It is quite common for those who are married to narcissists to feel trapped. They often identify with the narcissist in their life and
may even feel that they have it “good”, and may buy into what the narcissist has told them: that they have a great lifestyle and have an easy life (of course) because of the narcissist. On the other hand, you may be wondering just how to get divorced.
Children of narcissistic parents are even more trapped, especially when they are young. Often the mother or father married to this person will not emotionally support the child due to intimidation of the narcissist. The non-narcissistic parent caves in and “abandons” the child out of fear and denial. I thank God that I got out before I
let this happen. Our daughter was only 2 at the time. Others aren’t so fortunate. I hate that she has to grow up with a narcissistic father part of the time and has no protection from me while she’s there. The narcissist mother or father will do whatever it takes to maintain control. He/she will lie, threaten, verbally, and emotional abuse whoever is standing in his way. If you think independently, you will pay. N’s remove any comfort in the home by bringing negative “energy” into every situation. There is no true relaxation. Even if the narcissist is happy, one is never sure how long it will last or when something will “happen” to set them off. It is living in a war zone with no one coming to save you. My narcissist actually told me that he had military psychological training (he did)
and he could outlast me (implying in the silent treatment/mind control realm). Narcissists are greedy and demanding. During the divorce they are most often uncooperative. They love to rattle your nerves and scare the hell out of you. They threaten to ruin you financially. They will fight you to the end in court and expect as much as they can get. When the divorce is on, the narcissist goes into full battle mode. You are bombarded by his attorney’s countless questions and insinuations, designed to wear you down to nothing so you will give up. Narcissists love to see others suffer. It makes them feel powerful, knowing that they are controlling your emotions and exposing what they perceive as your weaknesses. Combat this with good documentation and PROOF. Bank records, joint credit reports on your spouse before the divorce is final, anything you can get your hands on. For child custody, document everything that happens, what you children say that pertains to your ex, how he treats them, and witnesses to the children saying this. Document late exchanges, keep all text messages, emails, etc. in a safe place where they won’t be deleted. Print them out. Keep a file. I was diligent and it paid off. In my state, I couldn’t get FULL custody of our daughter but I got the majority. Wish I could get more. But it’s not over yet. I’m still documenting. If he ever abuses her, I’ll be on it. The court system is slow to act but remember: child welfare services can often help in abuse cases.
Prepare yourself for battle by knowing as much as you can about the narcissistic personality, narcissistic personality disorder symptoms, and narcissistic personality disorder relationships. Then, you will have an edge at predicting their moves and developing excellent strategies against their moves. I know my N-ex so well that I can almost predict his moves and can stop him before he starts. He still manages to surprise me though. A narcissism test can help you determine whether or not your spouse or ex is truly narcissistic, but doing your own research on the subject along with you own intuition will help you make this determination. You can’t use your suspicions in court anyway unless your spouse has been diagnosed. It is just for your own sanity and help in coping. The narcissistic personality disorder test may be found on: psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm Don’t ever give in to the “I have changed. I want to get along and get out of this devorce” routine. This ploy is used to throw you off balance and re-consider. Don’t fall for it! Ever!
Make sure that you learn to take good care of yourself during the divorce and for the rest of your life. You are the first priority. You need to give back to yourself so you can continue to give to your children. Get massages, buy yourself something that makes you feel beautiful, etc. Exercise, eat healthy, and start to feel better about yourself. Get plenty of rest, B-vitamins if your energy is low, and take good care of yourself. You will come out the other side better off and stronger. You will take care of yourself and you WILL heal! God bless!
You will see many blog-posts from me on co-parenting issues with a narcissist. My biggest concern (as with most of you reading this blog) is my daughter and her physical and emotional well-being. I read a lot about coparenting with a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath. My conclusion: I will do my best but it’s frustrating knowing that there is little I can do to prevent it. I, like most parents, want to protect my daughter from this man, even though it is her father. I stayed longer than I should have with my N-ex because I thought I could protect her from him. I thought as long as I was with her, that I could protect her and shield her from him. What I didn’t realize was that, while I thought I was protecting her, she has also been protecting me.
