Hello from Thrive Farm. I want to share a bit more of my story with you. I was married to what my therapist calls a grandiose narcissist. In studying the Diagnostic Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, I can confirm that my second ex husband has this personality disorder. This is an extremely difficult disorder to live around because the narcissist truly believes they are perfect and that you are the problem and often times, as was the case in my home, the narcissist becomes very successful financially and has gained the admiration of others, thereby reinforcing their greatness.
So, what happened to me? Where did I go and did I lose my shit? Well, after childhood trauma of neglect and verbal abuse, then teen trauma of a father that lied incessantly and lost all of the wealth he earned due to an unspoken about addiction, followed by a first marriage to a man that refused to get a job when we had two young children and I was a teacher, while at the same time my mom was dying of breast cancer a couple years after my alcoholic sister-best-friend died from an accident, you could say I was scared and scarred when I met my second husband the grandiose narcissist. He did all the things to woo me from love bombing to idolizing me. I was a school principal then. I was in the perfect position to end up in a trauma bond relationship due to unresolved trauma, fear and at that time, a strong personality with a passion for my beliefs but unclear values.
In this marriage we moved cities, I gave up my career to build his practice, and as he earned more and more money, his adult children and ex wife became extremely entitled and angry at me and our lifestyle. Every time I tried to do something professionally to regain my identity away from him, he became verbally abusive and concocted reasons as to why he needed me to quit and be in his office. I ran a womens networking group, I worked at our synagogue, I became a health coach and it was never okay with him. He tracked me at the quilt shop and he slowly but surely criticized whatever I did including how I dressed to how I cooked his dinner daily… which by the way, I went to culinary school after high school and am a pretty good cook today.
After living in stress response because he came home angry and demanding daily, I was diagnosed with breast cancer during Covid in 2020 and I became literally afraid to leave my house. I refer to this period as feeling like Rapunzel locked in my padded sewing room.
So why was leaving so damn hard? The answer is that I had fears that he played off of and our relationship turned into a trauma bond.
I was originally strong and independent and had experienced trauma which is the perfect recipe for a narcissist because breaking me was a triumph of all triumphs for the narcissist. I also had anxiety, low grade depression (at first) and anxious attachment style. In other words I was the perfect victim of the seven phases of a trauma bond relationship which include:
Trust and dependency
Manipulation & Gaslighting
Loss of self
Addiction to the toxic cycle
I experienced each one of these and some overlapped. I was depressed, scared and dependent.
Here is a poem I wrote in the midst of this madness, written 10/1/20
Slapping my cheeks like thunder
A shiver of humiliation running down my spine
Degradation, humiliation, fear
So, how did I get out? What pushed me to leave? After marriage counseling that was ridiculous because he had not done his work or taken any responsibility, I was staying at our lake house listening to Elkhart Tolle’s The Power of Now for the third or fourth time and he said:
Either you accept the as-is-ness of this moment or you make a change. Anything else is insanity.
After a year of moving back and forth, equine therapy, intensive therapy, studying mindfulness, and making the decision to become a therapist, I began mending my soul and awoke to the realization that I could never be whole and healthy in that relationship and I knew I had to find the courage to file for divorce. It was hard AF and though I have less money now, I am not broke and most importantly I regained my sanity, I found my soul, and I have found peace and joy along with healthy boundaries.