Note from Tina: There are many faces to this battle and I am currently featuring a total of seven 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. Our newest blogger went from high-profile to homeless– without her children. 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
“Thrown to the Wolf” ~ Blog 1: Intro and Bio
It’s pretty hard to tell you about the hellscape that is “divorcing a narcissist” when I’m more focused on making sure he doesn’t find this blog and figure out it’s me than on crafting sparkling prose and flashy metaphors. He stalks me online, among oh so very many other debilitating nightmares, so I can’t be very specific. Let’s just say I’m a middle aged, well educated, formerly (i.e. pre-him) successful professional and mother of two who is now (i.e. post-him) living in a shelter, dependent on hand-outs. A shadow of my former hard charging, high profile self. Guess where my children are. You know, the ones I couldn’t leave him alone with during the ‘marriage,’ lest he starve, abandon or terrify them. The ones whose sonograms and amnios he wouldn’t attend though happily unemployed. The ones that, like his ‘wife’, didn’t exist unless there was an audience for which to perform. No audience? No acknowledgement of your existence, or, at least, not the kind any healthy person would want.
If you want to know what it feels like to be a ghost, marry a narcissist. When he has no use for you – and you wouldn’t be in his life if he wasn’t siphoning something from you — you simply don’t exist. You certainly have no desires or preferences that even register, let alone make an actual difference. Two examples. First day home post-surgery, I asked him to hand me our six month old; he’d been there when the doctor had told me not to lift him, or anything else, for six weeks. Co-dependent, slow learning fool that I am, it took me four seriatim requests to accept that he had, indeed, heard me. He was just ignoring me. Didn’t even break stride, no matter how much I increased the volume with each request. “Not even the first day?” I said to his back as he headed off to do something that actually mattered to him. “Really?” Three days later, I was inspecting my burst stitches in the bathroom mirror and wondering how much worse things were going to get.
Second example: I’m nine months pregnant with our second child (See? Slow learner), he pretended not to see me as I writhed on our bed in our tiny room, my stomach such a sudden agony I couldn’t draw breath enough to speak. But he’d been on his way out, as usual, and he was angry again, as usual. Always angry. There was no point in asking why. I wish I could tell you the phrase I use for his vicious, filthy, boundless rage – so awful, it makes the kids run to hide in a closet together — because it’s perfect, but I’m sure it’s in his regular roster of search terms.
He was slamming doors and drawers so fiercely, the baby – the one who burst my stitches — was screaming. Which made him even madder. So, when our eyes met in the dresser’s mirror – mine huge with fear and pain, his narrowed with annoyance at my having caught his attention — I saw his decide not to have seen me. I stopped existing. You won’t believe me when I say I could see the doors closing in his eyes but I always could, once he stopped pretending to care. My jackknifing made that wooden bed slat that always came loose clatter to the hardwood floor and the baby screamed louder, frightened by the noise from nowhere. But my ‘husband’ never reacted at all. He made for the door without looking back at me. Without breaking stride, he closed the baby’s door in his face as he wailed mere inches away. He drove away with our only vehicle as I clutched his unborn child and rode the pain out. The next day, I was up the rickety, pull-down stairs to the attic I hated, setting off bug bombs because the fly swarms had returned and it was “my turn”.
If you want to know what it feels like to be hunted, divorce a narcissist.
Even though I let him ruin me with his ‘get rich never’ schemes during the ‘marriage’ (I kept waiting for him to come home with magic beans), then gave him everything but a kidney, joint custody included, during the divorce, we spent three years more in court than wed. I stopped counting the lawyer fees at the $100,000 mark. We’d be there still had I not finally ‘given’ him custody rather than live under a bridge with my babies. He was so deranged by then (how maddening of me to continue to exist after he had no further use for me!), so exempt from the control of all charged with that responsibility, I had no choice but to fold. He would have killed us all. The newspapers would have tsk-tsk’d over our slumped bodies and bemoaned our ‘high conflict’ divorce, a nincompoop phrase indistinguishable from condemning a rapist and his victim for their ‘high conflict’ sexual relationship.
Would it interest you to know that, when I ‘gave’ him custody, he was officially designated too dangerous to be alone with them even telephonically? That, rather than do ‘humiliating’ supervised visits, he chose not to see them for nearly three years? That he couldn’t enter their school unchaperoned by its burliest employee and that the principal had to be present at meetings because no one would be alone with him? How about that four of his attorneys had to petition the court to be relieved from representing him, citing his bizarre behavior? One did so mid-trial (just as the judge was about to order the supervised visits lifted, since the ex refused to do them), one after having to evacuate the entire firm and call the police. When the law arrived, he tried to get a restraining order against them, as if he were the one cowering in his parking lot.
So, you can see why I worry about being outed. He is obsessed with me, a fact duly noted by officialdom but, somehow, not disqualifying in a parent. Neither was brutalizing his seven year old into a psych hospital, being demonstrably delusional, or a congenital liar.
On the other hand, he’s so irrational, so utterly incapable of recognizing his behavior as demented, that he may well not think to track me using search terms that would lead him here, like:
–obtaining a permit to turn my house, i.e. a home he was not on the title of, into a duplex.
–obtaining my HIPAA records, like my welfare application, to prove I’ve committed fraud. His stated goal is to have me incarcerated.
–having the kids secretly listening in on speakerphone for weeks while we argued to ‘prove’ to them that I was a horrible person.
–stealing my computer, reading all my emails and files and entering them into evidence.
—emailing (and god knows what else) my friends and colleagues filth about me bcc so I have no way of knowing what all he’s sent or who all’s received them.
–refusing to pay child support for years even when we were twice on the brink of homelessness because of it. The second time won him custody of kids he’d chosen not to support or see for years.
The only thing crazier than he is is the system which makes such ‘outcomes’ possible. Stay tuned for a story you’ll have a hard time believing. ###
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 decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.