Holding Ground & Throwing Gravel

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As I stood in the doorway of the back door of my pick up, talking with my daughter who was sitting in the passenger seat up front, I explained to her what I needed to do to protect myself and ultimately us.  I put a call into the sheriff unsure of what to do with a young girl adamant that although still on her “father’s” clock, was refusing to finish out her 3 1/2 hours of time with him.  Forcing a young teen to do anything they don’t want to is like wrestling an 800 lb gorilla to the ground … good luck!  While we waited for the sheriff to return my call and my ex sat with his pick up running in my driveway, hollering from the window at us, we talked about the different outcomes that might come out of the different choices she had.  I watched as my daughter weighed her options and it became very clear to me that her willingness to miss her game by holding her ground was deeply rooted.  It wasn’t about being bratty or stirring up trouble for herself.  Her need to be heard was and is strong not to mention the violating behavior that she endured the day before had undoubtedly exhausted her.  As the clock ticked, she continued to explain her position with me while I intently listened.

Finally, unable to contain his anger, my ex threw his pick up in reverse throwing gravel, then slammed it into park on the passenger side of mine as he leaped out.  I redialed the sheriff knowing from past experiences this could go south fast.  He stormed to my daughter’s side of the pick up.  I saw her look at me and then look at the door handle in a panic, it was too late to shut the door without hitting him.  He was yelling, pointing his finger at me, accusing me of playing games and pulling selfish shenanigans (not sure how any of this was benefiting me).  His face was beet red, his veins were busting out of his neck and his eyes had that recognizable, “I want to beat the life out of you” look I know all too well.  Repeatedly, I asked him to calm down … he continued to yell …  I told him to get in his pick up … he raged and cussed … I got firm and demanded he get in his pick up and off of our property at that point explaining that I already had a call into the sheriff to sort this out.  I demanded one final time that he leave and he finally stormed away, slamming the door to his pick up, cussing and throwing gravel as he sped out our driveway, skidding to a stop and parking on the county road.  And for what?  Because his daughter didn’t want to ride with him!?!  I later learned that he was laying in wait for me, hidden behind the fire station by the mechanic’s shop in the small town 9 miles away that we would have driven through to head to the game (40 minutes after he’d left, speeding down our county road).  I felt relieved that I’d listened to the wisdom of my intuition, the sheriff’s direction and recognized that no matter how hard I tried, I was a rock in a hard spot.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that therapists use as a guide states that a person need only to exhibit 55% of the identified characteristics to be considered narcissistic.    The more in depth my research becomes, the more answers I find.  As I study and become an expert in my niche, the more healing from my past I gain.  After the events of Monday afternoon, there was a tweet that was meant to bring attention to those that, laughingly, believe themselves to be the victims.  Narcissists are professionals at playing the victim in each and every circumstance, event and situation.  What was so humorous about the tweet was that it had nothing to do with what actually happened.  Somehow I was to blame for a young teen unwaveringly standing her ground regarding what she felt was in her best interest (honestly, knowing how difficult it is to stand up for what we believe is right especially against an authority figure, I’m hopeful she will be able to do this with peers in the future should she have to).  The tweet stated how sad it is that parents use their kids to satisfy their own vengeful need to hurt their ex.  I laugh as I type this considering that the one tweeting this victim statement likely has only been told the part of the story that her narcissistic husband-to-be wants her to know, not the whole story.  You see that’s a narcissist’s m.o.  The man she thinks she knows is merely who he projects himself to be.  By tweeting the things she has been over the past week, the only ones being hurt are my kids.  Is that the pot calling the kettle black?  Hmmmm…..