My daughter was only 2 when I left my N-ex. From the moment that she could respond, when we had an argument in front of her (despite my trying to redirect it to a better time, when our daughter wasn’t present, you KNOW there’s no stopping a narcissist!) he would yell at me, whether I engaged or not. After these arguments, or during, our daughter would not go to her dad. She always “sided” with me. Perhaps she sensed that I was the one being attacked. I was the underdog. She would be angry with her dad for yelling at me and she wouldn’t want anything to do with him. He, of course, would “make me” tell her everything was okay and that it was safe to go to him. This makes me angry to this day! Now that I’m out, I can’t imagine why I stayed and put our daughter through this, but it’s easier said than done, as most of you unfortunately know. Many of you reading this may still be struggling to get out. To those, I wish you strength. I’m happy to help in whatever way I can with advice and support. I know how hard it is. My biggest concern is: will my N-ex abandon our daughter when she falls from his graces? How will she handle that? What can I do to help? She’s four years old now. She still adores her daddy (or pretends to, as she tells me. She doesn’t want to hurt his feelings). She tries to make him happy. Will he start to degrade her too when she develops her own opinion more and more? Is he already degrading her? I know there’s not much I can do in court. Is there anything else I can do?
If you are wondering if your spouse, boyfriend, ex is a narcissist, you may want to check out this Narcissistic Personality Inventory on http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm . Here, you can read the questions and assess whether the person in your life falls into this category. Chances are, if you THINK they are, they are, but this narcissistic personality inventory will help. The narcissistic personality inventory is a commonly-used test by psychologists. The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), is included in the book, The Mirror Effect.
You will tell me things I want to hear or you will not be heard.
You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken.
Love is conditional upon the aforementioned.
Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death.
There is only one road in and out of here.
Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys.
Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die.
Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good.
Narcissism is a myth.
As the author said, most of your time is spent attempting to undo the damage a narcissist can do to his/her children when coparenting with a narcissist. I definitely agree with this statement. The narcissist isn’t capable of “normal” maternal or paternal instincts. They view their children as objects meant to fulfill their own needs, instead of the other way around. It is not always easy to combat narcissistic behavior.
1. I am who I tell you I am:
Since the N’s (narcissist’s) children are people who know he is not who he tells them he is, he chooses to surround himself with people who will believe he is who he tells them he is. I wonder if our daughter has figured this one out yet. I hope she is smarter than I was! Of course, she’ll have me to help, but I’m not quite sure how to do that. I don’t want to alienate her from her father, but I wait until she brings a problem up before I address it, usually. It is a work in progress, I guess. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated! We’re here to help each other. Please help!
2. You will tell me things I want to hear or you will not be heard:
My N-ex has always ignored what he didn’t want to hear. If our daughter isn’t talking to him when she makes the “required” calls on the phone, he ignores her.
3. You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken:
This is the one that does the most damage. The N puts no value on his/her children’s feelings. In the author’s example, she wrote: “When we don’t value other people’s feelings our actions can do irreparable damage to those people. Our son was upset over something his father wrote him in an email. He responded and told his father, “Dad, when you say things like that, it hurts my feelings.”
His father responded and told our son, “I am not responsible for your feelings.” And then he went on to explain to the child just how unreasonable it was for his son to expect him to care about his feelings. You can’t tell a child in one voice, “I love you” and then tell them “If your feelings got hurt it is your fault” in the next and expect that child to not be emotionally damaged.” This hits home to me because, while my daughter was barely able to communicate when I last lived with her dad, he would say to me that he wasn’t responsible for how I “take things.” He’d try to say that I misunderstood, but he’d never succeed at explaining what he “truly” meant, or he’d say that he wasn’t responsible for my feelings. He actually said the words, “if your feelings got hurt it’s your fault”. Am I naïve to hope that there’s a chance that he won’t do it to our daughter? After all, he tells her damaging (and false) things such as: your mother doesn’t love you, your mom isn’t capable of love, your grandma doesn’t love you, etc., etc., etc. my hope is that if she falls from his good graces, he’ll just leave for someone who will give him more attention. That sounds terrible to say but I think that would be best for her.
