Surviving Narcissism: Introduction to the Series

This is the start of a new series that,
while extremely uncomfortable, I feel compelled to write.

If you’ve been following my blog for the last year or so, you know my husband of 41 years was an abusive narcissist. He wasn’t physically abusive (He was too smart for that), but anyone who has been in my situation knows there are myriad ways one person can abuse another. He did. The sad thing is I didn’t even recognize a lot of what he did AS abuse until after he passed away.

Before I go any further, let me say that I realize some readers may find it upsetting that I would write about my deceased husband in such a negative light, because yes, we are going there. In this culture, we are taught to never speak ill of the dead, so I am aware that my posts may offend some of you. Please understand that I have chosen to write this series not to hurt anyone or to bash the man who gave me two awesome sons.

As hard as it may be to believe, I loved Jack Cardwell and supported him as best I could while he lived. However, I have this unique opportunity to give voice to all the women who have been silenced by fear—whether they remain in an unhealthy relationship or are simply trying to stay safe in a world where their ex is still a threat. I’ve wrestled with the pros and cons of sharing my story, for all the reasons you can imagine. But I’m choosing to follow John 8:32, believing the truth will help set others free the way it has done for me.

I’m not ready to address the whole issue of why I stayed with him all those years. The answers are so complicated I don’t understand them even after more than a year of freedom and trying to comprehend my own actions. What I am ready to share, however, is some of the lessons I learned the hard way. 

I believe, am almost positive, I shared fairly recently that I truly see this as me having gone through the school of hard knocks and received my degree. I am who I am today not in spite of the twisted life I’ve lived, but because of it. I am strong. I am unafraid. I am uniquely qualified to step up and support others who are walking the road I’ve walked. While most spend many financially expensive years locked away in college training to work in their chosen fields, I spent decades in a marriage training for the field that chose me.

My goal with this series, at least right now, is to release one post a week, and I have a sketchy idea of the topics I’ll cover. The first lesson I’ll share will, sadly, be the last lesson I learned. This one revelation, and implementing it, triggered an overnight change. It cut down on my stress level in an astounding way and left him reeling over the amount of control he had lost. It was so simple it’s stupid that it took me so long to grasp the concept.

As hard as it is to believe, it is entirely possible to not only survive your relationship with a narcissist, but to thrive in it, to use the experience to become a stronger Christian and a stronger person. Having said that, I am not encouraging anyone to stay in a destructive relationship they should walk out on. I just know from personal experience how hard it can be to make that move, to walk away and not turn back.

Yes, I turned back. We were separated for six months, but he was like a leech that wouldn’t let go. Eventually, he talked me into working on getting back together and then, a month into those talks, he had the heart attack that led to a triple bypass and then a stroke. At that point I felt I had no choice. I knew he couldn’t survive without me; honestly, there wasn’t a soul left alive who would have taken care of him. So, we started over with me hoping for better and not getting it.

Again, follow this series not as encouragement to stay in a bad situation. You do have a choice, to stay or to go, even if you don’t see an out right now. Do follow along for encouragement that there is hope for you even if you do feel permanently trapped.

Life can get better, and you can become someone you never dared dream you could be.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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