names have been omitted and changed in this post
It was November; the month of family and being thankful, of pumpkin pie and gathering round a table to share thanks and count blessings. It was the month of cooler temps, our wedding anniversary and leaves changing colors before they dropped from the trees. I heard his footsteps as he walked through the kitchen door from the garage… he was home from his day at work. I turned back to glance at him where I stood at the sink filling a stainless steel pot with water to boil spaghetti for dinner. He strode in with his leather Kenneth Cole computer bag slung over his shoulder and stooped to drop it gently on the floor by the long foyer table. "Hey!" I greeted him pleasantly as the water spewed into the pot. I heard him sigh. Glancing up, I took note of his facial expression; he looked distraught and upset, almost like he'd been crying or was about to have a breakdown of some sort. Not like him at all. I wondered what this was about and immediately felt on guard. He either had bad news or I was about to get chewed out for who knew what. He walked over to the bar opposite me and leaned on the tall taupe speckled granite countertop with his forearms. Dressed in dress slacks and a crisp dress shirt he spoke.
"Hey…" but his tone wasn't cheery or upbeat. It was more like someone with a bleak outlook.
I bit "What's wrong?" I'd soon regret asking that question.
"I've had a really hard day. Really hard." He told me, his voice giving a hint of breaking. I studied him. I'd never seen him like this. Something had happened. But what?
"Yeah?" I asked cautiously giving him a wary look. "What happened?"
"Something happened today. I jus…" He trailed off and seemed to be trying to decide whether he should continue or if he even could. A pause took place and his voice wavered "I, I've just been having a tough time lately with… you know… "He trailed off again and looked at me pointedly.
My mind searched rapidly for what he could be talking about. Wait, it was November. This was the month. This was when he or she was supposed to have been born. Was that it? What he was upset about? He never ever talked about it. About the baby. About the abortion. Ever.
"I'm having a really tough time, I really need to talk about it." He said.
"I don't want to talk about it." I replied.
"Jennifer… I really…" He began but I cut him off.
"I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! I'm NOT talking about it!" I told him. I was willing and would discuss anything under the sun with him. Anything. But not this. Not ever.
"Jennifer…" He spoke almost pleading.
How dare he. I turned my back to him and placing the pot of water on the warm burner began breaking the stiff spaghetti into shorter lengths and dropped them into the water to boil.
"Don't bring it up again. I DON'T want to talk about it." I told him and taking a deep breath with tears threatening my eyes but not falling I left the room, jogging up the staircase to the master bathroom where I swiftly slammed the door shut mentally calling him every name in the book.
I should have had the baby. I should have been stronger. Braver. Women who made the poor choice of having pre-marital sex but having the baby were braver. I admired them. I should have just had it on my own. I shouldn't have even told him. I should have dumped him and then had the baby. Technically I shouldn't have had sex with him in the first place I chastised myself. All the should's in the world couldn't take back or fix what had happened; the sin that had been chosen. I wasn't going to be his soft place. Not in this. Not this time. It was asking too much. I had been his soft place through so much. I'd stood by him as the doting wife after learning unbeknownst to me he hadn't paid the taxes for three years and we'd had to sell our house and move to a dismal rental. I'd stood by him as he'd built a company in our garage to expanding nationwide and later into Mexico; supporting his dream and raising children much of the time solo. I'd stood by him as he'd continually allowed his mother and sister to treat me as less than and a leech. I'd stood by him for more than I should have ever done. I didn't even truly believe he was upset. I didn't believe he truly regretted it. I didn't believe him. I thought it was all just an act, a ruse to play on my emotions and gain sympathy. To draw me near him. It wasn't happening. I didn't believe he had any regret over what we'd done. On some level I had felt tied to him in our sin and then married him anyway. My mother had told me when I'd married him the abortion would always come between us and I hadn't believed her. She didn't know that we could overcome that, love more than that, I'd told her. Idealistic youth is so lovely until it punches you in the face. She had been right.
