Red Flags You are With an Abusive Person

Thank you Annie for this great list of red flags. I can check every single item on that list with my ex. The amazing thing I am still grappling with is, How did I let it go on for so long? Why did I think it was ok?

GentleKindness

Here is a list of red flags that may help you to see early on that you are with an abusive personality. If you are seeing a few of these characteristics then you need to assert some boundaries with them and see how they react.

If they fight you about having simple personal boundaries then you need to realize that you may be in an abusive relationship. 

Tell them you have to go sleep early one night because you have a lot to do the next day. If they do not accept this, then there is a problem.

No one should give you guilt or shame you that you are not good to them, when you are doing simple basic things to take care of yourself.

It is not normal for someone to threaten to leave you or call you a bad girlfriend if you want to do things for…

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Real Love?

I have been doing a lot of “work” lately about what type of relationships I would like to manifest going forward… someday, I keep thinking, “maybe” if there is such a thing as “real Love” what would it look like? (It has become more and more clear to me with each passing day and each new level of healing/awareness that I am reaching, that what I had with my ex-husband was anything but *real*)…

So (putting it all out there) here is what came out in my journal the other night.

Dec. 4, 2015

REAL LOVE

Love is sane.

Real Love uplifts.

Love is SAFE.

Real love is founded in truth. We say what we mean, and we mean what we say.

Love is gentle. Love is forgiving. Love does not point out all the “lacks” –love *loves* the idiosyncrasies that make our Beloved special and Real. Love is kind. Kind words, kind hands, kind intentions, kind Spirit. Love wants the best for the Beloved. At. All. Times. Love takes pride in the Beloved’s achievements and Love accepts praise and support in return. Love is not having to ask for a hug or a sensitive touch–they are given freely–without second thought. Without ulterior motives. In fact, TRUE love has no ulterior motives at all. Love just wants to love more and to be loved, in return.

I am not sure if I have ever received this type of love–and for a long time either believed it didn’t exist, or, if it did, I didn’t believe I was worthy. I would shut it out or dismiss it as “too sappy” or “too good to be true”. Who could truly love ME? But, now I know that I am worthy. If such a love exists I am worthy of receiving it. And I am full of love (for MYSELF FIRST) but to give to another who will respond in kind. Love does not empty the Well, Love will fill it up. Love cares, and checks to make sure there is water in the well, before taking a drink.

Love is not afraid to show emotions. Love has not GUILE. Real love is REAL. It flows out, an flows back, like this:

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I am worthy. I AM worthy. I am worthy.

On Loneliness After Being Alone

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I have been feeling so lonely lately. I just woke up the other morning, and I was like, ‘how did I get here?’. There has been so much to think about, feel, and do since my husband pulled the pin out of the grenade back in May, when he told me he wanted a divorce. First, I had to figure out how to navigate the new ‘relationship’ as cohabiting co-parents, how, in the midst of my emotional confusion, to keep it cool around the kids, then, how to stand my ground and tell him that, ‘thanks but no thanks, I am not moving out of state just to accommodate you and your new life you are planning, that does not include me’. Then, when he didn’t like that answer and started threatening me (by saying he would take the kids, accuse me of being an unfit parent, and get custody) I had to figure out how to hire an attorney (I did) file for divorce (I did) and get my rights protected (I did). Phew. Then, when my husband left to start his new life, he dropped another bomb. Our divorce was not settled (because we couldn’t reach an agreement about spousal support) so he told me he was basically going to put X amount in a joint bank account, each month, and that was it… “until I signed off on a divorce agreement, or we went to court.” UGH. Just writing about that and thinking about that, makes me so angry. What an asshole! He told me this as I was driving him TO THE AIRPORT with our kids in the backseat. He took away my power to stick up for myself or express my anger. Because he knew I wouldn’t do that in front of the kids. (Though, after years of emotional abuse and gas lighting, it’s possible I wouldn’t have said anything even if the kids weren’t present. I don’t know).

Then, shortly after he left, my mom died. Very suddenly. Like the very next week.

Damn.

I’ve been back and forth to California now a couple of times, to help my sister make arrangements, and then, to attend the memorial.

I still haven’t processed my emotions from all of that.

There’s no time to feel.

There’s no time to heal.

