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.”

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.

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(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

Peace, Divorce Coaching and OMB Non-Profit Updates

Peace, Divorce Coaching and OMB Non-Profit Updates
Cover

Our new logo (Photo by Sarah Lennox)

by Tina Swithin

My long overdue blog and updates.

Where to even begin?

I have peace.

I feel like peace is something that I’ve yearned for my entire life. It always seemed to be lingering just beyond my reach. I could see it and was able to grab a piece of it once in a while…. but it always seemed to slip from my fingers as soon as I tried to hold on to it. My childhood was enough to make most Child Psychologists cringe and then there was my adult years….a series of horrible relationships and then….Hurricane Seth.

Fast forward to today: I have a husband who loves me – I feel that love….it is more than just empty words. I wake up in the morning and I feel content. I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be. My daughters are happy. They are safe. They also have peace. I even have the white picket fence around my house. I didn’t plan for a white picket fence life….but I am happy to have it. I like the way peace feels in the deepest parts of my soul.

We haven’t heard from Seth since last October when the court ruled that he can no longer have contact with the girls. Seth who? Enough about that guy. We did hear from “that guy’s” mom, Cleo….apparently, she is moving back to the United States after spending about 15 years teaching overseas in Saudi Arabia. She notified the girls that she is moving back via a Christmas card. Joy to the world…not.  I have had a sinking feeling in my stomach. The thought of Grandparent’s Rights has always weighed heavily on my mind however, my mind is at ease after speaking to several attorneys.  Let’s just say that chances of hell freezing over and pigs growing unicorn horns are more concerning than my local court awarding Cleo time with the girls.

My wish for 2015 is that each and every one of you have peace waiting just around the corner. I want to share this feeling with every person who has been bruised, beaten and broken by the Family Court System.

High Conflict Divorce Coach:

Two weeks ago, I took a leap of faith. I quit my super stable career in Public Relations. We all hear the phrase, “Find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life” but that sounded like pipe dream fluff to me. Now I get it. Six months ago, I launched my new business as a Divorce Coach and I have officially found my calling. Last week, I asked clients for testimonials and the response I received was humbling…and further confirmed that my leap of faith doesn’t require a back-up plan. I am doing exactly what I was called to do.  Here is a quote from one of my regular clients:

“Tina has been an essential part of my journey. There was a time when I was so alone in the custody battle; a time when I felt utterly confused, afraid, and overwhelmed by lawyers, court dates, and a punitive, unreasonable, terrifying ex husband who had this knack of pulling it together in front of other people. I searched for ways to cope, to understand, and to find a way through but was stunned by the lack of resources…until I found Tina. And then everything started to change. Tina’s role as a coach has literally changed my life and the course of my journey through this process. Over the past 8 months, she has helped me strategize, think through complicated legal situations and proposals, set boundaries, draft more effective emails, and better understand both the legal and psychological issues I was facing. She is prepared, focused, and full of insight and ideas. Most importantly, she helped me reconnect with myself and to not let fear take me away from what I knew to be true and right. Our sessions have made me stronger, hopeful, and certainly wiser. I am beyond grateful to Tina. She has been invaluable to me and I can’t imagine going through this without her!”

Yesterday, I was walking on the beach and catching up with an old friend. As I was explaining to her what I was doing, she said, “You are like a doula. A divorce doula!”  — it made me laugh but it is so true. According to DONA International, “Doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning ‘a woman who serves’ and is used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.” I remember hiring a Doula for the birth of my first daughter, Piper, and I was so incredibly thankful I did. She was there for me every step of the way. Being a “divorce doula” is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Please come over and “like” my personal Facebook page where I share inspiration and positive quotes.

One Mom’s Battle- a Non-Profit:

Aside from Divorce Coaching, my free time will be spent volunteering as President of the non-profit organization, “One Mom’s Battle.” We just completed the 501(c)3 paperwork and are well on our way towards tax-exempt status!  Our first board meeting will be held this month. We have such an amazing team lined up….OMB has a new logo which we are so thrilled about (thank you, Larissa!).   As they say, it takes a village!

In other exciting news, a new OMB website is underway thanks to the dedication of the amazing Valerie. SO many positive things happening – we look forward to all that 2015 has to offer! Cheers to providing support for survivors while educating the Family Court System! Cheers to making CHANGES!  I have personally seen it here in my local court system – I look forward to seeing change happen across the world.

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The Lemonade Club: Currently, The Lemonade Club is not accepting new applicants. The forum is being moved and improved.  For more information and to be added to the waiting list, please email Tina@onemomsbattle.com

Divorce Coaching: Seeking a Divorce Coach for your high-conflict divorce and custody battle? Tina Swithin will help you to establish boundaries, navigate the system and regain your power. Email Tina Swithin for an intake packet: tina@onemomsbattle.com. Follow Tina’s personal Facebook page for daily inspiration.

Books: 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.

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

 

Love Again After the Narcissist = Equals = Loving Yourself First

Love Again After the Narcissist = Equals = Loving Yourself First

istock_loveyourselfby Lucy K. Wright

Loving someone who doesn’t love you back, who is only capable of loving themselves… is like waiting for a ship at the airport.

One of the happiest moments of life is letting go what you can’t change. Let. It. Go. Easier said than done when you’ve devoted yourself to, and tried so hard to love the self-absorbed.

