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 4
It had become clearer than ever before that drastic changes were needed in our family relationships. We met with our therapist within days of the incident with my father. Our therapist agreed that the relationship with my parents had elevated to a level that was toxic to all involved.
My parents had not changed their pattern from my childhood; they were still abusers. In counseling, our therapist had described the dynamic of the family in which I had been raised. My mother was presumed borderline by her behavior patterns. She fits the description of a classic cluster B personality, which includes narcissism as a personality disorder. My childhood was measured in stretches between her meltdowns. These meltdowns included regular fits of rage, physical abuse and psychological torment. They became more frequent as I got older. My father, a recovering alcoholic, never dealt with his rage or codependence issues even though he quit drinking. In that regard, the addict behavior was underlying but very present in our home. The “drug” simply changed from alcohol to a variety of other obsessions, which ranged between compulsive religiosity and the actions of a rage-holic. I could not have my children exposed to this much dysfunction as the cycle kept spinning without change.
We decided to keep firm boundaries, which included no contact. Our therapist agreed that the safest and best way to accomplish this was to stick to our determined boundaries. If we reinforced their crossing the boundary with their desired consequence, which was contact with us and ultimately control over me, they would have no reason to respect any other boundaries.
Leading up to and following the incident with my father, I had been experiencing panic attacks after explosive encounters with my father. They were also triggered by the verbal abuse of my husband. I began to see a therapist myself. The therapist determined that I was experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. With the panic attacks came a flood of repressed memories from my childhood. For the first time, I began to process the abuse of my early years. I also came to terms with the abuse in my marriage.
My ex-husband used many of the same tactics as my parents. He would abuse, blame, lie and intimidate. I would not realize until our custody trial how deep the deception ran during the time in our marriage when we set up these firm boundaries with my parents. During that time, all I had to go on was the constant, nagging sensation of feeling unsettled and aware that something was “not right”. As I learned more about the personality disorder my mother seemed to embody, I realized that I had married a man very much like her. Foolishly, I believed that if he got the right help, or the right amount of religious interaction, he could progress into a healthy person. I was very, very wrong. Personality disorders are just as their name describes; ingrained in the core of a person and out of typical (healthy) order.
Despite my unsettled feelings, I pressed on with the goal of fixing my very broken marriage. I met with the therapist every week, even after our marriage counseling sessions ended. I read books and articles about PTSD and narcissism, and worked through many of my childhood traumas. I stood strong in the boundaries I had set up, and eventually my silence delivered the message. This was not met without challenge; I received threatening letters from my father. He parked outside my house, one time for several hours. I had a friend (who happened to be a deputy sheriff) kindly ask him to leave the vicinity of my property and in time the attempts to contact me stopped.
As I grew, learned and developed better relationship health, my ex became the antithesis of my efforts. He thrived on dysfunction, and where he found it lacking he created it. His lying was pathological, as it served no purpose. He simply needed to control the information I believed. I pressed on anyway. I took up running and graduated college. I started grad school soon after. I found success and peace without my parents in my life. I learned so much about myself. I learned about my relationship. Instead of getting sucked into the dysfunction, I simply led my life around it. I got stronger. I began to prepare myself for the possibility that my marriage was nearing its end.
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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