I have to try and figure out my new life and figure out how to make a solid income to try and take care of my 2 kids and myself. We currently have no health insurance, and a very limited income (what my husband has decided to give)…

In his defense I will say that when my mom died, he booked a last minute flight back from Atlanta to come stay with the kids over the weekend, so I could fly to California on my own and deal with things. And, he is paying for my son’s school tuition (my son has special needs and goes to a private school) which is $1,200.00 a month. 

But that doesn’t excuse his past behavior and the tactics he has taken throughout this whole process.

Finally though, we have reached a settlement. It is so much easier dealing with the business of getting divorced when I only have to discuss it with my attorney (who discusses it with his attorney) and I do not have to see him or deal with his demands, lectures, etc..

So, as you can see (if you’ve kept with me this far, and I thank you)… there hasn’t been a lot of time to process everything that’s happening. The end of a 12-year marriage. The end of my life-as-I-knew-it and the start of my new life (whatever that is!). Now, though, as the settlement has been reached, the divorce is almost final, and I’m starting to (sort of) get into a rhythm of my new life…I think the reality is starting to set in.

Not completely. I mean, my psyche can only deal with so much.

And my first set of priorities are dealing with pure survival and keeping this house of cards from falling down around me and my kids…

But. I feel it creeping in. The realizations. It’s over. I am not married anymore. I am a 43-year-old divorced, single mom. I have no family close by. I have just me, and my kids. It’s all on me. I’ve also lost so much lately. Not just my own mother, but, the family I had come to love so much and had really adopted as my own; my In-Laws. In my husband’s family, I had gained a really wonderful Father and Mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law….

And I miss them so fucking much.

But I can not be in contact with them right now.

I just can’t. And don’t know if I should.

Nothing will ever be the same.

So much has been stripped away lately and I feel naked and exposed and empty.

And, lonely.

I am not sure if the loneliness I feel is really missing him… or if it’s just having someone around in general. And I really don’t want a relationship right now, it’s not like that. I’m good with being solo. I wouldn’t even know how to navigate a relationship, even a casual one right now. So I know I’m going to have to be good with being alone for now, maybe for a long time. Maybe, even, for ever.

But I think, deep down, that the loneliness I am feeling now does not compare with the loneliness I was feeling living with someone every day who was supposed to love me, but didn’t. Someone who had actively ignored me for years. Someone who withdrew love and affection. Someone who really, despised me…

That was lonelier.

I just have to keep reminding myself of that every time I start slipping and thinking about the “good times”.

So, I need to learn how to feel the loneliness, feel the discomfort, and let it be what it is. Not put a value on it, just acknowledge it. And move on. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Given my circumstances, each day is really a victory, and each thing I figure out on my own (a new bank account, a parenting decision, a few days of freelance work to bring in money, how to get the microwave fixed….You name it) is a task and an accomplishment on its own.

My hope is that anyone reading this who can relate can feel less alone just by knowing…you’re not alone!

Namaste

#4: Your Best is Never Good Enough

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Imagine a woman, 7 months pregnant. Tall and limber, but supporting a large protruding, healthy pregnant belly. Imagine this woman down on her knees, painting baseboards. Imagine that her belly is so big she has to do a sort of sit-squat with her legs apart enough to fit her belly through. Imagine the pressure and pain this is putting on her back, legs, abdomen, organs, bladder. Then she loses all sensation in her ankles and feet. They fall asleep. She hoists herself up, slowly, unstable and needing to lie down. She is light headed and wobbly as the pins and needles shoot through her legs and feet. She lies down to rest for a moment only to realize, she has to pee—again! With much effort she rises and goes to the bathroom. She returns to her task of painting. Her adrenaline spikes as she looks at the clock. Only a few more hours before she needs to pick up her 2-year-old from daycare. Then the work will have to stop for the day. If she doesn’t get this job done, by the time her husband gets home, he will be angry, disappointed, irritated. She hurries through the job the best she can, taking breaks to relieve her aching back. This is no job for a pregnant woman, but, she understands, her husband is working hard to make a living and also working hard on the weekends to fix up this room before the baby comes, because, she asked him to, and, well, she has got to pitch in. He obviously has too much on his plate. He works so hard to take care of the three of them (soon to be four) and, he reminds her of it every. single. day.

This woman was me, 5 years ago. This was what I put myself through to avoid angering my husband. I did my very best. I finished the portion of the job that was requested: to paint the baseboards and the window trim. I was relieved and proud that I had done it–I had contributed–even in my state of largesse.

Only it wasn’t good enough. When he came home he went straight away into the bedroom to inspect my work. I was told I did it all wrong. I did a sloppy job. “Don’t you pay attention to anything you do?” “Do you even care about your work?” “Do you not see what a bad job you are doing? Are you just trying to rush through? Do you need glasses?” Then the tantrum and the guilt. “Now here’s one more thing I will have to do on MY weekend. I will have to re-do everything. This is going to set us back a whole week!” Me: Tears. Breaking heart. Red face. Swollen ankles. Aching joints. Never good enough. I did my best. My best under the circumstances. I think, “do you want it done perfectly, or do you just want it DONE?” But I dare not say a word. Any words I say will be twisted and used against me and feed his anger.

I thought this was supposed to be a happy time. Planning for our new baby. A baby we had wanted so much (or at least I thought *we* did). A baby we were told we’d never have. After so many disappointments, we adopted our gorgeous son, and now, we were being blessed again. I had become pregnant! The lack of space in our house was just a mere inconvenience, a blip on the screen compared to our blessing. Or so I thought. Everything was my fault. Somehow. Even while loving and taking care of our family, and growing a baby inside my womb, still, my best was not good enough. It never was.

The Early Days After Narc, Awkward but Hopeful.

It has been an interesting few weeks.

First off, as my STBXN’s departure date drew nearer (he got a job in another state) I became more and more anxious. I was doubting myself. His years of gas lighting and sucker punches to my self esteem had worked. I bobbed up and down on a sea of panic. It ebbed and flowed through me like the tide. I had some contacts in Atlanta and I scored an interview with all my expenses paid. The job was perfect for me! I was really excited. See? I thought, Everything is going to work out. I will get this job, I can move to Atlanta, the kids can see their father on a regular, weekly basis, and I’ll have some ‘time to myself’ to have a ‘Life’. Done and done.

Well, hubris. I did not get the job. Seriously, I thought it was a home run. After all they flew me out there and put me up in a hotel for two nights. I art-directed a photo shoot for them on the first part of the ‘interview’ process. I nailed it. I was feeling so happy because I was excited about the work. This would be a step in the right direction career-wise. And the job would give me artistic freedom, along with a regular paycheck and health benefits and all those good things that a grown up single mom with two kids should have.

Then came the “talk” part of the interview. This is where things got more formal.

And I totally blew it.

I don’t know what happened. I was so awkward. I kept putting my foot in my mouth. I am usually quite well spoken, but in this case I was asked questions and I simply drew a blank and probably looked like the deer-in-the-headlights. Then I tried to overcompensate by talking waaay too much and going off on tangents that were not necessary.

When I walked out of the interview, my heart sank into my stomach. I felt confused and totally wiped out. When I made it back to my hotel I burst into tears. I wasn’t totally sure. I figured it was just release of pent up stress–but really, on some deeper level I knew I had blown it, big time.

But I still hoped. I hoped they would see through my awkwardness and realize that I was going through a time of transition and that I was “just nervous”. I sent them a nice follow up email thanking them and telling them how excited I was for the opportunity. I waited almost a week for a response.

And their response was that they passed.

Punch to the gut. Utter emotional turmoil. I was holding on to that job like a life raft. Like it was the God-given answer to all my problems. Yes, the move would be difficult but it would be better for the kids to see their dad regularly and we would establish some kind of normal. And my other worries about being financially dependent on my STBX would be mitigated because I would have my own steady flow of money.

Then, a week or so later, Narc left. On our way to the airport (yes, I took him to the airport–mostly so the kids could see him off) he announced that he had opened a new bank account of his own, and, that he would only be putting a certain amount of money each month into the joint bank account for my expenses (about a third of what I need to live off of). This, he said, was all I would get until we worked out a divorce settlement.

So, though I was thinking my new life of freedom was about to start, he has maintained a form of control from afar. He also gave me no time to prepare, and, as we were driving in the car with my kids right there in the backseat, I could not tell him what I really thought. I did my typical narc abuse survival tactic of freezing. This is what I do when he starts “laying down the law” or gets angry or irritated by something, usually some perceived failing on my part–I freeze. It’s easier than confrontation.

This is how pathetic I’ve become after years of abuse.

