Stephanie met Rick when she was sixteen years old at church camp. Church camp is a place of fun, fellowship, and when you find things in common with someone, it is easy to fall in love. They immediately became boyfriend and girlfriend. The four-hour distance between their homes and it did not matter to them. They knew they would find a way to be together. Stephanie explained, “I had plans of going to college. I was going to go to the State University. Back then, going to college for a girl wasn’t as normal and wasn’t as expected. I probably could have received good scholarships. I got mostly all A’s.” But Rick had different plans. He proposed to Stephanie when she was just seventeen years old. Stephanie was engaged her whole senior year and looking back now she explained how odd that is, and how she cannot imagine that for her children or grandchildren. “Times were different then; Mom and Dad never even balked at it. They never sat me down, never talked to me about going to college or anything like that. I got married a month after high school. I graduated the first part of June and got married in July at 18 years old. I thought he was the love of my life. I had had a couple of other boyfriends, but he was my high school sweetheart.” Stephanie explains how she would ride a bus from her home town to his, and “mom and dad never said a word! They would take me to the bus station and put me on a bus. It was a 4-hour bus ride. I would leave on a Friday night get there around 1AM and leave on Sunday after church and ride the bus home.” Stephanie would stay at Rick’s parent’s house and explained how happy his parents were to have her come and stay with them. She explained, “We would drive up in the mountains. We didn’t go on many date-dates. We would go to the movies some, but mostly we would go in the mountains and have a picnic.” Stephanie explained that one month after graduating high school, “We got married and moved to a nearby city.”
Stephanie noticed from early on in their marriage that Rick had a tendency for lying but wasn’t sure what to make of it. She explained, “We never fought.” She felt like they had an idyllic relationship. However, there were signs early on those things were amiss. Stephanie explained, “From the time that we met he had a story about a time he went deer hunting with his dad. He said he got shot by another hunter. He said it was such a horrible memory for (his mom and dad) that you couldn’t talk about it.” She said that he would tell this story in extravagant detail from the time they were dating into the early years of their marriage.
Stephanie and Rick lived with Rick’s parents when he was working on (progressing in his career). During that time, “he would continue to tell little bits of the story here and there.” On his stomach he had a birthmark and he said that was from the gunshot wound. Rick told Stephanie “That it was so traumatic for his mother especially, that no one could talk about it or bring it up or say anything about it. We were in the kitchen one evening and we were doing the dishes and I started to ask her about it and Rick broke in and came and got me and told me, ‘You can’t say anything to mom about that.’ A couple weeks later we were lying in bed and he finally told me it was all a lie. That it really never happened, and he knew he was going to be found out because he knew one day, I was going to ask her about it, or say something to her one day. It was so freaky to me, I remember laying there then thinking how bizarre it was that he told me that story for years, it went on for years.”
Early on in their relationship Rick began showing pieces of his true character. He made up exaggerated lies. Some were very small, so small in fact that she didn’t even realize they were lies because it didn’t make any sense to lie about these small things so she didn’t question them, but they were all things to make him look good or to make him look more important in her eyes. She said sometimes the lies were simple, like he hadn’t had anything to eat all day. Later she would find receipts where he had gone to eat at his favorite Mexican restaurant. A lie this small seems simple but it serves a purpose.
The Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder as: “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. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration, they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them. Some of the signs of someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder, which you will see in my father as the story progresses are as follows:
“He/she may have an exaggerated sense of self-importance; Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration; Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it; Exaggerate achievements and talents; Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate; Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people; Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior; Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations; Take advantage of others to get what they want; Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others; Be envious of others and believe others envy them; Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious; Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office.”
This is the beginning of the true story that will progress in unfathomable ways in my upcoming non-fiction book. It will explore the psychopathology of narcissism, gaslighting, and abuse in all of its forms. I will discuss mental health, trauma, and how to overcome trauma. I will shed light on what some of the therapy options are, and discuss what one can do if you are in an abusive situation or help you catch early warning signs. I will discuss what some of the women in my story have done to overcome adversity, and how they have become bold, brilliant, and successful out of the adversity they have faced!