Tag Archives: narcissistic personality disorder

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.”

Cluster B Custody Battles and Gaslighting

Cluster B Custody Battles and Gaslighting

by Rebecca Davis Merritt (OMB President) and Jennifer (OMB VP)

If you and your children are experiencing Domestic Violence by Proxy chances are your children are being gaslighted.  A Cluster B gaslights the children by portraying you as an uncaring, negligent, untrustworthy parent when you are none of these things. Gaslighting is a form of mental and emotional abuse and signs include:

  • Information is often twisted and spun against you or falsely reported by the Cluster B to your children
  • Your children find themselves second guessing their initial response to gaslighting parent, having difficulty distinguishing between reality versus the Cluster B’s story-telling false reality.
  • Your children feel compelled to defend the Cluster B parent by creating excuses or justifying lies, manipulations, and abuse by the Cluster B. They become secretive and may become an in-house spy for the Cluster B smuggling out documents or property trying to win affection and praise from the Cluster B. They are unable to respect appropriate boundaries due to the successful manipulation by Cluster B.
  • You experience secondary gaslighting based on your children’s behaviors wondering if you are the problem and if you should just give up, let the children move in with Cluster B or always let him or her have their way to diminish conflict (note: neither are effective coping strategies).
  • The Cluster B is slowly eroding your parental bond with the children. You do not want to badmouth their other parent to the children but you want them to feel safe and secure not just with you but with their thoughts, feelings, and memories.
  • How can you help your children resist gaslighting, be authentic, and set appropriate boundaries with Cluster B parent? The answers depend on the developmental stage of the child and it is best if the healthy parent can begin this anti-gaslighting training while the child is young. If your child is a teen, looks up to Cluster B parent and craves their interest and attention there is very little you can do beyond providing external resources like individual therapy.  Any time you try to counter the disinformation the teen received, you, in their eyes, confirm the negative messages Cluster B had given them about you being unfairly disposed to criticizing or attacking their other parent.  Even parents who have done anti-gaslighting training from early ages can find the teen years very tricky especially if you are the primary custodial parent. Teens see you as the rule setting no fun parent while the other parent may be seen as the “Disneyland” parent with no rules, much freedom, and fun. One of the best messages you can give your child regardless of their age is to promise you will never lie to them. Say it to them and keep your word. You may have to say, “I cannot talk to you about that now,” but always be truthful. This will help them very much in coping with a Cluster B because they will see a distinct difference in parents as Cluster Bs lie so often the children eventually will recognize it.

Assuming you have younger children how can you implement strong and healthy, anti-gaslighting training while not badmouthing the other parent? Here are some tips:

Teach your children how to set and protect their own personal boundaries. Children should learn about all boundaries, not just with the Cluster B. In return, respect your children’s boundaries. For example teaching young children to object to others touching their bathing suit covered parts of bodies helps them set an appropriate boundary, learning who is and is not trustworthy. and having the right to use their voices. Teaching them to immediately tell you if any adult ever asks them to not tell you a secret teaches them healthy boundaries. Cloud and Townsend have a book about boundaries to use with your children, one for teens, and one for you.

Teach your children how to be assertive and use their voice and voice their boundaries. Teach them to say no when they feel uncomfortable. Teach them that the word, “no” means “no”.

Teach your children about children being kids not adults. It is not their job to take care of adults. It is adults job to take care of them. If Cluster B tries to place child in the middle of parenting issues, do all you can to remove them from the discussion and make it clear to child it is an adult issue. When an adult conversation comes up, tell them the conversation is a grown up issue. Stress that it is not a child issue and therefore should not be discussed with you. Teach them if anyone brings up adult issues with them to state, “I am a kid. Don’t talk to me about adult things”

Talk with your children about respecting other people’s boundaries, empathy and what it means to be kind to others. OMB strongly recommends the Bucket Books by Carol McCloud. ‘Have you Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids’ is a great resource for younger children and ‘Growing UP with a Bucket Full of Happiness’ is a great book for older children (7+). You need to read these books to younger children at least once a week, develop a shared language from this book. Teach your children to be bucket fillers. Also focus on bucket dippers as this is what their cluster B parent is, a bullying, unkind, bucket dipper who breaches boundaries. You do not label their unhealthy parent, you do not say like dad or mom but you give your child the ability to recognize and label unkind behaviors as being the “fault” of the perpetrator and not the victim.  Simultaneously, model kind behaviors to the child via volunteer activities. Volunteer in your community, at churches, homeless shelters, donate items/clothes.  Keep toiletry items, bottled water, protein bars in a ziplock bag in your car to give to homeless people.

Teach your children about manipulation through commenting on it when you see it in commercials (what is this toy commercial trying to make you feel and think?) or in movies (Frozen is a great example but there are many). The older children eventually ask why do some people almost always act like bucket dippers and manipulate others? In my house we learn about Cluster B personality disorders, those people who have profound deficits in empathy, understanding how others feel and caring about their feelings with an extreme need to control others by lying, manipulating, refusing to follow rules, and holding others responsible for making them comfortable, meeting their needs, even expecting children to take care of adults. We do not label Cluster B parent as Cluster B but teach the children to recognize Cluster B patterns of behavior in books and movies. You do not have to introduce the term Cluster B but you have to give your children the knowledge of its behavioral constellation so they recognize such types of people and can engage in self-protective coping including boundary management. Hopefully this knowledge helps not just with their unhealthy parent but in their future dating, friendship, and partnership decisions.

Get your child a therapist who understands domestic violence (the pattern of coercive control of Cluster B is DV) and Cluster B personality disorders, who does not subscribe to family systems approaches (rules out many social workers and marriage and family therapists), does not provides reunification therapy implementing PA or PAS “theories”, or who refuses to provide the court their perspective. In general look for a Ph.D therapist when you can but carefully screen. If you have a good DV program in your area ask them for referral names (lawyers and therapists) and see if they have educational support groups appropriate for your children.

