Narcissism: The House, My Boys, Our Hearts

The House.

My Boys.

Our hearts.

There are places in my heart that my mind has allowed me to forget. Trauma. If you’ve ever lived through it, you understand how your mind has a way of protecting your being so you don’t  have to relive the pain over and over and over. Yet, somehow. your body remembers. This is where the PTSD pours through one’s veins. Where triggers seem to come from nowhere, yet your body remembers. A moment. In time.

This. Is the place. I haven’t wanted to write from. The darkest places of my heart involve my boys’ hearts. The treasure I couldn’t protect. I wasn’t able to protect my boys’ hearts from the one person who was suppose to keep them safe. And teach them about a Father’s heart. This is where the codependency rears it’s ugly head. The part of my story I want to hide and protect and run from and never touch…

This. Is the part. I hate with every fiber of my being. 

This is the chapter of my story where I’m learning to place my children’s hearts in the palm of the Father’s hand and trust that His heart is reaching into their own heart space. Today. And hope that one day, they’ll discover the wonder of how the Father’s heart beats in sync with their own. The same thing I had to discover. This is the codependent part where I have to let go of the burden. It’s not mine to carry… I know…

I sat in front of the house.

It was very early, perhaps, 6 a.m.

Thanksgiving morning.

I’m not the same person, Christelle. This time it’s different.

I’ve heard this all before. How is it different. This time. I asked. Again. As I’d asked so many times before.

It just is. This time God has changed me. I graduated from my addiction recovery program. They told me they’d never had someone work so hard at the program and I was able to graduate early. My peers in the class all told me that I’m an incredible listener. We supported each other through. You just have to trust me. I know it’s hard. I know I’ve made mistakes. But this time is different. I promise. I want to reconcile, Christelle. I know God wants us in ministry together. We will travel the world and tell our story. God gives second chances. This time. It’s different. But you just need to trust me.

The words he spoke only a month before.

October 17th,

Our 21st wedding anniversary.

He was insistant on celebrating with me. Ironically, I had stopped celebrating that date several years prior. After a betrayal that nearly killed me. A betrayal that led to our vow renewal. The vow renewal where I later found out, he was already having another affair as he declared promises to me and my boys and in front of a handful of my closest friends and family. This time, with a waitress, we had both come to know, at a restaurant he visited every night after work. And on weekends. Instead of coming home to his own boys.

Their words still haunt my soul, “Mom, where’s dad? How is he still at work?” He had us all convinced that we couldn’t possibly understand how hard he works and the long hours it takes to teach. and coach. and be a father figure to students, the same ages as my boys. “Mom, where’s dad?” My youngest would ask. He waited for hours for his dad to come home. To read to him. To tuck him in bed. To. Spend. TIME with him.

This. is the part.

Dear God…

I’m going to digress.

because this is the story, no child should have to live. 

A Father is supposed to protect his children.

AND THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HIS NUMBER ONE FUCKING PRIORITY.

This is the part

THAT fucking breaks my heart.

BECAUSE HE FUCKING broke THEIR HEARTS!

This is the part that hurts so bad, the heart part, where my whole body trembles.

I want to puke.

Does he still have his job, Christelle? His parents would ask when I’d beg them for help.

Be careful who you tell Christelle. He needs his job.

You better not go to my job, Christelle.

No one at my job will believe you, Christelle.

They all know you are crazy.

The words that held me hostage.

The job that held his identity.

And all I could think was. Is. WHO FUCKING CARES ABOUT HIS JOB? When at the end of his life his own boys will declare: We NEVER had a DAD!!! So while he’s living a lie at his religious institution, spending time with students his own boys age. Living in the status of a leader, mentor, coach, father figure… HE’S failing his OWN children! Neglecting them. Abandoning them.

THIS is the part.

Where I was held hostage.

And bound to silence.

This is the part where, my own boys have given me permission to talk.

And so I sat in front of the house. On Thanksgiving day. And watched.

