it shortly after our church was closed, is the one by Jeff VanVonderen and David Johnson, "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse". These two men have clearly identified the underlying issue that allows for spiritual abuse and they give practical tools to enable people to escape it. I recommend this book to every single Christian out there whether or not they think they've experienced spiritual abuse. (I have the book in one of the Amazon widgets.) Spiritual abuse was at the root of every single problem we had in that church. The attitudes of most of our church's leaders were in line with the abusers. Nearly everyone approved of tyranny and abuse. It was shocking to see how undermined the moral value systems of so-called Christians really are. It is this reality that distresses me the most. I will never stay in a church which fosters unhealthy relationships within its congregation. I will not longer waste my efforts on a church whose leadership is capitulated to principles of abuse and tyrannical control by the few. Never again, is my motto. God will have to fix these people because I know I can't. I learned that when the majority of the leadership approve of tyranny there is no hope of reform until those leaders die or are put out of their offices.
The only thing I would've added about my N's is when they first arrived on the island & saw me starving & crawling towards them. They would've been sure to give me a few good kicks while I was down there. While looking at me with loathing & disgust, for my being in that position to begin with. Since I was such a worthless excuse for a human being. A total scumbag who OF COURSE found herself in that position. And now expected THEM to inconvenience themselves to help MY useless
...and to think that used to HURT me!! yyeeeccchhh!!!!!
I used to be a very positive person, believing God was watching over me, that the church was the vehicle for that.
Going through this has changed Pollyanna.
Kathy Krajco's writing had something to do with it. She came down hard on the hypocrisy of the organized church. But she was soft on Jesus of Nazareth.
I think I can reconcile it for myself, I think for me God exists up there, a kind, gentle, loving God who has given us all free will.
A God who is not vengeful, but who gets sad, tremendously sad.
But as for organized religion, church etc. forget it. The whole thing is about money and power, just like every other vile thing in life.
The church gets away with it by attracting good people like Anna who think they will find a nitch with other good people.
That is what gives the church its narcissistic false self - the good altruistic organization outside, while inside it can be evil.
We fall for it because we believe the false self of the church is the real self, just like we did with the N.
We try very hard to please that organized N. We do what is expected, we give money, we chip in, we help fire victims and have pot lucks.
We want to please the N because the N has put itself in the place of God. Typical N for ya.
Then, just as with the N, the illusion disappears, and the evil emerges. But not before we are hooked.
Cults just take it one step further.
The ole bait and switch.
It's funny Katrina brings up the kicks on the island.
While mine would love to kick me, it would only be in a way that was "justified" - say I grabbed his leg to try to keep him from leaving.
Then I would be kicked hard enough for broken ribs (he's done that, but only when I dared even touch him - so he could say I brought it on).
I think Lundy Bancroft said it, that these abusers, whether they be church goers or captains of pain yachts, are as calculating as can be.
They know their limit. They will not go beyond what they couldn't justify.
That's why they have to drive you mad, so then they are justified in calling you crazy.
That's why they have to call you dangerous - so they can justify physically attacking you, kicking you and breaking your ribs.
Like Katrina said, they have to justify their leaving you to starve on the beach because you are not worth food.
After all, if you were a "good" person like them, you'd have a yacht.
After abusing me with such cruelty it would make me wretch, he would go out and specifically buy himself some treat, like maybe a $20,000 motorcycle and take it for a spin by my house.
It was to prove that he was a good person, because only a good person deserves to have such a good life.
Mine could justify anything, and create specific instances to create the necessary justifications.
He built a house of cards that could withstand a hurricane, so he would always come out smelling like a rose.
That's what so many of these 'religious institutions' do.
They use a good man's name, image, philosophy - GOD - to suck people in, promise them the world and take their money, their time and their good nature - to present that image out to the world - Why?
To suck more people in, take their money take their goodness etc. etc. etc.
Kathy Krajco said a N has a history of upheavals - I wonder for how many members of a church - how many have left?
As I am reliving these moments, I am in shock at what I have been through, and what a master this guy was at brainwashing me.
I am also beaming inside that he did not destroy me. I am proud of myself for fighting his control of me and my mind every step of the way.
Even now, as he has dumped me off in the garbage dump, I know it wasn't because he wanted to (as he was having so much fun!) but he was sick and tired of me not reflecting back the image he demanded.
I WAS MAKING HIM LOOK BAD.
Not a good thing when you are looking for people to suck in, suck dry and suck on.
Why keep up with a drag like me when he can just go out and pretend he is good to suck another woman in.
