Emotional abuse in marriage seems to be an odd topic to feature during the Days of Awe. But there is a reason I feel this fits!
This week I, along with other Jewish, Messianic and Christian people across the world, celebrated Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and right now we are in the middle of the Days of Awe, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
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As Imani Ackerman wrote in her post about Taschlich this week for our Days of Awe Guest Series, this is a time of prayer and reflection. It is a time where we examine our hearts and look at areas where we can grow closer to God and our relationship with Him, as well as with others.
The tradition of taschlich, as Imani stated in her post, is symbolic of casting your sins and your cares to where they are seen no more. It is beautifully symbolic to me; a picture of releasing these burdens I have carried and giving them to God.
In the spirit of freeing oneself from burdens, I am sharing this anonymous post about emotional abuse with you in the hopes it can help someone else!
This post only details the personal experience of the writer and is in no way reflective of everyone’s experience and in no way makes a diagnosis of any kind. If you believe you may be in an abusive relationship, please visit https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/emotional-and-verbal-abuse for further information or call 800-799-SAFE if you are in danger. If you believe you suffer from anxiety or PTSD please seek help from a professional.
I had always assumed I had suffered from anxiety, and I do. But where I thought anxiety was the condition, I found out it was really only a symptom. It was a symptom of a greater problem I didn’t even know existed.
I had never heard the term ‘narcissist abuse’ until recently. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But I soon realized, I had been a victim.
I struggled with sharing this story because I didn’t want it to seem as though I was bashing anyone or gossiping. That is not my intent.
I had been burdened with believing this was “just me” for so long! But it is not just me!
So my intent here is not to slander or gossip, in fact, I am refraining from sharing the majority of my story. I am sharing just what I need to in order to explain my own experience with anxiety and PTSD. I want to tell my story to help someone else feel the freedom from guilt that I now feel!
I had never heard the term ‘narcissist abuse’ until recently. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But I soon realized, I had been a victim.Click To Tweet
What Is a Narcissist?
According to Meriam Webster, a narcissist is:
-an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance
… since the narcissist is so convinced of his high station (most are men), he automatically expects that others will recognize his superior qualities and will tell him so —Charles Zanor
The Center for Anxiety Disorders (http://centerforanxietydisorders.com/narcissistic-abuse/) has a list of traits a narcissist would exhibit.
I won’t share the whole list (you can visit the link for the full article) but I will list those I witnessed in all their glory in the past since these are part of my own experience (I am realizing now it is most of the list!):
- Putting you down or criticizing you to make themselves feel good or superior
- Isolating you from others, such as your friends and family
- Getting angry if you disagree with them
- An exaggerated sense of self-importance. These people inflate their accomplishments, making a simple success into a monumental achievement when they tell people about it
- Believing they are superior to everyone else, despite the fact they have no special talent or haven’t accomplished anything noteworthy
- Lacking empathy for others, intolerance of other people’s needs and feelings
- Being envious of others or believing that other people are jealous of them
- Telling you everything is your fault (example: they say things like, “if you would only be smarter/prettier/stop pushing my buttons/do things the “right” way/dress better, etc., I wouldn’t act this way.”)
I recently read a couple of blog posts from women I admire greatly.
Alice Mills – https://poemachronicles.com/narcissistic-marriage/
Until reading these, I had no idea this is what I had experienced.
When my anxiety first started in a prior marriage, I was told there was something “wrong” with me. “Joe” would mock the fact that I would even need to take medication to manage it.
He would call me “crazy” and tell me that I am the one who needed to see a psychiatrist, not him. So he said that makes me the crazy one! That means I am the one with the problem!
This is what a narcissist does. They make YOU feel like the problem…like something is wrong with you! Everything bad that happens is YOUR fault.
It was classic gaslighting and it happened all the time! (Gaslighting was another term I wasn’t familiar with until recently! It is defined as “manipulating (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”)
And I believed it. I believed something was WRONG with me.
You see, first, in classic narcissist form, I was isolated. By isolating me there was no one to tell me that I am NOT the problem.
I had no family, so there was no one I could go to for support. He would cut me down to his family. He would report back to them every conflict and every dispute, telling his side of the story only. And they would accommodate him! No one ever took the “two sides to every story” approach.
I was the bad guy. I was the problem in their eyes. Everything was my fault.
By being isolated, I would believe the lie that it was all me! By believing it was me and that I was just a messed-up person, I would be quick to accept responsibility.
That is another classic narcissist move. They make you believe that if you were only “different” then everything would be better. They make you believe that the power to be happy lies with you and if you just did things THEIR way everything would be perfect!
They fail to take responsibility for things. They may accept a task or responsibility, but they won’t do it. Then when it fails they find a way to blame you!This is what a narcissist does. They make YOU feel like the problem…like something is wrong with you!Click To Tweet
And This Is Where My Anxiety Comes In
I began to realize that everything was on me. I had to adopt the “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself” mentality. It was clear he didn’t want to handle anything around the home; the bills, the kids, or even just working! That led me to take on far more than I could handle.