There are no more women in my life Christelle. I only hang around my roommates. They are all males. No females come to visit. I’m a changed man Christelle. This time it’s different. I want my family back. I just want to be a good dad. You need to trust me.

Thanksgiving Day. 

We made plans for him to spend a portion of the day with our boys.

But something whispered through my soul… I couldn’t ignore… lingering whispers…

Something isn’t right…

The house. The very house my sister in law had beautifully prepared for us to help create a new life after the affair that nearly killed me. Both my brother and sister in law  decorated, painted, built. For US. Our family. Prepared with love as we made steps to. Begin. Again.

YOU STOPPED BEING MY DAD WHEN YOU HAD AN AFFAIR WITH MY BEST FRIEND’s MOM. My oldest son screamed at him. From inside that house. Only months prior. My son bolted from his room to protect ME from his father’s drunkin’ state. He had lunged at me and pushed a couch into my body as he tried to take my phone. I was recording his words to me because I knew. Noone. Would believe me.

The house. The place of new beginnings and very dark endings.

“I Hate you Christelle! You always assume the worst. And I wont let you! I believe in a God of second chances!”

The language of a narcissist. To make you feel crazy. To second guess yourself. To shift blame. To use YOU as a scapegoat. WHEN in fact… the assumptions are minor compared to the truth. Every single time I made an assumption about His actions, I would find out later the truth was something I could never have imagined nor thought possible. He spoke the words. He knew the words to use. To keep me bound. For 20 years. And I truly believed he could change and that God would change him. Until. One day. I no longer believed him. And just like that. I knew. Our life together was over.

Thanksgiving. 

I arrived at the house. The boys were set to meet with him at the house. To celebrate the holiday with him. But I couldn’t shake the feeling. Something wasn’t right.

And so I sat there. And I watched. The porch my boys had once played on. The porch where I had taken pictures of my boys on their first days of school. Captured photos of them wearing their Halloween costumes. Watched them play with friends. The house where I stopped allowing their friends to come over. Because in the end. It became so incredibly dark.

Thanksgiving Day. 

From across the street. I watched as two females, about the same age as my oldest… relaxed on the porch. Smoking cigarettes. Drinking. Something. Dressed in their pajamas. It was clear they felt comfortable there. It was clear by their appearance, they had spent the night there. After several minutes, they stood up, opened the door, and let themselves back inside.

She means nothing to me Christelle. She’s crazy, Christelle. I met her in my drug and alcohol rehab program. She needed a place to stay. I was helping out a friend. She needed a way to get to work. I needed to drive her there. She doesn’t have a car. She had no where to live. I couldn’t let her go back to the streets. I let her sleep in my bed because she wanted to. She came into the bedroom and told me she had been raped. I needed to comfort her. We only snuggled, Christelle. Nothing happened, Christelle. We are only friends.

My bed. My house. My boys.

Our.

Hearts.

 

 

Narcissism & Co-Dependency: Getting Unstuck with a Powerful War Cry

The struggle to write

To not make excuses

To give myself permission

To turn off the voices

Telling me not to. Write.

to listen to the ONE.

Write the Story

For YOU

.and for THEM

It won’t make sense to the rules

To the counselors

To RELIGION

Because you write the opposite of what they want you to do

.and tell you to do

because when you leave a narcissistic marriage

You have lost EVERY SINGLE PIECE of who you are created to be

You have no idea who you married

and no idea who you are

So today, you will write and continue to write

and write the words

to make sure you are

completely

Unstuck

So they can get unstuck

and for those who do not yet realize they are powerful

You will write the words

You finally believe

and speak

with authority

I

AM

Powerful

Created by the most powerful force in the world. LOVE. I am love. Made in the image of love. I walk in love. Love surrounds me and is inside me. I know who I am and who I was created to be. I can and I will get up and move forward.

I will take the steps I need to take

To get myself unstuck.

One step, today.