Never tell your children the Cluster B parent loves them. You don’t tell them the Cluster B does not love them but the love of a Cluster B parent hurts and you do not want to do anything to encourage child to accept those behaviors as normal or loving. It is likely you will need to say, “I don’t know why mommy/daddy did that. You will have to ask him/her and decide for yourself if that is how you want to parent your children if you become a parent. Never make excuses or try to normalize abusive or neglectful parenting choices of a Cluster B.

Build your own support system, a tribe who understands Cluster B and can help you cope.

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One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with chapter all over the world. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level. Tina’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist and The Narc Decoder: Understanding the Language of the Narcissist can be found on Amazon.

Domestic Violence by Proxy

Domestic Violence by Proxy

A Message from OMB’s President (Rebecca Davis Merritt) and Vice President (Jennifer) about Domestic Violence by Proxy:

You have probably seen OMB’s informational poster about why we advocate not using the term or “theory” of Parental Alienation. We post it once a month encouraging our readers to understand that the controlling behaviors of Cluster B parents in trying to place a wedge between the children and healthy parent is Domestic Violence by Proxy. The emotional abuse of a Cluster B is domestic Violence (DV).

When a Cluster B personality disordered individual enters the family court system they wage war upon the healthy parent. They may have been absent parents never attending school, medical or dental appointments but suddenly they attend everything, preening as the doting father or mother and may push for custody. Custody is seen as a prize. The goal is to hurt the healthy primary parent and save money via child support calculations. As part of that push they groom children to see their healthy parent as untrustworthy and self-centered (projection), with divorce or separation their fault while portraying the Cluster B parent as wounded and needing the children to shower him or her with love and affection. Children often respond to this gaslighting by siding with the abusive parent.

The Cluster B parent often blames the healthy parent for his or her own actions, claiming parental alienation (PA). If the children distrust Cluster B parent based upon a history of abusive behaviors, this estrangement is labeled as PA. The healthy parent, unfortunately, is at serious risk of losing custody  in family court. Men who physically batter their former partner are much more likely to gain custody than the healthy parent.  Courts have been taught that women claiming DV in family court are usually lying and using this false claim to secure custody. Even when DV claims are accepted, courts falsely believe DV only affects direct victim and that abusers can be good parents to their children. Once Cluster Bs have the children away from the healthy parent, they use manipulation and other forms of abuse to convince the children that their other parent never loved them and are untrustworthy.

Alina Patterson (2003) first defined Domestic Violence by Proxy or DV Proxy. DV Proxy is a pattern of behavior where a parent with a history of using domestic violence, or intimidation uses the child (as a substitute) when s/he does not have access to the former partner. Continuing the cycle of domestic violence, the cycle of Domestic Violence by Proxy starts when the victim leaves the abuser and the abuser learns the easiest way to continue to harm and control the former partner is through controlling access to the children.

Once the abuser has control of the children they are able to continue stalking, harassing and abusing the former partner even when the abuser has no direct access. DV can manifest in ways such as threats to the children if they display a close relationship with the former partner, destroying the children’s favorite possessions given by the former partner and emotional abuse. Children are often coached to make false allegations about the parent.

DV by proxy is very deliberate and planned. The abusers know what they are doing and chose their controlling, coercive, and illegal behaviors. The behaviors are usually surrounded by threats and fears and often include “battery, destruction of property, locking children in rooms to prevent them from calling parents, falsifying documents, along with other similar overt behaviors.” As the leadership council suggests, “Calling this behavior “parental alienation” is not strong enough to convey the criminal pattern of terroristic behaviors employed by batterers.”

Unlike Gardner’s discredited PAS theory, the behaviors associated with DV by proxy are visible. Gardner stated the behaviors by the “alienating parent” were unconscious or unseen. This is one of the scarier components in Gardner’s theory because you cannot defend yourself against unseen things. Many healthy parents have found themselves trying to defend themselves against these unseen behaviors.

Family court professionals often fail to understand the presence and implications of both domestic violence and Cluster B psychopathology. Thus family court usually encourages unfettered access of the children to abusers. Family court judges and lawyers often work to punish healthy parents reporting bona fide abuse. Yet, they often seem to believe the victim stories told by abusers. Court officials often seem slow to recognize how family court itself can be abusive, particularly protracted, repeated, unnecessary court hearings used by the abuser to drain the financial and emotional resources of the healthy parent. Children may be placed with the abuser while the healthy parent is discredited through accusations of mental illness or PA. Other professionals involved including GALs, evaluators, therapists, etc. often take on responsibilities that are beyond their skill level. Antisocial and or Narcissistic personality disordered parents with good impression management skills are adept at “conning people, or gaining sympathy, and can win the trust and support of a family court professional while turning that same person against their ex-partner.”

The main goal of the abuser is s/he will end up with complete control over the children and will use this power over his former partner, “who tried to escape the power and control of the once abusive marriage.” They do not care if the children are harmed as long as their former partner is hurt and they feel they have won. It is imperative that the healthy parent and attorney understands how to use DV by proxy to counter and claims of parental alienation.  Joan Meier is an important anti-PA or PAS voice. She is an attorney who understands the power and control dynamics of DV. She is a smart researcher and she understands the quagmire of family courts. If one needed and could afford a DV expert to testify, she would be the one.

The following links may also be helpful:

http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/Hoult-PASarticlechildrenslawjournal.pdf

https://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/dv.html

http://www.dvleap.org/Programs/CustodyAbuseProject/PASCaseOverview.aspx

http://www.dvleap.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=dUauj0V-0Fs%3d&tabid=181

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One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with chapter all over the world. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level. Tina’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist and The Narc Decoder: Understanding the Language of the Narcissist can be found on Amazon.

