We had a fascinating realization today through my support group.  My ex asked for makeup time for missing his evening visitation because I was out of town with my father in the hospital.  On the surface, this seems simple.  He missed a weekday evening – which would be about 5:15-8pm, or maybe 3 hours.  He asked for Sunday morning as makeup time, and he would take the kids to church and our daughter’s horse lesson – amounting to 4 hours (he estimated – but I know it would take longer).

On the surface, this seems like an easy thing to do.  And in a relationship with equal power and respect, if time was missed then both parties would respectfully try to make it work out.  However, in my view, in a normal relationship with equal power and respect – if one person had a parent in the hospital, then it’s not worth bugging them for that time to be made up.

That said, my gut reaction was “no”.  What I had wanted was to have someone who didn’t covertly threaten me that I had to be back for the Thursday visitation time – when he knew that my father was in the hospital in serious condition.  I wanted someone who reasonably said “geez, don’t worry about it – I’ll see them when I see them, take care of what you need to do”.

I also remembered vividly when my sister was 34 weeks pregnant and in the hospital finding out that her baby had died.  I stayed in town long enough to not miss his Sunday time because I was more scared of him then – and in effect I missed being by my sister’s side when she most needed me there.  I missed ever seeing my angel nephew’s little body and giving him a kiss to take to heaven with him on his little piggie toes.

And I certainly missed ever being appreciated by my ex, or anyone, for putting his needs first.

So my reaction was ‘no, there’s not a provision for makeup time!’.

(I am working on forgiving him of our past).

I sent the request on to my support group to see how to respond ‘no’ nicely.  Two of them responded that I should just give him the time and be done with it.  One pointed out that at least the activities are known & controlled for – perhaps putting the kids in a safer position.   This friend has an ex that works with her on parenting.  The second responds ‘even though you don’t want to, just give him the makeup time – you’ll look better in the long run’.  Both of these answers made sense on the surface to me.  They were, in reality, what I wanted to do – because what I’ve wished for in the past 10 years was that I was dealing with a normal person.   I’m not, though

As it was already, I had a long conversation with my sister while in the hospital to just to determine when to get back and best avoid his wrath. In that conversation, I went through the options – I could return earlier on Thursday, but then the kids would have a 7 hour drive, followed by at least 2 hours with Dad, return at 8pm, and have to get up for school the next day.  If I returned – I would have to send our daughter to school even if I thought she needed a ‘breather’ day at her own house to recoup emotionally.  If I held her out of school – I would hear hell from her Dad.   Option 2 – return early on Thursday, but tell him I’m not back yet and give the kids the evening at home to recoup, so that she doesn’t need to miss school the next day.  This was risky – because he has a tendency to check my every step.  What if he drove by and saw my car home, even though he lives 30 miles away (because he would)?  What if he questioned the kids on it when they returned?  Option 3 – return late, miss Thursday evening visitation, let our daughter skip school, and take the wrath for missing Thursday evening.  Option 4 – staying through the weekend – didn’t feel like an option because I know him well enough that I would have had that thrown at me in court faster than an alligator at the dentist would bite when a tooth is pulled!

So… back to the group’s responses…. The other group member responds by saying ‘give him make up time that is equivalent to what he missed’ OR just respond that you can’t do that time on Sunday and leave it at that.  You don’t need to suggest other times, just leave it at that and maybe he will just drop it.  She bawked at doing the time on Sunday – the same as I did.  It’s precious weekend time, and activities that are priceless to me (well, maybe not the horse lesson per se, but going to church and providing a church formation for my kids is essential).

I felt puzzled.   I had explained and told stories to those first two groupies about the domestic violence, the way that he threatens me, the fear that I have in me that I desperately work to remove.  The exhaustion that I feel for having this individual haunt us every day of our lives.  Certainly they understood?  And they do – but they don’t.  They still answered the question from their own personal perspectives and paradigms.

They answered based on my ex being ‘normal’ and how one relates with a normal individual.

Wow – I conclude… even judges, attorneys and therapists who have domestic violence training will react from their own context.  They won’t understand the actions of someone who had dealt with what I have.

But why?  I pondered our group further – one of those two has an ex with strong narcissistic traits.  He goes through the trash she throws out and judges it.  Why doesn’t she understand?  OOOHHH… because he doesn’t BULLY her.   The one person in the group who understood my perspective – also has an ex who is extremely controlling and bullying – who thrives on controlling her through creating fear.

THAT is the pivotal component.

