Trying to move forward

This topic contains 14 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  sallykelly113 9 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #43365


    I recently divorced and fled from what I now believe was a 31 marriage to a narcissist. It’s such a long story, I can’t begin to tell it in one post.

    I found out that my husband had a secret life for years. A life full of pornography, web cams, anonymous internet hook ups and voyeuring/dirty texting my neighbors. This wasn’t the first time. He did the same thing back in 1988 after 2 years of marriage.

    At 7 months pregnant, late one night, I caught him voyeuring a 15 year old neighbor in a dark corner in our kitchen. That was after hundreds of dollars of dial-a-porn bills kept showing up on my phone bill. He always had some excuse/reason for his behavior. The lies, deciet, gas lighting and blame shifting took a terrible toll on my self esteem. We got into arguments about his sexual behaviors. When I cornered him in one of his lies- he turned violent and beat me. I was completely devastated that the man I loved, trusted and married did these things to me.

    Our marriage imploded. There I was with a newborn and an 18 month old. He ran off to Las Vegas with money he stole from his job ….and tried to kill himself. He was arrested and extradicted back to NJ, where he spent a few months in jail.

    By this time, I moved back home with my mother because I was in a total state of shock and I was having difficulty caring for my young children. As the months wore on I was able to scrape myself together. Then….he showed up on my mother’s door step. He was a changed man. A man who saw the error of his ways. A man who was now a Christian.

    Although my family and friends warned me to keep him out of my life, I fell for his “I’m a changed man” line and moved into an apartment with him and our young children. The first few months were fine. No sign of sexual perversion. But after a year, my intuition was beeping – just as it did before. I was so busy with raising my kids, working and keeping the house, I didn’t have time to check every little suspicion. And if I did find that he was “back at it again,” what would I do about it? My family distanced themselves from me because I took him back.

    Over the years, I found traces of porn on the computer, but I didn’t say anything in fear of starting a fight. By this time, my self esteem was worn to bits. His constant criticism of me, cold demeanor toward me, and gas lighting made me feel completely worthless. I suffered from depression and anxiety over those years. I felt crazy and worthless.

    I sought help from a counselor who suspected I was married to an abusive man. She encouraged me to go back to college, raise my kids…..and stop looking for sexual infidelity. In order to emotionally survive, and develop an escape plan- I took her advice.

    By the time I finished college (much to his chagrin)- my kids were grown. It was late in the game- but I thought better late than never. Over the years I hoped against hope that he would stop the lying, the deception, the criticism, the blame shifting, and the gas lighting. He never did.

    This last go around…….was as bad as the first time I caught him. However, the scope of his perversion increased…….and his ability to hide things from me was unprecedented.

    I found out he was “at it again” when I saw him masterbating in the yard while he was dirty texting a neighbor. I joined COSA and the members recommended that I check the bank records/internet history. I did. He was all over the internet fishing young women (he was 58 years old). The porn sites/web cam sites were too many to count. He had secret bank accounts, secret credit cards, secret email accounts. It was thrown into a state of shock when I learned the scope of his secret activities.

    I had no idea that I suffered from PTSD from the very first time I caught him. All of those symptoms came flooding back: crippling fear, shock, flashbacks. Not to mention I became physically sick with nausea, vomiting and intestinal problems from the discovery.

    Although he conditioned me to accept the blame for everything that went wrong in our marriage- I somehow knew that this was not my fault. I found a support group that helped me understand that I was dealing with a so called “sex addict.” I learned that although there is no such diagnosis in the DSM-5…..the deceptive infidelty/sexual deviance is often part of a personality disorder- narcissm and or sociopathy.

    To make a long story short…..I got him to sign the divorce papers while he was in a state of phony remorse. I took what ever money I could get from the sale of my home- and I ran….fast and far…before he had a chance to change his mind. The time away from him helped me see things clearly. The horrible depression that dogged me for decades started to life and my anxiety dwindled.

    I am 59 years old. I spent more than half my life with a deceptive, lying narcissistic pervert. I am struggling to recover from the years of emotional abuse and physical abuse. I lost who I was. Every day since I left has been a struggle.

    The narcissist simply found a younger woman and moved on- long before the divorce was final.