When I was finally out of the marriage – and starting to discover who I was again – I asked my counselor how I would “not do it again.” How would I not find, not be attracted to, and not end up with, ever-ever-ever again, another Narcissist.   Would I know the red flags? Being with a Narcissist was all I knew. My father. My NEx. How would I “not do it again.”

“You have to love yourself first” is what I heard.

What? Who? Me? Love Me?

I didn’t understand.

I had been a shell for so long. To remember who I was, I had to forget what he spent so many years telling me to be; what he spent so many years telling me who to be.

I was curious about “moving on” after the ExN, but I made a pact with myself to remain solo – just me, myself and I – for at least six months post getting out of my abusive relationship and having my divorce finalized.

Inwardly I knew I wasn’t ready to date. I was scared of the very thought of even trying to go out and meet a man for a cup of coffee and attempt to carry on any sort of thought-provoking, intelligent conversation. Who was I? What did I like to do? What were my goals? Where did I like to travel? After being told the answers to all of these questions for so long – you are this, we do this, we like to go here but not there – I couldn’t even answer these simple questions for myself, let alone think I might sound interesting to someone else.

Before the relationship with the ExN began, and even during the first few years we were together, I was social. I had confidence. I had a lot of friends. I was smart. I enjoyed reading and keeping up with world events. I kept myself in shape and I enjoyed wearing pink. I felt good.

I smiled.

Throughout the years I was married to N-him, I lost all of that. I had no friends, no confidence, and had to ask for validation and permission before making even the most simple, seemingly obvious decision.

He went to the gym. I stayed home with the kids.

I rarely left the house.

I wore dark sunglasses.

I never smiled.

……………………………

I knew I needed to learn to be Me again. But… who was Me?

……………………………

Fast forward six months when I finally took the leap to go for that cup of coffee. With a man.

I struggled, a lot, but I ended up learning about myself.  And eventually I had some fun.

I was slowly figuring out who I was again.  It took a long time initially, and the learning is still a work in progress. To this day, so many years later, I continue to struggle, at times, with who I am, who I was before, how I changed so drastically with N-him in order to survive, and how all of that affects me even to this day.  Difficulty making decisions?  What did I do wrong?  Why doesn’t he understand what I’m trying to say? Why do I have so little self-esteem sometimes — still?

I took time to start learning to be me again. I am still learning.

………………………………

I have learned to love myself  again after life with a Narcissist  But I continue to have “triggers” from my past that cause me to doubt myself sometimes even now.

Bless my current husband for being patient with me. And understanding. Many times I don’t even know what is going to set me off – why I start crying, or what is said that revives some memory in my brain from the past, and causes my walls to go up so quickly.

Real men love you for who you are. They know your baggage, and they still love you anyway. They are caring, gentle and kind. They do not judge. They will never hurt you. They treat you with respect. And by standing by your side, through thick and thin, good and bad, better and worse, you, a survivor of domestic abuse, can finally begin to understand what it means to have trust in someone again… to love someone again.

I am a different person from who I was when abuse was my norm.  I want my kids to know that there is no abuse in true, unconditional love.

<3

Learn to love yourself first.

Then find your ship – not the one at the airport – and determine your course forward.

Have some fun.

And when you are ready to…

Trust in Love again with someone else.

~LLS~ Lucy K.

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

Seeking a Private Forum for advice, inspiration and support? Join Tina and the Lemonade Warriors in The Lemonade Club! For more information, please email Tina@onemomsbattle.com

Seeking a Divorce Coach for your high-conflict divorce and custody battle? Tina Swithin will help you to establish boundaries, navigate the system and regain your power. Email Tina Swithin for an intake packet: tina@onemomsbattle.com

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.

Divorcing a Narcissist: Tina Swithin’s Court Transcripts

Divorcing a Narcissist: Tina Swithin’s Court Transcripts

judge-in-courtby Tina Swithin

October 28, 2014 was one of the best days of my life.  It was the day that we were awarded “peace” after a very long custody battle. I have been anxiously awaiting the transcripts because this 30 minutes of my life was a complete blur. Tonight, I received the transcripts and while they aren’t exact (I remember a direct quote from the Commissioner, “Parents have rights but children also have rights” which didn’t make it into the transcripts).  Other than that, this is pretty much word for word what occurred.

I have changed names to protect identities:

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA COUNTY OF SAN LUIS OBISPO BEFORE THE HONORABLE JOHN J. OLSON, COMMISSIONER

SETH COLLINS, PETITIONER, VS. TINA SWITHIN, RESPONDENT.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2014 8:56 A.M. * * *

THE COURT: LET ME CALL CASE FL-09-0000, SETH COLLINS AND TINA SWITHIN. WE ARE HERE ON MR. COLLINS’– I’M SORRY, I GUESS WE ARE HERE ON MS. SWITHIN’S REQUEST FOR ORDERS.

MR. PETERSON: YES.

MR. SLAROMON: VINNIE SLAROMON ON BEHALF OF SETH COLLINS, WHO IS NOT PRESENT.

THE COURT: MS. SWITHIN IS PRESENT. MR. PETERSON IS PRESENT ON BEHALF OF THE CHILDREN. MR. COLLINS DOESN’T VISIT FOR A YEAR AND A HALF, AND NOW HE’S DEMANDING VISITS. IS THAT THE SCENARIO?

