Divorcing a NPD, Part 5

When you’ve divorced a narcissistic personality disordered person, and things have been going well for months, you will get email like this out of the blue:

This is serious. I can see his ribs in the bruise.
How did this happen?
Did he get x-rays?
Why didn’t you tell me?

And attached to this email, will be a huge photo of your son’s latest bruise, which he got by pretending to be a famous baseball player in the shower. Until he slipped.

And you will think to yourself about how much you love your child, and how gentle you are with him, and how you have never laid an angry hand on him, and how you would do anything for both of your children.

And then you think of the terrible, horrible things that your ex has done to you and your family. You will even think of the time when he threw you up against a wall, at the very end of the marriage, when you finally finally got hold of his cell phone. And how you banged your head on the wall before falling down in a heap. And how he calmly pulled the cell phone from your hand and got into bed. And how you were staying at your friend’s home on holiday, so you didn’t make a sound.

And then you will feel the fury building in you, the unjustness of it all and how it seems like it will never ever end and you will never, ever get away from him.

And then your survival instincts kick in. You will need to take a breath and be smart and answer his email calmly as if a judge was looking over your shoulder reading it. You will write that by lucky coincidence you went to a social event at your child’s pediatrician’s house right after the bruise occurred. You will briefly and succinctly point out that the pediatrician looked at it – and called it a bruise, nothing else, no x-rays or anything else required.

You will thank your lucky stars that you are friends with a pediatrician and that the stars were aligned the night she had a barbecue and your son got a bruise that would be blamed on you.

You know you shouldn’t, but you also point out in your email response that you think it’s wrong for your ex to be lifting up your son’s shirt and taking photos of his back – that it must be upsetting and confusing for your poor child. Traumatizing, really, though you don’t use that word.

And you feel the anger for hours afterwards because every time your children go to their father’s house for visitation, you worry about their physical and emotional safety. You know that they are finally truly thriving after the long divorce. But you know that this is a tenuous place to be when their father is a sick NPD.

When you divorce a NPD, it’s never over. You just hope and hope that he fades away into the background, hoping that more and more time passes between these accusations and episodes. You followed all the directions and detached. But can you really ever really escape?

My NPD Ex is a Complete Shithead

There’s is no way I can do that in time. Sorry

This is the reply I got from him yesterday, asking him to sign a piece of paper this week so that I can sell an asset – one that was given to me in our court order after I had to pay him 1/3 of its value.

He happily took the money months ago. Now he knows that unless he signs this piece of paper (in front of a notary public), I’m stuck with a huge, huge problem that is not my fault. He knows it will become a problem at COB on Friday if not handled.

He knows I’m desperate. And he loves it.

I’ve written here before that he is a borderline alcoholic, an addict, and a narcissistic-personality-disordered individual who “engages in sociopathic activities” according to the expert.

He’s also a complete ASSHOLE.

I’ve been able to detach so completely from him lately that I nearly forgot all of this. Anything to do with him is so upsetting and traumatizing that I prefer to dwell on just about anything else in the world.

But I’m thankful for two things: that this asset is the only legal thing left linking us together (uh, except for two beautiful children); and that this is exactly the reminder I needed of how much better my life is now that I have divorced him. The chaos, the manipulations, the game-playing, the lies, the abuse. Now I remember it all, more clear-eyed than ever before. I remember that he never paid anything on time, or met a deadline, or did anything properly or by the book. My life was always like this, running after him, trying to head off problems and sweep up his messes while other people proclaimed him a “boy genius” without irony.

My little kids today pointed out just today that I am a “big rule-follower” because I didn’t want to park my car facing the wrong way on the street, even though many others seem to do it around here. I agreed with them and said that rules exist for a reason, and unless a rule seems really rotten or unfair, we should follow them. Most rules, like them or hate them, are what make the world work, like Stop Signs and telling the truth on a resume.

But my Ex is too good to follow anyone else’s rules, and too vicious to help me stay in compliance with the law.

I’ll have to pay my attorney again to send him a letter. But then, finally, I know that we won’t even have this one last asset together anymore. I also know that part of his refusing to sign the letter is because he knows he can’t control or influence me in any other way anymore. And it drives him crazy.

So, deep breaths. Onwards and upwards.

The same stuff as stars, blossoms, breezes

DSC_0514

 

I also learned that you didn’t come onto this earth as a perfectionist or control freak. You weren’t born a person of cringe and contraction. You were born as energy, as life, made of the same stuff as stars, blossoms, breezes. You learned contraction to survive, but that was then. You have paid through the nose—paid but good. It is now your turn to reap. – Anne Lamott

My daughter can flit and dance along this palm tree limb, as light as air.

I tried it, concentrating on my core. I fell.

“Mom, just have fun!” yelled my daughter.

I laughed, and it carried me across.

 

He Found My Blog

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. – Anne Lamott

I’m back on WordPress after locking down my account for several months.

