Too Good to Be True?

Are you in a relationship in which you feel like you’re on a roller coaster or a merry-go-round that you can’t figure how to get off of? Is your boyfriend, fiancé, husband super sweet one moment and then moody and accusatory the next? Is there passionate lovemaking one night and explosive arguments the next day? Are there little red flags going off here and there that you’ve been choosing to ignore? Does he call his ex-girlfriends or wives crazy, manipulative lunatics? Does he play the victim in past relationships? Maybe he says he just hasn’t found the right one until he found you. Fate has brought you together. Maybe. But still, something’s off, something’s not quite right. Perhaps he’s an addict…drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex…you’re not sure if he is. Is that the problem? The underlying problem to many, if not all, addictions is a personality disorder. Maybe that’s it. There are different kinds of personality disorders and many different things to become addicted to. So, there are many combinations that can potentially become a destructive force to your relationship, your marriage, and ultimately to you, the victim. In an effort to help my fellow womankind, to warn you, to open your eyes, to validate what you might be experiencing and feeling, to let you know that YOU’RE not the one who is crazy…I write this blog…at 2:00 in the morning. This weighs heavily on my heart for you. If you’ll just consider the words that I present to you. I came across this article earlier that explains what narcissism is and what it looks like to be in a relationship with a narcissist. There were some inappropriate words in the original, so I did change a few words to make it PG. I’ve posted the link to the original if you’d like my reference to the article. If my words have rung a bell in your heart, please read this…

A relationship with a Narcissist has been compared to being on a roller coaster, with immense highs and immense lows. They have been described as the proverbial Jekyll and Hyde, one way one minute, another the next.

People usually get into relationships for love and the need to connect and bond with another. Narcissists get into relationships for entirely different reasons. They do not feel love and they lack the ability to connect and form normal attachment bonds with others.
Narcissists need people more than anyone. Because their entire sense of self-esteem and self-worth is dependent on the admiration of others, their emotions are a precarious balance of needing others and needing to be left alone.
Narcissists feel an enormous void inside of them. This void is ever present and the only thing that fills it, is the love and esteem of another. The fix is always temporary though. A Narcissist describes it this way, “It’s like my brain is constantly seeking something. It’s like I’m always chasing a carrot at the end of a stick. Nothing I do satisfies me, at least not for long. I feel like I only do things because I’m supposed to, because society does it. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere or with anyone.”
Narcissists are completely self-absorbed and are oblivious to the wants and needs of others. They enter into relationships in an attempt to fill this void and to make sure that they have someone who is always available for sex, an ego stroke or whatever need they may have. A relationship with a Narcissist always follows three phases, the over-evaluations phase, the devaluation phase and the discard phase.
The Over-evaluation Phase
A Narcissist is very careful when choosing a target. Typically, they will choose a victim based on their status. They must be attractive, popular, rich or extremely gifted in some area. The greater the status, the higher the value the Narcissist places on the Supply derived.
Once a target has been chosen, it’s almost like the Narcissist gets tunnel vision. They are hyper-vigilant in their pursuit and will project the perfect image that their victim wants them to be. They are excessively caring, loving and attentive at this stage. They shower their targets with attention, compliments and literally sweep them off their feet.
They place their target on a pedestal, idolize and worship them. Their target is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here the Narcissist is ecstatic, full of hopes and dreams. They will talk and think about them constantly, they are euphoric. This is as close as a Narcissist will ever get to feeling love. This kind of idolization is what others would call infatuation.
The victim is likely so caught up in all the attention and is usually thinking at this point, that they have found their soul-mate. Their pursuer is exactly what they want in a partner (because the Narcissist is mirroring what they have learned appeals to their target) and they can’t believe how lucky they are and that this catch is still single.
What they don’t know, or could ever be prepared for, is what comes next.
The Devaluation Stage
The Over-Evaluation phase, if you’re dealing with a Somatic Narcissist, usually lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, just long enough for the Narcissist to be confident that they have secured their target’s love and devotion. Unbeknownst to the target, what they were witnessing in the early phase was the Narcissist’s false self. In this second phase, the mask comes off and the Narcissist starts to reveal their true colours.
The shift could be gradual or almost seemingly overnight. Suddenly the attention they so lavishly gave you is gone and replace by indifference and silence. Days or weeks could go by and you won’t hear from them. They don’t return your phone calls, they don’t keep a single promise and you’re starting to suspect that they might be involved with someone else. The target is left baffled and confused and wondering what they did wrong to cause such an abrupt turnaround.
Narcissists become bored easily and what usually starts happening in their heads at this stage, is that the void begins to emerge again. The high they were feeding off of is waning and they begin to question your worthiness, that perhaps you weren’t so special after all, because if you were then the void wouldn’t still be there.
They become moody and agitated easily, blaming you for even the slightest transgression. They start to disappear more frequently and they give you the silent treatment in an attempt to create distance. As the Narcissist withdraws, the target starts to cling and your demands for his attention and your need to understand what’s happening, grate on his nerves. The harder you cling the more the Narcissist pulls away. They start to blame and criticize the target for everything, treating them like an emotional punching bag.
At this point the target is an emotional wreck. The Narcissist has left without any explanation and they can’t figure out how one minute they were put on a pedestal and now it’s like they don’t even exist. The Narcissist is a projector and they are projecting their emotional turmoil onto you. They feed off of other people’s misery (as long as it’s caused by them) just as much as they feed off of your admiration, either way it makes no difference to them.
It is this person, this cruel, indifferent, unfeeling, sadist that is the behind the mask. Most targets desperately try to find the one they fell in love with. What they don’t realize is that that person never existed. They were a facade an act put on by the Narcissist to secure their Supply.
The Narcissist will take no responsibility for their actions, because they simply don’t care how they’ve treated you or how you are feeling.

Narcissists are not capable of forming normal healthy attachments to people. Those that aren’t familiar with the disorder are completely at a loss to understand how unnecessarily cruel their behavior can be. The target was never more than an object to the Narcissist, whose usefulness is on the decline.
The Narcissist isn’t one to throw away a potential piece of supply though. He will keep up this I love you, I love you not charade going for as long as it suits them or as long as you allow it. He will breeze in and out of your life as if nothing ever happened, completely oblivious and indifferent to your suffering.
This mind trick is deliberate and he will keep feeding you crumbs of attention, just enough to keep you emotionally invested and available to cater to his every need.
At some point one of two things will happen: either he will find a new target and begin phase one with them, thus ignoring you completely, or you will have had enough of his psychotic abuse and you will take control and put an end to it, thus ushering In phase three.
The Discard Phase
It is almost baffling to watch the ease at which a Narcissist can pull away from his partners. Many targets are left asking themselves, “Did he ever love me? Did I mean anything to him?” The simple answer is no. No one means anything to him. Women are only a means to an end – to obtain the much needed Narcissistic Supply. Once your usefulness has run its course, you will be discarded abruptly and cruelly, without warning.
Trying to get over a relationship with a Narcissist is extremely difficult. Once it is over the target is usually an emotional wreck, whose self-esteem has been annihilated by the persistent demeaning behavior, insults and cruelty of the Narcissist. Depending on when they were able to break free, the target maybe a shadow of their former self, with a lot of work ahead of them to rebuild their shattered self-image.
As a victim tries to pick up the pieces, What must be remembered is that you were deliberately targeted, lied to and manipulated by a skilled con-artist, for their own gain. There was nothing you could have done differently and none of this was your fault. The Narcissist will repeat this pattern with every person, every time, bar none.
All former targets must be vigilantly on guard, because a Narcissist always reserves the right to revisit a former source of supply, no matter how much time has passed or how badly they’ve behaved.
Once you have broken free you must close the door on any and all contact, because if you don’t you’re headed back to a watered down version of Phase One – over and over and over again.

Remember, friend, you were created for more than this. You are the apple of God’s eye. You are worth more to your Creator than all the gold and riches in the world. You cannot fix a man or make him better. Only God can. Look to Him for help and guidance and never forget who YOU are and what YOU were made for. He has great plans for your life.
If you are dating or engaged to someone like this…run! Run as fast as you can! Get off the crazy train while you can! If you’re married, get help, now. Find a professional counselor to help you. If you need assistance finding someone, I can point you in the right direction.

I pray blessing, strength, boldness and emotional healing over every woman who reads these words. May God’s love fill your heart and help you to see yourself as He sees you.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

http://esteemology.com/the-three-phases-of-a-narcissistic-relationship-cycle-over-evaluation-devaluation-discard/

 

Bethany’s Story Part 6: Jesus is All I Need

In Parts 1-5 of Bethany’s story, we’ve learned about the relationships in her life and how they changed through divorce, loss and pain. Today, we’re going to examine and discover Bethany’s relationship with her Father…her heavenly Father, that is. Did you just decide this blog isn’t worth reading, not worth your time? I beg to differ with you, friend. It’s very interesting and just a little controversial. Trust me, you want to keep reading.

As we learned in Part 1 of Bethany’s Story, Bethany was brought up in a loving, Christian home. She loved Jesus with all her heart. But once her parents divorced, her life was completely turned upside down, inside out. Neither parent took her to church after the divorce and God was all but removed from her life. We know her story. She grew up, married and had three boys. Bethany always believed in God and would sometimes talk about Him to her husband. When John lost his job, Bethany reassured him that God would provide for them.

When Bethany’s oldest son, Ben, was ten, his friend from down the street invited him to church. Bethany allowed him to go and soon he had an encounter with Jesus and became born again. Being “born again,” is when you understand what Jesus Christ did for you by suffering, dying on the cross and raising from the dead…accepting what He did for YOU and knowing that nothing you have done or ever will do (good or bad) can save you from going to hell or get you into heaven. Believing in Jesus and deciding you will live your life for Him…that is being born again. God’s love will fill you and you will feel totally different. And that is just the first step of an awesome and wonderfully fulfilling life, here on earth and in eternity. If you’re not born again, also known as saved, you’re going to want to experience that ASAP.

Ben was going to church regularly with the neighbors and started begging his parents to go, too. Bethany and John weren’t too keen on the idea, but when Ben was persistent, they decided they should go. They began attending church on and off for a while. John wasn’t really “into it” and Bethany felt strange things when she was there.

“At first, I felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if I liked what I was feeling.”

“There was a short period of time a few years before this when I had started to get serious about the Lord, where I had some real experiences.”

She knew this feeling she was having meant that God was working on the inside of her and wanted to change some things about her life. She was not ready to let go of certain things in her life…

“I began feeling God more strongly than before. I knew for sure that He was pulling me. I felt that way on Sundays and then would live my life like normal during the rest of the week.”

So, she was experiencing the love of God and His presence when she came to church on Sunday mornings. But then, during the week, she’d forget all about Him and live the way she wanted. Sound familiar to anyone? Yes, salvation or being born again is all about what Jesus has done for us. BUT, truly living for Jesus, surrendering your life completely to Him is what He wants for each of us. That doesn’t mean our lives will be boring or not full of fun, but on the contrary, our lives will be abundant. Abundant with God’s love and His blessings. There is nothing better than living your life knowing that you are walking in the plan that God has designed especially for you. That’s true fulfillment! And isn’t that what we all want? To be fulfilled? To be happy? To have peace? To be secure?

Okay, here comes that controversy I eluded to earlier..

“I had been smoking marijuana for a few years. I saw nothing wrong with it because it made me happy and less anxious.”

The marijuana helped Bethany deal with the stress in her marriage and her son who has Asperger’s. It was a coping mechanism for her and she felt like she needed it to make it through each day.

“At first, it was a fun thing to do on girls’ weekends. Then I realized that I liked it way too much. But it made my life easy.”

Everything was better through the high of marijuana. Her kids were adorable and funny. Her husband was great. Everything was awesome after smoking a little weed.

“It got to the point where I made excuses to do it more. It helped me sleep, my kids were hilarious. I had no stress when I smoked.”

“I depended on the marijuana to deal with my stress-husband, kids, money. I would turn to it and it would make everything okay.”

After a while, John started to get concerned with the frequency and amount of marijuana that Bethany was using. She was spending a lot of money, too. She admits that it got to the point that she was smoking all day, every day. John told her, “I don’t know you any other way” (other than high).

Bethany was still smoking when she rededicated her life back to God. She didn’t see a problem with it and wasn’t eager to give it up.

“I was afraid to let it go. Marijuana was my friend. I felt there was no reason to quit.”

Soon though, Bethany began feeling like she shouldn’t be doing it anymore. That’s what happens when you start to draw close to God. He slowly refines you like gold in a fire.

Bethany searched the Bible for scriptures that said she shouldn’t be smoking marijuana. She could only find those pertaining to drunkenness. She reasoned that she had already given up alcohol, so that didn’t apply to her. She couldn’t find anything that said it was wrong or not wrong.

“I had a moment standing in front of my dresser one day. I was ready to light up again. I clearly heard God say to me, ‘You put this before me. It’s the first thing you think about in the morning, in the afternoon and before you go to bed. It’s taking the place of me.’ I put it down and said aloud, ‘Okay, I’m done. It’s all about you. I will never do it again. I will completely lean on You.’ I haven’t touched it since.”

You see, God wants us to completely rely on Him. For our stress, our worries, our sadness, our pain, our guilt, our regrets…for everything. Why? Because He is capable of handling it all. Way more capable than we are. That is why we don’t ever need to rely on drugs, alcohol, sex or other coping mechanisms to deal with life.

Since that day in her bedroom, Bethany has been free. This act of surrender and obedience to God opened up doors in her life. It set into motion many good things for her husband and her entire family.

John was saved and baptized. Her younger boys were saved and baptized. Her mom and stepdad started coming back to church and have grown closer to God. Her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their kids got saved. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of God’s goodness and favor in Bethany’s life.

Bethany experiences true and powerful moments with God.

“There are times when it is very obvious that He is here with me, like He’s standing right in front of me. Sometimes in worship services, I have a hard time physically standing. I feel completely undone. At times, it’s hard to breathe.”

“Being in the presence of God – it’s like nothing else is even happening around me. I forget where I am. It’s just me and Him. It’s the best feeling ever! That’s how you know that God is real.”

One moment with Jesus, that’s all it takes to convince even the biggest skeptic.

“That’s God showing you He is real. When you experience these moments. I mean, you don’t go to church and just make up those feelings. It’s real. He’s real.”

Some friendships of Bethany’s were lost when she became a Christian. But, God has replaced or restored those friendships one hundred fold. Friendship is so important to Bethany. The Bible talks about how you may lose friends when you follow Jesus. When her friends began to reject her, she clung to God’s promises.

“I trust you. All I need is you.”

Bethany says she never even thought to pray for friends, but alas! God knows the desires of our hearts. He knows what we need and desire before we even ask. God gave Bethany a wonderful church family who love her to pieces.

“I have so many people in my life that I never thought I would have relationships with. When I’m at church, I feel like I’m home.”

Because Bethany has totally surrendered her life to God, she and her family are blessed in so many ways. Yes, salvation is ultimately about not going to hell, but it is about so much more. We don’t have to wait to get to heaven to experience God’s goodness and favor. We can have heaven on Earth. If you have ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer, that’s what it is talking about. “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s exactly what Bethany has been seeing in her life. A little bit of heaven on Earth.

stairway-to-heaven

Bethany’s Story Part 5: Asperger’s Does Not Define My Child

Bethany loved being a mommy. Her first son was perfect in every way. He was smart, well-behaved and brilliant! She and John decided they wanted to have another child. This time it wasn’t as easy. After four years of infertility, two rounds of IVF and fertility drugs, Bethany finally became pregnant. She gave birth to another healthy, adorable baby boy. Although her relationship with John was strained, Bethany was happy. Motherhood gave her joy and a purpose in life. Fast forward two years later, baby boy #3 arrives. We’ll call him Johnny.

Bethany knew something was different about Johnny from the beginning. He was not a content baby like her older boys. He cried, or, more like screamed, A LOT. A lot, as in ALL.THE.TIME. Bethany, afraid something was really wrong, took him to the doctor frequently. They switched his formula several times. Nothing worked. He always seemed gassy and in pain. Bethany hadn’t slept a full night since he was born. Finally, at 14 months, she took matters into her own hands and figured out he had a dairy allergy. She removed all dairy from his diet and he seemed a little better. He finally began to sleep at night! What a relief!

Johnny was a VERY active toddler. Bethany could never take her eyes off of him, even for a second. Extremely busy and hyperactive, he was the most difficult child in the family.

“If I’d had him first, I wouldn’t have had any more kids.”

When Johnny was a toddler, Bethany began taking her kids to church. She wanted her children to know about Jesus like she did. A couple of people asked her if she ever had Johnny checked for ADD and behavioral issues.

“I would just get mad. I never thought it was anything serious. I just thought he was a very active boy.”

Bethany stopped taking her boys to that church when little Johnny went missing. No one could find him anywhere. Bethany had taken her eyes off of him for one second and he disappeared. They finally found him, but Bethany decided she had enough. It was several years before she took them to church again.

When Johnny was just a toddler, Bethany made major life changes for her family. She had been studying about the benefits of eating organically and living a natural lifestyle. Changing the eating habits of her family seemed to help Johnny’s behavior. She cut out all preservatives and food dyes, as well as anything genetically modified or synthetically produced.8418884

Johnny started preschool. Bethany says, “He was really bad there.” But the teachers assured him he was just immature and would be okay in kindergarten.

“In the back of mind, I knew there was something different about him. I kept telling myself that he was just an active boy.”

But she admits, there were signs… for instance:

He was obsessed with Transformers. He would line them up neatly, obsessively.

He was obsessed with cars and blocks, incessantly lining them up and stacking them.

Bethany recalls one time when she was “helping” him stack his colored blocks. He freaked out when she stacked the wrong color in the wrong order. He started screaming, became furious and threw the block across the room. She recognized this behavior as sure signs of OCD.

“I always asked the preschool teachers if they thought he was okay. They reassured me that he was fine and was ready for kindergarten.”

Johnny was an extremely affectionate little boy. He loved to give and get hugs and sit on grownups laps, etc. A sure sign that he liked someone was if he wanted to sit right up next to you and hold your hand. When he started kindergarten, he had a wonderful teacher who would allow him to hug her each day. This was helpful, but he didn’t do well with the instruction given in class. He needed to repeat kindergarten. Unfortunately, the school refused to give him the same teacher for his second year of kindergarten. This was when the real problems began for Johnny.

The new teacher’s exact words were, “We just don’t get along.” It was blatantly obvious that she just didn’t like Johnny. She insisted he get an aide to sit with him in class. All the testing had to be done in order for this to happen. His teacher was so sure he had a learning disability. Much to her surprise, he did not. The issue was behavioral.

“I had to sit in these meetings by myself and they were so mean to me.”

In order for him to get the aide in the classroom and further help, Bethany had to take him to a doctor to get an official diagnosis. After a 15 minute appointment, Bethany walked out with a diagnosis for her baby boy.

Asperger’s and ADHD.

“Every day I dropped him off at school, I cried thinking about leaving my baby there.”

One day at school, something unbelievable happened to Johnny. Remember how Johnny liked to give hugs? Well, his principal had a problem with that. She thought it was weird and decided to do something to “help” him with it. She put a weighted jacket on Johnny, saying that she thought the compression of the jacket would help him since he wanted hugs all the time. She said she didn’t want the other kids to think he was weird (wanting to give hugs), yet she put this jacket on him in front of everyone. First of all, these types of jackets are only designed for the most severe cases AND are only allowed to be used by law with the signed permission of the parents. When Johnny came home and told Bethany what happened, she was out-of-her-mind enraged. He told her, “Mommy, I’m such a loser.” My heart breaks for Johnny!  I can only imagine what Bethany was feeling!!!

Bethany prayed about it and decided to visit a local Christian school. She took her husband and Johnny with her. When they left, Johnny said, “I think this is where I need to be.”af7c630824111cc8521b517c9ad4dcee

Bethany pulled Johnny out of the public school system the next day and has never taken him back. In the Christian school, he received everything he needed socially and got the love and attention he craved. Paying for private school was a financial strain for the family, but it was worth it. Johnny was able to feel the love of Jesus there. He was able to express his love for Jesus and others openly, without fear of being punished or ridiculed.

“Whenever he was having a bad day, they never focused on him being the problem. They never made him feel like he was a bad person.”

Johnny’s personal relationship with Jesus grew while he attended Christian school. Teachers would comment to Bethany that during Chapel, they could see the presence of God all over Johnny. His worship to God was so open and innocent. At night, Bethany would catch him staring out his window, blinds wide open, head stacked high on all his pillows, talking to Jesus. People with Asperger’s are usually very affectionate and sensitive, making it easy to connect with God. This is the case with Johnny.

As time has gone on, Johnny has grown in many ways. Before, he could not make friends. He was unable to make a connection with his peers. Now, at 11 years old, he has three very close friends. That’s a huge accomplishment!

Recently at a church service, Bethany observed her baby boy during worship. He was on his knees, hands raised, praying in tongues, unashamed. When it comes to his time with Jesus, he doesn’t care who is around!

About 3 years ago, Bethany further modified Johnny’s diet, cutting out all gluten. The difference in his behavior is like night and day. Literally, over night, he became a different child once the gluten was out of his system. Now, if he eats anything containing gluten, he gets a migraine and becomes violently ill. He also can’t control his anger after he’s eaten gluten. It really is remarkable what impact gluten can have on a person!

Bethany is now homeschooling Johnny. Christian school was great for him socially, but he still struggled academically. Not wanting him to get too far behind, she decided to take his education into her own hands. His reading is improving, as is his spelling skills. He has an awesome imagination and writes fantastic stories. His memory is unbelievable and he excels in math. He has straight As!

Johnny’s teachers at church have commented recently about his behavior. They told Bethany that they are impressed with Johnny and his level of maturity he has been demonstrating lately. Hearing these things about her baby boy is so good for Bethany’s heart! After years of hearing how terrible he is, what a relief!

Not that Johnny is perfect, of course, no child is. He still struggles with certain impulsive behaviors like stealing. He just can’t help himself. He takes candy and gum from his mom’s purse. He is not good at hiding the evidence and always gets caught. He is always remorseful, but this is an area they are still working on.

When Johnny was little, Bethany was always afraid to take him out in public. He was so fast and would run off and get lost. Now, Bethany doesn’t worry about that. Johnny stays right with her. If you saw Johnny in the store with his mom, you would never guess he was different than any other kid.

Has your child received a diagnosis like Johnny? Does the situation seem hopeless? I assure it is not. Your child is not defined by a diagnosis. Your child is special and unique. Embrace the uniqueness as a positive thing!  Be encouraged by Bethany and Johnny’s story.

*I would like to add this little note. Bethany has NEVER put Johnny on any type of medication. She has controlled his behavior through diet, natural supplements and changes in his daily routine. If you would like to know more about what she has done or is doing, I can get you in contact with her.

Lastly, here is a passage of Scripture from Psalm 134 to speak over your child. Life and death are in the words we speak to our children!

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

Bethany’s Story Part 4: Forgiving My Mother

If you missed Bethany’s Story Part 2: The Divorce, be sure to go back and read it so you can fully understand today’s portion of her story. The divorce definitely affected Bethany’s relationship with her mother. Bethany has some heartbreaking memories of her mother’s standards for her while growing up. We will hear about just a few of those sad memories from Bethany today.

As many do, Bethany had a habit of biting her fingernails and the skin on her fingers. She remembers her mother saying hurtful things to her about it.

“She used to say, ‘Look how ugly your hands are. Now you’re going to get cancer. You’re disgusting. No man’s ever going to want to put a ring on your finger.'”

Bethany’s mom would punish her for biting her fingers by putting mercuricrome on her fingers before she went to school to keep her from biting them. Mercuricrome is a bright orange substance that tastes very nasty. Embarrassed of her bright orange fingers, Bethany would just bite it off anyway.

Another way her mom punished her for biting her nails was by telling her that her hands were too ugly for jewelry. Bethany had a beloved jewelry box with ballerinas on it. One day, as punishment, her mother took the jewelry box away and Bethany never saw it again. Until..Bethany and I attended a party at Bethany’s mom’s co-worker’s house. Bethany saw her beloved jewelry box in the lady’s house. Her mother had given it to her co-worker’s daughter. Bethany was devastated! I could see the hurt of her heart through her teary eyes that day. Mind you, Bethany was in her mid-thirties at this time. The pain of childhood memories does not always go away just because you grow up.

Even through her pain, Bethany defends her mom a little..

“I don’t think she meant to be mean. She was just so bothered by me biting my fingers that she did what she thought she must do.”

All of her mother’s efforts were to no avail. Bethany still bites her fingers as an adult!

As Bethany remembers her relationship with her mom, the memories continue to flood in…

One year for Christmas, Bethany asked for a beautiful purple sweater that she had seen at her favorite store at the mall. It was one of the only things she asked for. Her mother bought it for herself instead.

When Bethany would talk to her father about the way her treated her, he would say, “Your mother’s jealous of you.”

She even overheard her little brother say to her mom, “Mom, why do you want to be like Bethany all the time?”

Bethany always felt like her mother was in competition with her. Her mom was jealous of her relationship with her father. After all, she WAS Daddy’s girl.

Her mom was also jealous of Bethany’s friendships. Bethany never remembers her mother ever having any friends-ever.

After the divorce, things got worse. Her mom constantly told her how she was just like her dad. And then in the next sentence she would say how much she hated him.

“She must hate me, too.”

Bethany’s mother kicked her out of the house, as mentioned in Part 2. Her dad came to the rescue. Then she and her fiance’ lived together with her dad. All this time, her mother criticized and condemned her daughter. Bethany’s little brother ended up living with their dad too. Her mother’s anger, pain and judgmental attitude drove everyone away from her. How sad.

When Bethany gave birth to her first son, her mother started to come around. Even so…

“She wasn’t there for me like I thought she should be. She was just starting her life with her new husband. She said no to me a lot. (About babysitting or helping me with the baby). It would upset me.”

Her mom would say, “Well, your father and I never did anything without you kids.”

“That’s why you and Dad are divorced,” Bethany would say back.

Bethany’s relationship with her mother continued to be strained throughout her adult life.

“It wasn’t what I would expect from a relationship with my mother.”

“I feel like we both wanted it and tried at times, but it wasn’t working.”

There was too much left unsaid between them.

Once Bethany rededicated her life to God, things began to shift inside of her. She attended a Bible study on “The Bait of Satan.” It was all about offense and unforgiveness. She recognized that her problem with her mother might be unforgiveness. Bethany is not one to make a spectacle of herself or be the center of attention at all. But, one day at church, she was undeniably compelled to go to the altar. That day was a turning point for Bethany in her thought process regarding her past hurts and anger, specifically with her mother.

“Going to the altar was not an option. I had to go. God did a work in me that day.”

Some time after, Bethany attended another Bible study. During this ladies Bible study, the subject of forgiveness came up again. She was flat out told that her problem was indeed, unforgiveness. She was advised to write her mother a letter, saying everything she wanted to say. Writing things down and getting everything out of your head is very helpful and therapeutic, by the way!

After much hesitation and resistance, Bethany finally wrote the letter. She wasn’t sure if she would ever give it to her mom, but just writing it down helped a lot. She prayed about what to do with the letter. Not long after, an incident arose between Bethany and her mother. Her mother treated her like a child in front of others at church. That was the last straw.

Bethany stewed for a few days. Finally, she texted her mom, “We need to talk.”

Bethany never gave the letter to her mom…she didn’t have to. In a phone call, everything came out. She says, “There was no meanness, no anger, no fighting.”

“I just poured out my feelings. I brought things up from my past that I had never talked about.”

Her mom broke down, cried and apologized for the first time in her life.

“She came to the realization that she needed to forgive my father. I wanted her to have freedom, too!”

“I was amazed that I was able to say the things I said and remembered to say them (without the letter). I know that God was completely in charge of the conversation. I know that chains were broken that day for both my mom and I. We have both gone to another level in our relationship with God.”

Bethany’s mom has completely rededicated her life to God and her marriage to her current husband has improved. “She has let go of Dad, finally.”

“My relationship with my mom is great now. I really wish we could have been like this long ago. I feel like we missed out on some good times.”

Are you dealing with unforgiveness in your life? Maybe you don’t even realize that there is a problem.

Bethany’s forgiveness experience was a gradual process. You must first identify the issue of unforgiveness.

“I didn’t think I had a forgiveness problem. But, I was still holding on to the hurt and pain from my past.”

Here’s Bethany’s advice on how to confront someone who has deeply hurt you.

“First, get your relationship right with God. Get your heart and your attitude right. Then, pray about when and how to confront the person.”

Is there a relationship in your life that is strained due to past hurts and betrayals? Be encouraged by Bethany’s story. There is hope. Forgiveness and restoration can be found!

For more on my own personal story of forgiveness, click here.

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

 

 

 

Bethany’s Story Part 3: Porn Kills

Marriage is hard. I don’t believe many people, especially when they are really young, truly understand the weightiness of the marriage vows. In sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in richer and poorer, til death do us part. There are so many issues that arise that are unforeseeable. You can’t live on love only. A happy, lasting marriage takes a lot of work and A LOT of forgiveness. Bethany had significant marriage problems, but when she rededicated her to life to God, her life drastically changed. Her husband came to know Jesus in time and He became the center of their life. That’s when everything changed. Her story continues where we left off…

When Bethany moved in with her dad, she was dating a guy named Eddie. They had been together for a long time and planned to marry. Eddie graduated two years ahead of Bethany and moved to another state to work. The plan was that when Bethany finished high school, she would move there with him and they’d get married and she’d go to college.

“I really thought he was the one.”

Remember John? The guy friend who Bethany had been hanging out with? That sweet friend who witnessed her getting kicked out of her house? Yes, him. Well, he was there for Bethany through her parents’ divorce. They became inseparable, the best of friends. Bethany didn’t intend on falling in love with John, but she did. He always wanted to be with her and knowing what Bethany was going through made him want to be with her more. He was such a good friend.

“I felt abandoned by everyone who was supposed to love me.”

But John was there. He was a rock to her in her unstable existence. The time came to choose between John and Eddie. Bethany was very torn. She loved them both. She remembers having a conversation with her dad about it. “You know what you want to do,” he said. She did know, but she was really, really scared. Eddie was a sure thing in her life, but John was a risk. Would he hurt her? Would he leave her? Eddie was safe, John was a gamble.

“If I screwed up, then I would have nobody!”

Bethany came clean with Eddie. It was over. He told her, “If I ever see you anywhere, ever, I will turn around and walk away.” Ouch. That hurts.

“I was so sad that it was over, but by the time I got out of the car, I couldn’t wait to tell John, ‘I choose you!'”

Bethany moved in with John and his family for a while. John’s mother made her life difficult and she decided that she needed to get out of there. Her father allowed both of them to move back in with him. Needless to say, Bethany’s mother did not approve.

Bethany and John got engaged and were married one year later. Bethany was just nineteen years old when she found out she was pregnant, four days before the wedding.

“I just wanted to be married to him. I was never like ‘Oh my gosh,’ it’s my wedding. We had been living wrong for so long, I just wanted it to be right. I was excited to be pregnant.”

During the wedding, John got really drunk. “I had to drive to the hotel. I kept slamming on my brakes so he’d wake up at every red light. I thought it was funny.”

Nice start to a marriage, huh?

About nine months later, their first baby boy arrived. Life was all about the baby. That first year was wonderful for Bethany. She was so happy! This life that she was living was all that she wanted. Then they got a home computer…This is the point in Bethany’s story where I, myself, begin having flashbacks. This is the point in Bethany’s story where I can say, “Me too, me too.”

“That’s when I started finding the porn.”

“He never wanted to go to the strip clubs with the guys from work. I thought he was different. His mom always told me I was the only girl he ever brought home. He thought being with lots of women was just wrong.”

The next few paragraphs of Bethany’s story can be summed up in one word…SHOCKED. While interviewing her for her story, she said the word “shocked” more times than I can count. I have experienced this “shock” in my life too. Have you ever been shocked by an electrical outlet? A little jolt of electricity travels up your arm and makes your whole body feel weird and out of sorts. Then afterward, you’re like, “What just happened?”

My husband tells me a story of when he was in the Navy aboard a submarine. As a machinist, he was responsible for maintaining and repairing things. One day, he went to make an adjustment with a knob that had direct electric current flowing through it. The knob was covered in rubber so that when it was turned, it would not shock the person turning it. As he turned the knob, someone came up behind him and slapped him on his shoulder as hard as they could. All the muscles in his arm and upper back violently contracted and he jumped back a few feet. He turned to see who had slapped him. There was no one there. Then he noticed a slit in the rubber knob that had left him unprotected from the electrical current. He had been shocked. Because of the supposed protection of the rubber on the knob, he was not expecting to come into contact with a live electrical current. It was a complete surprise! That’s a sensation he remembers vividly to this day, even after twenty some years.

In a marriage, the vows we recite, the devotion we pledge to one another, the commitment we make, the covenant we enter together is the “rubber” on the knob. When that rubber gets a crack, we are left unprotected. The “shock” can come from many sources…pornography, affairs, drug addictions, abuse, etc. The effects of the initial shock is often emotionally violent and creates a huge gulf in the marriage. There is a breach in the “protection” of the marriage and trust is lost. This is the shock Bethany experienced…

One day, Bethany ran to the local gas station one day to buy cigarettes. She took John’s car. His briefcase was sitting on the passenger’s seat.

“Something told me to look in his briefcase. I was shocked by what I found.”

A magazine with naked women. This is just the beginning…

“When I found the porn on the computer, I was shocked. I honestly never thought that was the kind of person John was. I thought he was the exact opposite.”

When Bethany found the porn on the computer, she wasn’t looking or suspecting her husband. She was simply typing in the search bar for an unrelated subject. The porn sites just came up in the search bar as she typed. She called AOL and they taught her how to search the history.

“I looked back as far as I could. Every site, every picture he looked at. I printed out every single one. I used up all the ink in the printer. I had it all lain out on the kitchen table, waiting for him to come home from work.”

Bethany’s heart was absolutely broken. She was disgusted and felt sick to her stomach. The more porn she found on the computer, the more angry she got.

“I even remember some of the people he was looking at. Like naked pictures of Alyssa Milano…why would he want to look at that?”

When John walked through the door that day, Bethany was ready. The look on John’s face was like a child who is caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Bethany erupted like a volcano.

“If you want them, take them. You’re not getting me!”

She began asking questions. Remember, this was about a year after she gave birth to their baby. Can you understand where her mind was going?

“If I looked better, would you be more attracted to me?”

He said yes. What the? I’m sorry. He was an idiot. What kind of person says yes to a question like that from the twenty year old mother of YOUR ONE YEAR OLD BABY?!?!?!?!?

Can you also understand how Bethany STILL struggles with her body image to this day? No matter how many times her husband tells her she’s beautiful, sexy, perfect or desirable, her confidence, her security, her view of herself changed…forever.

“I thought I was happy. I married John, had my baby…everything. My friends were all in college and here I was already married with a baby. But, it’s what I had always wanted. I thought my life was set, then this happened. I was afraid my marriage was over. I regretted my decision to be with John. What was I going to do?”

More questions were asked. Promises were made. Apologies were given. Their marriage did not end this day. Life continued…

“For years after that, I remember crying myself to sleep, just wanting him to touch me. We hardly ever had sex. I wanted to be loved and I never felt like I was. It was because of the porn.”2-300x198

Bethany did not have much faith in John or his love. His actions towards her proved her feelings correct. For instance…

“One of our mutual friends, a guy, starting hitting on me. He begged me to meet him. He told me no one would ever have to know. He kept asking me over and over. This went on for a while. When we went away for one of our anniversaries, I told John everything. He didn’t say much. We continued being friends with the guy and hanging out with him. It always bothered me that he never said anything to our friend about it. He never got even a little jealous. He just didn’t care.”

If some guy was doing that to me and I told my husband about it, he would be serving time for murder or at least assault. Just sayin.’

Bethany wanted another baby. She struggled with infertility for four years. After IVF two times and fertility drugs, she finally became pregnant. Another baby boy. Then another boy came a few years after that. Three boys! The third boy was quite a challenge and I will be devoting an entire blog on just him soon. He is different than the other two. She immersed herself in motherhood, caring for her three precious gifts.

Bethany says that “Life was fine,” during these years, but it wasn’t really. A family friend would frequently come over their house to fix their computer. It was always loaded with porn. John tried blaming their oldest son. Bethany knew better.

Bethany’s insecurities screamed at her mercilessly, “You’re not good enough.” But she tried to be the best wife she could be.

Bethany recalls their ten year anniversary trip. She was so excited to spend time with her husband. Her expectations of a joy-filled weekend of connecting with John were met with huge disappointment. She tells me of the ring he bought her. How he was completely disconnected. How hard she tried to get him to talk and open up to her. No response.

“He was just off. I didn’t want to push the issue because I didn’t want him to be mad.”

I ask her, “Do you think it was the porn or an affair that was causing him to be disconnected to you?”

“Those are things I don’t even want to know now because that’s not who he is anymore.”

John became a born-again Christian a few years later. He has surrendered his life to God and is a new man. He is 100% devoted to Bethany and their boys. I have witnessed the love and adoration he has for his wife and for his Lord. People have actually commented to them that they seem like newlyweds. That is the restoring power and grace of God right there. If you are at a place in your marriage where you think there is no hope, be encouraged. Placing God at the center of your marriage is the key. Nothing is impossible with Him. He is all about restoration and redemption. The how and why of Bethany and John’s relationship with God will be discussed in a later post. It is quite a story in itself!

How many of you have experienced what Bethany has experienced? I will raise my hand first. Pornography and sexual perversion are what destroyed my first marriage. I’ll never forget the first time I found porn on our home computer. Shocking. Painful. Degrading. Insecurity. Disbelief.

From my own personal experience and from what I know of many other women, this is what porn does to a woman:

You love this man. He loves you. You feel like you’re the only one for him and he’s the only one for you. You feel so close and connected to him. He makes you feel beautiful, sexy, smart and funny. You have no doubt that these things are true…because he says so. There is safety and security in your relationship. You think, “This is how marriage is supposed to be.” You’re best friends, lovers, confidantes, soul mates, you complete one another.

Then you find porn or a playboy or a text message or an email…all of a sudden, everything that you thought was true is gone. Like a mirror shattered into a million pieces. Like a basket of neatly folded laundry strewn all over the room. Like a brand new car that has been mangled in a violent crash. Pieces of your life, your self-confidence, the truth of your reality, your self perception, everything that you thought to be true and good…all strewn about in chaos. You can’t ever measure up to the women on the computer screen…and you don’t want to be like her. I remember saying to my ex-husband, “I’ll never look like that, ever. If that’s what you want, then you’re going to have to find someone else.” Though I try to be as appealing as possible, I will never look like a pornstar. It’s just not physically possible.

Porn kills our self esteem, our confidence, our security, our peace. Like Bethany, I struggle to this day with my self confidence. I never feel like I’m good enough. Even though I have a wonderful husband who dotes on me excessively, I still struggle. And I know that many of you do, as well. Perhaps you excuse your husband’s behavior by saying that men will be men. But, still, deep down inside, it hurts.

Let me paint a picture for you of how your Creator sees you.princess_zpsa561d5ae You are God’s masterpiece! You are His beloved! You are the apple of His eye! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! His love for you goes on and on and on! You are His princess! He loves you, no matter what you’ve done or said or thought! Nothing can separate you from His love! You are perfect and cherished by Him! Believe and accept His love today!

Read the Bible to find out more on God’s love for you. The Bible is God’s love letter to you! bible

 

 

 

 

I also recommend the book, “His Princess: Love Letters from Your King.” It’s a book of love letters written to you from God’s perspective. When I read it, I just cry. It is THAT good! 9781590523315_p0_v1_s260x420I’ve included the link where you can purchase it online.

http://www.amazon.com/His-Princess-Love-Letters-Your/dp/1590523318/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423674250&sr=1-1&keywords=his+princess+love+letters+from+your+king

Or, here is a free sneak peak:

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/pdf/SneakPeek_HisPrincess.pdf

I’ve included links to resources for women dealing with husbands who have issues with pornography. These resources have been a great help to me personally. Check them out:

http://xxxchurch.com/connect/podcast/porn-kills

http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/life-issues/challenges/addiction/common-questions-about-a-husbands-sexual-addiction#.VNuPRp3F_ZM

http://www.pureintimacy.org/e/emilys-story/

http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/07/21/signs-of-porn-addiction/

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/divorce-and-infidelity/dealing-with-pornography/should-i-confront-my-spouse

https://www.journeytohealingandjoy.com/helping-resources/books/living-with-your-husbands-secret-wars

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com