Tag Archives: Divorcing a Narcissist

Tina Swithin survived a Category Five Divorce Hurricane and has taken shelter in her book titled, “Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and in her blog, “One Mom’s Battle.” Tina’s ultimate goal is to bring education and change to the Family Court System. Tina resides in sunny California with her fiancé, two daughters and three-legged tortoise named, “Oliver.”

Divorcing a Narcissist: When I am weak, then I am strong

Divorcing a Narcissist: When I am weak, then I am strong

purpose sarahBy Sarah, an OMB Administrator 

As I reflect back on my very long journey to leaving my ex for good, one moment stands out in my mind lately. I met an old friend for dinner one evening. She was going through a difficult divorce and as I listened to her talk about her experience, I admired the strength it took for her to walk away and never look back.

I also remember feeling very jealous.

Why was she strong enough to leave and I wasn’t? I hated myself for my weakness.

I told her about the latest drama with my then husband; it was a particularly difficult time. She very calmly said to me, “You don’t have to live like this.” It was so simple but so true.

I thought about how having children complicated things and how I couldn’t support myself financially but these things were just excuses and stall tactics. I was scared and still hopeful that if I suffered through the difficult times, my marriage would eventually hit a smooth patch.

In time, I realized that the purpose of my life wasn’t to suffer.

I also realized that I was, in fact, strong enough to leave. My children gave me the courage to leave and never look back. My ex gave me the drive to start on a new career path and to succeed.

I think on this journey we all have our own pace and that we need to be kind to ourselves. Even taking small steps helped to build up my strength and resolve. When things seem difficult and overwhelming, I try to reflect back on my weaker moments to see just how far I’ve come.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

The Lemonade Club, Tina Swithin’s private forum is now live! Seeking a place to share, connect and find help during your custody battle with a narcissist?  TLC is the answer and is now accepting applications – the group will be limited to the first 250 approved applicants.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

Contempt Charges and the Narcissistic – Is it Even Worth It?

Contempt Charges and the Narcissistic – Is it Even Worth It?

Rules-by Lucy K. Wright

Right now, this very minute as I type, my ExN is in Contempt.

As I sit here contemplating the legal decisions I may, or may not need to make over the next few days, I cannot help but have a hundred different ping-pong thoughts bouncing through my head.

It’s been nine years of this post-divorce mess.

No matter how much time and money we spend haggling with the lawyers, compromising on various OK, but never great new “parenting plans”; only to sign the next set of legal documents, adding to the accumulated mass of our never-ending extensive court file…

It is always just a matter of time before the ExN rears his ugly narcissistic ways, inflating his grandiose chest of self-importance, rising high above and beyond any prior agreed-upon settlement, or ruling by any judge (who ranks well-below him in every way possible way, as he’s already contested two of their mandates in the past)… and violates our agreement once again.

Does he care?

Sure doesn’t seem to.

When you have the financial means to play this game for so long, and seemingly no other goals in life but to “punish” your ex-spouse for leaving you (for reasons you will never even begin to understand) in the first place…nothing really matters, or seems to mean a thing.

When my ExN makes a mistake, most of the time knowingly, but sometimes maybe not, no worries at all, because he generally has the financial means to make it go away.

Follow the rules?

Ha.

(But if it was ME who was not following the rules – well – we all know that this would be a totally different story.)

The ExN and I signed a “revised parenting plan” just over one year ago, after he insisted upon a review of our prior plan. The review consisted of a PRE, a complete 3-year financial disclosure, a deposition, a mediation, and several trips to the courthouse, all which took about two years to complete. HE wanted all of this; it’s officially documented (even though he tells our kids it was all my doing, of course).

The revisions to our original parenting plan were minimal – wasting thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of difficult, emotional time, all for very little change at all.

One rule in the new parenting plan, similar to many other parenting plans, specifically dictates the following:

Each parent will have the right of first refusal to care for the minor children if the other parent cannot provide care during his or her parenting time.

There is more language around that, but the gist of the statement is simple – if you can’t take care of the kids for some reason during your time, you have to give the other parent the option of letting the kids stay with them.

My ExN is in Contempt as I write this.

He recently took one of our children on a trip for two nights; while he made arrangements for another child to stay with his friends for two nights, somehow, inadvertently, forgetting to tell me, and/or give me the option of having our child stay with me.

And so, here I sit pondering…

-The embarrassment to my child if I bring light to this situation, and an innocent family – his friends – being potentially forced to get involved legally should I pursue.

-The condescending snide answer I am guaranteed to get back via email if I let the ExN know, that I know, that he didn’t follow our parenting plan, like he expects me to do every hour of every day.

-The potential waste of more time, and more multi-thousands of dollars, to jump back into the long legal web of filing Contempt.

-Even if I did file on him – again – what would more than likely be the outcome? Another slap on the hand from the Judge, confirming the Contempt, and instructing the ExN “not to do it again?”

And so… he wins?  Again?

Not really.  He won’t win in the big picture of life – but in this situation – in knowing how to manipulate the system, being financially capable of keeping this all going for so long, and knowing how to play the legal game, technically, he “wins.”

 

One of the lessons I have always taught my children is to “take the high road.”

Because taking the high road means doing the right thing, even if it’s not popular, or easy, or choosing to jump in the ring, only to fight yet one more ugly legal battle.

Because sometimes the way to “win,” is to Just. Not. Play.

(Just Don’t Play, but make sure to document everything for the future when you do decide to play!)

