Narcissistic Personality Disorder

So to recap before I go Into details, here’s a definition from last week,

Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.18 Nov 2017

http://www.mayoclinic.org

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are usually described as being arrogant, self-centred and demanding. They are selfish individuals who are manipulative and have great difficulty with empathy and considering the needs, thoughts or ideas of other people. They believe themselves to be superior to others and think nothing of making others feel small. Their ego is such that it needs constant admiration and don’t even think of giving them criticism positive or otherwise, it just doesn’t sit well with them! They tend to crave the attention of others.

The individual with NPD struggles with relationships because they tend to put themselves first. As far as they are concerned, they are always right, their way is always best. Their grandiose opinion of themself means that they often exaggerate their accomplishments and talents. They perceive themselves as being quite special. Persons with this disorder tend to have mood swings too.

Though they may exhibit high self-esteem, this may merely be to cover up their own insecurities. As a past scapegoat of a narcissistic husband, the possibility of a perpetrator not having to take total responsibility for their actions is an idea not easy to entertain. However, when you have walked a path of healing its easier to see this from an angle of an unfortunate childhood. Mr Impatient had a dysfunctional upbringing. He never had a sense of belonging. I can understand his need to portray an air of confidence having been through his own trauma. He displayed a confidence that was not instilled in him. I suppose it was his defence mechanism against the world. What wasn’t ok was making me the enemy when all I wanted to be was his ally.

A relationship with someone who has NPD is a special living hell. They are easily hurt which makes the victim tend to walk on eggshells around their spouse. They tend to overreact to simple situations. When you speak to them about their flaws they make excuses. They have no intentions of changing anything about themselves. I remember once feeling neglected. Whenever we got home from work he would wash the car and the dog. He would come inside for supper when I called him in for it. Then he would usually spend the rest of the evening on the computer or on his phone. This had gone on for weeks. I plucked up the courage to talk to him about the issue. I was up early one morning making breakfast and lunch. When he came into the kitchen I smiled good morning, turned off the stove. Gently taking him by the hand I led him to the dinning table. My heart was thumping loudly, but I maintained eye contact as I held his hand. I spoke softly, used only ‘I’ sentences to own my emotions, not laying the blame at him. He listened quietly and without interrupting. I waited for him to respond. Why did I bother? He accused me of putting him in a box and trying to control him!

That experience was one of many and reflects how they generally refuse to take responsibility for anything they do that inflicts hurt or pain on others. They always find a way to blame others for the pain they create. Listening is not their greatest skill as they spend half the time interrupting but they are exceptional at neglecting the emotions of others. Though they can be charming and charismatic, they can switch to anger and are easily irritated especially when their ego is threatened. They are often suspicious of the motives of others and are socially withdrawn.

God never has to apologise because He never does wrong. He is the most superior being, yet cares for us His little children. He is so in tune with our emotions that He sent us the Holy Spirit to comfort us.

As for God, his way is perfect . . . Psalms 18:30

The King James Bible

https://www.healthline.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder#traits https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/narcissistic-personality-disorder https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9741#symptoms

Narcissism 101

https://sparrowhawkkarearea.com/

Narcissism is a term I first came across when I was studying A-level psychology. The second time was whilst I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Behaviorial Science. Back then it was just theory.

Echo, a nymph (Greek female deity) was attracted to Narcissus a handsome young man who was the son of two Greek gods. When she did muster the courage to show her affections to him, he scorned her. Echo never recovered from his rejection. She pined away until she withered and died. Some time after whilst he was on a hunting trip, Narcissus became thirsty and stopped at a pool to drink some water. He was captivated by the reflection. In vain he tried to reach out to it. He was so mesmerized that he remained at the pool consistently trying to make contact with the elusive character. In the end he was so self absorbed, Narcissus died by the water.

https://www.slideshare.net/100007653184768/narcisus-and-echo-by-elvin-calimag-53780962

The narcissistic personality disorder was born of Narcissus.

Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

The Mayo Clinic

Psychology Today describes it as

Narcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, a need for excessive admiration, and the belief that one is unique and deserving of special treatment. If you encounter someone who consistently exhibits these behaviors, you may be dealing with a highly narcissistic individual.

