Divorce and Narcissism

Safe Places & Bad Memories

There are so many details surrounding the time period leading up to and then during and after the discovery of my ex-husband’s final affair that I try to not think about. I try hard and I’ve actually made it to a point where I can get through days without thinking about it. That’s progress! I’m not thrilled with where I am in my life right now, the many changes and stresses that being a single mom has caused. My kids are wonderful, so it’s not that. It’s the financial burden and the changing everything we have known, for them for their whole lives and for me, for the past 20+ years. Change can be good, but for me it’s not, not while I’m undergoing the changes. I can’t see or feel what’s good about it. The good becomes apparent to me well after the fact. I am better off ending a marriage that was filled with deceit. I am better off being alone and lonely versus trapped in a marriage where I wasn’t alone, but I was lonely. I am better off being financially strapped rather than depending on a husband who abused me financially. (When I moved out, before I had secured a job, I was shopping for groceries with my kids and learned he shut down my credit card and transferred all our money, except for 80 cents, into a new private account, forcing me to need and be on government assistance. And forever burning into my mind and the minds of my kids, that memory of standing at the checkout with my kids and having to leave a cart full of food behind, embarrassed and humiliated). I am better off being insecure and anxious all the time, but learning to find my way out of that and building boundaries and seeing my self worth, rather than staying with a husband who berated, belittled and emotionally abused me in subtle ways that were not apparent at first. Narcissists do this. They break you down, slowly and steadily. You don’t realize what is happening at first because you were a good person before you met them, you maybe just had a few insecurities. Narcissists are skilled at honing in, like a laser beam, on those insecurities, and they lock onto the bullseye and use those insecurities to their advantage. By the time you see what they are doing, what they have done, the damage feels irreparable. What you’re left with, quite often, is the shell of the person you used to be. More insecure, more anxious, and afraid. You don’t feel seen or heard. You feel invisible and quite frankly, if you’re like me, you long for the days where you can fly under the radar because being invisible means being left alone. Why do I want to be left alone? Because while not every person who is rude or unkind or dishonest is a narcissist, the world is filled with people who see your insecurities and latch on to them. Who use you. Who are dishonest to you, to their spouses, to their bosses, even to their friends. And your distrust grows and grows and grows and the whole time it’s growing you have an internal dialog where you blame yourself and think you’re just paranoid. These narcissists stripped away your confidence and ability to make even the smallest decisions.

So I write all of this and then look back at the reason I started this blog entry. The memories that surround the abuse, the affair and the aftermath of my divorce from a narcissist…..

I have children with him. And every time they see him or talk to him, the memories come flooding back. This happens because they are damaged by what he did too. I can’t ask them to not share with me their interactions with their father. I can’t because they need a safe place. I’m that safe place. I sit here and I hear what they’re saying, because their father doesn’t listen. His lover doesn’t listen. I can’t afford to turn it off and feign listening. So I truly listen. They deserve that And in doing so, all those memories come flooding back to me. It’s hard, often, to not get upset or frustrated with my kids when they share how mad they are at this other woman but not their father. He was 1/2 the reason this final affair happened. I understand he is their father and they want him in their lives but it takes a toll on me. Pushing those memories away so I am not turned into a cold heartless monster, that much effort is exhausting. One of my kids told me she argued with the other woman over where I am in my life and that this other woman is to blame. I didn’t feel good about that. I didn’t because my kid doesn’t seem to have that same anger towards her father. I say I don’t want my kids to be angry with their father but maybe I really do? Maybe I want to feel like someone has my back? Like I have the same safe place I provide for so many people? But I say maybe because I don’t trust my emotions and thoughts most of the time. And saying I want them mad at their father seems cold and harsh. I don’t want to be cold and harsh. I just want to feel safe and be seen and heard. And I want to be mad and have someone tell me it’s ok to be mad and understand why I am mad, like I tell my kids. But I fear that I will hear, as I have countless times before, that I control my own happiness and I need to move on. I am trying and as I said way above, I have many days in a row where I feel good because I can look back and say I didn’t think about these as memories, until….bam! The kids bring it all back to me after visiting with their father. I’m out of that marriage, but I still feel trapped.

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

Well, That’s Grand

I have not written here for quite some time. I have been busy with the work program I am required to participate in in order to receive my government food and cash assistance benefits. And I have also been filled with so much anger and frustration that I find it hard to do much else when I do have a few free minute. I obsess. I panic. The wonderful part is when these panic attacks take over so much of me that I literally think I am having a heart attack or that I will just cease breathing right there on the spot. I need meds but I am afraid that he will use that in court and say I am not stable enough to have and raise the kids. I truly believe I am suffering from PTSD.