One step, tomorrow.

LOVE sings a song of life over me, through me, and rests inside of me.

LOVE beckons me forward and dances me into my healing.

LOVE sees my pain, yet knows my strength.

I AM STRONG. AND TODAY I RISE.

I make the phone call. I ask for help. I tell my story.

I do. WHAT. I need to do.

TODAY.

To get myself unstuck.

I am no longer dependent on HIM. OR HER. I RISE. I STAND. I take. a step.

Forward.

Toward my destiny.

The narcissist no longer controls me. The poison no longer seeps through my soul.

I walk in forgiveness. I remain steadfast. I rest.

I.

AM.

Strong.

I know WHO my FATHER is. I stand in HIS shadow. LOVE guides me. Protects me.

LOVE tells me with all it’s authority:

You got this

You doin’ this

You keep movin’

Do you hear me?

You rise!

You stand! 

YOU ARE NOT STUCK!

YOU get yo self up. 

You REST in my LOVE

I see the tension, I feel your pain, I see that you don’t think you can go on

one more minute, one more hour, one more day

BUT

YOU

CAN

AND

YOU 

WILL

You RISE

MY LOVE

YOU RISE

THIS IS YOUR WAR CRY

NOW SAY IT WITH ME

I

AM

LOVE

I AM STRONG

Today, I RISE.

She Closed the Old Book. She Began Again.

There will be moments, forever etched into my soul.

Transformational moments.

Mind shifting moments.

Graduation moments.

Empowering moments.

Moments that remind me, seasons change. It does get better. I am better. I have grown. I have moved forward.

I.

Am.

Powerful.

I am no longer controlled by another. By abusive words. By choices. By lies, betrayal, finances, addiction.

Myself.

THIS was one of those moments.

The words.

I must write the words.

So they don’t become stuck.

Words explode as part of my growth. My graduation.

My. Next. Chapter.

or. rather. the last page. of the last chapter of a very different book.

I was having coffee at one of my favorite restaurants. A place where I’ve celebrated Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Saturday morning breakfast conversations with my boys. One of our city’s most hidden of hidden gems. On this day, I was celebrating friendship, catching up with an old friend.

Sipping coffee, I looked up. He entered the restaurant. With a woman. For a moment, I froze. The old feelings of distress attempted to make their ugly shivers known.

No! NOT THIS TIME. I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. I told my own soul. I recognized the familiar words that he had written only a few days before.

I’m not the same person, Christelle. God has changed me. I spoke in chapel. The Holy Spirit was all over it. You are the love of my life, the only woman who has ever loved me.  Will you go on a date with me? Can we celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary? I’m not that person any more. I only hang out with my male friends. Go to work. Coach. Go home. There are no other women in my life…

I recognized all the words. All the feelings. All the sentiments. I had heard them in various forms before. During several sets of women. Each time, growing more and more devastated.

Lies. if we allow them. will crush our heart, soul, mind. Lies, when we make them about us, will keep us stuck. And when we stay silent, we become the keeper of another’s lies. Another’s dysfunction. Another’s betrayal. In fact, we become their greatest asset: their enabler. And in turn, we become. Co-dependent.

For 8 years, his affairs controlled me. Destroyed me. Kept me bound to unworthiness. Not being enough. I reacted to pain with harsh words for him and to them. Affairs with my own friends, acquaintances, others. So. Many. Others. Text messages. Pornography. Emails. Phone calls. Dates. Gifts. Time. And for 8 years, I deconstructed, much like the seed that must deconstruct before it blooms.

On this day. At this moment. I knew. Everything had changed.

Not him. He was exactly the same. I had changed. I HAVE changed. I stood. I walked over to the table where he sat. I looked him in the eyes. So many words, flashed through my mind. 21 years of marriage. Hospital visits. Births of children. Miscarriages. Holidays. Celebrations. 3 Moves across the country. All those moments shimmering through my eyes. But on this day. And at this moment. I had my power back. Hello, I said. I could tell he was baffled. Perhaps shocked. Perhaps … One can only guess or assume… I looked at her. Hi, my name is Christelle. What is your name? She answered.

I looked back at him.

Steady. I had risen. I know who I am. I am a powerful woman. Created to make powerful choices. My choices effect both me, my sphere, and potentially my community and world. I am created by the most powerful force in the world. Created in His image, I am love. I walk in love. I turned and looked at her. Then him.

It was nice meeting you. Have a wonderful afternoon. And I walked away.

The truth is, it no longer matters that we are still married. On paper. Only. We are both allowed to have friends. I left him well over a year ago. Our marriage destroyed long before that.  The lies no longer matter. They no longer shatter my soul. I recognize the stories. They’ve been told for more than 20 years. What’s different is ME. My deconstruction is complete. I’ve been growing through the dirt, the mire…

I’ve blossomed.

I shine.

Now. It’s merely logistics. of a marriage that once was. an old chapter. A book. Now complete. because Today. I’m writing the first page. of a new chapter. of a new book. And the title is:

She began, again.

Talk to God: My Secret Prayer about Love and Forgiveness

So, I’m beginning to write, God.

God: Yeah, we’ve been working through this for quite awhile. It’s time.

I don’t know what the heart of my story is supposed to be.

Christelle

God: We’ve been working through this too. You tell them who I was for you, who I became for you, and who I am for you now. You tell them about the Father’s heart.

I remember that vision, God, where we sat together and talked about your heart and you showed me how to go about forgiving my own father. And I remember how, for the first time, I was able to see you as a Father. I remember I didn’t want to leave that moment.

God: That’s a good memory we shared together, Christelle.

I’m still in process, God.

God: Yes, I know.

I’m having a hard time forgiving.

God: Yes, I know. 

Silence. Thinking. Pondering.

God, what’s your favorite memory of us?

God: Oh, I have several, but, one of my favorite was the day you were born. You know, Jesus was there. Sitting at the foot of your mom’s bed. I gave your dad your name.

I always wondered, God. Cuz it’s not like the others.

God: I wanted your name to always hold within it who you are and who’s you are. I wanted it written on your birth certificate because I knew there would be dark moments and lies spoken around you telling you who you are not. I whispered your name to your dad… a prophetic expression of your life and destiny.

Silence. Processing. Thinking.

How do I forgive them, God?

God: You know the answer, Christelle. You need to see them through my eyes. I gave you three sons. The way you see your sons is exactly how I see all of my children. When you see them through my eyes, you will be able to forgive them. You’ve been hanging onto hurt for too long. Step by step, moment by moment, we are going to walk through it and let it go. Remember the day I showed you myself as a Lion, and together we forgave your father? I love you child, and I love them too, exactly the way you love your boys.

I’ve prayed my entire life to be more like you, God. To love like you.

God: (chuckling) I know. You’re become more love daily. I see you as I made you. A living expression of my love for you and all your brothers and sisters.

That’s alot of love.

God: (smiles)

God: You know, to be like me, you’re going to need to answer your phone.

Silence. Pondering.

Well, I got a job where I need to do that very thing. You always do that, God. That thing where I learn something profound about you in some abstract way. How do you do that?

God: I speak your language, Christelle. Love speaks your language.

Well, if the phone call is mean or abusive, I’m  hanging up. Just letting you know.

God: That’s your choice. You can make any choice you want.

Silence.

God: Remember the times when you were really angry at me? So angry that you were cussing at me and yelling?

You’re doing it again.

God: I didn’t turn away.

You didn’t hang up and you listened. I remember, God. This love thing takes a lot of practice. Sometimes, I think I don’t want to be like you anymore. It’s too hard. But ultimately, I do. I want to be love.  I want to be like you.

Silence. Pondering.

