I (and others) have been sexually en mentally abused (gaslighting) by my narcissistic ex-husband for over a decade. Here I share my thoughts and my healing process and hope to inspire and encourage others. I follow many writers, bloggers, survivors, and share occasionally things that I have read that have touched my heart or rang true.
One thing that really shocked me as an abuse survivor was learning that there are some people who don’t want you to get better. And I’m not talking about your original abuser(s). There are others, such as subtle narcissistic abusers, who will try to keep you in pain. Here’s why:
There’s the ex-enabler narcissistic abuser. They covered up your abuser’s crimes, but now derive attention and their sense of value by pretending to be a co-victim. If you recover, they feel it discredits their continued charade, or shames them somehow, so they lash out at you.
There’s the narcissistic fake advocate. This could be a pastor, counselor, mentor, or activist. They love playing savior. “Helping” you feeds their ego. They claim to want to comfort and protect you. Really, they want you to remain stagnant in your pain and continue to need them.
There’s the narcissistic fake friend. Basically, for them, being your friend is a kind of virtue signaling. They like the attention and respect building up a victim affords them. But if you progress beyond victim status, you’re of no use to them. They want you to stay injured.
Then there’s the enabler false accuser. They want to exacerbate your pain until you spiral into self-destructive or erratic behavior so they can say, “See? She’s irrational. We can’t trust the sanity of people who claim to be abused. We must protect the careers of powerful men.”
Moving twice. Just moved actually last week, during COVID, and whilst they decided to break open my street for waterworks. Was I stressed? What do you think?
The ex-husband going to jail.
Did I mention COVID? Then lockdown?
And then trying to homeschool, move and provide my family with a bit of stability after all of this.
And everything has started to hit me right now. Probably because we are now settling down. Maybe because the restrictions of the lockdown are slowly loosening and I’m not ready to leave my safe bubble yet.
So, it’s due time to do some self-care and hopefully it will look a bit like this.
Ways to Self-Care:
1. Read more. I have bought 10 books this past year and have only read two.
2. Take more walks/bike rides with the dogs and son.
3. Ignoring news that is designed scare to scare me (us).
4. Finally focus on that hobby that brings me joy. (it’s a secret what,shhht)
5. Spending more silent time with God. Just quietness.
5. Taking a Facebook sabbatical as it’s been giving me some stress lately. I’m not deleting it, I will be back as I find it really helpful. But lately it’s been making me feel bad and insufficient. So I need a break. Yet , you can still find me on Twitter 😀
Anything that you would add to this Self-care plan? Lemme know!
Sidenote in reference to Facebook:
Unbelievers may use my story to point out hypocrisy and sin in the church, and they are right in doing so (my husband being a proclaimed Christian), but the very existence of my faith is proof that God is real, for, without Him, I’d have lost my faith a long time ago. And so, by calling out abuse, I proclaim Jesus Christ.
Tell me, have you cried today? Did you wake up having trouble breathing last night? Did you and your partner/housemate/child have a fight? Did you put your kids in front of a movie just to be able to take a bath and wash your hair? Yeah? So did I.
Times are uncertain. The news we hear every day at 11:00 in the morning is rarely reassuring. Even when we’re being told each day that all is stabilizing. Between health measures, social distancing and fear of the virus, your breathing is quickening.
Belgium is on a break, but you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut for weeks without being able to get out of it. You’re dizzy, out of breath, you feel nauseous, but you have to pretend that all is well and that you are enjoying it. Posting positive pictures to Instagram with hashtags#TogetherAtHome #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan
So that your brain will finally believe it and give you a break, but also to make your family feel somewhat good or better.
You’re the focal point of your household. The pillar. The one that keeps the roof from falling on your head. The lifeline at the end of each other’s line. The moral support on your keyboard at all hours of the day.
You’re made resilient. Everybody knows that. But then, the incessant “mommmmmy” in your ears, the “what are we eating”, the “what are we doing”, the “how are you”, the “did you take time for yourself today”, the “you should go for a walk” irritate you to no end.