Now, I have survived thus far because I have been able to do some side jobs that have brought in a little extra money. But I still need to get him to do the right thing and take care of his family, if not for my sake, for sure for the kids. I continue to look for a job and I am starting to feel more and more confident (in tiny little increments) each day that goes by without the presence of my Narc looming over me. No Evil Eye, no commentary on every move I make. No walking on eggshells. I make decisions all on my own without any input, and…well… we’re all still here! The kids are enjoying school, homework is getting done, friends come over to visit, life keeps moving on.

My lawyer is helping me with the next steps. We shall see what happens.

Some days I am almost paralyzed by fear and anxiety, some days I feel awash in freedom and I feel almost light…I find myself singing along with the radio in the car. I feel almost…almost…like myself. Whoever that is.

I’m trying to remember.

And I think, maybe, just maybe, it was a good thing I didn’t get the job in the same town as my Narc. Maybe, having several thousand miles between us is just what I need.

Love to you all,

Jen

Never Again

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photo: Allison Lewis

Never Again

Never again will I make myself small to make more room for you.

Never again will I stay quiet so that only your voice can be heard.

Never again, will I hold my breath … so that there is more air for you.

No, I will not subvert my own intuition! Never again! In order to assimilate to your reality.

Never again will I accept your low opinion of me, as fact.

Never again will I say ‘yes’ … just so that you can continue to tell me ‘no’.

I will never, ever again hold up the light to shine on your face, while I hide in the dark.

Never again will I take less than what I need so that you may be filled.

Never again will I let you drink from the depths of my compassion and love, only to be drained and left empty.

I will never, ever hide my emotions out of fear that they will be used against me. Emotions are part of my humanity and being able to express them is my right.

I will no longer kneel so that you may step up.

However, from now on I will be more cautious. I will never allow someone to trample on my spirit. No one can turn off the light. I am the source.

I will step into the sunlight, the spotlight, the limelight, but I will also feel secure and quiet when the room is dark.

I will share my love and compassion freely–but only with those who replenish my cup.

I will accept the abundance the Universe holds for me. And I will not feel guilty.

And one day, very soon, I will forgive you. And I will thank you for letting me go.

And that will be that.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

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MoS2 Template MasterComing to the realization that my husband N is a narcissist has been like being hit with a lightning bolt. I have been suddenly and violently jolted out of my pseudo-reality and now I am coming to and seeing everything with new eyes. When I look across the landscape of the entire past 13 or so years I have been with N,  all these little flashing lights are popping up and I can now examine each one very closely. All those times when he cut into me by making little comments that attacked my very self worth, or character. All the times he “gently” pushed me to change this or that little thing about my personality, my appearance; he was really trying to mold me into the perfect accessory for his narcissistic vision of himself and his life. HIS life story needed the perfect woman that would do everything just right. HIS girlfriend or wife would have to be beautiful, successful, intelligent and refined. His girlfriend or wife needed to give him a sense of status, and, had to make him look good not only to his friends but to his family as well.

The abuse that I’ve endured (because really, let’s call it what it is, and it is abuse) has been so subtle and ‘under the radar’ for so long… that I can’t point to just one thing and say, “this, or that is why I feel like complete shit, and why I have been so unhappy.” No, he never hit me. No, he never called me foul names. In fact, he hardly ever raised his voice. It’s more like the pain one endures by lots and lots of tiny little cuts. They are hard to see. And just one or two would not bother you very much; a little neosporin and a band aid and you’re all set. After a couple of days you can forget the cut was ever there. But the on-going cut, slice, cut, slice, cut, slice of 13 years has meant that the old cuts never quite heal before new ones are formed, and if a cut does seem to heal it will be re-opened at some point. The skin is an organ and can only endure so much damage before the body will start to go into shock. But how long? How much?

One comment or critique is the laughable stuff of early marriage where two people are adjusting to living together: He doesn’t like the way I load the dishwasher, so I have to do it a certain way. He’s very particular about his coffee so I have to pour it a certain way. He has a thing about dishes in the sink so I have to make sure the kitchen is tidy before he gets home. 

