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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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No matter what you are trying to accomplish if it involves a narcissist you’ll need to make and keep a record of everything that is said and done, everything that is promised, and everything that is threatened. If you don’t then you have nothing when you go to court because, as you know, a narcissist can make a stone statue of Genghis Khan feel empathy to its very core. They are masters at that.

I used to think that I could give people examples of events and situations and they would see the reality of dealing with a narcissistic personality. It is a total waste of time. Somehow a narcissist will always be able to come across as the victim and you, my friend, will always be the evil ex-wife (or husband). You have to come to terms with it and be OK with it. That has been the hardest part for me because I am very tender hearted. If someone is angry with me or thinks badly of me I always want to fix it. I am learning that some people just will never get it, nor will they ever like me, and that’s got to be OK.

He Twists Everything Just Enough

A narcissist will tell you that you have an important meeting at 11:30 when it’s really at 11:00. You’ll get there late and when you do?

You are going to be the one that looks bad. If you mention that he told you the wrong time he will look shocked and hurt. You will look even crazier. Just give up because you can’t win this.

What you can do is to always double check everything that he says. Make sure you contact the people you are meeting with and confirm the time. Make sure that you confirm reservations, style of clothing, and what necessary paperwork you’ll need. If you don’t take the time to do this you may find yourself in court, wearing cutoff jeans and a halter top with just a few notes in your hand. That’s if you get there at all.

He will tell people that you said things you didn’t say. He will accuse you of things that he did. And, if all else fails?

He will say that he doesn’t remember because he was under so much stress or because he was having a breakdown. He wields his talent for eliciting sympathy as skillfully as a brain surgeon uses his tools.

Make Your Requests Clear

Recently some of my children attended their father’s wedding in New England. Three were minors, and two of the older kids agreed to travel with them if their father paid for the tickets. It ended up that he paid half and I paid half. It was well worth it to me because I just am uncomfortable with minors flying 2000 miles, you know?

When it was time to come home a huge snowstorm hit and the flights were cancelled. The kids’ dad sent me an email that was about three lines indicating that the flights had been cancelled, he was leaving the kids with his brother and sister in law, and he was leaving the country with his new wife as planned.

The flight they were scheduled to be on had them coming home three days later than anticipated during the school year, and staying with an aunt and uncle that at least one of them had never met. We scrambled to get them on a flight home sooner and once it was all handled I tried to figure out why I was so angry.

His brother and sister in law are kind, responsible people. I was thankful they were able to step in. No, my anger was that the ex did not call me and personally let me know what was going on and allow me to have some input in how it was handled. It made me angry that he left the country when his children were stranded 2,000 miles away from home and he didn’t even concern himself how they were going to get back home. He left it for others to take care of.

Yes, he had reservations but surely those could have been rescheduled until other arrangements were made?

That’s why I was angry.

Spell Out Your Expectations

I realized that I had not spelled out how he was to handle emergencies. We are not “co-parenting”. I am the custodial parent and I make the decisions about what is best for the kids.

I emailed him back later that night, and after having a glass of wine (or two or ten) and I spelled out how I wanted any similar situation to be handled in the future. It is reasonable, no emotions were involved, and I did not say or imply anything mean, tempted though I was.

Now, if we have to go to court someday I have a record of reasonable requests concerning how emergencies with the children are to be handled when they are with him. If he chooses to ignore them then I won’t be the one looking like the one who is being difficult.

Now, somehow in all of this his family and friends are going to get the slant that I am a controlling, unreasonable witch. I want to email all of them and ask them if they would be cool with having someone drop responsibility like that if it was their kids. I won’t because there is no point. They’ll eventually get tired of fixing things for him.

Save Correspondence

The beauty of communicating through email is that you have a gorgeous record of everything that is said. If he threatens you, or belittles you, or makes promises he isn’t keeping then you have a lovely record of that. Make a folder just for him on your computer and save everything even if it seems like it is unimportant. You just never know how everything is going to fit together.

Don’t just save things from him. Keep whatever you think might possible be important at some point. You have a lot of space on your computer – use it.

Get a screen shot of text messages, stuff he posts to your Facebook wall, or whatever. You want a virtual paper trail that can show a judge his true nature, how he handles he kids, and whether he has threatened you. At that point it won’t matter what anyone else thinks because you will have the proof.

Video when Possible

One of you made the comment that it’s a good idea to take video with our phones. It is not a good idea. It is a freaking brilliant idea.

A video captures the look in the eyes, the tone of voice, and whether the body language was aggressive or not. These are all good things to have on record. They may or may not be admissible in some court situation but your lawyer can certainly get an idea of what she’s dealing with.

You Aren’t Alone

And, I am sorry, by the way. I hate that the victims of the narcissist get turned into the crazy aggressor when he tells the story to others. Remember that eventually they will get tired of cleaning up after him and overlooking his blatant narcissistic crap. You’ll probably never get an apology but at least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that they know.