The abortion, the baby was always there; lingering between us like a silent invisible fence. Just like Jeremy. Invisible fences may not be seen but they are felt. And they divide. They divide and destroy sometimes no matter how much you try not to let them or wish it wasn't reality.
It was around this same time period he very suddenly wanted us to renew our marriage vows. Completely baffled by this sudden announcement I couldn't figure out where this was coming from. He was one of the most unromantic people out there. Practical was his middle name so I couldn't determine why he was suddenly all up in arms about us needing to renew our vows. And he wanted to do it up big; a big to-do and have a ceremony with our friends and family as witnesses. He wanted us to write our own vows, for me to pick out a dress and flowers. I laughed it off initially as what had to be a huge joke on his part, yet he persisted and I finally realized he was serious. To which I became highly suspicious. Why? I asked him but never received an answer that truly satisfied me. He was giddy as a schoolgirl about it and wanted to start planning it immediately. He insisted on buying me a new wedding ring and soon he had plunked down enough money to purchase a car on one at Robbins Brothers. Suddenly he was more attentive than usual and it was like we were dating again. But it was bewildering to me and I kept having a nagging feeling I couldn't ignore. I stood there staring at him like he was from another planet and unrecognizable to me. Who was this person? I became extremely agitated by this uneasy feeling I had regarding his new behavior and I shut down the whole ordeal. "NO! I'm NOT doing that." I told him.
But why???" He asked "I think it would be great! Why won't you do it?" He asked me with a smile.
"Because I'm not comfortable with it." I replied. Why did he suddenly want to renew our vows? In hindsight later I'd wonder if he'd been cheating and decided to "start over" and "re-commit" to our marriage and viewed it as a fresh start. With the way he'd brought up the baby that one November day I fleetingly wondered if he'd gotten someone else pregnant and she'd had an abortion. But he'd had a vasectomy after our daughter was born so that didn't make sense. Yet on some level I was so naive and didn't believe in a million years he'd ever really cheat. I also on some level didn't think he could get anybody. Surely I was the only one foolish enough to say yes to him. But we don't always see the truth right in front of us; where there's a cheater there's also yet another person for he or she to trick and win over.
"Oh, Dear, come on, "He chastised in good humor. I hated it when he called me "Dear". What were we? Eighty? But he rattled on. "It would be a good thing for us to do. You really wouldn't want us to renew our vows?" He asked seemingly surprised. He seemed genuinely shocked I wasn't on board with his proposal. He thought me being the romantic I'd immediately think it was a wonderful idea. And it would have been with someone I was happily married to and treated me with respect and kindness.
I stared at him like he was an impostor "What is all this about, exactly? Why do YOU want to do this?" I demanded. I wanted to know his intentions. I felt he was hiding something but I didn't know what.
"I think it'd be a great thing to do." He told me and tried to pull me toward him.
I shrugged him away and spoke "I don't think so at all. I think it's stupid and a waste of money." I told him… "Don't ask again, I'm not agreeing to this. And don't spring it on me as a surprise." I told him.
"So, what you're saying is you wouldn't marry me again? Is that what it is?" He asked, his tone suddenly changing.
I avoided his gaze. "You can take it to mean whatever you want." I told him brusquely. "I already told you I think it's stupid."
"Yeah, but… "He trailed off and stared at me like he'd had an epiphany of sorts. "That's what you're saying, isn't it? You wouldn't marry me again." He stated like he already knew the answer. I felt immediately trapped and wanted out of this moment. But it was too late; it was like being set up to fail; he already knew the answer on some level.
"You're right… I wouldn't." I replied and walked off with a terrible ache from my words that I tried to dull with the anger I had toward him and even myself.
There are some things said you can never take back. These are the verbal weapons that destroy a marriage. Even if you did take them back, deep down you'd know it was a lie. And so would they. The truth has already escaped and been placed in full light. The truth can often be discerned without any words spoken. Sometimes I can't believe I could be that cruel. Sometimes the guilt still nags at me having said that to him. It wasn't right.