I think that the other portion of this that should be told is from my kids’ perspectives.  When we were in the hospital, both of my young children knew it was Thursday – Daddy dinner night.  They were thrilled to hear that we would miss it and not return on time.  THRILLED.   The littlest one in particular agonizes over spending time with his dad.  The oldest used to – but something has changed (could it be that he’s manipulated her enough?).  Even at that – she was ecstatic to be able to miss the time.   What would it feel like to them, if I had to tell them that they had to make it up??  (the last time I did that – make up time because our daughter was vomiting and couldn’t leave the house – they were distraught with it.  And then worst of all, they both came back a reeling mess – because he spent the entire time angry and yelling at them.  Is that what we were making up? Time that he could’ve been yelling at them?)

Net net – it was a fascinating realization on the limitations of domestic violence training and how much people innately reflect on a situation based on their own experience, even if they have been subsequently taught something else. That means that judges who work with cases of domestic abuse, and have learned the dynamics of an abusive relationship, are probably still naturally prone to evaluate the situation based on their own personal context.  So then, how do we change that paradigm?

12 Responses to “Bullying”

  1. Carrie says:

    The DV support group meeting was good. It is sad, but also nice to know that I am not alone. 7 other women and from what I can tell at least 2 of them have ex issues similar to mine. It also gave me a glimpse of what can happen when boundries are not enforced, one womans near death experience. I didn’t share any of my story as I was way to emotional with the ‘nice picture’ incident that morning and was afraid I would start crying and no one would be able to understand me. I am pretty sure if I stick with the group I will be able to get some more information on how to deal with him while maintaining my sanity. I want to break the NPD cycle, my ex has it, his father had it, and his grandfather had it. I want to save my son and his future mates from the hell.
    I am in for a fight with the restraining order and my attorney has warned me that with what she knows of him things are going to get much worse before they get better.
    “self care is not selfish because what good would you be to your children if you are not there.”

    • I hope that this week has been good for you- and that the restraining order has been granted (hopefully for you and your children”. Thank you for your comment on ‘self care” – it’s an important thing to remember, and something that all of us in this type of situation have a tendency not to do. You are taking back your power by standing by the statement!
      Think about if there’s ways you can put cameras, videos or sound recorders around you (check with your attorney on what’s legal). It sounds like you may have an attorney helping you who is familiar with the personality – which is a huge step to start with as so many really don’t get it. My prayers are still with you!!

      • Carrie says:

        I filed the papers and despite the sexual assault in 2010, him being arrested for placing video cameras in my bedroom, and him driving around and sitting outside my house on non scheduled days, the judge did not issue a temporary one, so my attorney was pretty sure there would not be a permanent one. My attorney suggested that before court on the permanent RO we ask for him to agree to stay 4 blocks away from my house and work on the chance he didn’t want to go to court and have it on his record, he agreed so it is now part of our court order. Granted it is not the protection I originally wanted but it is something….and somehow him agreeing made it seem like he was admitting he WAS doing something wrong. He now waits at the entrance to school and drives my son the remaining 2 blocks (if my son were to walk he would have maybe a block to the front door). I also have to meet him now to exchange DS15. In my DD19’s 19 years he never went to any of her appointments and same with DS15, now he is at everyone! The intimidation is overwhelming and at a Dr. appointment last Monday I stayed in the waiting room, I couldn’t get myself to move from my chair….now I feel like a complete failure. Eye Dr. is tomorrow and despite the fact that our order says I am to take DS to the appointment I just got a text saying he was going to!? I want to cry….and puke. I sent back that I would meet them there and hope to god that my legs and voice work. DS needs new glasses and I have to gear up for a fight. DS is six foot and 220 lbs, exH bought him glasses from the childrens rack (cheaper) and they look ridiculous and cut into his temple. I never went back to the support group as I can not seem to wrap my head around this ‘self care’ idea, I am keeping my martyr role for now. Thanks again!

  2. Carrie says:

    The comment was verbal during a frantic phone call to him after I got the email saying he was keeping DS (normally I don’t communicate this way…only text and email). I am filing a restraining order for harassment tomorrow. I saw him out there this morning so I grabbed my camera and took a picture from my kitchen window, I immediately got a text “nice picture taking” ….All the blood drained from my body, I was scared. He is not sitting out there just waiting, he is watching. I am off to the support group meeting. Thanks for all the great advice. I really do appreciate every morsel.