He has filed for custody of the kids, claiming I am abusive. He counter-filed for divorce claiming I was an awful wife…. I believe the legal jargon used was “gross neglect of duties…” Know what is gross? His dumb ass and that fact that I am weak.

I have lost friends over this . I have ruined relationships.

My daughters have allowed themselves to be manipulated by him, despite my warnings. These warnings are difficult to offer because I try hard to not speak ill of their father to them.. How can I do this?  I just try not to speak at all about him.  One day they are mad and hate him, the next day they love their lives and want to live with him.

I am a mess.

Oh, and he bought his lover a ring and my son found it. Do you think he admitted to this or accused my son of lying and diverted the conversation to him being a victim?  I will let you decide. He is lonely.  Poor thing. Lonely? Lonely is being surrounded by people but not being heard. Lonely is telling the truth and being real, putting yourself out there, yet losing friends. Lonely is being me. Lonely is having guys shower yo u with attention but as soon as you tell them you are not interested in a purely sexual relationship, they dump you as a friend.

I really have no idea what I am supposed to do.  But I am tired of hearing how strong I am. If people took the time to see me, really look at me, they would see  I am not, in fact, fine.

Friends, married males, think it is fine to speak to me in disgusting sexual ways. The non-married ones must think I am so desperate that it is ok to speak to me like I am a two cent whore.  People where I spend my “work” time to earn this cash assistance? Same. I am held to a different set of standards than so many people around me.

I do not know how much more I can take.  But I at least need to hang on until May 19th when I go to court.

Standard
Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Blessings

Wow. This day is harder than I thought it would be. Just knowing it’s the last Thanksgiving we will all be together as the family we have all known for 18 plus years, it’s a little hard. My heart hurts. 

But I’ll remember all I have to be grateful for. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this. ❤️

Standard
Uncategorized

A Generous Offer?

I think not. I’m not selfish. Entitled. Spoiled or greedy. I’m not. I like living light. I like being thrify. But I don’t like being cheated.

I learned through looking carefully into our finances, just how little I knew all these years. I trusted him. I let myself become lazy. I did so much that letting him handle our finances seemed like a great trade-off. I trusted him. I was wrong.

I discovered he makes approximately $31,000 more annually than I was led to believe. His 401k is handsome. His contributions to it are much. I’ve been living off so little all these years, not understanding the real reason why.

During dissolution discussions, we talked about finances and alimony and child support. Last night, he made me what he called, “a generous offer.” He would like to give me $600 a month. For everything. He makes nearly six times that, twice a month, I learned.  He does not agree I am entitled to half his 401k but will give it to me. Half the house?  He said no way. But he plans to keep it and sell down the road, keeping all the money from the sale. It’s his house. He bought it.  He said things I can not believe. I’m no longer productive to him. It’s his money. I’m going to live with my mother and won’t have to pay rent or utilities. I don’t need much money. I can get my own job. His list of reasons went on and on. He believed each and every one and tried to get me to believe them as well. I did not. I was firm. I explained my stance as briefly as possible because I knew I was debating with a narcissist who is not capable of a normal thought process. I was correct. And because he felt I was going after his money and he felt uncomfortable, he did what I suspected he would eventually: the threatend to take my kids from me and tell the courts I’m crazy and an unfit mother. I told him to go ahead. He tried coming to me later to be nice. I was friendly but not warm. No more hugging me. No more. This is the same man, who I learned makes what he does per month, and he takes money from his elderly parents. And I’m the crazy one?

So now. I continue moving forward. Hiring my own attorney and filing for divorce rather than dissolution is the route I must take. I must stay smart and always a few steps ahead of him. He has zero respect or love for me. He made that very clear last night. If I ever had any lingering doubts as to if this marriage ending is the right thing to do? They are so long gone now.

Standard
Uncategorized

Keep Showing Me How Little You Value Me, Asshat. 

So, I just had my biweekly dissolution meeting with him. He actually stated he doesn’t want to sell the home. I asked how he planned to keep it, because there’s no way he can afford the mortgage payment plus pay me spousal and child support. He actually had the balls to look me in the eye and say that because I’m moving in with my mother and will live rent and utility free, and I’m seeking employment, he should not have to pay me spousal support. Or at least not very much at all. I asked him when he got divorced the first time, and moved in with his parents, would he have liked it if his job told him they were going to pay him less because he did not need as much money to live off of? He said it’s different because he is actually working for the company and is productive. He is producing results for them. He is valuable to them. WTF.  We ended the meeting right then. What a fucking piece of shit. An asshat. A narcissistic loser. A heartless bastard. He truly believes my worth is far far far less than his. He truly believes that he owes me nothing, after 18 years. I’ve got some serious thinking to do here. If I go after my own attorney too early, he will not permit me to take the kids three counties away. I’m obviously in no state of mind to solve any issues right now. 