Then, as Life happens, more stress comes along throughout the marriage. Now the stakes are higher. It’s not my cleaning habits or my coffee pour, it’s my ability to manage stress, or my intelligence: You need to find a way to deal with your stress. You need to exercise more, you need to meditate. You need to chill, you are so emotional. You take everything the wrong way. You are too sensitive. Your parents really did a number on you. Your family is messed up. You need to take a computer class. I’ve never known anyone who had so many problems with technology. 

When there were money issues it was my fault: You chose the wrong career, you’ll never be able to make very much money. I will always have to be the breadwinner. I guess I’ll have to give up my dreams of being self employed so that I can go work for the Man while you keep running your business. Do you know how much I’m giving up for you?

When I had a miscarriage and suffered a depression afterwards. My emotions put too much demand on his time and energy: I can’t keep consoling you, I have nothing more I can give you. You are like a bottomless pit, you take all the energy I have. Don’t you think I would like to talk about MY feelings? But I can’t. Because anything I say will just make you start to cry. I can’t take any more of this. I can’t talk about it any more. You need to find a way to deal with this on your own.

When children did come it was my ability to be a good mother that was attacked. Over and over and over again. For the last 8 years of motherhood. And I wanted both of these children so badly and did so much to become a mother. I suffered real physical and emotional pain. But it was worth all of it. Of course I love my children, they are the most important people in the world to me. How could you question it? Some people are just natural at it–you are not one of those people. You are not trying hard enough. You are too impatient. You need to give our son more structure. Clearly his behavioral problems are your fault. 

I could go on and on. Sometimes just remembering the things he said is so painful I feel triggered all over again. It’s best not to think about it, yet hard not to.

My emotional ‘skin’ is raw and scarred from so many cuts. Some barely scratched the surface, some went deep enough to draw blood. All of them hurt. Like anyone who has been injured, life will go on and the body and spirit will heal with time but the scars will always be there. A reminder of what was. The question I will ask myself for the rest of my life might be, why I couldn’t put a stop to someone hurting me over and over? Why, when I saw him coming after me with the razor, did I not run away? Why did I stay and let him cut me, indeed, taking the blade in my own hands and cutting myself along with him, and say, “You are right. I deserve this!” I guess I am lucky to be alive. As one friend of mine said after I told her N asked for a divorce, “You know, in a way, Jen, N is kind of doing you a solid. You may not believe this now, but a year from now you will be so much happier.” I really hope she is right. I refuse to take any new cuts. I wear a shield of thick armor now. My eyes are open and I apply the cream to my scars in hopes that they will fade with time.

#3. You’re Not as Special as You Think You Are

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I don’t remember when exactly it was. It was after we were married but I think it must have been before A~ was born. We were at your parents’ house. I have so many fond memories of spending time there. All throughout our lives together we have always had fun spending time there. Your parents really loved me (or so I believed) and your mom and I had a very close relationship. My relationship with your mom filled part of that sucking hole in my heart from not being able to relate with my own mother.

On this particular day I think your sister might have been there, too–but I can’t remember for sure.

We (your mother and I) were sitting in the family room together talking. We had pulled out a book about astrology and were reading about the different signs for fun. You were sitting near by at the kitchen table. We read yours (Leo) and we read your moms (Virgo) and we laughed about all the traits that lined up with your real life personalities and quirks. Then I started to read mine. I don’t remember anything about the description of my sign (Aquarius) except this part: “You have a special love for the written word.” I think your mom and I said something about how true that was (because after all I was an English major in college–like you.)

I remember that part because, though you had been silent and acting disinterested the entire time you suddenly spoke up. You said, “I don’t find that to be true at all.”

I stopped and looked at you. I remember my face felt hot. Nobody said anything, you just looked at me.

I don’t remember exactly what I said but I asked you what you meant by your comment.

“You don’t read that much; I don’t think you are that interested in words, especially.”

Of course you would know because you are smarter than me. You do read more than me. In other words I’m an illiterate blockhead compared to you.

No, in other words, everything I thought to be true about myself was not true.

It must have been early in our relationship/marriage because I think as I sat there silently I was expecting you to apologize or to clarify.

You just went back to whatever you were doing.

I put down the book, stood up and went upstairs. I think I managed to mumble something about having a headache and wanting to lie down.

You didn’t come up to check on me. When we went to bed later that night you didn’t say anything. You never said you were sorry for being rude or for embarrassing me. Of course you didn’t because you didn’t care about my feelings–but back then I still believed you did.

