Narcissists/Abusers: Will they be the same with somebody else, or is it just me?

From what I’ve experienced and researched, it’s extremely common to get out of an abusive relationship of some kind (any kind of abuse, and any kind of relationship), and feel like you’re the crazy one.  “Is it all just me?”  “Will the next girlfriend get the nice version of him, and prove me to be the nutty one?”

But here is my experience with ex-boyfriends:

Peter made me believe he was the One, that he was just like me, that we had a psychic link proving we were meant for each other.  After he broke up with me, he began spreading lies about me, changed into a completely different person (mean, smoking, underage drinking, doing weed, cussing), then had a string of girlfriends after me.

I didn’t know them personally, or what happened, but one day, a girl working in the cafeteria told me he had broken up with her, too, so we both had something to be mad at him for.  At that point I had moved on and didn’t want to talk about such things, but still, there was another one.

Then senior year, when my roommates got a modem and we began going on local BBS’s, a couple of guys on one BBS told me Peter had been preying upon the girls there.  He’d get them to believe he was the man of their dreams, but it wasn’t true.  They had no idea I had dated him freshman year.  All this is in my college memoirs.

Phil, who emotionally and sexually abused me, had another girlfriend after me whom I knew.  I found out, through her, that he was exactly the same with her as with me, and even slapped her one day.  His depths of immaturity went even further with her than with me.  When she finally broke up with him for good after a string of short-lived breakups, her friends practically threw other guys at her.

I found out through my other friends that his girlfriend after that, after I graduated, was treated the same way.  They had to get married because he got her pregnant; they divorced several years ago.

As for my recent experience with abusive friends:

Richard, the narcissist fake friend who used and manipulated me, did the same thing to his friend Todd that he did to me.  He also choked his 9-year-old daughter, resulting in probation.  I also know, from Richard’s own admission, that he abused an ex (psychologically, I believe) as punishment for her cheating on him.

He even sent an e-mail threatening physical violence to my husband, which you can find posted here.  He also told me once that he used to be a Mafia thug, and that he planned to assault (it sounded like kill) the lady who just evicted him.  (His wife wouldn’t let him.)

But I bet the people still on his Facebook friends list think he’s a great guy with a “big heart,” as two people have described him.  However, not everyone is fooled, as I know from the enemies he has also made on forums–ones who said, for example, that he was a narcissist, or (to Todd), “He always was an a**hole, but you were his friend and didn’t notice.”

His wife Tracy, who abused him and her kids, bullied and psychologically abused me, then later terrorized me by stalking me online and off when I told what happened.  She pulled a lot of the same crap with Todd as well.

Also, she has so ticked off Richard’s friends over the years that many have told him, “Sorry, but we can’t be friends with you anymore, because we can’t take Tracy anymore.”  Richard TOLD me this with Tracy right there, so I know it to be true.

When I accidentally come across something online which presents her “religious woman, pillar of the community, smart and successful” persona, this is so entirely different from the Tracy I knew (or that Todd knew) that I start to feel like the crazy one.  Her e-mails to me sure didn’t help, as they blamed me for everything and treated me like sh**.

It also doesn’t help when I come across something which makes it look like they both cared so little for me that they just moved on with their lives after we broke off relations with them, without bothering to make things right, without caring about us at all, without grieving our loss.

But then, I remember–since we had mutual friends on Facebook and she wasn’t blocked at that time–her commenting “lol” on a friend’s post in the few days right after Richard had been to the court, got his mugshot taken, and started the course of getting convicted of choking her daughter.

So I have seen firsthand how her public persona does not reflect her real life.  And I also noticed another mutual friend’s profile showed absolutely no sign of knowing that Richard had been convicted of choking his daughter, even though they were close friends.

The community persona she presents, is not the real her.  I’ve seen the real her, nasty, abusive and lazy.  So has Todd.  So have others.

I can tick off on my fingers the people whom I know she has ticked off so badly that they broke off relations with Richard, too (since she forces his friends to be friends with her, too): Todd.

