Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 10 a.m.
names have been omitted in this post
I sat in the small conference room with my mother and attorney... we were downtown at the family law courthouse and going back and forth with my ex and his attorney regarding the issues that my ex had served me on back in September. There were multiple issues he had brought up; first he was stating I owed money to him for out of pocket doctor expenses and over priced prescriptions regarding our son. Part of the money owed was on counseling sessions for our son for a psychologist that was out of network (that my ex chose) and charged $140.00 an hour... which was exorbinant and unnecessary considering the distance needed to travel to see her and the fact there has been zero improvement in our mother son relationship. It was ironic that I was expected to pay for counseling for a psychologist that was out of network when there were plenty of readily available and likely more qualified therapists in our city and for much less expense. But as he arrogantly always says "Money is no object to me" which is so ironic... he is of the thinking that because he makes over six figures that I should just have to ante up and pay my portion... when I don't earn anywhere near what he does. And yet what is so amusing is if money is REALLY no object wouldn't one just pay for it all and just move on? Not in a handout kind of way... but if it's truly NO object why poke at me for an amount that can pinch but is supposedly just a drop in the bucket for him. It's almost funny because it's so riduculous. The other portion of the money owed is for our son's prescriptions... because my ex refuses to sign up for mail order through United Healthcare we pay more than is necessary for our sons's (and daughter's) prescriptions because getting them through the retailer like CVS, Walgreens, etc is pricier which makes him happy because then I owe more. The narc is so adept at finding under the radar ways of punishing you however he or she can... including financially. Our daughter's birthdate is wrong through insurance and even though I have voiced and sent MANY messages via Our Family Wizard for him to please get it corrected (I tried but they refused due to I don't have that authoritzation) he ignores me and refuses... which causes confusion upon picking up prescriptions for her and she sighs with annoyance because she sees firsthand what he's like... he shows her everyday his true colors by his poor actions.
So we go back and forth on the money... the amount stated I owe is over ten grand and they are asking for interest, jail time, etc in the papers they served. My attorney states that she will have my ex get on the stand and testify for each and every single item he's brought to court... his attorney stares at her and says "No one's ever done that." Well, guess what? It's your first time. Eventually my ex caves to a small insignificant amount for me to pay and I write him a check that afternoon. Thankfully, the money portion is settled although they then make the petty move of stating I must sign a statment that I was in contempt. After being subjected to this and the past three years of hell from him one can only imagine the contempt there should be.
Then it comes to the child custody... it's interesting that we come to learn that they don't want to address that just now... they are now backing away. They don't want to address the VERY ISSUES IN WHICH THEY BROUGHT TO SUIT???! That makes zero sense, right? They are retreating. I stare at my attorney with surprise and absorb it... Oh, heck no... I'm moving forward... full speed ahead. We are told that today's court visit will only cover the enforcement of the money stated owed. That the child custody portion will be reset to another time in the future. With that... we gather our things and depart... thankful and ready to have the day behind us.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 6p.m.
names have been omitted in this post
I pull my SUV in the big circular drive of my ex's and put it in park... sitting there I see the stucco exterior and large trees overshadowing the property. Peering through the windshield I sigh... "I don't see her coming out. I guess I'll have to go fetch her." I tell my mother. We had her for her birthday this year... it was our turn... our time with her was between six and eight that night... the perfect time to go get dinner and celebrate with cake and presents. She knew beforehand that was our plan. Next year would be his year to get the birthday time slot. I ring the bell and know I'm on video.... so I turn my back and walk back down the sidewalk a bit to wait for her. The front door opens and he calls out "Hi!" in his chirpy fake nice voice. Here she comes bounding out toward me with a big smile in a jogging outfit and pink headband. I ignore him and wrap my arm around her in a hug. We clamber back in the SUV and as she buckles her seatbelt in the backseat she says "Wait a minute, I have something to tell ya'll." Immediately I know he's done something. I had texted her "Happy Birthday" to her phone that morning and gotten no response. He had blocked it. Later she confirmed that he had as she hadn't recieved it.
"What's going on?" I ask as I pull out of the drive and back onto the street. "Daddy already took me to dinner for my birthday. We opened presents and had cake before and then he took Grammy and all of us to dinner at Rosa's." She informed my mother and I.
"You're kidding..." My mother exclaimed.
That sorry piece of... I thought to myself... and spoke "You told him we had plans didn't you?" I asked her.