~LLS~ Lucy K.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

The Lemonade Club, Tina Swithin’s private forum is now live! Seeking a place to share, connect and find help during your custody battle with a narcissist?  TLC is the answer and is now accepting applications – the group will be limited to the first 250 approved applicants.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

Communicating with a Narcissist

Communicating with a Narcissist

Communicating with a Narcissistby Tina Swithin

I was recently asked to chime in on a Huffington Post article titled, “6 Ways to Maintain Your Sanity while Parenting with a Narcissist.” Maintaining your sanity while parenting, co-parenting or parallel parenting with someone who suffers from a Cluster B disorder is an experience that few can comprehend.

My submitted response was cut down significantly so I thought I’d share my two cents in full:

Taking control of communication while co-parenting (or parallel parenting) with a narcissist is absolutely critical to your emotional well-being. Since the narcissist is no longer able to control you in the relationship, they need to obtain their “narcissistic feed” in other ways. The desire for a narcissistic feed is similar to a drug addicts’ need for his or her next fix and their appetite can be insatiable. For the narcissist, keeping you engaged, whether good or bad, is their driving force.

Learning to communicate with a narcissist is just like learning another language. First, you will want to limit all non-emergency communication to emails and I often advise clients to create a separate email account for communication with the narcissist. Better yet, Our Family Wizard or Talking Parents are both programs designed specifically for couples in high-conflict custody battles or shared parenting situations. Narcissists are known for their lengthy emails and something as simple as a pair of mismatched socks on your toddler can open the door to a barrage of attacks about your parenting.

The first step is to decode the email which is generally chock-full of projection and just enough lies to make your head spin. Over time and as you take your power back, you will even find humor in decoding the narcissist’s emails. As a way to shed light on the painful verbal assaults that I would receive from my ex-husband, I invented the Narc Decoder which scrubs down the projection, lies, attacks and ulterior motives that are typically found in a narcissist’s email. Learning to understand the communication style of the narcissist is similar to learning a foreign language but once you understand it, you will experience greater peace and sometimes, even a good laugh.

Next, it is important to “gray rock” your communication style. Because the narcissist wants to evoke emotion (good or bad) from you, it will be imperative that you refrain from any and all emotion. The Gray Rock technique teaches us that communication should be short, monotonous, business-like and boring. When communicating with a narcissist, less is always more. Your goal is for the narcissist to begin looking elsewhere to receive their narcissistic feed. Sift through the email communication and only respond to the items that are relevant to co-parenting. If you must write a lengthy response, send it to your mother or best friend as a way to vent but do not send it to the narcissist. Do not engage your ex on the topic of your toddler’s mismatched socks. If there are untruthful attacks on your parenting that are more serious than mismatched socks, my favorite go-to response is simple but direct, “Your attempt to portray me in a negative light is noted.” Co-parenting or parallel parenting with a narcissist can be emotionally exhausting which is why it is so important to implement strategies that allow you to take your power back.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

The Lemonade Club, Tina Swithin’s private forum is now live! Seeking a place to share, connect and find help during your custody battle with a narcissist?  TLC is the answer and is now accepting applications – the group will be limited to the first 250 approved applicants.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be…Disrespectful…Like Their Narcissistic Parent

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be…Disrespectful…Like Their Narcissistic Parent

I cannot control his words or hisby Lucy K. Wright

My kids came home from a weekend with the Narcissistic Ex recently to confidentially inform me that I never graduated from college.

“Dad said”…. “You quit college before you got your degree and he told us that you never even graduated.”

Interesting.

I got my diploma the same day the ExN did, with him, but hmmm…I guess he forgot.

I told my kids that I did in-fact graduate from college.  And then I took both to show them my diploma.

You can’t force someone like your ExN to show you respect. But you can refuse to be disrespected.

_______

I know I cannot control the words he says to them.

However,

that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about how my kids are influenced by his words as they are constantly exposed to his disrespectful bullying behaviors.

_______

The abusive mannerisms of a Narcissist do not ever stop, even long after the divorce is finalized.  And even if you, the former spouse and victim of his abuse, continue to heal, understand, grow, and move forward, his words and actions may still heavily influence your kids, as they are growing, developing and forming their own identities.

As much as we may not want to admit that our kids have any of the Ex-Narc’s genes – at all – unfortunately, they do. So not only are we dealing with aspects of ExN-Nature…

We are also dealing with aspects of ExN-Nurture…

For example:

  • If I happen to walk in the door of the store while my ExN is walking out with our kids, he turns his back to me and quickly walks back into the store as if he never saw me, and our encounter never existed.
  • When he pulls up in front of my home to get the kids for the start of his parenting time, he parks between my driveway and the neighbors and sits with his back turned to my home until the kids dash out to get into his running car, barely having time to close the car door before he quickly speeds away.
  • He took our child to the pediatrician one day and insisted I meet him there from work (as he does not perform such menial parenting duties as taking kids to the doctor)!  I walked into the office and started talking with a nurse.  We were all surprised when we saw ExN’s reflection through the window, walking back to his car after he had apparently gone through the Doctor’s private office back door to exit (as that was the only other exit in the building) rather than walk back through the office and out the door I was standing by.
  • At a school event for the kids, the ExN appears at the last second before the event starts, stands in the doorway for the event, and then disappears a minute before the end of the event, leaving the kids to quickly wrap up and return to him, as he sits by himself, with his car running in the parking lot.
  • The ExN requests separate conferences with teachers every year, despite the teachers having limited time to conduct their conferences, because he refuses to be in the same room as me.
  • And, my favorite…When my daughter was 9 years old, he told her that he will sit in the back of the church when she gets married because he refuses to be anywhere near “her mother” – even at her wedding.

_______

I know I cannot control his actions.

However,

that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about how my kids are influenced by his actions as they are constantly exposed to his disrespectful behaviors.

_______

I’m rarely surprised anymore by actions taken, and words spewed, by my ExN.  Admittedly, his words, which I frequently hear repeated via the young innocent voices of my children, still sting sometimes.  But I don’t cry like I used to.  And after years of self-work, I’ve learned that most of what he says is a mere reflection of his own insecurities anyhow.   Gasp.  I know.  But it’s taken me a long time to figure that out.

As tough as it is some days to let his hateful remarks and vengeful actions roll off my Teflon-coated back, I know that my most important job in life is to stand strong as a pillar of emotional and physical safety, be a positive role model for my kids, and provide them with a healthy example of how to treat people with the respect they deserve.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

A word, with HIS college degree, I don’t know that he can even spell, much less show what it means.

But despite his nature, or his “nurture,” and despite the fact that he can manipulate like no other, and shine the golden carrot of materialistic goods in front of my kids’ noses to show them the only “love” that he knows how to show – I will not let my kids think that the words and actions of their N-father are the norm in life.

I know I cannot control his words or his actions. I know I cannot control what my kids hear and see when they are around their father.

But I know I CAN:

Teach my kids not to turn their backs on people.
Teach my kids to treat people the way they want to be treated.
Teach my kids to respect.

And I can hope that one day, they will understand.

~LLS~ Lucy K.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

The Lemonade Club, Tina Swithin’s private forum is now live! Seeking a place to share, connect and find help during your custody battle with a narcissist?  TLC is the answer and is now accepting applications – the group will be limited to the first 250 approved applicants.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

Narcissists and Child Support: You Give an Inch. They Take 100 Miles.

Narcissists and Child Support: You Give an Inch. They Take 100 Miles.

Child Support and the Narcissist....whenby Lucy K. Wright

Child support is a simple calculation: Income for both – Number of overnights for both – Calculated annually. There’s a form. On the State website. Plug in the numbers and automatic – bam! Instant calculation of what might be owed.

Simple?

You bet.

Simple, that is, for 99% of people who do this calculation.

______

My kids have 10 weeks of summer vacation this year. I have already spent $4000 per week, without planning any camps, exotic vacations, activities, or even friends and family low-cost barbecues.

Why?

Because my Ex is a Narcissist. And I know by now that what should be a “simple calculation,” regardless of the situation, never will be.

_______

Seven months ago the ExN filed a motion with the court asking to reduce child support.

I AGREED to his reduction at mediation.

But I didn’t agree “within the timeframe” he dictated.

So the deal “was off the table” two days later, according to my ExN and his twin-minded attorney.

During the past 7 months I’ve…

-Been to mediation (Dealing with a Narcissist 101: Never go to mediation if you can avoid it)
-Produced 100’s of financial documents, dating three years back
-Called credit card companies to get back-statements, which never arrived, so I had to call them again
-Been deposed by his attorney
-Been to double-time counseling sessions to deal with the stress from this situation, which has trickled from me, to my husband, to my family, to my work, and pretty much every other aspect of my life
-Separated bank accounts
-Refiled my taxes, one day after I filed them the first time, due to a $50 error that he was going to report to the IRS
-Discovered how “creative” the ExN can be with his own financial disclosures
-Fought with my husband
-Fought with my attorney
-Gained a little extra “cortisol” stress weight around my middle
-And…Taken out another loan to pay for this go-round, which I know will not be the last, in dealing with my Narcissist Ex.

Never underestimate how difficult “simple calculations” and “simple situations” can get when you’re dealing with a Narcissist.

I am not after empathy in writing all of this. I’m simply noting how something as simple as a state formula – so simple that it works for 99% of the population – can be so manipulated and twisted when you are dealing with someone with NPD.

Do the courts understand? I don’t think they do.

Do the lawyers understand? I believe some of them do.

Do your friends, and/or family support system understand? I don’t always think they do, when I hear things from them like “well, why don’t you just do this… or this…and your lawyer needs to say this…and the judge will do that…”

It’s just not that simple.

And unless you’ve been exposed to this type of situation, you most likely will really not ever truly even understand.

________

Through this last several month ordeal, I’ve realized, yet again, in this seemingly never-ending process, how far I have personally come from beginning to deal with this toxic situation, dating back over eight years ago.

And how far I personally I need to keep going… for myself…and for my husband… and especially for my kids.

And… how broken our court system really is.

_______

What I’ve realized and learned throughout this most recent process, more than any other, is how much my current husband loves me, and stands by me, through thick and thin, no matter what. Understanding any of this, and putting up with me through all of this is tough… and outright crazy some days… to say the least.

When you grow up with a Narcissist parent, and then marry a Narcissist partner, this crazy N world is your norm. You know nothing else, and this is what you naturally, not knowing any better, think relationships should be like.

When you meet someone who shows you that love is unconditional, no matter what, it makes no sense to you.

What?
Someone still talks to you even IF you disagree and have an argument?

What?
Someone is still there for you even IF you share your feelings and shed a few tears?

If you’ve been in a relationship with a Narcissist, you may not ever, truly understand or believe that someone will be there for you unconditionally, no matter what.

It takes a long time, and a lot of personal work, to understand that they actually will.

_______

The final email from the ExN’s attorney to mine stated a few simple words including a ridiculously reduced child support number they threw out from no-where, that he was “willing to pay,” to make this mess – the mess that HE created – go away.

