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.”

The Narcissistic, the Teen and the Car

The Narcissistic, the Teen and the Car

The Narcissist- Buying our children... by Lucy K. Wright

My daughter was given driving lessons by her Narcissistic father as one of many (many) gifts from him over the holidays. He registered her for the classes in advance, no communication with me, with some classes occurring during my parenting time.

Surprise? The gift, Yes. The lack of communication and/or coordination with me on this milestone of an event in our daughter’s life? No. I would expect nothing other from him at this point.

My daughter was sooooo excited for driving classes, and is now soooo excited to be at this glorious almost-ready-for-her-permit eager teen age.

I’m very excited for my daughter too. Driving? Yeah, I’m a little nervous. Ok, a lot. I probably would have recommended we hold off on the lessons – until summer at least – but, well, I wasn’t asked.

The ExN wants the glory of being the cool Disney dad who gives his daughter driving lessons first, despite any recommendations “her mother” could ever think or suggest.

——-

Three weekends of completed driving lessons for the teen are now over.   Check.

And then this conversation occurred:

“Mom, dad said he is going to buy me a car, the really cool one that I want.”

“Really honey? That’s very thoughtful of your father. And very lucky for you too.”

“Yeah, he said he will buy me a car, but it can only be driven at his house. It’s not allowed at your house.”

“I’m sorry, What??”

“Dad said I can only drive the car he gets me when I’m with him. When I’m with you the car has to stay at his home. If I drive it to school I will have to take it back to his home first, and he will bring me back to yours if I’m with you that night. He said I’ll never be allowed to have the car he buys me around you at all.”

Seriously. I was dumbstruck.

I looked my daughter in the eyes and told her that plan was the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.   (I don’t know if I should have said that out loud to her or not, but the words came out of my mouth faster than I could control at that moment.)

I told her it would seem to make more sense if her father and I worked something out so she would have ONE car that she could drive to either home, or wherever she needed to go, since it was going to be HER car after-all.

She replied, “Mom, you know that would never happen with dad, so why even waste your time thinking about it.”

She is 100% correct.   My daughter is a very smart young woman.

I know her father’s twisted Narcissistic way of thinking far too well: His brand new shiny fun gift of a car is going to look a heck of a lot better to our daughter than the century-old one she is going to have to work to pay half for at my home when the time comes….

And then he’ll think: Maybe, by giving our daughter another expensive new “thing” at his home, she will want to live with him full time!… and then he can quit paying child support!… and maybe our daughter will forget she even has “a mother” and he will never have to deal with me again… ever!!…!!

I can hear his twisted thoughts in my head right now.

And I believe his Narcissistic way of thinking on this one is going to prove him wrong. Even though you could certainly never tell him that.

My counselors throughout the years have consistently told me that my kids “will eventually understand” all of this someday. It may be when they are in their mid-20’s, or even early-30’s or later, but someday, they will understand.

It hasn’t always been an easy road for my kids since the divorce, and in fact, it’s been downright horrible for them at times, especially when I hit my lowest points while still trying to maintain balance and the strength from within myself to keep the conflict to a minimum and shield them from the toxic situation.

——-

Would my daughter like to pick out a fun new car for her 16th birthday? Of course she would. Who wouldn’t at that age.

But I also know, that she knows, and is truly beginning to understand, the differences between her father’s home versus mine. I am not claiming that things are all “right” at one home, and all “wrong” at the other; but there are certainly a lot of distinctions in lifestyles, and parenting styles, when you are a child of divorce, being raised by one Narcissistic parent.

I know because I was that child once also.

It’s taken me many years “to eventually understand” throughout my own journey in this long post-divorce process.

For instance, I now know that dazzling Disney dad isn’t necessarily always going to come out ahead in the end like he thinks he might.

Vroom!

~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.

 

Gratitude in this New Year: Go Forward and Choose You!

Gratitude in this New Year: Go Forward and Choose You!

NPD Survivorby Lucy K. Wright

It’s January of a New Year – 2016!

No matter where you are in the process of getting away from your Ex Narcissist – from realizing the situation you are in is not ok – to reading, researching and discovering resources such as OMB and understanding that you are not alone in this battle, there is support – to starting a divorce process – to “finalizing” a divorce process – and to looking at the calendar, years later, as you realize your divorce will never be “final” because you married a Narcissist in the first place. Your battle with the ExN continues no matter how much you wish he would get a life, move on, and quit the legal, emotional, financial, and more often than not, crazy nonsense that only he knows best how to continuously create.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

You’ve come this far baby, and although some days are still tougher than you could ever imagine, you can, and you must, choose to keep moving forward.