MR. SLAROMON: I DON’T THINK THAT’S EXACTLY HOW IT HAPPENED, YOUR HONOR. WHAT I THINK HAPPENED IS THAT HE STARTED HIS VISITS AFTER A LONG ABSENCE, AND IT WAS A SUGGESTION OF MS. SMITH TO INCREASE THE TIME TO TWO HOURS. AND THEN I READ THE RESPONSE AND THE OTHER RESPONSES, AND I’M GUESSING THEY ARE SUGGESTING THAT HE HAVE AN HOUR FIXED, SUPERVISED, AND THAT YOU COULD INCREASE UP TO TWO HOURS BASED ON THE CHILDREN AND HOW THEY ARE DOING IN THE SESSIONS.

THE COURT: WHERE DOES HE LIVE?

MR. SLAROMON: SAN DIEGO.

THE COURT: MR. PETERSON, WHAT’S YOUR POSITION?

MR. PETERSON: WELL, I GOT SOME NEW INFORMATION TODAY. I FILED A RESPONSIVE DECLARATION, AND IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING MR. COLLINS HAS NOT VISITED IN 16 MONTHS. HE HAD SOME LIMITED TELEPHONE CALLS, AND IN HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILDREN I THINK THERE IS WHAT WOULD BE CHARACTERIZED AS A GROWING RIFT BASED UPON HIS NON-CONTACT, AND I BELIEVE HE’S HAD TWO VISITS.

MS. SWITHIN: ONE.

MR. PETERSON: ONE VISIT SUPERVISED BY AMBER SMITH. AND IN MY RESPONSIVE DECLARATION WHEN I MADE A PROPOSAL TO THE COURT ABOUT A CAUTIOUS REIMPLEMENTATION OF VISITS, I RECOMMENDED THAT BASED UPON MY DISCUSSIONS WITH MEGAN GOLDEN, WHO IS THE CHILDREN’S THERAPIST, THAT MR. COLLINS MAY CONTACT HER AND MEET WITH HER IN ORDER THAT HE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO UNDERSTAND THE CHILDREN’S DISTRESS AND GAIN SOME INSIGHT INTO MAKING PROGRESS WITH HIS RELATIONSHIP. HE NEVER CONTACTED THE CHILDREN’S THERAPIST. I SPOKE TO THE THERAPIST, AND SHE INDICATED TO ME THAT SHE’S BEEN SEEING THEM ONCE A WEEK FOR ALMOST A YEAR.

THE COURT: CAN YOU REMIND ME HOW OLD ARE THE GIRLS?

MR. PETERSON: PIPER IS NINE AND SARAH IS SEVEN. MS. GOLDEN HAD A 45-MINUTE MEETING WITH EACH CHILD LAST NIGHT, AND SHE SAID THAT SARAH USED THE BATHROOM BEFOREHAND, BUT WHEN THEY STARTED TALKING ABOUT THE VISITS, SHE BECOME ANXIOUS AND DISTRESSED AND TRIED TO MAKE IT TO THE BATHROOM, BUT SHE ENDED UP WETTING HER PANTS ON THE WAY TO THE BATHROOM, AND SARAH EXHIBITED SOME ANXIOUS AND FEARFUL BEHAVIOR AT THE TIME THAT SHE WAS DEPARTING THE BATHROOM. THIS WAS ALL CENTERED AROUND CONVERSATIONS THEY WERE HAVING ABOUT HOW THEY WERE GOING TO IMPLEMENT THIS AND HOW THEY WERE GOING TO SEE THEIR DAD, HOW THEY FELT ABOUT IT, HOW THE TELEPHONE CALLS WERE GOING. I ASKED HER WHAT SHE RECOMMENDED, AND BASED UPON LAST NIGHT SHE THINKS THAT BEFORE ANY EFFORTS ARE MADE TO RESUME THE VISITS BETWEEN THE GIRLS, MR. COLLINS NEEDS TO MEET WITH HER, AND THERE NEEDS TO BE –

THE COURT: MEET WITH HER TO DO WHAT?

MR. PETERSON: SO HE UNDERSTANDS THE NEEDS OF THE CHILDREN.

THE COURT: HE HASN’T UNDERSTOOD THE NEEDS OF THE CHILDREN IN FOUR YEARS.

MR. PETERSON: I AGREE WITH THAT. I THINK THAT’S TRUE. THE FACT IS HE DISAPPEARS FOR 16 MONTHS, AND NOW HIS REAPPEARING IS CAUSING STRESS IN THE CHILDREN’S LIVES THE WAY — I GUESS THE WAY IN WHICH HE’S REENTERING THEIR LIVES. SHE SAID HE SHOULD BE LIMITED TO CALLS AND SENDING THEM LETTERS, AND SHE’S NOT COMFORTABLE TRANSITIONING INTO VISITS, EVEN SUPERVISED, UNTIL THE CHILDREN HAVE A RESUMPTION OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR FATHER. IF YOU READ THE REPLY DECLARATION OF MS. SWITHIN AND LOOK AT THE EMAILS AND TEXTS THAT ARE BACK AND FORTH, I THINK MS. SWITHIN HAS MADE A PRETTY SUBSTANTIAL AND SIGNIFICANT EFFORT TO CONNECT WITH HIM TO TRY AND PERSUADE HIM TO SEE THE KIDS, AND ON MANY OCCASIONS HE DOESN’T RESPOND IN AN APPROPRIATE FASHION AND CONTINUES TO BLAME HER AND MISCHARACTERIZES THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND DOESN’T TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY.