  • #43366


    He nearly cost me my sanity. By the time I fled from him, I was a mere shell of a woman (as one counselor put it). I had no idea what I was dealing with. I only knew that I was somehow unable to leave him. I never fully understood why that was. I felt nothing but pain when I was with him. Now I know what I was dealing with.

    I was a perfect target. Kind hearted, forgiving, loyal. After a failed young marriage, I thought I found “Prince Charming.” I had a few boyfriends and an ex husband before I met the narc….but I never fell so head over heels in love like I did with him. I felt “swept away”- literally.

    His behavior changed immediately after we started living together. He wanted to control all of my money. Which wasn’t a fortune, but it was more than he earned. He managed to convince me that because I came from a divorced, chaotic family background…..that he was normal and what he asked of me was normal. I believed him.

    I knew something was very wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I could never read him. His emotions were flat……sometimes I got the feeling he was “parroting” others’ emotions. Even so….I continued to fall deeper into his trap. Then, I got pregnant. That’s when things really heated up. By this time, I was conditioned like Pavlov’s dog. I accepted all the blame ….for everything. He was very stingy with money and he resented the new baby’s needs bitterly.

    I felt as though I was living under some kind of spell (for lack of a better phrase). I was madly in love with him, but he was not very giving and he did not care much about my needs. When I expressed my needs, he would make me feel ashamed of them, or that I was crazy to have such needs.

    I lived in a state of emotional turmoil/confusion for years…..never knowing where I stood. When our second child came along……his detached attitude toward me got worse. I felt trapped. I kept thinking if I did this….or did that….or didn’t do this – he would stop treating me so callously. I got the feeling that he needed/wanted me around to take care of the house and the kids- but for nothing else. I felt like his housekeeper.

    I can only describe those years like this: I felt as if I were walking on the funhouse floor. The floor was constantly moving from under my feet. I never knew what was going to happen next. I had no idea I was living with a narcissist. Even though I saw the signs early on….I brushed them off because I did not want to judge others. And he was extremely charming and very sexy. I fell for it.

  • #43367


    When I was dating him, I found out that he was thrown out of the Navy for selling drugs and that he embezzled money from a previous employer. But that was then….and this was now. After all, he was helping himself by attending AA meetings.

    I didn’t find out about his sexual secrets until after we were married. Although looking darkly through the past, I remember while we were dating he once told me that he “felt like raping a woman he saw on a beach” when he was 19 years old. He proudly boasted that he was able to control himself. I wasn’t sure what to think of that. Perhaps he was just a drunk kid? It troubled me….but I somehow “blew it off” to youthful folly.

    When I tracked him down on the internet this past D-day, I found out that his taste in porn was more repulsive than I could imagine. The porn genres he frequented the most were “barely legal” and porn that depicted violence toward women. I was sick for days after discovering this.

    The signs were all there from the beginning. But I was too naive to read them. My chaotic family background gave me a high tolerance for things that should never be tolerated. To boot, I was one of those people who looked for the best in people.

    He took up with another victim just a few months after I threw him out of the house. (a much younger woman) I suspect she is probably a lot like I was……trusting, needy, kind hearted. She has a young daughter. That scares me. But he and his narcissism are no longer part of my life.

    The only thing I care about is recovering from the damage.

    • This reply was modified 9 months, 2 weeks ago by  kathleenkelly.
  • #43369


    I don’t know if my story can help anyone- other than myself for telling it. But my hope is that it will. Looking back, A few things stand out about the early courtship with the narc:

    He came off like prince charming. Kind, warm, well spoken, well groomed, well dressed. Mr. middle class America to a tee.

    He was very good in bed. He did mirror my sexual desires. I never experienced anything like that.

    He dropped hints about who he really was. I ignored the hints because of my trusting nature.

    He was very guarded with money- stingy. After we moved in together- it got worse.

    The mask started to slip when the dial-a-porn bills came rolling in. The lies….the deception started. Then I caught him (a 35 year old man) voyeuring the teenager next door through the kitchen window. Never knew what a “voyeur” was until after I saw that.

    I knew something was really wrong when he threw a hot cup of coffee in my face after we argued about the voyeuring/dial-a-porn bills. He swore up and down that he did not throw the coffee in my face. I was in disbelief at his denial- as I was standing there with coffee dripping off of my hair and clothing. I have no idea how he was able to deny that he did such a thing. That was only the beginning.