Every day consisted of stress. Every day there was an issue because something wasn’t done. A bill wasn’t paid or the kids weren’t given their medication so they got sicker, etc., and then I had to deal with the fallout and fix what should have been done.
Bill collectors called ALL the time because he wasn’t managing the money or paying things on time. And then when there was an issue because of it, it was MY fault.
Over time, my body forgot what it was like to not have worry and fear. It was such a daily occurrence I became afraid of everything! Everything that happened was always bad! It was always more stress!! And more stress was always followed by blame.
I stopped answering the phone.
I used to LOVE talking on the phone. I would sit and talk to my friends for hours. To this day, I despise the phone. I can’t stand talking on it because during that time my body learned to adapt to the fact that every phone call was something stressful. Over time I associated the phone with bad news, with stress, with fear. I still get a twinge of anxiety when I hear my phone ring.
I stopped answering the door. Every time there was a knock on the door it was something negative. To this day, if I hear someone outside I will run to the window and look with a sense of anxiety even though I have not had anything bad happen in years. My body just hasn’t let that go.
I stopped living. I went to work and came home and took care of my kids and that was it. I had no friends and no one to turn to.
When I finally decided I had to get out of the situation THEN he agreed to go to counseling.I stopped living. I went to work and came home and took care of my kids and that was it.Click To Tweet
In counseling, he tried to make everything my fault. The counselor wasn’t having any of it. She wasn’t accepting his narcissistic behavior. She tried to make him see where he was responsible, so he stopped going.
You see, he wasn’t interested in fixing the marriage. He wasn’t interested in improving. He was only interested in fixing me. He wanted someone to agree with him that I was the problem and fix ME so I would do all he wanted. But he wasn’t getting that so he quit.
Being in a marriage with a narcissist is a constant barrage of blame, name-calling and finger-pointing. It is being told you are crazy, you are the one with the problem.
It is about bringing up every single thing you ever said or did in the past when they can’t find something in the present to blame you for. You live with every mistake you ever made being thrown in your face.
I got to a point where I fell away from my faith. I felt like if I was such a bad, crazy person how could God love me? How could God ever want to use me?
So I walked away.
I walked away from “Joe” and I walked away from God.
I know you may say that divorce is not the answer. You may say I should have prayed for him (I did), I should have done more (I did). But as I said, at this time I had pulled away from God.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want God in my life…I just felt like He couldn’t want me. I felt ashamed. I felt worthless. I was still believing the lies.
I divorced “Joe” during this time that I had distanced myself from God and met a wonderful man who adored me.
But my anxiety didn’t go away.
I stressed about every detail. I had a fear of being abandoned. I had a fear of losing the happiness I had finally found because I had been made to believe in the past that I didn’t deserve it.I had a fear of losing the happiness I had finally found because I had been made to believe in the past that I didn’t deserve it.Click To Tweet
But God Had Other Plans
I am now happily married and my life is blessed. God didn’t let me keep myself away from Him for long…I kept experiencing His gentle call back. I ignored it for a couple of years but slowly made my way back to Him. Not only did I return to God but my husband was also saved the following year.
But yet that specter of the past still haunted me.
I was happier than ever but still experienced anxiety. I still experienced fear and worry over things that seemed irrational.
I thought it was JUST ANXIETY. But my husband showed me (and these articles I referenced above did as well) that it was a form of PTSD.
My body had become so accustomed to reacting a certain way in situations that it didn’t know how to react differently. It was just doing what it had done for so long.
If something good happened, I was always looking for something to stress about in it. I would look for possible issues that could arise. I just couldn’t let go and be happy!
I had left the abuse, but it hadn’t left me.I had left the abuse, but it hadn't left me.Click To Tweet
What a freeing feeling!! Just knowing it wasn’t me! Knowing there was a reason for this was freeing in and of itself!
I wasn’t experiencing freedom because I wasn’t addressing the right issue. My anxiety was not the issue…just a symptom!!
Now that I know about narcissist abuse I can let God do the healing work because I can stop allowing those things spoken over me define me! Now I know it is not “just me”….it is not something I just have to accept about myself. It is caused by lies spoken over me for years until they became MY truth!
So now I replace those lies with HIS truth! I do not have to live with that abuse anymore.
I am not there yet. It is still going to be a long process and I hope to share it with you along the way! This is a new revelation for me and I am just starting to allow God to now do the work in me. I hope this is the first of many posts where I can share my journey to healing with you.
I am so full of hope and faith now and that is a big step forward. And the Lord will bring me the rest of the way!
“I will repay you for the years the locust has eaten.” Joel 2:25
“I will repay you for the years the locust has eaten.” Joel 2:25Click To Tweet
~This post was written exclusively for Worth Beyond Rubies and may not be reproduced without permission ~ The Author is anonymous for privacy only~
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