Divorcing a NPD, Part 4

When you have divorced a NPD, you might just get an email that includes gems like this:

2. “Daughter” BEDROOM This weekend “daughter” told me that she has been having problems sleeping at “name of my street” because her room gets no heat. I’m sure you are aware of this and taking steps to correct it other than waiting for Spring. I just want you to know that she is upset.

Of course, there is heat in our happy new home. My daughter is not having any trouble sleeping. My daughter has her own room, a bright sunny place. It is filled with books and art and color – and playdates and friends. She is choosing a new rug and curtains this weekend.

I think of the sacrifices made by myself and my family to buy this lovely new house, in this lovely neighborhood. I think of how happy my children are here. I think of how hard I worked to stage and sell our old house and move while being a single mom and working full-time.

While their dad did nothing but send me emails like this.

Divorcing a NPD, part 2

When you divorce a NPD, and the support is several weeks late as usual, and you write a pointed email to ask when it will arrive . . .

you very well may get a garbled and rambling email in return, informing you that you should be thankful for all the money he is providing for you, and that in addition to this court-ordered money, he is paying for food and clothes and medicine when the children are visiting him during his court-appointed time, in his home.

The email might even go on to say the he pays for sporting equipment for the sport that you don’t want your child to play, expensive Nike basketball shoes that your child doesn’t need, and a camp that is an hour away and again involves the sport mentioned above. Of course you will think “But I didn’t ask for these thing. I don’t even agree with them. I disapprove of them.”

And then you will start to wonder why he is so proud of paying for those basketball sneakers when he hasn’t paid his court-ordered portion of healthcare expenses for his children . . . ever.

And then, as a kicker, you will see the last line of his email, chiding you for putting your son in snow boots that are growing too small.

And then, if you are like me, you hit the ceiling, thinking of how beautifully dressed your children are every day. It is thanks to you, even though you go to work now, full-time at an office, unlike your ex who has mysterious clients and elusive and wildly fluctuating sources of income. You think of how your sweet children always show up with their homework and signed permission slips and book reports and class projects and sports equipment and new ballet shoes and and multiplication drills and new books and haircuts and ballet buns and proper vaccinations and white shiny teeth thanks to the dentist appointments you take them to. And the teacher conferences and the extra trips to the school with forgotten lunch boxes and the countless hours clocked with other moms anguishing over and redshirting and little girls with summer birthdays and big boy bullies and mean girls and organic food and everyday math and building resilience and self esteem. And the things you’ve taught your children like folding a sheet and making a bed and how to do laundry and hold a fork and say please and thank you and use the microwave and tie their shoelaces and brush their hair and floss their teeth. And the playdates and parties and endless carpooling and the hugs and family meetings and values and lessons learned and pep talks after a lost soccer game and all the talks about love and values and self-esteem and doing right and how we don’t practice perfect in this house because anyone who tries their best is doing good enough.

And then you will remind yourself to stop, because otherwise you will go crazy. If your son’s boots will soon be too small, it is okay. You will remind yourself that your ex is not well. And that his goal is to gaslight you and undermine you and start a long fight. But you will not rise to the occasion. You will write a short email correcting the facts only to make sure the truth is documented because you will never forget the words of your attorney: “Madness, even though this divorce is technically over, this guy is going to bring you back to court again and again because he’s so crazy.”

And so you write the note and then you call a friend or have a glass of wine or laugh with your kids or go for a walk or run. Or you blog and vent and hope you’re not the crazy one, as your NPD ex wants you to believe.

And because you didn’t engage with him and continue the fight he wanted, you’ll have the energy to step back into the light again, moving forward into a bigger and happier world, full of possibilities.

I Said It

“WHEN YOU LIVE IN MY HOUSE, YOU WILL FOLLOW MY RULES!”

I was mad. And it flew out of my mouth, and it felt so good.

Of course it did . . . it was so familiar. How many times did I hear these words when I told my parents they were the worst, meanest, most unfair parents in the world?

I don’t even feel bad about it. Listen kid, I don’t care if all your friends are watching the second half of an Ohio State football game that starts at 8:30 on a school night.

You need to follow my rules. We go to bed on time on school nights. (Okay, we don’t, really, but we try. Or I try, at least!) You don’t need to respect me all the time and be perfect. But when you don’t follow my rules, and you don’t show any respect for me, you need to go to your room. (And I probably need to go to the laundry room to stamp around and shove lots of laundry into the dryer.)

But you need to follow the rules of this house.

Co-parenting with an NPD: Things You’ll Never Hear

  1. I’ll pick up the children for their normal weekly visitation at the court-designated time and place. And drop them off at the court-designated time and place.
  2. Your holiday plans sound fine. I will pick up the children and drop them off at the court-designated time and place.
  3. Those sports teams sound good. I agree.
  4. Those camps sound good. I agree.
  5. Your babysitter sounds great. I agree.
  6. I will pay half of the children’s tuition.
  7. I have sent back all of the children’s clothing that you purchased.
  8. I have purchased sports equipment so our children won’t have to lug it from house to school to house.
  9. Great, thank you for setting up a shared calendar. I will use it!
  10. I deposited my children’s support check in the bank account on time.
  11. I will contribute to my children’s college accounts.
  12. Thank you.
  13. I’m sorry.
  14. That sounds reasonable.
  15. Yes.

I know I’m missing some! Does anyone have anything to add?