Dr. Fjelstad  states in a recent writing, “The narcissist’s entire life is motivated and energized by fear.  Most narcissists’ fears are deeply buried and repressed.  They’re constantly afraid of being ridiculed, rejected, or wrong.”  Is it any wonder that when my daughter stood her ground expressing repeatedly that she did not want to ride the 3 hours east to her softball game with my ex that he reacted as crazily as he did?  In his mind she was rejecting him and he wasn’t going to have it!  A normal person would have said, “You want to ride with your mom?  Okay, I’ll see ya there.”  A normal person wouldn’t have taken it personally, they would have considered that during the summer, the kids go 7 days without seeing the other parent and by the end of that week, may be ready to spend time with the one they haven’t seen.  We aren’t dealing with normal, we are dealing with a covert narcissist who took her refusal to ride with him as a personal attack.

I quickly became the proverbial rock in a hard place.  Here I am, at my home, he’s dropped my son off early, my daughter has decided to follow me to my pick up, get in and refuse to ride with him.  Instead of a calm conversation with her, seeing her desire through her eyes and from her point of view, he raged, fists clenched, veins popping out of his neck, spitting as he commanded her to do as he said (ummm…for starters she’s a young teen girl not a dog), cussing and bordering on becoming violent.  Dr. Fjalstad goes on to discuss the narcissists inability to communicate or work as part of a team.  “Thoughtful, cooperative behaviors require a real understanding of each other’s feelings.  How will the other person feel?  Will this action make both of us happy?  How will this affect our relationship?  These are questions that narcissists don’t have the capacity or the motivation to think about.  Don’t expect the narcissist to understand your feelings, give in, or give up anything he wants for your benefit; it’s useless.”

Which leads me to share what Dr. Fjalstad states regarding a narcissists lack of empathy.  “Narcissists have very little ability to empathize with others. … Narcissists expect others to think and feel the same as they do and seldom have any thought as to how others feel.  They are rarely apologetic, remorseful or guilty.”  She closes this section on empathy or rather the lack thereof by stating, “This lack of empathy makes true relationships and emotional connection with narcissists difficult or impossible.”

There was truth to the tweet, the kids are the ones that pay the price, that ultimately suffer however, the blame has been wrongly placed.  Imagine, if when my daughter told them she hadn’t bought (or shoplifted) what she was told she couldn’t have, they took her at her word?  Imagine if when my daughter says, “I want to go home.  I miss my mom”, she is heard and it’s arranged for her to come home, how different things might be.  Imagine if when she said, “I want to ride with mom”, the response was, “Okay”, how different the afternoon would have been.

I’m sure a backlash of lectures and punishment are awaiting her.  She’s already beginning to exhibit signs of distress over returning to her “father’s” Monday evening.  My heart feels sick and my own anxiety mounts as I too silently anticipate the rough week ahead.  It’s hard to put into words what goes on inside my heart as I drop my kids off each week, into the very environment that causes them so much angst.  Ugh…

“You are beautiful, powerful, brilliant & brave”

 

Shackled & Chained

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Close your eyes and imagine if you will that you are standing somewhere, anywhere, and your hands and feet are shackled together.  You can’t move them, they are literally chained together tightly and weighted down so that even shuffling your feet is impossible.  You can see, hear & smell … everything you can normally do other than you cannot move from where you are standing.  As you look around you notice that your ex is standing in front of you with their back to you.  They are looming over your children and pacing about like a predatory animal about to pounce on their prey.  They are doing things to your children that violate them.  Violations that reach the depths of their precious souls.  The kids know that what is happening to them doesn’t feel right, they know that it’s wrong but it’s their “dad.”  In fury over these violating behaviors you struggle against your chains and shackles.  In your panic and rage you notice people of authority, police officers, judges, magistrates, CFI’s, PRE’s, DHS, etc.  You cry out to them … nothing … you yell again …. still nothing!  Your ex is fueled by your panic and rage, emboldened as you fight the shackles.  He’s got you right where he wants you.  You cry out again, fury in your voice and fire in your eyes.  These people who can help, they cannot hear you and they look past you as though you are invisible.  You continue to cry out to the very authority figures you know can stop the abuse, however they remain oblivious to your ex and the abuse that is being done to your children and they turn their deaf ears to your cries as you go hoarse trying to get someone’s attention, anyone’s, so that your children can be saved.

