Most of the women who have written to me about my ex talk about lending money to him and never getting it back. Believing in him and ultimately paying a big price. I certainly did this very thing, and more. My parents did. Ex-clients of his did. And the list goes on.
Author and activist, Shannon Thomas, talks about the little known epidemic of financial abuse that comes with narcissistic abuse in her book, Exposing Financial Abuse: When Money is a Weapon. I'm so glad someone is talking about it!
When I was knee-deep in it, I didn't even fully realize it was happening. I thought I was investing in our future. To add insult to injury, not only were we together personally, we teamed up professionally. I was spending money on building his brand. A mistake I will forever regret and one that cost me dearly. Climbing out of financial abuse is pretty much like climbing out of the Grand Canyon without shoes on. It could have been worse for me, I realize. But it also could have been better if I had recognized the signs and listened to my intuition.
Sign #1: "Let me help steer your company. Together, we can conquer the world." I remember where I was sitting when he suggested I name him president of Mod Mom. I was on a plane back home, high on the drug that I now know is trauma bonding. My immediate gut reaction was wait, what?!? I wanted him to help but I was thinking consultant. So what did I do? I made him president. And I listened to his advice about the industry and what we should do to grow the Mod Mom brand. I poured money into marketing, trade shows, and travel. Naively, I believed that if we grew his brand (cleverly disguised as a co-brand—Mod Life— a take on the Mod Mom name), we could then build up Mod Mom. Typing this makes me cringe—I was so far in I didn't see it for what it was. BUT my gut knew immediately it was a bad idea and I felt it physically.
Sign #2: "You're not doing enough for Mod Life." -- says man who napped during the day and blamed everyone else for his money issues. At one point in the journey, I'd all but abandoned Mod Mom to continue to try to grow Mod Life. Hell, even my Dad jumped in to help at a trade show with promises from my ex of a great part-time gig helping sell Mod Life. Pretty early on, I was being groomed to give and give, and gaslighted to believe I wasn't giving enough. The scoldings that included lines like, "You're just not focused on Mod Life and our life" fell out of his mouth like he was reciting lines from a play. Knowing what I know now, he likely used a similar line on his exes. I remember working a full time job and coming home to do more work—press releases, marketing, graphic design, etc—and nothing was ever good enough. One time, I got up early before my job at the university to do some social media for Mod Life and I got scolded for sharing a post without asking him first. He was the head of Mod Life, ya know. When he needed my help or money, we were a team. When he had all of that, Mod Life was his and I wasn't to mess with his plan. There were many rules like not replying to emails within a 24 hour time span. And when I did, I would get told I was wrong. This might not seem like it relates to financial abuse, but the more I believed I really wasn't doing enough or wasn't doing it "right," the more guilty I felt and the more I volunteered to pony up the piggy bank. I knew that giving financially (even when I couldn't afford it) was "proof" I was truly helping.
There was a brief moment where I considered moving half-time to North Carolina, where the Mod Life furniture manufacturer was located at the time. Now that I know tactic number one with narcissistic abuse is isolation and control, I look back and think how lucky I am that I actually followed my intuition on that one. And he did his damndest to make me feel guilty for not committing to us like he was by moving to NC. (He never did, by the way.) Even in the state of mind I was in, which was always trying to figure which way was up, I knew that living part-time in another state away from my children meant that if his wife (separated) and kids in Pennsylvania needed money that month, that's where the money would always go. Getting myself back to Flagstaff to be with my kids would fall to the bottom of the priority list and there was a very good chance I'd be trapped. I thank God every day I didn't go down that path, and instead got a job in Flagstaff. He would make me feel as if I wasn't giving as much as he was when I would say that I wasn't going to live in NC full-time but I'd travel back and forth. At one point, I felt like I was just steps away from losing everything including my soul. Listening to my heart and my gut was what saved me from an endless cycle of abuse in NC.
Sign #3 "I'll pay you back." Um, yeah. That never happened. Whether it was me paying for his parking ticket, plane tickets because of last minute change of plan for him, or sending money to help his wife and kids, it was never paid back.
Recovering from financial abuse goes hand in hand, most times, with recovering from the emotional and verbal abuse. They seem to be like peanut butter and jelly, only they both taste horrible and leave you feeling exhausted, drained, and hopeless, at times.
I've vowed to take care of debts that aren't mine, but that are there because someone I care for trusted me. And therefore, trusted him. I've worked a lot of jobs over the past few years. Full-time, freelance, contract work—you name it, I do it.
I thank God every day I have a partner like Scott who is as far from abusive on any level as they come. He's paid debts that were caused by my ex as I cried into his shoulder all the while saying, "Kiers, we've got this...it will be OK."
Not everyone has a Scott. Not everyone has the opportunities or strength to work many jobs that can help dig out of the hole left by falling into an abusive relationship. I've always been a doer, working many jobs through college and then multiple jobs when we needed it. (I credit my parents for instilling that work ethic in me.) I've said many times that I feel lucky having endured what I did that I didn't spend time in a abuse treatment center. I know many who recover from this kind of abuse spiral further or decide to check out all together. Finding yourself again while fighting financial battles is not an easy road but it's doable!
If you are in a relationship where you're constantly feeling you have to prop your partner up financially (and they are gaslighting you all the while), find a way to walk away. The most important thing I learned is that the gut punch feeling is real. The one I felt right before I went and made him president of my company was my big, fat, flashing red sign.
There are always signs, some you just can't see in the moment.
But most of the time, you can FEEL them.
* More articles about financial abuse:
On occasion, people will ask me what my typical day or week is like, and how I deal with the spirit world and the "real" world at the same time.
Truth be told, Scott and I are in Vegas because of a professional work event tonight, and I had the brainiac idea to say, "let's watch a scary movie." Um...yeah. So about 30 minutes into Insidious 2, Scott is out like a light. I'm laying there thinking to myself, "this is way too scary to watch alone....and I can relate to this too much."
So here I am! What do ya know—now I have time to write a little. Funny how a scary movie made that happen.
The main reason for this post is to share my week with you because I think it paints a good picture of my reality—many people's reality with heightened intuition, actually.
Let me first start by saying not all weeks are like this. This week has been particulary interesting.
I try to keep my "woo woo" life separate and I do use boundaries with spirit so I'm not completely overwhelmed all the time, but I find that life has a way of making things happen when they are needed. Divine timing. If spirit is meant to come through, it will happen no matter what I'm doing in the moment. While it can be challenging at times, I've learned to roll with it over the years. As a former control freak, I learned that we really don't have "control"—you simply do your best from your heart and that's all you can do.
P.S. Friday Morning Update: So last night, I put my laptop away and turned off the light only to have one particular light come back on again. I was nowhere near the switch and when it turned off again, I knew someone in spirit was trying to get my attention but I also knew it was dark energy because of the work I do. The more you work in the light, the more you attract the dark. It's the yin and yang of our present reality. I called on my angels and guides for protection and finally went to sleep.
And I will finish that damn movie with the lights on!
The hardest thing about having heightened intuition isn't what happens when a child in spirit comes through with messages—it's what I feel in my heart for the parents who have suffered so much loss.
Every now and then, my heart sings because the child is able to make a real-life connection with their parents. We're talking about a tangible, see it, feel it, touch it kind of connection.
Last week, on the angelversary of his death, a child I know in spirit made one of these connections happen. But let me go back a few years, first.
Three years ago, the same child in spirit came through to me on his angelversary saying something about the telephone and his mom. I have known his family for years so I felt comfortable reaching out and asking her if she knew what he was talking about.
She sure did. That day, she received a telphone call but when she answered it, there was no one on the line. Or so she thought. He was telling her that he was the one that made that happen. He loved making that real-life connection and loved that she suspected it on her own but it wasn't until I reached out that she knew for sure.
This year, something similar happened. He has always left something tangible for his parents that they would find all over the yard and in their home. It's been this way with this particular type of "evidence" for years. (Some folks in spirit will leave signs like coins, feathers, etc.)
Last week, on his angelversary day, he told me to tell his mom to look down. When I asked if there was more to share, he said no. Just tell her that. So I did. A few days later, she wrote with a beautiful story of how she found his "sign" in a place you'd never think it would be. And it happened because she knew to look down. When I read her message, I had goosebumps from head to toe—one of my signs of confirmation.
I feel so blessed to be able to witness this amazing connection between a son and his parents. Selfishly, it's always grounding for me to step back from all the stuff in my life that can seem like a big deal and realize it's really not.
Love lives on. And love is truly all that matters.
I continue to receive messages from women who are reading parts of my website and sharing what they lived through regarding abuse. I'm so grateful for this network of courageous, amazing women. It's still mindblowing to me that so many are going through or have endured similar abuse while in romantic relationships—something I never thought was really a "thing" prior to being in a relationship riddled with narcissistic abuse.
Part of my therapy is connecting with others as well as continuing to pen my memoir. I'm getting closer to writing about that part of my life (in my book) which brings up mixed feelings. Will it bring up more hidden pain that I have yet to recognize and heal? My guess is yes. Will i remember things I hadn't thought about in years? Probably. I'm gearing up for that and trusting I'm ready to handle it.