4. Love is conditional upon the aforementioned:
Who doesn’t want to be love conditionally? Sadly, if a child refuses to feel the way the narcissistic parent needs them to feel, then love, attention, caring, concern, etc. will be withheld. Wondering how my daughter will handle this, I found comfort in this article, where the author wrote: “The bad news for the narcissist, children eventually adjust and move on. That old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” works against the narcissist. I can, thankfully say that as adults our children rarely think about or mention their father. When you withdraw your love from someone they will eventually “let go” of their love for you.” This gives me hope that one day, he will just fade out of her life without irreparable damage. I know she’s a strong little girl, I just hate to see her have to go through this. While he’s telling her that I don’t love her, it is he who is incapable of love. Also of note: One thing I’ve realized when dealing with the narcissist is that whatever he is accusing you of is very often what he is guilty of. Perhaps HE is incapable of love and he is incapable of loving her as a parent should. Maybe deep down he realizes this and he reflects it back onto me.
5. Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death:
True intimacy with another person means allowing yourself to become vulnerable, emotionally dependent. Vulnerability and dependency are the kiss of death to the narcissist. Your child will love the narcissistic parent; the narcissistic parent is only able to love what the child can do for him/her. I never felt that my N-ex ever really knew me. I felt that he had a version of me but he was incapable of seeing who I really AM. Most people that know me would say that I am honest, trustworthy, and giving. He constantly accused me of lying, and being selfish. I never felt “close” to him. He was never vulnerable. He never admitted anything he was ashamed of, unless it was an underhanded way to brag (ie., he always felt bad about beating up all of those people who picked fights with him (hmm, wonder why?!) No matter how much bigger than him they were, he always felt sorry for them afterward. Supposedly. And, why was he getting in so many fights? I’ve never found myself in a physical fight, except the one scuffle with my sister as teenagers… Anyway, I can relate to this one.
6. There is only one road in and out of here:
I’m not exactly sure what the author of this list meant for this one but what I get out of it is: It’s MY (the N’s) way or the highway, and I control the highway!
7. Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys:
Sad but true, children of N’s are replaced. Be it with a step-daughter or step-son, or a new son or daughter. He/she will forever be the recipient of his goodness, that is, until she questions a behavior or, disagrees with a belief of his. (Oh, and by “forever”, I mean, “for as long as it lasts”.)
8. Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die:
Similar to the author, when my ex and I divorced in his mind I was no longer important. I was no longer an object of any use to him. Any feelings, needs or desires I had had become of no consequence to him. He likewise expected our daughter to view me as someone who was unimportant.
9. Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good:
I don’t have any experience of my own in this regard since our daughter is only 4, and it’s just her. I’ll leave the original author’s comments as it helped me:
“When we divorced our children were 14 and 7 years old. The older child was quick to call his father out for hurtful behavior. The younger child made excuses and did whatever he could to keep his father happy. All the younger child cared about was spending time with his Dad. Due to that he detached himself from the emotional pain and focused on pleasing his father.
Our older child individuated, became separate from his brother and had to be done away with emotionally. Our older son in now 28 years old. His father has rarely acknowledged him since the divorce. He came to his high school graduation after 4 years of never attending a parent/teacher meeting, extracurricular activity, regular visitation and refusing to enter into counseling. That is the only time since our divorce that he has shown interest in our older child.
His child was “hunted down” and “slaughtered” emotionally.”
10. Narcissism is a myth:
I believe that a narcissist knows they are different. They realize there is something wrong but they can’t admit that THEY have anything wrong. Therefore, it must be YOU. They don’t have a character flaw. It’s how you’re taking it. My ex would bring in “proof” that I was crazy by putting words in other peoples’ mouths. “Just ask the neighbor. She said (insert something that “proved his point” here).”
