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.
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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