This is my reality … our reality.  This covert narcissist I have fought hard to free myself from, tap dances on the boundary line that defines abuse in this fine state of Colorado.  He’s gleeful about the damage he’s causing and the control he’s exerting over these kids.  Misery loves company does it not?  What better way to get to me and continue to abuse me from afar than to terrorize that which I hold closest to my heart, my kids.

My kids are on the receiving end of this sick man’s idea of what it is to parent and be a “father.”  It’s not parenting, it’s not even poor choices in parenting, it is abuse. I could list miles of abusive tactics this sick individual uses to dominate, control and manipulate my kids with.  The abuse is mental, emotional, physical and spiritual … our status quo making it impossible, at best, to call him out on his behaviors.  He’s gone so far as to begin a relationship with a deputy, marrying her … how’s that for self protection?  Just yesterday, my daughter was accused, by her “father,” of shoplifting.  She wanted to buy some gum with her own money, was told she couldn’t and he decided that she must have stolen the gum.  He decided that because she was told no, she must have hidden her stolen goods in her pants apparently giving him the right, in his sick, twisted, sociopathic brain, to put his hand down the front of this young girl’s pants and feel around for the stolen item!  Really!?!?  Neither kid has ever stolen a thing in all their young years!!!

These kind of things go on, on a regular basis.  It’s no wonder the kids come home and let out a huge sigh of relief knowing they are temporarily out of that environment.  What I have learned about our system is that although I am told there are good social workers out there, judges who do see through the narcissist’s over inflated sense of self …  for the most part, hands are tied.  I have an almost 15 year old, as in he’ll be driving in a year and a 12 1/2 year old who, in the state of Colorado, have NO say in where they live or with whom they spend their time.  That’s right, in less than 6 years, my youngest will be considered an adult fully capable of living on her own in the state’s eyes however apparently she is fully incapable of choosing where she lays her head down at night at almost 13 years old.  It’s beyond me …..

In my training in Gestalt therapy and it’s application in co-actively coaching, I spend my time sitting with grown adults in their deepest pain, their hearts filleted on the arena floor, working through violations from a parent, grandparent, sibling, etc. that could have been prevented had someone in authority stepped in to help them.  In these precious souls I see my children and the pain in my own heart is palpable.

I share all of this to let those of you reading this that may be in a similar situation know, I get it.  The feeling is utterly hopeless and though wrong, I can understand why parents kidnap their own children to save them.  Though wrong, I can understand why a woman snaps and meets her abuser at the front door with a loaded 12 gauge.  Though wrong, I understand how homicide/suicides happen.  When a person feels they can only be free and can only protect their kids in death.

I cannot protect my kids, I cannot rescue them, I am shackled and chained and he revels in it.  I continue to remind my kids and myself to stay the course.  I quiet my inner avenger, summoning my inner advocate and continue to cry out for help for my kids …

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” 

Red Dirt & Reflection

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The kids and I ran down to Texas last week.  To say we love Texas is a gross understatement.  I believe with all my heart it is our soul state.  As we make our way out across the highway, clocking mile after mile I feel a weight lift almost as if a weight lifter is pushing hard against his Olympic bar and plates finally racking the load above the bench he’s laying on.  As we roll across the state line out of Colorado across Oklahoma into Texas it’s as if the pick up hits another gear happy to be at a lower altitude, able to breathe, running like a freight train headed for home.  The shift in energy is fascinating to me.  I have a hard time putting it into words …

I found myself thoroughly and completely enjoying my kids this past week.  My husband’s family has embraced my kids as if they were born into their family.  They don’t look at them or treat them as redheaded step-children rather they have been taken in as blood.  Their proverbial buckets are filled to overflowing when we are down there and it does a mother’s heart good to see her kids laughing, smiling and relaxing.  My husband’s beautiful (as in could be modeling) nieces treat the kids like long lost cousins.  They are free to be who God is shaping them to be and I sit back in awe as I observe them wishing silently, that they’d been brought up in this family from infancy.