You don’t feel like taking a walk to breathe. You want to go to the spa. By yourself. For a week! You slightly envy your friends in a solitary quarantine. You find it hard to sympathize when others tell you they’re bored… Honestly, you’d just send everyone away.
But you won’t. Because you love them. Because you know it’s just a bad time and you know it’s gonna be okay. You roll up your sleeves, tie your hair up and put a smile on your face so your kids will remember this as their best family vacation ever.
You’ve always been a strong woman. You’re going to be Wonder Woman when this is all over.
I’d like to tell you that your eyes won’t be wet today. You won’t clench your teeth, you won’t smother a scream in your pillow, you’re gonna be okay and that you will be able to wash your hair.
The truth is, I don’t know. What I do know is that Wonder Woman always wins at the end of a movie. It won’t be any different for us.
In this post, I am sharing with you my positives for us during this self-isolation. We are all in this together to flatten the curve we need #StayAtHome.
The pandemic crisis we are currently experiencing, I really didn’t see it coming (probably like all of you)! It came from behind, sneakily and suddenly! It has shaken up my life, my daily routine, without me even having had time to prepare for it.
At the time, it was almost unreal. It started with parents not being allowed to collect their children inside of the schools, but wait for them outside. Very unusual for our school and I knew then (and also after reading about what was happening in Italy) that the schools would soon be closing. And they did two days later. March 14th, 2020 was the last day.
At the very beginning of this isolation, my first reflex was to continue my little routine as before. I didn’t immediately cancel the coffee and play dates I had planned for the following days with my friends. In fact, some of my acquaintances were still posting photos on Facebook of the gatherings they were doing with their loved ones during the weekend. I know, it wasn’t the best idea…
Then, I listened to the news and the press briefings of the Belgian government and I understood how my own actions or behaviors had a real and important impact on the spread of the virus. Respecting public health recommendations and social distancing, even with our close entourage, is essential if we want to save lives. So I canceled everything: playdates, lunch dates, and even our church (a great big part of my social life) had to cancel bible studies and Sunday services. Then began my real confinement.
It’s pretty rare that I have so much time to spend continuously inside the house. The members of my household consist of my 26-year-old daughter, my 6-year-old son, myself, our two Dachshunds, cat, hamster, fish, and turtles. 🙂
At home with the “kids”
My daughter still needs to go to work and so I understand that she wants to relax during the weekend, but when she just sits in the coach, gaming or on her phone while I’m trying to make diner, entertain her little brother and do the washing up, it frustrates me and I can get a bit sharp-tongued.
But she does go out and play soccer with her little brother, she drives me to the grocery store, gives me a big hug every evening. So, overall, it’s been great having her home so much instead of just seeing her briefly during the week and then comes the weekend and she’s off to her boyfriend in Ghent. Looking forward to having a “girls night” this weekend. Chips, wine, and a chick flick.
My six-year-old is such a happy easy-going child, but he is a child nonetheless. After about every 30 minutes he will as me “what can I eat?” hopeful that I would say, “Hey why don’t you go get yourself some ice cream or candy” and is ever so disappointed when I say to get some fruit or something healthy instead,
When I’m having fellowship or women’s bible study via ZOOM, he creeps up behind me, poking me in the neck with his tiny little finger “can I play on the Switchmommy, please, can I?” even though I laid out another activity for him. I usually give in and say yes (and then feeling guilty about the excessive screen time)
And he is very stubborn, we are currently in a trust battle.
Me: “If you promise to do something, I expect you to do it then.”
Mister 6: “No, I don’t want to”
Me: “Then you are breaking my trust, I respect that you have the right to choose some things, but this is something YOU promised to do, and now you will not“
Mister 6: “I just don’t want to! Now I’m tired of your words and your brain”….
He then walks out of the room…
😳 He is also learning about consequences —->no screen time until the end of time.