Keep your expectations low. Narcissists can’t or won’t put themselves aside to focus on a child, even if it IS their own. Be diligent in cleaning up the emotional messes caused by narcissistic behavior and get your children into therapy. I know this is little consolation, and I’m not always sure how to clean up those messes. It leaves me feeling hopeless and depressed, but not as hopeless and depressed as I would have been keeping my family in that situation! Life isn’t easy, ESPECIALLY when dealing with narcissistic behavior. There are always going to be challenges. If you keep being the awesome, loving parent that you are, your child will be fine. Tell them often that you love them. Show them that you care and think about them often. If the N is the custodial parent, your job will be harder. Love and prayers! Keep reading. Knowledge is power. We can help each other. Comments, suggestions, please! Thanks! Coparenting With a Narcissist Coparenting With a Narcissist Coparenting With a Narcissist Coparenting With a Narcissist Coparenting With a Narcissist Coparenting With a Narcissist
P.S.- As I mentioned, there will be many more articles about co-parenting on this website. I wish I had more advice, but I’m learning just as you are. Best wishes!
What is codependency? Wikipedia defines codependency as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on your own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent.”
After reading this, I was angry with myself for being so stupid to be drawn to someone like my narcissist. But then, I realized that I was most likely repeating patterns that I learned through childhood. I learned that codependancy is treatable. I know I will be a better person for recognizing this flaw in myself and working on it. Without this narcissistic experience, I wouldn’t have grown as I have and am continuing to do as I reflect on this sometimes-traumatic time of my life.
Codependency is often applied to the families, especially spouses of alcoholics. My father was an alcoholic. I am happy to say that he hasn’t had a drink in well over 20 years. However, that experience could possibly have an effect on me in some way that I need to recognize. I never felt that his drinking harmed me. I never knew much about it for the most part, except for walking in on him drinking a few times. I knew my mom didn’t like it but she knew about it. We told her a few times, probably not always, but it only happened a few. We tried to be loud and announce our presence. He hid his drinking. He kept his alcohol in a secret place. We kids stumbled upon it a few times, but I never really felt it had much of an effect on me. Still, it is something I will keep in the back of my mind while studying this phenomenon with you.
Some symptoms of codependance are:
Low self-esteem: Comparing yourself to others, feeling that you are not good enough, feelings of guilt, shame, or perfectionism. It is often said that abused people have low self-esteem. I don’t feel that to be true. I don’t feel I have low self-esteem. I do feel that I am aware of myself and my flaws. I don’t feel more flawed than others, actually, I feel pretty good about myself when compared to others. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things that I do or make, but I don’t feel guilt or shame on a regular basis. There are times I feel these things but I don’t think that I feel them regularly.
Poor boundaries– Allowing others to invade your space such as your personal belongings, money, space, time, body, feelings, thoughts, needs, etc. Codependents have a problem with unclear boundaries, setting and maintaining boundaries, etc.
Caretaking– Putting others’ needs above your own and ignoring your own needs and opinions in favor of others. Codependents often try to help others, even when the help is unsolicited.
People-pleasing-Feeling an overwhelming need to please others, putting your own needs, opinions, desires on hold in order to make others happy. A normal relationship requires give and take, but when there is an imbalance, trouble can set it.
Reactivity– This includes reacting to others opinions without realizing that is just, in fact, an opinion. Some examples would be feeling defensive after someone exerts his/her opinion or changing your mind frequently and thinking that they are right based on their opinion. In short, not having trust in yourself.
Denial- I definitely don’t have a problem with this one! (Just kidding.) Denial in this sense refers to not communicating or even KNOWING your needs and wants. Denial of your own feeling and not expressing what you want or like in a healthy way is a sign of codependency. I have definitely seen this pattern in my past relationship with my narcissist. It was there before, but much worse with the narcissist. I seem to know what I want much more now than ever and seem to be carrying into my new relationship. Of course, it helps that my current boyfriend is very interested in what I want and making me happy. After reading this, I believe he has codependent traits as well. I encourage him to express what HE wants. I let him know that what he likes and wants is okay with me and that I enjoy knowing what he thinks.
