Repost: The long, dark night of my soul as I doubt God exists–because my spiritual mentor betrayed me

I wrote the following way back in 2011 as part of a story of narcissistic abuse.  It was on my old HTML website, though I don’t recall if the story was on- or offline at the time.  (I kept it hidden from the public for a long time as I worked on it.)  After I was put through long-term emotional abuse and mind-twisting by a narcissistic couple, I desperately needed to write it all down while I still remembered it, as a way to vent, make sense of it, and begin to heal.

The following was written a few months after my blog post Fighting the Darkness.  It’s a difficult time to revisit, but I have been assured that my blogging about this has value to others.  For example, most recently, from the blogger over at Jesus Without Baggage:

Nyssa, your post is heart-wrenching. I am so sorry for the pain you endured, but I know you are somewhat recovered from it. You said: “I was plunged into spiritual darkness and doubt.”  I really appreciate that you now do a great service to others in exposing and counseling regarding abuse from the narcissism you encountered….I hope more people check out your blog. —comment here

Comments like this help a lot on days when I wonder if I should just remove it all, if it’s just too embarrassing to admit that I’ve been manipulated by narcissists not just once, but several times in my life.  But then I’m reminded that others go through this as well and may need to read what I’ve written.

The following was written during the period of darkness, especially spiritual darkness caused by doubt.  Of course, atheists might say that’s just the way to enlightenment.  I still don’t know who’s right, since, despite all claims to the contrary, nobody really knows one way or the other.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night frightened that all that awaits me is oblivion.

But the experience that drove me into the darkness of 2011–that has, thank God, passed into the past.  It no longer burdens my thoughts, weighing down my heart with rage and grief.  I haven’t so much as seen these people on the street in a few years, even though they still live in my town.  Well, I see them in my blog stats.  I don’t see them at church, even though their church merged with mine, so I figure they must have found somewhere else, or stopped going.

But no, I don’t want to see them now, any more than I did back then.

Anyway, enough of the preamble.  Now for the repost:


From April 2011, The long, dark night of my soul as I doubt God exists–because my spiritual mentor betrayed me:

I have no interest whatsoever in reconciling with Tracy and don’t really care anymore what she thinks of me, because I consider her an abuser and a bully and the most horrid person I’ve ever known, and I believe she’s a false Christian.

As for Richard, this person I had dearly loved like a brother, respected, trusted and looked up to, this person I saw as a man of God, this person whom I saw as my spiritual mentor and guide, this person I supported emotionally through all his troubles while he lived with us, the person I told all my secrets to, has betrayed me and let me be verbally/emotionally torn apart like a wild animal.

Because of his connection to my spiritual journey, it’s been a struggle not to abandon all the things in Orthodoxy (or Christianity) that I associated in any way with Richard.

Because our friendship and his living here had seemed to be a direct and obvious answer to prayer, my faith in God has been damaged so much that I often doubt God even exists.

Because why would God answer my prayer with a curse, with an angel of light that turned out to be the devil?  The devil couldn’t have heard my prayer, because it was said to God by my mind, not by my mouth.

Two options rise up, both too frightening and repugnant to accept: that either

1) God did answer my prayer with a curse, or

2) God does not exist and it was all chance.

I keep hoping that one day a third option will make itself clear, but for now, I understand how even Mother Theresa could have gone through the dark night of the soul.

I knew the devil would try to get me out of Orthodoxy if I converted, as fellow converts speak of such things online, and he’d already been throwing various things at me, especially during Lenten periods.

But I had no idea he would do something like this that could sear me to my soul with a flaming sword, rip me away from the one whom I honored as the person who led me to the truth, damage me so much.

I had no idea that the person I honored as a man of God, had such crumbling feet of clay, would lead me to the truth and then be the means for shattering my faith.

I can only hope the following is true, taken from an earlier, more extensive version of the above Wikipedia link for “dark night of the soul“:

Rather than resulting in permanent devastation, the dark night is regarded by mystics and others as a blessing in disguise, whereby the individual is stripped (in the dark night of the senses) of the spiritual ecstasy associated with acts of virtue.

Although the individual may for a time seem to outwardly decline in his or her practices of virtue, in reality he becomes more virtuous, as she is being virtuous less for the spiritual rewards (ecstasies in the cases of the first night) obtained and more out of a true love for God.