The Custody Evaluation and the Enabling Mother

The Custody Evaluation and the Enabling Mother

The Enabling Mother and a Broken Family Court Systemby Tina Swithin

Yesterday, I discussed the 2010 Custody Evaluation that placed my daughters in the “family home” of my ex-brother-in-law, Jason Porter, despite my concerns about him which were expressed in great detail during the evaluation. This ex brother-in-law is currently being housed in San Luis Obispo County jail on an unprecedented seven million dollar bail facing 31 charges of child molestation and child abuse. I was told that this may be the largest child sex abuse case in our county in 15-years. I am heartbroken because this was preventable.

During the 2010 custody evaluation, I was hopeful. The evaluator, Noelia de la Torre of Family Court Services in San Luis Obispo, seemed to see the issues at hand. At one point she even called Child Welfare Services on my ex-husband during the investigation when he left my (then) three-year old daughter in a car unattended for 45 minutes immediately after a hospitalization for a complex seizure. There were strict orders in place that our daughter could not be unattended – even for a moment.

At hopeful as I was about the evaluation uncovering the truth, my heart sank when the evaluator mentioned that she would be interviewing my ex-husband’s mother in person. At the time, she was teaching overseas (home for summers and holidays) but she was well aware of all of the issues because she had either witnessed them in person or was told about each issue by phone or email. She was the only one Seth would listen to so I tried for years to get her to help. Initially, my pleas were for her to get both of her sons into therapy. As my marriage came to an end, my pleas changed to begging. I didn’t feel safe and I knew my children weren’t safe. While I knew she was the most knowledgeable person when it came to the issues I was facing with her sons, she was also the most dangerous because she was so skilled at enabling their behaviors and doing damage control for her family. She was as skilled as Mel Gibson’s PR firm when it came to spit-shining her family’s public image due to years of practice with her own husband.

I sat down and wrote a letter to the evaluator expressing my concerns – this is a snippet of that letter:

Noelia, I am very confused about the relevance of interviewing my mother-in-law and I hope you can help me to understand the importance of the interview.  My concern lies in the fact that she has had very limited interaction with my daughters– limited to a couple of weeks during Christmas and summers which her time is divided between her sons in Northern California and Southern California.  I think she saw the girls for a total of four days in December of 2009 and prior to that once or twice a week in July and August of 2009.  As you know, she lives overseas and while their family appears very healthy on the outside (degrees in education, long marriage, extremely personable, etc), she is one of the most dysfunctional people that I know. 

Does she love the girls- yes. She has played a large part in our marital problems due to her inability to recognize the problems in her sons (Jason and Seth both) and is very manipulative.  This is a woman who sat in Applebees listening to her eldest son, Jason talk about raping and murdering a woman in Texas without flinching.  I accompanied her son Jason to counseling when they tried to brush the issues under the table. This is also a woman who watched as I grabbed my daughter and fled Jason‘s home as he systematically beat 8 tiny puppies (10 weeks old) one at a time until they were screaming in pain.     

As you can see by many of the emails in your possession, I have reached out to my mother-in-law for help on many occasions to no avail.  She is very much in denial about problems that exist within her family.  I am concerned because I think it would be more helpful (and relevant) to interview people who have been a part of our family (mine, Seth’s and the girls) on an ongoing basis.  People who have seen my parenting up close and personal– the girls’ Godmother who has been in our family since Piper was five months old on a monthly (weekly and daily) basis consistently.

Your email through me off a bit as I am trying to find the relevance in an interview with my mother-in-law.  She is very good at painting a rosy picture; regardless if there is truth in it.  I hope that you can help me to understand and once again, I greatly appreciate your time.   

Sincerely, Tina

My aunt then wrote the evaluator because she was equally concerned about this interview:

Seth and his family live in a fake world that has been very well constructed by educated, intelligent, sick people.  They seem to operate in a world where calm denial is the motto. If you pretend something didn’t happen, if you do not talk about it, if you hide it well enough everything is fine. Go ahead and lie, cheat, deceive, commit crimes, hurt people……it’s all OK if no one admits to it, doesn’t talk about it, and if you drive a BMW.  If you have a degree, a good job, and a nice smile, all is well in their world.  Well, from what I see, their world is a sick place ruled by Seth’s mother.  Tina has tried over and over again to get her to help Seth and help their situation–to no avail. Tina is more than capable of speaking for herself so I have not needed to take action nor has Tina asked me to speak on her behalf except on rare occasions. I have tried through emails and the one phone discussion with Seth’s mom –with Tina’s approval.  Tina has felt that she is the only person in that family that may be able to influence Seth to get help.  I feel that she has an extreme need to be perfect and to avoid conflict at all cost.  Even though I do not believe Seth will ever get help or change I had to try.

My plea to Seth’s mom was not professionally based. It came from Tina’s Auntie Bev. (I serve her in a mother-like role.  She is my girl in my heart.)  It was a plea that came from one mom to another.  I hoped if I just let my raw emotions talk for me that it may bust through her iron mask and have an effect.  It evoked some emotion from her……but obviously not the emotion I had hoped.  In fact, her response unfortunately confirmed to me that she is not willing/able to be honest with this situation.  I will never contact her again for help.  I will respond to her email at some point…. mom to mom. – Aunt Bev

The evaluator bought Seth’s mom’s well-oiled, family sales pitch and all of the sudden, all of the evidence I had presented about Jason Porter and this family was brushed aside. On the SLO Family Court website, it states that their goal is “a healthy relationship with both parents.” That goal needs to change. Parental rights once again seem to supersede children’s rights. Acting in the best interest of the child should be the goal. In high-conflict divorces such as mine, the common denominator is typically a Cluster B personality disordered individual which means that both parents are not capable of having a healthy relationship with the child. The disordered parent has a goal of winning and controlling at all costs.

I tried for so long to break through to Seth’s mom — in voicing my frustrations to Seth’s Aunt about the issues, she responded with this:

Re ..the family keeping things “hush hush..”  I think my sister (Seth’s mom) is overly discrete… about how she tries to keep major family problems quiet.  I guess,  in her heart,  she is trying to protect people’s privacy and to guard the person against any possible embarrassment.

