The stuff a Covert Narcissist is capable of during a divorce would shock anyone (it even shocked me). But, I needed my family to understand what I was going through.
I Love my family… especially my sister. She is 7+ years older than me and due to the plethora of dysfunctional issues both of my parents possessed I’d say she kinda raised me.
We’re completely opposite in many ways, which varies from height and hair color to our outlook on life. I tend to take more risks and she tends to have more common sense. I believe everything’s always going to work out, while she tends to clearly see the reasons why it won’t.
And Hot Damn, she’s usually right.
I distinctly remember the conversation we had back in 1985 when I told her I was marrying my college boyfriend of 6 months.
Her simple reply was… “Do. Not. Marry. Him!”
Of course, she went onto defend her opinion in great detail, but I had made up my mind.
I could have argued with her, but deep down she knew the real reason why I was getting married. Our parents had some pretty old-fashioned rules:
1. We couldn’t “go away” to college. If we were going to go to college at all, we had to attend a college in our hometown and live at home.
2. We had to live at home until we got married.
My sister had gotten married in 1979, leaving me to live ALONE with my parents.
Therefore, there was no further discussion and my sister did not cry tears of joy on my wedding day.
To be completely honest, there were a bunch of red flags that said, “Do. Not Marry Him,” but I ignored them all. I believed with all my heart that if I worked hard enough, I could heal all his issues. I wanted to be the best wife and mother I could be and I was excited to start that chapter of my life. After all, I had survived a very challenging upbringing. I could certainly handle a couple red flags.
But, after 23 years of trying my very best, those frickin red flags could no longer be ignored. So, when my husband asked for a divorce, I finally raised my white flag. And by that time, I was so emotionally and physically exhausted I barely had the strength to lift it.
The funny thing is, my sister didn’t say, “I told you so.” Quite the contrary. She couldn’t understand why we were getting divorced. Even when I told her my soon-to-be Ex had been involved with another woman (actually women) whom he’d been spending time with on business trips she seemed genuinely surprised about the divorce.
I really can’t blame her. Many people responded similarly to our divorce. You see, sometimes when you’re in a really bad marriage, you hide it behind closed doors and only show a picture perfect marriage (produced with a generous amount of smoke and mirrors).
And I’ll let you in on 4 little secrets I learned from copious amounts of therapy following my divorce:
1. When you’re married to a Covert Narcissist that picture-perfect marriage is very, very convincing to the untrained eye.
2. Your divorce from a Covert Narcissist will best be described as “High Conflict”.
3. The destruction and abuse you and your children suffer at the hands of your Ex will be comparable to a level 5 Hurricane.
4. There are very few people who will understand any of this.
Therefore, I couldn’t really blame my sister for her lack of understanding and support because she had absolutely no reference point for what I was going through. Not only had she never experienced divorce (let alone a High Conflict one) she happened to be married to a great guy. She had the intelligence and good fortune to marry the polar opposite of a Covert Narcissist.
So, when I would tell my family about my Ex’s parental alienation, financial strangulation, emotional abuse, psychological abuse and abuse of our Family Court System these things were so foreign to them, they simply couldn’t believe it.
The stuff a Covert Narcissist is capable of during a divorce would shock anyone (it even shocked me). But, I needed my family to understand what I was going though. I felt like my divorce was killing me and I desperately needed their understanding and support.
The bad news is my divorce was over 8 years ago, and my Ex’s abuse still continues with a vengeance.
The good news is his abuse has consistently gone on for so long, my family has finally become educated on his Covert Narcissistic disorder. My sister and her husband completely understand what my children and I continue to endure and they are our greatest supporters. And that is kind of a happy ending!
always hoping you get a happy ending!
My family experienced something very similar to your situation. When the divorce papers were filed, most of my siblings and I tried to stay neutral. As the facts came out and the drama unfolded over too many years/court appearances to count, we are so glad we started out neutral. It ends up that our sibling (my sister) was the narcissist in the relationship – something I’m not very proud of.
Had we not maintained relations with our brother-in-law, we would not be able to see our beautiful nieces as once the court and legal systems wised up to her drama and theatrics (and we are very thankful they finally did), he was awarded full custody. She is technically only allowed to have them a few hours a week but if they want to see her more, he lets them.
Unfortunately we did lose contact with our sister as she wanted us to only support her and have no contact with her now ex. Anything less was seen as an unforgivable betrayal to her. We were supposed to believe everything she said and not question it. In hindsight, there were lots of clues/red flags that we missed. We excused her behavior because she was so much younger than us and was always considered the baby of the family and treated that way. I fear we helped create the monster she turned out to be.
Our biggest concern remains for our nieces. The manipulation that they were put through for years at such a tender age we fear will have lasting results that we just can’t see at this point. One niece still sees her mother at times and is terribly emotionally abused by her mother. She keeps going back, though, and we’re sure it’s partially out of guilt and also hope that her mother will change. The older niece hasn’t “seen” or spoken with her mother in 2.5 years. Yes, they live in the same small town so from a distance they could see each other but they have had no personal interaction in that time.
