names have been omitted in this post
I kicked off my shoes, pulled on sweats and soon settled on the couch; curling up in the quilt my grandmother bought me many moons ago from Mervyn's for my apartment… the apartment I had leading up to when I got married at twenty- two. This quilt with a background of gray-blue graced with pink flowers has gone everywhere with me. It's worn and faded, soft and slightly frayed in a couple spots… but well loved and cherished. It's covered my bed, it's been my go-to when I've been sick with the flu, it's been a spread for the floor for babies to coo and roll over on, it's been a picnic blanket at the park and botanic gardens, it's been a protective cover for transporting fragile items in my SUV… that well worn and loved blanket has made it's way to Colorado, California and back to Texas. It's been everywhere… it's graced my lap during laughter, wrapped me up while in tears and more. Something so simple… and yet its presence so comforting. My mother sat on the opposite end of the couch munching on some popcorn she'd made, alternating handfuls of popcorn and m&m's. It was Saturday night and my daughter was gone for the week at her dad's. I had poured myself a glass of wine and glanced at the time on my iPhone nearby. No phone call tonight from my daughter. She usually didn't call until Wednesday or Thursday night if her call even went through... her father usually blocked them. When she had discovered what he'd done she unblocked me and when he noticed he told her to not unblock me again. I didn't know how he thought by telling her that she was going to want to have anything to do with him... much less like him.
My mother tossed some popcorn in her mouth and spoke "Wow, I think this season is going to be a real doozy." She remarked in reference to the newest season of the Bachelorette we had saved on the DVR and started watching.
I glanced over at her. "Um, yeah... Did they pick potential suitors at a three ring circus?" I asked, referring to the male contestants hoping to be chosen. "They have a guy dressed as a penguin, one guy who can't stop making noises and one who says his job is being a tickle monster." I replied. "What's with all the gimmicks? What happened to just 'nice to meet you'"? I asked, "You know, normal."
She laughed wholeheartedly, "Whatever that is... "
It had been a tension filled last few weeks with all the child custody litigation amping up. Despite having a relaxing evening I was ready to have all the custody mess over with and release a big sigh of relief. On the twenty first of May things had come to a head. That afternoon my daughter had realized she didn't have her school t-shirt she would need for a class field trip the following Tuesday. I didn't want her father at my house and had previously let him know via phone and message on Our Family Wizard. During our divorce while I'd lived in the marital home he'd broken in at least twice. He had harassed me at my previous job numerous times and had continually broken boundaries I set because he just felt like it. I recommended to my daughter that she call him and ask him to drop her t-shirt by the school for her on either Monday or Tuesday morning. Proximity-wise it made much more sense for him to drop the t-shirt at her school rather than bring it to me. She called him and explained and then as I breezed by with laundry to do I overheard her saying "No... no, I asked you to... No! I told you... No, I want you to bring it to the school.... No! I told you no... " and finally just hanging up the phone with irritation and frustration.
"What's the problem?" I demanded then spoke "Is he bringing that t-shirt over here?" I asked her, my volume rising.
She sighed. "Yep! Well, he wouldn't listen to me. So he is. He just does what he wants!" She snapped and flounced to the couch. I sighed and went to the laundry room to begin tossing clothes in the washer.
If you told him the sky was blue he'd say "No, it's not!" If you told him white he'd say black. If you told him go he'd stop. If you told him don't come over he'd show up. It was like an adult version of Oppositional Defiant Disorder on steroids. When was this nonsense going to stop? I had dreams of that day. He didn't give a care about boundaries. I set them but he just plowed right through them and did whatever he wanted.
There was no logical reason for him to drive all the way over to bring it. Not when the school was closer. He was so out of line. What part of I don't want him here did he not understand? I had a right to not have him here... I had the right to privacy and him not lurking around. I had the right to him not being allowed at my home... regardless of shared custody. But when it comes to a narc they disagree. In his eyes he was enjoying crossing my boundaries and YET at the same time could say how HE was trying to co-parent and really make an effort and THIS was in the best interests of our child. At first glance it appears that I was being adversarial. But that's the thing about narcs... they are exceptionally good at crossing boundaries and silently laughing about it all the while making it look as though THEY are the ones who are trying and you're not. It takes a skilled Ad Litem, therapist, attorney, judge etc to look at the situation and realize that this person had other options to get the t-shirt to the child and since they have a history of abuse they are doing this merely to push buttons and create chaos.
Narcs don't respect people so they don't respect boundaries
We need to look at what is important to us... What are we willing or not willing to accept? We need to know what we need to bring peace and self-respect into our lives. Once we have figured that out then we know what we need to stick to. Otherwise it's incredibly easy to doubt ourselves, doubt our standards become wishy-washy because the narc attempts or is successful in making us believe our boundaries are ridiculous and unneeded. They will cry to everyone they know how they are simply trying to help and co-parent but you keep causing all these problems and making it so hard for them... how you obviously don't care about your children, etc. But we know when it comes to a narc it's all lies and they merely twist it to their advantage to make themselves look good. Instead of them saying "She (or he) doesn't like me coming to her (or his) home so I'm going to find another alternative to getting our child the shirt"... instead they whine and cry to everyone how you don't care if your child has the shirt and you've made it impossible for them to bring it to you and how awful you are.
Examples of Boundaries That Narc's Try To / Or Do Cross:
1. Insist they will bring the item your child needs to your home versus to the alternative you've given them.
2. Insist on "family dinners" despite you stating you will not attend.
3. Sending electronic devices with your child to your home despite you not allowing them.
4. Taking your child to see a relative whether its yours or theirs that you know is not healthy for them to be around and you've forbidden it; whether its witnessing inappropriate behaviors such drinking, drugs, enduring emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc or being subjected to the risk of.
5. Drinking and driving with your child in the vehicle.
6. Continuing to take your child to a therapist or doctor etc that you don't believe is being fruitful and have stated so. Or refusing to use a doctor or therapist that would be more affordable.
7. Placing your child in expensive extra-circular activities you cannot afford even with the child support because the narc wants to drain your bank accounts.
8. Calling, emailing you at all hours of the day and night despite you telling them to stop.
9. Not sticking to the subject of your communication which is your child but instead questioning/harassing you regarding your whereabouts, your job, your income, your friends, etc.
10. Stalking you on social media, having their friends and co-workers do it for them.
Yes, ten may seem like a lot but really that's just the tip of the iceberg with a narc. That's truly not that many, those are merely the high points... there are many more and although I've experienced all ten of these there are countless others.
So we need to keep in mind that we can set boundaries and yes, a narc may not follow them; they likely will not respect them. But keep setting them anyway. Eventually (hopefully) someone will see that you are doing what is best for you and your child... and even if they don't, at least you know you are doing what is necessary to teach your child boundaries, that they are needed and don't make you a mean person when you set them. So hopefully this cycle of crazy-making doesn't continue into another generation.