I have the lyrics to John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” running through my head right now. Welcome to my town where everyone has 2.5 children and a happy little golden retriever standing guard by the white picket fence.
This morning I threw on my very best sweatpants (sarcasm) and headed in for my month IVig treatment which is my personal weapon against Multiple Sclerosis. After being on this treatment for about 5 years, I don’t put a lot of effort into looking good for my nurses because I usually end up feeling pretty crappy and could give a rats arse about my appearance. On my treatment days, I am lucky if I brush my hair and I usually avoid going into coffee shops or grocery stores where there is any chance of people seeing me. My one stop today involved picking up my daughters from their gymnastics camp and I was sure I could duck in and out without being seen.
As I was walking into the gym, I saw an acquaintance from the community who said, “Tina, can I talk to you for a minute?”. I knew what was coming before the words even left her mouth. I had just received the paperwork moments before from my X and his new attorney. Basically, he went to church on Easter Sunday and cornered her husband into writing a declaration about my X’s attendance at church. The declaration was very vague but he was manipulated into verifying that my X attends my church. I could see it in her face- she felt horrible and didn’t realize the damage that had been done. We talked for a bit about the situation and she asked for my contact information. I found myself in the same position once again, how do you describe three nightmarish years of insanity in a 15-minute conversation without appearing insane yourself? It didn’t help that I was dressed like a bag lady and had an IV bandage on my right hand. I must have looked shaken up because she got out of the car and gave me a hug.
While I love living in a small town, I hate that the really nice people in my little town keep getting dragged into my insane world and manipulated by him just like I once was.
I am one face in this battle but there are many, many more.
I have come to realize that this isn’t just my story – it’s the story of many, many women (and men) who have been affected by narcissistic personality disorder or other personality disorders. Divorcing a narcissist isn’t for the weak yet by the time you get to the point of finally wanting to leave your narcissist, you are usually beaten down and to the point that you don’t think you can continue for another day. That is the point in time where you have to dig deep inside and find the courage and the strength to take a stand. You need to dig deep in your closet for the battle gear (you know that dark corner where you throw the jeans that no longer fit?). Sometimes it takes a big of digging but I promise you that you will find the courage if you look hard enough.
My journal has turned into your journal. So many of my readers have shared stories with me that make me question if I was unknowingly living in a polygamist marriage. Usually, I don’t put anything past my X but somehow, I don’t think he was keeping up a double life in both the UK and China. Joking aside, this personality disorder affects so many people. If the stats are true and 4% of the population are Narcissists, that leaves a lot of us in the aftermath of the storm. There is power in numbers. A lot of my healing has come from hearing your stories and feeling less alone.
One of my friends said that she is going to write a book called, “Narcissism for Dummies” and the first (and only page) would say, “RUN“! Hindsight really is 20-20. I was almost two years into my battle before I realized that Narcissism was to blame for the chaos that had ensued over the past ten years of my life. Prior to that, I was clueless. I would watch him lie, steal, cheat and manipulate with a smile on his face. I would question my sanity. How can he open his mouth and lie like that? Who does that? I now have the answer: Narcissists do.
As I’ve said before, I don’t want to be seen as a victim. I don’t want you to be seen as a victim because your story is my story. My story is your story. I have the privilege of authoring the next chapter of my life and you have the ability to write your next chapter. Is it going to be a chapter where you are the victim or is it going to be the chapter where the victim finds her (his) voice and stands up to the bully? Narcissists are the same as bullies– they have low self esteems yet portray themselves to be powerful and bigger than life. I want to be that awesome kid on the playground who finally stands up to the bully and sets boundaries.
Cheers to setting boundaries and finding your voice! -Tina
PS Thank you for all of your comments and emails. I can’t tell you how inspiring it is for me to hear from you— some days I am encouraged to keep writing based on a simple message from my readers.
As I prepare my case for upcoming court date, I needed to obtain the reports from the company who supervises my X’s visits.
There have been a total of three visits- only two hours each visit. My fear in the beginning was that my X would put on a huge act in an effort to win the Father of the Year award. Since the visits are only two hours in length, I didn’t anticipate that a lot could go wrong. Being that these reports are now in the hands of the court, the girls’ attorney, my X’s possession and in my possession… it makes them public record. Because of that, I feel comfortable talking about them in very general terms.