She did a fantastic job of covering major family problems and keeping them quiet. She protected their privacy and she guarded the family from embarrassment at the expense of many children. The reality is, Seth’s mom is a mandated reporter and has been since I met the family. She had a legal obligation (and a court order) to protect my children, your children and any children in her care. She brushed everything under the rug and not only that, went above and beyond to cover and lie for her sons. While her sons may have been beyond help, she had an obligation to protect children and she failed miserable. When I first heard about the arrest, I was distraught and beside myself — and I sent her a message. Her response: to shift the blame and tell me how “heartsick” SHE was — what about these nine victims (and counting)?! Here are some snippets of her response:

NO, I DID NOT KNOW about Jason, contrary to your accusations.  I also did not know that you had received an advanced degree in behavioral psychology which apparently qualifies you to label Seth as a narcissist and Jason as ‘sick.’ I am heartsick and physically ill…not that that matters to you.

What I do know: I know that since your and Seth’s painful, ugly divorce nine years ago, you have taken every opportunity to slander, defame, and gossip about our family in a thinly disguised as ‘anonymous’ yet very public blog and among your circle of friends and community. I know that you have profited personally and financially from dragging our personal lives into your ‘fame.’  What kind of person gloats and celebrates and makes public the pain of another? What kind of person continues to do so for nine years? You are divorced. You have sole custody of the girls. What happens in my family is no longer a concern of yours.

I know that your self-righteous compulsion to drag our family name and reputation through the dirt in your thinly disguised ‘anonymous’ blog  – which anyone with half a brain can trace to us – is destructive, malicious, and deliberately hurtful with no regard for the consequences to me. I know that at one point we were close and you were extremely helpful to my son and I during his serious depression.

I know that I love and will always love Piper and Sarah.

I know that filing a restraining order against our family is an absurd publicity stunt. We HAVE HAD no contact. I have NOT initiated any further contact since you asked me not to months ago. Trust me, we are not going to reach out so what possible purpose would you have in doing so except to create more sensationalist material for your blog?

I know that my personal compassion and principles would never allow me to wish upon you, nor upon any person, the public humiliation and sadness that your ongoing attacks, “your battle” as you call it, have caused me and our family. I have never attacked you back; I have never intimated about your boat/bikini girl days, or your failed child care business and money owed.

I know that you are continuing to google, and email, and incite people against Jason and against our family.  Example from your earlier slander: “three men living alone in a home with a Thai bought bride.” How vindictive. How hateful. I know that you have leaked the connection between Jason’s arrest, and my job, and that there is a very real possibility I will lose my job because of what you have done to make this even more public.

Despite all this, and only for the sake of Piper and Sarah, I will honestly consider your text request from yesterday (for Seth to terminate his parental rights). But only if the blogging and emailing to incite against Jason stops, only if your harassment of our family ceases  – by you and anyone affiliated with you. – Seth’s mom

All of her hard work…all of these years of spit-shining the family image gone…her son’s true colors have been revealed by HIS doing. Yet somehow, I am to blame for the publicity this case has received? No compassion for his victims…only concern about her job. As much as I know about this family, you would think I would stop being shocked by their actions.

To the families who have been affected by this sick, evil monster: my heart breaks for you. My heart breaks for all of us. This tragedy was preventable. It didn’t have to happen. These issues should not have been minimized or brushed under the rug — these issues have been glaring for years and they were ignored and covered up. Everyone who has been affected is in my daily prayers. I give you my word that I will not stop until the people who have allowed this to happen are held accountable. — Tina Swithin

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One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with over 100-chapters in five different countries. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level.

Divorcing a Narcissist: Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

The Narc Decoder – Book Release

The Narc Decoder – Book Release

by Tina Swithin

Hi everyone!  It’s been quite a while since I’ve checked in.

As I opened the OMB blog to write a post, I had a flood of memories come through. This was the place I came to vent, purge and try to make sense of a world that makes no sense. When I started this blog, I was rock bottom. I was alone, scared and confused. I was someone who hated conflict and because of that, I learned to bend and my boundaries were fluid versus firm. This blog became my strength on so many dark days.

Quick update on my case: it’s been 31 months since we’ve seen Seth aside from a 1-hour visit in 2014 which caused our world to rock a bit. After that visit, the Commissioner stripped Seth of visits completely. He isn’t even allowed to call us. In true sociopath fashion, Seth recently reemerged on Valentine’s Day when he sent a card to his mom and pretended that it came from the girls. Because he used my email address to send the card (silly, silly, little Seth), I promptly filed a police report to document the incident. Now he has set a court date to deal with child support because he was once again fired from his job. I wish I would have never opened a child support case in 2009 because today, that is the tie that binds us. The reality is, I would gladly pay him support each month to go away once and for all!

Since I stopped blogging, I’ve taken my writing energy to paper and made good use of my time. Last year I published my third book, Rebuilding After the Storm and today, my fourth book went live which may be my personal favorite: The Narc Decoder.

Excerpt from The Narc Decoder:

Divorcing a narcissist? You are probably left feeling baffled and shaken by the communication that you receive from the narcissist. In my mid-twenties, I contemplated learning multiple foreign languages. I envisioned dabbling in French to successfully make my way around Paris or Irish Gaelic to explore the rich history of Ireland along with my deep ancestral roots in that country. My day dreams about learning new languages always went hand in hand with the imagery of world travel. The thought of exploring exotic and old world places far away from home intrigued me. My mind summoned several foreign adventures, but never did I think I would need to learn a foreign language to navigate my own life. In 2008, I heard the words, “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (NPD) to describe my then-husband, Seth. It took a couple years for the reality of those three little words to really sink in.