No matter where you are in this process, you need to take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back.

Because you made the choice to change. The choice for a new beginning. And the choice to move forward.

You are a survivor.

———-

The anniversary date of my divorce from the Ex Narcissist is quickly approaching,

And, almost a decade later of being divorced from him, thankfully, I am astonished by the triggers that, on occasion, still haunt me from my past.

Not long ago I attended my daughter’s Middle School orientation. She was a nervous wreck knowing that her father and I were going to be in the same building together, let alone several of the same classrooms during the teacher introductory sessions.

I told her that I would be fine, that I could take care of myself and I would see her in the classrooms. And I noticeably did just that, smile on my face all evening, saying hello to people I knew in the hallways and introducing myself to others I hadn’t yet met.

What I did not tell my daughter was that deep inside, I was battling my own battle, feeling a little queasy, my heart pounding just a little faster than normal, knowing how important it was for me to keep my cool that evening; to be in control, be confident, smile, and most importantly, ignore Him as much as I could. I hate him. I’m generally a positive, see-the-good in people type person, and I don’t like to hate, or even really use that word. But for him, and the years of abuse he put me through then, and tries to continue with now, I just can’t think of any other word to use.

My daughter was uncertain, and battling her own inward battles that evening as she felt that if she did not hang out with her (Narcissistic) father, she would let him down, and he would be mad at her. It was an emotionally demanding evening for her, before the evening even started.

She quickly figured out a plan that made her feel better, and gave her some control herself of a difficult situation between her parents; she could walk with me in the hallways, in-between classes, and then sit with him in each of the classrooms. I reassured her I was fine, and to do whatever she was most comfortable with; I knew the pressure she was under trying to constantly live up to his unrealistic standards every day, and be the “perfect” daughter.

She ended up handling the evening very well.

I was very proud of her.

And I was very proud of myself that night also.

———

I saw a woman at the school orientation that evening whom I had not seen in years; a woman who I was once very close during a very difficult time in my life. She was a friend and confidant to me during the beginning stages of my divorce; she currently still is the wife of my ExN’s good friend.

She knew everything I was going through with the ExN many years ago. She used to listen to me, help me, and offer advice. I considered her a true and genuine friend.

As the divorce and ugly battle continued, I interacted less and less with this friend as her return communications became nonexistent.  My ExN was very close with her husband; her husband who I knew was not a very nice husband to her at times either.   She was considering leaving him at one point; she told me that in confidence.  I listened to her also, helped, and offered advice as I could and a friend would do.  She said she was afraid. But ultimately she decided to stay.  She said she was not only afraid of his anger and control, but her husband, my ExN’s good friend, had a lot of money. She said she was afraid of being on her own, and not ever again having the lifestyle she was used to living. She said she had learned to turn a blind-eye to his anger because for the most part, things were “easy” for her; as long as she did what her N-husband wanted her to do.

I crossed paths with this former friend three times in the hallways in-between middle school classes that evening.  I’m not sure if she saw me or not, as the hallways were packed and movements hurried with anxious parents students.

My friend looked fantastic.

As long as I have known her, she always looked fantastic; from her dress, to her beautiful hair and makeup, to the smile she always put on her face, no matter what was really going on on the inside. She hadn’t aged one bit since I saw her last, almost a decade ago.

——-

Triggers.

You never know when they are going to occur.

——–

Attending my daughter’s middle school orientation was a very emotional evening for me. Not only because I once again realized how fast life happens; as I looked at my beautiful daughter and remembered when I was at her kindergarten orientation, which seems not that long ago…

But it was emotional for me because I faced something from my abusive past that night – the past life with my ExN.

Sitting near him in each classroom was a true accomplishment for me. That might seem a silly trivial statement for some people, but not for me. For me, and from being where I was with him before, to where I am not with him now, and, after overcoming my initial anxieties to not caring for the first time that he was five feet away me that evening in the same room – it was truly a huge accomplishment.  That felt good!