And… I agreed.

I knew I would be eligible for much more money from him each month, and I had no doubt through the numerous conversations with my lawyer and sorting through the financial lies the ExN told, that I would come out much further ahead financially if I decided to go to court, rather than accept his lame, random, child-support “deal”.

But it just wasn’t worth it.

It wasn’t worth the money, hassle, emotional drain, or the continued battle.

It wasn’t worth my mental sanity, or the stress I brought to my husband, my family, myself, and my life… it was not worth prolonging the toxic situation and trying to “get” a little more money from Him each month.

Let him think he won… Again.

Because big picture, it doesn’t really matter. And in the big picture, he IS NOT winning.

______

I talk to my kids a lot about “taking the high road” because no matter how badly people treat you, you should never drop down to their level.

Just know you’re better.  And walk away.

Because in the end, you ARE “winning.”

 

~LLS~ Lucy K.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

The Lemonade Club, Tina Swithin’s private forum is going live on June 16th! Seeking a place to share, connect and find help during your custody battle?  TLC is the answer and is now accepting applications.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parental Responsibilities Evaluation (PRE) Process: Just Breathe, and Expect the Unexpected

Parental Responsibilities Evaluation (PRE) Process: Just Breathe, and Expect the Unexpected

evaluateby Lucy K. Wright

I had no idea that when my ExN filed a motion to request 50/50 parenting time that we would be venturing down the long, winding, twisted, turning road of yet another multi-month PRE evaluation.

Been to that rodeo once before – when we went through the initial divorce.

But 7 years later, and he was insisting upon putting us all through the grueling process again?

Amazingly enough, he didn’t even want more parenting time three weeks prior, when we were at an entirely different mediation session we had been ordered to attend, for an entirely different matter.

He only mentioned wanting “a little more time” with the kids then.

But as the narcissist Groundhog Day story goes, a few months later, and it was back to the courthouse once again.

This time, ExN and his lawyer insisted upon retaining a PRE (Parenting Responsibilities Evaluator). The ExN and his lawyer even threw in their winning card: that they would “agree to pay 100%” for the upcoming PRE evaluation, AND, in offering that, they would like to choose the actual PRE Evaluator.

Without any questions, comments or hesitation, the judge said OK.

Did the judge take time to read the documents in front of him? Did a PRE evaluation even make sense again, so many post-divorce years later?

Or did the judge just look at our 100 page++ court record and decide another PRE evaluation was the easiest default route to go down yet again.

My head was spinning.

What. Had. Just. Happened.

___________________

Fast forward through several anxiety filled weeks of filling out required paperwork, revealing every detail of my life to the courts, the ExN, and his lawyer, while waiting for the first phone call from the Evaluator to reveal the next steps in the process.

____________________

I sat in the parking lot of the Evaluator’s office, a half an hour early as to have ample time to drink my Red Bull and mentally prepare myself for the initial PRE interview. My mind was racing with some of the tips that were going through my head from the first time I did this: Speak calmly; Do not become angry or emotional; Do not slam my ExN, no matter how many times I might want to; And always, no matter what, speak the truth.

My thoughts were interrupted by a ringing phone.

I did not recognize the number, but answered and heard this:

“Hello, is this Lucy? This is Dr. Evaluator’s office. You are 15 minutes late for your appointment and the Doctor has been waiting on you. Are you planning on attending this important initial session today? The Doctor’s schedule is booked and you running late is quite an inconvenience for him.”

What?

My appointment was at 1PM that afternoon. I remembered both calling and emailing my attorney to let her know the details of my first appointment. I know I listed the appointment in my calendar for 1PM. I checked again. Yes, it was there. But now I was late? That couldn’t be right. I am organized and I knew how important this appointment was; my mind was racing.

I knew from going through this process before that every move, word, and action I portrayed was going to be analyzed and documented. My first impression this time around was now going to be that I was disorganized and couldn’t remember things. Great.

I rushed up the stairs and was greeted by a very unpleasant woman at the front desk of the Evaluator’s office, and using her very loud voice, she reminded me once again, in front of others, that I was late, and inconveniencing the Doctor who had been very patiently waiting on me.

I took a deep breath, cracked a small smile, held my composure and apologized profusely. I told her I had the appointment listed in my calendar for 1pm, but that I possibly made a mistake in writing down the time, and I was sincerely sorry for any inconvenience I had caused. As I was saying the words, I knew the mistake was not on my end, but I took ownership as I felt it was the right, and only, thing to do at that point.

And as I found out later, in the Evaluator’s final report, this first encounter with the Evaluator was indeed analyzed and documented quite well. The Evaluator felt I “held up quite well” during this first initial “test.”

As it turns out, my initial appointment time was correct. 1PM. I didn’t know I was being “evaluated” on how I handled the call and the claim that I was late. But I was.

The Evaluator wanted to see how I reacted in a situation that might cause me high anxiety or stress; thus the reason for his assistant’s call to me. Her call automatically caused me to have negative thoughts about myself: What did I do? How could I screw up this first session? I was wrong – again – just like I was always told I was by the ExN.

After I hung up the phone with her, I knew had two choices: walk in to my first appointment with my head down looking defeated, or take the high road, apologize for “my mistake,” and move on.

As I learned over the years in dealing with this continuous narcissist battle, when in doubt, always take the high road.

_______________

I have respect for those who conduct PRE evaluations.  This is not an easy job.