The fun side
But on the more fun side, I’m super proud of his creativity and imagination in inventing new games for himself. In fact, we take the opportunity to get out board games we haven’t played in a very long time or I had the local radio on and it was playing classics from the ’80s and so I was sharing with my son where I was in life and what was happening in the world when a particular song came out. We even looked up the video of the 80’s song “The land of confusion” by Genesis. Sad to realize that most of the world leaders in the video are deceased and it reminds me again how we are only here for a short time.
Another positive element that this confinement brings to my life is the possibility of cleaning up. My Lord, how happy I am to have ENDURING time to regain control of my house. I have so often wished that time would stop for a month so that I could clean my house! I feel so bad to be happy about it in the current context but I really needed to start cleaning, packing and sorting things out as we are to move again mid-May. Lord willing.
Big love for technology
ZOOM, why have I never heard about this application before. As a Canadian across the pond from home I regularly Facetime with my mom and sister, and the quality is never great, not even good. But I have been introduced to ZOOM via church. We do our weekly online women’s bible study and Saturday’s we have a prayer group and on most days there is fellowship tome. Meaning that anybody with the need to just not feel alone can join in and we have some chit chat.
I have gotten to know people that I have never spoken to before. I have had deep conversations with friends. It’s just pretty surprising how this damned virus is bringing people together.
Time to reflect
Finally, the thing I appreciate most about this period of isolation is the time I have to think. To reflect on my life, on faith… on my spiritual journey that I have been on for a few years now. I take the opportunity to take stock of my past choices in order to make the best possible decisions for my post-pandemic life. With the help of my family, therapist and close friends, I am learning to think about myself and my well-being instead of all the negative stuff that has been going through my mind due to what happened. Instead of investing my time in those who don’t appreciate it.
I realize as I get older that my time is precious, so I try to choose carefully who I want to spend it with and in what context I want to spend it. It is not always easy to think about myself because I have always wanted to please others, sometimes even at the expense of my own feelings.
Today, I give myself the right to express myself and to protect myself from things that could hurt me or take away my energy unnecessarily. It’s a long process, sometimes easier said than done, but I work on it every day and this episode of confinement gives me the opportunity to congratulate myself for the progress I’ve made and to set new goals to reach in order to be in perfect harmony with who I am, as I am in God!
So let’s all #StayAtHome
I do realize the COVID-19 sets off a financial contagion in the global economy with stock markets in free-fall and the OECD predicting a global recession, but this is needed. Our government (and most worldwide governments) publicly funded health care doesn’t have the capacity to handle even a relatively small surge in acute patients.
So #StayInside, let’s not spread this virus around and try to see the positive. That’s all we can do for now.
How about you? What does this time off bring to your life? What are your positives and most importantly, how can I pray for you?
If you found your way to my post “Homeschool Kindergarten- The corona semester”, you are probably like me, having to keep your children home from school due to the COVID-19.
Life in Belgium
Here in Belgium, all school lessons will be suspended starting today, March 16. However, the government called on citizens not to rely on grandparents to look after children meaning schools will still be responsible for providing care when parents have no choice but to work and for those who work in health care. The suspension of classes is until at least after Easter break. So many of you like me have to keep your children home. Yay?
My ‘dream’ of homeschooling (something very uncommon in Belgium) is coming true. But I know that my “dream” is considered a nightmare for others. I sympathize with those parents who still have to go out to work or are working from home with children already bored since this weekend.
I truly know that staying at home with kids can be a challenge, but it is what it is for now and we all need to try and make the best of it I suppose. But parents, do what you need to do to keep your sanity.
For me it, it’s having a schedule, for others, it’s switching on the TV for the kids while you go take a bath…it’s ok (yes, I’m thinking of you friend). These are unexpected times.
Schools have asked the parents to not treat this time as an extra school vacation but to try and keep our children academically motivated and busy. Some schools even providing homework and objectives.
So here I’m sharing with you what our homeschool kindergarten- The corona semester (3de kindergarten class, Belgium) looks like for now.