Psychology Today

So how did I know my ex-husband was a narcissist? Yes I’d come across it as a student but I didn’t immediately make the connection. I noticed a reoccurring pattern of behaviours in my marriage; it would start with a peaceful phase which would be interrupted by a volatile argument instigated by him over some very trivial arbitrary matter. This was sometimes but not always followed by profuse apologies and then the cycle would repeat itself. Around the same time, a particular post kept showing in my facebook feed, ‘Life after the narcissist’. To this day I’m unsure which contact was responsible for these posts. It was one day on my lunch break that I finally took notice. I clicked and began to read. It felt as if whoever was writing these posts was spying on me. It was uncanny.

I started researching narcissism. The more I clicked the more fascinated I became. I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t imagining that there was something wrong in my marriage. I didn’t have to try harder and I wasn’t being unreasonable. There was something wrong with him. It had a name, a label. He was a narcissist! Now I have no medical training or even psychological, but the characteristics fit him to the ‘t’. I pored through copious amounts of accounts of people living with such toxicity, it mirrored my life. The devastating thing was that there didn’t seem to be any hope, all the narratives said that they didn’t, couldn’t change. The victims only refined strategies to deal with their behaviour.

I printed off some pages to give to Mr Impatient. I placed it on the dinning room table so that he would see it and read. I prepared his supper when he arrived and put it on the table. I could see that he’d noticed the document but he was resisting picking it up. Eventually he asked about it. I told him that I had found out what was wrong with our marriage.

“Is it about me or us and is there help available here?”

“It’s about you and I’m not sure if there is help available”.

“Ok”. I stood waiting, but he continued eating and made no attempt to pick it up. I turned and left. In short, I never witnessed him read those pages but he was uncharacteristically quiet for a number of days. The cycle resumed shortly after.

My research into narcissism taught me a few prompt lessons. I could let myself of the hook for supposedly not trying hard enough because nothing done for a narc is ever enough. I was never going to have any of my needs met because narcs are inherently egotistic. My marriage was going to be an everlasting rollercoaster ride.

Narcissism is the antithesis of everything Godly. God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son to redeem us. The narcissist makes no sacrifice for anyone but would readily sacrifice anything if they were to get great personal gain. Ironically, Mr Impatient was always reminding me of his sacrificial love for me 🤔. The narcissist is always moving the goalpost, but God’s principles for our lives have been so well thought of from the beginning that He doesn’t have to ever change them. After all, He is omniscient! God’s love for humanity is everlasting, eternal and unconditional. Hallelujah!

God’s love is meteoric,
    his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
    his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
    nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
    slips through the cracks.

How exquisite your love, O God!
    How eager we are to run under your wings, Psalms 36: 5-7 The Message Bible

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Narcissus-Greek-mythology https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201803/who-was-narcissus https://www.greeklegendsandmyths.com/echo-and-narcissus.html https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662#:~:text=Narcissistic%20personality%20disorder%20%E2%80%94%20one%20of,lack%20of%20empathy%20for%20others. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/narcissism

Mottoes

A memory of this book was triggered the other day. Our Pastor asked us to purchase it as part of our premarital preparation. I smiled when the book came to mind because I remembered that though I partnered with a man who cared less, it was filled with delightful gems for couples. To this day I recollect the ones we adopted; ‘I would never intentionally hurt you’, ‘Team Hypolite’ (insert your own surname), and ’75+ more years!’

The authors, Gayle and Mike Tucker predicate that on a daily basis, both parties must make the conscientious and proactive decision to make positive choices.

Our attitude is always one of goodwill.

is another motto in their book. It implies that an individual decides that they will do whatever it takes to accommodate their spouse, that you will make reasonable changes if it is needed to strengthen the relationship.

There was one motto that was quite unexpected. I had to read it a few times!

Not only would I be crazy to leave you, but you’d be crazy to leave me!

Page 24

They explain that

Focusing on your spouse’s positive qualities enhances the value you place on the relationship . . . It’s the second part of this motto that many people struggle with . . . Yet, many problems arise in a marriage where a proper self-valuation does not occur.

page 25

Sometimes I don’t like you, but I will always love you.

Page 40

Let’s pray about it.

Page 80
vecteezy.com

I will express concerns and make requests without criticism or attack.

Page 98

I will never attempt to fix or change you.

Page 45

It is more important to love than to be right.

Page 126

You’re stuck with me. Good, bad, or ugly, we’re committed to each other.