Apparently, I was wrong. A lot can go wrong in a total of six hours. It worries me that he didn’t try to put on a show as it makes me question his state of mind.
- He was 20 minutes early to the first visit which started everything off poorly for the girls and I. He had strict orders to arrive on time. He had to be asked twice to leave.
- According to the report, he ordered his favorite pizza (chicken garlic pizza) without thinking of the girls which means they barely ate anything. They are like most children– cheese or pepperoni.
- He had to be reminded to not use his cell phone.
- Late to second visit- with no explanation.
- He sat and drank coffee while socializing with another father for 20 minutes of his two-hour visit.
- Had to be reminded that there are no cameras when he tried to take a photo. (This makes me so angry because I know those photos would have promptly been posted on Facebook to keep up his facade).
- Arrived late to the third visit- with no explanation.
- On the report, it was noted that, “Dad does not interact much with girls as they play”.
- He brought a family member to the visit (against the rules) and then denied that they were related when asked three separate times. This was his sister-in-law (brother A’s wife) and nephew.
Once again, it is a bag of mixed emotions. If you were to reach in the bag, you would find sadness because my daughters deserve SO much more than this. You would also find shock. Even when I don’t think I could possibly be shocked anymore, I am proven wrong. You would also find confusion. It’s difficult to understand. If I hadn’t seen my children for six weeks, you wouldn’t find me drinking Starbucks and socializing with an adult for 20 minutes. You would have to peel me off of my children. Inside my bag of emotions is also anger. Anger because these reports show his true colors.
This isn’t about our daughters…it’s about his need to beat me in court. It’s also about saving face with his mom who he can’t possibly disappoint.
It is difficult to find balance when you are operating in survival mode. For three years, this (court battle) is all I’ve known. In many ways, it feels like a blur. One thing that I struggle with is trying to maintain a support system but walking the very fine line of not overwhelming those in my corner. There is only so much “divorce talk” and “X references” that a person can handle.
Being in a high-conflict divorce is hard for most people to understand. While divorce in general isn’t pretty, there is a difference. Most people are mature enough and emotionally sound enough to put the needs of the children first. When you are dealing with a narcissistic personality, all common sense and rationale goes out the window. The healthy parent is forced into a battle zone to protect the children. The battle leaves scars. Most people can’t understand why two parents can’t just put their differences aside for the sake of the children.
I think back to Christie Brinkley on the Today Show and I sympathize so much with where she was in that exact moment. I’ve been there. How do you summarize the sheer insanity of this situation in a few sentences? Where do you even start? How do you brief someone on the amount of craziness that can transpire in one month let alone sum the whole thing up? It seems never ending. Sometimes I feel like a tennis player with the automatic ball-thrower-thingy (technical terms, I know) pitching ball after ball at me. I can keep swinging but after a while, it gets to be too much.
The people that I love have also been beaten down by this battle and for that, I feel horrible. No matter how much love there is, hearing about it and living it daily (or almost daily) wears everyone down. There are good days and bad days. There are so many people in this battle who deserve credit for being in my corner. I appreciate them tremendously but at the same time, I wish there was a way to shelter them from the reality of it all. It’s my life and my reality. I hope and pray that it calms down someday– for everyone’s sake.
It’s hard for me to understand. It infuriates me. I found an article on Psychology Today titled, Understanding Compulsive Liars because as much as I try to understand it, I can’t. Ironically, the article mentioned antisocial, borderline and narcissistic personality disorders. Shocking, right?
Excerpt from the article: Robert Reich, M.D., a New York City psychiatrist and expert in psychopathology, says compulsive lying has no official diagnosis. Instead, intentional dissimulation — not the kind associated with dementia or brain injury — is associated with a range of diagnoses, such as antisocial, borderline and narcissistic personality disorders. When it comes to compulsive liars, says Charles Ford, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, “words seem to flow out of their mouths without them thinking about it.” Ford, the author of Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit, says that pathological liars may slide easily from the notion that something could have happened to the conviction that it did. When pressed, many will admit what they are saying isn’t true.
Today I discovered that there is another lie on the table. Now, he is backtracking to get out of his lie to the judge and the court. He couldn’t get what he wanted from the church receptionist which was for them to say he is a member. Now, he is twisting his story- he is actually in a Men’s Hiking Group through the church. Yes, he is really claiming that.