She nodded from the dark backseat and I continued traveling along the neighborhood passing intermitent Christmas lights swagged on rooftops and shrubs at various homes. "Yes, I told him we had plans. He ignored me. He told me we could just go back to your house instead." She replied.
"We had plans to go out to dinner and celebrate. It's been planned. This was our year to do that."
I pointed out.
She spoke and agreed "I know... he doesn't care. He did it on purpose to ruin my birthday. He just does what he wants. Just like he ruined my other birthday that year... " She trailed off referring to the year her dad decided it would fun to invite my father and his newly live in girlfriend in the hopes that news would get back to my mother. All she thought was how inappropriate they all were. How insensitive they were to my daughters feelings and how they had used her birthday to announce his news. Sigh. I told her I was sorry this had happened. These are the types of things narcs do... they thwart any plans you have and then laugh because you missed out. Obviously dinner and cake were off the table... she was full. We would just go back to my house for the time period.
I spoke "You know what? We will just celebrate this weekend. No worries. It will be ok." I tell her soothingly but inside I was angry.
He was mad. He was pouting. He was pissed because of court the day before. He knows he's losing. And he will continue to lose. Everyday. Because he decided to punish HER due to his inability to take responsibllity for what HE'S done and believes it's punishing me... but reality is he's hurting her. He's doing it time and time again. And she sees it. He acts like she's stupid and can't. But she does.
Children don't just forget this type of behavior... she will remember his behavior. She will remember when he's no longer strong and walks fraily... when he can no longer care for himself... when he can no longer do anything but sit sadly and pitifully in a chair or bed because life and age finally caught up with him... she will remember how he behaved when he laments "my daughter doesn't call me or visit" or "my daughter doesn't have anything to do with me" and elicits pitied pats on the arm and sympathetic looks from senior living care staff or hospice care. She will remember when he's on his deathbed... she will remember how ugly he was when she's not there to squeeze his hand reassuringly. She will remember when he dies and she stands at his grave and she will remember all the times he hurt her when he was trying to hurt me.
But he doesn't care. His actions reflect it.
names have been omitted or changed in this post
Wearing new pajamas, my daughter covered her eyes and squealed with irritation at the tv screen. She then grabbed the plush blanket nearby and hid her face behind it.
"EWWWWW! Make it stop! WHY do they always have to kiss? I mean, that is SO GROSS! If I get married… which I'm NOT!" She expressed, "But IF I do… I'm doing a high five. Or a fist bump!" She announced with firm animation nestled between me and my mother on the large taupe couch. It was the week of Thanksgiving and we were watching a Hallmark movie… popcorn and m&m's were in a bowl passed between us and the den was dark minus the light flashing on the flatscreen. My mother laughed and threw me an amused look at which I giggled and smiled.
"Oh for goodness sakes… a fist bump huh? I don't see any guy going for that!" I smirked.
"Mommy… " She told me and turned to face me "You know how when you and Daddy were getting a divorce? And I wanted you to find someone? You know, someone who has a girl?" She asked.
I nodded "Yeah, I remember… what about it?"
"Well… I've decided I don't want you to. I mean… Daddy, he messed up right… and then he messed up again by marrying Georgina. And I like our group we have here… you, me and maw maw… so I'm thinking you should just stay single. I mean… why mess with a good thing? We have our trio. We don't need anybody else. It's perfect." She informed me.
I smiled at her cuteness "Really? You think so, huh?"
She nodded, patted my arm and spoke "Yes, I do. See, everyone you date wants to marry you. And that's where the problem is. They are going to mess up our circle of three." She informed me.
I laughed appreciatively. Kids were hilarious. "Well, your aunt Danielle says the same thing." I told her and my mother, referring to my sister. "She says that I'm crazy to get married again. She says I escaped once and to stay single."
My mother spoke up "I have to agree with her. Unless you can find a Hallmark movie guy forget it."
So often who we date starts out like a Hallmark movie guy… and for men like a Hallmark movie gal. But then a little ways down the road instead of the sweet, endearing person we fell for our dating experience turns into more like a film gone bad… with all kinds of unforeseen situations arising and negative character revealed. It's then that we stand there wondering what the heck just happened and realize that yes indeed it's time to move on.
It seems when you're dating someone plenty of situations arise for you to take a moment and re-assess how you feel about this person you're seeing… how compatible you are or aren't, what you like about them, what you don't and what you are beginning to see as red flags.
My therapist once told me
that red flags are usually made
known to us within the first
three months of dating someone.
