The importance of being assertive with a narcissist

When I first started the divorce process, we saw a marriage counselor.  Shortly after, we were using counselor for our daughter and a parenting  coordinator– as suggested by my attorney.  Both of these “professionals” suggested in our pre-court environment that I needed to stand up against him.  They said I needed to be more assertive, and to demand respect, and that the more I did that – the more he would back down against me.

At the time, I heard them and understood what they meant, but putting it into practice was a whole ‘nuther story.  After all, my ex wasn’t just “assertive”… he was aggressive, bullying, terror-inducing, and a self-proclaimed walking time bomb who would occasionally remind me that he thought he would lose it one day the same way as a suicidal gun-man in a McDonald’s.   Assertive?  Really??  How can I possibly do that when I have to consider that I am PREGNANT and also have a 2 year old in my care??

Later in the process, when it became closer to court and my ex had more time to spin his story and garner their sympathy that I was an awful ex who withheld his child from him — they stopped giving that advice and even turned their stories to what I should do to try try try to calm him down so that he didn’t keep being so aggressive towards me.

Now, years later and a whole lot of healing and emotional work completed, I understand better and can execute it more.  However, I still choose the battles in which I will be assertive so that he doesn’t think I care about most things and won’t battle me on them.

I am also working on giving my kids the words that they can say to help themselves without me, and they can learn in the long run to recognize someone like my ex and not be intimidated.  This is SO MUCH easier said than done!

I also am keenly aware that I need to exhibit the behaviors that I expect of them.  This means that when my ex starts to go ballistic in front of the kids or even just to get angry or bullying – that I call him on the behavior immediately.  Literally.  For e.g. – one way he tries to be controlling is that when we exchange the kids, he tells me that I can’t walk them to his car or get them buckled in.  I simply look directly at him (or admittedly sometimes I don’t), and say “stop bullying“.  period.  He sometimes responds with “I’m not bullying, stop your bullshit” or something to that affect.  I will respond, “yes, you are, and you need to treat me respectfully – in particular in front of our children”.  And then I won’t engage further.  He can talk, but I turn my attention happily to my kids and get them tucked into the car.

The words I use are issued WITHOUT EMOTION.  I don’t raise my voice at all.  It is said calmly and as matter-0f-fact as “the trees are green”.  I’ve found it to be pretty effective.  I’ve done this via text too, and then found when we met up with him shortly after the text exchange that he was congenial and (ha ha) “kind”.

More thoughts later on this topic, as I do feel it’s important – as well as the ability to interact with my ex without emotion (very important!).

 

 


Leave a Reply