    • I do hope you got the restraining order without any issue. – and that the support group helps!! That has to be terrifying and awful when he is doing that – which is unfortunately what he’s trying to do. BUT healthy people don’t do that kind of stuff to other people, and imho, that’s what you need to remember. He’s not normal, he’s not healthy. Stay on your toes – not to scare yourself but just to be wise and to try to act ahead of him. Remember that restraining orders are only just that – an “order” – and that they are only effective if the person will conform to them. If you can afford it, find a small recording device that can be at your house or on your body to keep tabs on whether he’s still showing up, and to record things for future use if you need them. Use all the DV resources available you can – get your name out in the community as needing help and protection from your ex. Hopefully it will help keep him at bay. I’m praying for you and your kids!!

  3. Carrie says:

    Wow…I have read through your entire website and THANK YOU!!! I too can relate to every one of your blog entries. This one caught my interest because of the reference to the “support group”. Our family counselor, after meeting with my ex, told me about NPD as she is pretty sure he has this, along with misogyny. I so wish I knew this 3 years ago. I have felt in an alternate universe when trying to deal with the craziness that he presents EVERYDAY. Anyway the family court counselor wants me to attend a Domestic Violence support group and was wondering if that is the idea behind the support group you attend and if you have found it to be helpful in dealing with an ex that has NPD? I am uneasy about going to something of this nature. My ex has been arrested for breaking into my house and placing video cameras in my bedroom in an effort to see if I had replaced him. He also broke in and had sex with me while I was asleep and on flu medication and I was terrified to report it….If I had known then what I have learned in the last few weeks about NPD I would of reported it rather than be ashamed. If anyone new to NPD and an ex is reading this…BOUNDRIES are a must!

    • Oh my!! That is terrible – what you’ve had to deal with!! Do you have a protective order by now? Are there kids involved and are they protected?

      The group that I went to (I’ve now stopped and can explain why later) – it was a general divorce group. I was amazed at how the two members just could NOT relate despite listening to all sorts of information and horror stories (even more than what is posted here!). A domestic violence group may cover a lot more about the dynamics at play and how important it is to have the boundaries and recognize controlling behavior in all forms. It takes a while to really get adept at understanding what is controlling and manipulative at the time that it is occurring, and then it’s a whole other thing to be able to know how to respond – especially since that differs for each individual. I’m not sure of the overlap between domestic abuse and personality disorders, although I have to believe it would be pretty high. It might be worth going to the group and see how it is and what they will cover, and then just continually deciding from there. Post back and let us know what you decided!

      • Carrie says:

        I had a temporary order of protection after he was arrested for the basement issue and he was told to stay off my property twice by our local police department, the second time he seems to have gotten it. It does not stop him from sitting out front in his car to drive our 15 year old the three blocks to school! Even though Monday – Friday are not his parenting time, and three blocks? really? I hate seeing him sit there everyday….it is like a dog pissing on his property(sorry being vulgar) and it is not even what was our marital house. It is my new house, suppose to be my and the kids safe place. My DS19 has pretty much disowned him (she occasionally will try to talk to him in an effort to understand why he hates her AND she is in a serious relationship with a NPD. He talks just like her dad, I don’t get it.), like your own daughter she desperately wants a new dad…she is worried who will walk her down the isle. I guess I don’t count…lol. I registered for the group and was suppose to attend my first meeting last night, 20 minutes before I was to leave, I got an email from my ex that he would not be returning my son (he had him for 2 hours so the court could do a home study) till Monday, he was suppose to return him at 6 and have him Fri till Sun at 9pm. I was of course shocked, upset and sick and spent the next hours calling law enforcement, who by policy do not interfere with custody!? WTF…is it not kidnapping? The officer said I should keep a notebook…duh I have been doing that since day one three years ago. There seem to be no consequences for him and he was laughing when he said “I know you can’t afford a lawyer to do anything about this” and he had it on speakerphone with my DS15 listening, I was sobbing. Thanks for letting me know about the support group and I will let you know if it helps at all when I DO attend next Thursday.

        • Hey there – just want to tell you that if the comment about affording a lawyer is a message – KEEP IT. Also, there are free to low cost legal resources available for women in domestic abuse situations. Call the local shelter, women’s abuse prevention center or county resources and ask them who they would suggest. They can tell you about other programs that you can utilize. Get your name out there and be vocal about what you are dealing with. The fact that he is sitting outside your house under the guise of picking up your child may be able to be considered stalking. It is definitely impacting your sense of safety and privacy (which is why he’s there). The other big thing to remember is the simple concept that we tell young kids who are being teased … “if he doesn’t get a reaction out of you, he’ll stop doing it”. That’s a major key to it all – he’s doing it as a form of control over you and the way he controls you is the fear he provokes in you. Do what you can to keep him from letting him get to you (easier said than done), and you’ll take away the power he has on you and reclaim it for yourself. Truth is… you could do this when he tried to keep your DS15 as well – by telling him “ok, just let me know when she’ll be returning”, although you’re probably not at that point yet. What it does is completely take the wind out of his sails so that doing that to you isn’t fun anymore. Most important… each day… thank yourself for the strength that you have and how good you’re doing with it!!

