Category Archives: General Information on Narcissism

Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield

Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield

Front Cover PDFby Tina Swithin

My goal upon publishing my first book in 2012 was to make one person feel less alone in their struggle with NPD and the Family Court System. As of 2014, we have 100 Chapters of One Mom’s Battle so obviously, I’ve accomplished my goal exponentially. I can’t even begin to describe how bittersweet that number is. That number means that there are a lot of people who feel less alone today but it also means that this issue is bigger than I ever imagined. It also means that there are thousands and thousands of children suffering– the same way that my daughters suffered.

When my battle ended in 2013, I knew that I had a lot to offer in terms of tips, advice and most of all, comradery. I’ve been there and it isn’t easy. When my battle started in 2009, I had no idea what I was up against. I was unprepared and I was terrified. Fast forward to where I am today — five years has past (exactly) and I am thriving. I’ve been through the battle and I survived. There were times when I felt like waiving the white flag and I am so thankful that I didn’t. I stayed the course and today, I am living a peaceful life.

For the past nine months, I’ve been plugging away at my new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield.” My first book, “Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” outlined my personal journey through the Family Court System and this new book takes my battle a step further by offering tactical advice and inspiration from myself and my comrades from the battlefield of the Family Court System. I’ve kept a running list of tips and ideas that pop into my head. I’ve reached out to the “battlefield” and collected words of wisdom and advice from those who are in the trenches. Through this endeavor, I’ve compiled the manual that I wish I had five years ago.

It is my hope and prayer that my new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” will help you as you fight to protect your children. It is my goal that these two books will shed light on Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Family Court System. It’s time that the individuals who are tasked with the huge responsibility of protecting our children will actually begin to do that.

Here are a few blurbs from some people that I highly respect. The fact that these individuals were willing to endorse my book leaves me feeling humbled:

“You no longer need to go through the ordeal of divorcing a narcissist alone. Others are facing surprisingly similar experiences and while each battle is different, the Family Court System funnels each case through the same channels. Through this battle, Tina Swithin is a beacon of clarity. With Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield,readers will garner sound advice from others navigating the same stormy waters! You will realize that you are not alone, you are not crazy, and someday you will start to whisper “thank you” to the darkness… thank you to the pain, the fear the struggle even thank you to the narcissist ….because in the darkness you will find light you never knew you had inside your heart, strength you never imagined.” -Christie Brinkley, Actress and Supermodel

“Tina’s book has become a lifeline during my custody battle. While reading her first book, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle,” I felt like someone finally understood my battle and then wrote about it. It’s very difficult to explain what happens in the Family Court System and Tina does it beautifully and honestly. I thank Tina on behalf of every one of us who struggled to articulate what we were going through. Thank you for sharing your story so that thousands of men and women feel less alone.  I believe that this book should be a required reading material in all psychology classes and in law schools across the world.” –Kelly Rutherford, Actress, Mom and Philanthropist  

“Divorcing a narcissist isn’t easy, but Tina Swithin provides many of her own tips and numerous suggestions from others to help along the way in her latest book. Personality disorders are not obvious on the surface, which is why many people marry those with these disorders and why many courts are easily misled by them — for months or years. To really understand what is going on takes looking under the surface and knowing what patterns of behavior to look for. By recognizing these patterns, it is possible to plan ahead and predict some of the problems you will face. This book will help you prepare and respond more effectively.” -Bill Eddy, Co-Author of SPLITTING: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

“The central focus of judges in the family court system should be on children’s rights and protecting the children. Custody determinations should not be based on father’s rights or mother’s rights but based solely on the best interest of the child. When there are accusations of abuse and neglect, it is imperative that these items are taken seriously and investigated by highly skilled and trained individuals. The actions of a parent should be given more consideration than the grandiose statements of the parties. In high conflict custody cases, with the popular presumption that equal parenting time or 50/50 custody is fair to both parents, the children’s safety, stability and best interest are too often ignored and overlooked while decisions are hastily made due to blanket assumptions about scorned parents and limited court time. While an equal parenting time arrangement may work between two healthy parents, it absolutely does not work when one or both parents are determined to lie, manipulate, alienate and abuse the children in the name of winning at all costs. When one party is focused on self and not on the children, children suffer immensely and litigation is exponentially prolonged creating instability and a dangerous environment for children.”–Chelsea Storey, Family Law Attorney


“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 information, please email

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s book, Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle” is available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries 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: Peter Cook’s Internal Feud

Divorcing a Narcissist: Peter Cook’s Internal Feud

Narc-decoderby Tina Swithin

Along with the rest of the world, I have become intimately familiar with the ongoing feud between Peter Cook and Peter Cook.

No, that wasn’t a typo. I did not mean to say, “the ongoing feud between Peter Cook and Christie Brinkley.” By definition, it takes two people to feud and Christie Brinkley has taken the high road throughout this long and drawn out battle. Christie has practiced the number one rule while divorcing a narcissist: do not engage.