THE COURT: I GUESS THAT’S WHY I’M SORT OF WONDERING WHY WE ARE GOING TO FORCE THE KIDS INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH A GUY WHO HAS DEMONSTRATED REPEATEDLY HE’S NOT CAPABLE OF PUTTING THE KIDS’ INTERESTS AHEAD OF HIS OWN. EVERYTHING IS ON HIS TIMETABLE. HE’S FLAT-OUT LIED TO THE COURT ABOUT VARIOUS FACTS. WE ALL REMEMBER THE HISTORY HERE. HE APPEARS TO BE A SOCIOPATH. WHY ARE WE FORCING THEM? CHILDREN WHO WET THEIR PANTS AT THE MERE DISCUSSION OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SEEING MR. COLLINS, WHY ARE WE FORCING THEM TO DO THAT? IT IS PRETTY DRASTIC TO SAY MAYBE THE KIDS NEVER SEE THIS GUY AGAIN, BUT, YOU KNOW, HE’S THE PERSON WHO CHOSE TO BE GONE FOR THE LAST 16 MONTHS. MAYBE I SHOULD ASK MR. SLAROMON.

MR. SLAROMON: I JUST THINK IN EVERY FAMILY LAW SITUATION THERE ARE FATHERS AND MOTHERS THAT HAVE PROBLEMS MUCH WORSE THAN WHAT MR. COLLINS DOES, AND HIS HAVE BEEN CHARACTERIZED AS JUST A LOT OF, AS THE COURT POINTED OUT, ACTIONS THAT WERE UNACCEPTABLE. THAT’S WHY HE’S IN THE POSITION HE’S IN.

THE COURT: NOT REALLY. HE’S IN THE POSITION HE’S IN BECAUSE HE DID A LOT OF THINGS THAT ENDED UP WITH HIM BEING LIMITED TO SUPERVISED VISITS. BUT HE’S THE PERSON WHOSE CHOSE NOT TO SEE HIS KIDS FOR 16 MONTHS.

MR. SLAROMON: THAT’S WHY HE ASKED ME TO COME AND WHY WE FILED THE RESPONSE, BECAUSE HE JUST WANTED SOME OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO REUNIFY WITH THEM UNDER SOME STRUCTURE. AND I THINK TERMINATING HIS PARENTAL VISITATION ISN’T APPROPRIATE IF WE CAN COME UP WITH A WAY WE CAN GRADUALLY GET BACK INTO THE KIDS’ LIVES. THAT’S OUR GOAL.

THE COURT: HOW DO YOU PROPOSE DOING THAT?

MR. SLAROMON: WELL, I THOUGHT THAT STARTING WITH SUPERVISED VISITATION AND SEEING HOW IT GOES WOULD BE A GOOD FIRST STEP, INTERTWINED WITH THE THERAPEUTIC APPROACH THAT MR. PETERSON WAS SAYING. I THINK MR. COLLINS DOES NEED TO ENGAGE SLOWLY AND SHOW GOOD CONDUCT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME AND MAYBE SET A REVIEW HEARING 7AND HAVE THEM HAVE, YOU KNOW, ONE VISIT EVERY WEEK FOR AN HOUR, AND LET’S SEE HOW HE DOES. AND I UNDERSTAND THAT THE KIDS — ACCORDING TO MS. SMITH SHE SAID THAT THE KIDS SAID THAT THEY WANT TO SEE HIM AND THAT SHE THINKS IT WOULD BE GOOD FOR THEM, SO MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE HER COME IN AND TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW –

THE COURT: WHAT’S THEIR OWN THERAPIST’S OPINION ABOUT THE KIDS SEEING HIM? THE KIDS SEE THEIR OWN THERAPIST, AND MS. SMITH IS THE SUPERVISION THERAPIST.

MS. SLAROMON: YES, SHE’S THE SUPERVISOR THERAPIST.

MR. PETERSON: SHE’S ONLY MET WITH THEM FOR ONE HOUR, AND THAT’S IN 16 MONTHS.

THE COURT: WHAT DO YOU THINK OUGHT TO HAPPEN?