Evaluators have their own unique styles and processes. The first evaluation I went through was very different than the second. Throughout the second PRE process I had to accommodate several “last minute” appointments requested by the Evaluator, not only for attending sessions by myself, but at times having to coordinate getting my kids from school or activities, and being available quickly when the Evaluator suggested we needed to meet.

We had three home visits, two which were scheduled the morning-of, where my home was presentable, but certainly not how I would have had it arranged if I had been given more notice. I had to remind myself that that didn’t really matter, and to just take a deep breath, relax, and try my best to get through what I needed to get through for my family and myself.

In seven months, I visited with the Evaluator five times at his office myself; an additional three times with my kids; and he visited our home three times. He spoke with my husband, my family, some friends, and some neighbors so that he could assess, and essentially compile a report all about my life, and his perceptions of my abilities to be a good mom and provide my kids with a safe home environment.

______________

The PRE process is invasive. Your entire life is exposed. You are asked about your past, your present, and to descriptively explain every picture you have hanging on the walls of your home. Look around your home. Think about a complete stranger grilling you on your most personal photo memories, which you have proudly displayed, never thinking when you were hanging these memories up that such questions might be asked.

The PRE process is exhausting. You cry a lot – sometimes you cry to a loved one when you need the support; but often you just cry by yourself, from the pure mental and physical exhaustion of going through all of this, wondering why you were given the challenge you were in life to stand up strong and persevere through this battle.

Just like many other things in life, you are only going to get one chance when you go through a PRE process. So do it well.

No matter how tired you are, present yourself as a fair and reasonable person, do not make false accusations against your ExN, do not become angry or emotional, take a lot of deep breaths because it’s not going to be easy; always – always – always, no matter what, tell the truth.

And if and when you’re hit with those unexpected moments, like being “late” to appointments that you know you are not late for – breathe, smile, apologize, show respect, and never sacrifice your own class, no matter how difficult the situation, to get even with someone, like your ExN, who has none.

~LLS~ Lucy K.

_______________

(Note: The specifics of a PRE processes may vary with State law. Please consult resources within your own state for additional information on this process.)

A Parenting Responsibilities Evaluation (PRE), also called a Custody Evaluation, is a formal process investigation that attempts to assess the level of each parent’s respective parenting skills, and then used to determine which parent may be best suited to care for the children.

 A PRE is typically used in higher-conflict custody cases, or when there are multiple issues that need investigating. The evaluation must be conducted by a licensed mental health professional. The PRE can be done at the request of one parent, or may be court-ordered.

 The process generally begins each party filling out a parenting history survey as directed by the Evaluator. There are initial one-on-one interviews with the Evaluator, taking a psychological assessment test, parent/child play sessions, additional interviews, and possible home visits.

 A written report of the evaluation is due to the Court and participants a few weeks before the hearing and includes a description of the process, the data collected, a conclusion explaining how the recommendations were reached, and the actual recommendations. 

A typical PRE takes about 90 days…

…unless you are dealing with someone who has NPD, in which case, based on my personal experience, the timeframe may take much, much longer.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

“7 degrees of Separation” …OR… 7 degrees of Narcissistic Interpretation

“7 degrees of Separation” …OR… 7 degrees of Narcissistic Interpretation

Divorce Decreeby Lucy K. Wright

“Per the decree,” is one of my ExN’s very favorite phrases.

My first lawyer told me not even to worry about the decree when I originally signed it because the ExN and I would be working things out together, for the kids, within six months and I would probably never even look at the paperwork again.  In her defense, I don’t think she had any idea what the word “narcissist” meant; but as I think back to her words, I want to send her a letter today and tell her to never use those words again with another client.

Seven years later.  Everything in my life, pertaining to the kids, and their ExN father, is dictated, mandated, and followed, as “per the decree.”  I’m fairly certain my ExN has our decree laminated and framed on his walls.  Nothing is negotiable.  There can be no compromise ever.

For instance, our decree states that I am to pick up the kids every other Sunday night from his home at 6PM.

6:00PM.  The kids don’t appear from his front door one-quarter of a second before exactly 6PM.  On the dot.  Maybe a few minutes later, but never ever before.

On one particular Sunday night during a recent snowstorm, after driving to his home very slowly and cautiously on the less than ideal ice packed roads, I finally arrived a few minutes before… 6PM.  I have been told on several occasions prior that I was “not allowed on his property,” which included parking in his driveway when I was picking up the kids, even on a snowy cold night.   I hesitated that night, but then parked in the street as I always did, choosing my battles and otherwise trying to keep the potential conflict for the kids to a minimum as I knew if I did park in his driveway they would hear about it from him afterwards.

I sat waiting…and waiting…and waiting some more… as I was accustomed to doing, until the clock struck six.

As I sat, ordinary words from our decree became thoughts in my head:

“On a holiday, vacation, or birthday, the parent having the first half of the time will take the children to the other parent’s home to begin their parenting time with the children…”

Seems simple enough.

But how might a highly narcissistic Ex interpret that statement?

The only thing I know for sure is that 1) it’s not even worth a guess on how a narcissistic might interpret that statement, or any other statement  for that matter, and 2) guaranteed it will not be interpreted with any logic, or even close to how the rest of us might read, interpret, or come to understand and play out such simple words.

When a narcissist reads something as simplistic as that statement, his head is filled with variables, cross-variables, analyses, and grey versions of regular, ordinary words.  Words such as:

Holiday.

Vacation.

Birthday.

Combo phrases like “Fall or Spring Break” become even more problematic.