Peter Cook’s most recent (and desperate) vie for attention appeared in Radar Online which highlights an email that Cook wrote in the wake of Christie Brinkley’s feature in People Magazine:


Over the last 8 years I have taken a lot of hits by way of your gross exaggerations, revisionist history, and self-serving dishonesty, but nothing could be more egregious than this incontrovertible lie. I let you get away with a lot for the sake our children. When you initially filed for divorce and you attempted to prejudice opinion of me by falsely accusing me of EVER being inappropriate with Sailor was the death knell for me as far as you were concerned. That was the day I took my wedding ring off.

You know I could not love or care for my children more, and that I have NEVER raised my hand to ANYONE, or surely you would not have encourage my adoption of Jack 3-years after we married. That you could so blatantly lie about such a sacred trust to position yourself as a victim once again is disgraceful. I didn’t think you could get any lower in you endeavors to stay relevant in the media than through your relentless trashing of the father of your children, and I don’t care about you or what motivates you to now perpetuate this horrific lie, and then to have your PR team work so diligently to see it is perpetuated throughout all possible media outlets… but I insist that you immediately demand that they work as thoroughly and dilligently to issue YOUR PERSONAL public correction/retraction and demand this libelous content be wiped from the media, immediately.

Nothing could be more upsetting than being falsely accused of being abusive to one’s children, particularly given the irony that the greatest abuse these children have endured is your insistence on publicizing our trial, our divorce these many years later, and making them suffer your need for attention at any and all cost:

“Brinkley won a large settlement, especially after revelation of Cook’s heavy hand on the three children.”

That’s just one of MANY sources carrying your line.

In PEOPLE Magazine you state your “50′s weren’t easy” because you “…went through a miserable divorce (from architect Peter Cook) while trying TO BE A PILLAR FOR MY KIDS…”

There is nothing about YOU FIGHTING and CAMPAIGNING to see our divorce proceedings were publicized, making our private lives media fodder for our children to have to endure for GOOGLE eternity, making false and dishonest statements about the father of your children and making every effort to alienate the children from their father that qualifies you as being a “pillar” for our children! –Peter Cook

Anyone who follows my blog at One Mom’s Battle knows about my infamous “Narc Decoder” which is a patent pending machine created to help people understand the special language exclusive to individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am convinced that one day, the NPD manual will be uncovered from a secret hiding spot because the NPD language is not unique and in fact, if you’ve seen one narcissistic email, you’ve seen them all. I will be honest in saying that when I first read Peter’s email and based on its content, I assumed that Christie’s interview with People Magazine was chock full of details of her divorce proceedings.

In the interview which spanned five-pages, there was no mention of Peter Cook other than the following quote by Ms. Brinkley, “My 50’s weren’t easy. I lost both my parents and went through a miserable divorce while trying to be a pillar for my kids. But I made it through. Now I feel on top of my game.” 

Without further ado, here is the email from Mr. Cook after being processed through the Narc Decoder which, by the way, was smoking and crackling as this little gem passed through it:


I am foaming at the mouth over the fact that you are receiving press (again) and that you look so happy. Please sit tight as I project my own behaviors, gross exaggerations and self-serving dishonesty onto you. I may even minimize my own past and current behavior while I’m at it because that is what narcissists generally do!

The day that I (first) took my wedding ring off was the day I began grooming the 15-year old girl whom I met in a toy store. While I was in the toy store under the guise of a doting dad, you and I both know I was there because of the beautiful teenage girl who was working behind the counter. How dare the media pick up on this! The only reason that this even made the news is because YOU are a celebrity. Now that I think about it, I actually believe that my affair was YOUR fault.

I am still quite furious that you didn’t insist on our divorce proceedings being kept sealed and private. Regardless of the fact that all divorces in New York are public record, I really wanted to keep my $3,000 per month porn habit under wraps. Just think how deceitful I could have been while “accidentally” feeding the media my lies. With a sealed divorce, there would have been no way for them to verify any of it. Why can’t you just do what I say?

I am so bitter that the media is interested in you and that at 60 years old, you were picked up by a major modeling agency. My hope is that you will become as ugly on the outside as I am on the inside. Someone out there needs to start believing that you are a selfish monster who is relentlessly trashing me, the father of your children. The challenging part for me is that in all these years, not a single person can actually find a statement where you’ve disparaged me. I am so frustrated by this! I demand that you immediately retract all the things that you never said about me! DO IT NOW!!!!

As you know, I have needlessly dragged our children through the media because my narcissistic supply sits on empty the vast majority of the time. My “refuel” light starts flashing every single time you receive media attention and as we both know, I prey on those who are uneducated on NPD so that they will report that we are feuding. By definition, it takes two people to feud however; the general population isn’t that smart and they pool us together while the sad reality is that I feud all by myself. Have I mentioned lately how smart I am?

In regards to my statement to Radar Online, “But the excuses for her behavior are dishonest, convenient and increasingly difficult to accept. She’s simply using narcissism to distract from the real conversation.”