It is this purgatory, a purgation of the soul, that brings purity and union with God.

From A Saint’s Dark Night by James Martin:

Even the most sophisticated believers sometimes believe that the saints enjoyed a stress-free spiritual life–suffering little personal doubt. For many saints this is accurate:

St. Francis de Sales, the 17th-century author of “An Introduction to the Devout Life,” said that he never went more than 15 minutes without being aware of God’s presence. Yet the opposite experience is so common it even has a name.

St. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic, labeled it the “dark night,” the time when a person feels completely abandoned by God, and which can lead even ardent believers to doubt God’s existence.

During her final illness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun who is now widely revered as “The Little Flower,” faced a similar trial, which seemed to center on doubts about whether anything awaited her after death.

“If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into,” she said to the sisters in her convent.

But Mother Teresa’s “dark night” was of a different magnitude, lasting for decades. It is almost unparalleled in the lives of the saints.

 

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Come check out my new blog design

I finally found a clean, minimalist design that focuses on the writing–In fact, it’s named “Write.”  No sidebar; the text is centered for easy reading, with everything extra shoved to the bottom.  (And my URLs are finally underlined again!  🙂  )

I’ve wanted this for some time, for several reasons:

  • make the page load faster (makes readers and Google happy–seriously, more than 3 seconds=terribly s l o w)
  • get better scores on page performance
  • focus the eye on the posts and not the stuff in the sidebar
  • I like sites which load up quickly and have few annoying, distracting graphics
  • I like the clean look of stripped-down sites optimized for mobile users
  • I’m jealous of my HTML index page (the portal to all parts of my domain) because it’s clean and loads fast, unlike my WordPress sites 😛

I’ve also been looking at AMP lately, Google’s idea to make the Web load faster for mobile devices, but at the moment it doesn’t support all the stuff I need, such as Statcounter and my ad boxes.  They’re working on that, but not there yet.  Some developers are suspicious of AMP (also here), and say it’s better to fix your code so it loads faster.

Also, a recent experiment with Cloudflare’s Rocket Loader led to loading in under 2 seconds, but the “like” button disappeared.  Despite trying all the code and fixes I found on the Net, nothing fixed that.  So…I went looking for minimalist themes again.

I just spent all evening working on the new theme, transferring the widgets from the old one and making sure all the coding works.  (Thanks to WP-Spamshield for telling me how to set up a debugger that you can keep running without exposing your errors to the whole Net!  Without it, I never would’ve known some of the code was deprecated and causing hundreds of PHP errors.  But I fixed it.  🙂  )

But enough of geeking out about my website.  Check it out, and tell me in the comments what you think.  🙂 

Also, please let me know if it would be better with or without a header image.

I don’t know which way to go.  I like it without, because it focuses on the writing and images take longer to load.  But then it seems bare and I don’t know if my readers would like that.  🙂  You can see here how the theme looks without.

(Update: It looks like the header only loads on the front page, not on posts or other pages, whether I have one or not.)

 

 

 

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Repost: When hubby saw the abuser at the store 6 years later

I came across this post, Tracy Sighting, the other day while doing site maintenance.  I decided to repost it because that’s still how I feel, because this person still reads my blog regularly yet makes no move to make amends, and for other people who have to deal with occasionally running into somebody who abused them:

From Tracy Sighting:

Hubby came home today and told me he saw Tracy at the store.  They said nothing to each other.

He’s certain that after all this time, they’re not going to come to my church.  I don’t know about that, since they did check the service schedule on Christmas Eve.  (I run the website.  I didn’t go to the Christmas service.)  But then again, that was months ago, and the merger with their old church is common knowledge by now.

So maybe things will be fine.  In any case, I have friends who can rally around me if necessary.  They care and know my character, in case of attacks.  But maybe it won’t be a thing.  Or maybe R/T won’t come often enough to cause trouble.

What amazes me, though, is that anyone can go so many years knowing they’ve hurt another person, see that person or her husband around town on occasion, and never, ever once say, “I’m sorry.”  Or “I’m sorry I hurt your wife.  Please tell her so.”  Or “I’m sorry for causing drama in your life.”

Never once.  Ever.

And, in fact, defend their nastiness and refuse to admit they ever did anything wrong.