Seeing my friend again in the hallways in-between classes– after so many years – was tough.   She was a trigger for me. She was a trigger of my past, remembering that time in my life; confiding my deepest secrets and fears to her; and how I had no idea the landmine I was about to encounter with my ExN as I first filed for a restraining order, and eventually for a divorce.   She knew most everything in my dealings with the ExN.  She knew he was mean, and abusive; deep down she knew he was not unlike her own husband, with whom she chose to stay.

For whatever reason – I can speculate a few – as I started going through the beginning of the divorce proceedings, my friend was gone. She disappeared, and we never spoke again.

——–

I snuggled up closely to my husband later that night after orientation was over. I told him what an emotionally tough evening it had been for me. And I also told him how accomplished, and how proud on the inside I felt. Seeing my daughter enter this stage of her young, brilliant life, and experiencing what I did myself that evening… it all made me realize even more how far I have come in my life over these past difficult years in dealing with the ExN.

I am a survivor of domestic abuse.  I am not the person I used to be.   And through years of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence, I am finally admitting and being proud of myself for being where I am in my life today.

I am proud of my daughter for handling that evening as bravely and as gracefully as she did.

I am sad for my friend, walking around the school halls with the husband she used to tell me she was afraid of; but that night, still with him. I can only hope that things have changed for her, for the better.  I will probably never know, but I wish her well.

I am grateful for my husband.  He may not ever understand what triggers me at times, but he “understands” me, and is supportive as I continue to move forward, learn and try to understand the past abuse from my father, and my ExN.

——-

In gratitude, happiness, and continuing to move forward – baby steps – no matter where you are in your process… you’re come this far.

Pat yourself on the back.

This is a brand new year.

~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.

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.

Domestic Violence and a Broken Family Court System

Domestic Violence and a Broken Family Court System

OMB Broken Systemby Anonymous 

I don’t know where my son is.

I mean, I sort of know.  I am reasonably certain that he is in one geographical area.  I believe that he is with his father, maybe his grandma.

I haven’t spoken to him in over a week.

He is 5.

I recently went through some major losses in court.  I spent a year and a half being dragged along like a dead cat on a leash.  He blew off mediation – add three months.  He blew off a readiness conference – add two months.  He blew off his own trial, and then cried about making a mistake and was granted another one – Add four months.  I got to pay for an attorney to do everything twice.

He won everything.

Three years ago he tried to kill me.  The responding police officer found me to be completely hysterical, so when my abuser lied and said I’d tried to kill myself, they carted me off to a mental hospital.  This decision shaped everything that came after it.  The hospital realized pretty quickly that I didn’t need to be there.  I was released 40 hours into a 72 hour hold, (essentially unheard of in mental health care.)  I wasn’t trying to kill myself.  I was being abused by a psychopath.  They told me that as long as I could find somewhere to go that wasn’t home with my abuser, they would release me.  Another 2 hours and a friend picked me up.

Social services came.  It wasn’t the first time they decided to put my son in foster care.  He had just turned 2.  They told me it was my fault.  They had spent so much money forcing me to go to DV classes.  They could not understand why this had happened, AGAIN.

“Why didn’t you leave?”

He took my car keys.

And my shoes.

“Why didn’t you change the locks?”

Because making symbolic gestures to psychopaths is dangerous.

“Why didn’t you call the police?”

I DID CALL THE POLICE.  They made everything worse.

“Why didn’t you get a restraining order?”

I tried. I was turned down because there were no criminal convictions.

“Why didn’t you protect your son?”

I did.  And I would have done a much better job if one single human being in my county (California) thought I was worth protecting, too.

The police officer that came three years ago didn’t arrest him.  Didn’t even write a report.  So victim’s services and the district attorney can’t help me.  (Private citizens can’t “press charges” where I live – you may make a report to the police and the police make the report to the DA if they think it’s “worth it.”) The standard of evidence for my particular judge to consider domestic violence as relevant to a custody proceeding is a criminal conviction of domestic violence in criminal court.  Since the police officer didn’t write my report as anything other than “crazy girl goes to hospital,” there are no avenues for me to pursue.  That one police officer got it wrong, and as a result, my domestic violence is not considered relevant to my custody proceeding.