On the business side of life, I've been busy working my marketing job, traveling the country presenting workshops and keynotes about entrepreneurship, and excitedly waiting for Mod Mom to launch on Amazon. Admittedly, I get overwhelmed sometimes but I'm also trying to recognize when I need some time out. I woke up at 4am this morning so I could have a little time to myself before work and write this post. Ironically, I never thought I'd be a writer and completely underestimated its power to fill my soul. Now, I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't spill my thoughts into this keyboard.
If you're recovering from trauma/abuse, consider writing about it even if it's not for publication. It's been a life saver for me!
Have a great Tuesday and remember to breathe and trust your intuition.
Here it is: I attracted it and I had no idea why, at the time.
By carrying unhealed childhood wounds, I was literally a magnet for the narcissist/sociopath personality. And until I started to heal, I would be a magnet for the rest of my life. The experience was meant to help me, I know that. Even spirit has said to me I couldn’t have avoided it—it was written before my birth. (This is when that whole mediumship thing comes in handy and provides a bigger picture that I don’t necessarily see in my own life.) The role he played was a gift, in a way. One that I can look back and feel grateful for, finally. It doesn’t mean that what I endured was right or that I’m OK with it, it just means it all had purpose and I made choices.
I finally chose to leave the abuse and heal myself. This is the gift. This was the choice.
I also learned that the childhood sexual abuse I endured that I had just recently discovered right before meeting him wasn’t just an event that I could think my way through. The subconscious patterns and programming that led me to “please the abuser” were hidden from me my whole life. They’d been there since I was raped by my uncle but it took similar, new abuse to trigger those responses in a way that let me know the healing was needed. Sure, my whole life I was a people pleaser and a woman who wanted to help heal the wounded, but it was more than that. I didn’t know it nor did I understand any of it because I repressed the memories of childhood abuse for so long.
I literally became the person I was based on a story I knew nothing about until age 40.
Scott has been the narcissistic exception in my life—likely the only romantic partner who has never fit the bill of narcissist, although he publicly admits he had a bit of Peter Pan in him until our separation. He has never and will never be abusive so how was I to even know deep, deep healing was needed in me. I was never triggered by him in that way. Enter the role of the abuser that could show me this.
The frustrating thing about life lessons and healing is that the lesson will continue to show up until the healing is done. It happened with me, too. Before Scott and I decided to get back together (even though I wasn't looking for a relationship) and I was dealing with the aftermath of my previous relationship, there was a man who expressed interest in me that I had to very quickly recognize as narcissistic. It wasn’t easy to tell—most are really good at fooling the world. He was no exception.
This was a gift, too. I was finally able to see what was true and what wasn’t. I wasn’t trusting everyone blindly anymore. I was healing the deep wound. I was coming out of the fog that had clouded my world for 44 years.
If you are perpetually attracting narcissitic/socipathic individuals, go deep into your past. For those of you who have repressed memories of abuse until late in life, I’m so sorry the journey has been this way. It’s truly a gift and a curse to not remember traumatic abuse because it will show up in other ways that you may not understand. This attraction could be one of them. While it might also look like a curse when you’re in it and enduring abuse (and I certainly felt that way), now that I’ve had time to heal, I can see it as an opportunity. I had to choose to stand up to abuse the way I couldn't as a young child and undo the subconscious programming that was unknowingly ruling me. I made the comment the other day that I'm a recovering people pleaser and that's truly how I feel.
I know now this role would have been played by someone, if not him, until I saw the light. It's clear when I look back on my life I was attracting (with the exeption of my soulmate, Scott) this type of man.
Speaking of light, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It's a you that is whole and healed. And a you that will never attract a narcissist or sociopath ever again.
It's the real you. <3
P.S. Great articles that address this topic:
How to Stop Attracting Narcissists and Abusers
Unresolved Trauma Attracts The Sharks in the Dating Pool
22 Stages of Relationship Between an Empath and A Narcissist
A little bit about the author of this blog....
My story is an unusual one. While I've shared my journey as TV network executive turned self-taught carpenter and furniture designer who won a deal on ABC's Shark Tank and built an internationally known brand from my garage called Mod Mom Furniture. I'm now coming forward about my healing journey from childhood sexual abuse which includes sudden onset mediumship at age 36, partnerships with law enforcement officers around the country working on cold cases that involve children who endured sexual abuse, an implosion of my 18-year-marriage and a three-year relationship with an abusive man who turned out to be a predator. I was granted a restraining order by a court of law in Arizona in 2017, three months after the relationship ended. My husband and I reunited in August of 2017 with a much better understanding of the effects of repressed abuse. I was able to put the puzzle pieces together and understand how intuition helped me survive and heal from both the past childhood abuse and the abuse I endured as an adult. I'm sharing my experiences here in hopes it will help others who have experienced similar and are struggling to heal and step out of the cycle of abuse.