What we both know that I meant was this: how dare you use my diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder to explain my behavior. How dare you tell the truth!  – Peter

For more on the divorce of Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook, please click the following links:


“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 information, please email

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s book, Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle” is available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries 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: Reclaiming your Power with the Narc Decoder

Divorcing a Narcissist: Reclaiming your Power with the Narc Decoder

Narc decoderby Tina Swithin

I find myself being a bit overprotective when it comes to the men and women on One Mom’s Battle. It angers me to see the control that the dirty, demented narcissists have (or think they have) over their ex-husbands or ex-wives. It reminds me of the Trix commercial, “Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!” — Silly narcissist, we’re SO much smarter than you.

Someone sent us a message and asked that we process it through the Narc Decoder. I laughed when I saw the message because it could have been written by Seth himself. Here is the email:

I wish I had a mirror to have you see how you come across in your presentation. Maybe there would be a slim possibility you could see how angry, inflexible, demanding a person that you are. Why would anybody want to work anything out with you! You do not know the first thing about being accomodating, understanding, or professional for any matters. So you run to your attorney to find solutions. Besides, the selfishness that is your true self. All you know to do is fight, fight, fight. How very sad because one day it will have an effect on your existence if you keep it up. Find a better way to channel your anger that life is not fair for you or you may face the consequences.

Soon there will be no need to consider “the Family Wizard” for communication because I will rarely have any contact with you except to discuss logistics. So it is totally off the table. Period.

I, too, have plans for myself and our daughter, so you are not privileged in setting what weekend day we do the exchange. In fact, as I said before, I gave you 18 months of many episodes of flexibility and that will not be easy to get anymore. You cannot make Sundays a unilateral condition for hours that were decided by my employer, speaking of being unilateral. Life does not care what you think!

I will not waste anymore of my valuable time today with your expressions of whining and discontent.”


I went out in the garage and searched for the Narc Decoder. It’s been a while since I’ve had to use it because we haven’t heard much from Seth since court in July. Sure enough, it was a bit dusty but as I entered the above email, I heard the normal “snap, crackle, pop” of the Narc Decoder hard at work. Within moments, out popped a completely deciphered email:

“I wish I had a mirror right now so that I could see myself. I could spend hours staring into my own eyes. Have I told you lately how angry I am at the loss of power since our marriage ended? Yes, I’m angry, inflexible and demanding and all of those feelings have escalated tremendously since I can no longer control you. Damn you. I refuse to compromise or work anything out with you- it’s my way or the highway. Didn’t you read the fine print on the pre-nup? I do not know the first thing about being accommodating, understanding or professional but instead of taking ownership for my own shortcomings; I am going to project my faults on to you. Heck, it’s always worked in the past.

I hate that you have an attorney to turn to for advice- why can’t you just let me continue to control and manipulate you?! It’s quite infuriating. I love to fight, fight, fight. This constant drama feeds me because I know that it affects you. I LOVE to affect you. Speaking of love, did you know that I am actually incapable of that? Thank God I am so manipulative because I am able to fool women just like I fooled you. Have you seen my mirror lately? Aren’t you supposed to keep track of my things?

Our Family Wizard? Are you joking? Do you really think that I want my words and actions to be monitored? Ha! I want access to you by all means possible- text, phone, email, in person and while shouting from the rooftops. You want ME to agree to something that YOU think is a good idea? Ha! Did I mention that I am a control freak and a program like that would not work well for me? The only way that I will agree to use that program is if it somehow becomes my idea. I will be sure to request that YOU be required to use it while we are in front of the Judge because it will play into my claim that you are harassing me and that the program will put an end to your persistent abuse. By the way, have you ever heard of a program called, “Our Family Wizard?” I happen to find it online yesterday and I think we should begin to use it. I am tired of the constant harassment from you.

You want me to be flexible on times for visitation. I’m sorry but that is a one-way street. You must adhere to the court order word for word however, I will let you know when I need you to bend.  Oh, by the way, next weekend doesn’t work well for me as I have a lunch date. I’ll need you to take our daughter for a few extra hours.

Have I mentioned how valuable my time is? I should get paid to just be awake and breathing. Now that I’ve thoroughly fed my sick, deranged ego, I am going to sit here and gloat knowing that you are on the receiving end of my latest attack. I’m going to envision you breaking down crying because that is like a high to me.”


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Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s book, Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle” is available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.

The Application to Marry a Narcissist

The Application to Marry a Narcissist

Dr NarcOn Wednesday, the Huffington Post ran an article titled, Deluded Surgeon’s Email Lists the Most Outrageous Requirements for a Woman We’ve Ever Seen.”

After reading the article in complete shock, I immediately thought the title should be changed to the following headline, “One Lucky Woman will Receive a Shiny New Narcissist with all the Bells and Whistles.” Many of the requirements reminded me of my own less-than-shiny narcissist, Seth.

Because I am not known to keep my mouth shut (thank you, freedom!) when it comes to this type of thing, I decided to lend my expertise to the situation and elaborate a little more on each of the requirements. I want to make sure that the lucky lady knows exactly when she’s getting into with the good doctor.

