I am an award winning and best selling author, but what I am about to write will be raw, real, and not something I want to read or write twice so there will be a lack of edits. I will do my best to get it out there right the first time, but things happen.
This is my story
Fifteen years ago, what feels like a lifetime ago, I would have told you that my (soon to be ex) husband was the most amazing man on the planet, but today many years and a few grey hairs later, I can now see him for what he is, and have filed for divorce. Coming to terms with what my husband is was extremely hard because I have spent nearly half my life defending him. I would have taken a bullet for him. I loved him more than I loved myself and I will always love that person he pretended to be, but that’s not who he is.
Most people ask me what is a trauma bond and why didn’t I leave, and this sums it up pretty well:
- “Trauma bonding with a narcissist is a result of intermittent positive reinforcement by the abuser.
- “This means that the narcissist alternates between manipulative abuse and love bombing which leads to the development of trauma bonding. The more time passes, trauma bonding with narcissists strengthens. Victims become weaker and more submissive, craving validation and approval from their own abusers. Narcissists positively reinforce certain behaviors, and they do this intentionally to manipulate their victims and keep them stuck in the relationship.
- “As the narcissist gains more control, it becomes more difficult for a person to become aware of the abuse and manipulation. Victims feel confused and experience cognitive dissonance due to narcissist gaslighting. Moreover, when a person develops trauma bonding with a narcissist, they keep hoping and waiting for positive reinforcements to relieve them from their emotional suffering and the feeling of rejection.
- “Trauma bonding caused by narcissists conditions people into believing that these toxic behaviors are normal. Victims of narcissistic abuse might be fully aware that they are with a toxic person. However, due to the trauma bonding with the narcissist, they become conditioned to continue forgiving them. This makes it almost impossible to leave, and they end up stuck in an abusive relationship without being able to assert solid boundaries.
- “This is not what a healthy and loving relationship looks like. A truly loving partner makes you feel loved, supported and accepted throughout the relationship. Getting mistreated because your narcissistic partner has a bad mood, or because you didn’t feed him/her with narcissistic supply is completely unacceptable.”
To be completely honest, had he not chosen to go to Fort Drum, NY alone, I would have never been able to see what he is or accepted his diagnosis. I went through a dozen therapists before I could accept what is. I was so far in that I would have taken a bullet for him even though I knew he would have been the one firing the gun. I gained strength and therapy in his absence and lack of manipulation, I learned more and more about what he is as his smear campaign traveled long journeys to reach me. Most people who haven’t been in a relationship with a toxic person don’t understand why we don’t leave, many people meet these narcissists and think there is no way that person is abusive, but they are and we stay because we are bonded to them. Some stay because when they try to tell others their disbelief is the same as not supporting them and they feel like they don’t have anyone to confide in or trust when that happens. My husband’s own family supported his decision to adopt my children, and then supported his decision to abandon them. When I was bitter about it, when I was full of rage, I would make references to the fact that some of his family members put on their Sunday best and go to church where they claim to be Christians, all while turning their back on children who were trapped in the middle of this, babies who were hurting and were supposed to be their family, people that they had taken is as their own but outcasted because of the lies of one man, but that anger has no place in my life, their religion is none of my business, and their answer to the big man for their role in this will come, but my guess is that the answer will be the same as mine, he had me fooled.
“In relationships, narcissists often begin by idealizing their partner. This is why many people wonder why they didn’t see the warning signs. They tend to attract individuals that are caretakers and have a deep sense of empathy for others. Once the ‘fantasy’ phase subsides, narcissists begin to devalue their partners. These manipulative and emotionally abusive behaviors often result in the partner feeling that they are at fault or are the ‘crazy one.’ Eventually, narcissists may move on or discard their partner while keeping them hanging on by a thread. Some partners in a relationship with a narcissist find it difficult to move on because they long for the romanticized ‘adoration phase.’”– Adria Hagg, LCSW
In order to understand how this person got so much control we have to go back to the beginning.
Before I met my husband, I was in a toxic relationship with a man who I thought would one day end my life. This man raped me and the police arrested me. I had two kids through these violent acts and when I had had enough and tried to lock him out of my home the police made me let him back in claiming he was a resident to a home I owned. Took 8 months of torture, violence, and devastation awaiting a court date to evict him. I told the courts everything, showed every police report for domestic violence, and the judge removed him from the home, but gave him visitation, even ordered me to drop the kids off to him.
Desperate to avoid what I was feeling, my friend, Christy asked me to redo the HTML on her Myspace page. (Yes, I know how long ago that was). It kept me busy for a little while. I was able to get what she wanted done in just one short shift and when she came back from work that night the page had glitched. I thought I had done something wrong. Every time I went to click her photo from my account it went to a man’s page. He had a baby girl as a profile photo who was surrounded by bubbles in a sink bath and she was a ball of sunshine. The error kept happening so I messaged him.
“Hey, I know this is random, but I was working on my friend Christy’s profile and for some reason, I am finding you. Are you seeing the same issue? By the way, your daughter is absolutely beautiful, she looks so happy, her smile is infectious.”
The man messaged me back with a message of thanks and told me he wasn’t seeing the same error we were. I thought maybe it was fate, God, or the universe saying this guy needed a friend. Especially, after finding out he was in Iraq. He told me about the woman, Anita, that he was engaged to that cheated on him while he was deployed and his family in Virginia. He mostly spoke of his dad. I told him about my family and told him if that woman cheated then she didn’t deserve him.