A woman whom Richard was good friends with, also a popular forum moderator.

Another of his female friends, with whom Tracy was “at war,” and this was AT CHURCH; the friend told Richard that Tracy was going to cause him trouble; Tracy later hit the roof when she discovered Richard phoned her while he lived with my husband and me.

Then there are others I have seen her go off on, online.  That included a girl who made the same mistake Tracy did at 19, but Tracy ripped her apart for it.  I also know that Richard’s family would scold Tracy for being mean to him/the children, and that she complained his family treated her like a child.

She got upset with Richard for not sticking up for her when they said she was mean to him, even though she had indeed been mean to him.  Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the ex, at whom Tracy would scream obscenities over the phone (they shared a child and still had to contact each other).

That persona your narcissist/abuser presents to other people, that sweet, nice, wonderful person who couldn’t possibly abuse anyone, so you must be lying?  That is not the real narc.

You’ve SEEN the real narc.  You’ve had the–as Shrink4Men so delicately puts it–WTF moment, when the narc’s mask came off.  What the narc shows to everyone else, is the same mask she showed to you, pulling you in.  It isn’t real.

Remember that next time you start missing the narc and thinking it was all your problem.  Next time you start wondering, Is he treating her better than he treated me?  Even if he’s treating her well right now, the mask will come off eventually with her, just as it did with you.

Narcs can have the ability to fool an entire community or church for years; this is why it’s often hard for their victims to come forward.  If they do, nobody believes them, and the narc paints them as crazy.  But the victims have seen the real narc.  Some of those people the narc has fooled, will one day be their victims, and think again about what you said.

Narcissists often display a façade self based on impressive and admirable traits. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, if it weren’t mere window dressing. Their façade self is fake, covering up a real self that’s insecure and vulnerable…..

  • Narcissists are great masters of disguise, describing their behavior in the best of terms, (i.e. I’m only doing it for you!) Hence, it may take awhile for you to ‘get’ what’s really going on.
  • Though narcissism has a bad rep (egocentric, egotistical), narcissists also have positive traits. Indeed, they may be quite charismatic and charming. Hence, it may be hard to believe that narcissism is driving their behavior. –Linda Sapadin, PhD, How to Live With a Narcissist

 

 

Is he/she really a narc? If you were idealized, devalued and then discarded, just say yes, he is and be FAIR TO YOURSELF.

If he/she isn’t a narc, by the time that conclusion is drawn with clarity from enough distance through NC, you will have moved on from the encompassing toxicity of a dysfunctional relationship – regardless of what labeling helped you to be able to do that.

Allow yourself to heal. Doubt only holds you back and keeps you holding onto a fantasy of what you wanted it to be and are now afraid to let go of, instead of embracing reality and the emotional freedom that acceptance of truth brings. –Lisa E. Scott, Who Really Benefits from Doubt? (read the whole thing–excellent help!)

 

7 Years of Orthodoxy; struggles in continuing; should I stay Orthodox?

I just realized it’s been 7 years already since I started attending the local Orthodox church and began the process of conversion.  Wasn’t it just last year?  My story is here.  Sadly, Richard is the guy who led me to Orthodoxy in the first place, as described in my story.

I sometimes wonder if I would’ve stayed Presbyterian if not for him; most likely.  I had only just discovered that it was okay in the PCUSA to believe in universalism, and there was much freedom of thought in other matters as well.  But I wanted to find out what the ancient Church believed about everything, because the different doctrines in Christendom were so confusing.

I’ve been going through a crisis of faith for some time, as described here, here and here.  I’ve also heard on Orthodox forums (often populated with converts) of falling away after about five years, when the convertitis wears off and you start to lose your fervor.

It took me a whole summer of research to decide to try out the Orthodox church, and another two years in the process of converting, before finally joining.  And I kept always reading, reading, reading, to find out if Orthodoxy was correct.  I have an entire box full of Internet printouts.

