deep waters

Photo: John Mark Arnold | instagram.com/johnmarkarnold

This is a love letter, even though won’t sound like any traditional love letter you’ve ever heard. I believe all people have the right to the truth. I believe that honesty is love. If we are not honest with our friends and family, do we really love them? Are we really expressing or showing love?

To be clear, I’m not talking about blatantly sauntering up to your mother-in-law after she has cooked dinner and explaining to her that her chicken was drier than the Sahara desert in the dead of summer because, “it’s the truth”. I’m speaking of the truth about someone’s behavior, empathy and respect. 

To break it down further, I’m really speaking about boundaries. There are boundaries in every relationship, which is healthy and allows those relationships to grow and be nurtured in a safe environment. To love someone is to respect the boundaries they have laid forth. Love is also demonstrated when you tell someone that they have violated a boundary. You are showing them that your relationship is worth more than the offense. By working through an issue instead of giving them the cold shoulder or abandoning the ship altogether, you are giving value to your relationship. 

But, here’s the catch. There are those that have “boundaries”, but refuse to be bound. There are those that tell their “truths”, but refuse to hear the truth about themselves. And there are those that demand “love”, without giving it in return.

Some confuse the term, boundary. Instead of thinking of it as a line others shouldn’t cross, they think of it as an expectation others have to meet. So, I’m going to get ‘3rd grade history paper’ on you and define boundary from good ol’ Webster’s dictionary. By definition a boundary is “a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line” or “a limit of a subject or sphere of activity”. 

To some, their “boundaries” mean expectations. Their “truths” mean that they can tell others what they want them to think, whether it is true or not and you must stay silent. And their “love” means total submission.

I have been in such relationships. They are hard. They are exhausting. These relationships will suck your joy, spark and breath out of you if you allow. I am no longer in these relationships because they proved to be overwhelming and reminded me who I didn’t want to be. So, I left. And I have stayed gone, in fear of returning to the former shell of myself. 

My heart longs for reconciliation, but my gut and mind won’t let me consider the option. I am stuck between two worlds of thought, two wrenching desires. So, I stay crippled in fear. Fear of the past and fear of the future. Anyone who has been in narcissistic relationships will understand. Everything feels like the wrong answer. But, we are not called to live in fear. We cannot live in denial of what we know to be true.

A family member reached out some time ago which ended in a tumultuous phone call. Hearts were pounding and verbal blood was spilled. It was clear, the time was not right on both parts and may never be right. I was not ready to be sought, and they were not ready to comply with boundaries. I spoke truth, but it was not kind. What I should have said was this: 

‘Think carefully before asking me to be a part of your life. I believe you are asking for things to go back to the way they were, where you felt in control of all situations and if you didn’t, you beat upon your chest until you “won”. Relationships aren’t about winning, but you don’t see that. All you see is something you don’t have and that’s not good enough. I have grown into myself and I know what I want. I know the kind of life I wish to lead for myself and for my children. I am my own woman. I will not sit silently by and seek your approval because I don’t care if I have it. Your opinion of me doesn’t define who I am. Your temper tantrums and chest beating is not a reflection of my actions, but instead, it is a reflection of your tortured character and soul. I am not quiet and I will not be caged in thought or action. This means you lack control and you don’t like that. Now, I will hold you accountable for everything you do or say, so choose wisely. I know outward appearances are very important to your ego and self-esteem. They matter very little to me now. That feels dangerous to you and it should. You have much more to loose. I will not surrender my peace, sanity or health for your benefit. I will consistently do what is right for my family and myself. My husband’s, children’s and my needs will always be first. Which means that any of your needs will always be last. You seek relationships that polish you, prize you and put you on a pedestal. This will never be that relationship. And even now, even after speaking all of this truth, you are probably still thinking you can change the relationship and skew it vastly in your favor. Because, I know, listening isn’t your strongest quality. So, think about what you are giving up when you ask me back into your life, it might cost you more than you can possibly imagine. Don’t be fooled, everything has a price…and everyone has a budget.’

I don’t know if there will ever be a right time. But, this one thing I know to be true is God is still sorting out the mess that I was and he’s made it his mission to make me uncomfortable 99% of the time, but that’s okay. That means something is happening in my spirit and in my soul and that’s always a good thing. So, I’ll leave you with this…

Do not suffer in silence. Most people will feel the need to close themselves off from relationships fearing judgement because of deep wounds of self-doubt, confusion and feelings of rejection. I have treaded through those deep and dark waters. You are not alone. You are a survivor. You are an overcomer. 

I would not have been able to bring myself out of those deep waters I spoke of without help from pastors, family and friends. They were my earthly foundation. I thank God above that he led me to so many amazing people who taught me that not everyone will reject you, you are lovable and worthy of true and authentic relationships with people who care and have your best interest at heart. It takes courage to step out of fear and into faith that your life can be different, but I believe in you. I’m rooting for you, because I have a Heavenly Father who is rooting for me. 

I pray for all of those who are in current narcissist relationships and those who have broken free from the chains: either in walking away completely or by distance and boundaries. May you find peace and may God strengthen you in your walk and journey. There is much healing to be done after narcissistic abuse. Are we ever completely healed? I can’t answer that question, but keep seeking healing and meaningful relationships. And pray for your abusers. That is a hard pill to swallow. I am just now getting to this step in my personal journey. Like I said, God’s still working on me. -MJ

• If you think you are suffering from Narcissistic abuse, you can check out the warning signs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt56nGmGG-0

• There are many groups and support systems for those healing from narcissistic abuse: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/narcissistic-personality | FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/narcissistsupportgroup/?ref=tn_tnmn 

• If you are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, please contact a pastor, friend, family member, doctor… or seek help here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org | Someone is available over the phone or via chat.

• And if your narcissistic relationship has turned physically violent, please seek help here: https://www.thehotline.org 

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2
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