  • #43370


    This is horrific! I’m sorry to see that you are another member of this club. Thank you for sharing your story. It will help other people. I always learn from what other people have been through. I am almost 3 months out from my relationship with my narcissistic sociopathic ex boyfriend. Healing takes time. Sometimes it’s one moment at a time. And, you have to go through the grief and anger to get to see real healing start. I had days of crying. Now, I’m going through an anger stage. And as it has been said, internally once you let out the negativity, it leaves room for better things to come in. I see a therapist every week who is working with me through my grief and anger. I think it’s really helping me. I recommend therapy. Also, this website is filled with resources: articles, stories, videos and recommended books and so on. I’ve put this website to full use and have found a lot of help here. I even spoke to Donna Andersen, the founder of this site. Her insight is so valuable. I read and journal often. I also have turned to God A LOT. You will heal from this, but, it takes time. That’s the hard part. I hope you find your way to the serenity you deserve.

  • #43375


    I didn’t know about trauma bonding and Stockholm Syndrome. I had no idea that someone like me (a homemaker)- could have PTSD. I thought that was for combat vets and disaster survivors. I did reach out to counselors, clergy and therapists during those horrible years but none of them picked up on it. I think part of the reason is that I was unable to articulate what was happening in my marriage. I believed that I was the problem and everything was all my fault. Needless to say I was misdiagnosed and heavily medicated with powerful psychotropic medications. The narc liked it when I was drugged up like a zombie. It gave him ammunition to say: See everyone- she’s a kook.

    Turning to my pastor was even worse. My pastor counseled me to become a better wife. Cook better, clean better, make more money, be more sexually provocative etc. I never told the pastor about the porn, voyeuring, theft, domestic violence. I knew that would set me up to be beaten over the head with “non forgiveness.” When I tried to talk about what happened to me- The narc would attack me with the Bible: You aren’t a Christian, you didn’t forgive me!

    The narc tried desperately to convince me of two things, 1. I was crazy 2. I was stupid. For years, I felt exactly that. I lived in a state of cognitive dissonance for as long as I could remember.

    I think it’s amazing that since I fled from the narc- the depression and axiety started to clear up. I don’t feel stupid or crazy anymore. I am going through “uncoupling” ups and downs, but I feel better than I ever have in decades.

  • #43376


    I studied Criminal Justice and that’s when the light bulb started to go on. I saw the narc’s behavior in my psych classes and in my crime classification studies (sex crimes, theft, illegal drugs, domestic violence). I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at the time- but I knew it was familiar. Again, I blew it off. Blamed myself.

    Even so……something in me started to realize I wasn’t crazy or stupid. I graduated suma cum laude- that took care of “feeling stupid.” The narc was not impressed with my academic achievements. In fact, he belittled them and whined that I took too much time away from him with my studies.

    When I first met the narc, he was more or less a glorified paper boy. By the time I fled from him….he was holding down a high paying job with the State of Indiana as a software developer. That’s helped me get away. His crimes (felony theft, domestic violence) fell through the cracks during his background check while he was onboarding with the State. This was because he was hired through a third party contractor. He knew that if he hit me or threatened me……. he would lose his job.

    He built his career on my tears and suffering- while he battered my self esteem and made sure any hopes of my career were dashed. In the end, I was totally dependent on the narc.

  • #43377


    I found a website that helped me understand the sexual perversion I was dealing with. Counselors didn’t seem to “get it”- and the clergy was out of the question because of the shame that I felt being married to a deceptive pervert. I thought somehow- his sexual perversion was my fault.

    The website SOS (Sisterhood of Support)- helped me understand what I was dealing with. When I first joined the site last December 31st (after I threw the narc out for lewd texting the neighbors). The neighbors were thinking about pressing charges against him- so this helped me get him out of the house. I was shaking, vomiting, scared out of my wits when I first signed up with SOS.

    The administrators of the site and the women on the site helped me understand that I did not cause the narc’s sexual perversion. They did not shame me, blame me or make me feel worse than already felt as the 12 step group (COSA) did.

    I went through a steep learning curve with so called “sexual addiction.” I learned about therapist abuse, and victim blaming in the prevalent treatment model for sexually betrayed spouses of so called “sex addicts” (Patrick Carnes).