In the early years I blamed my then lawyer for not writing a “solid enough” black and white spelled out decree, in order to help “prevent” the ExN from always throw his notorious curve-balls at the very last minute.

I was pretty naïve when I assumed “solid” wording would help.  I didn’t understand the word “narcissist” very well back then either.

But as time passed, and now with two PRE (Parental Responsibilities Evaluator) evaluations behind me, and thus two clearly spelled out versions of a seemingly solid parenting plan, I have learned that no matter what is written in stone, signed by us parents, signed by the courts, and appears black and white comprehensible to most logical folks – don’t assume anything.

Do assume, however, that no matter what is written, the narcissist will challenge you a hundred different ways to the moon and back, depending on the situation and whatever mood he may be in at the time.  And if you ever even think you’ve figured him out, because “he did it that way once before,” throw that foolish theory right out the window.

As victims of narcissistic abuse, we are naturally programmed to try and stay one step ahead.  It is how we survive

If I do this, what will he do?  I need to think through every possible scenario of what he might do to me, or do to the kids, before I make a decision.  Should I go to the store now to get the one ingredient I don’t have to make his favorite meal, and risk being home after he gets home, which I know he does not like?  Should I make something else for dinner? But he wanted this tonight and I’m afraid if I change the menu he might get very angry.  What should I do?  How angry will he be?  What will he do to me?

As survivors of narcissistic abuse, we learn we have a voice, and it’s not worth our energy to even try to hypothesize what he might do next.  We learn to make our own decisions regardless.

____________________

As I sat waiting for my kids on that snowy cold evening, never in a million years would I have expected what happened next.  The door to his garage opened, his car running, and backing out of his garage with our children inside.  He knew I was sitting in my car outside, in the cold and snow, waiting for the kids.  He saw me, but continued to back up.  I honked and waved to the kids, who sat motionless as they looked at me through his frosted car windows.  He then started slowly driving down the street.

I pulled out onto the icy roads again and followed them.   What did I miss?  Why was he doing this when it was clearly my night to pick up the kids?

I followed his car all the way back to my home.  I pulled into the garage.   The kids got out of his car with no coats on (HIS clothes are never allowed at MY home) and came inside as he sped away.

The kids were quiet, none of us knowing quite what had just occurred.   I gave them big hugs and they went to their rooms to rest and settle back into their routines and their own warm beds.

The email I received later that evening went something like this:

“…Clearly there was confusion on your part about the children’s pick-up this evening.  I am uncertain why you were even parked in front of my home.  Since you have obviously neglected to fully comprehend our parenting plan, and appeared to be confused about how the children were to get from my home, back to your residence this evening, please refer to page #, paragraph #, sub-item ##, bullet ### in our parenting plan for a refresh of our signed agreement…

…Your mistake with tonight’s events stems from you undoubtedly misunderstanding that although this past weekend included a holiday, a seemingly small, yet nationally recognized holiday none-the-less, our plan states that  I was to bring the children back to you tonight.  And so I did…

Per the decree…”

____________________

Quit overthinking.  It’s not worth it.  They will do everything in their narcissist power to throw you a curve-ball.  Deal with things only when you absolutely have to, and don’t waste your energy or time otherwise.  There is too much to be grateful for in this world, don’t lose sight of the good things, even when he tries as hard as he does to cast a shadow over your “good.”

Despite the drama, confusion, cold, and utter nonsense that evening, my kids were home and safe, with me, and that’s all that really mattered.

~LLS~ Lucy K.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

Dealing with a Narcissist Father: YES, You Can Make Your Own Decisions About YOUR Own Life

Dealing with a Narcissist Father: YES, You Can Make Your Own Decisions About YOUR Own Life

fd3by Lucy K. Wright

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I wanted to be a lawyer.

When I was 16 years old, I had no doubt at all that this is what I wanted to do.

But when I told my Narcissistic father I wanted to be a lawyer…

He laughed.

And he told me I wasn’t smart enough.

And told me that I didn’t have the “killer instinct” that was needed to be a lawyer.

So…

I didn’t become a lawyer.

But I should have.

I just wasn’t strong enough back then to stand up, make my own decisions, and tell my father to pound sand.

I know better now.

And I don’t want my daughter to ever make the same mistake that I did.

——————–

The message from the principal at High School orientation was for the incoming students to make their own decisions – to take this time in their young lives to figure out what they liked, and what they didn’t like, and to try new things. She told the incoming students, and the anxious parents who filled the auditorium that night, to listen to their parents for guidance, and support… but to find their own passions, and purposes, and priorities… and to make their own decisions.

My daughter was excited when she left orientation. Thinking about the schedule of classes she could consider, and about all of her possibilities and choices ahead.

That was at 6pm.

By 8pm, my daughter was in tears; looking in disbelief at the overwhelming Excel spreadsheet her N-Father created for her after the principal’s lecture; outlining every class she needed to take for the next four years of her life, and the corresponding GPA of each class she needed to earn, in order for her to get into the college he had already chosen for her to go to. His alma mater. The only school she could consider, according to him anyway.

“This is your life. Make your own decisions.”

——————-

A daughter needs her dad’s adoration; it validates her and helps her internalize her specialness. Healthy fathers give their girls that gift. Healthy fathers tell their daughters they are special and deserve love, just for being themselves.

I was never good enough for my own father. I remember just a handful of times when I felt connected to him, when I looked at him and thought, “yep, that’s my dad.” But those times were rare. Most of the time I felt inferior, as I was never living up to my father’s expectations. I wasn’t talented enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough, or outgoing enough for my father. And he reminded me often.