Luckily their father has remarried to a wonderful woman who has been accepting of us! If I were her, I wouldn’t want anything to do with her husband’s ex-in-laws. But she has never held our sister’s actions against us (yes, our sister childishly keyed the new wife’s car while they were dating, told her daughters to do other horrible things to their now stepmother – which they DID as pre-teens. Later they confessed when they realized how they were being manipulated and their guilt weighs heavily on their consciences) The new wife has been a tremendous role model for our nieces and we are very thankful to have her in their lives and ours. The girls do not suffer financially but there is no question they do emotionally.
So, our situations are similar but there are also differences. But we share the fact that our lives and those of our families have been forever touched by a narcissist. And unless you’ve lived through it, you rreally can’t understand what a narcissit is capable of doing. Not the best bond to have but it’s nice to know we’re not alone.
You described this scenario perfectly. The bottom line is the kids suffer the most. It is true that they only get a clearer awareness of things once they get older, but it doesn’t erase the fact that they’ll carry the pain forever. My exs relatives are split. His siblings are unfortunately as sick as he is, however is aunts and uncles support me and my kids completely and for that I am grateful, because my kids can maintain a relationship with relatives on his side. It is so important to have the support of family that understands the dangers of narcissism.
i can totally relate. I was married to the same personality type 17 years and divorced for over 25 years before I was finally able to free myself 100%. To this day though, my family still is respectful to my ex and even friendly. If a stranger abused me the way my ex did, my family would never be kind, but because they have never truly walked in my shoes, they truly can’t understand.LUCAY
That is so true. It is very difficult for others to understand. No one wants to believe anyone is capable of being so incredibly diabolical.
Seriously, we (as the spouse of a narcissist ) constantly covered-up their sick behavior for years. So, the harsh reality of their deviance is simply very hard for others to swallow.
How did you get your family to understand he was a covert narcissist? No one seems to believe me and people think I am overreacting.
Lorilyn Bridges says
I wish I had an easy answer for you, but I don’t.
Dealing with a CN is truly one of the most difficult challenges you will face. They are masters of manipulation and spinning reality and truth.
And they LOVE to play the victim.
Many believe over time, people (like your Friends&Family) will come to see their “true colors”…
BUT, the CN is so charismatic and crafty it sometimes takes years- – even decades to see their patterns of destruction.
And when you try to expose their tactics (because they’re so maniacal) your F&F will have a hard time believing the CN could actually be so poisonous…it is hard for them to believe someone could be so sick.
I guess, I would suggest finding peace and truth in your own life and simply try to have as little to do with the CN as possible. The only way to find peace, truth and joy is to have them out of your life.
Got to go on for sure, too many years of this, and the calculations from him are still there. Scary to say the least. I just feel bad for my children that are manipulated and it is a form of abuse, but I cannot change the court system they are the worst. I can only pray that God takes over and protects the best joy I every had and that is my children.
This is my father and sadly he did all of this to my mother and us 3 children for over 35 years. My father set up the family dynamic so I am the scapegoat and now I have to deal with 3 abusers (father and 2 siblings who are just as abusive as him). My mother passed away almost 4 years ago leaving me to deal with him and the legal issues he was able to manipulate for all these years. He always thought of it as a game and still does. I have dealt with his abuse, violence (physical and emotional) and threats for years and most people can not believe what I have had to deal with including my lawyer. Because my father is now an old man no one believes he can be so violent. There is very little support for me in this situation. Thanks for sharing about these horrible husbands and fathers.
Lorilyn Bridges says
My heart goes out to you.
Now that your mama is gone, the best way you can take care of yourself is to find support in friends and “family”- you choose for yourself.
Stay AWAY from your dad and narcissistic siblings.
Keep your life pure and as healthy as you can!!
Carla Ward says
I’ve been divorced for 10 years and the abuse continues. He has alienated my oldest two children, my siblings, and my mother from me. My younger two children, who are now teens, see through his lies and are also victims of their father’s emotional abuse. I have tried and tried to convince my family of the abuse, even through emails. I even had my mother see a therapist with me and she would not listen there either.
Lorilyn Bridges says
I hate to say it, BUT— STOP TRYING TO CONVINCE ANYONE!!!
Seriously, I know you love your family… however, you are up against a situation that will probably never change. And it certainly will not change by you trying to “enlighten” anybody about the horrible destruction caused by a CN.
Try to untangle yourself from the web of lies and manipulation the CN spins.
The best thing you can do is move forward by living your best, most honest and pure life.
Focus on Philippians 4:8… Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy-think about such things.
And I can reassure you… you will find none of those things when you are entangled with a CN!!
Been through it. Took me a long time to figure out the name of it. My ex is a narcissist. He’s abused me & all four of the kids. At the time of kicking him out I was two weeks away from delivering the twins. He’s abused them most of all to the point my one daughter has PTSD because of it. My other daughter can’t seem to get a grasp on life or move forward. 31 years old & hasn’t dated yet. I know I did the right thing by divorcing him but I feel so guilty for not being able to protect the four of them from him. The court was no help. I love my kids to the moon & back but I couldn’t protect them from their father & it’s affected them as adults.