I have had other courts acknowledge what happened to me.  We have been through dependency court on two separate occasions. During my first dependency case, I was told to stop calling the police during fights, because it was evidence that my family wasn’t making progress.  When I was beaten during that case and fled with my child to a hotel, the supervisor at CPS told me to immediately return my baby – it was his father’s parenting time.  I told him what had happened, and he gave me two options:  give my baby back to the man who had just beaten me, or give my baby to the supervisor, and he would find an adoptive family for my baby since my family obviously couldn’t hold it together.

I sent my baby back to my abuser.  I didn’t call the police.  Two months later, that supervisor wrote a report saying that everything was fine – there had been no more police reports, so that meant there wasn’t anymore domestic violence.  I was blown away.

That first case had lots of “services” attached to it.  Anger management, victim’s counseling, parenting classes.  On more than one occasion, I arrived to a victim’s support group to be told that the instructor was busy and we were going to watch an Adam Sandler movie.  Participation in these services was mandatory to have my child returned – and I was driving 30 minutes each way to watch an Adam Sandler movie.  Not even a new one; that movie had been out for years.  I could have stayed home and watched it on Netflix, but watching it in a group setting meant that I was being obedient and respectful to the court.

The second case was full of disappointment.  They’d sent me to so many Adam Sandler classes, they just couldn’t understand why everything wasn’t better.  Everything was my fault.  I should have asked for help.  I should have gotten a restraining order.  I should have called the police.  I should have, I should have, I should have.  Not once in that entire case did anyone look at that man and say “YOU should not have tried to strangle the mother of your child.”

Fast forward several years, and here I am, in the exact same boat.  The people who understand and acknowledge my abuse continue to set the stage so that I am penalized for asking for help, and then make sure that I am penalized if I don’t ask for help. Contact with the new girlfriend suggests nothing’s changed. He is preying on, abusing, stalking other women the same way he did to me.  But it doesn’t matter, because, say it with me now, “THERE ARE NO CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS.

I lost it in court a few weeks ago.

I was handed a verdict that didn’t go in my favor.  All of the safety I’d built for years evaporated, and I panicked.  I asked a completely different judge for a restraining order.  As a punishment, I am now on supervised visits with my own son.  My ex is now the gatekeeper for contact with my child, so talking to him is being dangled in front of me like a carrot on a stick.  I got to Skype with him a few weeks ago.  He cried the loudest sobs I’ve ever heard.  My heart breaks for him.  And then breaks again to hear his father tell him that “if mommy would obey me, this wouldn’t happen.”

Criminal convictions cannot continue to be the bar to which we hold domestic violence victims.  My son’s case is heard in juvenile court, where a lower standard of evidence is used to determine whether or not he is safe.  I am over the age of 18, so I am not awarded the same courtesy.  If I cannot prove beyond any doubt that this man hurt me behind closed doors three years ago, I can just shut up and go away.  I do not matter.  That man hurt me with no witnesses, and I was ashamed enough of my bruises that I didn’t take pictures.  I wasn’t struck with the need to take selfies at those particular moments.  I just wanted to crawl under a rock and die.  I should have taken pictures.  I wasn’t thinking about court.  I was thinking about making the hitting stop.  If you have absolutely zero understanding of domestic violence issues, I suppose you could come to the conclusion that I wasn’t trying to get help.

I lived in an incredibly poor county when I was abused.  I learned afterwards that most DV victims don’t bother calling the police in that city.  There is just no point.  They won’t help you.  It makes me sad to know that so many women are coming to this conclusion.

We can do better.

As a group of people who claim to have the best interests of children at heart, we have to begin to group victims together with this priority in mind.  Helping a child through a crisis is a pointless waste of time and money if you’re going to put him right back in that crisis when you walk away.  We have to find a way to keep children safe with some priority on permanency, and where I live, that still comes second to patriarchal property rights.

All family violence cases should be heard in dependency court.  I am never going to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what happened to me.  I can, and have, submit to forensic interviews with educated professionals who can, and have, come to the conclusion that I was horrifically abused and currently experiencing trauma.  When we chose to ignore professionals, and cling to the bad decisions of first responders, we are willfully choosing to keep our children in unsafe environments.  Skilled and trained professionals NEED to have a say in complicated psychological issues – they are our best chance of identifying true problems and true solutions.

Our family court system is beyond broken.  Leave a comment under this article on our OMB Facebook page if you would agree that we need legislation to have family violence and abuse issues handled differently than random attacks and property disputes.

What would your solutions be?

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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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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.