So this was not taken at all lightly, or done quickly.  I’ve also experienced so much richness: in the liturgy, the fasts, the Lenten and Holy Week services, the theology, the spirituality, even the Greek Fests which have nothing to do with Orthodoxy.

Maybe the doldrums are simply because of my conversion’s connection to Richard, and the doubt of God’s existence that came out of that.

Maybe it’s the same disillusionment that led me out of evangelicalism to Presbyterianism: the people who make it seem like you can’t truly be Christian unless you’re a Republican, believe gay marriage is an abomination, and put so many limitations on who can do what in the church.

I hated the legalism of so many fundamentalist Protestant churches: head coverings, no long hair on the men, no pants or short hair on the women, no rock music–But in Orthodoxy (not my own church, but many others) are people who insist on head coverings, beards on the men, women not reading the Epistle, getting rid of organs/pews/ecumenism because they’re “Western innovations.”

I did NOT become Orthodox to become more fundamentalist.  I LIKED women preachers.  But I did not like the milquetoast worship that evangelicalism had turned to, or the doctrine that all non-Christians are destined for Hell even if they have good reasons for not converting.

But after becoming Orthodox, I lost my taste for all the other churches.  There is a richness of theology and practice here which has been lost elsewhere.  Sure I sometimes miss listening to a long sermon by a skilled preacher.  But the focus of the homilies, at least at my church, is not on the preacher’s diction, skits, or bullet points; the focus is on the teachings of the church and living out Christianity in the world.

Also, I must remember that when I first “met” Richard online, he was himself a new convert of only a year or two.  When he and I were able to finally meet in person, we both were new converts, and in the midst of convertitis.

I tried not to go to the extreme of, “Nothing in this parish is Orthodox enough, get rid of the pews and organ and change everything back to ‘tradition,’ I’ll wear a headcovering to church and a peasant dress, and I’ll do a full fast even if nobody else does!”

But other signs were there, such as disdain for any theology that isn’t “Orthodox” enough, or any Christian book not written by an Orthodox.  (Not that I feel like going back and changing anything in my theology pages or old Left Behind reviews at this point.)

And Richard kept complaining that my church was not Orthodox enough, and disdaining other theologies.  Two recent converts feeding each other’s convertitis.

Part of my convertitis was moving away from the path I was already on: becoming more liberal.

I had always been a feminist, but with very conservative views on abortion, homosexuality, housewives.  Over the years before converting, I began to move toward more liberal views on homosexuality, and away from the idea that the best way to raise a family was as a housewife.

I now believed that women should have the choice of working mom or housewife without getting grief for it, that it’s about what’s best for your family.  I was in favor of birth control, and believed that some married couples should not be parents.

In the Presbyterian church, I examined studies on homosexuality and the Scripture, and more liberal views of abortion.  But Internet Orthodoxy led me off that track, into a strict view against homosexuality, against legal abortion, against birth control, even against being a working mom.

I don’t remember what exactly shook me out of that and got me back on the liberal-track.  But I do know that it was a combination of Richard’s charisma and Internet ‘doxy that got me off track, neither one claiming full responsibility; the part against working mothers did not come from him.

Internet ‘doxy is full of Pharisaic zeal against things that, when you go into an actual church, especially Greek, nobody seems to care about.

I feel that Orthodoxy is wrong about homosexuality, but even if it’s right, it is NOT Orthodox to condemn homosexuals, condemn women/girls (single, or young, or dirt-poor) who feel their only option is abortion, or prevent others from living their own consciences and religions (NOT ours).

How about working to make abortions unnecessary, because if you make them illegal, desperate girls/women will still take some dangerous herb, use a coat-hanger, or get butchered in some back-room abortion.

I don’t see how this makes me “unOrthodox,” or how it’s “unOrthodox” to vote Democrat to try to make a better life for the poor, weak and downtrodden.