Today has been a very bad day. I also learned my cancer is back and surgery is scheduled for Monday the 16th of November. Thank God I’m still covered under his insurance. But I want to owe him NOTHING. I HATE WHERE I AM IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW.  And I have not been able to complete my online assessment for the job I’m trying to get due to so many technical issues that the help desk where the assessment was created can’t even help me. 

I quit today. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Silence Is Golden

Today I began an intensive job search, and research into possibly taking some classes to refresh old skills and acquire new ones. This was all done in the town where I plan to relocate, about three counties away from where we currently reside. 

In therapy a few weeks ago, my husband stated that he was fine with me moving that far away. He told the therapist he understood why I wanted to move there and that he would never try to stop me from relocating there with the kids. It made sense, he said. That’s where my mother is. That’s where I have a lot of friends and a lot of support. The therapist had explained, by law, in the state of Ohio, custody issues state the relocating parent can not take the children more than one county away. I was visibly upset to learn this, but he reassured the therapist he would never prevent me from moving to this three county-away place. He said he’d sign anything right there to prove his noble intent. The therapist let him know nothing like that done in her office would hold up in court. He reassured her that he meant it. It was his word. And then the other day, privately, he told me if I go after a divorce, get a separate attorney and fight him in any way, he would not permit me to take the kids three counties away. 

This. This is the gaslighting I deal with on a regular basis. This is the stress I endure. These are the battles I privately fight. This is why I must think EVERY DECISION through more thoroughly than the average person and have multiple backup plans. This is the crazy-making that tests me daily. 

But I am stronger. I will play along, for now.  I am stronger, forever. Even when I don’t feel stronger, I am stronger. 

Driving home tonight after an exhausting day of filling out online job applications and reading countless job descriptions I would love to apply for but am not qualified for, I was discouraged. Disappointed. Feeling defeated. But I used the 90 minute drive to  center myself. To shake it off. And instead of walking in the door looking sad and defeated, I smiled. I said hello. He asked how the day went. I said “fine,” in as chipper of a voice as I could muster. I gave him less than the bare minimum details of my day. I could see it bothered him. He NEEDED to know if I got a job. If I had any leads. I said nothing to let him know what happened. Nothing. Then I excused myself to go change clothes and I dove right back into my work of cleaning and organizing and packing. I was listening to music and working at a good pace when he came downstairs and asked if I needed any help. I said “no thank you,” again, in a chipper voice. I held up a few articles of clothing that used to belong to our kids, when they were toddlers. I tossed a pair of Polo shorts to him and exclaimed with amazement that our son used to be that small!  I was smiling. He looked at them and grunted something I could not make out but I did not ask him to repeat. I really did not care what he had to say.  I just asked him to toss them in the donate pile. He went upstairs. 

I am writing this now, and in an hour from now, he and I will sit down and work for no more than an hour on our dissolution paperwork. And I will sit there and smile and be pleasant. And I will watch him like a hawk as he tries to manipulate me into stealing what is half mine after building a life with him for over 18 years. I will not allow this. I will smile and let him think he is winning but I will be preparing to get my own attorney at the first sign of him screwing me over, yet again. And I will figure out what to do about revising my plan to move three counties away if he refuses to allow it. 

I will do all this and smile because I am strong. Him? He is an asshole. He will wind up living a lonely shallow life. I won’t smile about that but I will smile because I am strong. 

And my golden silence will show him I am strong. (I might smile because I’m enjoying watching him squirm with uncertainty for a change). 

Standard
Uncategorized

Stronger

Today I’m feeling good. Strong. More self confident than I’ve been in more years than I can count. 

Remember in my previous post, I spoke of how short and nasty he was with me, just a few days ago? He was disgusted with my behavior. He was hurt by me. This entire marriage ending has been turned around by him, and placed on my shoulders. According to him, I bare the burden of blame. I’m an ugly person who behaves badly? Well. Knowing he is a narcissist, I know better than to try to discuss, reason, or even argue with him. I’ve left it all alone. He can think what he wants. I know the truth. My kids are learning the truth. 

So after the bizarre weekend and his cold manipulative attempts to bully me, which I ignored completely, he actually wanted to hug and kiss me goodbye this morning as he left for work. Amazingly confusing and frustrating, right? Not today. Not for me. You see? Today I am stronger. 