Looking back, the red flags had been waving in the wind since our very first date. Those flags grew taller and more vibrant in color during our marriage. As it turns out, those same red flags that had been lining my path for years were dipped in a highly flammable mixture of kerosene. I realized the danger only when they exploded near the end of my marriage. Like any unexpected explosion, I was unprepared and left nursing deep, emotional, third-degree burns. In my research, I discovered a new language which took quite a bit of studying and insight on NPD to understand. As it turns out, the reason that I was so bewildered by Seth’s communication style was that we were speaking completely different languages. I spoke the English version of “human” while he was speaking the non-human “Narc-ish.”

I am convinced there is a Narc-ish dictionary or manual hidden deep in a dark, musty hole somewhere in a faraway land with step-by-step instructions on how to inflict fear, confusion and despair. From this land, narcissists hail. Their secret language can only be decoded by those who aren’t fooled by the narcissist’s stealth ability to inflict confusion and chaos with it. My computer has a feature that allows me to translate most languages. However, this particular area of my life requires technology that is a bit savvier. Need is the catalyst of industry: and I was in need of a device to decipher Narc-ish. So, I invented one. I call it the “Narc Decoder” and have made life-altering good use of it. The good news is, everyone has access to the Narc Decoder because it is a machine that I am honored to replicate and share with anyone who is forced to communicate with a narcissist. Once you understand how to use the Narc Decoder, your life will change for the better. You will become empowered and will regain your voice. Over time, you will begin to find humor in the communication style that once left you on your knees begging for mercy.

This may very well be my favorite book of all – because it shows you how to take your power back. It teaches you how to see through the lies, projection, attacks and bullshit. Always open to feedback and you can find me on Facebook!

Love, light and lemonade power!  Tina

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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.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Raising Healthy Children

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Raising Healthy Children

OMB Healthy Childrenby Rebecca Davis-Merritt

Remember your journey with the Cluster B in your life: the lies, manipulation, wooing, broken promises, his/her victim status but how at first you fell in love with the charisma and apparent ability to look into your soul. You may have thought s/he was your soul mate. Now your eyes and thoughts are unclouded. You see the Cluster B in a non-distorted way but your children are caught up in the Cluster B world during their parenting time. How do you help protect your children by teaching them to recognize manipulation, to set healthy boundaries, but not badmouth their other parent (recommended reading: Divorce Poison)? You have to arm your children to make it to adulthood relatively unscathed from their love for and contact with a Cluster B parent.

Ideally your children will have an excellent therapist who understands domestic violence (the emotional abuse and extreme need for power and control of a Cluster B is DV, although not all DV agencies understand this. See the Duluth Model of DV power wheel). Many DV agencies have support groups for children that teach them to recognize pathological need for power and control and how to protect themselves from abusers. Hopefully they have a very healthy other parent in you who understands the pathology of Cluster B, resists their efforts to antagonize, bait, and agitate you, is able to “grey rock it” by not showing emotion to Cluster B, communicating only via email or Our Family Wizard, Two House, Talking Parents, etc, and who teaches the children empathy in various ways. Start by reading aloud a Bucket Book (Amazon) to children 3-9. This costs around $10 and is a powerful tool for parents and children. The child learns about bucket fillers (kind people) and bucket dippers (angry,controlling, bullies). They learn the relationship between kindness and thoughtfulness and feeling safe and happy or the relationship between meanness and feeling unsafe and unhappy. Parents can help children understand how empathy is related to people choosing to respect others’ feelings and lack of empathy is not caring and often deliberately hurting others.

Many OMB parents teach their children that empathy is important by volunteer activities serving the vulnerable or by having zip lock packs of food, water, and grooming supplies in the car to give to homeless individuals. Even TV and movies can be a teaching tool. Frozen depicts a Cluster B who is charming, wooed his way into Anna’s heart  but turns out to be a lying scoundrel. This provides a good discussion about how first impressions do not matter as much as longterm behaviors and how we always need to date someone a long time observing them in many environments and situations before giving our heart to them. It can also lead to a discussion of the qualities important in a husband/father or wife/mother. Healthy parents have to seize every teachable moment to arm their children in a protective manner. They also have to learn how to deprogram their children without bad mouthing their other parent when the children return from parenting time in demoralized, angry, or confused states.

TV and movies have many examples of when a boundary set by a person is violated by another. Help your children recognize such boundary intrusions. The first step in children learning to set boundaries is the belief they have the right to safely do so. Safely means the boundary will be acknowledged and respected, not ignored, made fun of, etc. Children need much practice with their healthy parent in understanding everyone sets boundaries but not all people have the same types of boundaries. Eventually the child will understand boundaries, realize they have the right for appropriate boundaries to be respected. At this time they can then, especially if familiar with bucket book philosophy, learn that there are people who refuse to honor other people’s boundaries. They are bucket dippers and they intentionally violate others’ boundaries because it makes them feel powerful. They like to bully and boss others. At this point children learn the difference in trustworthy and untrustworthy people. Unfortunately for children with Cluster B parents, their parent is often the latter.

It is very scary for a child to set a healthy boundary with a Cluster B parent. It might be saying, “stop talking about mom/dad that way.” Setting the boundary will likely result in punishment and a Cluster B tantrum designed to bully the child into feeling sorry for or fearing the Cluster B. Yet it is important that the child feels empowered to set healthy boundaries and to do so when motivated. Otherwise the child grows up catering to pathology and avoiding confrontation often picking their own life partner to recreate such dynamics. It is also okay for children to know what boundary they wish to set but to acknowledge it would not be safe for them to do it with their Cluster B parent. This is not avoidance but self-protection. This information needs to be shared with therapist, GAL, etc. It is up to the healthy parent to give their children the cognitive tools  to understand empathy, lack of empathy, excessive need of power and control, manipulation (tv commercials are great examples), and boundaries. If you respect your child, allow appropriate boundaries, and model empathy and kindness you are cultivating the best environment for your children to flourish, withstand a Cluster B parent without developing pathological narcissistic, manipulative features themselves. Examine yourself. Have you done enough self improvement to be the kind of parent who can provide this environment for your child? If not find your own therapist, join your own DV support group, join an OMB state chapter and participate in meetings, check out OMB’s suggested reading list and start educating yourself more intensively.

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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.

One Mom’s Battle Updates from Tina Swithin

One Mom’s Battle Updates from Tina Swithin

Thank_You_Beach_620by Tina Swithin

There are so many changes happening with One Mom’s Battle – this particular blog post is bittersweet as it marks the end of a journey that has been full of extreme highs and lows, happiness, sadness and finally, peace. I had no idea that starting this blog in 2011 would alter the course of my life. At the time, I was just one mom. When I started this blog, I felt incredibly alone — the blog became my confidant, my outlet and my dear friend during the darkest period of my life. There were times that I wrote things that I never published – my deepest fears and most personal thoughts were captured both publicly and privately. The One Mom’s Battle movement is gaining momentum and we are headed in a direction that exceeds anything I ever dreamt possible. For that reason, this will be my last personal blog.

One Mom’s Battle (OMB) is no longer about me. This movement is SO much bigger than me- thanks to all of you.

One Mom’s Battle recently turned into a non-profit organization with the potential to change lives, educate the masses and reach those who are feeling desperate and alone. Our main mission and driving force is to educate the Family Court System on Cluster B personality disorders so that no child experiences the heartache and abuse that my daughters endured…and that your children endure. It is my hope that no one ever feels alone in this battle and my heart swells with pride when I see the massive outreach taking place every day on the OMB Facebook page. Our Facebook pages are run by the most dedicated group of volunteers I have ever encountered. It’s a place of community and it’s a place of education.

A few weeks ago, we held our first OMB Board Meeting where I am volunteering as Board President. We’ve divided into a variety of sub-committees and we are going full steam ahead fueled by incredible amounts of passion and purpose. The Board Members are my family – strong, inspirational and driven to fight for Children’s Rights. We have an amazing board, a strong advisory committee and our Executive Director is one of the most inspirational warrior parents that I’ve ever encountered. The OMB Board of Directors is a true Dream Team. We look forward to updating you on “everything OMB” in the coming months.   Cheers to education and making changes – from my coffee cup to yours!

I sit here writing from my favorite little beach-side coffee shop in 88 degree California weather. I love coming here – it’s my secret spot where I rarely run into anyone that I know. I even have a favorite booth in the back corner where I can people-watch and reflect on past, present and future. Today I am reflecting on the many changes in my life over the past year – and the fact that the most prevalent feeling in my life is contentment. I am thankful to the Family Court System for finally “getting it.” I wish this feeling for everyone.

As I mentioned above, this will be my final personal blog. My battle is over. My case was won on the basis of emotional abuse – while this is rare, it gives me hope that others will follow in my footsteps. What is next for me?  As many of you know, I recently took a huge plunge and quit my career in Public Relations to dedicate myself to my new role as a Divorce Coach for survivors of Cluster B relationships and for those enduring high conflict custody battles. In addition, I am writing my third book and plan to facilitate annual retreats (the first one will be held November 6-8, 2015). If you’d like to follow my personal blog and stay informed on retreats or events that I am facilitating and new book releases, please visit me at www.tinaswithin.com and sign up (bottom right) for my monthly e-newsletter. To participate in my November retreat, please email me at tina@onemomsbattle.com.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you for cheering me on during my court battles. Thank you for your emails, text messages and snail mail. Thank you for believing in me when I was living on coffee, not sleeping and buried in piles of court documents. Thank you for sharing your stories and your heart with me over the past four years. Thank you for being a part of my journey.  Thank you!  – In love and deep gratitude, Tina Swithin

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

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

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

The Narc Decoder: Ficus on your Husband (A Classic Email from Seth)

The Narc Decoder: Ficus on your Husband (A Classic Email from Seth)
narc decoderby Tina Swithin
The “Narc Decoder” began as a way to find light in the darkness. In the beginning of my divorce, Seth’s emails would often make me crumble to the ground. As time went on and I got stronger, I began to see right through his attempts to control and intimidate through written communication and the Narc Decoder (patent pending) was born as a way for me to cope with the craziness. Humor is truly the best medicine. A few weeks ago, I sent Seth an email regarding the impending supervised visits and my meeting with minor’s counsel. I had been made aware of the recent police report documenting Seth’s fifth victim since our divorce proceedings began. While this is victim #5, this one was especially troublesome because it occurred during our 3111 custody evaluation.This was Seth’s response to my email and apparently. the police report is a “hypothesis:”
Tina-  First off, I don’t care about your hypothesis.You’re spending child support money to write books no one reads about me.Second, you’re infatuated with me and you need to ficus on your new husband not me. So move on.

Third you’re a narcissist. Your pictures by photographers you hire are all over your little corner of social media and you with your 36 book fans are a pathetic breed. Keep it up with your nonsense while our daughters suffer from your egomania output to get losers to believe it’s okay to cheat on a husband. You will never absolve yourself yourself for your lies and selfishness in your heart.  -Seth

And into the “Narc Decoder” it goes….Snap…Crackle…Pop….Decoded!

Tina – First off, I don’t care that you have an official police report in hand. I am currently trying to concoct a story that will make this entire incident your fault. Everything is your fault in case you weren’t aware. You just sit back and wait to see what kind of story I come up with! I’m sure that you and the girl I was dating were actually in cahoots on this entire thing. Never mind the fact that you are on the west coast and she is on the east coast. I’m positive that this was all a set up and her father was probably the officer who showed up at the hotel to take the report. Now that I think about it, she is probably your third cousin twice removed. YOU set me up and forced the 23 alcoholic beverages that preceded the assault down my throat from 3,000 miles away….and you thought that you were going to get away with this! HA!