I began dating a police officer, who worked the third shift, but in the afternoons before he went to work he would be at my house to hang out and I would be on my computer talking to the Myspace Mistake. The officer and my ex went a few rounds and eventually, the officer told me he didn’t think it was safe to keep seeing me. He believed that if we kept seeing each other my ex would take it out on me when he wasn’t around or he would hurt the kids. I just smiled and gave him a hug as I wished him the best because the truth was I was falling for the man in the computer. Truth be told, the trauma I had endured with the PD made it very hard to trust him, but I didn’t want to fear men or the police so I think I dated him to see if I could look past the trauma. Thankfully, today we are friendly enough that we talk to one another and his wife is absolutely amazing.
My Myspace Mistake and I spent the next week getting to know each other online every second we were free. He even called once and I was so nervous I couldn’t stop talking. His response when he finally got a word in was nothing more than “so, you’re a talker.” He sent me flowers and along with it he sent teddy bears for the kids. It was the sweetest thing I had encountered in years. If swoon had been a word we used back then it would have been branded on my forehead because I was head over heels for the guy thousands of miles away.
The first weekend my ex had my children a full overnight weekend I went out with my friends for the night. It was supposed to be girls’ night, but one of them was under 21 and no one would let her in to go dancing. We wound up driving around and just hanging out. We drove near downtown, past a bar my ex liked to frequent, and I saw his vehicle at the bar, I took a photo of his license plate to get the date and time stamp on it so I could show it to my lawyer the very next week.
My kids came home that Sunday night and I had every friend who was free at my house to ensure there were no complications. When my daughter came home she loved the fact that everyone was at the house waiting for her. She was a social butterfly and went right in the house and began talking up a storm. I took my son who was tired and cuddled him on the couch. I was beyond thankful they were home. As my daughter, who was three years old, began talking about a new game her daddy had taught her my heart sank. She tried to act it out and tears fell out of my eyes. Most everyone left to avoid a full-blown meltdown, but my friend Christy stayed.
We went to give the kids a bath and realized my daughter was bleeding. Christy called her mom who was a nurse and her mom advised on this and that, but truthfully I don’t and will never remember what she said because it was all Charlie Brown. I knew what I needed to do, but I was numb and couldn’t seem to function. Christy asked if I was okay and I remember nodding my head because she had to get to work, but in truth, I was in shock. Every horrible thought that could roll through someone’s head went through mine like a train on the express rail. There was no avoiding it as it barreled through every blockade I had built to try and keep me from collapsing. I pulled it together and packed a bag. I logged in on the computer while my daughter decided what toy she wanted to take. I messaged my Myspace Mistake and told him what had happened.
I told him what had transpired and that I was going to take her to the hospital. I explained that as soon as it was reported my ex would have a reason to come for me. I truly didn’t expect to survive the night once he knew I had reported it.
My Myspace Mistake first told me not to report it. He said,
“I’m a volunteer fireman, I understand the system more than you do and I am telling you, you shouldn’t report it.”
I didn’t really care what my guy had stated about being a fireman, there was no way I was going to step aside and let this go unreported or wait too long and hear the words “there is nothing we can do to keep it from happening again,” because I heard those words when it happened to me. I took what he said and placed it in a box in my head. I thought maybe he just didn’t have enough information about the subject to comment or maybe he was worried about our safety, either way I wasn’t sitting this one out.
I got to the hospital and explained what had happened to the ladies at the desk. They immediately took me in the back to a room that was separate from all the curtains and beds. A doctor came in and explained they were going to do an exam, the police had me step out in the hall and answer questions. It was a lot to deal with. I wanted to be in that room holding my daughter and the police wanted to know everything, even down to my favorite color. I got to go back in the room with my baby for a bit and she played with her toys, but she was getting tired. The doctor finally returned a few hours later and told me that there was no medical reason for what they found so they were going to have me take her someplace the next day.
As they prepared her discharge papers an officer asked me to step outside the room. He explained there was a warrant for my arrest. My first thought was what did I do, but with my relationship with the PD it could have been something as simple as breathing. They didn’t like responding to the DV calls and I didn’t like calling them, but some days it was the only choice I had. He told me he had drawn up the warrant for the photo I had taken of my exes truck in the bar parking lot. I explained what happened, even showed him the photo.
The officer explained that he no longer felt the warrant had cause, but it had to go through due process. He called his supervisor and on up until I had permission from the Chief of Police to be able to turn myself in in three days giving me time to take my daughter to these appointments. I was extremely overwhelmed by everything happening, when the doctor explained they were getting our discharge papers I just kept thinking if I go to jail he would get my kids, and my Myspace Mistake must have known I was drowning because he called my cell phone at that moment.
He told me to get the kids and go to the lobby of the Emergency Room department. When I got everything and walked out there was a woman waiting for me. She introduced herself as Lori and told me she was a friend of my Myspace Mistake. She told me she was there to collect me and the kids, to go to our home and grab anything that we could carry or couldn’t live without, and my Myspace Mistake was letting me move into his home until he arrived home from deployment and he could put a stop to the violence from my ex. I cried, I sobbed on this stranger who was offering a helping hand.
We gathered all we could and that night I moved my kids and I into his home. This was the beginning of the end of me.
Continued here: Part Two