Written by Amber Fuller, Owner and Clinical Director of Fuller Living
I want to preface this blog with the following... Most therapists are "empaths" and most narcissists prey off of "empaths". When an unhealthy empath is preyed upon, they will stay in the relationship until they get healthy or, unfortunately, until they die. A friend of mine said to me, "Wait a second...you're a therapist, and you mentor me on my marriage, but how can you do this when you're separated from your husband?"; I had to explain to her that I am actually finally a healthy "empath" and that I'm learning how to do scary things like leave an abusive situation and get my kids out of it as well. She understoood. I'm still her mentor. I'm also still a fantastic therapist and more importantly, I am a courageous, protective, amazing, and fierce mama, and there's a lot to be learned from somebody like that! My husband's problem with abuse doesn't disqualify me from being used by God as a therapist or a mentor!
Please note that my husband would agree with everything written in this blog. We've always been the couple to be transparent while things are happening in real time, because nothing is more annoying than an "over-comer story" when nobody got to see the situation in real time.
I've been waiting for the right time to write this blog. Between moving and hospital visits, I've had to wait until I had the energy to do more than just go to the bathroom and lay in bed while working. I'd like to make it very clear that in no way is this blog being written to humiliate anybody or cause embarrassment. My goal is to help women who are terrified to leave, because I was.
Where do I begin? Well, the beginning I guess. I'll take us all the way back to 15 years ago. Sometimes I get mad at God and I say things like, "I gave my whole life to you. When others were doing drugs and sleeping around, I was leading worship, heading up small groups in youth group, and checking out good Christian colleges". Then I remember that God doesn't work on a merit system and then I feel embarrassed, but he's there to quickly remind me that I also don't need to feel embarrassed. It is often said that narcissists prey on empaths. They can see who they can have their ego's fed from. Do I think this was my husband, no, I don't. I do know, however, that
he was raised in a world where his actions had no consequences and where if it didn't feel good to him, he wouldn't do it, and if it did feel good to him, he would.
I remember one time while we were dating I asked if he could come over to my dorm and hang out with me and he said no because he was playing video games. So, to set this scene up, our dating life consisted of us cuddling on a couch while I did homework and he played video games (he never had homework because he never went to class because he was playing, yep, video games). I think that those were some of the very first signs.
Then, there was one time I was walking to chapel and he was flirting with a girl in the middle of everybody while salsa dancing with her. He, himself has told me that I should've broken up with him then. I didn't because of a sermon I heard literally that day. For reference, here is a list of all of the covert abuse he and some members of his family chose and that I had to battle with day after day after day, and sometimes hour after hour. It should be known that just like how a model uses their body to do their work, I use my mind and emotional health and ensuring that these two things weren’t effected in my work, was exhausting and lonely.
I felt like there was always hope and people can always change.
It's true. There is always hope, and people can alwayschange...but only if they want too.
We say that and hear that a lot but I have lived it. I'm not talking either about how my husband wouldn't change (except for the 6 months that he did and life was incredible for the both of us, even though he doesn't remember)...but it was me, I wasn't changing. I don't have enough fingers to count on my hands the number of times people told me I needed to get out, not get divorced, but get out for the time being(because these people believed in our marriage). It became tricky because the people that were feeding into him were telling him to do what was most comfortable and basically saying "Do whatever makes you feel good" which he would sit here and admit to you that this has literally been his whole life (which, honestly, puts him at a disadvantage that I can't completely blame him for).
My husband started the program for narcissists and started changing and so I felt like just maybe I could stay, and things would get better.
He was in this program for three years. They were three wonderful years, until the very end. He lost sight of the goal. He started talking to family members who still to this day don't know the truth and they along with him, undid all the work that he had done. He told me he wasn't going to be doing the work anymore, along with this he was caught in a web of a mess and created one in our marriage. It was the hardest thing I've ever been through because through it all I'm also dealing with a spinal cord injury that has me in excruciating pain most days.There were some other really terrible things that happened but that's not the point to this blog. When my husband was no longer committed to the program I knew I needed to come up with a plan.
I spoke to his therapist who was telling me to leave months before I actually did. I think this is fairly common. It's so hard to leave, ya know? His therapist even said, " Will it be hard? Yes!, Will it suck, Yes! Will it work out, yes!". His words weren't actually what stuck with me or created the change. Although, they are what keep me motivated now.
I was scrolling through Facebook one day and I saw a post that said, "I'm tired of waking up next to a man wondering if I'll have to walk around on egg shells that day. Waiting for him to lie to me, or not be able to trust him. I want to wake up next to a man who I know loves me and that nothing will ever change him or his actions". This hit me in a way where I realized, Yes, I deserve this. I talked to some attorneys to get my ducks in a row and am no longer scared because of the knowledge that I gained. So, I told him I was leaving, I bought a house, packed up the kids and our house, and we left. My husband spends a lot of time in my home because I don't want our kids to suffer. We are attempting to coparent the best way we know how for our kids and we are trying to be friends and amicable and so far it's worked out well. He's currently sitting next to me and we are taking care of some business things that need to be taken care of.
There's so much more to write about and yet, I have no words. My eggs are no longer only in his basket. I'm living like a single mom. This is essentially what I am. We've figured out/are figuring out our groove and our pattern. We aren't sure yet if we like it, but we're figuring it out. This is very new to all of us
A few weeks ago, he told me that he had given up on himself and that he had nothing left to live for. He hadn't shower in a ridiculous amount of days and I was very concerned for him. I reached out to some people who he had always felt close too and asked them to help. They did and they are and I gave the man who reached out to him a big hug when I saw him at a school function last Thursday. I'm feeling thankful. Thankful that people do care about him. I'm also feeling so grateful that I have a group of Christian men and women surrounding me that I can lean on and that I didn't have to desperately go searching for this group.
I had a beautiful birthday party that my sister threw for me on April 30th where I was reminded of all the people who love and care for me.
One thing keeps popping up though and it's so important to ensure that the difference is known. I had met with my husband's therapist several times before actually working up the courage to leave. It was always empowering to meet with him because he made it clear to me that I would be taking matters into my own hands and doing what's best for me and the kids. Leaving is by far the hardest thing I've ever done, however, I've felt such a peaceful presence since I left. We don't walk around on egg shells anymore. I have energy to give to my boys. There's no silent arguing. I get to enjoy my house. It's beautiful and I love it.
It's hard for women to leave for so many different reasons. Leaving a narcissist is extremely hard. Whether it's love bombing, the trauma bond, or the threats that hold you back, I understand. I get it. It's hard. It's also extremely rewarding once it's all done and over with.
We are technically separated now, but it's because I worked up the courage to finally listen to all the people who were telling me that I needed to leave. Those same people, including myself, are rooting for Dillon and we are hoping that he finds his way back to healthy and what helps him feel purpose and makes hime feel valued and alive.
It's a journey. Life's a journey, right? This one has been wild. I've met a ton of very caring people and have touched base with old friends. I do hope that a miracle happens.
Nobody WANTS to see their marriage end. I also now know my worth though, and I will not be disrespected, disregarded, or discarded. I, and you, deserve to be loved and cherished. I would say that to myself and others, and for me, it finally clicked.
I choose to have an abundant life (John 10:10)
and I choose to LOVE MYSELF, as also how I LOVE MY NEIGHBOR (Matthew 22:39)
If you, or someone you live is dealing with emotional and/or mental abuse(or physical), please don't hesitate to give us a call and schedule a next day appointment. We are here, we care, and we value you.