*** If we pay attention ***
I'm finding that to be true. And definitely by the fifth month. Most people during this time frame no matter how great are usually on their best behavior… understandably we do all want to put our best foot forward yet in that it's essential we are ourselves. And when we are ourselves sometimes things happen (in a good way)… namely the person were seeing doesn't believe we are a match or perhaps we realize they aren't a good match for us. Regardless, whatever the case may be… it's always best to be yourself because not only will it enable you to weed out who you're seeing faster but you also won't lose yourself in the process.
5 Warning Signs:
1. Says: "Look Pretty"
He tells you: "Your job is to look pretty." You immediately have the new song "Sit Still, Look Pretty" by Daya skim through your mind and your gut intuition tells you you're dealing with a real misogynistic you-know-what. When you call him on his sexist comment he shakes his head and replies: "Well, hun… it's my job to pay for stuff. It's your job to look pretty." Even if this comes from a mindset of him just wanting to take care of you… it's irksome. A man can tell you he wants to be a gentleman, take the lead and pay for stuff (or alternatively most of it with you occasionally offering & paying) without telling you you're merely there to look good and insinuate good for nothing else but that. Take your pretty self home and tell him so long.
2. Not Respectful
He (or she) paws at you the entire evening sitting on the couch watching tv… with your mother. When you continue to pull away and give him the death glare he just chuckles at you with amusement and continues… afterward your mother expresses her discomfort and you vocalize yours. The next day you confront him on his awkward behavior and he spins it to be your issue… at which you harshly retort: "So this is how it's gonna be? REALLY? You're making this MY problem?!" Suddenly he sees he's about to be ejected and sent on his way so he immediately backs up and promises to not do it again… but it's too late. Unbeknownst to him he's on slippery ground and the dating relationship is being reassessed more closely. After being subjected to narcissistic abuse either during childhood or during the course of a marriage or even both… once you escape that… your tolerance level for any bs may be at almost zero.
3. Can't Take The Heat
He decides it would be fun to answer a questionnaire of questions to get to know each other better. Okay, you agree. One of your questions is to use three positive words to describe yourself. You list them "Kind, loyal, smart ass." He sits back and stares at you with amusement yet on some level you detect exasperation "Really? Smart ass? How is that a positive trait?" He asks you. You shrug and reply: "If you're a smart ass you're probably sarcastic which means you're humorous. Seems pretty straightforward to me. That's positive!" You respond. He narrows his eyebrows and doesn't seem to find your answer humorous… you don't care but you certainly take note of his reaction as he replies with irritation: "You aren't taking this seriously and I see how you play." Sometimes just seeing if someone can roll with the punches or not reveals a lot about them… if you can't take the heat get outta the kitchen.
4. Time Hog
He or she expects to take up all your time. Suddenly your house is a mess, your projects are on the back burner and your "me time" is non-existent or slowly dwindling down to almost nil. If someone is taking up all your time or pushing for more of your time than what you wish to give away then they are time greedy. It's important to hold firm on boundaries. So you set boundaries and run your errands in the morning before seeing him (or her) later that day… only to be told "Well, we could have done them together; I want to be with you!" I don't know about you… but nothing makes me run faster and shut down a relationship quicker than feeling like I have zero space... they must be related to those folks that breathe down your neck in the check out lane at Target. You warily glance at them wondering if they plan on going home with you. Red Flag: If you find yourself telling him or her you're working late just so you can carve out some me time, if you find yourself not seeing your friends like you were previously, if you find yourself never feeling rested because you're on the go all the time now… it's time to cut the cord… he (or she) is a time hog. Claim your life back and send he or she packing.
5. Lock Down - Incoming
He or she is already talking rings… it's one thing to think "This **MIGHT** be the one" … it's no doubt when we go into dating someone new we are excited at the possibilities… it's all fresh, exciting and dopamine is in over drive… yes, we may certainly think this person is or could be "the one"… yet we must stay grounded and remember that dating is the tool we use to get to know someone and even if we fall for them hard it takes time (several seasons) to determine whether this is someone we could actually marry. This is a long process and not one to take lightly. So if someone, man or woman suddenly begins bringing up rings and marriage after just a short time of dating… take note because I swear there are sirens going off somewhere. Granted, there ARE rare occasions where some folks JUST KNOW and go ahead and get engaged and they are truly good matches and make for wonderful marriages.
Disclaimer: I've never actually met these folks but I've heard they exist.
Supposedly the wooly mammoth is returning as well.