  4. Victoria says:

    I have to say, your situation is very parallel to mine and it’s a relief to have someone relate to my situation. I’ve been separated for over 3 years now. We were never married (thank G’d because he really wanted too!) and we had an unexpected child together within the first month of a fling. I tried to be with him as long as I could (3 years)because he kept having me believe he wanted to be a Dad even though his actions were “unavailable” or self involved. We lasted 3 years and I’m still in recovery from it with anxiety and depression. His personality flipped so many time that when I finally caught on I still was unsure of myself. I still had insecurities that it was me that was crazy.

    As I read your words I feel connected. I know how it feels to walk on eggshells with every decision or to ask a simple question knowing you’re going to get a snake tongue answer back that will try and ruin your day. I know what it’s like to know he’s a sociopath and everyone else think he’s the best Dad or actually want to see his child when it’s really about keeping his child support low at the expense of my son’s emotional well being. I know what it’s like to get over 50 angry emails or 90 text messages daily telling me what an awful Mother I am or how I’m stealing money from him. My son comes home telling me things that I can’t do anything about.

    I’m just now starting to learn about co-parenting with a sociopath when before it was about me learning how to be a good parent in the midst of the madness. People telling me to just do my best on my end and eventually the results will follow. They didn’t. My son is emotionally and socially disabled because of all of it and luckily I’ve had a good school on our side. Even still, they encourage me to “get along” with his Dad because they believe it’s me with the issues. I just have to get use to it and follow my instincts.

    I’ve been on a joint 50/50 custody arrangement. It’s been a nightmare, like pulling teeth when choosing schools or getting him to attend play therapy or any therapy. He likes to argue for the sake of arguing. I am just now on the brink of getting Full Custody. After three years I’ve finally, patiently, built a case with all the emails, facts, and a couple witnesses that are willing to step forward. I’m still scared because I know how he works. He’ll say things to shame me in court and make me look bad as a Mother. The difference this time is I have proof of my words over his.

    My hearing is next Wednesday. This may finally be an end to the madness and worry I face daily for my son. I really hope the best comes for you, too.

    • Thank you for writing… I can not even begin to describe how much my prayers will be with you and your son next Wednesday! I will also be praying for the judge – that he/she may see and understand the truth, and that they grant what is best for your son, and not what is “fair” for both parents.

      When I returned to court for what was a relatively simple request to iron out the summer schedule (but could have had difficult ramifications), I found myself summoning all inner strength. The first time I was there, I fell to my knees and cried on the bench outside the courtroom as the judge gave my ex everything he asked for. That next time… I was able to walk away happy that I won. It was the answer we need … YET. I believe, truly, that we’ll find that answer – maybe in the courtroom, maybe not.

      On that day back… one of the things I found worked wonders. It’s funny, in a sense – because it occurred as I stopped in the bathroom to both use the rest room and garner strength. I literally sat on the toilet, and stopped for a moment to breath deeply. I imagined a column of light as wide as my body, going through my head and down my body. I imagined it anchored into the core of the earth, and pulling up all the energy of the earth into me – all peace and serenity and strength. All belief that we (my lawyer and I) would leave that day with what I was asking for – even if it was a subpar solution, it was the best I could do that day – and I HAD to believe that we would win. That breath did wonders for me. I later joked with friends that it was “toilet power” – but truly, it was very centering and strengthening. And it was so invigorating to walk away a victor that day for my kids, even if it we were left in the same bad situation – we didn’t wind up worse than when we walked in (which is what he was trying to get).

      May that toilet power be with you!! I commend and am in awe of your strength, and I hope you find your way back here to post your outcome. As I said… my prayers are with you and your son!!!

  5. This will be brief, as I’m short on time today. I found this site & your article when searching google. I realize that there are, at the very least, thousands of women dealing with a narcissistic ex that bullies constantly. But there are days when I feel like the only one. I hate that you & your kids have to endure his abuse, but, your words were “refreshing” (for lack of a better word). You could very easily been documenting any one of my days. No one in my life understands the constant stress my ex causes me. Every single decision has to be analyzed. Every possible scenario & outcome has to be considered. Or there will be hell to pay! It just helped to actually see the words written, to know that I wasn’t the only one dealing with the exact same issues & thinking the exact (almost) same things! Again, thank you! I hope it get better for you!

%d bloggers like this: