I began writing a book in January 2018 called You Are Enough: 5 Steps To Move From Struggle To Strength. I had no idea where my book would go and if people even cared to read what I had to say. However, I was in the midst of such personal turmoil and heartbreak that writing for me was a way of processing all of my hurt.
There came a point where I stopped writing my book because I was going through a lot of personal drama, and was definitely not feeling like I was enough. I was questioning myself about writing a book covering this particular topic when I felt like a fraud, when I felt so sad, so heartbroken, and devastated. So, I stopped for about a month.
But then… one of my girlfriends Jacquelyn came to the rescue. While visiting from out of town, she dragged my grief-stricken soul out for dinner. In a modestly-crowded restaurant, I found a seat at the bar, and noticed an older gentleman nursing his drink beside me. Poor guy had no idea what he was in for when he asked me how I was doing that night. Yes, I completely… verbally… vomited all over him.
After he picked his jaw up off of the floor from having endured my heartfelt, but very real story about Mr. N, he said to me:
This is the best time to write your book. You are hurt, confused, and lost. You are questioning every decision you have made in the last five years and you are using the tools you have been giving to your clients in order to get back on track. People want to hear your story. Your struggles. Your triumphs.
I met Mr. N at age 34 when I moved to California and joined the Air Force as an officer. We had a whirlwind of a romance and it progressed very quickly. That was the first red flag, but I was so wrapped up in how much he loved and adored me, that I ignored my intuition and fell deeply in love with him. I was so excited about our future together.
We began dating in October 2012, and were engaged five months later on Valentine’s Day 2013. We got married in October of the same year. Our wedding was in Napa, California, and it was to say the least, absolutely perfect. A fairy tale. Even though everything moved so fast with meeting him, the engagement, and exchanging our nuptials all within a year, I just couldn’t believe I had finally found the one I would spend the rest of my life with.
I am not implying that meeting someone and getting married within 12 months is a bad thing. However, I ignored so many red flags through our courtship. Red flags I now kick myself for not paying attention to. Through my work in therapy, I came to the realization that Mr. N was a complete “narcissist.” And on a side note, to answer your questions that are dancing in the back of your mind right now, yes, I am a therapist and yes, I, too, go to therapy.
Now back to Mr. N. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the following is the definition of a narcissist: “an individual showing symptoms of or suffering from narcissism: such as an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance.”
One moment I think I’m living the life of my dreams. I had fallen in love. I finally found the “one.” The one person with whom I could enjoy my dream life. Keep in mind, Mr. N was a guy who called every day, sent flowers weekly, planned romantic getaways, and was so thoughtful and understanding about everything. After our first week- end date, he told me he loved me. He came into town just to see me every other weekend, as he was living in Texas at the time. In just a few weeks period of time, we were head over heels in love and I thought, “This must be my soul mate!”
Things were going so well, and this person seemed to be everything I could’ve ever hoped for. He seemed to know exactly how to make me feel loved and how to fulfill my every need. Life was won- derful. Everything was perfect!
But then the unthinkable happened.
The person who once seemed to adore me began to change. He seemed annoyed, unhappy, and started saying and doing things that made me feel uneasy, criticized, anxious, and confused. I could bring up so many behaviors that I thought was out of character about him at the time, but it actually revealed exactly who he was all along. This is a man who bought one of his girlfriends a car on Valentine’s Day a month before our divorce was even final. Just three years earlier we had gotten engaged on the same holiday. What happened?
There are many traits to look for when it comes to diagnosing someone as a narcissist. One of these traits is called Love bombing. Love bombing is an attempt to influence another person with over- the-top displays of attention and affection. We’re not just talking about romantic gestures, like flowers and trips. Love bombing invariably includes lots of romantic conversation, long talks about “our future,” and long periods of staring into each other’s eyes. It’s the combination of words and deeds that makes love bombing so powerful, especially considering today’s technology. The ability to call, text, email, or con- nect on social media 24/7 makes it easier to be in constant contact with the object of one’s affection than ever before.
The paradox of love bombing is that people who use it aren’t always seeking targets that broadcast insecurity for all to see. On the contrary, the love bomber is also insecure, so to boost their ego, the target must at least seem like a great “catch.” Maybe she’s the beautiful woman who’s lonely because her beauty intimidates people, or he’s the guy with the great career whose wife left him for his best friend, or she’s the hard-nosed businesswoman who has avoided marriage and motherhood because her childhood was so traumatic.
I fall into the latter category. I have always wanted to get married, but for many years I was so focused on my career because I was so fearful of abandonment. Plus, my trust issues always seemed to get in the way of relationships. Then I met Mr. N, and it completely changed.
Mr. N never controlled me—like telling me I couldn’t go out with my friends or wanting to know where I was every minute. He actu- ally encouraged me to spend time with friends, and honestly did not care what I did or who I talked to. This was very confusing for me to understand during my work in therapy. I now realize it was a way of controlling me because I gave him full access to my life because I actually wanted him to care about what I was doing and who I was talking to. He closed me off to his entire life, so I gave him access to mine. This included my phone, computer, friends, you name it… all in the hopes that he would do the same. He never did.
The behavior escalated. I caught Mr. N in hundreds of lies, being disloyal, and having an affair for over 14 months of our 2.5 year mar- riage. But despite all of the atrocious things he did, it was me who was treated like “the enemy.” Mr. N refused to be accountable, was not genuinely remorseful, and despite being so caring and concerned for my well-being in the past, at this point in time, he treated me as if I didn’t exist.
Over time I began feeling even more bewildered. I began ques- tioning myself and questioning if I was the crazy one. This is called gaslighting. Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person, in order to gain power, makes someone question their reality. As I began researching more about narcissism and gaslight, I immediately became over- whelmed with emotions when I was able to confirm that the following statements supports the behavior of who and what a narcissist is, and that Mr. N, indeed, fits the criteria:
They tell blatant lies.
They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
They wear you down over time.
Their actions do not match their words.
They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
They know confusion weakens people.
They try to align people against you.
They tell you or others that you are crazy.
They tell you everyone else is a liar.
This is what I dealt with for the last five years of my life. Mr. N, who used to “adore me like no other,” made me begin to believe I was “never good enough.” I was blamed for all of the problems in the relationship, no matter how much I tried to explain, prove, fix things, or justify myself.
I can’t tell you how many times Mr. N told me how wrong I was, how bad I was, and how it was all my fault. He would tell me if it wasn’t for the fact that I had trust issues from my childhood that he wouldn’t have had to lie to me. He actually believed that. He said the affair was my fault. If I wouldn’t have been dealing with my own anger, he wouldn’t have cheated on me. My personality flaws. My anger issues.
I remember this one time he left on his lunch break. It started off as not being a big deal at all. Very innocent. People run errands on lunch breaks, and even grab a bite to eat as that time is intended for. Nevertheless, I just casually asked him if he had gone out to lunch that day. He said he didn’t. Again, no big deal. Later that same day, I found a receipt that made it clear that he had gone to Best Buy. I questioned him about leaving for lunch. He lied about the date stamp on the receipt saying the cash register must have been wrong. Why lie about something so trivial and ridiculous? There were constant instances like this that motivated me to play the role of a private investigator in my own relationship. I started snooping after I caught him in several lies.
He blocked me on Instagram and from our computer a few months into being married, and I never regained access. This reaction was in response to my questioning him about the women on his Instagram and inappropriate private messages he was sending them. He had the nerve to call me crazy—when, in fact, I started seeing these patterns and lies with his actions and words. I became hypervigilant. He let me know that I couldn’t tell him who he could and couldn’t be “friends” with. Everything was a lie or some form of manipulation.
He went on about how my issues, past, family, personality, lack of caring, lack of integrity, lack of love, lack of communication, or lack of honesty is the exact reason why he behaved the way he did.
He made me out to be the crazy one. He had everyone believing that it was my fault the relationship wasn’t working. He convinced our friends and family that I was a liar and a horrible person, and that he was the abused one. The perpetual insults, micro-manag- ing, distrust, put downs, and threats shattered my self-esteem and confidence.
Mr. N filed for divorce in 2014 and pulled the papers 3 different times. He kicked me out of our home on 2 different occasions but would always ask for me back. We tried couples therapy however for the 10 weeks that we went he was still having the affair, which at that time I did not know about. I wanted to make the marriage work despite all the craziness and chaos but he eventually followed through and our divorce was final in 2016. I walked away with nothing but my wedding ring, a ton of debt and a shattered heart.
Mr. N stayed in my life for the next 2 years. He would contact me telling me he missed me, made the wrong decision with divorcing me and even took me on a few dates. However I never went back to our home to visit. He would always come to my place or we would meet in public. I believed everything he said to me and I allowed him to come in and out of my life and control me. I was still fully committed to him even after he divorced me.
Remember how I told you that I was having a nudging feeling to do more with my life? Well part of that nudging feeling was telling me to get away from Mr. N. Eventually, I got the strength to leave the city where we both lived, and I moved to San Diego in 2017. The day I moved he met me for lunch and begged me not to leave. His love bombing gestures and words increased. I couldn’t stop myself from going back to him. We talked everyday and he came down to San Diego to see me twice. No one understood. I found myself hiding the times I would talk or see him from my friends. I didn’t want the judg-ment from those I loved.
Despite the horrific abuse I dealt with from Mr. N, I stubbornly clung to the dream. I kept praying, fighting for, and clawing away to try to get him to return to being the man I thought I had married. Like a drug addict, I kept seeing him and hid it, even after we were divorced. I lied to the people in my life who I loved. I would stay away, then I would return—over and over again. Always praying that things would be different this time.
Rather than getting better, dramatically and rapidly the punish- ment and abuse got worse. The worse he treated me, the more horrific and manic my addiction to him became. My shame, hopelessness, and powerlessness spiraled down into a black hole. It became increasingly clear that my dream of having the perfect partner and the perfect life was slipping further away. It was so very difficult to accept that the “love of my life” was now maliciously deceiving, abusing, controlling, and deliberately hurting me.
I constantly asked myself, “How did I go from feeling so adored, appreciated, safe, protected, and cherished to feeling absolutely devastated?”
“How could the person who professed to love me with every cell of their being become so cruel, conscienceless, calculating, and vicious?”
“How could he throw me away and choose two other women over his wife… the one person who stood by his side and loved him uncon- ditionally for the last five years?”
Is there anything more painful than being discarded? There isn’t. At least I can’t imagine anything more painful. When I tapped into my inner being, the messages it received during this time were:
“You’re worthless.” “You’re not wanted.”
And the worst one… “You are not good enough.”
My trauma at this point in my life was indescribable. If you are presently reeling in agony as a result of feeling discarded, and feeling stuck, I truly empathize with you. During those moments of strug- gle and uncertainty, I felt like a small child being deserted by my loved ones. I felt so alone, defenseless, and I felt like I just couldn’t go on. I often wondered how I was ever going to feel wonderful and happy again.
You see, Mr. N would always hit me at my lowest point. Just when I started to regain my strength and begin to move on… BAM!
He would reach out to me, pretended to “work on” our relation- ship—even after our divorce. Be intimate with me. And… BAM! He’d pick fights, all while still “talking” to other girls without me even knowing.
He was there stripping me of my confidence, my mental, emo- tional, and physical health. He stripped away all belief in myself, which left me convulsing in the gutter while he pranced away with his “goodies,” otherwise known as my heart and the things that were closest to me— including my dogs, family, and friends. He was filled with anger and revenge, and he believed that I did not give him what he wanted, so he punished me. He just had to teach me a lesson. He would invite me to things and then if I “misbehaved” he would tell me I wasn’t allowed to go with him and worst of all he would send me pictures and texts at the events that I wasn’t “allowed” to go too.
As I said earlier, I spent a lot of time researching and learning about narcissism. There were many points during this journey where I cried and thought, “This could not be him! How could I have fallen in love with a narcissist?”
What I discovered is that Mr. N had a very serious issue within his neuropath ways. They were split and fractured from the design of his true self. His inner programs were so corrupted by his false self that he was full of self-loathing. He had to project and target his fractured parts onto people in his life that were closest to him. Unfortunately, I was the bullseye. He aimed his insecurities towards me.
Basically, the people that judge, attack, and criticize the most are deeply unhappy with their own inner being. This is what a narcissist does, but does so to the extreme. That is why Mr. N was never happy. He would idealize me, devalue me, and finally discard me. After some time had passed, he would be back in my life doing exactly the same thing. It was a cycle that continued for years.
Mr. N would discard me like I was garbage in a trash bin, as there was nothing else that he could “gain” from being with me. He emp- tied me out all the way to absolute nothingness. He would also discard me when a fresher source of “narcissistic supply” came along, which included attention from “beautiful” sources, accolades, resources, con- tacts, and even sex.
Although I was often treated as discarded waste, I somehow dou- bled as his security blanket. Mr. N continued to hang on to me despite our marital status and his infidelities. It was like I was shielding him from the abrasive coldness of the world and comforting him as needed.
In 2016, a month before our divorce was final, he met another woman, moved her into our home (I was living by myself at this time) and began creating another life that I literally had no clue about. Remember when I said earlier that after the divorce he would only come to my house or meet me in public? Well this was why. And yes you’ve guessed it; she was the same woman who he gave the new wheels to on Cupid’s Day 2 years ago. Our divorce was not even final yet! Nevertheless, he kept love bombing me. He would contact me. Buy flowers. Be affectionate. Look into my eyes. And like the perpetually hopeful woman that I was, I would continue to see him and talk to him and literally had no idea he had a second life.
Mr. N continued to tell me that he made the biggest mistake of his life with having an affair and divorcing me. He pleaded that he wanted to make it right with me. But each plea bargain attempt was filled with empty words, as he was living with another girl at the time. Again, at this point, I had no idea that this other woman existed, let alone even knowing her name. She was some faceless “Jane Doe.” His actions never backed up his words.
It wasn’t until Feb 2018—two years after our divorce—that I learned everything. Absolutely everything. When she moved in. How long they had been together. The intimate things he would say to her, which “coincidentally” were the same things he would say to me. And, oh the horrible things he said to her about me. Horrible untruths that made it appear that he was being victimized by me.
I was beyond traumatized. I felt empty and damaged. Oftentimes I had no idea how I was going to continue. It is honestly so difficult to accurately describe how this cycle of abuse felt and the destruction it caused me. Finding out about an ex-wife of his that I didn’t know about and how he conveniently failed to tell me about beneficiary commitments he had with her. I could not believe what I had become. How did I allow myself to fall into his abuse?
The bandage I had put on my deep wounds from his affair and the divorce was violently ripped off again. There I was holding a bleed- ing heart and my life in my hands—way beyond what any bandage could contain. I lost property, money, connections, my health, and my self-esteem. Yet, Mr. N held on to me, and I fell for his love bombing ploys. It became painfully obvious that Mr. N, despite pledging his love, would never be accountable and change his behavior.
Mr. N blamed me for contacting the other girl. He blamed me for “outing” him about his double life. He ran to her. Tried to fix things with her. He stopped all communication with me. He never once apologized. The last email I received from him was on February 15, 2018. The email was cruel, blaming, and down-right horrifying! It was something to the effect of, “I never want to see you again. You ruined my life.”
It was all downhill from there. I was so confused and hurt.
I realized Mr. N—who I thought was my dream come true—is, in fact, my worst possible nightmare. I realized that this was the end. There was no going back. This realization made the trauma even more unbearable. My faith in life felt shattered. I wondered how I would ever trust again. I felt more powerless and helpless than I had ever felt before.
I literally was right where I was when I initially learned about his affair three years prior. I found myself having to re-engage in my 5-Step System that I had developed for my clients. I felt so worthless, uncared for, and so not good enough. This is why I made the com- mitment to continue to write my book, even during one of the most devastating times in my life.
I ruminated over so many self-sabotaging thoughts and questions, such as how would I ever get free from the obsessional thought loop about the utter cruelty, contempt, and trauma I endured? How do I ever regain trust, belief in myself, and self-confidence when it was all taken away from me? How was I going to find closure?
Honestly, I came to a realization that I was never going to get the full closure I truly wanted. I couldn’t cognitively get closure from this, which is very normal after what I experienced. This is something that virtually every person who has been through this type of abuse does not fully recover from. My belief in my own humanity was altered in such a way that I danced with evil and it scarred me for life.
Did Mr. N ever apologize? Did Mr. N ever repay the money and property he ripped away from me? Did Mr. N ever go around to his family, friends, and networks, where he smeared my image, to fess up to his lies?
No, of course not.
Has Mr. N been held accountable or been brought to justice? No, and honestly it doesn’t matter. I couldn’t think my way into closure. If I would have stayed in my head, I know I would be dead right now from the trauma [within] that was eating away at me. I probably would be institutionalized and/or heavily medicated without a doubt.
I used to believe that I could not have closure until he was brought to justice, or at least until he apologized for all the destruction he created in my life. I quickly learned that these things would never get me closure.
My therapist would ask if it would make a difference to me if Mr. N would contact me to apologize. I would have to really think about the question. On the surface, it always felt like something that I would want. But I would constantly remind myself that it truly did not matter because I would have never believed what would have come out of his mouth. Even if he apologized, I would have known that his apology would not have been genuine.
Now I have to admit, there were many times over the course of our relationship that I allowed my anger to overcome me, and I would yell at him. Our fights would be intense and downright dirty. You see, I have always struggled with anger issues due to childhood trauma I endured. I have worked for years learning how to control my anger outbursts, but it was so incredibly difficult to control my anger when the man that I loved—my husband lied to me. Cheated. Divorced me. And kept stringing me along for two more years while he chose to fall in love with another woman.
I take full responsibility for my actions. My anger hurt him. I get it. I have acknowledged this. I have even gone so far as to apologize and have asked for forgiveness each time this occurred. But my apol- ogies over the years did not excuse his negative behaviors, actions, and decisions. Mr. N would often use my anger outbursts as the rea- sons he had an affair, divorced me, and lied to me, but I knew that was just his way of not taking responsibility. If I was such a monster, like he made me out to be, he would have never ever kept me in his life for all of these years.
