From the failed criminal trial until Stryder was almost a year old (about 3 years), I struggled with PTSD and avoided connecting with my real innermost feelings. It was so painful, facing it overwhlemed me and it “felt” (but was not) easier.
As time goes on, it’s become easier for me to see and acknowledge that I had gotten to that place through a series of steps, my entire life, though. The wall that I put up after the trial went up suddenly, yes, but my whole life, I’d been preparing the mortar, and gathering supplies for and creating the bricks. In fact, part of that wall had gone up a few bricks at a time, but the day the verdict was read, I hired a crew to put that reinforced wall up immediately.
Looking back, I already was afraid to trust those closest to me because of my perception of my growing years – feeling terrified of an abusive father and feeling abandoned by parents who unknown to me at the time, felt hopeless and scared for me themselves.
When I take a hard look at myself, having read countless articles about narcissists and their victims, I can painfully see that I chose to unite myself with men that were reflections of my biological dad, hoping that I could save them… change the course of my history by creating a different outcome with men that were like him. And seeing that is difficult. It is painful. I can put all the responsibility in the hands of the narcissists I chose for the actions they made… but I chose them. My own motives, while sounding lovely (“I want to help them!”), are at the root… terrible.
No one but God can save each one of us – that I wanted to save these men from themselves… and redeem my relationship with my father through them somehow… it’s not noble or heroic. It’s pain-filled, confused, and even wrong (dare I say… sinful? I don’t know. I’m hashing that out with God). Collecting the mortar.
I remember sharing with Doctor Horrible, early in our marriage, that as I grew up I felt like my mom cried to get my dad to do things (I didn’t know about DYT at that point – now I know as a Type 4 that can easily be my perception of a Type 2’s more outward emotional life!). A few months after this, we had an argument in which he called me a whore. I began crying, the knowledge that I had never cheated on him or even thought about it and he knew so… it overwhelmed me with pain and confusion.
After a minute or so of my quiet tears with my back turned to him, he sneered at me, “trying to manipulate me, like your mom?” That was a definitive moment in which I knew I began building bricks. I stopped crying in front of him almost ever. When I did cry in front of him, I hated myself for it. I just knew he was going to use the hurt he deliberately caused me against me, as though being human was disgusting. And, it worked. I chose to feel it was disgusting to let myself be vulnerable… and really, it was, because I had chosen someone instinctively that would never see it otherwise. I chose to be with someone who would hurt me when I was weakened.
When I found out that Melody had been assaulted, this was a strange time. Doing what I did still doesn’t make too much sense to me. It was scary, but I actually began to take little glimpses beyond the small wall I’d been building. I began to hope for life for the first time in close to a decade. Sometimes, without removing bricks, I’d come out from behind the small wall, and I would be vulnerable with others. I allowed myself to sob and cry in front others, I opened up about what my life had been like with him…. and, there are a few people who I still can do this with. I began sharing parts of my heart that I had kept hidden for most of my marriage to Doctor Horrible.
Once the verdict was read, though, that all shifted dramatically back… and worse than ever before. During that period of PTSD, I not only felt like our future was bleak, but I felt abandoned by humanity – why did no one do anything for her, for me, for his victims? Worst of all, I felt abandoned by God. That isn’t quite right… I knew He was near me, but for some time, I felt like He was near me to sucker-punch me. I felt like maybe Melody and I were His little jokes. In that time of faithlessness, I put up a greatly fortified wall in one day. All the mortar I’d been collecting, all the bricks I had formed my whole life, waiting for such a time as this. I have never in my life experienced that feeling before, nor that level of depression and hopelessness. I trusted no one, including myself. Everyone was wicked and untrustworthy and wouldn’t it just be better if we all perished? Daryl once asked me if I felt like Habbakuk as we were reading through it together (over a year later) and it’s like he’d already been reading my mind. A very negative, extreme side of my Type 4 came out. The world, life had no white, just black.
It’s been a long crawl up to get to this place, this pregnancy, to embrace the more open/vulnerable emotions of pregnancy. I told myself that this pregnancy, I was going to take the opportunities that came to me in the area of emotions. It’s not the automatic I put myself on for the last 10 years and dug in solid for the 3 years after the trial, but I have seen tremendous breakthroughs, big areas of upheaval that have freed me. I’ve written about them recently.
Thankfully, I began realizing I was in PTSD, and I was tired of it. I was tired of being bitter and discouraged. I was tired of disconnecting from the ones I loved the most, because having genuine connection was so painfully scary. I broke down one day in a free birth group and one of my friends changed my life. She sent me two books.
I see even when I don’t gravitate towards narcissists, they are still present in my life… and I seek to save them, even females. Yet, it’s not my place to do this. I am learning to pray for them, entrust them to God’s care, and allow Him to heal my heart as He seeks to work in theirs and mine.
When and why you surround yourselves with narcissists is an important thing to consider – not only so you can find healing, but so that you can break the pattern you have allowed a stronghold in your life. Whether you like it or not, you are drawing them in.