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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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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Anniversary: 10 years since Richard moved in: Letter to Narcissist ex-friend

Richard, you and I have an anniversary today: It’s been 10 years (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) since we met in person for the first time and you moved in with my husband and me, our son, and Merry and Pippin.

I remember what an anxious and happy day it was.  I was excited to meet you, though I was also very shy.  I gave you soup because it was a fasting day and that’s what we had.  My shyness lasted for days because you didn’t look like your avatar, and I couldn’t match you with the voice on the phone.  But then we started talking music one day, and it all clicked.

I know you–or at least Tracy–still read here, so you’ll see this.  Can you believe it’s been that long?

At the time I did think you were the coolest person I’d ever known.  Thought of you as my spiritual mentor and brother.  Loved you dearly.  I had no idea all this crap would go down.  I still think fondly on that time period even though I now believe you were manipulating me…. Was any of it for real?

Fortunately, God has given me new friends so I no longer grieve you like I did years ago.  I have been growing especially close to one.  They don’t dictate to me how I should act or what I should think, or tell me my feelings don’t matter or that I’m just being ridiculous or that sexual harassment or abuse never happened.  They don’t call me crazy or intimidate/threaten my husband.  My close friend is also a fellow introvert, is a writer, and is obsessed with German stuff just like I am.

But that doesn’t mean that gaping hole in my heart no longer exists.  It’s just been–covered over, I guess.  I don’t forget people; my friends stay in my heart forever even when I forget their names or haven’t seen them in 30 years.  Even my old friend-with-bennies is still there, despite how he mentally abused me….

You know Merry and Pippin are gone now, and that little boy is now a teenager.  He has two spice finches.  The library is a library again, but also a game room now, with the futon so guests can sleep there instead of on the couch.  And we have a regular couch again.  We also remodeled the bathtub.  Things look very different now but still much the same.

Sounds different since nowadays I listen to Goth/EBM/Dark Electro/Industrial all day on the stereo instead of alternative/hard rock.  🙂  Upgrading technology made the difference there: Before I could only listen to over-the-air stations on the stereo.

I’m learning Greek–I’m Father’s top student–starting the third year now.  He keeps telling people not to talk to me in English anymore.  I run the church website.  I’m a regular member of the local Writer’s Club.  But then, you probably know all that, as a regular follower of my blog.  😉

My son’s brilliant, and currently working on a Lego robot.

As the years pass I keep thinking that no time has passed at all since October 5, 2007.  But now the weight of the years is just beginning to fall, a little bit at a time, even though it feels like I just blinked my eyes and 10 years passed.  It is scary because if 10 years can pass so quickly, so can 20, or 30, or 40.

But for that reason I’ve been trying to spend my time wisely.  Not in grieving over you anymore, but in following my passions–such as music and, especially writing.  The Muse is back and she has taken a seductive hold of me.  The characters of my book first appeared more than 30 years ago, and now they’re back, sucking me into their world; I think this is going to be my masterpiece.

But Orthodoxy?  Not the hold it once had.  Sometimes I wonder if I only went into the church because of you, because I felt lost when you were no longer there to remind me of why I became Orthodox.  But my dear, close friend of 5 years is in the same church, a fellow convert, so I have someone to talk to again about religion.  And the congregation feels like family now, so that keeps me anchored.

Religion itself has been alienating me lately, from a malaise over reading the Bible over and over so many times I no longer see the words, cynicism over who really makes the rules and how they’ve affected many women and LGBT, and Phariseeism taking over conservative churches while they wed themselves to the fascist Republican Party.  Though I refuse to give up on God or Jesus.

So much is the same, but so much is different.  I sometimes wonder if anything about you is different as well….And how much of the person I knew was real.

Happy tenth anniversary.  That’s tin/aluminum, so here’s a can of beer:

Anniversary: 10 years since Richard moved in: Letter to Narcissist ex-friend 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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