Below are the requirements and my explanation of each when processed through the trusty Narc Decoder:

  1. “Spent significant time (>1 yr) living in a city of 1 million or more.”

I need someone who appears “worldly” which makes for better conversations in social settings when I need to impress people. I also have a strong desire to impress my mom who doesn’t want me to end up with a country bumpkin.

  1. “Highly functional Type B (not a Type A because too similar, not a Type B who can’t get stuff done)”

I can’t handle an over-achiever who would complete and remove the spotlight from me. Did I mention that I am a highly-functional type A personality? Are you good at listening and taking notes?

  1. “Skinny (i.e. dress size 0-2, if you don’t know what that means (many men don’t) it means very skinny)”

A trophy wife feeds my ego and makes me the talk of the town amongst colleagues. Please be warned that I will be monitoring your food intake and ensuring that you never drink anything but non-fat milk in your coffee. Wait. Dairy causes weight gain. Scratch that.  You will live off of black coffee and salads without dressing.  You like lettuce, right?

  1. “Never does bad things because of values.”

I need someone who can provide balance because I lack values yet I like to brag about having them. I also like to shine the spotlight on others who do bad things but I am highly skilled at covering my tracks. Someone with good values and morals will make me look better and therefore, people will never doubt me.

  1. “Spent significant time in another country other than the US (either born somewhere else or lived out of the US for a total of a 6 months or more, not on a vacation, doing something like school or work)”

This helps tremendously when dinner conversations become stale and I’ve thoroughly bored everyone while talking about how accomplished I am. I need conversation topics that will impress our dinner guests. This by no means implies that I am seeking someone of another ethnic background – I would only date a Caucasian woman but don’t rush me, I will delve into the topic of racism on question #9.

  1. “Graduate degree or very good undergraduate school (more compatible since I went to 3 Ivy League schools i.e. Dartmouth, Columbia & Harvard, as well as Emory and my MBA from NYU)” –

Did I mention how important I am? Did you know that I went to 3 IVY League Schools? My overbearing mother and family would never approve of someone who didn’t fit their image of perfect genes and high intellect. Can you imagine the fine specimens…I mean CHILDREN….that our combined DNA….I mean, love….will produce? While you are taking notes, I’m going to order Mensa applications so we are fully prepared.

  1. “Wants kids in the next 1-2 years.”

With my superior genes, I am in a hurry to reproduce. I am also seeking to have 2.5 children because that is what society deems as ideal for American couples. If we are not able to reproduce within my time frame, it will of course be your fault. Something must be wrong with your eggs as someone of my caliber could never have issues with sperm count. I’ve personally had them studied in a lab and talk about perfection!  Whew! Perfect sperm right here!

  1. “An 8 out of the 1-10 scale — 9-10 is actually bad as it comes with a lot of downside.”

Someone who exudes perfection would take longer to tear down. I have some wiggle room with an “8” – I could point out the third left toe with a slight bend or the way her nose holes aren’t completely symmetrical. Did you know that perfect people have completely symmetrical nose holes? A perfect 9 or 10 would never think to eat dairy but an 8…think of the fun I could have when she reaches for that piece of cheese at a dinner party!

  1. “Caucasian (not black, not Hispanic, not Asian)”

See question #5 above. I’m a racist.

  1. “Altruistic, selfless”

Being completely selfless and consumed with my needs, likes and desires is detrimental to your well-being. Are you talking notes?

  1. “Gets along well with everyone”

I need someone who can smooth things over when I create waves. I need someone so likeable that I will be liked by association. I am a complete a-hole in case you haven’t noticed yet. I need someone who is easy-going and gets along with everyone but most importantly, me. Me. Me. Me.


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

Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s book, Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle” is available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.


Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Gaslighting

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Gaslighting

sorryI have been described as a free-spirit on many occasions in my life.  I’ve always been the happy-go-lucky one who can see the positives in every situation.  When I first met Seth, a modern day Prince Charming, I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to grab hold of life with all of my might. Seth was drawn to my carefree attitude and innocent curiosity of the world around me. My spirit captivated him, but not in a healthy way.  Seth wanted to suck my spirit dry and rob me of my emotions because he wasn’t capable of having feelings of his own. Seth was (and is) an emotional vampire.

By year nine of my relationship with Seth; you would never have believed that I once lived a cheery life. Year after year, I lost more and more of who I once was.  It was a slow process but over time, I became robotic and empty.  I found that my memory, once as sharp as a needle, became undependable and I was at times left questioning my own sanity.  In 2008, a therapist said three words that would change my life forever: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

While I initially dismissed those three powerful words, they kept creeping back into my thoughts and eventually I began to study this disorder.  Light bulbs began going off in every direction and the past ten years of my life suddenly made complete sense. I had been living one of the most intense and stealth forms of emotional abuse at the hands of a person who lacked a conscience and empathy. Education soon became the most powerful tool to ever land at my feet.  In order to heal, I needed to understand what had happened to me so that I could make sense of it.  It was at that point in my research that I discovered “gaslighting” or ambient abuse.