You did it again. Showing me the heart of a father and  heart of a son and daughter. Every child wants to be just like their parent. Every sons admires and adore their father. A healthy father relationship on earth is a living breathing prophetic expression of your heart.

That’s wild…

 

Grief: I Grant You Permission to Be Fully Human

Grief.

There is not a wrong way nor a right way to fully grieve.

I do believe, however, that many of us were taught that it’s not okay to grieve.

Not truly.

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Years ago, I attended a group therapy workshop. The goal: to fully grieve a loss. Each person in attendance was dealing with loss. Some death. Others, health. Divorce. Job.

The loss of a dream.

Each of us will deal with loss throughout our lifetime.

Each of us will grieve in our own way.

Some public. Some private.

The workshop taught me the importance of fully grieving loss. For the first time, I was granted permission to feel loss deeply, profoundly.

To breath it in and let it go.

Grief has many stages. There are no rules one must follow in order to grieve. It is, however, important to feel each stage deeply.

Fully.

Entirely.

If we don’t allow ourselves to fully grieve loss, pieces of our heart and soul will become stuck in process. Perhaps anger will take root or bitterness will plant itself ever so slightly into our being.

Grief. 

We must feel it,

live it,

embrace it.

Breath it in and let it go.

Each stage, thoroughly acknowledged and worked through.

Anger. Denial. Isolation. Bargaining. Deep Sorrow and Depression. Acceptance.

There is no right or wrong order to the grieving process. Yet, each feeling that corresponds is entirely okay. Some will describe their process as a roller coaster. Others, a circle. Most will feel the stages several times through, perhaps backtracking through certain stages again and again.

I’m not sure we entirely heal from loss. I think loss leaves a forever scar. And at the most unexpected moment, the pain will rise again.

I’ve experienced grief.

Unexpectedly.

In the grocery store. In my car. While listening to a song that evokes a memory.

My initial response is to hide my grief behind sunglasses. Or to run to the nearest restroom until the tears stop flowing.

What would happen if we allowed each other to grieve fully?

No restrictions, nor rules.

What would happen if we stop making grief awkward while embracing each other’s process?

What if in the midst of grief, we hold each other’s hearts near?

What if we allow each other space to grieve uniquely and without judgement?

A smile. A touch. A whisper of, “I’m sorry, I’m here. If you need me.”

No words trying to make grief better, but rather, hearts that become a safe space.

For grief.

Can we do this for each other?

Can we allow each other to be fully human?

To feel.

I think this. Might be love. Amplified.

Grief.

Let’s allow it. Embrace it. Breath it in. Feel it thoroughly. Let it go.

And grant permission to each other to fully grieve as well.

I’m still working through my own loss. Losses.

Breathing it in. Letting it go.

Granting myself permission to thoroughly experience the entire process. Granting others permission and a safe space to do the same.

Grief: A process that reminds us, we are human.

We are all more alike than different.

In the midst, to the core, somehow… I see love.

 

 

 

The F Word: FREEDOM

To write my process and journey through leaving abuse is at once terrifying and healing.

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I am acutely aware of the responsibility I have with my words and actions each time I hit the publish button.

I realize the impact the words I type could have on myself, my children, and those in my sphere of influence.

I am highly in tune with my responsibility as a blogger and writer. I don’t take it lightly. And yet, I must write. I must speak. I stayed silent for too long. I gave away my power to others who wished my story would stay secret.

I write for those who have not yet found their voice, so they will know, they are not alone.

I write, because with each word, I feel resistance…

I see resistance…

I receive hurtful words from others,

wishing I would stay silent.

I break down for a moment. Sometimes more.

AND THAT is o.k.

And it’s important to acknowledge the feelings that go along with my process.

Hurt. Anger. Grief. Loss.

ALL of it.

Then,

I STAND.

A reminder rings through my spirit to DECLARE THE OPPOSITE of resistance I feel into the atmosphere.

I write the pieces of my story I want my children to receive and to speak into their own families for generations.