I was beyond blessed to ride alongside both of my babes.  My daughter and I ride together fairly regularly however I haven’t ridden alongside my son in ages.  My son has ridden his whole life however he’s never shown much interest in the horses until recently.  I watched him (unbeknownst to him – can you say creeper! Lol!) and found myself enveloped in a state of total reflection.  One evening as he, his sister and their cousin rode off out into the pasture amidst the lightning bugs, tall grass and twilight sky I caught my breath, overtaken by the gratitude in my very soul.  I considered how very different our lives could have been had I not summoned the courage to run for my life … for our lives, had I not met my superhero husband and allowed myself to love and be loved … where would we be?

I have said it before and I will say it again, I’m not stupid.  I’m an intelligent person.  I graduated college with a bachelor’s of science, I ran a very successful business for years and I remained in an abusive, violent relationship for 20+ years.  Had I stayed, I would be dead.  My kids would be highly damaged individuals (if not dead themselves) who would have likely repeated the patterns of abuse and violence.  Now, don’t misunderstand what I am saying here.  They have plenty of personal work to do when they are old enough to bring awareness to the covert abuse and violence they are currently surviving (our courts are easily romanced by the covert narcissist who is a professional at self presentation, courting the judges and magistrates with their half truths and blatant lies).  My kids scars will also be deep and painful.  They see their father (I puke a little in my mouth as I type that word, he’s not earned the right to really even be called a parent) regularly and the damage control we do here in our home is only enough to save them, not heal them.  That said, I see glimpses of the beautiful souls God placed them here to be and my heart overflows with joy.

We drag our feet leaving the lone star state.  If it weren’t for my husband and horses being here in Colorado, we’d adopt ourselves into some poor unsuspecting person’s home down there!  Lol!  How do you bid ado to a place that embodies so much hope, promise, light and love?  I suppose we don’t ever really leave, we simply set our shoulders knowing we’ll be back.  Too many pieces of our hearts are now sprinkled about that great state.  As we make our way north and cross out of Texas into Oklahoma and into Colorado you can feel the barbell begin to lower it’s great weight down on us just the same as gravity pushes it against the weight lifter’s chest.  It’s heavy, the pick up begins to get eerily quiet aside from the radio quietly playing some Texas red dirt country music and her motor laboring and whining against the strain of the load she’s hauling.  The energy feels heavy and restless …

I don’t know what our journey looks like on down the line.  I know that for now, we are counting down the years until my daughter (the youngest) is 18 years old and recognized by the state of Colorado as having a voice as an adult about her environment, her future and her relationship with a man who is an abusive covert narcissist.  I tell myself that we’re halfway.  I quietly celebrate my divorcivarsary each year and take a deep breath knowing we’re closer to the end of the tunnel.  Sure, we may have weddings to deal with and the birth of grandchildren however I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that will be in the control of the kids and what they want not what a very broken system dictates.  I’m restless, ready to close this chapter of our lives.  I’m ready to be fully me, for my kids to be themselves and ready for my husband and I to be in a position where we can pack up and haul ass to anywhere in the country we decide we want to be.  Until then …..

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”   

 

Distorted Reflections

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Who’s eyes do you see yourself through?  When you dig deep, who’s eyes do you really see yourself through?