According to Dr. Robin Stern, Ph.D., gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and there is a “dance” that she refers to as the Gaslight Tango. This dance summarizes much of my relationship with Seth.  In an excerpt from an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Stern describes the Gaslight Tango:

“The powerful gaslighter (he has power both because he asserts it and because the gaslightee gives it to him!) engages in an ongoing, systematic knocking down of the other, less powerful person, purposely controlling the relationship by telling the other that there is something wrong with the way she sees the world or there’s something wrong with who she is — and– the gaslightee, by agreeing with him or allowing his perceptions define hers, over time, loses confidence, feels unsure and experiences a growing shakiness of self. Gradually, the gaslightee begins to question what she thought she knew—and gives up the power to stand in her own reality.”

Gaslighting played a huge part in my marriage and was constant.  One particularly troublesome year towards the end of our marriage, the roof on our brand new home began to leak after a heavy downpour.  It wasn’t a small leak. In fact, water was running down our wall in large quantities. I called Seth to let him know what was happening and he snapped at me. “Dammit, Tina! I told you to remind me to have the gutters cleaned out and you forgot.  Do you know how much this is going to cost?!”  He slammed the phone down on me in a fit of rage. Had this happened 8 years before, I would have known without a doubt that we never had a conversation about gutters and I would have stood up to his ludicrous allegation. By this point in time, I was conditioned to accept the blame and I was to the point where I questioned both reality and my memory.  Seth could have told me that the sky was red and I would have believed him. Instead of defending myself, I apologized profusely for the leaky roof and make a note on my calendar to have the gutters checked next fall. Ironically, we discovered that the roof leak had nothing to do with the gutters. Yet somehow, I still felt like that leak was my fault.

I recently reached out to Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-love – Narcissism Revisited, for his thoughts on gaslighting, or ambient abuse.   According to Sam Vaknin, there are five categories of ambient abuse and many times, they are a combination of these components in play by the abuser:

  • Inducing Disorientation: The abuser causes the victim to lose faith in her ability to manage and to cope with the world and its demands. She no longer trusts her senses, her skills, her strengths, her friends, her family, and the predictability and benevolence of her environment. The abuser subverts the target’s focus by disagreeing with her way of perceiving the world, her judgment, the facts of her existence, by criticizing her incessantly – and by offering plausible but specious alternatives. By constantly lying, he blurs the line between reality and nightmare. By recurrently disapproving of her choices and actions – the abuser shreds the victim’s self-confidence and shatters her self-esteem. By reacting disproportionately to the slightest “mistake” – he intimidates her to the point of paralysis.
  • Incapacitating: The abuser gradually and surreptitiously takes over functions and chores previously adequately and skillfully performed by the victim. The prey finds herself isolated from the outer world, a hostage to the goodwill – or, more often, ill-will – of her captor. She is crippled by his encroachment and by the inexorable dissolution of her boundaries and ends up totally dependent on her tormentor’s whims and desires, plans and stratagems.
  • Shared Psychosis: The abuser creates a fantasy world, inhabited by the victim and himself, and besieged by imaginary enemies. He allocates to the abused the role of defending this invented and unreal Universe. She must swear to secrecy, stand by her abuser no matter what, lie, fight, pretend, obfuscate and do whatever else it takes to preserve this oasis of inanity. Her membership in the abuser’s “kingdom” is cast as a privilege and a prize. It is not to be taken for granted. She has to work hard to earn her continued affiliation. She is constantly being tested and evaluated. Inevitably, this interminable stress reduces the victim’s resistance and her ability to “see straight”.
  • Abuse of Information: From the first moments of an encounter with another person, the abuser is on the prowl. He collects information. The more he knows about his potential victim – the better able he is to coerce, manipulate, charm, extort or convert it “to the cause”. The abuser does not hesitate to misuse the information he gleans, regardless of its intimate nature or the circumstances in which he obtained it. This is a powerful tool in his armory.
  • Control by Proxy: If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbors, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

If you feel that you are the victim of gaslighting or any other type of abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you have the power to make changes and to leave the toxic relationship. Before ending a relationship with someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any type of Cluster B Disorder, I advise you to seek a therapist who is knowledgeable on this topic.  I have discovered that the only thing worse than being married to these individuals is to divorce someone with a personality disorder. I encourage you to read everything that you can get your hands on and join in-person support groups or online support groups such as My Emotional Vampire, Respite from Sociopathic Behavior, After Narcissistic Abuse or One Mom’s Battle.  Through a strong support system, you will be able to take your power back and be a survivor instead of a victim.


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Click the link to purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle.”  You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive (and thrive!) while divorcing of co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.


Dating a Narcissist: The Ups and Downs

Dating a Narcissist: The Ups and Downs

ConfusionExcerpt taken from my book, “Divorcing a Narcissist” – and focuses on our dating life prior to marriage:

Seth: Greek form of Egyptian Set, possibly meaning “one who dazzles.” In mythology, this is the name of the ancient evil god of chaos, storms, and the desert.