We won’t be very strict in following it, it’s more of a guideline. Right now it’s 10:30 am and my six-year-old is sitting on the table drawing Yoshi character from his new Nintendo Switch game. It’s all good momma!
Pinterest is full of great ideas! Here is my board with ideas I love and tried out. Pin some.
I’m going to share monthly with you what has sparked joy in the past month for me. It will not always be things, but it can be an outing, it can be a craft I did with my son, a new recipe I tried out. It can just be anything.
Here is my list of things that have sparked some Joy and given me a thrill this past month.
Visiting the train museum “TrainWorld” in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon and simulating an actual train ride at the end.
My new translucent with a touch of glitter, Jimmy Choo glasses. I love them more in their box than on my face though.
YNAB!!! I have been using this budgeting website for a couple of months, but it was only since this month that I can actually see where my money is going to and where I need to make changes. I love this website and so it’s so easy to use. I actually like doing my finances now.
The Museum of Natural Sciences. Must do the museum, again in Brussels. Tip: For children 5 and up there is the PaleoLab experience during the school holidays. My 6-year-old especially liked rebuilding a stegosaurus.
Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the Lent season. I actually love this more than Christmas. Easter is about the completion of God’s plan that begun with Christmas. I have been following Sarah Bessey’s “Simple Practices for Lent”
Last one and another museum. Yes, I love museums, don’t you? Well this one, The Gallo-Roman museum was not in Brussels but in a town called Tongeren where the Gaul Ambiorix is from. Probably my favorite museum up to now. Each level in the building was dedicated to an era, from the Neanderthal to the Gallo-Roman era. Very child-friendly. With a quick touch with of your audioguide on the item of your interest, you can choose between the children or the adult explanation. Tip: The “Super Guide” who is there during the School Holidays from 1:30 pm until 5:30 pm who knows about almost everything in the museum and lets your child, hear, experience and taste the past.
So that was it for the month of February. Many museums, not so many actual things.
Have you tried/done any of the things on my list above? Any comments you would like to share? Would love to hear. Any more museum recommendations?
Several times in my life, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that someone I dearly love is abusive. They are not always criminals like my ex-husband, but abusive none the less.
Their words are cruel. Their smiles were disingenuous. They lie. They insinuate. They gossip.
Psychological or emotional abuse may seem like no big deal, but it’s absolutely insidious. Someone you love and trust mounts an intentional strategy campaign to make you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless. Understand: they can destroy your friendships or even drive you suicidal. And don’t even get me started on the threat they pose your children. You want your kids to be healthy and happy with firm faith in God? Psychological abusers will try to destroy that.
My in-laws…I have previously written a post about saying goodbye. This was weeks after discovering what my husband had done. I had hoped for their help and support, but I knew that would not happen because I knew how they were during our marriage. What happened, happened over a period of years. This was planned. This was a strategy to sew discord.
After I don’t know how many ridiculous situations where I have been avoided, where I heard mean gossip from them, getting angry looks, I finally acknowledged that my loved ones were abusive.
Is it in my mind?
I was wondering what could possibly be their motivation? Maybe It’s all in my head. But the pattern of abuse became undeniable. Upon confronting these people (only one responded by the way), wanting to be able to talk about how the situation felt for me, them ignoring me, cutting me and my children out of their lives, telling lies to others. They refused to talk about the situation. I somehow was an evil genius who somehow instigated my husband (and physical abuser) actions to frame him. They gossiped and lied. The mask fell off. The smiles turned to spitting rage. It was ugly.
Before I confronted them though, the emotional influence they had over me was terrible. Just seeing their name pop up in my emails caused a wave of nauseous. I had nightmares about them calling me on the phone, seeing them in school or at the supermarket, insulting my kids, or spreading lies about me. I realized that for the sake of my mental health – and for the sake of my children, and my emotional stability – I needed these people out of my life. But they hadn’t committed any crimes!
There was no one event I could point to and say, “They’re dangerous.” But like I said, the patterns of abuse were undeniable. They stretched back for decades and demonstrated a clear malevolence and conscious intent to harm and destroy. And now, these behaviors were affecting my kids, my sleep and my ability to heal from the spousal abuse and divorce. That’s when Psalm 1 came to my rescue:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on His law day and night.