I was constantly doing anything and everything I could do to try and please my father. So he would pay attention to me, and be proud of me, and tell me that he loved me. But with a father like this, it’s never enough. You are never right. Or perfect enough. And you spend your life trying to please, and become the person he wants you to be.

“Perfect.” Whatever that really means.

When I listened to my daughter tell me a story about the counselor at school lecturing her class about domestic abuse… and how she recognized some of the signs of domestic abuse… I was almost brought to tears.

Because I knew all my years of hard work – and the battles endured in the court system to keep her in counseling and in turn, ensure she was learning to create her own voice – were paying off.

I didn’t have a voice when I was growing up. My own mother was afraid of my father, and she would have never done anything to rock the Narcissistic boat. I only learned that I had a voice much, much later in life. It’s still a struggle some days, but I continue to learn, and grow, and make sure I have the strength needed to help my own kids now.

I am the daughter of a Narcissist.

My daughter is the daughter of a Narcissist.

I have fought long and hard in the court system to ensure my children have a voice, so they will have the tools in life that they need, to make the decisions in life that they need to make, independent of their Narcissistic father.

My daughter and I have a very open and communicative relationship. It makes me smile on the inside more than she will ever know.

And if my daughter tells me she wants to be a lawyer…or an ice skater…or a movie producer… or a restaurant manager…or a volunteer world traveler, helping those who need help the most… she will always have my support. As long as she is setting her own schedules, making her own choices, respectful of, although not always agreeing with, some guidance and input from her dear “old” mom, and creating the life she wants to create for herself, that is what I wish for my daughter.  And why I continue to fight this battle.

Stay strong warrior parents.

~LLS~ Lucy K.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

The Life That Awaits You – With Lundy Bancroft

The Life That Awaits You – With Lundy Bancroft

Lundy and Tina Swithinby Tina Swithin

Today, I am blogging from the friendly skies – on a flight from Connecticut to DC and then on to Phoenix with a final destination of San Luis Obispo, California. While it will be a long day (week!) of travel, it has been worth every moment as I am coming off of one of those “life-changing” experiences that I wish for everyone. I am thankful for today’s travel time and I plan to make the most of it by reflecting on and absorbing how much the past few days has enriched my life.

I grew up without my biological mother in my life. Her brief and sporadic appearances throughout my childhood never left warm and fuzzy feelings but instead left me feeling confused, scared and saddened. Most likely due to my own early experiences, my greatest fear in life was the mere thought of becoming a mother. That all changed (thankfully) at the age of 30 when I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child. For NM1my entire childhood, it was my dad and I. There were many periods of time when others became part of the picture like my early years when my grandmother and Aunt Bev helped to raise me (age 0-2 years) or when my father remarried (age 2- 9) and then the times when his girlfriends lived with us. Aside from the stable role that my Aunt has played in my life since day one, female relationships have not proven to be longstanding sources of strength or guidance for me. In fact, female relationships are something that often feels forced and unnatural to me which may explain why most of my very best friends have always been men.

Several years ago, I read Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” and that book showed me that my relationship with Seth was incredibly abusive despite the fact that my relationship lacked physical abuse which is the standard that society seems to cling to. After reading the book, I felt validated and clear. I felt as though Lundy had secretly crawled into my home, installed a hidden camera and then wrote about my life. I was riveted as Lundy broke down the different personality types of abusive men such as “Mr. Right” and “The Water Torturer.” I remember sending him an email to thank him for his work – I didNM2 not need a reply back…I simply wanted him to know that his words had an impact on my life and my path to healing.

Each year, Lundy holds a retreat and each year since reading his book, I have received notifications of the retreat. A variety of factors have prevented my attendance at the retreats in the past however, this year when the notification came through, I jumped at the opportunity and filled out the application at record speed. Because enrollment for the retreat was limited to 20 people and registration was done by mail, I drove my registration form straight to the post office. Then, I decided to bypass the anxiety that would normally come while waiting to be notified if I was “in” and I bought a plane ticket! Something just felt right about this and I knew that this was the year I needed to be at “The Life That Awaits You” retreat. (Thankfully, the notification came a few weeks later!)

As the calendar pages were flipped and the retreat was fast approaching, I began to panic a bit. I was so far along in my healing – was I going to take a spot that someone else really needed? What if I were the only one who had not endured physical abuse in past relationships? What if I didn’t fit in with the other women? Coming off a recent experience with a female friendship that completely knocked the wind out of me; you could say I was feeling anxious about being at a retreat so far away from home….with a bunch of women. Deep breath. It’s only 2 days I reminded myself repeatedly.

I arrived in Connecticut a day early and a group text message ensued between four of the women who were attending the retreat. After a series of text messages, I could tell that I was going to fit right in with this group. I met up with one of the attendees for a glass of wine the night before the retreat and felt even more at ease. The next day, I made the 90-minute commute to the retreat with four women who will now hold a place in my heart for life…and that was just the beginning of the weekend.

The retreat was held in Plainfield, Massachusetts – a gorgeous, snow-covered area which was quite a ways off the beaten path and the perfect spot for bonds to form and for broken hearts and tattered souls to heal. Everyone was there for the same reason regardless of the form of abuse they endured, duration of abuse or the severity of abuse. Everyone was united by an experience that only someone who has endured abuse can understand – there was power and comfort in knowing that everyone was there for the same reason. Within minutes of entering the retreat, I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I express myself best by using words however; I am left with few words that could properly describe how healing and powerful this retreat was for me…and for the women who surrounded me. There was deep laughter and deep tears – all of the emotions, good and bad were healing in their own right. There were unbreakable bonds formed and lifelong memories made. For me, the realness and rawness of the experience was intense. Everyone showed up and was present in the moment. They were all open and willing. There was no judgment – only love. These women were inspiring regardless of where they were on their journey – from those who were just leaving an abusive relationship to those who had 10 years of healing under their belt. These women came together through unfortunate circumstances and supported each other 100%. They listened. They comforted. They all worked together to heal.