The night before my divorce trial began, I looked through my soon-to-be-ex’s Discovery. For those of you who are lucky enough to know nothing about Discovery, it’s the process of submitting documents to court. You have no choice about all of this. You must produce everything by law – thousands and thousands of pages of documents. And you must produce them in a timely way, which does not ever mean the night before court.

But the rules do not apply to EX. So I received many of his documents the evening before my three-day trial began. And among those documents I found a photograph taken of a page from my diary.  On the diary page was my MadnessandEuphoria log-in information, in my handwriting. He submitted it to court as evidence against me.

To sum it all up, the photograph of my personal log-in information was taken by my soon-to-be-ex, nearly three years after our Separation, when he was visiting the children in the “marital home,” which to him means that he can sneak into my bedroom on a regular basis and go through my personal things and take photographs. The journal was in my bedside drawer. He must have taken the photo soon after I started this blog, because right after that, my attorneys told me to get a lock for my bedroom door. (They also advised me to hire someone to search my home for listening devices, and they told me to shut down all of my email accounts and open new ones.)

It was not the first time I discovered that soon-to-be-ex had gone through my things. He had also taken photos of notes to my attorneys – notes that were hidden in the back of my closet. He brought them to court, claiming bizarrely that they were some admission of guilt. Also, a few things started to go missing around that time: artwork, an antique mirror, random cookbooks, and quite a few restaurant gift certificates given to us by my parents – gift certificates that I kept in my bedroom.

Following all of this, I wrote him an official email, asking him to stay out of my bedroom and my personal things. But things like this don’t apply to EX. So the night before trial I locked down MadnessAndEuphoria out of fear. I imagined all my personal thoughts here coming up in court, being read aloud by a mocking soon-to-be-ex, while I cowered on the stand like a guilty criminal, while the court reporters laughed at me.

Thankfully, this did not happen because EX came up with all sorts of other stories to tell on the stand. My blog didn’t make it to the top of his list, probably because he never did find bother to look for the WordPress website.

I like to believe that the judge saw right through EX. The final decree took six weeks because of multiple motions filed by the Other Woman who appeared willingly on the stand to testify for EX and then asked for her name to be redacted from every court document. Her motions were denied. Today and forever, her name will appear throughout my divorce decree, a legal document freely available to the public. The judge noted in this document that she impeached herself twice, probably not a good thing if you are an attorney. At any rate, I never cared too much about her, one way or the other – if EX didn’t find her he would have found someone else. (And in fact he did, many times over.) But I don’t think that someone like her could ever understand this.

So I am divorced, after nearly three years of fighting. I feel vindicated by the judge’s words in the 53 pages, and by the things he shouted at EX on the very last day of court. I will never forget him hanging over the bench, pointing his finger at EX. It filled me with gratitude – finally someone had the moral courage (and the authority) to shout at EX for all that he had done to me.

Afterwards, shell-shocked, my lawyer said he had never seen a judge so outraged in all of his 30 years of practicing divorce law. Yet in his next breath, my attorney told me that EX would get every other weekend with the children. That’s the way things go where I live. So, in the most important ways, it’s a hollow victory because my children will be spending more time with EX because I was unable to block this legally. If I lived about ten blocks south, I would be in another state, and I believe that things would be very different.

But that is where I am today. I am glad to be back here writing, even if I’m just writing to myself. I survived something I never thought I could survive. I told the truth. The judge listened, and I believe he did the best he could. I’ll always remember his words to EX. “YOU did this. You are here today because of the TERRIBLE way you treated your wife. I don’t believe one word you say. You would lie about anything. You are a LIAR.”

So, my blog goes on. I had hoped for a sunnier outcome, something like sole custody, and my children and I living in a camper on a beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But nothing is impossible, I remind myself. I remember a psychologist telling me that I spent so many years and so much energy worrying about EX. She said I would do well once this is over: that I could channel that energy into things that would never have been possible for me within my marriage. And with this, she gave me this little tiny, crazy little sliver of hope.

Big Day on the Divorce Front

“What is your idea of earthly happiness? To be vindicated in my own lifetime.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir

 

Without going into too much detail, I received a long overdue report today regarding my divorce.

Everything I’ve suspected about soon-to-be-ex is true. The lack of empathy, the narcissism, his admission that he will say anything to get what he wants, the dangerous behavior with no worries about the potential impact on his children. The lies. And more lies. The highly functioning brain, the charm, the energy, the ability to make friends and influence people. And then the childish frustration, the unfinished projects, the rage, and the sociopathic behaviors.

Yes. Sociopathic behaviors.

Plus the fact that he refuses to take responsibility for anything that he’s done, and instead blames me.

And that he would lie about anything to get what he wants.

Yes, it’s all in there. I suppose I feel relieved, vindicated, and a little worried about what comes next for this man who charmed the world for years and whose nickname was “Boy Wonder.” I don’t know who he will morph into next.

But for today, I guess I feel relief that someone finally gets it. And at the same time, I feel like I’m shutting the door on this man and this life. Besides from validation, I don’t really care anymore. I’ll never understand when this all started, or how he fooled everyone. Were these traits always present under the surface, carefully hidden from anyone? Or did they, as I suspect, lie dormant until mid-life when a series of setbacks set them off?

I guess I’ll never know, and I don’t really care anymore. I do know that the report doesn’t blame me for not knowing about any of this. So now I just need to stop blaming myself. I need to stop worrying about him and start working on me.

Divorce, the Narcissist, and Guerilla Warfare

I am finally ready to write about something that happened two weeks ago. The details don’t matter, which is good, because I can’t share them because I am afraid that my soon-to-be-ex will find this blog and kill sue me.

In short it was a week of chaos, confusion, wildly flip-flopping opinions, setbacks, last-minute scrambling, extreme stress, come-to-Jesus talks leading to tears, and disappointment in experts who suddenly seemed very fallible and suspiciously unexpertish.

How did things get so off track? The answer is obvious: my soon-to-be-ex-husband. I’ve learned a lot of things since the afternoon in fall 2011 when I opened his email account and my life changed in an instant. The most important thing I’ve learned is that one determined person can start so much trouble and create so much chaos that everyone else eventually just wants to give up or run away. An NPD will exhaust, beat down, and disgust his opponents. And then he wins. Chaos ensues when one cunning person is willing to play dirty, make outrageous accusations, twist every truth, change his story regularly, break all rules, and refuse to feel an ounce of shame or embarrassment or remorse about anything. And then there’s the NPD smear campaign. It leaves its victims shell-shocked, bent over and gasping for air, trying to figure out what just happened to their reputations and sanity.

What kind of person acts like this?

Someone with narcissistic personality disorder. We all talk about narcissists. And of course we live in a narcissistic society that celebrates reality television stars and people with thousands of Facebook friends and Twitter followers – I suppose one might even argue that people with personal blogs are a bit narcissistic.

But narcissistic personality disorder is a different beast, and it’s serious. According to Medical News Today, narcissistic personality disorder is defined as: a personality disorder in which the individual has a distorted self image, unstable and intense emotions, is overly preoccupied with vanity, prestige, power and personal adequacy, lacks empathy, and has an exaggerated sense of superiority. NPD is closely associated with egocentrism – a personality characteristic in which people see themselves and their interests and opinions as the only ones that really matter.

People with narcissistic personality disorder are not interested in the feelings of others – they lack empathy; they are unable to feel or appreciate feelings which are not their own.

For most of us, it’s difficult and stressful to live in chaos. Most people crave order and calm and peace. This is why we have rules, laws, and traffic lights. However, most NPDs, including my soon-to-be-ex, thrive on chaos. The more the better, because he believes that opportunity lies in chaos. It’s a great time for a power grab – he pounces when every sane person runs away. I have come to believe that he has not enjoyed a moment of peace in several years. And he’s fine with that.

I have a friend who asked me recently about the divorce. I explained that I was following good legal advice, the judge seemed to agree with me, and I had achieved a small victory that week. I believed the truth would prevail and a judge would do the right thing for my children.

She looked at me and said, “But you have to understand that you are waging some pretty traditional warfare, battle by battle.”

I’m not a big war analogy person. I’m more of a Brene Brown and inspirational-yoga-quote kind of person. Also, at the time, I preferred not to think of myself in battle. After all I started off the Divorce of the Century by  hiring a collaborative attorney, believe it or not.

But then my friend said, “Your soon-to-be-ex is engaged in a different kind of warfare. He’s going from bunker to bunker, throwing terrible shit at you. And if it doesn’t stick, he doesn’t care. It’s not a setback to him, like it would be to you or me. He just moves on to the next bunker. He lives to throw more shit another day.”

I recall freezing when she said this, as a terrible wave of recognition passed over me. Yes. That was it. That was the very definition of the way he was acting.

Since then, two other observers have made similar analogies. One called my soon-to-be-ex a guerrilla, throwing bombs everywhere, completely irresponsibly.  Just today someone said he’s just lobbing thing after thing at me, wearing me down a little more each time.

I recall asking the first friend what to do. She is the wife of a West Point grad, and I figured she would know how to deal with a guerrilla.

She replied, “You either give him what he wants – or make him believe you’re giving him what he wants. Or you need to destroy him.”

“The thing about people…

“The thing about people who are truly and malignantly crazy: their real genius is for making the people around them think they themselves are crazy. In military science this is called Psy-Ops, for your info.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

I just had a long, miserable, mind-boggling, awful encounter with my soon-to-be-ex. When I walked outside afterwards, I was surprised that the world was still moving along as usual — people shopping, rushing home from work, laughing, loud.

Normal.

It took me a few blocks to feel like them again.

David Foster Wallace said it better than I ever could.

I Want An Apology: Divorce, Mean Girls, and Imperfect Role Models

I Want An Apology: Divorce, Mean Girls, and Imperfect Role Models

My seven-year-old daughter received this little note recently. Via text. Just to clarify, it’s meant to say, “I’m sorry,” not “I’m sore!” Of course there is a story. A playdate with four happy little girls. All old friends. They’ve known … Continue reading