Yesterday, all four kids came with me and we went shopping. They helped me pick out a few new outfits for my upcoming job interviews. We had a wonderful afternoon. We laughed. We spent excellent time together. We did not discuss a single thing about the marriage ending or what will be happening. We just were……us. My husband stayed home and raked leaves. Alone. And when we returned from shopping, he was waiting. Like a lion trying to pounce on prey. But this prey was swift and smarter than the lion. He puffed up his chest and loudly proclaimed, “I’m glad you all had fun. Now go outside and clean up the piles of leaves I raked all by myself!” Mind you, Saturday, I raked for three hours alone, while he sat in the house watching television. One kid came out to help me for the last 20 minutes. He and I  hauled the piles  of leaves away. My husband did nothing. So yesterday, I told that kid he did not have to help. He could go do homework. I would take his place and help. And I did. I also told my oldest child she could go in and do her homework. She sat on our trampoline and relaxed and watched as we finished cleaning up the piles of leaves. It was quick work, less than 20 minutes and we were done. We worked well together, laughing and enjoying more time together. My husband’s efforts to punish them (I truly believe that’s what he was doing ) for going shopping with me and having a good time, failed miserably. That’s when I noticed the change in him. He had to shift tactics. Being this stern “ruler” of the house was not working. So then he began softening. He came and asked me if I needed help cooking dinner. I did not. I did let him do the dishes, alone. He offered to make me coffee. I declined the offer. And then I went to bed, without saying goodnight to him. And then I woke this morning to him trying to be kinder and softer. 

The old me would have taken this as a sign. A sign that he doesn’t want the divorce. A sign that he is trying. But I looked for nothing, no signs, no false hope,  and  I feel pretty good about that. I was not mean to him. I was just…..nothing. I’m continuing to move forward with my plan. Tomorrow I go search for employment and work on my resume. I will take advantage of the programs offered to refresh my skills, and hopefully learn some new ones. I’m actually excited, for the first time in a long time. I’m excited to build a new life. A healthy life. I’m excited to meet myself. To learn all about me and who I am and what I want. I’m excited at a chance to find love and happiness because I deserve that. I am excited to get away from him because it is only then that I can truly begin to heal. 

I had a brief conversation with my eldest child, the one who says she wants to stay here with her father. The one who resists change and does not want to leave her friends and school. Something in the conversation this morning told me that her reasons for stating she is not coming with me are because she truly believes I am not leaving. She has not accepted this fact yet. I don’t blame her. These last several months have been a confusing mess to everyone. She has never known any other life than the one where her parents are together. And she is a lot like me, so she is looking for signs too. As long as she sees me here, and she sees her father trying to kiss or hug me, she feels hopeful. That’s how he manipulates the kids. He confuses them. And then he can say to them that the marriage ending is my fault. And I can not control that right now. Or maybe ever. BUT what I can do is remain strong. I can show them all that I am strong and I do not accept being treated poorly. And some day, they will all see this for what it truly is, and not the facade their father presents to them. That’s all I can hope for. And all I can do is be there for them when that day comes. Right now? Right now I can love my daughter. I can be there for her while she sorts this out. I can take her to her therapy appointments and even sit in with her on some. I can teach her, through my example, how to handle fear and anxiety and uncertainty. I can show her that change is not a bad thing. It’s scary when it first happens, but it is a part of life. I can show her this. Everything else she will have to learn on her own. If she chooses to stay with her father, she will quickly learn that he is emotionally incapable of giving her unconditional love and support. She will learn that he will expect her to begin cooking and cleaning, taking my place. She will learn that he holds her to a high set of moral standards that he himself is not capable of upholding. She will see that he puts his needs and wants first, always first. And while I hate the thought of all this knowledge she will acquire in my absense, it might be the only way she can see her father for who he is truly is. My job of shielding the kids from all of this is over. She is so much like me. SO Much. She wants to see the good in every person. But maybe the lesson is supposed to be learned this way? Maybe the gift here is that she will learn much sooner than I ever did, that not every person has the goodness in them she so desperately wants to be there. Maybe she will learn that not every person deserves second chances…or third…or fourth…..or fifth. And I hate this all, but just maybe this is the way it is supposed to work out for her. But no matter what, I’ll catch her when she falls. 

Today? Today I am stronger. I will not delude myself into thinking I will never have bad days and be overcome with sadness. What I will tell myself is that this is ok. I am human and I am allowed to grieve. I am allowed to be sad. But I will also tell myself that these feelings are temporary and I will not allow them to hold me back. Because today I am stronger. And tomorrow I will be even stronger than that. And the next day and the next, and the next……always stronger. 

I am stronger. 

Standard