I carry a folding camp chair with me to all our softball games along with a stadium blanket.  The kids have nicknamed my chair, “The Throne” , and no, I didn’t argue with them!  Lol!  I think it’s a great name!  It has a nice ring to it!  “Don’t forget mom’s throne!”, they call out when we load the pick up.  At most of the fields we play on, I can back my pick up right up to the chain link fencing surrounding the field.  I drop the tailgate, climb up into the bed and position my throne so that I can watch the game without staring through the fencing (it makes my eyes hurt).  The other night I was all set up to watch our girls play their double header.  I took my rightful place on my throne, wrapped my stadium blanket around myself like a tortilla to ward off the chilly air and realized, in slight horror, as I looked down the field that my wasband had been asked to be the home plate ump ( the real umpire was a no show) and my daughter was suiting up to play catcher.  I knew what was to come …

To say the strike zone was small is a bit of an understatement.  A major leaguer would have had a hard time pitching a strike!  I watched as each pretty little pitcher struggled to throw just the right pitch.  They would leave the mound at the end of each inning looking more and more frustrated and defeated.  Our coach pulled my wasband aside, twice and physically showed him how much of a strike zone to have.  I breathed a sigh of relief when halfway through the first game my daughter was moved to short stop, knowing full well she was getting ear fulls of criticism from her father as he loomed behind her at home plate.  My wasband has never played baseball or softball however he believes he is an expert concerning the game …  narcissists know everything about, well, everything.  During a break between games, after pointing out all the mistakes my baby girl had made as catcher and short stop in front of her team mates, she finally broke away from her critiquer.  She sat down in a huff on my lap and asked, “Would it be terribly inappropriate to throat punch him!?!”  As I carefully formulated my response, a voice from the group next to us said, “A baseball bat would require less effort, sweetheart.”

I understood her frustration.  Feeling like she can’t do anything right or acceptable.  That nothing she does is ever good enough in his eyes.  As she trotted off to get ready for the second game I pondered to myself, “Do my kids see themselves through his eyes?  Are they accepting what he’s constantly pounding into them as their own truth about who they are?”  He is the reason my son refuses to play basketball and was ready to quit wrestling this past season!  He is the reason I laid down my dreams of competing in figure competitions amongst other things.  And as I sat there contemplating who’s eyes my kids see themselves through, I was hit upside my head by a giant BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) as it dawned on me that I have been holding his truth about me as my own!!!

I still view myself through his critical, judgmental, belittling eyes.  Narcissists cause you to lose faith and belief in your true self.  By incessantly berating, criticizing and cutting you down, they are able to maintain their superiority and exercise their control over you.  These narcissists hold themselves in such a grandiose light that the only way anyone can be in their circle is to be dimmer … as in no light shining at all.  In their eyes, everyone they come into contact with is inferior to them in some way.  They slowly poison you into believing you are all they say you are.  It’s almost undetectable like CO2 gas as it slowly suffocates you.

As time passed in our relationship I began feeling like I really was ignorant, naive and stupid.  I was never good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, fit enough … I was never enough.  Each day … for over two decades … I was reminded how awful of an individual he believed me to be.  He once informed me that there were plenty of women out there far more beautiful than I and for that reason he could never tell me I was beautiful.  In his book, I was cute at best.  Who the hell says that to the one they profess to love!?!

In his eyes, I was incapable of anything good and it really wore on me.  I found myself peering around the corner into what used to be a real mirror, reflecting back the real me, only to find that someone replaced that mirror with fun house mirrors, distorting everything about who I thought I knew myself to be.  By the time I bolted out of that “marriage”, I was an adulteress wench with a drinking problem and an addiction to horses (ummm … yes, he actually put this in writing and I had to defend myself against these accusations in court)!  My point being, when I look in the mirror, part of me still sees the reflection of the distorted images the fun house mirrors reflected back for all of those years.  I still feel as though I’m not good enough, as though I’m the failure he saw and still sees me to be.  Intellectually I know better, however that journey from my head to my heart can be, at times, painfully distant.

I pray that the damage done when the kids are in their father’s environment is countered by the positive way my superhero husband and I try to parent.  I pray that the effort we make to build the kids up, encourage them and support them isn’t negated by their father’s inability to do the same (narcissists lack the ability to empathize, incapable of understanding how others feel).  I pray that the mirror they peer into is always true and that what it reflects back is the person they want to see through their own eyes rather than peering at the distorted reflection of a fun house mirror through the eyes of a man who is incapable of truly loving anyone including himself.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”