MS. SWITHIN: THE PAST 15 MONTHS HAVE BEEN THE MOST PEACEFUL FOR MY CHILDREN. THEY HAVE RETURNED TO HAVING A CHILDHOOD WITH ZERO STRESS. THEY ARE 100 PERCENT THRIVING IN EVERY ASPECT OF THEIR LIVES. MR. COLLINS’S PHONE CALLS TO THEM INVOLVE INSTRUCTING ME THAT I NEED TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT AND HOW HE HAS PUT A ROOF OVER THEIR HEAD – THE CALLS ARE INAPPROPRIATE. IN SOME OF HIS PHONE CALLS TO THEM, HE’S CLEARLY INTOXICATED, CALLING FROM BARS, AND THE GIRLS HAVE REFUSED TO TALK TO HIM SINCE APRIL BECAUSE OF HOW BIZARRE HIS PHONE CALLS ARE. THEY ARE IN CONTROL OF THEIR PHONE AT ALL TIMES. IN THE ONE SINGLE HOUR THAT HE HAS COME BACK INTO THEIR LIVES – HE HAS TURNED OUR WORLD UPDSIDE DOWN. MY OLDEST DAUGHTER, WHO HAS A NEAR PERFECT ATTENDANCE RECORD THROUGH FOURTH GRADE, HAS MISSED SCHOOL DUE TO ANXIETY SURROUNDING THE VISITS. MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER HAS NOW STARTED WETTING HER PANTS AGAIN AT 7 1/2 YEARS OLD AFTER NOT HAVING A SINGLE ACCIDENT FOR 15 MONTHS. DURING HIS ONE-HOUR VISIT HE BROUGHT IN A LAPTOP COMPUTER AND GRILLED THEM ON QUESTIONS THAT WERE INAPPROPRIATE. HE TOLD THEM THAT THE LACK OF VISITS WERE NOT HIS FAULT. MS. SMITH HAD TO STOP HIM AND TELL HIM THAT THE TOPIC WAS INAPPROPRIATE. THIS MAY BE HEARSAY, BUT MR. PETERSON CAN PROBABLY VERIFY IT. THIS HAS BEEN TRAUMATIZING FOR THEM. JUST ONE HOUR AND MY DAUGHTER’S NIGHTMARES HAVE RESTARTED. WE ARE BACK WHERE WE WERE 15 MONTHS AGO, AND I DON’T THINK HIS PRESENCE IN THEIR LIFE IS HELPING THEM AT ALL -OR IS IN THEIR BEST INTEREST. AND WITH THE RECENT POLICE REPORT THAT I INCLUDED IN MY DECLARATION- MR. COLLINS ATTACKED HIS FIFTH VICTIM AND THAT INCIDENT OCCURED DURING THE TIME OF THE 3111 EVALUATION WHEN MR. COLLINS WOULD SEEM TO BE ON HIS BEST BEHAVIOR. BUT I AGREE WITH YOU THAT HIS TENDENCIES LEAN TOWARDS THAT OF A SOCIOPATH. HE TERRIFIES ME AND HE TERRIFIES THE CHILDREN. I WOULD ASK THAT THE COURT COMPLETELY REMOVE HIS VISITS. I DON’T THINK VISITS ARE IN THEIR BEST INTEREST.

THE COURT: MR. PETERSON, ANYTHING ELSE?

MR. PETERSON: JUST — NO. I THINK TALK IS CHEAP, BUT I THINK CONDUCT SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS. MR. COLLINS’S CONDUCT DEMONSTRATES THAT IT IS ALL ABOUT HIM, AND HE DOESN’T APPRECIATE THE NEEDS OF THE CHILDREN, AND FOR HIM TO, I GUESS, REENTER THE CHILDREN’S LIVES IN THE MANNER IN WHICH HE HAS CAUSES MORE DISRUPTION. CERTAINLY I ENCOURAGE AND ADVOCATE THAT CHILDREN NEED BOTH PARENTS, BUT THAT BEING SAID, I THINK THAT BOTH PARENTS HAVE TO HAVE AN APPROPRIATE ROLE IN THE CHILDREN’S LIVES, AND STEPPING OUT FOR 16 MONTHS AND THEN REAPPEARING -AND I DO CORROBORATE THAT I SPOKE TO AMBER SMITH, AND HE STARTED OUT HIS VISIT BY ATTEMPTING TO SAY THAT NONE OF THIS WAS ALL HIS FAULT, AND IF IT’S NOT HIS FAULT, WHY HASN’T HE BEEN VISITING, AND I KNOW THAT’S NOT TRUE, FOR ONE, AND I THINK IT MISLEADS THE CHILDREN AND CAUSES THE CHILDREN MORE DISTRESS RATHER THAN FOCUSING ON HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILDREN. WHAT I TOLD THE COURT IS WHAT MS. GOLDEN RECOMMENDS, AND WHATEVER THE PARENTING PLAN OR PROPOSAL THE COURT PROPOSES OR ORDERS, I THINK IT OUGHT TO BE VERY SLOW, AND I THINK IT OUGHT TO BE AIMED AT PROTECTING THE CHILDREN FROM MR. COLLINS’S UNSTABLE BEHAVIOR. I GUESS I’M CONCERNED — ALSO I TRIED TO CALL (GAZELLE #3). HER PHONE NUMBER IS IN THE POLICE REPORT. I THINK IT IS OUT OF THE EAST COAST. I TRIED TO IDENTIFY MYSELF, AND I CALLED HER A COUPLE TIMES AND TRIED TO GET A CALL BACK SO I COULD CORROBORATE WHAT’S WRITTEN IN THE POLICE REPORT. I FIND ALARMING WHAT IS IN THAT POLICE REPORT. THERE’S BEEN SIMILAR BEHAVIOR WITH OTHER WOMEN THAT’S BEEN REPORTED THROUGHOUT THIS CASE OVER ABOUT FIVE YEARS, AND IT IS JUST ODD THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS WITH MR. COLLINS, AND I THINK HE HAS SOME SORT OF PROBLEM.