I never understood why you did that–why you felt the need to discredit me over something so small as laughing at an astrology book, or why you felt the need to shame me in front of your family.

Unfortunately, it was not the last time.

Still Here

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Hello dear Readers,

I have not posted in a while but it is for good reason. I have been working. The Universe has provided me with 3 back to back jobs–which even took me to California (where I’m from) where I also got to visit with good friends. The timing was perfect. There is much going on but I have been working long days and tomorrow is another early one so for now I must go but I’m grateful for work, friends and YOU!

Take Care.

Surviving?

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The last part of my tagline on the title of my blog reads, ‘Surviving Narcissistic Abuse’. To be honest, right now I’m not sure if that’s really accurate. I don’t know if I’m surviving or not. At least, I’m not a very good role model.

My STBXN and I are still under the same roof. The divorce proceedings are in full swing. But, of course, now more than ever, our communication is nil. We speak but it is very superficial and surface. We acknowledge one another but mostly as co-parents and not as people. Things are civil but underneath there is this current of dis-ease. (Speaking for myself, of course. I can’t know what he’s feeling, because, I’m not really sure he has feelings).

So communication about the divorce goes through our attorneys.

And yesterday I received his “offer” for our settlement agreement.

Remember, we have two young kids, one of whom has some pretty significant special needs.

Not only does this child require a significant amount of medical and therapeutic intervention, as well as a specialized school, he also requires at least ONE PARENT to be home. Full time.

I am not saying I don’t want to work. In fact, I would PREFER to work. Last year I decided it was time to go back to work and I landed a job I was quite excited about. However, being as it was a job with a company that was very busy and in an industry that is a round-the-clock type of business (the event industry) I was not only expected to be available at odd hours for special events, but even on my ‘regular’ days I would often end up having to work late; cutting into kid’s pick up times and dinner and homework. My husband was tired of having to pick up the slack and my son was not doing well. I fought to try and make it all work but I couldn’t. With my STBXN’s ‘support’…. I quit my job to go back to being a stay-at-home mom, mostly for the sake of my son, but really for the whole family. I only lasted at the job for 7 months….

After I came back to being at home full time my son’s school performance and behavior issues at school improved dramatically. If you plotted a chart showing the months where I was working the most, along with his behavior reports (bad/good) and then kept going through to the time after I quite my job you would see a DIRECT correlation between my time at home and my son’s ability to keep it together and in fact excel at school.

I am not saying I am Super Mom. I am not saying I even did anything special. I was just here. He needs me here.

I can’t go back to work and find a job in my field of expertise and expect to get paid enough to support this family working part time or even, a normal 40 hour work week.

That being said, my STBXN is using the fact that I worked part of the year last year at X salary as a reason to claim on his settlement offer that I only require X in spousal support each month. He is offering child support but I have to tell you dear reader that even if you add it all up, and even if I live as frugally as possible I will be eating out of dumpsters if I am to survive. There is no way I can do it and even if I get a part time job I will not be able to make ends meet.

He is trying to push me into a corner and I don’t even know why–he is the one that asked for the divorce.

Why is he still trying to punish me. And what exactly am I being punished for?

And, is that really all he thinks I am worth? After everything I have done for him, for our children, for this family? Always putting my needs last?

Yes.

I should not be surprised and yet I am. And I am so exhausted and emotionally in pain that my whole body hurts. I ache as if I have the flu and my brain does not seem to function. I forget simple things like…. to brush my teeth in the morning.

If it were not for my 2 children I doubt I would even have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. And, even still, it is difficult.

I cry at the worst possible times and all I want to do is sleep to escape the pain I am feeling.

And though I should be mad as hell and screaming and yelling and telling him what a shit he is, I am still somehow cow-towing to him and keeping the peace. I tell myself I do it for my children–to spare them the spectacle. But really, am I just that weak after  so many years of Narcissistic abuse?

I am a shadow of what I once was and some days I don’t even know why I still exist.

But then I think, how could I let him take everything from me? And I’ll be damned if I leave my children alone in this life to be raised solely by a narcissistic father…

But some days it’s just damn hard and I want it to all end. I am so close to just waiving my white flag and saying ‘go ahead. take it all. you win.’

But I won’t. There is still a small deep quiet part of me that he hasn’t touched. The part of me that won’t give in to the despair.

So, if that is surviving, then I guess I am.