I am not called to enable wicked, abusive people. I am not called to tolerate the damaging sins of the unrepentant. I am not called to socialize with people who mock, lie, and mess with my head or my kid’s heads or even other people’s heads. I am called to cling to God and meditate on Him day and night.
I longed for their love and support, but they denied me this and instead were part of my torment. They made me feel like the criminal instead of the victim. I finally realized that I am so much better off without them. I finally realized what they did too, was abuse.
Now, if someone else were to go and minister to my abuser(s), I’d say, “Thank you! God bless you!” But my abuser is not my mission field. They do not love me. They do not respect me. Nothing I say or do can help them, except to deny them the opportunity to sin against me.
Within weeks – even days – of cutting those people out of my life, everything improved. My depression lifted partially, my anxiety eased up, my prayer life blossomed, my Bible reading was more fruitful, and I really feel I became a better mom, friend, and worshipper of God.
The moral of the story being, if someone in your life is spiritually poisoning you – if being around them damages your faith, causes friction in your marriage, exacerbates your depression/anxiety, or makes you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless – break free. Cling to God.
I love Instagram and I love following other moms in particular. One of the tags I follow is actually is #momlife. I love seeing artsy pictures of cute children in cute outfits, I love seeing toys and crafts that I haven’t seen before and I love getting local tips or travel tips to try out with my 6-year-old.
I’m currently inspired & captivated with these 5 Instagram mom bloggers from Antwerp that you must go follow now. Seriously, do it. Now!
My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms
Name Jessica // Blog: Exploring Life // Instagram: @jessicanobels– Teacher, blogger and an environmentalist with the cutest girls ever. Something about kids and glasses makes my heart melt. Maybe because my son wears them too.
Name: Lynn // Blog: Averechtse // Instagram: @LynnFormesyn – She is not the typical Instagram mom. She mainly uses Instagram to advocate for people with chronic pain (people like me). She is a gifted writer with an honest pen and recently wrote a book. Truly inspiring woman.
Name: Lies // Blog: Liesellove // Instagram:@Liesellove – She is a #momentrepreneur in the digital world and has a wonderful taste in taking colorful pictures of her super cute family. Also very inspiring when it comes to family travels.
So these were my My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms!
Who would you like to add to this post? I cannot get enough of these strong power mama’s! Leave them for me in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out!
I’ve decided to share with you guys a mini list of things that have sparked joy for me in the past month. I know when you hear “Sparks Joy” you are probably thinking of the Netflix series with Marie Kondo, about organizing and minimizing your belongings.
I watched that show just before moving last October and I must say, I found it very helpful when sorting through my stuff. The phrase now always pops in my head when organizing or when even shopping for things. Does it spark joy? Does it give me a thrill?
So I’m going to share monthly with you what has sparked joy in the past month for me. It won’t always be things, but it can be an outing, it can be a craft I did with my son, a new recipe I tried out. It can just be anything.
To refresh my memory while writing this post, I first check my Instagram where I share e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g ….I’m an oversharer I’ve been told. 🙊
So here is a list of things that have sparked some Joy and given me a thrill this past month.
This amazing from Teaja that my sister gave me Christmas. I love it so much that I finished it today. *insert sobbing*
My friends spark a lot of joy, especially for helping me out with my crazy cargo bike situation.
This year we’ve started learning bible verses with the ABC’s bible verses printable found on Pinterest. So with Bible verses and Pinterest spark some joy.
This Otterbox. After having gone through several iPhone cases that have either started to flake (the silicon ones) or just would break I gave into buying the Otterbox. I mean, the cases I bought cost just as much. And it has already passed the test, I drop my phone regularly and it’s been saved up until now by the Otterbox.
RMS Signature Set MOD collection is my favorite item! It’s so compact and natural and vegan (the base is coconut oil). It gives me a bit of natural color without irritating my skin. I did have to look up this tutorial to figure out how to use it best.