THE COURT: I DON’T THINK ITS ODD. I THINK YOU COULD GO WANDER AROUND TO ANY CRIMINAL DEPARTMENT IN THIS BUILDING AND SEE SIMILAR KINDS OF PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR.

MR. PETERSON: THE OTHER ISSUE IS HE’S WRITTEN TO THE MOTHER AND REALLY MINIMIZED HIS USE OF ALCOHOL, HE NEVER ABUSED ALCOHOL. EVERYTHING THAT HE SAYS HE MINIMIZES IT AND SAYS THAT HE NEVER USES ALCOHOL IN ANY DIFFERENT PATTERN THAN ANY PROFESSIONAL OR PARENT. I JUST DON’T THINK THE RECORD SUPPORTS THAT. I THINK WITH HIS CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST HIM AND HIS ALCOHOL-RELATED OFFENSES IT’S JUST ALL AROUND A BAD CIRCUMSTANCE.

THE COURT: OKAY. SO I’M GOING TO GIVE MR. SLAROMON THE LAST WORD, BUT BEFORE I GET TO HIM, THE DILEMMA FOR THE COURT IS ON THE ONE HAND THERE’S A POLICY THAT KIDS NEED BOTH PARENTS. ON THE OTHER HAND THERE ARE CERTAIN PARENTS WHO DON’T BELONG AROUND THEIR CHILDREN. WHERE IS HE?

MR. PETERSON: WELL, I THINK THE COURT’S GOT TO BALANCE COMPETING INTERESTS.

THE COURT: ACTUALLY, RATHER THAN PHRASING IT AS “WHERE IS HE,” WHERE DO THESE KIDS BELONG?

MR. PETERSON: I THINK THE COURT’S GOT TO BALANCE THE KIDS’ STABILITY AGAINST ANY FURTHER INSTABILITY OR HARM THAT THERE IS BY THE CIRCUMSTANCE OF CONTINUING WHAT’S CURRENTLY GOING ON. I MEAN, HAS HE INFLICTED PHYSICAL FORCE ON THE CHILDREN? NOT RECENTLY.

THE COURT: BUT THAT’S NOT THE BE-ALL AND END-ALL.

MR. PETERSON: I UNDERSTAND THAT. THESE CHILDREN ARE EXPERIENCING EMOTIONAL DISTRESS AS A RESULT OF WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE LAST TWO OR THREE MONTHS, AND I THINK THE COURT OUGHT TO RESTRICT HIS CONTACT WITH THE CHILDREN UNTIL HE IS ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE –

THE COURT: I GUESS THAT’S MY QUESTION BECAUSE TO DATE HE HAS CHECKED OUT. HE HAS REALLY PUT HIS KIDS IN A HORRIBLE POSITION. I THINK PROBABLY MR. SLAROMON MIGHT AGREE WITH THAT. THE QUESTION REALLY IS, WELL — AND BASED ON ALL OF THAT, I’M NOT CONVINCED HE SHOULD BE SEEING HIS KIDS EVEN ONE HOUR SUPERVISED AT THIS POINT. WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO DO TO DEMONSTRATE THAT HE’S NOT A DANGER NOW TO HIS KIDS? AND NOW IT IS GOING TO BE VERY DIFFICULT FOR HIM BECAUSE I’VE CONCLUDED HE’S A LIAR. I DON’T BELIEVE WHAT HE SAYS. IT HAS GONE ON FOR YEARS. HE’S GOT THIS ISSUE WITH HIS VARIOUS GIRLFRIENDS, ALL OF WHOM SEEM TO END UP IN SOME SORT OF POLICE CONTACT. HE HAS FABRICATED CLAIMS ABOUT GETTING BEAT UP IN SAN FRANCISCO WHEN ACTUALLY HE PUT HIS CAR INTO A LIGHT POLE ON THE EMBARCADERO. WHAT COULD HE DO TO CONVINCE YOU OR CONVINCE ME HE IS NOT JUST A SOCIOPATH AND SHOULDN’T BE AROUND HIS KIDS? IS THERE ANYTHING HE COULD DO?

MR. PETERSON: NOT MUCH. THE ONLY SUGGESTION THAT I KNOW OF IS TO START OFF WITH A SERIES OF LETTERS AND HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE CONTACT WITH THEM THAT WAY, BUT MY THINKING IS IF THE COURT MAKES AN ORDER LIKE THAT, HE WON’T FOLLOW IT AND CHECK OUT. IT IS A VERY, VERY TOUGH ISSUE. I THINK HE’S RECEIVED PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES FROM THIS COURT, PROBABLY SIX OR SEVEN OPPORTUNITIES TO HAVE A NORMAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS CHILDREN, AND HE’S REJECTED THEM OR ACTED IN A FASHION THAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH APPROPRIATE PARENTING DECISIONS.

MS. SWITHIN: IN REGARDS TO THE LETTERS, I WANT THE COURT TO KNOW THAT I WOULD ONLY FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THOSE GOING THROUGH THE CHILDREN’S THERAPIST BECAUSE HIS PHONE CALLS ARE COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE. MY HUSBAND CAN ATTEST TO THAT. HE’S IN THE COURTROOM NOW. HE HAS HEARD THEM ON SPEAKER PHONE. I DON’T TRUST ANYTHING THAT HE WOULD PUT IN WRITING WOULDN’T FURTHER DAMAGE THE GIRLS.

