Fight For Yourself…For Your Kids
When I married my husband, I was clueless about all of this. I had never even heard the word narcissism. I had no clue what emotional abuse was. Words like gaslighting, projection, and circular conversations were not a part of my vocabulary.
I was madly in love and truly thought I had found the perfect match for me. This didn’t change when we had kids. Yes, by now I realized that he had some faults, but we all do. It was of no great concern to me, and I became an expert at making excuses for him. By now, I knew that I had to tap dance around his moods. I quickly learned to work to keep peace in the household at all costs.
I was not aware of the damage that I was suffering. I did not realize the amount of pain inside me. I remember thinking, “I’m strong. I can persevere and make this marriage last. Every marriage has its problems, so I can certainly tough this one out. It could be much worse. I got this!” These thoughts were occurring regularly for me within the first 5 years of our 21-year marriage.
I did not realize that my kids were being hurt by all of this. I did not know the intense damage they were accumulating. And I certainly did not realize until years later that some of my own actions and choices added to the damage my kids were already suffering. Instead of helping them find healthy ways to express their feelings, I taught them to stuff their feelings deep inside in order to keep their dad happy. I taught my own children how to repress their own emotions, and I taught them well!
My oldest son recently said to me, “Mom, I couldn’t be happy around Dad, but I couldn’t be unhappy around you. I did not learn how to feel my own feelings. Rather, I learned that my feelings were wrong and should be avoided at all costs.”
I added to my own kids confusion as they were growing up. I didn’t teach them to trust their own feelings. I didn’t teach them to express their own feelings. I didn’t teach them that their feelings were normal and valuable. I didn’t teach them that it was okay to be angry, hurt, and frustrated. I didn’t teach them to listen to their own hearts!
I was wrong!
In their early teenage years, my eyes started opening to the reality of what was going on. My internal frustration had reached an all-time high, and a good friend pushed me to go to a therapist. From the very first visit, my world started to change! Upon hearing about my situation, the therapist quickly asked me if I knew what narcissism was. As I started researching and learning, everything started clicking in place. Suddenly everything finally made sense. I was horrified at the level of abuse that was going on right under my nose, and I had not only allowed it, but had even made excuses and justifications for it.
How had I allowed all of this to happen?? How have I watched my kids suffer and even added to their pain?? How have I lived in denial for so long??
Like any caring person would, I went through a ton of guilt and remorse. But it was a quick and intense journey. I didn’t have time to waddle around in self-pity and self-blame. I had two boys to help! And they had no one else to fight for them. I had to get this turned around and NOW!
At this point, my perspective began changing SO much! I knew that I had become disconnected from myself. So I began pouring effort into learning how to connect with my own feelings once again. I had pushed my feelings deep inside and built a protective wall around them. The pain inside was just too much. The one I truly loved and believed truly loved me was the source of so much pain in my life. How could that be? Not facing it was a survival tactic, but it was no longer sustainable.
Now I had face this! I had to deal with reality. Not only did my life rest on this, but so did the lives of my boys. I cracked open the pain in me, and it came gushing out.
While it does take months and even years to heal, it does not take long to start seeing the effects of your efforts. Almost instantly, my perspective with the boys changed. I immediately became more aware of their feelings and the walls they were building in self-protection. I became more receptive to their feelings. I started really listening to them and engaging with them on a deeper level. I let them talk and validated how they felt. I didn’t try to change their feelings or make excuses for their feelings. I just listened with compassion. I began standing by their side and truly supporting them.
Several years later, both of my boys commented about a change that happened in me. They both had seen it on their own. My youngest told me that I had become more peaceful. My oldest said, “Mom, you learned from all of this. You’ve grown and changed.” He later told me, “You and I were able to reconnect because of that. Our relationship changed.”
The best thing I ever did for my boys was to get healthier inside of me! The internal fight I was going through had to be fought and won. I had no choice! I was not fighting just for myself, I was fighting for my boys too!
If you are living this nightmare of parenting with a narcissistic partner, then you are hurting inside. Don’t push that away thinking that you are strong enough to ignore it. Don’t push it away thinking that you need to for your kids. You need to do exactly the opposite. That pain is standing in the way of your own healing and genuineness. It gets in the way of your most important relationships, often without us even realizing it. Start your own internal healing. Reconnect to your own feelings now! Don’t wait. Forgive yourself for all these feelings inside you. Some of them are probably quite ugly, and that’s okay!
Your kids are counting on you, and they don’t even know it. Yes, it is painful! Yes, it is tough! But you are stronger than you think! Remember, you are fighting for yourself….for your kids!