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 2
Shortly after our wedding in December 2000, I became pregnant with our daughter. I was working as a teacher’s aide for children with special needs in our local school district. I was also attending school full time, working toward my dream of becoming a teacher. He was working in a non-sworn capacity at a local police department, hoping to be hired as a police officer. Today, when I reflect on this time in my life, I see a sea of red flags.
Our problems began during this time. I was elated and thrilled at the news of our pregnancy; he was furious with me. He told me I had ruined his life and spent those nine months angry, cold, and distant. At the time, I excused his behavior as nerves and the product of stress. He certainly had a lot of it. The police agency he worked for had fired him from being a reserve officer, and had passed over him for several academy spots. He took this very personally. I coped with his coldness the best way I knew how; I got busy. School, work, and planning for our baby’s arrival provided me with plenty to do. I avoided his anger and he started focusing on getting hired at other departments.
Our daughter was born in November 2001. She was perfect. My pregnancy had been marked by several complications, which I had learned to downplay to avoid trouble. He complained at my “neediness” and at our newborn daughter’s inability to interact and entertain him. However, he did turn on the charming affection when it suited his agenda. At the time, I interpreted his expressions and confusing mood swings as the complicated emotions of a new father burdened with the stress of a young family and a struggling career. I was enchanted with our daughter and with motherhood. I enjoyed every minute of it. He expressed several times that he felt “left out” and “ignored” by my diverted attention. I interpreted this as normal new father feelings; they were even covered in several of the books I had read. However, there was something much darker than feelings of starved affection looming beneath the surface of his selfishness.
Soon after our daughter was born, my (then) husband was hired by another police department as a trainee. He attended the sheriff’s academy and joined the force. This was another very troubled time in our young marriage. He was cold, distant, and extremely selfish during this time. He insisted that I shut down whatever I might be doing when he needed support. With a newborn baby and a boat load of school work, I spit shined boots, ironed uniforms, and edited memos. In return, I received complaints about my daily routine, social commitments, and hours spent at work or school.
When the academy concluded, the red flags began to wave harder. However, my (then) husband exhibited excessive amounts of stress that stemmed from fear of failure. Everything I did seemed to hold the impending result of getting him fired from his new job. He appeared cool and collected, but underneath this thinly veiled surface was an ocean of paranoia. His passive-aggressive tendencies became overtly obvious during that time. If we argued, he would spend money we didn’t have on something he wanted. If I came home to find him surfing pornography, he would lie blatantly about it, then blame me for it. If I confronted him on any of our issues, he would verbally bash me and then withhold affection for weeks at a time. My head began to spin with the chaos. His newfound authority in his badge became the basis of each of his arguments.
He became very unsettled with our life. As young parents (I was 19 when our daughter was born), we lived in a small apartment and drove used cars. His friends at work had large houses full of expensive furniture and the latest technology. They drove big trucks or fast sports cars. He felt inferior and took it out on me. It was always my fault we didn’t have enough money, status, or possessions. His spending got out of control as he tried to keep up with his peers. When he made large purchases, they were to teach me a lesson or get even with me for spending “his” money on “my” needs. Often, these included groceries, baby needs, or school tuition. Trying to build a life together became a tug-of-war over whose needs were met and whose were sacrificed. At the time, I chalked our struggles up to newlywed adjustments.
A few years later, my desire for another baby had grown. He agreed; he wanted to have another child. I believed that this would “solve” our problems. I couldn’t have been more wrong. While he said he wanted to have a child, as soon as I became pregnant with our son his behavior resurfaced from the first pregnancy. He became colder, more distant, and more selfish than ever before. I was extremely ill during this pregnancy. He took my sickness personally. He resented me and our baby for infringing on his attention supply. As before, when our son was born I threw myself into parenting. I fell in love with motherhood all over again. I was so well supported by girlfriends, I found fulfillment for my own emotional needs in them. I believed that my partner was incapable of giving me what I needed, so I stopped seeking it from him. I also began to realize I could not supply him with what he needed; everything I did was wrong, or proof that I was somehow doing him wrong.
As before, I got busy. I continued through school and kept working as an autism aide. I enjoyed my work and loved learning. My children were my true source of joy. As he noticed his inability to divert me from my goals or sour my ambition, he turned to my parents for reinforcement. He complained to them that I was too focused on becoming a teacher and felt I neglected our children. This was not reality; it was his twist of it. My children were my life. They are my life. He felt I should stay at home, quit school, and serve him dinner promptly after his patrol shift. My parents, always the chaos opportunists, agreed with him. I should note at this point that my mother, the presumed borderline, had quit school when she became pregnant with me. She always blamed me for ruining her dream of becoming a nurse. Naturally, she was jealous and threatened by my dream of professional achievement and jumped at the chance to shatter it. Because I did not cave to their pressure, life started to get really, really hard. ###
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. ###
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