So that was it for this month. I could have gone on, so many things to be grateful for, but I wanted to keep this post short and clear.
Have you tried/done any of the things on my list above? Any comments you would like to share? Would love to hear.
After a full day of school, playing in the mud and sand, then kneading (almost) 100% natural slime at home plus baking and eating a carrot cake, my child deserves to end the day with a nice hot bath! All parents know that moment of calm and serenity that follows the bath: a clean little cutie who smells like soap, warm in his pajamas and ready for stories. And what if bath time could also be an opportunity to take care of our children’s health by offering them a gentle detox? Zoom on into my 4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath.
These 4 recipes I have come up with myself or found ideas on Pinterest and played with them.
They make falling asleep easier, provide quality sleep and gently cleanse the body of toxins accumulated during the day. What’s more, these recipes cost almost nothing. Why deprive yourself of them?
1 – Detoxifying bath salt with lemon
This detoxifying bath salt recipe is excellent for children with skin problems, irritations, eczema, dryness, etc… It helps to regain well-being when children are very tired from their day. Lemon essential oil is excellent for regaining a good mood and feeling soothed, it promotes a positive atmosphere and an optimistic attitude.
Mix a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of baking soda then add a drop of lemon essential oil. Then place under the faucet. I buy the Epsom salt at Holland & Barret.
Let your children soak for 30 minutes under supervision of course!
2 – Purifying Bentonite clay bath
The bentonite clay boosts general circulation and has been shown to act as a detoxifying agent.
Dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in hot water and add the tea tree essential oil.
Mix the clay with a small amount of water until all the pieces are removed (use a plastic spoon and a glass jar, no metal in contact with the clay!). Add the clay mixture to the saltwater and place it under the water jet.
It is also possible to make a clay paste that you can massage on your child’s body before bathing. Leave to dry for 5 minutes and let your child sit in the water and rinse.
3 – Detox bath with ginger
This bath is especially recommended for sick children! Small blocked noses, congested bronchial tubes, etc. can benefit from these two simple ingredients.
One cup of magnesium flakes and 1 tablespoon of organic ginger powder. Place the mixture under warm running bath water and let your child soak for 20 minutes.
I will be given my little Baba this bath tonight as he has been coughing profusely lately.
4 – Revitalizing bath with apple vinegar
This recipe is particularly suitable for children with skin problems. Apple vinegar helps to rebalance the pH of the skin and treat minor skin problems such as eczema, sunburn, itching, etc. It is a must to have at home but be careful, it is important that it always contains the mother of vinegar. I use the Bragg cider vinegar, but you can use any kind you like as long as it is raw and “with mother”.
Vinegar is also great as a conditioner for shiny and soft hair! If you don’t like the smell, add a drop of EO of real lavender to the mixture. The use of essential oils for children must be well thought out, and especially the oil must be of high quality!
Mix 500 ml of unpasteurized apple vinegar with the bathwater. Soak your child (or yourself!) for 30 minutes and dry thoroughly.
What’s the difference between Magnesium flakes and Epsom salts?
Magnesium flakes contain magnesium chloride and Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium flakes are purer and actually safer to use on children. They also absorb into your skin much faster than Epsom salts and the effects last longer.
Keep in mind:
When I mention essential oils, I am referring to quality, therapeutic-grade oils. I’m not talking about using diluted and watered down oils.
Try to keep them in the bath for 20 minutes to get all the benefits of the bath.
Lather them up, if you wish, with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil. I add in a few drops of lavender and give my son a light massage as I’m putting on his clothes.
Give your child some water or leave some beside their bed. Detox baths can make you thirsty. We always have a full reusable water bottle next to the bed.
Cuddle on the couch or in bed and read a good book before kissing them goodnight! Magnesium promotes sleep so they should sleep very well! Good for you! 🖤
I hope you’ll enjoy these few recipes and that you little angels will have fun playing splash and help them to sleep well.