Divorce and Narcissism

Boundaries

I made it through another Thanksgiving holiday and am preparing to fully enter this holiday season with all the strength and positivity I can muster.

It’s a challenge when you fight depression every day and have no place to call “safe.” Home life is stressful with my mother. Her health isn’t great. Her words are sharp and cruel and it is a daily struggle to put on my shield of deflection from her viciousness, and be able to shield my kids from it as well. One minute she says the most awful things and the next is saying how much she loves her grandkids and would do anything for them. Until they just…..live. And make their own choices. And express themselves. Then she tells us we are disgusting and if we continue to be who we are, we have to get out. We hear her on the phone with her family and she counsels them, telling the wonderful things like “you can’t threaten people and impose your will on others.” Or “don’t let differences keep you from having a relationship with your family.” I have no words. And I don’t recognize this pillar of strength and wisdom who sits before me doling out sage advice. She is my ex. In another body. She cares more about what strangers and distant family think than the people she lives with. Perpetuates the “do as I say and not as I do” movement.

But I get up every day and try to suck it up. Be strong and set a good example for my kids. I’m learning how to set boundaries and those aren’t received well by some people in my life. That adds to my depression because while I know it is necessary and healthy in the long run, the sting of the people who resist my boundaries is sharp.

My sister told me several weeks ago I am the most negative person she has ever met and that I make her sick. This was during a phone call where I asked if she was willing to have a conference call with my brother, my mother and me, because our mother wanted to discuss her estate planning. The conference call was my mother’s request. I was trying to set it up and make it happen for my mother. My brother agreed. My sister accused me of planting seeds in my mother’s head. Of wanting all my mother’s things after she dies. The more I tried to explain the more angry my sister became until we were yelling at each other and then those cruel words were said. I asked her if she was drinking because it has been my experience with her that when she drinks, she becomes irrational and mean. I am negative because I’m facing the reality that our mother is aging and should make these decisions now while she still has the mental capacity to do so because I don’t want to have to make those choices? I am negative because I vent when bad things happen to me? I am negative because I choose to stay in a house with my mom, who isn’t kind, but that’s my choice? It is my choice. But I don’t stay because I’m a freeloader. I don’t stay because I’m a glutton for mistreatment. I stay because I’m trying to help my children. And I’m here because cruel or not, my mother is getting older and her health is deteriorating and she needs help. I realize if I left, she would be alone and that she has isolated herself by behaving in ways that are unspeakable at times so people don’t want to be around her. But I am me. And I am not the most negative person ever. I have compassion and a strong desire to do what’s right. It’s easy for someone who lives far away to tell me what to do because they don’t see it or experience it firsthand. Yet when I share what’s happening, that makes me negative? No. I don’t believe that. The part where my sister said “you make me sick,” is what hurt the most. And I do worry about how negative I must sound but I vent about the negative things as a release. I need to get them out of my mouth and out of my body so I don’t cling to them and let them hurt me. Shouldn’t I be able to do that with my siblings, who know what our mother is like? Who know how bad my divorce was? Who know how hard it was for me to get a job and now have the ugly things happening at that job? I thought that was what unconditional love and support was built upon? Giving a person a safe place to vent and to be compassionate. My sister reached out a few days ago and when I expressed anxiety over speaking with her due to what happened in our last conversation, she said she didn’t have animosity towards anyone. I told her I don’t either, I’m just hurt by her words. And I told her that. Her reply was that she was hurt by words too. I asked what words hurt her. I want to know so I can reflect and apologize or further explain. Her reply to my question was that she didn’t have the energy to get into it. So very much like my mother, there is this method they follow: do and say hurtful things. Don’t speak for weeks. Then act like nothing ever happened. I don’t operate that way. We still have not discussed anything. That’s not animosity. That’s self preservation. That’s me setting boundaries. You don’t get to hurt me and then ignore me and then act like all is fine and I’m the one with the problem. Or animosity. And you’re the bigger better person because you tried to reach out to me? No. I deserve to enforce my own boundaries. And the ironic part? My sister told her daughters I hate her. Which I can assure you I don’t. But what I find remarkable is that she didn’t tell them what she said to me, what we fought about. She left out every detail that included her anger and unkind words to me yet she stressed and stretched anything I did or said that could be used as a reason to make herself the victim. I was nearly speechless when I heard this. I made no effort to reach out to my sister because I knew it would not be resolved and I was and am protecting myself. People are afraid of her. I am one of those people, but I have boundaries now.

My kids are going to be traveling to see their father right after Christmas and staying until after the New Year. It will be my first holiday being all alone since my separation and divorce. I’m sad but am trying to see some positives here. I can focus on just me and heal my mind. The thoughts of betrayal creep in. I know they are not really betraying me. He is their father and they want him in their lives. But I struggle with hearing how sad they are that he moved so far away and that they are finally at a good place with him. I want to scream sometimes. How can they forget that he was he person who put us all here? The person who chose to move away was him. And it’s easy to be at a good place with a parent when that parent doesn’t have to parent you. Doesn’t have to deal with the daily stresses and teenage behaviors. Doesn’t have to do the shopping and cooking and cleaning and running kids all around? Yeah. They’re at a good place. Well yay them! So being alone for the New Year night not be so bad. I can work on getting to a good place, with myself.

Work is still not a “safe” place for me either. The owner is a tool. A fake. And a giant child who doesn’t like being told when he has done something wrong. Instead of an apology, he turns every situation around and places the blame that belongs to him onto someone else. He has actually said that there is zero trust between him and I. He isn’t wrong. But then he said it is UP TO ME to make any and all efforts to attempt to rebuild the trust between us. And that I am never to share anything personal with him ever again because in doing so, I opened the door for him to make an inappropriate comment about my breasts to him. He one, doesn’t have to worry about me sharing anything with him ever again and two, I hope he holds his breath waiting for ME to work on rebuilding trust between the two of us. Regardless, I keep to myself and work like a champ. I get my work done plus the work of others. I help and I am dedicated to making the place a success. I’m still looking for another job elsewhere but the pickins are slim. I’ll keep at my search because I need to find a safe place. Just one place where I can be myself.

This pattern I see, of others not wanting to accept the blame for their actions that cause hurt or where they were wrong? Of ignoring the situation for long periods of time and then suddenly reappearing as if nothing happened? Of worrying about how they appear in the public eye but not even closely matching that view in private? I wonder what role I have in this pattern? My first step in understanding this is recognizing these are the people I see. I see them. I recognize the behaviors. And I am setting boundaries. Like it or not, they can not and I will not let them in any more. I don’t care if they are family or long-time friends, work associates or bosses. You may not come in. I think that is my role. I never set boundaries before. Anywhere in my life. A long time married male friend says something sexually inappropriate to me? I try to laugh it off so I don’t embarrass them. A co-worker says the same? My reaction is the same. Family or friends hurt me? I never say much. So they keep doing it. Kids share info about their father that I don’t want to hear and that hurts me? I let them talk because I want to support them. But who supports me? This is why I HAVE to set boundaries.

This blog post is a bit all over the place, so for anyone reading it, sorry about that. I just needed to get this out of my head and down where I can see it. That always helps me feel better.

So happy holidays. I am going to do my best to be bright and merry. It’s going to be exhausting and draining but I don’t want to let this depression get the best of me and I’m hoping my newly set boundaries will help with that.

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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.

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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. ❤️

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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.

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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. 

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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). 

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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. 

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