Some days I felt like royalty, and other days I felt so beneath him. Talks which focused on my lack of a college education seemed to become more frequent as time went on. Seth introduced me to his work colleagues as his fiancé, which made me feel special and gave me a sense of stability in our relationship however, we weren’t engaged.

At one particular event, I overheard Seth telling his boss that I was going to be attending a local State college in the fall which left me confused and upset. I pressed him on the way home, and he admitted that in professional settings, it was embarrassing when conversations about college came up. I was crushed. No one had ever told me that I embarrassed them. Almost instantaneously, I could feel the self esteem that I worked so hard to regain slipping from my fingers.

The next day I woke up and put on a smile. The last thing that I wanted was to be accused of being a Debbie Downer and an embarrassment. I walked into the kitchen to make coffee and found flowers waiting for me on the kitchen table. The card expressed how sorry he was for hurting me. Seth claimed that I was the furthest thing in the world from an embarrassment. I accepted his apology.

  • Red Flag Reflection: The ups and downs were leaving my head spinning. Almost as quickly as Seth could crush me, he could build me back up with amazing, heartfelt letters and cards. Not only could I not make sense of the new world I was living in, I found it difficult to articulate what was happening to my friends or family.


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Parenting with a Narcissist After Divorce: Set Your Boundaries, Empower Your Children

Parenting with a Narcissist After Divorce: Set Your Boundaries, Empower Your Children

NarcNote from Tina: I recently came across an article titled, “How Narcissists Abuse Children During Divorce” and felt myself jumping up and down in my seat saying, “Yes!  Yes!  Yes! THIS is what is happening in my life!” — I felt like the Author had interviewed us and written about my custody battle.  I hadn’t read anything that came so close to describing Seth and what he was doing to us.  I quickly contacted the Author, Paula Lovgren and asked her to guest blog for One Mom’s Battle.  I was honored when she said, “Yes!”.

Parenting with a Narcissist After Divorce: Set Your Boundaries, Empower Your Children

by Paula Lovgren

To parent your children with a narcissistic (N) parent, very little, if any of the traditional divorce/parenting advice is going to apply. Co-parenting? Not likely. Your number one job as the non-narcissist parent is to reduce conflict. You have to, because he won’t.* The N parent thrives on drama he creates because it provides him with narcissistic supply. He will take any form of supply he can get, even if it’s negative. Don’t engage with him. Reducing conflict with him is the best way to protect your children from the N’s behavior.

How can you do this? The following steps are pretty easy in theory, but as anyone dealing with an N knows, nothing is easy. The N’s behavior may escalate as he realizes you are disengaging with him. That can be scary for you. Stand your ground. In time, hopefully, when the N realizes that he’s not getting any supply, he’ll move on to other sources leaving you and your children in relative peace.

1. No face-to-face or phone conversations

The best way for the N to lie, manipulate and abuse is in conversations either on the phone or in person. It’s not necessary to put yourself in this position. Your job as a parent is to communicate important information about your children to the other parent. Communicating means to convey information, make known, reveal clearly. Nowhere in the definition of communicate does it mention talking.

Fortunately, we now have at our disposal a myriad of ways to communicate. Unfortunately, this has also led us (and in turn, our narcissistic abusers) to believe that we must be available at all times, to all people. Even if you are parenting with a former spouse it’s not necessary for them to every phone number, email address or social media contact. In fact, if you’re dealing with an N, they should not. One phone number to contact the kids, one email address to contact you and an emergency contact should they need to get a hold of you on short notice is all they need.

I suggest setting up a free web-based email account that can be accessed from any computer to be used only for communicating with the N parent. This is the only email address for you he should have access to. Sure, he may continue to rant, name call, threaten and otherwise try to bait you. Now you have it all in writing in one place. If he wants to put his bad behavior in black and white, well, good for you. Now you have a record and concrete evidence of his nasty behavior. You also have all agreements, schedule changes, and any other pertinent information in writing. That’s communication.

If you can have a separate phone for the kids, do it, even if it’s a cell phone that stays in the home and travels with you and the children on trips. The N does not need a personal phone number for you regardless of what he may think. He’s abused the privilege.. There are many free texting apps, if you have a smartphone, where he can still text you in emergencies without having your personal number. If he abuses this privilege, block him. You can also have a family member or close friend be the emergency contact who will then contact you in rare circumstances.

2. Have an iron-clad divorce decree

Get visitation schedules, holidays, phone calls, activities, pick-up/drop-off times and places and anything else that you see as potentially being a problem between you and the other parent explicitly written out in the divorce decree or marital termination agreement. Try to leave as little as possible open to negotiation after the divorce is final.

The divorce decree is your shield. At first, it may seem constraining because you, too, will have to abide by those agreements. However, in the long run, it will be easier and less stressful than trying to negotiate with an unreliable and unreasonable person. In addition, when you follow the decree as it’s written, anything he does in opposition to that is highlighted. Don’t argue with him. Let him hang himself with his own behavior. Just more good documentation for you.

3. Get healthy.

You have come out of an abusive relationship and now, you need to be as emotionally healthy as possible for your children. As easy as it is to write a list of what to do when divorcing a narcissist, every single one of us knows that it’s anything but easy. It takes time, healing and a really good support system to help you disengage from a narcissist and his crazy-making ways.

Seek counseling or a support group that focuses on abusive/narcissistic relationships. The N isn’t likely to change. Having a support system will help you hold your boundaries with him and focus your attention on yourself and your children instead of his antics. He’s had enough of your time and attention. Don’t give him anymore.

4. Validate and empower your children.

If reducing conflict with the other parent is your number one job, a close second is validating and empowering your children. You know how the N operates and he will treat his children no differently. You can’t change him and unless there is verifiable, concrete evidence that his children aren’t safe with him (physical/sexual abuse, drug/alcohol addiction) your children will most likely have to spend time with him.

As much as we want to, we really can’t protect our children from the N’s insidious behavior. As much as we believe it’s better for them to be shielded from it, they deserve to spend time with their other parent. Regardless of his behavior, your children love their other parent. They might not always like him, but they do love him and they do deserve the right to make up their own mind about their parent. I’m not going to lie, this is really hard. Really, really hard. As a therapist once said to me, “you have to let your children make up their own mind or they may turn their anger on you for cutting their parent out of their life. They won’t understand why, only that you ruined that relationship.” Ouch! Better to let the N do it himself.

What you can do is be your children’s number one support system and sounding board. Validate, validate, validate! You know how the N lies, manipulates and distorts reality. It’s not bashing your former spouse to validate your child’s feelings or to say that certain behavior is not okay. They need to be supported in their own reality because they already know something is wrong. They are looking for a mooring place in the rocky sea the N creates. Use neutral statements, like “I’m sorry that happened”, “I’ll bet that feels bad” or just simply “Ouch”. Above all, let your children know that their parent’s behavior and treatment of them has nothing whatsoever do with them.

Lastly, don’t take it all on yourself. Children can benefit greatly from having a therapist who specializes in working with children. Play therapy is wonderful. Children don’t even know that they are in “therapy”. They just know they have a really good friend who listens to them. Having a neutral third party validate the same things that you are takes away the “mom versus dad” mentality. They will begin to trust their own thoughts and feelings about the situation and to realize on their own that their parent’s behavior is not okay.

Reducing conflict with an N parent will often feel like an ineffective battle at best and additional fuel to the abusive fire at worst. At the outset, the N’s behavior is likely to escalate as he realizes he’s losing control. Stay strong and keep your focus on yourself and your children, not the N’s antics. Hopefully, when he realizes he’s playing his games with himself, he’ll get the message and find his narcissistic supply elsewhere.

*I realize that narcissists come in both genders. I only use “he” because that’s my experience. Same rules apply if the narcissist in your life is a “she”.

Paula Lovgren is a divorced mom of two kids and three cats. She has forged a workable parallel parenting arrangement with her former spouse and considers it a win. In addition, she is a freelance writer, garden designer and all around chauffeur for her kids. But not her cats.


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Click the link to purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle.”  You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive (and thrive!) while divorcing of co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.


Is Oscar Pistorius a Narcissistic Sociopath?

Is Oscar Pistorius a Narcissistic Sociopath?

Reeva SteenkampIs the Earth round?

I read the article in today’s Huffington Post titled, “Barry Steenkamp, Father of Oscar Pistorius’ Girlfriend Speaks Out” and shook my head as I read a quote from Mike Steenkamp, uncle of Reeva Steenkamp which said,

“Mike Steenkamp, Reeva’s uncle, told The Associated Press that the family of the double-amputee athlete initially did not send condolences or try to contact the bereaved parents, but had since sought to reach out in what he described as a poorly timed way. After Pistorius was released on bail in what amounted to a victory for the defense, Arnold Pistorius said the athlete’s family was relieved but also in mourning “with the family” of Reeva Steenkamp.” 
A victory.  That was very well stated because to a narcissistic sociopath, a victory (no matter how small) is a win.  That is all that matters to Oscar Pistorius and his camp of enablers and supporters.

Reeve’s father, Barry Steenkamp was quoted in the article as saying, “It doesn’t matter how much money he has and how good his legal team is, he will have to live with his conscience if he allows his legal team to lie for him,” Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father, told Beeld . “But if he is telling the truth, then perhaps I can forgive him one day,” the father said. “If it didn’t happen the way he said it did, he must suffer, and he will suffer … only he knows.”

The sad reality that the Steenkamp’s will come to learn is that Oscar Pistorius will not have to live with his conscious if he is a narcissistic sociopath, because he would lack a conscious.  If he is in fact a narcissistic sociopath and if he walks away from this a free man– it will be nothing but a “win” and a “victory” to him.  Those of us who know about narcissists, sociopaths and other personality disorders know the sad reality of this situation.  Somehow, this sick man and his skilled legal team will probably be able to convince a jury that he believed an intruder entered his gated community, broke into his palace and then walked past his bed to use the potty in the bathroom of his master suite.