As we pulled away from the retreat and made our way to the airport, I noticed that it was International Women’s Day. I now understand the importance of bonding with incredible women and my life is so much richer for this experience. I came to the retreat to work through some lingering issues from the past and while my goal was accomplished, I left with so much more than I ever imagined. I am forever thankful to Lundy Bancroft for what he has done and what he continues to do in this world. I truly believe that he is an angel among us. While gratitude is a daily practice for me, the gratitude that I feel today is circulating through every cell in my body. Thank you, Lundy…for all you do.

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website or her personal Facebook page where she shares daily inspiration and gratitude.

 

Post-Divorce Financial Abuse: And the Battle Continues.

Post-Divorce Financial Abuse: And the Battle Continues.

checkby Lucy K. Wright 

Almost a decade post-divorce and I average an attorney bill each month that is well over double my mortgage and car payment combined.

Given my salary, current expenses, and thrifty-spending nature, I should be fine financially.

But I’m dealing with an ExN who just won’t…can’t…stop.

According to a pre-divorce article, experts agree that economic abuse, where one partner controls the other’s access to finances, plays a pivotal role in trapping women in abusive relationships.

But what about post-divorce financial abuse? When an ExN traps a woman by only “communicating” through lawyers, or through the court system?

My therapist tells me the ExN keeps debating and filing nonsensical random issues because he “still loves me;” and these legal gestures guarantee him a steady, continual engagement with me. My lawyer feels the same. I get nauseous if I try to process those words: “He. Still. Loves. Me…” Ugh. Love? From a Narcissist? From Him? I think not. He doesn’t even know what those words truly mean; In his own twisted way of thinking he may think he knows. But he doesn’t. Not even close.

It’s control.

I’m almost six figures in debt post divorce. I try to keep up, I do.  But it’s become unmanageable to the point where I’ll be paying loans to cover legal fees as long, or longer, than paying off loans for my college education.  My lawyer, and therapist, and I have had serious conversations about only providing responses to the ExN, and the ExN’s lawyer, on important matters pertaining to the kids and nothing else. My lawyer, and therapist, and I have also had conversations about me going this battle alone, sans legal help, in attempt to stop the financial debt madness by representing myself and not paying for a lawyer to assist any longer.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this scenario. In my particular case, I know this is not a viable option.

After battling this battle, legally and otherwise, for so many years, I am quite familiar with the types of legal responses and documents that are required for the court. I would be physically and emotionally just fine – now that I am stronger after so many years – heading to the courthouse by myself to face the ExN and his crafty attorney. But I know I would be doomed from the start if I even attempted to show up at the courthouse by myself; without legal help – aka, my be-trusted lawyer who has poured thousands of hours into this case, sharing with me that the images of my past life with the ExN even haunt his head at times.

The ExN retained a lawyer who is very similar to himself. Even in the legal community, this particular lawyer is – allegedly – known for not negotiating, not responding (a strategy in itself), and never trying to work anything out.

He loves to argue.

He loves to litigate.

Just like my ExN.

Going it along, with the possibility of making one inkling of a mistake on my end at some point, they would relish at the chance to say I was somehow in contempt, and somehow might need to end up in jail or otherwise. I am certain that taking this on solo right now is not even a consideration for me.  And in making that decision, I subsequently make the decision to continue paying my attorney to help me fight this battle.

Financial abuse occurs in 98 percent of domestic abuse relationships. Financial abuse is defined in many ways: not paying child support, no access to the household accounts, giving you an allowance and asking for receipts for each dime spent, overuse of credit cards, intentionally jeopardizing credit scores, etc. Many of us have dealt with one, or many, of these factors already pre-divorce. We might not think about the financial control continuing post-divorce, and for so many years afterwards.

I have tried, over and over again, to take the high road.   I’ve attempted to only address the issues with the ExN that I absolutely have to, those pertaining to the kids.   I have agreed in writing, with a mediator’s verification, that I would accept his proposals on more than one occasion. And then I have heard back from him/his lawyer that, “Yes, we agree that you accepted our proposal, but you did not accept it in the timeframe which we wanted it accepted by… so the deal is now off the table.”

Financial drain.

I’ve documented. I’ve asked for attorney fees in court. I’ve written solid, accurate, factual responses back to his accusatory filings. I’ve agreed to what he has asked, just to avoid dragging the battle on and on, financially and otherwise.

Thousands of dollars thrown out the window that could go towards our children, their college educations, their futures. Money that could be given to a local crisis center to aid other survivors of domestic violence in finding help.

______________

I’m going to court again in a few months. To deal with something the ExN asked for, to which I have already agreed.   But he filed anyhow.  Because this is a game, and he does what he wants to.  Because his finances are unlimited.  And because for him, this is nothing more than sheer entertainment, engagement, and control.

_______________

Narcissism.

Financial abuse.

When will our judges start to understand.

~LLS~ Lucy K. Wright

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“Like” One Mom’s Battle on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter.

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal. 

Seeking a Divorce Coach to guide you through your custody battle? Visit Tina Swithin’s website at www.tinaswithin.com