I write the truth about my process because there’s a religious resistance to the truth about pain, healing, feelings, and forgiveness.

The truth is, I hit publish terrified.

The little girl that resides within my heart wants to hide.

The Lioness arising, however, declares:

NO MORE!

I KNOW WHO MY DADDY IS! I SEE WHAT’S BEHIND YOU! DO YOU KNOW WHO’S INSIDE ME? WHO WALKS BESIDE ME. IN FRONT OF ME. BEHIND ME? DO YOU KNOW THE SPIRIT WHO SURROUNDS ME! DO YOU KNOW THIS IS MY SEASON OF TURNING MY POWER UP AND ON!

ABUSE IS NO JOKE!

BUT I AM FREE.

Today is my day to declare freedom for myself and for all the others unable to walk away.

Today, is the day I declare freedom for the oppressors as well. And I can’t lie. That one is the hardest. But without this declaration, there will not be freedom for ALL.

AND Kingdom on Earth is God’s will for every member of the human race.

US.

THEM.

WE.

WE. ARE. FAMILY.

FREEDOM.

Growing Pains: Healing after Abuse

By the time I left my marriage, I was bankrupt, betrayed more times than I will ever know, depressed, anxious,

Hopeless.

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PTSD had become my friend. Waking up in the middle of the night, unable to breath, was common. Hiding under my kid’s beds, locking my bedroom door or bathroom door and hiding out for the night to avoid the toxicity of abuse that comes from addiction was an every day occurence.

In order to protect myself, I completely shut down. I thought I was going crazy which I later found out is common in abuse. The abused is taught to second guess themselves, to question their truth at all times. Nothing is ever as it seems.

Gaslighting

Scapegoating

Blame shifting

all terms I eventually learned to describe the toxicity of the relationship I was in.

I went through marriage counseling only to realize that in some circumstances counseling can be harmful. In fact, counseling is harmful when it focusses on open communication and trust while one party puts the work in to heal and the other party does the exact opposite. An abuser is a master at manipulating everyone around them. Thus creating more abuse in every relationship both are involved in whether friendship, counseling, pastoral, family.

In the months leading up to my final goodbye.

Escape.

I was continuously served papers for bills I didn’t know existed. Money went missing. Sometimes, I didn’t know how I would feed my kids.

But the most heartbreaking moments that came of the toxic situation was the questions asked by my boys,

“Mom, where’s dad?”

“Mom, why hasn’t dad come home yet?”

“Mom, you can’t let dad drive, he smells like alcohol.”

“Mom, we need to leave but where will we go?”

How does a mom answer such questions and statements?

How do you leave when you have nowhere to go?

How many times do you cry out to God, declaring freedom, yet experience so much darkness?

In the end, I was begging God to take my life. I lost the will to live. But, I knew, I could not leave my children in the hands of a toxic parent.

In such toxic environments, some people do not survive. Some take their own life. Some succumb to homicide. Some are unable to handle the stress and their bodies finally give in to illness. THIS is the absolute TRUTH and the seriousness of abuse. Hiding abuse, keeping secrets, covering up… only enables abuse and toxic situations to continue and it will continue for generations.

UNTIL someone stands up and says: NO MORE!

I will never forget the night I had a dream of a Lion sitting next to my bed. In my sleep, I turned and gazed directly into the Lion’s eyes and whispered, “Aslan, you’re here?” Aslan responded,

“I never left you.”

I believe in dreams and visions. I believe in a God who will display hope through our heart language. And I believe in a creator who has been with us since the beginning of time, hears our cries, knows our thoughts, answers all things with pure love.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God’s words for generations. To generations. 

I believe in a God who is shifting my heart and allowing me to forgive my abuser.

I believe in a God, who loves my abuser but does not expect me to stay in abuse.

I believe in a God who looks His daughters in the eye and says,

“Come now child,

Arise,

Come out,

I created you for freedom,

Joy…

You are powerful. You are love.

You are mine.”