I read an interesting blog about healing after the narcissist’s sting, and I want to write about the comments that another reader made:
Original blog: http://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/talking-about-narcissists-and-woundology/
Comment by: Miss Min on July 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm said:
“…I thought I was being a loving, committed wife when I endlessly forgave the emotional cruelty and psychological control. I thought it was the right thing to do spiritually to have compassion for his pain – I always understood that he was acting from his own woundedness and believed, as we are taught, that love, understanding and patience were the keys to unlocking and releasing that pain.Church teachings aided and abetted him, with their instructions to ‘submit’, to follow his lead as the head of the household, and to show him respect no matter how disgusting were the words that came out of his mouth. I now know that tough love would have been the better option; if used early in our marriage, while he was still so much ‘in love’ with me, it may have pulled him up short and given him pause for thought… I know, too, that self-love is just as important as love for others, but while caught in his web, I slowly forgot how to care for myself. It’s true that I gave him my heart on a platter, sharpened the knife and gave that to him too. The way you’ve expressed that incredibly salient point is just brilliant.
By the end of our marriage, my hold on my own sanity was extremely tenuous. He’d spent years crazy-making, gaslighting, lying, invalidating, confusing and … well, the whole abusive repertoire seemed to come naturally to him. It happened slowly; bit by bit he let his true nature show through. I think of it as ‘boiling frog syndrome’. In the beginning, our abusers are overwhelmingly kind, loving, passionate and considerate…but over time the cruelty seeps in like a slow turning tide. Before we know it we’re drowning. If you put a frog into boiling water (if you’re a sadist, that is!), it will immediately leap out to save its life. But if you put it in a pot of cold water and very, very slowly turn up the heat until the water is boiling, the frog will stay in the pot until it boils to death. That’s what happened to me…and to many thousands like me. And yet…we do need to be accountable. We’re not frogs…and once we’re past the months needed to process the extreme pain we’ve been through, and have had a chance to understand it thoroughly, we need to make sure it never, ever happens to us again.
Miss Min’s words resonate with me because the one and only reason that I stayed committed to my marriage to Driftwood (narcissist) was because of religious programming that I learned in my childhood. As a youngster, I did not know that I was Jewish. My family attended the Episcopal Church every Sunday and I thought I was Episcopalian. I liked going to church. I was an acolyte, so I got to wear a costume and carry a candle in the processions. I also got to take part in the Christmas plays, first as a sheep and later as a shepherd. One year, I even got to play Salome and ask for the head of John the Baptist! The kids called me “Salami” for years. When I started Confirmation classes, it became extremely clear that I did not agree with most Church doctrine. My teacher was a wonderful man. He told me to be quiet and just submit to the ceremony. In other words, think for myself but don’t make waves. It was loving advice that served me well on many future occasions. I mention this to illustrate that I was not a ChrEaster, those Xtians who go to church twice a year (Christmas and Easter). Hence, ChrEasters. Even as a pre-teen child, I loved the Old Testament and the stories of my ancestors. (Now I know why.) I was a sensitive child, over-concerned with justice and fairplay. I thought morality came from following the bible, so I loved the bible.
As a grown-up, I would study many of the world’s religions, looking for universal truths; but, at last, I would return to Torah. Unfortunately, I have a lot of mixed-up, self-abusing ideas in my head that came from the time before I found Torah. One of these ideas is that God-fearing women do not get divorced.
I would like to mention that in the Jewish tradition, when someone gets divorced, the proper thing to do is to congratulate them. They were married to the wrong match and now they have a chance to find true happiness with someone else. Party time. Mazal tov. I wish I had known that, but I was brainwashed from birth to believe that divorce is sinful and for quitters.
I felt the same way as Miss Min. I had made a commitment before God to join in holy matrimony with the narcissist and now I was going to have to persevere. I was going to make it work even if I had to martyr myself for the cause. Then he started with the frog boil. Slowly, slowly, went the crazy-making until I was having anxiety attacks that could only be suppressed with Xanax. I was living like a POW inside my own home. And why didn’t I leave? Because divorce was sinful.
After too many years, I applied for work 500 miles away, packed some of my belongings in the station wagon, and drove away. But even then, my husband and I maintained separate residences for 6 years, but never filed for divorce! I wish I could get those years back somehow. I made a bad decision based on indoctrination. I could have moved on and found a partner who was capable of loving me, but I didn’t want to sin. What I didn’t realize was that the narcissist also had an investment in staying married to me. I thought his reasons were the same as mine, but they weren’t. That story is for another post.
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