I am sure that if I keep mentioning child support money, people will believe that I pay you every month. Who cares about that measly $40,812.36 in arrears! Do you know that it eats at me that you’ve written books that tell the truth about me. I checked your Amazon reviews for the 93rd time today and you had a new review! You are now up to 265 reviews and both books are holding at 5-stars. I HATE that you are successful because it goes against everything I’ve ever told you! I hate that so many people know the truth about me.

Second, I am infatuated with myself. Why aren’t you infatuated with me…didn’t you hear all of the great things my mom said about me? Why won’t you listen, dammit!? By the way, I don’t want you to orchid or fern on your new husband. I want you to ficus on him. Wait..I never misspelled anything or made any mistakes prior to meeting YOU. Your white trash upbringing has affected my spelling. I knew it! See what you’ve done! I wrote “ficus” instead of “focus” and its all your fault. Move on and stop making me make mistakes. (Note from Tina: credit to Laura in Southern California for the ficus humor!)

Third, I’m a narcissist. Wait…I think I am actually a sociopath but I know that is a big word for you. By the way, the pictures you use of your coaching website prove that you are a narcissist also. It is very clear that in an effort to save money, you used your wedding photos versus having new photos taken…who was your photographer, by the way? I am in need of some new photos for my dating profiles. I am hoping for the “Fortune 500” look which will go right along with what I am telling women. Did I mention that the people who read your books and blog are right up my alley?…an entire group of kind, loving, empathetic women. Do you have any of their phone numbers? I am actually on the hunt for my next victim and I love people with the qualities that I lack. I would appreciate it greatly if you would STOP educating the masses. You are eating up my dating pool every single day. By the way. I am still telling people that you cheated on me even though we both know that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Someone will eventually believe it. Won’t they? Will you just say you did because it would sure help my victim story. Please? -Seth

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

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

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

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

Turning 40 and Adjusting My Sails

Turning 40 and Adjusting My Sails

sailsby Tina Swithin

I am not a football fan but I know a good end zone dance when I see one. I am currently heading for the end zone – the end of a decade. This week, I turn 40 years old. At first, like many of my peers, I struggled with the thought of leaving my 30’s until a few things put it all into perspective for me.

  1. I lost some longtime friends over the past year. Not because of a falling out or a silly argument. It was much bigger than that. Several amazing women that I’ve known since elementary school faced cancer bravely but in the end, it succeeded in taking them from their friends, their family and this world. It felt pretty petty to complain about a new year of life when there are people unable to enjoy another day…or another breath. In their honor, I will embrace my 40’s the way I embrace everything. With life. With love. With all of my being.
  2. I could look at the negatives and dwell on them or, I could look at the picture as a whole and focus on the positives  and on all that I have accomplished over the past ten years. Here are just a few of the moments that stand out in my mind over the past decade:
  • I was handed a diagnosis of MS months before turning 30 which at the time, was a devastating blow. I then embarked on a long and windy road filled with numerous doctors, hospital stays, lab tests and various treatment plans. Through this journey, I have taken the lemons and made lemonade while trying to stay positive.
  • Weeks before my 30th birthday, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first daughter. That year, I learned what it meant to be selfless. I learned that the love you have for your child is a love that you can never describe. In April of 2005, I held my baby for the first time and my life forever changed.
  • At the age of 32, the love that I had for my daughter expanded to include a second daughter. During my pregnancy, I wondered how I could love another child the same way I loved my little girl but those concerns were quickly dismissed when they placed a 6lb 9oz baby girl in my arms in April of 2007.
  • At the age of 34, my marriage ended and I embarked on a journey that few will ever be able to understand. I am thankful that they don’t understand because it is a journey that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
  • That same year, I found God. He had been there all along. He wasn’t hiding- I had been. For the first time in my life, I had faith.
  • Months later, and very unexpectedly, I met my best friend. It just so happened that my best friend turned out to be tall, dark, handsome and the kindest, most honest man I had ever met. Thus began a type of love that I didn’t know existed.
  • At the age of 37, I had this silly little idea to start a blog. That blog has morphed into two books and a movement that I could have never envisioned.
  • At the age of 38, I married by best friend and together; we have five children ranging from the age of 25 all the way down to 7. His are grown and out of the house…mine are not. We are the modern day Brady Bunch complete with all the chaos and craziness that you would expect. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
  • Just three months after my wedding, I was successful in my plight to protect my daughters. Anyone who has been in the Family Court System with a narcissist knows how monumental this is. A full 14 months of peace ensued following this life-changing day.
  • At the age of 39, I launched a non-profit organization which will work to educate the Family Court System on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and a coaching business which allows me to educate and empower those in the trenches. I have discovered what it means to “find  your passion” and everything that has happened over the past ten years makes complete sense.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It all makes sense. The good times, the bad times and even the times when I waived my fists in the air and cried. The times when I crumbled to the floor and questioned my faith. It all makes sense and I am thankful to be where I am today. I am at the end of a decade and I am doing my own version of an end zone dance.  – Love, Tina

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

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

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

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

 

 

Peter Cook and Suzanne Shaw Divorce: Cheating Again

Peter Cook and Suzanne Shaw Divorce: Cheating Again

peterby Tina Swithin

This one can be labeled  under, “We all saw it coming” but, I will be honest in saying that the marriage of Peter Cook and Suzanne Shaw Cook lasted much longer than I expected. Following a case like this can be somewhat boring because all narcissists use the same playbook (yaaawnnnn). In the beginning of the case, Peter took responsibility for his actions in a way that only narcissists do: I’m sorry but it was all Christie’s fault that I strayed. A half-ass apology and then victim blaming. Typical.