I hope that the media, the world and the courts begin to wake up before we loose more people like Reeva Steenkamp.

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Click the link to purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle.”  You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive (and thrive!) while divorcing of co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.


Is Lance Armstrong a Narcissist?

Is Lance Armstrong a Narcissist?


I could end this blog with that one little word, “YES.”

There is a great deal of irony in the latest news on Lance Armstrong. You see, the name “Lance Armstrong” was a huge part of my marriage. This man was Seth’s hero…his God.  When the Tour de France was broadcast on television, our lives came to a halt.  Seth lived on the couch with a beer in hand and was probably wearing spandex shorts  to form some type of bizarre brotherly kinship with Lance.  Our life literally stopped to watch this cycling God.

I just watched portions of Oprah’s interview and it made me feel ill.  I had promised myself that I would not provide Lance Armstrong with anymore attention through my blog but I regress.  The world needs to know that they just watched Narcissistic Personality Disorder in action.

Some of the things that he said when questioned by Oprah:

Did it feel wrong- cheating? “No.  Scary.”  (he admitted that it was scary)

Did you feel bad about it. “No. Even scarier.”

Did you feel that you were cheating? “No. The scariest.”

Zero remorse = Narcissism.

He played the victim card yet he was the bully all along = Narcissism.

He said that he was flawed. I agree = Narcissism.

He wanted to control the outcome at all costs:  to win.  That describes my custody battle.

He is currently experiencing every narcissist’s worst nightmare: the spotlight is shining on him and exposing the real Lance Armstrong. I purchased one of those damn yellow bracelets and if I could find it then I would probably ask for a refund.  This man isn’t a hero by any stretch of the imagination.  He is a bully, a liar, an evil man and a cheater.  He is a narcissist.

My friend Paula is a contributor to the Washington Times and asked the question that Oprah missed,  “Have you changed?”  To read more of Paula’s article titled, “Lance Armstrong’s pending “Jailhouse” confession: Do We Care?”, click here.

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Click the link to purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle.”  You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive (and thrive!) while divorcing of co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.


Similarities Between High Conflict Divorce And Triathlons

Similarities Between High Conflict Divorce And Triathlons

triathlonWhat does divorcing a narcissist have in common with triathlons? Both require a great deal of strength and endurance. While I have never personally competed in a triathlon, I do happen to know a lot about the sport.  I also know a great deal about divorcing a narcissist.

You are probably wondering what swimming, biking and running have to do with battling a narcissist in divorce court?  If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of going up against a narcissist in court, you will need to put your game face on and gain an intimate understanding of the sport.

Just like a triathlon, there are three stages to divorcing a narcissist:

1.  Swimming–Keeping Your Head above Water

Float when needed: There are times when you will feel like you are sinking.  This is the time to flip over and float for a few minutes to regain your breath and your composure. Breathing techniques are essential to a successful swimmer and they are also critical to keeping yourself centered and above water.

2.  Biking–Using Support, Tools, Rest, Logging your Progress and “Drafting” to take you far down the road

  • Support: While there are a plethora of support groups for divorce in general, there is a huge need for support from people who understand the intricacies of divorcing a narcissist. Finding an online support group will provide the knowledge and tools needed to weather this storm.  Aligning with a therapist who understands personality disorders is also crucial to your healing.
  • Tools: Find an attorney who understands Narcissistic Personality Disorder may be your most important tool. Your energy is not best spent trying to explain the behaviors of your ex-husband to your own legal team. A narcissist’s conduct is baffling to those who are uneducated on the disorder. You need an attorney who is skilled at honing in on the narcissists weaknesses and untruths.
  • Rest: Divorcing a narcissist requires the strength of an endurance athlete. Taking downtime and regrouping in between the inevitable narcissistic attacks is critical. Embrace the quite moments and find calming activities such as yoga, meditation or other a warm bubble bath.
  • Logging: A logbook is another essential tool whether competing in a triathlon or divorcing a narcissist. Solid documentation will paint a picture that is difficult for the Family Court System to ignore.
  • Drafting: Having a support system of friends to take the lead during portions of the race will allow you to save your energy for the uphill sections that await you. This is the time to put your pride aside and allow others to assist you whenever possible.

3.  Running–Pacing Yourself

There is a reason why triathletes are called, “endurance athletes”. The endurance needed to withstand the trials and tribulations that accompany a high conflict divorce could be classified as superhuman.  Heed my advice when I say to pace yourself because burnout is inevitable if you don’t take it slow and easy. Don’t leave the gate running at a high rate of speed. Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare. Keep your pace slow and steady. ###

Bio: 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 resides in sunny California with her fiancé, two daughters and three-legged tortoise named, “Oliver.” 

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Click the link to purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle.”  You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive (and thrive!) while divorcing of co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.