Tuesday, June 21, 2016
By Elizabeth Milton
I was perfect for him and everything he wanted in a wife. I had the perfect body and hair. He could hardly keep his hands off me. I was the one he had vowed to wait for. He listened attentively as I gave him every detail of my difficult childhood, my hopes, and my dreams. It was as if he could read my mind and know what I wanted in a man.
I wanted a Christmas wedding and he didn’t want to wait another year so we married 13 months after we met. I saw some problems. He sometimes didn’t keep planned dates, he lost his temper over minor things and he had a knack for needing to have talks with his ex. But he was so charming and always had an explanation for everything.
When he asked my parents for my hand in marriage he told me they had told him I would be hard to live with. I now know he used this lie to isolate me from them and manipulate me. Later, I discovered that our first date was a deception and the first manipulation he involved me in was a triangulation between me and his ex during our dating and engagement.
For a period of time he was a visitation pastor in a large church. He often sat with the sick and dying and comforted them and their families. He was viewed as the most compassionate of men and often was requested to speak at funerals.
At home it was another matter. When I miscarried, went through childbirth, or during times when I was sick and had sick children to care for he didn’t seem to care for me like he cared for others. There was the time I hemorrhaged after the birth of our third child and he was angry with me for calling his cell too often. I should have gotten someone else to take me to the hospital.
Or the time I passed out and he left me covered with a blanket, lying on the floor, under the care of our three children under 8, because he couldn’t be late for work. When I was sick I could care for myself. I did not understand where my attentive man went.
By our sixth anniversary he had begun his first affair. It lasted almost two years. With this began the first notable gas-lighting and projection. When I caught them at our home together he set into motion a massive manipulation that spanned three years.
No less than 5 respected and well educated men were drawn into covering for him. All believed they were very good at discerning truth form lie and they all believed he was truthful. They were convinced of his innocence and praised his candor and vulnerability.
I was sick with self-doubt. Why couldn’t I just trust him the way they did? Didn’t my parents tell him I‘d be hard to live with?
His second affair started just a year after the first ended. When he decided to end it he stole money from our tiny church and gave it to his mistress. He then concocted a detailed story of how he had intended to take the money to the bank, but lost it on his way. He even went out for hours pretending to look for it. He personally contacted and gave tearful confessions to every man in leadership over him. They all believed him and thanked him for his honesty and insisted he didn’t need to pay the church back.
The visits to prostitutes started around this time. I knew something was going on, but his constant gas-lighting and projection had me convinced that I was imagining things and losing my mind. He came clean about all of his sexual indiscretions only after contracting a STD.
I was crushed in a way only a victim of narcissistic abuse could understand. Being a woman of faith, I offered him a second chance (even though the church offered to support me if I chose divorce). He was weak, he said, he had been led astray by unscrupulous women, and he was desperate to prove his love for me and the kids.
He went to a counsellor for most of a year and was able to convince him of his reformation. He had weekly meetings with a mentor and pastor who both became convinced that he had changed. He was congratulated for how he was able to overcome his weaknesses. He was treated like a rock star.
He was love bombing me at an incredible level. I was taken with him all over again. But his at home behavior wasn’t quite the same as his public behavior. I couldn’t put my finger on what was going on. I was too lost in nightmares, pain, deepening depression, and suicidal thoughts all mingled with the feelings of being freshly in-love.
And he was so changed and good. Weren’t my messed up emotions proof that I was a major contributor to our problems?
Once our reconciliation and vow renewal had happened and his time of counselling was finished, he wanted to move. He chose a piece of property hours away from any family and friends. He would have a fresh start where no one would know us. He began breaking promises almost immediately.
We built a little dream house and within a year of moving there he had attached himself to a respected businessman. Within three years he had convinced the man to sell us his business and train him to run it. Everyone began to refer to my husband as the son this man had never had. He became well known in town, really all over the county.
Everywhere I went I met women who told me I had a real catch. He became at least two different men. There was the man we had at home and the man the public saw.
In the last two years signs of infidelity began to reappear. My every suspicion was dismissed as me being untrusting and unreasonable, even with physical evidence. I had constant pain, often cried in the closet to hide my tears from the children, and hardly slept at night.
Once, when I felt suicidal, I asked him to take his loaded pistols to his office or lock up the ammo. The next day his loaded .45 lay on the night stand as usual and his .357 was still hidden in a stack of my clothes. I fought the urge to believe he had done it on purpose. How could a man who loved his perfect match do something like that?
He regularly switched from love bombing to cold disinterest. I never knew what I was getting. Eventually the only communication I got was icy, black eyed glares. Nothing I did met with his approval.
He even began to ignore the children. Nothing they did was quite right and none of their interests were worth his time. Our more intuitive daughter started to pull out her hair. He said I was driving her to do it. That she didn’t need therapy. That I just needed to leave her alone.
I was sure I was going crazy. And now I was driving my children crazy as well.
He walked out last winter, but not before beginning his smear campaign. In the days before he left I confessed to everything he accused me of. I begged and promised I get help so that I’d be easier to live with. I pleaded for him to not break up our home. He remained untouched.
I had ruined his life, he said. He had never really loved me to begin with. He let our pastor know I would be coming in desperate need of therapy and that I was crazy and abusing the children. He then began to spread it to other men. He claimed he had suffered years trying to prove his love to me and I just never was satisfied.
No one could have known what really went on between us or in our home, because he pretended to be an attentive father and a head over heels in love husband when he was out in public. Everyone who heard we separated was shocked.
Thankfully, some of the men he tried to recruit as flying monkeys didn’t fall for his tale. They came along side of me and listened to me and began to help me understand that I needed a lawyer and fast.
Our pastor encouraged me to not have any contact with my husband, because he felt he might become violent. So I started with no contact right away. My mental and physical health immediately began to improve. I feel better now than I have in a decade.
After a talk with a friend I was encouraged to see a counsellor who introduced me to narcissism and narcissistic emotional abuse. For the first time I feel like I’m not the crazy, at fault person in the relationship.
Five months into no/minimal contact and I am completely changed. People I’ve known for seven years say they feel they are just beginning to know the real me. I am reconnecting to family and friends. I’m discovering who I am.
His leaving and our divorce is the best gift he has given me. My faith has returned as have more open relationships with people who genuinely care and are full of truth.
That is all I need in this world.
at 9:07 AM