Y'all can call me BJ -- that was my nickname when I was working and
living in Charlotte, North Carolina, last year.
I just stumbled across your wonderful forum site today, after
following a link that
me in one of his emails to those of us who subscribe to his
newsletters. I thought I'd tell you a little about what I've
been through in the last year (although the story began much further
back than that). You see, my tale has a happy ending! (I
hope it's not "The End" of me just yet!)
I was married to a man who subjected me to daily verbal and
psychological abuse, from 1994 to 1999, when we finally separated and
then divorced. Two years after he moved out of the house, I took
the "Big Step", quit my job of 5 years (where I thought I was going to
retire!) and moved from North Carolina to Oregon, where I took up
residence with my sister and her husband. In the process, I
found a new job with another gentleman who has what I believe is the
same personality disorder has my ex-husband -- and he, too, abused me
verbally and psychologically on a daily basis -- but I had the sense
to bail out of that relationship after a mere 8 months! I quit
that job without having even started looking for another -- suddenly
-- but I did give myself a safety margin of a month's notice.
With considerable effort (all of it on the Internet), I found another
position, with a $1,000 raise, and started a new job the Monday after
I left the old job! What a blessing!
The message, however, is that I learned something of real value by
having endured four years in an abusive relationship before I was
released from it (it was he who released me -- I was trying too hard
to be a "good" wife and to succeed in that role). What I learned
was -- to get out of the relationship -- and to get out fast
-- NOT to wait until "his mood changes", or "he recognizes my worth",
or "he learns how much he's hurting me", or his financial distress
Abusers don't ever learn to recognize their victim's worth.!
They never have "better moods" -- just moments when they're distracted
by other problems, or moments when things are going extremely well,
and then they can celebrate their good fortune with their suffering
significant others. The majority of the time, however, their
self-esteem is too low to begin with, and anytime a spouse, or
girlfriend, or secretary, or child, does something that "shines" --
that seems to be an accomplishment or a positive effort, it serves as
an example of "superiority" -- it "outshines" the abuser -- and the
abuser will punish you for that!
My ex-husband, God forgive him, was a narcissist -- I'd never
encountered such a being before. I had no idea what I was
getting myself into when I met him. He came on like a freight
train when we first started dating, and I was so very hungry for a
relationship! (I'd been single for over 15 years!) I'm shy
and introverted by nature, even somewhat socially avoidant. I
was starving for attention. I made the mistake of complimenting
his handwriting profusely during our introductory meeting (I was a
resume consultant, he was a client.) He kept coming back for
more attention. He was oh-so-careful about the way he introduced
himself into my life. I was charmed! Bowled over! I
paid dearly for those first few weeks of his undivided attention.
He ruined my health, my self-esteem, my family relations, and he
forced me to give up the resume business -- the one achievement I
thought the major goal of my life -- self-employment in a helping
profession where I was really making a difference in the lives of
But narcissists do that -- when they take "possession" of a lover,
they take over completely -- abusers deliberately isolate their spouse
from contact with family and friends. That is the best way to
keep the abuse their dirty little secret.
In other contexts I have written on this issue, and at one point,
I said that an encounter with a narcissist is very much like an
encounter with a vampyre (okay, we say vampire in this country, but I
like the Old Country spelling -- I also enjoy reading vampyre novels!)
Anne Rice fans unite!
A vampyre is a being that: 1) nobody believes exists, and in
that lies his key strength -- he/she can go about unrecognized and
unhindered. Invisible by default!
A vampyre is a being that: 2) sucks the life force out of his victims
and leaves them for dead. A narcissist, a controller, an abuser
- they all do the same, leave you drained and tired, and most of the
A vampyre is a being that: 3) isn't really alive -- he's only
"faking it". Narcissists are just like that -- they're "faking
it" -- all the time! The narcissist fakes care and concern for
others. He/she fakes understanding other's views, needs, and
rights. Abusers and controllers fake it too -- they fake being
"nice guys" in public. They fake being "good guys" when they're
still in the courting phase of a new relationship. They fake
remorse after they hurt you, to keep you from leaving them, or
reporting them to the police.
A vampyre is a being that: 4) first pursues and attacks his/her
closest family relations in former life, and then his friends, and
then he moves on to strangers. Need I make the correlation for
abusers and narcissists?
In order to rid oneself of a vampyre, one must first come to accept
that he exists, and that he is deadly, and that one has only two
choices -- seek protection and run away, or destroy him in some way.
The same is true of abusers, narcissists and controllers. You
need to recognize a dragon when you see it. And believe me, that
isn't easy! (Did you know that, in Dragon Lore, there is an odd
belief that real dragons are magical beings who can make themselves
appear in human form? Interesting, isn't it?) If one
wishes to be rid of a deadly companion, one must first realize that
one has a deadly companion! In a culture that for
centuries has conditioned us to ignore, deny and rationalize
manifestations of evil as anything from common and ordinary to
divinely ordained, that's a tall order!
But once you've done it, there comes a great sense of relief.
The future opens new and wonderful possibilities. But the
feeling of relief takes time to come! I think most of us want to
think of ourselves as loving, warm and compassionate people -- and we
want to feel that we are good companions, good mates, good friends.
You get robbed of that feeling when you live with an abuser or a
narcissist. He/she doesn't want you to feel that you are
good at anything -- especially, if you are not "making him happy"!
And heaven knows, we can't make anyone truly happy. Happiness
comes from within one's own soul, from having a sense of being
centered in the world, of doing the right things in the right way at
the right time, and of being loved. Abusers don't feel centered,
and they certainly don't feel that they are loved. That's why
they abuse others!
It is not better to live with the demon you know than to
venture into the unknown. Demons eat people! In one way or
another, life with an abuser, a narcissist, a controller, will destroy
I had to move across the country to rid myself of the bad memories and
feelings I had toward my ex-husband. He, of course, remarried
just minutes after we were finally divorced. That, too, is the
way of a narcissist!
I was very sick for four months during the time that I worked
for that narcissist -- the stress I endured was quite literally
killing me. My brother-in-law was concerned that I would not be
able to find another job in this economy. I was worried myself,
about how I was going to pay my rent and my credit card debts.
But once I took the leap and quit the job, everything got better for
me. My boss felt so awful about my having quit (and I let him
know in my resignation letter that he was ruining my self-esteem, my
well being and my productivity!) that he made an extraordinary effort
in that last month to treat me well! Narcissists CAN do that
sometimes! (Mostly they don't, however.)
But I had learned to recognize a vampyre when I see one! I knew
it about him within a week of working with him. It was
devilishly difficult to keep working for him as long as I did.
Now I'm so glad that I shed that relationship! My life at work
and at home is so much better, so much less stressful, so worth living
now. Of course, it helps to have a nice sister and
brother-in-law to live with.
But that's also one of the possibilities for others who are trapped in
a deadly relationship - find your family again, or a good friend, or a
social agency, and get help to get yourself out of it!
Whether you believe that we have only one life to live, or many (as I
do -- reincarnation is as believable as the concept of angels, demons,
Heaven and Hell), the fact is, you can only live one life at a
time. It's a terrible waste to live it with an abuser or a
There must be 50 ways to leave your lover, so the song goes -- so get
I love happy endings. Thanks BJ! Thanks Dr.