Peter then quickly moved on to Suzanne Shaw because, as we all know, they can’t be without Narcissistic Supply for very long. Suzanne quickly jumped on the “bash Christie” bandwagon and became Peter’s prized minion carrying out his dirty work and bashing and blaming Christie at every opportunity. The goal for Peter was to stay in the spotlight while carrying out his main agenda: hurting the woman who first saw through  him.  In predictable narcissistic fashion, Peter holds Christie responsible for the public lashing he took when it was discovered that he had carried on a two year affair with Diana Bianchi. This two-year affair was discovered when Ms. Bianchi was 17-years old. I will let you do the math on her age when the affair began.

Do I blame Suzanne Shaw? I don’t blame her because I have been charmed by an individual like Peter Cook and have since dedicated my life to raising awareness on the topic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Peter Cook was diagnosed by a court appointed psychiatrist as an “insatiable narcissist” with a porn habit costing thousands of dollars per month. Described in today’s NY Post article as “a cheater” and a “creep” along with words like “narcissist” and “desperate,” I’m not usually one to say, “I told you so” but in this situation, we all knew it was a matter of time….

This current issue with Peter Cook goes to show the depths of his illness and evil. As early as last week, he was still groveling to the National Enquirer about Christie Brinkley because at this point, that is the only media outlet who will listen to his rants and all the while, his marriage secretly ended back in February according to media reports. This man is so hell-bent on trying to destroy Christie Brinkley’s reputation and so arrogant that he hoped that no one would pick up on the fact that he continued to jump from one woman to another while sporting a wedding ring. Peter Cook is the definition of vile.

I hope this serves as a teachable moment for all women dating. Pay attention to internal red flags when dating and pay attention to external red flags – such as the words and experiences of others who have walked before you. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….it might just be a duck. If it sleeps in other women’s beds like a narcissist (while married) and talks (lies, projects and re-creates reality) like a narcissist….it might just be a narcissist.

It will be interesting to see if we hear more from Suzanne Shaw, my guess based on the statement by Peter’s attorney leads me to believe that Suzanne has been hushed with a narcissist’s most prized possession: money.

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

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

Seeking a Divorce Coach for your high-conflict divorce and custody battle? Contact Tina Swithin at Tina Swithin, LLC

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

Divorcing a Narcissist: Finding my Life Mission

Divorcing a Narcissist: Finding my Life Mission

purposeby Tina Swithin

I plopped down on a therapist’s couch for the first time when I was in my early 20’s. That visit was prompted by a severely dysfunctional relationship that thankfully, came to an end. One of the first goals I set with the therapist was to sort through my baggage and make healthier relationship decisions moving forward. More than anything, I wanted to avoid sitting in a therapist’s office at the age of 35. I even verbalized this fear to my therapist.

Fast forward to 2009 and as a 35-year old woman, I found myself sitting on yet another therapist’s couch. My worst fear had come to fruition. After a 10 year relationship to the man I originally thought was Prince Charming, I was in the fight of my life trying to protect my two young daughters in a custody battle that garnered international media attention. The wise relationship choice that I believed I was making turned out to be a marriage that was shiny and pretty on the outside but cold, dark and ugly on the inside. Unbeknownst to me, I had married a man with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

During my 4-year custody battle, I acted as my own attorney and endured the following:

  • Over thirty court dates consisting of both trials and hearings.
  • Two full custody evaluations.
  • Six-hundred plus hours devoted to trial and hearing preparation, research, documentation and court dates.
  • Twelve police reports ranging from violations of the court orders to the more severe such as breaking into my home.
  • Three investigations by Child Welfare Services which ultimately determined my ex-husband to be a “moderate risk” yet did nothing to help my children.

In July of 2013, my custody battle came to an end when I secured professionally supervised visits and ultimately, my daughter’s safety. To say that I felt a sense of relief may be the understatement of the century. All of the sleepless nights, the tears, the fear and the anxiety came to a screeching halt with one final strike of the Judge’s gavel.

Looking back, I have every right to be angry at the system that failed my children for so long. I could throw rocks at the sky and ask what I did to deserve this life altering battle. I’ve could continue to feed and nourish my anger which would ensure that the anger would thrive and leave me consumed by bitterness for the rest of my life or, I could choose a different path.

As I approach my 40th birthday and reflect on the advice that I’ve picked up over the years, I’ve always held onto a quote that made sense but I couldn’t find the connection in my life until recently: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius. Some people have light bulb moments and others, like me, have brief and sporadic flashes of light similar to what happens when a boat is searching for a lighthouse on a foggy night. Once the light cuts through the fog, the ride to shore is smooth.

This battle has changed my life in more ways than I ever thought possible. This battle has become my life because it’s given me the ability to help others by sharing my story of perseverance and providing hope. I have taken my experiences and turned them into a blog, books and now, my life passion which is to coach other parents who find themselves facing a narcissist in the uneducated Family Court System. I have taken the maps and the tools that I used to navigate the choppy waters of a high conflict divorce and I teach others to do the same.

One thing that I have learned during this battle is to lean on my faith and accept that everything does happen for a reason. Trusting that I was placed on this path to help others has been life changing. Instead of being angry and bitter, I have made the choice to take the lemons that were handed to me and to whip up a huge batch of lemonade for those who are on the battlefield of the Family Court System. I believe that there is purpose to my pain and I am using the knowledge that I’ve gained in an effort to help others.

If you are in the trenches and fighting for your children, my message for you is to never give up. I have personally witnessed the most dire cases turn completely around. I am inspired daily by the warrior parents that I meet and I am encouraged by their stories. I will continue to work diligently to bring awareness to Narcissistic Personality Disorder and its affect on the Family Court System. I hope you will join me by speaking up and sharing you story whenever you are afforded the opportunity. Have faith that everything is happening for a reason and while you may not understand the reason now, it will make sense to you one day. Together, we can work to highlight the issues that are so pervasive in the Family Court System.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  -Margaret Mead  

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

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

Seeking a Divorce Coach for your high-conflict divorce and custody battle? Contact Tina Swithin at Tina Swithin, LLC

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