Can't the church do that too? I guess it was easier years ago before people got wise.
Sure he has to pretend he is a good human being, brushing the hair from her eyes and walking the permimeter of the house he will never build her...
But hey, look how long I lasted.
Look at how much I gave.
And for a long time, I only reflected back on him as though he was a god who was someday going to rescue me and my son from a lonely life.
Maybe the church promises that too?
So for a few weeks' investment, he got five years of adoration.
Good payoff. Why should he not do it again?
The church too, can get a payoff, just like an N.
I am starting to think we are surrounded.
I feel sick after reading this. It's her, it's my MIL. I swear to God, reading stories of others who have been tortured by narcissists gives me flashbacks of some kind (okay, that sounds a little dramatic, but it really kinda is like a flashback, I think). Evil, evil bitch. And like I saw someone else mention in a comment, she made sure to do it with NO WITNESSES. Always, no one else around to see it. I'm on to read part two of this nightmare now...
so called religious people who quote twisted scripture to try to blame the victim serve to be enablers to the abusers. I wonder what they will say to God when confronted with the fact that they choose to make a bad situation worse by their own ego needs.
i know this is an older post- but i am new to this.... my husband and I just went NC with my family.. I have had SO many instances like this that i cannot even begin...the latest took the cake though. Wow that you shared that and wow to this whole blog- I am learning so much and I feel less alone. I never knew about narcissists until i did research on it a few months ago... trying to figure out why my family was always mad at me.a grown woman not even living in the same state!!!! I so wish I could sit down witha cup of coffee and talk to you lol! The whole church plus family equation = too familiar...Thank you for your courage and compassion for those of us who are hurting as well in sharing your experiences and what you have learned. I am glad i am not crazy!!;)
You're certainly not crazy, SunnJoyZ. You've never been saner now that you've got the bead on the disordered characters in your family. Congrats on making the break. It is an essential step in ridding one self from their twisted reality. Thanks for your comment.
I am so sorry that you had to go through this and how the pastor handled it (I have read both parts).
It is awful the way that people think that the victim must have done something to deserve the treatment. It is worse if the victim starts thinking that too.
Thank you for your sympathy, Elisabeth. Disarming victims happens far too often. It is my hope my story helps to illustrate how evil this propensity of people to silence victims really is. Too often they want to silence victims because it would be just too damned inconvenient to deal with the truth. If I can't stop people from disarming victims then I hope to help victims refuse to lay down their arms.
I get what you're saying! My own situation with a probable MN was quite different, but also stemmed from a misunderstanding. It was made worse because I had done everything I possibly could to help this person and her husband during their dire straits. But she decided that because I'm a naturally quiet person, I was offending her. Constantly. She decided to be jealous of me, suspect me of designs on her husband, because I became wary of her and didn't want to be around her....
There was a greatly misunderstood e-mail which she used as justification to lay into me viciously. It didn't matter what I said or what my husband said to try to clear up the misunderstanding, or when I tried to apologize for hurting her feelings and giving the wrong impression; she didn't care. She only cared about ripping me to shreds verbally. There were various things she had the wrong idea about, but she didn't care about the truth, only about chastising me for all my supposed faults. Then got miffed when my husband and I cut ties with her, and acted as if we were being childish somehow and I needed to "GROW UP and stop feeling hurt over the consequences of YOUR ACTIONS." (Yep, complete with capitals in her e-mail.)
And afterwards you feel shaken, upset, angry, sad. You want to tell the world what really happened, especially as she crows on her Facebook page about how she's finally allowed to chew you out, but fear you won't be believed, that everyone else will stick up for her....It's just horrible what these people think they're justified in doing.
I'm sorry for your experiences. You articulate so perfectly behavior I have experienced for almost 30 years with my ex. Your words provide understanding which gives me some relief. Unfortunately I have to engage too often with my N because I gave up the children in a divorce. That was a huge mistake, a source of a living nightmare for me and the children. I will continue to carefully read and reread your blog for insight and encouragement. Thank You.
Sorry Anna, you probably don't want to remember this story, but this story is so powerful to this daughter of a narcissistic mother that I have to comment.
So powerful indeed, the outcome, how you would change it today, how sometimes only one person can be in the wrong, I just learned so much here today. I have had this, in different circumstances, played out in my life so many times. It's amazing you were able to be so victorious not knowing anything about MN, and how cool and calm you were. I wasn't that way, rather ashamed, but I don't blame myself anymore, I didn't know at the time.
So what you have helped me with is that I will know what to do if I come upon this in the future. I can be accountable to myself now.
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