Before I met the Narcissist I pretty much identified as Atheist. I grew up being somewhat forced into the Catholic religion because my mom was raised that way. I think she felt like she wanted to give my sister and I a religious experience in life… but it always felt a bit shallow to me. My dad was raised Protestant was not particularly religious (and generally made fun of the “Heathen Catholic” religion.) My sister and I had to go to CCD classes and go through first communion and confirmation. As a family we went to church together at all of the major holidays… but I never felt a connection to God, and the religious experience was very limited to what happened at church.
I was always the kid who asked “why” and “how” in my CCD classes, constantly challenging the norm. I think most of the teachers didn’t know how to respond to me… so over time religion felt like something I had to do that I didn’t enjoy. I also really disliked the aspects of a Catholic mass… I used to tell my mom that it felt like a cult being told when to sit, stand, kneel, and repeat. After making my confirmation at 16 years old I was only ever at church for christenings and funerals. I did end up taking a Bible class in college which looked at the Bible as a work of fiction. I found it fascinating and ended up reading the entire bible along with several other religious themed works like Dante’s Inferno. So I feel like I had a very good knowledge of the Christian religion with very little actual spiritual connection to it.
The Narcissist, on the other hand, grew up in a very religious community. Most of his friends and neighbors were actually LDS but his family was Christian. God and morals were something that was a part of his everyday life from the time that he was very young. He also spent a lot of time alone as a young child and he grew up feeling like God was his best friend. By the time we met he had not attended church in many years, but he read a daily bible, said grace before every meal, and regularly referenced God and Jesus in daily conversation. In the beginning I really appreciated those things about the Narcissist and I can honestly say that the way he explained his own personal connection with God inspired me to explore religion more on my own and less within the Catholic experience that I had as a kid.
However, as with many of the things that the Narcissist did he slowly began to use God and religion and in abusive and controlling way with me. Here are just a few of the examples that I can remember:
- In the beginning, the Narcissist would guilt me and make me feel bad about my own life experiences because in his words I didn’t “appreciate the gifts that God had given me” and I didn’t “think about the vows that I would one day make to my future husband.” The Narcissist claimed that at as young as 12 years old he was thinking about how his actions would have consequences on his future wife, and made me feel like crap for not thinking that way. He claimed that we were soul mates, that God had created us for each other in Heaven and that our mission on this earth was to find each other and fulfill each other. Although he regularly made me feel like I was designed “by God” to do whatever the heck the Narcissist wanted and needed… that I was just here to complement him, not be my own unique person.
- The Narcissist always claimed to have a deep and powerful relationship with God. He would use this all of the time to point out how God loved him, looked after him, watched over him, showed him the truth, pointed him the right direction, etc. etc. He would use this against me if he thought I was lying to him about something. He would claim that God would always let him know when something didn’t feel right and use that as proof against me. He would also claim to have dreams that were guided by God about things about me and then he would use that against me too. I can even remember a few times where he dreamed things about me that never happened and he would be mad at me for days for them claiming that if God showed him these things then there must be a reason for it.
- The Narcissist regularly claimed that each person had their own version of the truth but that there was a constant, a “truth of the universe” which was the ultimate truth of every situation… God’s truth. The Narcissist would use this against me in many manipulative ways. For instance, if I was explaining why I was upset with something that the Narcissist did the Narcissist would claim that because I was emotional about the topic, I could not see the “Truth of the Universe.” He would then claim that because he was good at separating emotions from truth, he was more in-tuned to the “Truth of the Universe” than I was. So this became his methodology for proving that he was right and I was wrong in pretty much every situation.
- The Narcissist once got mad at me at my uncle’s funeral for instinctively making the sign of the cross at my uncle’s graveside service… because “that was a Catholic thing and we were now Christian.” He didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day and claimed that I was nothing but a “Chameleon who would do anything to fit into a crowd.”
- The Narcissist also tried to push his beliefs onto my family and looked down at them for not being religious. If we went to Thanksgiving at their house, he insisted on saying grace for the table before the meal. This used to irk me because I believe that everyone has a right to whatever they believe, and I do not like pushing my own beliefs on others. My family very sweetly went along with it even though this is not something that they would generally practice themselves.
- The Narcissist believed himself to be special and unique in many ways, but one of those ways was spiritual. He regularly believed and shared that God has a special purpose for him life. He regularly believed that he was receiving special guidance, messages, dreams, etc. from God and his angels. His ego was fed by his mother who pretty regularly used their Native American heritage as a way to bring Shamans, healers, Reiki Masters, light workers, etc. into the Narcissist’s life. Many of which “told him” that he was special for a number of different reasons. I believe that this has ultimately manifested itself in the Narcissist’s most recent life calling.
- Even still, the Narcissist pretty regularly claims to be “praying for me” and lets me know that his various healers and other contacts are “worried for my spiritual and mental health.” I have had to specifically tell him that I do not give him or any of his people permission to speak to God or my Angels on my behalf as a way to keep him from messing with me and to just leave me alone.
Eight years of Spiritual Abuse at the hands of the Narcissist has had some interesting effects on me. There were times were I felt completely abandoned by God… I fully believed the crap that the Narcissist was throwing my way and I was up to my neck in abuse in all shapes and forms. I really believed at that time that God loved the Narcissist and didn’t care what the heck happened to me. There were times that I felt like God was punishing me… punishing me for the decisions I made in my life, punishing me for not being good enough for the Narcissist. There were times that I was extremely angry at God with the “How could you let this happen to me?!?!” mentality… and there were plenty of times that the Narcissist’s behavior made me question the existence of a god all together, because the Narcissist’s actions just confirmed the craziness of it all to me.
The Narcissist’s belief put me in a weird predicament of not wanting to be negative, not wanting to damage his own belief system and not wanting to personally be wrong. I mean who wants to tell someone that their spiritual connection with God could really just be a result of their crazy personality disorder? Or who wants to be the one to claim that “No you aren’t really special” because how the heck do I know?!?
I still struggle with religion today… I struggle because I had a lack of a spiritual connection as a child and then I was abused with religion as an adult when I desperately tried to open up and let it in. I think I find myself feeling the most spiritually connected when I am connected in nature. I believe in a wide range of spiritual beliefs and I would be the last person to claim that any spiritual belief is “wrong.”
I’ve just seen first hand how the concepts of religion can be used in a very wrong way and I can only imagine how someone who is deeply rooted in their religious beliefs could be controlled and abused even more severely than I was. I am not even slightly surprised that the very first target my Narcissist chose after me was a young and naive “good Christian girl”… I think he thought he would be able to easily manipulate and control her, and win her over with his “special connection to God.” I mean I was a skeptic and even I believed him.
For more interesting takes on Religious Abuse by Narcissists:
15 Narcissistic Religious Abuse Tactics by Christine Hammond
Narcissism & Religion: A Perfect Match @ Esteemology
What is Christian Narcissism by Dr. David Orrison
For the Love of God: Narcissists and Religion by Dr. Sam Vaknin