Survival after divorce from a narcissist is just not as easy as it seems. I once said that it was like the horror movies where you watch as the surviving character walks away only to have a zombie reach out and grab them from behind a tree. In other words, it’s never really over. I suppose if you don’t have children once the divorce was final you might eventually find a way to put him out of your life totally but if there are ties of any sort you are going to have to learn to play ball on his terms.
So get your big girl panties on.
Get a Lawyer
Arguably the dumbest thing I ever did in my life was to get a divorce without hiring a good lawyer – or even a bad one for that matter. I have had to endure a lot of things because of it. Now I have a lawyer – the best one that I could almost afford. It means I will be working some extra hours and sending out extra resumes but it was totally worth it.
Having a lawyer that knows me and knows my situation, as well as being aware of the ex and how he does things, has given me a new confidence and removed a heavy load from my shoulders. If I get served with papers she is right there to tell me what is going on and watch out for my best interests. If he gets behind on child support she knows how to make him cough it up.
I wish that I had met with her much earlier in the process.
Get Your Battle Gear On
Keep in mind that everything is a game to the narcissist. Divorce is a game to be won or lost and you can bet that the narcissist intends to win it.
If you’ve lived with him any length of time at all you can predict what his strategy is going to be. No doubt he, or more likely his lawyer, will try to wear you down with questions, insinuations, and attacks. This is why it is important for you to keep good records so that you can disprove what he is saying and ward off the damage.
He will hide money, lie about income, and do whatever he can to make sure that you can’t win. My ex has so many people feeling sorry for him it isn’t funny. Here he was taking cruises, remodeling his house, and making plans for a pretty extensive wedding with catering and such while he was $10,000.00 in arrears in child support. His excuse was that I made more money than him and so could afford to provide for the kids without his help. For some reason other people felt that it was a valid argument.
Remember, child support isn’t a gift. It is he court saying that the father has as much responsibility for the children’s well-being as the mother, period.
Another common tactic is pretending to be nice. All of a sudden, out of the blue, he is kind and almost seems like his old self – the man you agreed to marry. Beware when this happens. A narcissist will use anything possible to get you off balance. If he can spark up some warmth then your perfectly constructed ice queen wall will melt a little. There will be weakness that he can leverage to his own benefit.
Never, ever give a narcissist a toe hold.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and keep them. Have times when the ex is allowed to come by and times when he isn’t. The minute you say he can’t come by at 1:00 in the afternoon he will decide that it’s exactly the time he wants to come by. Whatever you do, don’t engage. Don’t answer the door, take a shower if you have to, but force him to accept your boundary lines.
If he consistently brings the kids home late when they visit him then talk to your lawyer. You may need to have the boundaries set by someone with more authority than you have.
Develop a Tough Skin
A narcissist has a way of making other people believe him, feel sorry for him, and take his side – even when they say that they aren’t. He reads people well and knows how to say things to get the response he is looking for. You need to develop a tough skin so that you can accept that there are those people who are going to think you are the one with the problem!
Actually, that is true. You do have a problem – it’s called a narcissistic ex.
Don’t defend yourself and don’t try to get others to see the truth. They will when they are ready. Look at this as an opportunity to learn to stand on your own two feet and survive and thrive without anyone else’s input. Learn to love and trust yourself again.
Don’t Cut Him Down to Your Kids
I get accused of this all the time. Someone believed that because I write to help others that my kids are negatively influenced by my articles. Let me tell you – my kids don’t read my articles for the most part and since I write an average of over 100 articles a month, only eight of which have to do with the subject of narcissism I don’t think they are getting their opinions from me.
They much prefer Netflix and their own Facebook drama.
I try very hard not to say bad things about him to them or in front of them. There are times that I am very angry and I may blow up to myself or a friend about something and they overhear it. I am not proud of that and I keep it to a minimum. I do answer their questions honestly, I do not gloss over his crap, and I do not plan on ever glossing it over. He does stupid things that hurt them. He says stupid things that hurt them. He doesn’t need my help at all.
I do reassure them that he loves them. I know he does in his own special way. I am not sure what else he expects me to do. What’s more, the responsibility of his relationship with them is on him. He doesn’t need a Cyrano to say and do all of the things he should be saying and doing.
Don’t be afraid to talk to a therapist about what is going on. It isn’t unusual for women who have lived with narcissistic men to have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other emotional issues. It is certainly not a sign of weakness on your part. Do what you need to do to be happy, healthy, and well adjusted.
If you are going through a divorce with a narcissist you aren’t alone. Many women are experiencing the same things you are. Join First Wives’ World today and get that support that we all need to get through this successfully.
Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User H.Koppledelaney