I also know exactly who and what I've been dealing with since I filed divorce papers on him. Guilt is something he's not capable of feeling. Ever. I've been dealing with a man so incensed that he was divorced that he's done nothing but create complete havoc, grief and destruction as revenge toward me. He's lied, he's spied, he's used other people to stalk me on social media, he's used our children as weapons and he's drug me to mediation and court much more than necessary; enjoying as I spend down my accounts because there is no opting out when it comes to mediation and court. He's been nothing but a manipulative force to be ignored and at times exasperated with behind closed doors. He is not the boy I knew at nineteen, he is not who people think he is, he is a man I'm not proud to say I married. The only good that came out of the marriage were my children and because I have no idea what person at this point my son will become; all I can do is pray for him from afar and hope it's good and nothing like his father. All I can hope is the goodness left in him overcomes any bad. But I worry. And I worry for my daughter and the corrosion of her self esteem every time her father dismisses her and treats her as an inconvenience. The only reason he wants to have custody of her is to "win", to not pay child support and hurt me. My children and I have endured way more destruction than we deserved for the poor choice I made in marrying him. Losing your child, seeing them both used as weaponry and worrying how they will turn out is a horrible thing to witness whether you're a mother or father in this. It's not something I'd wish on anyone. No one should have to experience this kind of upheaval and ongoing stress, and yet so many people suffer in silence everyday doing just that. And eventually the ones who are orchestrating the destruction will pay… one day they will have to answer for their evil ways, at least to a higher power and when that day comes some sort of justice will take place. I question what his new wife thinks of how much energy he is putting into creating chaos for me; one would think she would raise an eyebrow at how much attention and money he's willing to throw my way. What woman in her right mind no matter how secure would be okay with that?
We have no idea when we marry someone that they may be personality disordered or else we'd have never married them in the first place. That's one of many things that frustrates me about the court system; they like to say "Well, you married this person!" No, I didn't choose this evil. They show their complete true colors later. Much later after you're in and it's too late. The courts have not a clue about the realities of being married to someone personality disordered. Later on in the marriage we may not yet know exactly what were dealing with but we know something isn't right. You can have great relationships with friends, co-workers and acquaintances but it will never be good with someone personality disordered. You can't make sense and order out of disorder. If and when you decide to leave there are things you need to keep in mind that will help you navigate this journey.
Divorcing A Narc: 3 Tips
1. It's never a good idea to show a narc your hand.
If you know their cheating, if you are planning to leave them I'd advise against tipping them off. Why allow them to have the upper hand? They are already going to be cunning so to give them a head start isn't wise. If you tip them off, if you confront them on their cheating and say "I want a divorce", "I'm divorcing you" you will be setting yourself up for major backlash. They will promptly tell everyone you've been behaving erratically, crazy, depressed, unstable… whatever they can come up with they will spread like wildfire and tsk tsk at how they are so worried for you, so upset and just not sure what to do as they lap up lot's of "Ohhh, I'm so sorry", "You poor thing" and "Bless your heart, I hope it gets better" type of statements and sentiments from others. They are setting the stage to make it look like you went off the deep end when this thing goes down the pooper all the while kicking you out of the house, changing the locks, canceling your debit and credit cards, clearing out your bank accounts, taking your vehicle, taking your children and making false allegations to have the police or cps on your back. Don't let that happen. Instead, keep quiet and take action. Say nothing, have your children with you, quietly file and have your spouses things out of the house the same day. Have the locks changed, get a protective order and or stay at a friends house or a hotel for awhile if you seriously fear for your life. Have someone trusted checking in on you or with you. Take half of the cash you have out of the bank (check your local/state laws for rules on community property) and keep it on you or go open a safe deposit box at a new bank to store it in. Get the scrapbooks, photo albums and sentimental items out of the house and stored somewhere they won't have access.