So what did I do to find closure? I began working my 5-Step System. During this process I was able to identify and focus on three little words to help me gain closure: Release. Your. Trauma. I had to get the trauma out of my inner being. The trauma that caused me to hurt continuously and kept me stuck was prohibiting me from moving for- ward. It was stopping my well-being in all areas of life.
I learned that my closure has nothing to do with him. Rather, it has absolutely everything to do with me. I truly believe that whatever unfolds for Mr. N is all in perfect and divine order because he has his own life that has nothing to do with me. What does have everything to do with me is my life. My unfolding and my inner being.
The only reason I learned how to release the trauma was by being brought to my knees by this abuse with nowhere else to go. The trauma that I held onto for over five years caused my life to be unsettled and unstable. I effectively managed it at times. However, it often resur- faced as depression, anxiety, and insecurities. I had to work hard to soothe it, almost like a colicky baby, but these traumas were always there–crying and whining for attention.
My life was like quicksand. Getting out and falling back in. It was beyond exhausting. The more trauma I accumulated through- out the five years of the relationship with Mr. N, the more I had to fight and work harder to not be engulfed in that quicksand. My entire existence became personal development as a total necessity in order to be sane.
When the last brutal discord occurred between Mr. N and me, I had no more ability to soothe internal trauma. I could no longer manage it. There was nothing more I could do, except to release the trauma. To get rid of the dirty and awful toxicity that was left inside of me. This included going back to therapy. Before, I was trying to heal on my own. This is also the time that I started writing this book. I sold my wedding ring. I started dreaming again. I began taking personal development courses. It was time for me to finally free myself. To begin picking up the pieces and moving forward. There was nothing left for me to do, but to stand back up, take that first step, and to begin my journey from struggle to strength!
Once I began re-engaging in the 5-Steps that moved me from strug- gle to strength, I was able to find closure. I was released from being an anxious, traumatized, powerless, depressed, PTSD-ridden woman to being an expanded, healthy, and prosperous one.
It may sound like a total fluke to have complete closure after what I went through. Suffering from complete destruction in every part of my life… losing everything I worked so hard to accomplish within 30+ years. Losing the love of my life—my dream life! Filing for bankruptcy, all while Mr. N walked away with what had been mine. Nevertheless, I finally got closure. I am finally able to say again that I am enough. And I 100% truly believe it!
I no longer judge or blame my former self. I am thankful for the “old” me because “she” brought me to my knees to be able to releasemy internal blocks that were not allowing me to live as my true self. I know without this experience with Mr. N this would have never been possible. I would have stayed asleep in quick sand, getting “swallowed” in an attempt to manage the traumas and false beliefs that I had for so many years.
I realized that my greatest disasters, persecutors, haters, and ene- mies divinely and perfectly played a role in my greatest liberation. This gave me the perfect closure. So many of us, while surviving our wounds and simply living our lives, have yet to awaken to our true power and how amazing life really is meant to be for all of us. The truth is: this agony that you have felt powerless to change, you actually do have the power to change the circumstances. Whether it be in a relation- ship, career, or mindset, the power is within you. I know this because I have seen people who have been so broken and traumatized, who once upon a time believed their life will never get better, completely turn their lives around. I am one of those people. You have to get to a point where you no longer manage your internal traumas. Instead, you need to purposefully release those traumas and mental blocks to finally begin to believe you are enough!
How does one actually accept that they are ENOUGH?
All of your thoughts, feelings, experiences and results throughout your whole life have led you to believe certain things to be true. With all of this “evidence” backing up your belief, no wonder changing a belief is hard!
Simply saying I AM ENOUGH is not going to have any significant effect on your life. You need to FEEL it. It’s about embodying what you’re saying. It’s a hard thing to describe, but you want to physiologically get your mind and body to truly believe it when you say I AM ENOUGH!
Write it with lip stick on your mirror, put it on a sticky note, tattoo it on your body (yes I went as far as to have those three little words forever inked on my collar bone), do whatever you need to do!
It took me repeating these words in my mind and seeing these words throughout my day for me to really begin to believe it. I continue to repeat this phrase every day because when I do I feelempowered, worthy, loveable, and confident.
Remember that your thoughts create your reality! So practice this affirmation or whatever affirmation truly speaks to your heart daily to effortlessly tap into your subconscious, and soon you’ll feel the powerful effects of reprogramming your mind for success.
You are ENOUGH just as you are, in whatever season you’re in and the more you celebrate and focus on that the more you will live your STRENGTH.