Which explains why they have a string of lost friendships.  I’m hardly the first, and there probably have been others after me.

Heck, I tried apologizing to her for hurting her when this all happened, even though I was the victim of her abuse.

Even my abusive or narcissistic exes have apologized to me.  Even people who bullied me in school have apologized to and/or made peace with me.

I don’t understand this.  I also don’t understand people treating others like this in the first place, the way she and her husband treated me.

People are making a big deal in the news lately about “Wisconsin Nice.”  Well, I can tell you that R/T aren’t from around here, or even the Midwest, for that matter.  Not that Wisconsin people can’t be rats: Even Canadians have some bad apples.  Narcissists, abusers and plain ol’ nasty people are everywhere.  But yeah, don’t let this crap I got from these people, make you think badly of Wisconsin people.  ?  Most people I know, don’t act like this.

But prayers/good wishes, please, for my continued healing and growing strength.

 

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Reblog: Sociopaths rule America — but there’s an easy way to identify them. | Lucky Otters Haven

As a person with NVLD (similar to Asperger’s in many ways), I have trouble reading body language, which left me vulnerable to a couple who I believe to both be narcissistic sociopaths (story here).

Because I was so vulnerable, I didn’t understand why my wonderful, sweet best friend would turn on me so suddenly and betray me (and, with his wife, begin stalking me later), leading to a long, drawn-out, painful process of healing and recovery.

Over the years, a part of me has held onto the hope that one day, he’ll repent and come to my husband and me, looking for forgiveness and renewed relationship.

This despite the fact that he strangled and asphyxiated one of his kids shortly after we broke off relations with him and his wife.  The little girl reported him to the police and he was convicted.

Now his wife, I knew early on that she was a danger, which is why I resisted her attempts to force me into a close friendship with her.  (Normally it’s easy for me to befriend the spouses of my friends.)  Over time I finally got a word for the danger: narcissistic sociopath.  One day, I even saw her sociopathic smile of glee when an enemy (who, by the way, used to be a friend) had done something terrible.

But him?  A sociopath?  The more I learned about narcissists, the more I could believe he was one, but I thought he was one of the lower-level narcissists, incredibly self-centered but not out to actually hurt anyone.

But it seems I was wrong.  When he choked his kid, the newspaper published his mug shot on its website.  There was no remorse in that face, just anger, even contempt.  A couple of years later, I got a disturbing e-mail from these people which said I “don’t have all the facts”–which made me wonder, What the heck kind of fact can excuse that you choked your kid in a fit of pique because she wasn’t cleaning up?

But that wasn’t all.  When his probation (PROBATION?  no jail time?  SERIOUSLY?) started, the state took more mug shots which it posted online on a website which publishes offender information.

Just as I did with the first mug shot, I studied the new mug shots, trying to identify the expression on his face, a difficult thing with NVLD.  I can get common expressions just fine, but the more subtle ones are harder to catch and understand.  I used websites on facial expression and was pretty sure it was contempt.  I also saw posts on sociopathic smiles, but when they’re just words or just a couple of pictures, it can be harder to be sure if that’s what you saw.

Then Lucky Otter published a blog post with both descriptions and lots of pictures of various forms of the sociopathic smile.  For example:

Jack Brown, MD, is a physician who is an expert in reading body language and facial expressions. He said there is a particular expression that sociopaths and malignant narcissists use much more frequently than normal people: what he calls the Elevated Central Forehead Contraction with a Partial (Insincere) Mouth Smile. It’s a closed mouth, fake smile with the eyebrows drawn together as if the person is frowning. It’s similar to a smirk, but not quite. The overall effect is mocking condescension and cruel contempt. Brown says this expression is used often by serial killers, mass murderers, hardened criminals, and by everyday bullies and other people who lack empathy.

Source: Sociopaths rule America — but there’s an easy way to identify them. | Lucky Otters Haven

I highly recommend reading the whole post, of course; this little snippet doesn’t do it justice.  Anyway, thanks to this post, I pulled out the mug shots again, this time showing one to Lucky Otter.

Her verdict?  Sociopath–complete with subtle smirk and dead eyes.