    I found the work of Dr. Omar Minwalla through the SOS site- for the first time in decades- I felt validated and vindicated. Although my ability to read was damaged by the trauma I was able to read Dr. Minwalla’s work. His work described what happened to me perfectly.

    The proprietor of the SOS site provided resources for women like me. Those resources included materials about personality disorders. I read the resources. That’s when I realized it was true…..I married a narc. There was no more denying it. The wall came tumbling down. I was a mess….but I managed to pry myself free and hire a divorce attorney. At first, I filed for legal separation. I told her my horrible story. She believed me and helped me legally get financial support from the narc until I could figure out what to do.

    At first, I strung the narc along by telling him that I needed time to think. I didn’t want him to know that I was planning to make a complete break because I was afraid of him. He was in a state of false remorse. The attorney advised me to get him to sign the separation/divorce papers while he was still in a state of remorse. She warned me that men like him- spring back to to their old selves in no time flat. And …I should “strike while the iron is hot.” I took her advice.

    When he figured out that I was really going to go through with the divorce, that’s when he started to get self rigteous and even vicious. I proceeded to sell the house, get all the money I could scrape together and flee. I knew that if I stayed in the same state as him- he’d be back on my doorstep proclaiming himself ” a changed man” again. Not to mention I did not want him to flaunt his new paramours in my direction.

    He aged badly, the drugs and alcohol took a toll on his health and he has erectile dysfunction (from the porn). Even so….he makes six figures….so I knew he would find someone to replace me. And he did.

    From what I understand he found a “head janitor” woman from Indianapolis. He may have hooked up with her long before I threw him out. I will never know. His need to feel superior resonates in his choice of a new love. I am almost certain that he told his new janitor lady- the ole “My wife was a crazy bitch” line. I really don’t care. The janitor woman does have a 20 year old daughter. She has no clue that the narc has tastes in very young women. In a way, I feel sorry for the janitor woman.

  • #43378


    I am in the process of trying to rebuild what’s left of my life. I am 59 years old. If I knew the true nature of what I was dealing with- I would have ran long ago. It’s good to know that the mental health community is finally catching on to narcissistic abuse and so called ” sex addiction” (which does not really exist).

  • #43387


    I guess what you want is to vent.

  • #43390


    The narc had me in such a state of emotional turmoil for so many years, I was not able to string my story together cohesively. It’s freeing to have figured things out. A journal! That’s a great idea!

  • #43396

    Donna Andersen

    Kathleenkelly – I am so sorry for your experience. It sounds to me like your ex is a full-fledged sociopath. Please understand that it was never your fault, and there is nothing that you could have done to make him treat you any better. Everything about his behavior that you describe is right out of the sociopath playbook.

    No Contact is the key to healing. You’ve already started to feel better. That’s because the fog is lifting and your thinking is starting to clear up.

    Keep working on releasing your grief and the emotional pain. And be gentle with yourself – you were always doing the best you could.

  • #43397


    Kathleenkelly – I feel for you. My 2,5 relationship with my sociopath ex is probably nothing compared to your long-term relationship, but it all hurts the same, we all feel deceived. I escaped my ex about 3 months ago with everyone’s help here. There was nothing I knew about him when we met that was true. I used to post long posts like yours back in September. I have been struggling to move on too. This year I have committed myself to a 30 day recovery program that I am creating. Every day I am posting a video. It takes a Long time since I am new to this but I want to develop a discipline. If you want, you can follow with me, it’s about 15min to half an hour every day. Today was Day 3 and I talk about how to cleanse your mind.
    You can catch up by following the first 3 videos (including orientation) and I will post another one tomorrow.

  • #43476


    Kathleenkelly, I just read your story; it is awful and I really feel for you. The one thing that was very helpful to me was that someone pointed out that women like us trust others the way we trust ourselves. In the end we are who we are, and our ability to trust is a good thing. Yes, we have been deceived and we may consider ourselves gullible, but it is the other person who is wrong. I like who I am and believe in myself. My ability to trust is not the problem, it is the one who betrays the trust who is the perpetrator.

  • #43502


    Ruzanna – thank you for posting your videos. I think they are truly helpful.

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