But for the majority of us out there today it's just not that instantaneous, lucky, realistic, etc. If someone begins talking rings and marriage early on… be very cautious… because they may be wanting to rush you so as to lock you down before you notice red flags. By then it will be too late. And annulment/divorce will be your only option to escape.
names have been changed or omitted in this post
some descriptions have been changed
As Bao's friend came speeding up on our left we glanced over… he was even with us now and with the windows down on his 1989 Toyota MR2 the wind ruffled his dark hair. He kept his vehicle steady on the road and laughed maniacally at us. Bao spoke and I could sense his discomfort at his friend's behavior… he knew he could behave erratically at times. "What is he doing?" He murmured under his breath but still loud enough for me to catch it.
His friend suddenly swerved his Toyota at us in the Supra like a weapon and Bao in understandable reaction swerved us to the right away from him. I gripped my hand rest, suddenly very uneasy at how things were unfolding… I didn't trust his friend to not continue to taunt us. And sure enough… I was right. He came at us again and Bao had to react by swerving away to avoid getting hit… his friend thoroughly enjoying our reactions… Bao's of irritation and mine of increasing concern almost panic wondering how this was going to end. Not good if it continued. Bao spoke "What is wrong with him? He's trying to wreck my car?" He mumbled. I grimaced. The car being damaged was the least of our worries in that moment.
Bao spoke again with low but distinct building anger. "I just want to get away from him." He told me and began to accelerate to out speed him. Instinctively I knew that wasn't the right tactic and would only serve to egg his friend on more. "No…" I told Bao and gently placed my hand on his right arm "Listen to me…" I spoke to him as we swerved yet again. "He expects you to try to outrace him. That's what he's wanting. That's what he's expecting. You never do what they expect. He wants you to wreck this thing. Just get us off this thing." I told him. I watched him carefully, his dark eyes piercing in thought as he studied the road and threw another look over at his friend. He nodded "You are right… " He acknowledged.
Dealing with a narcissistic sociopath is really not too different… we shouldn't react to their nonsensical crazy behavior as they expect us to. Most of them expect and yes, even desire for us to jump in the pig pen with them… roll in the mud, lash out and wail, yell, scream, cry etc over how they have behaved. Like the bully on the playground throwing dirt balls or the child poking you in the back in class they want to engage in any way they can with you even if that interaction is negative. In that behavior we also may expect or at least hope(!) that the narc will suddenly "see the light" and how "they've wronged us", offer a genuine apology and then ask how they can change or make amends. But if you've had any prolonged time with a narcissistic sociopath you already know that that scene I just described is nearly if not really laughable. A narc will never take responsibility for their poor behavior toward others.
The best way to handle a narcissistic sociopath is to go no contact. It's so vital and yet so misunderstood by many as to WHY we need to go no contact. It's not mean to go no contact. It's the smartest and healthiest thing someone can do. Going no contact is exactly what the narc doesn't want us to do… they hate it. They also don't expect it… they expect you to engage, to do battle with them, to fight, converse and become more and more frustrated to the point of complete and utter exasperation. They hope to drive you to the edge of insanity, push you off into the depths of suicide and then laugh and exclaim you have no one to blame but your "crazy" self. They are evil through and through and to give them the benefit of the doubt is comparable to playing Russian Roulette.
Admitting We Were Abused…
First we have to acknowledge that we are (or were) sharing life with an abuser. We have to admit to ourselves that this is reality and there is no "making it pretty" or "into something that it's not"… I was guilty of that in my marriage especially in the later years… I made it "pretty" for others (my family, social media, etc) and on some level protected him… and yet in that he also had me believing up to a point that the issues we had were my fault and my fault alone. I just had to do better, try more. I also at one point naively still had hope it would turn around. Then the ugly name calling began and the cheating was discovered which weren't able to be ignored or reasoned or justified… at which point I began seeing that there was much more going on than just differences in our character, priorities, how we parented, how we wanted to live, etc… after I sought individual counseling I realized I had been brainwashed, gas-lighted etc and he'd used stone-walling and projection among many of the other various toxic tactics narc's use to inflict their manipulation. Only once we are able or willing to admit that yes, we are or were with someone unhealthy can we begin acceptance and then begin processing our grief and most importantly recognize why we need to go no contact.