Page 74
thisisblacklove.com

The bible doesn’t record the first wedding vows. God decided that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone; he needed a helper. He created a woman and brought her to him. Adam eventually named her Eve. He ‘knew’ his wife or consummated the union and Cain and Abel were the results (Genesis 2-3). No bands read, no church ceremony, no reception. What we do see is that Adam and Eve become lifelong partners. I’m pretty sure that initially they argued over whose fault it was that they got kicked out of Eden, but they had to work things out and move beyond losing their perfect home. The Creator gave them a foolproof relational model and they messed it up. He has given us an impeccable example, but Homo sapiens continue to corrupt it.

Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. Romans 13: 8.

The Message Bible

Lessons

A toxic relationship will either make you or break you. That being said I would encourage any survivor who is still reeling from such a liaison to seek healing, there is no better feeling than that of being a conqueror!

One of the interesting things about surviving a toxic relationship is the confidence it gives you to stand taller and stronger without apology. You should NEVER get used to be being bullied, but this is exactly what happens in an abusive relationship. You get accustomed to doing things against your will and conscience, being coerced against your better judgement and doing things for the sake of peace because peace no matter how short lived becomes the priority EVERY day. You strive for peace by any means necessary but it’s often at the cost of choosing the lesser of two evils.

When you learn to love yourself again, saying ‘no’ isn’t so painful or uncomfortable. I don’t say it out of spite or to be difficult. I consider a request before giving an answer, but if my response is a ‘no’ I no longer feel awkward or distressed to say so. I think I always had an unspoken obligation to always say ‘yes’ even if it took me way over and beyond my comfort zone. There are times in life when we will make that sacrifice and this is normally dependant on the person and situation that has arisen. While ‘No’ may sometimes call for negotiation, it helps us recognise our own boundaries and human limitations. It teaches us self respect. ‘Yes’ isn’t compulsory.

To walk away from an abusive marriage, makes the ability to make the decision to walk away from a mediocre relationship easier. There is no commitment to hang around when it becomes obvious that the alliance isn’t working as opposed to hanging on indefinitely just to see if things will turnaround. I don’t know if it’s a positive or negative thing because it can be misconstrued as impatience, but I know that life after toxicity makes one less tolerant of certain things; pathetic excuses, empty apologies and desolate promises. You cut through the poppycock with a sharpened knife born of experience to cut to the chase. There is a tendency to put others on a shorter leash since being taken for granted or being undermined is permanently off the table. There is only space and time for those who are genuine. Time wasters need not apply.

How unlike us God is, or perhaps I should rephrase that to I am so unlike God. His arm of love and mercy is ever extended towards humanity. He patiently sees us through the process of growth, tweaking the lesson as and when necessary. He can see past our faults and helps us to be and do better . . . If we allow Him too. I know I’m probably not that enduring anymore. I suppose that in terms of relationships I have learned not to settle because of the ‘potential’ seen in someone else because that ‘potential’ may never become a reality. You have to ask yourself; if this person never changes, am I okay with who they actually are at this precise moment in time? Realistically is this relationship going to help us both grow without us having similar core values? Is it worth my investment of time and emotion? As my very good friend Sister Viola always says “You write your own story”, meaning that whatever people say of you is refletctive of your character. When you’ve made a marital mistake once, you kinda have a cloud of fear that you may make it again. To this I say, you don’t have to, just really see the next suitor for who they really are. What they say, their views, their actions will tell you exactly who they are. Our character is the reference of who we are. Pretenders can’t fake forever. Time will reveal the true nature of an individual.

You probably know at least one person whose character is less than noble. Bogus people hurt others with their pretence and manipulation. But guess what? They can’t hide from God. The bible says ‘ But the very hairs of your head are all numbered’ Matthew 10:30. Does God know us or what! There is no counterfeit with Him, because even if we try, He sees right through our fabrication.

Honesty lives confident and carefree,

    but Shifty is sure to be exposed. Proverbs 10:9

The Message Bible

Love vibes

The entire bible teaches us in one way or another of God’s love for humanity. 1 Corinthians 13 gives a great synopsis. Though Abba speaks so clearly about love, it is one of the most abused phenomenon. There are so many people on this earth, who if you asked them what love is, they would be at a loss to explain it. Sometimes it’s because their childhood was dysfunctional or abusive. Equally, there are those who grew up in homes where it simply wasn’t shown or expressed. I don’t know which is worse, but the resulting adulthood is the same; a grown up incapable of expressing love and therefore powerless to perceive and appreciate it.