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7 comments

  • Comment Link 2nd wife Wednesday, 23 July 2014 06:09 posted by 2nd wife

    No kidding....so true

  • Comment Link gemmied Tuesday, 27 May 2014 23:12 posted by gemmied

    I hate how my ex can push my buttons so easily. I am a nice person, who barely ever raises her voice, but he can just reduce me to a screaming banshee with his lies, broken promises, trying to make me think I'm going crazy- I HATE it. It's not who I am, it's not what I want. I just wish I had never met him- now we have a 5 year old kid, and he's even tried his crap on her, telling her it was my fault we split up (he left us and moved 800 miles away), and that I don't look after her properly. Since she hasn't had phone contact with her, she's been soo much happier, but even that is double edged since I now feel guilty 'keeping her from her dad', even though I haven't stopped him from calling, just called him out on what he was doing! He is driving me nuts!

  • Comment Link SharP Saturday, 22 March 2014 15:55 posted by SharP

    Dealing with my ex makes me crazy. I have used my crazy to make him respect me. It's crazy dealing with crazy. My ex had manipulated a visit to my house. We exchange at a church he should never be on my property ever. I only agreed to kid's things being put at the end of the driveway because of my daughter's tears. He pulled his car into my three car driveway trapping my vehicle in and proceeded up to the house. I came out firmly... Get off my property or I a calling 911. I firmly put him back into his car and into the street. CRAZY. But he did it! I did it! Maybe crazy but he respected me that day. Boundaries respected. He manipulates me less and less these days. His girlfriend witnessed the whole thing and cannot make sense of my behavior. I don't care. Looking crazy versus having him respect boundaries. I choose respect. It's between me and him. I don't care what "they" think. I won. If I hadn't held my ground, he would have been in my house telling me I was a terrible house cleaner and mother blah blah blah. I am the only house keeper and mother and I do it my way. Go on with your life. How I use my time isn't his business any more. My house and mothering is pretty darn good for a working mother of four. Here's to standing your ground with a ex narc.

  • Comment Link Sonja Wednesday, 19 February 2014 05:40 posted by Sonja

    Thank you. I felt I was going insane and I don't have full custody. It is such a difficult situation dealing with him and sometimes I just want to run away and hide from him. But that would mean leaving my 8 year old to cope by herself.

  • Comment Link Writerbrit Wednesday, 19 February 2014 04:52 posted by Writerbrit

    You can try. A narcissist will just turn your every effort against you somehow. People don't get it, the 00% position of a narcissist = YOU CAN'T WIN. Not can't as in not able. Can't as in I can't let you without suffering more than I can bear.

    You're lucky if you escape with your life, your health, your kids still sane, any aspect of normalcy.

    Professionals do not 'get' it. Do not trust to professionals.

    Get away as soon as you can. If you have no children or children your narcissist ex does not want to support- run. Get out of he situation asap and forget everything except escaping the craziness which no one but you will see...

  • Comment Link Strongsteel Wednesday, 19 February 2014 03:17 posted by Strongsteel

    Another thing...

    When the divorce was final and I was away from my ex-narc, I set firm boundaries especially with communication as he has the tendency to harass. We only communicate via e-mail. He is not allowed to text me nor call me. He is still inflicting his wrath, but 1) I have it in writing and 2) I have protected myself from his direct abuse. Almost three years later, his emails do not upset me like they used to. Just the other day, he went off on a rant, and I actually laughed at the email. Maybe it was because he was stupid enough to put it in writing and/or maybe it was because his "noise" is just that.

  • Comment Link Strongsteel Wednesday, 19 February 2014 03:09 posted by Strongsteel

    Reading these articles makes me wonder if I am writing them in my sleep. They hit the nail on the head SO many times that it's scary, makes my skin crawl and feel relief that I'm not alone and not crazy all at the same time.

    Let me add to Marye's article here. First of all, check your state laws. In the state I'm in it's legal to record a conversation between two people as long as one person is aware the recording is taking place. I did not video record my ex-narc. During the divorce process, however, I did use digital recorders to record every conversation my ex-narc and I had. I spent a small fortune on digital recorders that had a USB connector, and when I thought I had a few good recordings, I had my attorney keep them safe for me. My ex-narc to this day does not know about the recordings, and I am sure one day, I will have to share them whether it be in court or somewhere else. I have recordings of my ex-narc swinging from one extreme to the other, calling me every name in the book, threatening me and people around me, using all of his "tricks" to get his way unsuccessfully, and even have our divorce agreement recorded. My ex is in the public eye, and if he knew these recordings existed, he would be so afraid his public image would be tarnished! I hid the recorder when we talked in person, I had the phone on speaker phone when we talked on the phone, and I recorded his voice mail messages he would leave on my phone.

    The best advice I have is document, document, document, document!

    Good luck! Stay strong! Don't listen to the garbage he's shoveling! There IS better out there, and NO ONE deserves the abuse a narc can inflict!