THE COURT: MR. SLAROMON?

MR. SLAROMON: I’M HEARING A LOT OF THE THINGS WE HAVE HEARD OVER AND OVER AGAIN THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THE CASE, AND THE CONFLICT IS RESULTANT. MR. COLLINS SEEMS TO DO THE OBVIOUS THINGS WRONG, BUT I THINK A LOT OF THE EARLY CONFLICT COMES FROM THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MS. SWITHIN AND MR. COLLINS. I HAVE HEARD LOTS OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT HER USING HER DIVORCE AS FODDER FOR HER PROFESSION AND A BOOK. NOW SHE’S WRITTEN A SECOND BOOK. SHE’S VERY INTO PUBLICIZING THIS.

THE COURT: I HAVEN’T READ HER BOOK. I KNOW SHE HAS ONE. I KNOW SHE HAS A BOOK. I DON’T HAVE ANY INTEREST IN READING IT, BUT MR. COLLINS PROVIDES A LOT OF MATERIAL.

MS. SLAROMON: I JUST THINK THAT IF WE CLOSE THE DOOR TO IT, THERE’S NO OPPORTUNITY. IF WE GIVE HIM SOME OPPORTUNITY BUT LETTER WRITING IS THE THING THAT YOU THINK IS THE BEST SOLUTION, I DON’T NECESSARILY THINK THAT’S THE BEST SOLUTION. I THINK HE NEEDS TO HAVE SOME CONTACT WITH THE THERAPIST THAT ALSO SEES THE KIDS, AND MAYBE HE COULD HAVE HIS OPEN SEPARATE THERAPY FOR X-AMOUNT OF SESSIONS, MAKE HIM DO SOME REAL ENGAGING THERAPY WITH THEIR THERAPIST FOR SOME WAY THAT SHE CAN MONITOR WHAT HE’S SAYING AND WHAT HE’S DOING, AND THEN COME BACK IN THREE MONTHS AND HAVE THE THERAPIST SAY “HE’S A SOCIOPATH” OR “HE’S NOT A SOCIOPATH, HE WANTS TO, HE CAN, I BELIEVE HE SHOULD.” HE HAS DEFINITELY CHOSEN OVER THE LAST 15 MONTHS TO OSTRICH IT, STICK HIS HEAD IN THE SAND AND NOT DO THE VISITATIONS BECAUSE HE WAS ORDERED SUPERVISED. I TOLD HIM MYSELF TO DO HIS VISITS, DO THEM FROM THE BEGINNING AND DO THEM GOOD, AND HE DIDN’T. I ASKED HIM TO DO THAT. I MEAN, I THINK THAT I JUST WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE COURT TRY TO FASHION A PLAN THAT CAN GIVE HIM A WINDOW, AN OPPORTUNITY THAT CAN EITHER CLOSE AGAIN AND FAIL OR SUCCEED, WHICH MIGHT BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE KIDS IN THE FUTURE.

THE COURT: ALL VISITATION BETWEEN MR. COLLINS AND THE CHILDREN IS SUSPENDED. MR. COLLINS MAY COMMUNICATE WITH THE CHILDREN IN WRITING THROUGH MEGAN GOLDEN. ALL TELEPHONE CONTACT BETWEEN MR. COLLINS AND THE CHILDREN IS TERMINATED AT THIS TIME. IF MS. SWITHIN DOES RECEIVE ANY TELEPHONE CALLS TO THE CHILDREN DESPITE THIS ORDER, WHICH WOULDN’T SURPRISE ME, SHE CAN RECORD THEM. ARE THERE ANY OTHER ORDERS YOU THINK WE NEED?

MR. PETERSON: NO.

THE COURT: OKAY.

MR. PETERSON WILL PREPARE THE ORDER.

MR. SLAROMON: THANK YOU.

MS. SWITHIN: THANK YOU, YOUR HONOR.

THE COURT: THANK YOU.

(AT 9:18 A.M. PROCEEDINING WERE CONCLUDED.) * * *

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

Seeking a Private Forum for advice, inspiration and support? Join Tina and the Lemonade Warriors in The Lemonade Club! For more information, please email Tina@onemomsbattle.com

Seeking a Divorce Coach for your high-conflict divorce and custody battle? Tina Swithin will help you to establish boundaries, navigate the system and regain your power. Contact Tina Swithin at Tina Swithin, LLC

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.

Dealing with a Narcissist? Don’t Overthink. It’s Not Worth Your Time.

Dealing with a Narcissist? Don’t Overthink. It’s Not Worth Your Time.

overby Lucy K. Wright

My goal for the New Year is to Quit Over-thinking.

Quit Over-thinking Everything.

Especially everything related to the Ex-N.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to predict his next move, outsmart what he will do next, and trying to stay “one step ahead” so I’m prepared, organized, and ready to face whatever he throws my way. In reality, I have spent waaaayyyy too much time worrying and stressing over absolutely nothing.

Why?

Because even though I thought I had masterminded every possible scenario of what the Ex-N might do next, he always had a curveball up his sleeve to reveal at very last hour.  And he is a pro at throwing those balls.