Unfortunately for him, I’ve started the steps to prove this isn’t true. For starters, the group hikes on Saturday morning at 9am and all hikes take 2-3 hours. How is this possible if his visitations have begun at 10am for the past six months? He lives four hours north of the hiking group and has access to some of the most amazing hikes and trails in Northern California. I find it odd that he is driving four hours south on his off-weekends to hike with a church group. Anyone else find this amusing? I would too if it wasn’t my life. I sent all of the information to the girls’ attorney this morning to prove that it isn’t true.
Yesterday I submitted 55 pages of documents to the court for our April 18th hearing. In those documents, I provided the dates of his visits over the past six months- since our September 14th court date. I contacted the church for the dates the girls attended Sunday School (it is all tracked in the computer) and ironically, there are only two dates they attended during his visits. Those two dates are the days that I took them to church and he merely agreed to pick them up from church after service rather than our meeting place of Starbucks. In six months of visits, he could of taken them to the 11am service every Sunday yet he never did. Not once. I would say he’s buried himself pretty deep so I got out my shovel and went to work. To dig through the bull and uncover the truth. That truth is held in 55-pages of court documents which will ensure the judge sees through the lies and the court can rule based on the truth.
I’ve been procrastinating on my court paperwork. I needed a break from it all and felt so relieved about the current supervised visits. It’s time to put the *Snuggie back on the shelf and get ready for the next round. Today, I said to myself: Do It! Grab the bull by the horns.
Our next court date is April 18th and this date will determine if the current order (supervised visits) becomes a permanent order. After starting my paperwork tonight and reading the court transcripts, I feel extremely confident that it will go in our favor. The paperwork and reality of it is very daunting but the positive component is that I don’t have a lot to do– he dug himself a big, cozy hole full of lies to lay down in. I honestly don’t know how he could possibly climb out this time.
Regardless, I want to be prepared. I have made all of the appropriate contacts, received supporting documentation and now it’s just a matter of filling out the forms and going through the motions. I was hoping (along with billions of other people) that my Mega Millions lotto ticket was the winner last week so that I could hire a fabulous attorney to swoop in and take over this paperwork nightmare that I’ve been trapped in for three years. After thinking about it a bit more, I realized that at this point I don’t think that I would hire an attorney even if I could pay for it. I don’t think that I could find another human being more passionate about protecting my daughters. Even if I had millions, I would show up for court in two weeks and represent my girls.
*Disclaimer: I don’t really own a Snuggie– can’t quite bring myself to do it but may reconsider when I retire.
This is a topic that I’ve personally struggled with because money was always held over my head by my X in a sick and twisted way. If the business was doing well, he took the credit. If the business was failing, it was my fault because I was the one who wanted to start the business in the first place. Prior to having children, I worked between 60-110 hours per week at our business. If you ask for his opinion, I was a couch potato who ate Doritos all day while keeping up to date on the latest episode of Days of Our Lives (Reality Check: I don’t like Doritos, sitting on the couch or soap operas).
When I found out last June that my X got fired from his job, I was sure that my world was going to crumble around me. Everything that he ever held over my head was going to come true and he was going to gloat about it. In actuality, the world didn’t end. I was forced to make a few changes such as changing my youngest daughter to a different preschool, pulling back on their activities (ballet, gymnastics and other fun events) and a few other things. He was able to keep his lifestyle of a luxury condo complete with 24-concierge and he bought a brand new car during this time. He has also been able to keep up his nightlife commitments which involve a lot of alcohol. This favorite past-time resulted in a recent DUI with a pretty hefty price tag and a very expensive defense attorney.
In a strange way, the past ten months of not receiving child support taught me that I can stand on my feet without his help. It proved that he was wrong. The worst part is that it affected my children and changed their lives. In his distorted mind, he is withholding it from me and hurting me. In reality, he is withholding it from them and hurting them. The money that he is ordered to pay is for our daughters and therefore, it is up to me to fight that battle for them. As someone on my blog recently said, “the courts can’t force him to be a great dad but they can force him to financially provide for his children”.
After not receiving a penny in March, I pulled up the account online last night and discovered that his new child support arrears is currently sitting at $31,697.44. I notified him in writing that moving forward, I will be holding him accountable each month. Today I am filling out an Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Contempt and will be filing with the court house tomorrow morning. If it takes a court date each and every month to hold him accountable and enforce the consequences of not paying, that is what I will do.