Love is like being in VIP mode. If something great happens, they are the first person who you convey your good news too. They wish to celebrate, they will be the one to shout the loudest “congratulations” at the risk of bursting your ear drums! When something disappoints they are also number 1 on the list of people to call. They will just be there holding out tissue for your snotty cried out face, or the reassuring arm firmly around you. They are your impromptu partner in crime; the spontaneity brings endless laughs and timeless memories to reflect back on.

There are no unapproachable topics of conversation. Brain picking is like an art form, a differing point of view is an opportunity of learning not contention and feuding. Discussion just never gets tired. It’s funny how being with someone you are in love with can fill you with a deep sense of resilience and strength. It feels like no matter what life throws at you, it’s not that scary because your love is your teammate who will fight alongside you. Superheroes got nothing on love!

Love enables a sentiment of safety on a physical level that you will be defended and also on an emotional level that you are not just seen but ‘sensed’. You are not simply listened to but anticipated. Your sweetheart is a warrior, no not against you but for your relationship. They are committed, they are in it for the long haul. They will aggressively protect the boundaries of the relationship and vigorously endeavour to make it work.

Love is a perfect package, but our humanity puts flaws in it. We mishandle it, misconstrue it and make it unpalatable for others. Some really have a handle on it; they perceive it and embrace it. Others wouldn’t know it even when its right with them enriching their lives. They loose out on one of the most beautiful gifts of life. There are people who are blessed enough to be in a reciprocal union. If you are one of the favoured ones hold on to your human blessing as tightly as you can.

Peculiarly enough I think God has a similar issue with humanity when it comes to unrequited love. He offered the ultimate sacrifice for us humans, speaks to each of us in our love language, provides for our daily needs and comes through for us time and time again, yet there are those who reject and denounce Him. Despite all this He stands at the door of our hearts hoping we will let Him in. That’s unequivocal love!

Allergies

https://www.google.com/search?q=epipen&tbm=isch&chips=q:epipen,g_1:cartoon:S4AsQpkA5Gk%3D&client=tablet-android-samsung&prmd=ivn&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi04bKWs4TyAhVQ0lMKHTjJC3kQ4lYoA3oECAEQCg&biw=1024&bih=648#imgrc=jT_k2Ax8f7AbKM

I am aware that I have two allergies; one is courgette. I found this out the hard way. Years ago when I was still at secondary school we made stir fry vegetables during our home economics lesson. I had never had courgette before, but I didn’t mind trying it since it was a vegetable. A few hours later whilst riding the bus home, I felt incredibly dizzy and intensely nauseous. In a panic I jumped off the bus, I didn’t want to be the object of ridicule if I couldn’t hold down the contents of my stomach. There was a phone box near the bus stop so I called my dad to pick me up. Yes it was definitely before the era of cell phones! I can’t remember if I threw up at home or how long the dizziness lasted. In talking over my day with my parents, we decided that since courgette was the only new thing I had eaten that day, it had probably caused an allergic reaction. Many years later but still before the era of cell phones, my dad went out to get patties for everyone. I wanted a vegetable one. I bit into mine and was alarmed at the totally green contents. Dad had no idea if it had courgette inside. I called the bakery and was told that it was callaloo. This meant I could enjoy my patty in peace. Scarcely had a few hours passed when a wave of dizziness overtook me and some nausea. I was incapacitated for three days while the world spun around me. My other allergy is a common medicinal drug which because it interferes with my respiratory system, is potentially fatal. I also found this out the hard way, in fact my mum worked it out. So I’m a great respecter of allergies. If I have friends over I always ask if they have allergies before cooking up a storm.

One morning during my married life I noticed some unusual buttons on my skin. All morning as I got ready for work I wondered what they could be. I had not ingested anything out of the ordinary, hadn’t changed any of my cosmetics and I hadn’t changed the detergent. It could also have easily been insect bites, so I wasn’t overly concerned about the matter. The next day I had much more over my body. I was troubled. I had to take long deep breathes to control my breathing and stay the tears that wanted to fall. My then husband asked me what the matter was. I held out my arms so that he could see them.

“There are more than yesterday.” he commented. I nodded in agreement. “What has caused this?” he asked.

“Oh let me see. I’m not using anything new. Same detergent, same cosmetics. I’m no Dr. but how much do you want to bet that this is stress related?” I challenged.

“Stress from work?” he offered timidly.

“No my darling husband, stress from this marriage.” Without waiting for his reply I got out of bed and headed to the kitchen to cook our lunch. I was furious. I just couldn’t accept that because of my poor choices and lapse in judgement, that the strain of being married to a narcissist was now going to have a physical manifestation. Somehow I felt ok supposedly coping as long as I didn’t have to ‘see’ the trauma of my life. I was in denial about the true status of my life. I was so indignant that I didn’t even try to fake a conversation on the drive to work that morning and I barely said good bye as he dropped me off at work. I called Bestie to find out which Dr. I should make an appointment to see. She gave me the name of the Dr. whose specialty was allergies and I was able to get an appointment for later that same day. This helped me calm considerably.

After the Dr. examined my buttons, he put a range of possible scenarios to me that could have resulted in their appearance. None of them fit my lifestyle. When he had exhausted all possibilities I asked a simple question.

“Dr. what is the possibility that these are stress induced?”

“That can definitely be a contributing factor. Is your job stressful?”

“No it isn’t. I enjoy what I do but my marriage is very stressful.” The tears were trying to return, so I blinked hard to hold them back. “Sorry Doc, just give me a minute please.” He patiently waited until I had composed myself.

“I’m sorry to hear that. Would you like to do an allergy test or a prescription for the bumps?” I declined both offers, thanked him for his time and left.

When Mr. Impatient picked me up that afternoon, he wanted to know what the Dr. had said. I replied that I didn’t feel like talking about it until we got home. Surprisingly he was fine with this. I relayed the conversation verbatim and then added my own conclusion of the matter.

“This . . . ” I said pointing to my arms, “is all stress related. If you don’t want me walking around looking like a leper, I suggest you back the hell off.” For the second time that day I walked away from him.

What would we, the children of God do if we had an allergic reaction each time we sinned? Wouldn’t it be humiliating? A rash all over the mouth when we gossip or spoke ill of someone, a broken arm for stealing, and instant but temporary blindness when we covet? God in His mercy doesn’t expose our sin; it is between us and him and the third party if someone else is involved. When we repent and confess our transgression to the Almighty, He doesn’t demean us by making our wrong public knowledge. He shields us from that shame. Our sin is God’s best kept secret. Nothing will make Him break His code of silence. Even when we have done wrong, He protects our name! Isn’t He just amazing?

You’re well-known as good and forgiving, bighearted to all who ask for help. Psalm 86:5

The Message Bible

Bonfire

I left in such a hurry. I moved out of his house on the Thursday evening and left the country on the Saturday morning. I had a searing desire to ignite everything that had a memory attached to him. First on the bonfire would be all the wedding pictures and my wedding dress. This yearning was strenous to appease, but I managed to file it away in a bespoke cabinet at the back of my mind which was despair proof. As the plane ascended, I was consumed by angry thoughts of having to leave my island home Dominica and dealing with the fact that all my memories that should be burned still existed in my bedroom at my parent’s home.

Approximately eleven months later I returned. My sister was getting married in Dominica. There is a common misconception which I must clear up straight away. My island home of Dominica must never be confused with the Dominican Republic. My island is much further south in the island chain and is situated between Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is only because I love my sister that I made the effort to attended. I wasn’t emotionally ready to return even though I missed my family, friends and  the island itself. I was barely holding on to my mental health, I was uneasy about how going back to the scene of the crime would affect me. I wasn’t mentally equipped yet, but for my sister I would have to put it all aside. She deserved to have the entire family in attendance. I owed it to myself to face the demon.

So guess what put a smile on my face each time I thought about flying home? Yes, my long awaited bonfire. Now fire is fire right? But I mused about how hot the fire would be and visualized everything going up in smoke. It was almost sadistic, but the image gave me pure pleasure. Looking back that was a sure sign of pain. Even if I had enough time back then to have my bonfire, the chains of abuse would still have had me bound. The physical breaking of chains is no substitute for the unchaining of the mind and soul. That is what truly sets you free from the grief of abuse.

The wedding was early July so I went back for the entire summer. As I knew there wouldn’t be any teaching jobs during the summer holiday, there was no logical reason to run back to the UK until September. That would leave plenty of time for my  inferno. I thought about it everyday but purposefully made myself wait until after the wedding when things would be quiet and calm.