2. Mediation is a waste of time & money with a narc
Mediation is often touted by the courts as necessary to ensure everyone tries to "work things out" and resolve the issues without having to resort to court. The court is hoping you will come to an agreement so they don't have to see you. The judge would much rather just sign off on something you agreed to than have to listen to both of you state your cases and then have to intervene and make a decision for you. The truth is mediation is a total waste of time with a narc. The second brutal truth is this: Mediators are not there to help ease you through these issues in a "feel good manner" and help everyone reach a solution that they feel good about. The hard truth is they don't give a darn what you decide; they just want you to agree so they can say they did their job, get paid and move on. Some would tell you it looks better to agree out of court and not have to go before a judge. That's fear talking; stare it down and tell it to take a flying leap. It's such a loss either way: If you refuse the mediation (because we know it's never productive with a narc who merely bullies to get their way instead of compromising like a normal person) you will be viewed negatively by the court, your attorney, opposing counsel and anyone else they can yank in to judge you. If you do it there will be so much pent up frustration at your ex or soon to be ex's continual "no's" and shutting down any compromise that you will come within an inch of losing it. The way to handle mediation since you're pretty much stuck doing it is to grin and bear it. Opposing counsel uses mediation to find out what you want so they will be better prepared to annihilate you in court. So the best tactic when in mediation is to just ask: "Okay, let's get to it. What does he (or she) want?" Find out what the narcs terms are… because they have them, they want something. Already know what you're willing to give or not give. If what they want doesn't line up with what you're willing to do then just say "No, I'm not in agreement. Were done here. Thanks." You are under zero obligation to agree to anything you will regret later. This is not the time to begin feeling guilt or second guessing yourself. This is NOT the time to feel pressured to "agree" so you look agreeable. This is not the time to subscribe to people pleasing. Stay strong and walk. Don't breathe a word of what you want or what you're not willing to do. Once home, gather your documentation together and start preparing for court. I learned all this the hard way firsthand.
3. Be ready for the battle of your life with a narc
A narc's strategy regarding divorce and child custody is one of aggression. He or she is going to throw every dollar and effort into bringing you down and destroying you. They will call their attorney on every whim to spend down any actual settlement you may get. They will brainwash and try to take your children from you. You will be tested like you never have before. Impatient person? Get ready to have your patience tested ten fold and dig deep into near super inhuman strength to gain some. You will need it. Self care is mandatory to survive this so take care of yourself; get good sleep, eat well, exercise, get therapy, lean on your support system. You will need the distraction of your job and children; these are your lifelines in many ways, keeping your life as normal as possible. Narcissists are all about attempting to maintain control and if they can't; unleashing punishment. Divorcing a narc you run the risk of going broke, losing your home, your car and filing bankruptcy divorcing a narcissist. This is why you must pick your battles. You can't financially fight everything; pick the important stuff. If a narc has the financial ability to keep his or her attorney on continual retainer they will delight in continuing to file ludicrous things just to make you spend money you don't have. If you feel you're being pulled into court more often than necessary and your wallet nitpicked apart, ask your attorney whether you can get a reimbursement on attorney fee's. It's rare this is granted, but it's worth asking for. Keeping to the main issues like money (cash settlement and child support) and your children's best interests are what matters; not the dining room table or who gets the bedroom lamps. Working to keep your emotions out of the situation (yes, I know it's difficult) so you can stay focused on what matters is of the utmost importance. Take it one day at a time; looking at it as a mountain would overwhelm anyone. You know what you're dealing with so never underestimate them and be prepared to lose perhaps many small battles; just keep your eyes on the big picture; and lean on Him not the ways of the world for guidance, grace, power and strength to win the war.
Romans 2:6-8 ESVHe will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
John 15:4-5 ESVAbide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Isaiah 26:4 ESVTrust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.