In English Comp we learn to write a compelling presentation in this order:
Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Tell them what you told them.
First, I must tell you that I do not know anyone in the Messer family. I briefly met Kerry at a local St. Louis Homeschool Expo a few years ago while paying my Missouri Family Network contribution. The encounter lasted no more than thirty seconds. We, as a homeschool community, were periodically encouraged to give to Kerry for being our homeschool lobbyist in Jefferson City. Occasionally we were notified that the Messers were not bringing in enough money to meet their personal needs, or to function at Missouri Family Network, and we needed to send a check to them to help cover their expenses.
I wrote my first article about Lynn Messer last week. I heard about her disappearance two years ago and occasionally read the, “Find Lynn Messer” Facebook page. I’ve never been able to put her out of my heart and mind and contemplated publishing my notes and thoughts for two years. The time had come to share a different perspective of possibilities.
God is serious about me sharing lessons I’ve learned and He is serious about helping women trapped in abusive relationships. So I wasn’t surprised to find that God had a bigger plan than me for the Lynn Messer story.
*Disclaimer: I have no physical proof that Lynn Messer was in an abusive relationship or that her husband suffers from mental illness. This blog platform allows many abused women a chance to learn, perhaps for the first time, that God doesn’t expect or require them to stay in an abusive relationship. So…I’m throwing out possibilities based on coincidental circumstances…hoping to use this as an educational tool for the abused and the abuser.
I’m going to present to you stories, highlights and insights into the Messer family life through the eyes of an insider.
When you think of highlights, think of reading your high school or college history book; as you read you mark the important parts; hoping your memory will recall all the details that went with the highlighted portion. As you read the highlights of this testimony, know that there is more history to go with it, but you’re only allowed to read the highlights at this time.
Why? The priority at the moment is putting together evidence and finding closure for Lynn; and for her children and grand children.
My purpose for writing is to be a voice for the voiceless. I will at times add speculation on a few items, but I will tell you when it’s my opinion. This will be based on my background, and the testimony of other women who have lived through difficult marriages.
My objectives for writing are in line with the objectives for the interviewee:
- To give insight and hope to women in abusive relationships.
- To plead with victimizers to take a hard look in the mirror and in scripture at their sin, mental illness and/or abusive behaviors, and then repent, seek help and welcome healing.
- To put compelling information in front of a possible abuser’s colleagues, friends, church family and supporters—presenting evidence of a probable fraudulent life. Because…some men live two lives under the name of one man.
I also want to reexamine the role of the church, family and of friends who know, or suspect, there is abuse going on in a home. Do we hold responsibility? How can we lovingly protect and help? When do we step in and when do we wait? Do we take the knowledge of abuse to the church leadership or do we call the authorities, domestic violence, and a professional counselor? Should abused women go to counseling with their abuser? Are therapeutic separations beneficial? Does God allow for divorce?
Before I proceed I suggest you open your heart and mind to, outside of the box, possibilities.
It seems a lifetime ago that I was struggling and sinking in a marriage full of difficulties. For nine years I believed my husband’s lies that all the problems in our marriage, and in his career, were my fault. One day, in total despair, I picked up the phone and called our ministry mentor and his wife. I poured out my heart and told about what had taken place in my marriage since shortly after I said, “I do.”
To my shock and relief I was told that they knew there were problems, but they hadn’t said anything to me because they didn’t know if I was aware of my husband’s unhealthy ways of interacting with people. This ministry mentor had a master’s degree in psychology and his brother-in-law was a doctor of psychology who specialized in narcissistic personality disorder. After working closely with my husband, our mentor, through the help of his brother-in-law, believed my husband was suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.
Let me say that a personality disorder had never entered my mind, but I went straight to the library and began researching it. NPD, in my unprofessional opinion, fit my husband’s personality completely. More research, doctor appointments, psychological tests and evaluations confirmed our mentor’s original thought.
I submit this to you because unless you live with a person you cannot truly know what they are like. Having a mentor who provides discipleship, accountability, and a close working relationship is a rare variable in finding marital problems and/or personality disorders.
Could an abused wife had known too much?
If you are living in a difficult relationship, with a person who seems to be in a different reality, maybe you should read up on personality disorders in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness.
*Disclaimer #2. Many people live healthy, functioning lives while living with mental illness. Mental illness does not go hand-in-hand with being a criminal or causing harm to another person.
My next blog post will begin the testimony, but for now…
I’ll start you off with the criteria of two prevalent disorders that come to mind, that often involve abusive personalities, so you can understand that not all people think or behave alike.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder¹ (Click blue title to the left to read more about this disorder)
In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
(Click blue title above to read more about this disorder)
*Not to be confused with obsessive compulsive disorder—they are two different disorders.
A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
- Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
- Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
- Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
- Is over conscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
- Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
- Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
- Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
- Shows significant rigidity and stubbornness
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MORE READING ON THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LYNN MESSER: