In June 2008, all I knew was that I was miserable and wanted out, I wanted a divorce. I was emotionally done. I felt like my heart had been chipped away for so long, it was nothing more than a pile of crumbs on the floor and I sat there emotionless staring at it. I lost myself completely. Ted had sucked everything from me and I felt like an empty shell. I had lost almost all contact with my family. I had very few…actually one… true friend.
It wasn’t until recently and after a lot of research that I finally realized everything Ted had done and said during our 14-year marriage was out of a need to supply his growing and worsening narcissistic personality. Narcissists manifest and show their horns in different ways according to the ways their emptiness and false identity are formed.
If there is one bit of advice I could offer anyone about to embark on the journey of divorcing a narcissist, it is this: BE PREPARED. In case you don’t know my story, Ted successfully took primary custody of our two children from me. I know not every narcissist would do the horrible things he did, lie like he did or be as obsessed, but from everything I have since learned, he was not too far off of the typical textbook reactions. A formerly non-violent narcissist will quickly justify violence, or deny it completely.
I would have done a lot of things differently had I known what I was up against. There are so many things I wish I would have known.
Below are just a few. If I can help protect one mom from going through some of the hell I have, then it will make it all worth it.
1. Be prepared for your ex to turn into a monster beyond anything you have seen. You are taking away his main narcissistic supply, yourself, so he will try to manipulate you and everyone he can to get it back. Do not underestimate him or his manipulative abilities. Ted even went so far as to stalk my friends, tracking them down with a recorder in his pocket, trying to get them to say something bad about me or my parenting.
2. It no longer matters how good of a mom you are. I have never done drugs, been on prescription medications or drank heavily. Courts no longer favor the mother. The family law system is a very broken system. It doesn’t matter if you provide most of the care for your children. The court will award custody to whoever presents the best case, even if it is full of lies, and to the parent willing to spend the most money.
3. Hire a good attorney who will listen to you.
4. Violence that comes about after the separation may have no bearing on custody. Establish a neutral exchange location of your children, where there are cameras. Do not allow him to come to your home. A magistrate told me I caused a “situation” to elevate to the level which caused Ted, who is 6’3” to hit my 5’4” 120 lb mom with a closed fist. Yes, some magistrates advocate domestic violence.
5. Know stalking laws and laws on recording conversations in your county. I have a manuscript about an inch thick of PARTS of phone conversations twisted and used against me. In my county, only one party needs to be aware that a conversation is being recorded.
6. Prepare for your children to be brainwashed and alienated against you. Research the right things to say when they have questions or are simply just regurgitating something they heard dad say. He will manipulate and use them against you.
7. Learn what feeds a narcissist. Only communicate via email. Narcissists push buttons just to get a reaction. Do not give one. Divorce is an emotionally charged time for all involved. If you only communicate via email, you can take emotion out of your answers and can prove your exact words. This will benefit you in court. Set boundaries and stick to them. See #5.
8. When you decide to leave, have a plan in place in case he becomes violent. Have hidden money, resources, and your support system ready and available.
Know you are strong. Don’t just say it, let it resonate from your very soul. You are breaking free of the pain he lives for causing you. You deserve to be happy. Learn and research, then have a plan. You can do this.