The perfect day arrived. Not a rain cloud in sight, no danger of being asked to do anything and I had nothing planned. I sat on my bedroom floor and made two piles; too burn & not to burn. I hummed as I worked. The movie ‘Waiting to Exhale’ came to mind. Angela Bassett plays the wife of a man who is unfaithful. She gathers up all her husband’s belongings, every suit, jacket and tie. She puts them into his favourite car. When she’s done she stops for a cigarette break. She takes a lighter, lights the cigarette and takes a puff. Angela takes the rest of the cigarette and throws it through the car roof. The gasoline drenched assets go up in smoke. The scene ends with a look of pure delight on her face.

I took the bag of stuff outside and gathered a small pile of dried mango leaves and twigs. As I struck the match my adrenalin kicked in. I took the items one by one from the bag and threw them into the fire. I looked at each picture for the last time before being witness to their demise. The whole thing was utterly gratifying. Now I could move on.

Our lives are filled with numerous chapters. Some we revisit time and time again, filling our belly with laughter. Some are solemn and cause us to sigh. We flip back and forth as memories are triggered. We have no control over vivid memoirs. There are other chapters which we file and throw away the key. Having said that, can we ever truly completely forget? Perhaps not. Maybe that’s a positive thing because it serves as a reminder of what not to do. Sometimes for some people. The bonfire incinerated all physical trace of my wedding, but the back-up file in my mind, though it has eroded and will continue to do so over time, will always exist.

This reminds me of sin, forgiveness and God. I suppose no one can calculate all the wrong they have done since birth. What we do know is that when God forgives us, He casts (our sin) them into the depths of the sea and remembers them no more. Isn’t that amazing? He won’t hold our past against us and His treatment of us isn’t clouded by memories of our past indiscretions. God has no retrospective reflection of our sin because His bonfire incinerates the file. There is no back-up. Hallelujah!

You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.

You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean. Micah 7:19.

The Message Bible

Court

On the night that I left my husband’s house, and after all my belongings had been safely placed inside my parents home, I returned outside to thank the police for helping me, not only because my Amber’s husband’s vehicle had run out of space which left me no choice but to put my remaining items in their pick-up but also I knew their presence kept the peace and kept me safe. I was grateful but also tired. I think that sometimes emotional tiredness outweighs physical tiredness. I didn’t know if I would fall asleep, but I knew I needed to rest. As I turned from the police vehicle to go inside my parent’s home, the officer stopped me.

“Tomorrow morning without fail, find yourself at the magistrates court and file a restraining order. This man is known to us.” I stared at him wide-eyed. The warning rendered me speechless. I nodded. “Now I need to see you walk into your parent’s property so that I know you are safely inside. He has been parked over the road all this time watching you unload your personal effects. Remember now, first thing tomorrow morning.”

It was a hard pill to swallow. I put it to the back of my mind. There was enough on my emotional plate, I couldn’t add any more. Inside I thanked Amber and her husband. I hugged her tightly holding back my tears which threatened to fall. I didn’t know if I would see her again. I don’t know what aggrieved me more; omitting the fact that I was leaving (effectively lying), not being able to say goodbye or not knowing when I would see her and many others again. I knew I was leaving my island home, but I had decided that it was best if only my immediate family knew that I was travelling back to the UK.

The next morning, Neriah and I took the bus to town and headed to the magistrates office. I rang the bell on the counter and heard a familiar voice say “Coming!” I felt a bit sick. The only reason the voice could be familiar was because it was someone I knew. The dread was quickly replaced by embarrassment. I almost didn’t want the voice to identify itself. Sigh. I was relieved when I saw Sister Taylor from my church.

“Sister Taylor, I didn’t know you worked here”. I had never had a reason to be there, so why would I?

“Morning Byooti. Yes this is where I work.”

“This is my friend Neriah. Neriah this is Sister Taylor.” They greeted each other with warm smiles.

“So why are you here?”

I just stood looking at her. How was I going to explain this? “I need to get a restraining order against my husband.” The rest of the information all fell out in a jumble of words. And then I took a deep breath and exhaled. There. It was done. Outside of my immediate family, she was the first to know about my abuse. It felt odd making the brief confession. An abusive relationship is such an impassioned experience, but my brief confession was a mere factual précis.

“I’m so sorry to hear that. I thought that things were going well between you. Anyway you are doing the right thing. Court is full today, but I will make sure you are seen today.”

