Note from Tina: There are many faces to this battle and I am currently featuring a total of six different people who are all affected by narcissism. Some are divorcing a narcissist, some share custody with a narcissist, one is a man who is affected by his ex-wife’s personality disorder and one is an amazing young woman who is away at college but still feeling the effects of her father’s narcissism. While we are all different, we share the same story—the same trials and tribulations. There are many faces to this battle and I am happy to share them with you. -Tina
“An Uphill Battle” ~ Blog 1: Intro and Bio
Intro: My story begins in childhood, where we all develop an ideal for our future spouse. Whether or not we have healthy role models, we often pair ourselves in adulthood with a picture of what was modeled for us in our homes as children. Unfortunately, I did not have healthy role models from which to form my grown-up ideals. My parents were extremely unhealthy, each in their own way. My mother is the archetypical narcissist (at least one therapist has suggested that she has borderline personality disorder) and my father was an alcoholic who became a rage-aholic when he got sober. My childhood home was a disastrous and toxic environment for childrearing, and I was pretty much on my own from early childhood in the emotional intelligence department. My saving graces were my neighbors, the Godwells, my grandmother, and a few friends and spiritual leaders who became the rocks I needed at various times during my life.
Consistent with narcissism and other cluster B personality disorders is the need for constant drama from which the N personality derives attention. For my mother, this was manifested in her constant need to be at war with someone. For years it was her sister, then various friends, my father, several coworkers, and eventually, her children. She was in constant need of worship, consolation, pity, or some other form of manipulated obligation from those close to her. For everyone else, appearances were everything. On the surface, she worked diligently to keep up with the façade that we were the “perfect family”. At home, she flew into regular fits of rage which cycled into stoic depression. Her emotional pendulum swung between spitting rage and icy indifference with few stops in between. Everyone was always “out to get her.”.
For my father, the cluster B’s were manifested through his enabling of my mother’s unhealthy bouts of behavior. While I do not believe he actually suffers from one of these disorders, he was extremely afraid of my mother’s reactions and reinforced her maladaptive traits as a result. He would rage at us kids if he felt the threat of one of her tantrums looming. He became intolerant of noncompliance and the voicing of opinions that did not cater to my mother’s disorder. He buried himself in work and checked out when it became evident that an avalanche of torrent was coming and showed up in the aftermath to make sure we didn’t rock the boat any further. He too took on the role of authoritarian abuser in support of my mother, but at the same time cowered to her alpha personality.
I have never been one to take abuse lying down. In standing up for myself, I created an enormous target right on my forehead. As a teenager, I didn’t have the right tools to speak up in the right ways. I never went to the authorities, because my father was a police officer. I lived in fear of the consequences of embarrassing the family or costing my father his job. Instead, I tried reasoning with the madness. It would be decades before I learned that I could not make sane out of crazy. In my hurt and frustration, I ran away for a period of 3 weeks. During this time I stayed with a boyfriend’s family. At my grandmother’s urging (she was terminally ill with cancer), I went home for about a month, until the abuse resumed. I left again for 2 more weeks or so. This time when I returned, my parents put me on a plane bound for boarding school.
I spent the last 2 and a half years of my childhood at a Fundamental Baptist boarding school in Missouri. This experience was one that took years to unravel. Abandonment, culture shock, and flaws in the program were a few of the forerunning issues that settled into my heart and head for many years after the experience. Over time I have been able to heal from it and take some good things from my years there, but this was after many years of unraveling through therapy, self-learning, education, and drawing healthy boundaries. Unfortunately, I met the “N” only 2 months after returning home from boarding school when I was still adapting to life outside the ministry school. There, we had been taught that marriage and family were the key ways to independence. Desperate to escape my abusive home, and enraptured by the charms of the N, I was easily drawn in to his promises of devotion and love and support.
As a young 18 year old girl with limited life experience and few options, I found a job and began planning my wedding. I ignored all the red flags and pursued my vision of a happy family. I believed I could make it work and that honest effort would be rewarded with success. I ignored the early criticism I received from him, and I ignored him siding with my parents to gain their approval. His own home life was a disaster at the time, and he admitted being drawn to the picturesque model family they provided. I ignored his punitive cold shoulder when he felt he wasn’t getting enough attention. I ignored too much. I had no idea what was in store for the next 10 years of riding the narcissist roller coaster…
Bio: “Uphill Battle” is an autism therapist and freelance writer with a background in special education from Southern California. She has ridden the family court roller coaster for more than two years after ending her troubled marriage of 10 years. Her harrowing experiences in the system have awakened her inner crusader. She is a loving mother to two amazing children and one wonderful step-son. Raising her children is her utmost priority, and she has taken on an incredible uphill battle in order to preserve her right to do so. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, volunteering, and writing. ###
To see the rest of the posts from “An Uphill Battle,” click here.
Click the link to purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle.” You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive (and thrive!) while divorcing of co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to de-code the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.