Dang, I was so fooled by this guy.  Even to this day, I’ll think back to things that happened and think he’s not so bad, deep down, and just needs to repent and things will be fine.  I’ll think he just needs to get out of the sociopathic control of his abusive wife, and the real Richard will come back out again.  Heck, he wanted to be a priest!

…Er, yeah.  He can’t be now, because of the choking incident.  Think of the bullet that the Orthodox Church dodged here.

Especially with this couple *still* stalking my blog all these years later (a bunch of times just in the past couple of weeks), and now with a new group of sociopathic/psychopathic/abusive trolls stalking me here and on Twitter, sometimes I wonder if I should just remove everything I ever wrote about this couple and other abuse stories as well.  You know, for protection against whatever these creeps might be contemplating.

But then I think, No, people NEED these stories.  Victims and potential victims NEED to know what narcissists/sociopaths/psychopaths/other abusers are capable of, so they can protect themselves from future abuse, and heal from the past.

And that means putting my own story on the Web, dirt and all, without trying to sanitize it like some people might.  Saying “I never did anything at all wrong when dealing with my abuser” will not help you or other victims learn how to protect themselves.  And there may be times where I don’t recognize what I did wrong, but other people will, and that can help them figure out what to do in their own situations.

And my ex-friends need to know that

  • I know what was really going on,
  • I reject their attempts to project their crap onto me and make me think I was behaving badly and needed punishment,
  • and I won’t be vulnerable to them again.

So yeah, I don’t post this stuff just to help myself feel better.  I also post it to help others, because this problem is rampant in today’s society.  And check out Lucky Otter’s post to help you spot these people before they rip out your heart.

Comments are turned off because this is a reblog–and because I’m still being watched by these people.

 

 

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Reblog: Narcissists, Phones and Your Right to Privacy

First, please note that I don’t endorse *everything* on the site I’m reblogging.  I agree with a lot of it, but occasionally there are things that bother me.  Still, I came across the following post which validated me after dealing with the ex-friend Richard‘s wife.  For example, from Narcissists, Phones and Your Right to Privacy, by Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD:

If your abusive narcissistic, borderline, histrionic, paranoiac, psychopath spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend has demanded your passcodes and logins, that’s not normal. It’s controlling and tyrannical. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you don’t have to be “hiding anything” for them to have a rage episode or make wild accusations about infidelity or anything else they can manufacture out of thin air.

Your sister could text you to invite you for coffee and the borderline or narcissist control freak-abandonment fear switch is activated:

Why does your sister want to have coffee with you?! Why wasn’t I invited?! Why can’t I be there?! What are you hiding from me? If there’s nothing to hide, why wasn’t I invited? Your sister is being disrespectful to me! She should’ve asked me if I could go at that time before she asked you! You love your sister more than me! Is there something going on with you two?!

Wow.  This sounds SO familiar, the rage episodes just because I wanted to go out for coffee with Richard, the insistence that if I didn’t follow these unspoken and unknown “rules” I wasn’t “respecting” her.  Then there’s:

If you’ve surrendered your phone to your partner, please consider doing your friends, family and colleagues a courtesy and let them know your partner reads all incoming and outgoing messages. You may not care about your right to privacy, but some or all of your friends and family probably do. Also, they may want to bypass written communication with you altogether because, as previously, noted, there doesn’t have to be anything to hide. An abusive asshole can turn nothing into something with the misfire of a synapse.

Last sentence: And yes, yes she did just that after snooping, leading to the end of this “friendship.”

When I found out that not only did Richard have to “clear” all his friendships with his wife, and going out with them for something as simple and innocent as coffee, but that his wife also had a habit of checking his phone records and e-mails–I was appalled.  I would tell Richard things about my past experiences or about things I currently dealt with (such as fears or philosophical questions) which were not meant for his wife to see.  Nothing “affair-y,” but things I only wanted my trusted best friend to see–and I did not trust his mean wife with these things.

It all struck me as being very abusive and controlling, but she kept insisting that these things were all her due, that it was showing her “respect.”  Over the years, I’ve perked up whenever friends on Facebook or some TV show or Internet article goes into the issue of friendships and a spouse’s right to privacy.  And over and over again, the same thing is said: Don’t try to control each other’s friendships!  Respect each other’s privacy!  Run from anyone who tries to control you!

Comments are turned off because this is a reblog.

 

 

 

 

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