She handed me a form and talked me through how to fill it in. Then she briefed me about what would happen next. I would have to stand before the judge and explain why I felt I needed a restraining order. Since my case was sensitive, I would only be heard after all the other cases were heard and the courtroom was empty. I remember my hand not being steady as I filled in the form. My chest felt tight, my head was light. After I had filled the form, I handed it back to Sister Taylor. Neriah and I went through to the court and sat and waited my turn.

When the courtroom was empty, the judge asked me to come forward to the stand. What I wanted to do was run. What would she ask? Would I need proof? Witnesses? How long was I going to be there? And after all I would say, would I actually be granted a restraining order? My heartbeat was truly making it’s presence felt.

I recounted the first incident that came to my mind in as much detail as I could. I felt sick as I spoke. I didn’t want to be there. Just like before, it felt like I was reading a documentary script about someone else’s life. I felt horrified that I had lived through the incident. Neriah didn’t know about the incident. What was she thinking? Again I took a deep breath and exhaled. The judge looked at me, I was hoping that she didn’t want more information. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I wanted to cry. The judge granted me the order much to my relief.

I have been speaking publicly since I was eleven years old. Speaking to a new audience can be unnerving, but my jitters don’t last long. Standing before the judge, just one woman is the most terrifying audience I have ever had. I guess when I break it down it was probably because I didn’t know what the outcome would be. After having to explain such a humiliating episode, would I be given what I needed? Would it all be for nothing?

There is another day in the future which will be similar to that awful nerve wrecking day. The bible says;

Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5: 9 & 10

The Message Bible

We will all stand before The Almighty Judge one day to account for the life He has gifted us. The difference is we won’t have to worry about His judgement because God is a righteous judge. His findings and verdict will be just and fair. We have no reason to believe otherwise. When He has deliberated each of our cases, and gives His verdict, they will be final and binding. They will be well deserved.

Smile!

So maybe I’m a bit weird that way; maybe you do the same thing, maybe you even know someone who does the same thing. I actually smile sometimes when I’m angry! Yes I wear the normal one that everyone has when happy and content, I even wear it as a greeting to friends and total strangers, however, sometimes I smile even when I’m angry. Freaky right? I don’t know where it comes from or when my emotions and facial muscles had the meeting about doing this paradox, but they did. It was voted on and put in motion without my consent. It’s a little hard to explain to someone that you are bothered about something when you’re beaming. I would find it hard to take me seriously if I were on the other side of the smile too. Ever read of the deadly terms used by women? I remember when I was forward the following on social media, it sure made me laugh and still does.

I suppose that sometimes it probably looked more like a smirk than anything else which may have made it hard to decipher my true emotional status. Having said that, it rarely matters what your emotional state is, it will be misconstrued and manipulated by the toxic person anyway. So I remember my normal smiles at compliments and in times of harmony. Then there were times when I wore my anger smile at him. In my head I would be saying “If you only knew what I was thinking you would actually run a mile babe.” I can’t really say the last time I wore my sadistic smile, maybe back then was the last time, but thinking back I think it was part of my defense mechanism. It helped me keep outward composure though I was boiling and hurting inside. I didn’t always want to give him the satisfaction of my volcano of emotions, but smiling (yes even sadistically so) helped me keep in check. Besides, it helped give the impression that the assault of destructive words didn’t faze me, but more often they cut deep like knives into my soul.

Do you know who else wore a smile in the face of adversity? Job. Job was tried in a way that no one else in the bible was. When he lost his possessions and his children he said,

 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. Job 13:15

King James Bible

Smiling may not take away the pain of a difficult situation but it may at least bring a semblance of peace.

Even if I say, ‘I’ll put all this behind me,

    I’ll look on the bright side and force a smile,’ Job 9:27

The Message Bible

Happy Father’s Day

Even at my age, I respect my father as being the head of the family home. I always have and probably always will. He is wise, fair, a keeper of his word and the family priest. He is quite traditional yet has a wisdom that has evolved with time. I know I am truly blest because there are many whose father’s were unable to be a part of their children’s upbringing.

A father’s provision is not only the physical, it includes life skills and he is the provider of adventure! He imparts knowledge and wisdom and lives by the principles he instils in his children. His offspring look up to him.

Although Father’s day is a good time to spoil and honour our dad’s, we should honour him everyday. Happy Father’s Day dad’s!

Listen with respect to the father who raised you . . . Proverbs 23:22

The Message Bible