Richard told me he hates Democrats, and had some extremely harsh things to say about Democrats and their policies.  But I became a Democrat partially BECAUSE of the things I saw him going through as a dirt-poor person.  The same feeling which led me to take him in and help him in his poverty, is what led me to become Democrat.

But as written in On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian:

We come to the Church and we remain in the Church in order to save our souls, and nothing else. Church is not a hobby, a game, a private interest, a pretence, or even a community. It is our soul’s salvation.

We achieve this by first being ourselves and then being the best of ourselves. If there is anything else, it is all secondary. We must never lose this perspective. If we do, then we are out of perspective and on our way out of the Church.

But this part certainly got lost on the way, both with me and with Richard/Tracy:

In order to save our souls, we first have to know ourselves, searching out and discovering our own faults, sins and failings. Then we have to take issue with them and fight, however slowly and weakly, and begin to tame them and never give up this battle. We will know when we are not doing this, it is when we start dwelling on the faults of others.

If our personal pride is hurt in the course of Church life, thank God. That is what we are there for, to become humble.

This does become tricky when people are abused or molested, of course.  It doesn’t help an abuse or rape victim to be told, Stop dwelling on what they did and look at your own sins!

But once you have processed what happened, told about it, and hopefully had some sort of justice, you can begin to focus on your own sins, without justifying what the other person did to you.

To avoid becoming personality disordered, or being constantly angry with others, we need to deal with our anger against the person who actually caused it, not push it down and then take it out on others.

We also are told, right there in the Bible, to watch out for and keep away from wolves in the church.  There are whole passages describing how to tell who is not truly Christian, so you can separate from them.

So some judgment of others is not only allowed, but expected, so you can protect yourself from being poisoned by toxic “Christians.”  It’s not about how you dress, but if you abuse, use and manipulate others.  This does need to be remembered when we are told not to focus on how a fellow church member abused us.

I keep my stories up to vent them out of my heart, and to help others who are still in the healing process after narcissistic abuse.  But if Richard/Tracy ever did repent, I would do some serious cutting.

Most people, however, aren’t dealing with abusers, but with normal faults and flaws among church members.  Getting upset because that lady keeps running off whenever work is to be done, is not the same thing as being molested by a youth leader.

Threatening lawsuits for anything less than getting physically attacked or molested–this should be out of line.  And it is, really; the Bible says this as well.

This website offers a different perspective on converts in the church:

On one level, many Orthodox converts are fleeing megachurch Christianity. They are coming because they want something on Sunday morning besides a rock band and a giant plasma TV screen.

Converts are also fleeing from mainline Protestantism, which is in the midst of a three-decade statistical nosedive and demographic suicide.

At the same time, I believe that most of these converts are coming out of that core 20 percent of their former churches. They are active, highly motivated people. They read, they think, they sing, and they serve. That hunger for more, that hunger for sound doctrine, is sending them to Orthodoxy.

These Orthodox converts are seeking mystery. They want a non-fundamentalist approach to the faith, but they are not fleeing the faith of the ages. They are trying to get back to the trunk of the tree. All around them are churches that are either modern, postmodern, post-postmodern or post-post-postmodern.

It makes the case that churches do need to become more traditional if they want more converts, and to keep their young people.  These two websites demonstrate the two different strains working against each other: one says change back, the other one says accept the church as it is.

But this is why I became Orthodox:

There is only one criterion for entering the Orthodox Church and that is because you are convinced that it is for your personal salvation, for your spiritual survival, because it is God’s Will for you, because you know that this is your spiritual home and that, whatever the cost, you can never be anything else. —On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian

 

More success raising our boy without spanking/hitting/slapping

We never did slap our kid around or anything like that, but I had originally planned on no spanking at all.  Then my son hit toddler age, and I had trouble getting him to behave.  My ex-friend Richard convinced me to spank, and to do it as hard as I could, and unfortunately, I listened.

It didn’t do one bit of good.  The only thing that ever really worked with my son was to take away things he most wanted if he misbehaved.

