CAUTION: this post contains trauma triggers. I just triggered myself, writing about all these old traumas — which my therapist advised me not to do, until I am through with neurofeedback. Yikes…
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“Bait and Switch” is the title of a recent ‘Narcissistic Friday’ post on Pastor Dave Orrison’s Grace For My Heart blog. I highly recommend Pastor Dave’s blog, especially for victims of legalistic religious abuse.
In my experience,”Bait and Switch” is the narcissist’s favorite game. This is what he, or she, does best.
I met my first husband when I was sixteen years old. After an extremely traumatic childhood, I was the perfect target for an abuser. I had been “groomed” to be a subservient doormat — i.e., a victim — beginning with my earliest memories.
On our very first date, he told me that he was falling in love with me. It was love at first sight, he said. I was so starved for affection, that I fell for his phony love bait: hook, line, and sinker.
We were married two months later. Day before yesterday would have been our 47th wedding anniversary, if I had stayed married to him. But I only stayed with him for 3 years and 9 months, when I took our son and ran for our lives.
Even that short amount of time with him was far too long. Almost immediately after our marriage, he started physically and emotionally abusing me. During the 45 months that I lived with him, he physically assaulted me approximately 50 – 100 times. I base this estimate on his cycle of abuse, which was typically about once per month, and sometimes several times within a single month.
He also cheated on me with many different women. Sometimes the women would call me to inform me of this fact.
I stayed in that living hell for so long, because I had been taught from birth that I did not deserve any better. I stayed because I had zero self esteem, long before I met him. I stayed because my childhood had taught me that abuse was normal. And I stayed because, in between his episodes of abuse, he sometimes acted as though he loved me. I was so desperately needy, that I was willing to stay just for those few, rare crumbs of kindness. (I remember telling myself, when I would look in a mirror and see the bruises, that a bad love was better than no love at all. “But it was not love!” my much-older self wants to tell my young self. “Nothing about that marriage was ever love!”)
I also stayed because my hyper religious and extremely malignant, narcissistic mother had told me that God made the man to be the head of the house, and therefore a good Christian wife should submit to her husband’s beatings “as unto the Lord.” (Today I know that this is a lie from the pit of hell! It was also very contradictory for my mother to tell me this, considering that she had my dad arrested for trying to murder her, and then she divorced him. So attempted murder is bad, but beatings are ok?? NO! Abuse is against the law, both man’s law, and against God’s law of LOVE!)
Part of the reason why I stayed is because I had nowhere else to go. There were no women’s shelters in rural Missouri in the 1970s, and no one in my narcissistic family of origin was willing to take me in, especially after I became pregnant with my first child.
I stayed for all of the reasons that I’ve listed above. But more than any other reason, I stayed in that toxic hell of a marriage because I was so completely broken by abuse, that I did not have the strength to leave — until he beat me in front of our two-year-old child, knocking me unconcious, because I had left some frozen meat out to thaw for too long and it had spoiled.
I woke up on the kitchen floor with my little boy curled up beside me, sobbing “Mommy! Mommy!” My husband was nowhere around, he had taken off in our only car, leaving me and our little boy all alone — and I had been knocked out cold with a concussion!
This was when I realized what the abuse was doing to my child. My maternal love gave me the strength to finally leave the monster, for good.
Early in our marriage, my first husband actually told me the truth one day. He had never loved me, he said. All of his talk about “love at first sight” had been lies, the bait he had used to get me to marry him.
He also told me the reason why he had been so eager to marry me. He was eighteen, a high school dropout, and he was worried about being drafted to Vietnam. In 1970, if you were a healthy eighteen-year-old male and you were not in school, sooner or later you were probably going to be drafted to fight in the war. But if you had a wife and a child, or if your wife was pregnant, then you would not be drafted.
This explained why he had told me from the beginning that he did not want me to use any birth control, because he “loved me so much” that he could not wait for me to have his baby.
Several months into my pregnancy this evil monster kicked me, very hard, in my pregnant belly. He was wearing his heavy steel-toe work boots at the time. As he was kicking me, he yelled that he had changed his mind about me having his baby, because I wasn’t good enough to be the mother of his child. I was “too crazy” to have his child, he said. I had panic attacks, severe anxiety, depression and crying spells, which to him meant that I was nuts. Gee, I wonder what was wrong with me…..
My first husband remarried more than thirty years ago. He and his wife go to church, and the last I knew, they were teaching a class together about how to have a good Christian marriage. I saw one of their classes on a video on Facebook awhile back. But I was only able to watch a few minutes of it, when I became physically ill and had to turn it off.
Yes, I know that Christians are forgiven. Yes, I believe that we can become a brand new creation in Christ, if we genuinely repent of our sins and turn our life over to Him. But — where is my apology? Where is the recompense for the physical, mental, and spiritual damage that this lying, cheating, monstrously abusive draft dodger did to me? And how dare he presume to teach anyone how to be a godly husband, and post videos of his classes on Facebook, where it ended up on our teenage granddaughter’s wall?
Father God, Your word says that vengeance belongs to You. I put my trust in You. Amen.
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Comments are closed here, until after I finish my neurofeedback and then finish writing my memoir. Thank you for stopping by and God bless.