When It's Over…
It's like dealing with any toxic person… whether it's a parent, spouse, co-worker or ex… male or female… if they show you who they truly are… believe them the first time… don't go back expecting differently and certainly not better. When people reveal who they really are, when they are nasty, when everyone around you thinks someone is great but their own family doesn't have anything to do with them pay attention, when they repeatedly take pot shots at you, when they lie and cheat on you, when they don't treat you as you deserve to be treated… take mental notes and refer to them occasionally to stay reminded of their toxic ways… because they likely will not change and when we expect them to it unfortunately does nothing but cause us great disappointment, confusion and frustration. When we leave or get discarded by a narc it's like the equivalent of coming down off a drug that was legal but should have been illegal because come to find out they were poisoning us. If the relationship wasn't awful enough the breakup is even worse. A normal breakup this is not… this is like a bad, lengthy drama filled insane breakup that is multiplied by a million or more. It's dealing with restraining orders, stalking, break-in's, threats, tears, feelings of helplessness and despair, court trials, custody fights, verbal assaults, ugly confrontations in parking lots, harassing emails, texts and phone calls at all hours of the day and night… the list goes on. During my divorce my ex decided it would be fun to call my cell phone at one, two, three in the morning incessantly… he had his best friend at the time harass me via text, he stalked my friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc… it was always something. These are not a typical amicable parting of ways… these end up with you feeling like your life has been sucked into the Jerry Springer show. You've been brought up with class and so you just stand there staring blankly into space bewildered that this is now your life. You think to yourself how you didn't always have a life like that… you scratch your head confused… but no, it's reality and unfortunately you realize it's your reality. So instead of focusing on what we don't have… the best way to begin healing is to adapt by re-directing our thoughts… taking thoughts that are being fixated by us on our abuser and instead focusing them on ourselves… on building our NEW life. I'm a big believer in goals and projects… doing something to take our mind off what we believe we are lacking is essential… which may be a traditional family unit that we now mourn.
We Question Everything Now…
We will go through a time period where we question if we are narcissistic ourselves… we will question our worth, we will question our ability to love… because we've been chipped away at for so long that we've been systemically made to second guess everything about ourselves. We will look back and wonder what was real and what wasn't… we will remember he or she coming home while the children played and we folded piles of laundry, tired and dinner still not made… and we will remember how they looked us right in the eye and told us how busy they were that day at work… (you click your tongue later at that and call bull) when in reality they were screwing someone in their office, in a hotel room, at an apartment unbeknownst to you. Maybe they were traveling to Mexico on business and taking who they were screwing with them while you car pooled children, cleaned house, bought groceries and worried about anything and everything because that's what adults do… they are responsible unlike who you married. Ah, and then the self blame sets in and the beating up of oneself. But seriously just drop the bat and leave it be… it's not your fault… yes, we can learn from here and make better choices in the future but at the end of the day shame on the one who pretended to be someone they weren't. And that leads us to our inability to trust anyone. During and after my divorce I began the process of deleting nearly every Facebook friend I had. I shut people out because I didn't know if I could trust them… anyone and everyone was suspect minus a very small inner circle of my closet friends. But this is all very common for anyone who has endured narcissistic abuse. I can assure you that every target of a narc goes through a similar process in the aftermath of abuse and let me remind you that you are not alone, not to blame, that you are a person who is the epitome of empathy, kindness and love and you were targeted for those very wonderful qualities you posses.
Finding Eventual Closure…
We have to find closure on our own… we will never find the closure we need until after we cut contact with our abuser. By continuing to engage with our abuser we don't get the distance and objectivity needed to see how truly insane their ways are. When we were going through our divorce my ex kept harassing me for "family" dinners" which I refused to attend. We were no longer a family. He had made that choice when he cheated. He had made that choice when he called me ugly names. He had made that choice when he had alliance with his mother instead of me. He had made that choice when he chose materialism over what was truly important in life. He also didn't like being told no. And with that came worsening behavior by him. By continuing to engage with him for far too long I delayed my distancing and healing that could have begun sooner than it did. Today I'm here to gently let you know that you don't have to continue living like your wrists are tied by he or she and you have zero control… the truth is you are far more powerful than what you may realize. You are not being mean by going no contact. You can email or use a online tools like Talking Parents or the The Family Wizard to communicate about the children just fine. It doesn't require in person interaction or phone calls… it doesn't have to be a life of a tear soaked face behind a phone while you listen to he or she berate you… it doesn't require you being hung up on for the fourth time as you try to convey what your child needs… it doesn't require dealing with being harassed because they didn't "get their way". It can mean a life of peace, calm and healing. It can be yours. Take that first step today. Go no contact and in that wonderful silence revel in the sweet sound of peace. You more than deserve it.