What’s it been like for you to slow down? Are you bored? Restless? Anxious to resume your busy life? This purposeful pause throughout our country gives us all time to reflect upon our past busyness. To evaluate whether or not our busyness has created a meaningful life, or simply given us the illusion of one. Click To Tweet
When you spin the blades of a fan fast enough, it looks like something solid. It’s only when you slow the blades down, do you see them for what they are. Maybe during this slower time, you’ve inhaled the smell of spring for the first time in years. Been awed by a fabulous night sky or laughed out loud with a baby’s giggle. You’re not too busy to notice things and live life. You’ve learned you are a human being, not a human doing. And, my friend, that is our gift from this national shutdown.
Others, however, especially our first responders and caregivers are busier and more exhausted than ever. It’s been a challenge you would not have wished for but have risen to the occasion. I want you to know that your busyness does have meaning and serves a great purpose. It is love and service at its finest. Sacrificial and pure. Selfless and generous. Thank you all.
This week’s question: I recently divorced my husband. After three decades of living with a covert narcissist, I felt like I would die from a stroke or heart attack if I didn’t get free from his abuse. He is an employee of a large church and has connections with many influential people who only know him as a good Christian man. He will do whatever it takes to hide his true nature to the church. Meanwhile, he is condemning me for being the villain. Because of his deception, I have been alienated by the church I called my own. What do I do?
Answer: You’re probably not going to like my answer but here it is. Move on. Find a new support group and a different church. It is a waste of your time to try to convince people who already believe a charming charismatic man who works with them that he’s any different than they know him to be.
I’m sure you’ve already given it a good try. It’s not going to happen, at least not any time soon. For you to keep banging your head against the wall hoping for validation, affirmation, and support is only going to cause you harm.
Often when a woman starts to put the pieces of the crazy-making puzzle together she believes she needs others to see it too. Remember, he kept you off balance and fooled for many years. Sadly, when a Christian woman starts to wake up and stand up for herself, she is often not believed. Not only by her church but even by her own family and children. She may be accused of being hard-hearted, crazy, a liar or unforgiving. The more you try to explain what’s happening or defend yourself, the more you are seen as unstable, insecure, deceptive, or volatile. Stop it. Stop trying to explain what’s going on to people who don’t really want to know and instead use that same energy to heal and rebuild your life.
Putting the crazymaking pieces together of covert abuse is only the first step of your healing journey. Step two is valuing yourself enough to take care of you and get what you need to heal, grow, and thrive. Yes, you need some extra support but stop begging certain people to believe, validate, or care for you when they clearly show they don’t. This only retraumatizes you and tempts you to go back into confusion and crazymaking cycle to get their approval and support.
Find a therapist or a good coach who knows covert abuse so that you can deal with your loss, your triggers, as well as your own internal lies that kept you hooked into this destructive cycle. Beliefs such as “I’m not capable, or worth anything, or not as good as he is” are a good place to start your own self-examination. These unchallenged beliefs (which are lies) will keep you in living small, scared and dependent on others instead of growing to be a woman of strength and dignity who can smile at the future unafraid (Proverbs 31).
Leaving everything you know and love is hard. The church is like a family and even when it’s unhealthy, it’s difficult and sad to cut those ties. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have any contact with anyone at all. That’s your decision. But by your question, they have clearly taken sides and you are seen as the villain, not the victim.
Perhaps you have a few friends who know you well and believe and trust what you have told them. If so, continue to see them on a personal basis. But for your church community, your ex is committed to making sure his image is not tarnished by what you have done (leave). His commitment to shining his own image means he has to tarnish yours. This is very common and a wolf in sheep’s clothing is hard for most people to detect until he actually bites them. You know that, so that can give you a bit of compassion for their blindness to this while you ask God to expose the truth.