I went to mediation – again – recently. I told my lawyer I didn’t want to go to mediation – again – but he felt we should try, and was confident we could make some headway this time. I have a good lawyer. I trust him. And he understands that I/we are not dealing with anyone near rational on the other end of this mess.

That was my third attempt at mediation with the Ex-N. And I will never go again if I can avoid it.

I agreed to two hours of mediation. The Ex-N and his lawyer wanted four. The mediator said he would do a few hours of prep work and keep the session to two hours.

The topic was summer vacation.

We are months away from summer break, but it’s already an issue.

Every single summer for the past six summers, with the upcoming one counting as number seven, I have been forced to have lawyers, or a judge, make the final decision over ten weeks of summer vacation time. Ten weeks. Thousands of dollars. And nothing ever finalized until the final hour so planning summer fun with the kids is difficult – just as the Ex-N likes it, so he is in control.

We recently signed a “new parenting plan,” thinking the “plan” would put an end to the historic pattern of paying a lawyer, every single summer, to figure out ten weeks of a summer schedule. But within three weeks of signing the new plan, the Ex-N was right back at it.

It’s funny. My first lawyer told me I “wouldn’t even know where my actual finalized decree was after the first six months or so” because the Ex-N and I would just “work things out: with the schedule for the kids. How wrong she was.

You can’t write a fool-proof anything – decree, parenting plan, revised parenting plan, etc. when you are dealing with an N. They can and they always will find, and argue, anything grey.

I put a lot of time, energy, thought, preparation into my side of the story for mediation; why I thought his proposed summer schedule would be brutal on the kids…

(His proposal: kids 12 nights with him, back two with me, back one with him, back one more with me, and then another 14 with him)

…and how I was the only one thinking of the mental, emotional and physical well-being kids as he was simply trying to capitalize on overnights as to lessen child-support (which monetarily I was not even arguing). I printed out many calendar templates, and used my highlighters to capture several different scenarios on what “could be, should be, would be, better” for the kids. I spent endless hours “overthinking” all of this.

The mediator had our calendars prior to mediation.

The morning of our two-hour mediation, the Ex-N showed up with a completely different calendar proposal and wanted to “start over” and stay at mediation as long as we all needed to until we could come to an agreement.

I was fuming. But I tried not to show it because I knew that was exactly the reaction he wanted from me. We were in separate rooms, and I tried to present anything logical for the mediator to respond back to them with – the mediator clearly understood the dynamics.

The mediator tried. We made some headway.   And when push came to shove, and it was down to one contested night – out of ten summer weeks – I extended the olive branch. The night in question was technically, and legally, mine, but in order to stop the madness, or at least attempt to, I conceded.

But that made no difference at all.

Because even though that is what the Ex-N said he wanted, he still did not agree. He did not agree to what he proposed in the first place.  What.

When the clock struck “two hours” on the nose I packed up and walked out. I told my lawyer to leave also because I wasn’t paying him for any more wasted time. (Of course, my “two-hour timeframe” limitation came back around to haunt me in the Ex-N’s court documents – as in, I didn’t allow enough time at mediation – I left! – or we certainly could have worked something out. Of course we could have.)

I get so frustrated – still – seven years post-divorce and still dealing with this mess – because it could – should – would be so simple to work ten weeks of summer vacation time out; if there were two reasonable co-parents working through something like this in the best interests for their children that is. But that will never happen in my case. It will never happen and it’s take me seven years to figure that out.

Quit overthinking.

I’m going to court in a few months. Mediation didn’t work – again – so now a judge can decide ten weeks worth of summer schedule – again – and the resulting revised child support.

I will deal with court in a few months.

I will deal with whatever else the Ex-N throws my way this New Year.

What will he have up his sleeve next?  I have no idea.

But I will only think about it when I absolutely have to.

Cheers, and Happy New Year!

~LLS~ Lucy K.

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

Seeking a Private Forum for advice, inspiration and support? Join Tina and the Lemonade Warriors in The Lemonade Club! For more information, please email Tina@onemomsbattle.com

Seeking a Divorce Coach for your high-conflict divorce and custody battle? Tina Swithin will help you to establish boundaries, navigate the system and regain your power. Contact Tina Swithin at Tina Swithin, LLC

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.

Divorcing a Narcissist: Peace is the Calm in your Heart

Divorcing a Narcissist: Peace is the Calm in your Heart

peaceby Tina Swithin

As we are all painfully aware, the Narcissist loves to steal the very things that they are incapable of having in their own lives.

In the beginning, they were attracted to us for the qualities they lack: honesty, integrity, kindness, empathy, etc. As the relationship progressed, they slowly chip away at our identities until we are left questioning everything about ourselves and life in general. Once the relationship is over, their mission becomes focused on robbing us of peace and love.

I came across this quote a few days ago and it really hit home for me. “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.” – Unknown

Despite the chaos brewing around you, I hope that you can go to that quite place in your heart and cherish your own peace. This is the peace that no one can take from you. Some may have to search deeper than others but it is there. I promise.

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

Seeking a Private Forum for advice, inspiration and support? Join Tina and the Lemonade Warriors in The Lemonade Club! For more information, please email Tina@onemomsbattle.com

Seeking a Divorce Coach for your high-conflict divorce and custody battle? Tina Swithin will help you to establish boundaries, navigate the system and regain your power. Contact Tina Swithin at Tina Swithin, LLC

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.