After breaking off relations with Richard and his wife (for psychologically abusing me and constantly causing drama), we also stopped spanking, period.  That was about three years ago.

If you read the comments on pretty much every Internet article/blog post about modern discipline, you’d think that parents not spanking/slapping their kids are causing the downfall of society.  That kids run wild because nobody spanks/belts/slaps them anymore.

But I’ve seen kids who are constantly spanked/slapped/screamed at, running wild anyway (Richard’s kids).  I’ve seen well-behaved kids who are raised without harshness.

And the older generations complained about MY generation (X) when we were young, too–even though most of us got spanked or even belted as kids.  In those days, it was still okay to use a paddle or a wooden spoon!

Nowadays in America, according to statistics, most parents do still spank their kids.  So–If most of the kids are getting spanked, then where are all the non-spanked kids who are supposedly running wild?  It must be the spanked-kids who are running wild, then!

Or maybe it’s all imaginary–the same complaints older generations have made about younger generations since the dawn of time–and kids behave no worse than they always have!

Also, violence breeds violence: If you abuse a child, you teach that child to abuse, or to find a spouse who abuses.  Why is it assault to smack your wife upside the head, but okay to smack a child (whose head is much smaller and brain much more vulnerable) upside the head?

Abused kids of today often become the criminals of tomorrow, whom society must then deal with, so it is indeed society’s business when kids are abused.  It is indeed your business if your next-door neighbor is smacking his kid around.

While I hesitate to call a short, quick spank on the well-padded butt “abuse,” especially since most parents still do it, I do intend to raise my child without violence of any kind.  I believe I have apologized to my son for spanking him in the past and following Richard’s bad advice.

He is high-spirited at home.  What brings quick compliance?  “No computer tomorrow!”  The thought of spending a whole long day without playing Minecraft or Roblox, brings him upstairs quick.  But I read that children often push the boundaries with their parents because they’re more comfortable with them.  The real test is how the child behaves for teachers and other authority figures.

Another thing you hear is, “Teachers have trouble controlling their classrooms because parents don’t spank anymore.”  Well, they DO still spank, so it must be some other reason.

And my kid sure isn’t the one causing the problem.  Every year, we hear what a wonderful boy we have, how good he is in class.  Every year, the teacher says, “He’s such a nice boy!”  “He’s a nice kid!”  “He befriended a girl who has trouble making friends.”  “He’s brilliant!”  “His test scores are far above average.”  On Thursday, during parent-teacher conferences, we heard it all again.

He also takes after me: He’s quiet, though he talks all the time with his best friends.  He has also naturally matured since second grade (he’s in fourth grade): He works well in groups, works hard, focuses (he used to be easily distracted), LOVES math (does math problems for fun!), loves to read, reads all the time.

I got paddled, and went to an elementary school where I once heard teachers paddling some poor kid, but I sure didn’t work that hard in school in 4th grade, or do my homework!

And I was a well-behaved kid otherwise, so I didn’t get paddled in school, but just having to put my name on the board was humiliating enough.

(Everybody got spanked or paddled, yet most of my classmates got in trouble more often than I did, and even gasped when I had to put my name on the board, so don’t say the paddling made me well-behaved.  No, it was natural temperament.)

At the beginning of the year, my son had some trouble remembering to do/bring in his homework.  So I gave him some tips, and told him that I would have to take 50 cents off his allowance every time he brought home another late slip.  We also had to tell him because of a problem last year, $1 off his allowance every time he gets to school late.

Guess what?  Ever since then, we’ve had no trouble with forgotten homework or tardiness.  🙂  [Update 12/23/14: So far in fifth grade, he has been remembering homework with no trouble, and his tardiness has also sharply dropped off.]

No violence, but still “hitting” him where it hurts: his allowance.  We do not have to threaten violence to get him to study.  We do not have to threaten violence to get compliance in other areas.

And it’s paying off.

 

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