Control- Codependents often need to control those close to them, because they need other people to behave in a certain way to feel okay. In fact, people-pleasing and care-taking can be used to control and manipulate people. Alternatively, those with codependance are bossy and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. This is a violation of someone else’s boundary.
Dysfunctional communication- Those who exhibit codependance traits often have trouble communicating truthfully about what they want. They may be in denial of their feelings or needs. Other times, they know, but won’t own up to the truth. They’re afraid to be truthful, because they don’t want to upset the other person. Instead of disapproving, they might pretend that it’s okay with them. This can cause confusion within the relationship because of their dishonesty.
Obsessions- One of the things is denial. Those with codependance can’t see that there’s a problem. I don’t have this problem… just kidding. Codependents deny their feelings and needs and sometimes don’t know what they’re feeling and are focused on what others are feeling and needs. They often pay attention to other people’s needs and not their own. They might be in denial of their need for space and autonomy. Although some codependents seem needy, others act like they’re self-sufficient when it comes to needing help. They won’t reach out and they have trouble receiving. They are in denial of their vulnerability and need for love and intimacy. I can see some of myself in this description. I definitely look to others’ needs more than I do to my own. I deny my own need for space and autonomy. I have a problem asking for help. I give more than I take.
Dependency- Codependents need other people to like them to feel okay about themselves. They fear rejection or abandonment. Others need always to be in a relationship. They often feel depressed or lonely when they’re on their own. This trait makes it hard for them to end a relationship, even when the relationship is painful or abusive. They end up feeling trapped. I fell into this category, though I was not afraid of being alone. I was initially afraid that I’d never get married. This was a big factor in ending up with the guy that I did, and once I was involved, I felt bad leaving him based on a bad feeling. I felt sorry for him. I didn’t feel I needed HIM at all. I felt he needed ME.
Problems with Intimacy- Because of shame and weak boundaries, you might fear that you’ll be judged, rejected, or left by your partner, parent, etc. I definitely felt this with my ex. He was very intimidating, not asking or caring what I though, only whether I agreed with HIM. You may also fear being smothered in a relationship and “losing yourself”. You might deny your need for closeness and feel that your partner wants too much of your time; your partner complains that you’re unavailable, but he or she is denying his or her need for separateness. I feel this way with my current boyfriend. I feel very inclined to maintain my autonomy. I love being with him but I fear being too close. With him, I feel comfortable being myself, don’t feel I have to explain my decisions, and don’t feel judged. It brings me to a point that just occurred to me:
ARE NARCISSISTS DRAWN TO CODEPENDENTS OR DO NARCISSISTS MAKE IT MORE LIKELY THAT ‘NORMAL’ PEOPLE WILL DEVELOP CODEPENDENT CHARACTERISTICS BECAUSE OF THEIR ENVIRONMENT (LIVING WITH A NARCISSIST)?
Painful Emotions: Shame and low-self-esteem can cause feelings of anxiety, which can fear of being judged, rejected or abandoned. I definitely felt shame from regular everyday activities that I didn’t feel shame from before, even early on in my life with the narcissist. (ie. For liking a particular movie (Old School)) I felt rejected when I didn’t agree with his opinion or when my daily everyday activities didn’t meet his approval (ie. I didn’t clean the house good enough, didn’t cook supper, made it too unhealthy, etc.); and I definitely had feelings of anxiety when confronted with his rage for the first time. I was scared it would “happen” again. It was always because of a small thing, so I’d never know what would set him off. I felt abandoned when he would threaten to leave me if I didn’t sell my animals, stop talking to my mother, etc. This is strengthening my new theory. Can codependance be cured? I believe it simply takes awareness and a willingness to change. Good luck!
Codependance and the codependant relationship
My secret story of abuse and survival, and the challenges to come.