Negotiating with a Narcissist / Personality Disordered, or just plain old “disordered” individual

There has been much debate in the past month about what our visitation schedule would be for 2013.  We don’t have clarity about the end of the year, and last year I did a switch so that I could manage to get memorial day, labor day and things would line up better for us with each holiday.  He had those long weekends for the two prior years, so I forced through a change – which needless to say, he didn’t like.

This year, in order to have our holidays line up again, it would be best to have me have memorial day and labor day again.  And hey, he had it for two years prior anyway, right?   I tried to reason with him in an email, explaining that this was the most equitable way to handle things… he had two weekends in December, then I would have two weekends, and then we could alternate.  He did his usual trick.. I’m not going to read it or acknowledge it, just plow through with what I think that life should be for me.

So I felt concerned that there is this outstanding dispute brewing about who should have the kids this weekend.

Here’s where things changed, and I feel I owe it to the healing work that I have done.  I cornered my ex when he dropped off the kids, sent the kids inside my house, and spoke with him.  I found that I was able to speak with him about it without a huge emotional effect.  Yes, some feelings of resentment for having to deal with him at all and always making our lives miserable, but mostly a feeling of compassion and a recognition of just how limited he is in being able to deal with life.  How did I not see that before?

He started our conversation saying that I must be a good actor, but he can’t do it.. he hates me with a passion, with every possible bone in his body and never, ever wants to see me again.  I told him that “yes, the kids tell me how you feel”.

He admitted to not reading my email and just assuming I was trying to screw him over.  No, I told him… I’m not.  In the end, he revealed some of his flawed (always flawed, eh?) thinking about the schedule. He admitted that he doesn’t actually care what the schedule is, but that he has difficulty dealing with ambiquity and change (because narcissists orient based on the world around them).

He also admitted that he doesn’t care about the other three day weekends because he has to work anyway. Whoo hoo!

In our conversation, he even referenced that I was ridiculously stubborn for not conceding to our son riding a horse so that I could take him to a psychological evaluation. I actually did point out that it had to be that he got something for HIMSELF (he shook his head affirmatively to this, as he doesn’t see what’s wrong with it), and that it wasn’t about doing the right thing for his kid.. and didn’t he realize how laughable that was to everyone else?  He stopped discussing that track rather quickly.

I felt myself watching him process the conversation from the perspective of someone who was studying human behavior.  I also thought it was interesting that I have always had a knack at being able to negotiate with really grumpy @ss jerks.. and I wonder how much this has played into having been in a relationship with him.

I went into the conversation prepared to bargain various things… for e.g., he could have the kids on Sunday for some time, he could have some of those Monday’s on the long weekends, I could set a longer time period for repayment of child support arrears.  I was even prepared to mention that I’ve read his performance reviews.

In the end, he wrote the condition to giving me what I wanted.  Again, I found it interesting how he always needs that feeling of being in control.

So, ironically, I have the weekends that make sense for the kids, and for him I have to work out long term what the calendar will look like so he doesn’t have to deal with change, and he can avoid interacting with me.   Joy!

7 Responses to “Negotiating with a Narcissist / Personality Disordered, or just plain old “disordered” individual”

  1. Edwin says:

    Hello Again,

    This has been a particularly difficult few weeks. I have no idea about so many issues in my life. The When the narcissist mother of my daughter is working, my daughter is sometimes in my primary care for up to three weeks at a time. We have a great relationship and these times have been wonderful. Now that the mother’s work is on hiatus, I see my daughter five hours one week and three nights the following week. The two week stretches consisting of five hour visits are extremely difficult for both of us. My daughter is frequently with a nanny. In that her mother is a very difficult personality, my daughter has had seventeen nannies in her six years of life.
    Lately, for the past two years, the mother has suggested that we move to New York and now in the past two weeks, to Los Angeles. For one year. No stability for me or for my daughter. No awareness at all of how this move would impact on us. When the random idea is not greeted with complete and immediate compliance, the tantrums and vindictiveness begin. Last year I did not see my daughter for two months during one of the tantrums…….

    Natalia, maybe I need to read more around the site, but the healing work is so crucial for me personally. As N said, the anger – almost instant and so physical – when one is not an angry person is so toxic and debilitating. It has been seven years. I have lost so much of my life and creativity. I want myself back. I want to believe that resolution will come. The thought of dealing with my ex for the next twelve years can be so completely devastating. My ex is a very successful artist. Her outside persona is valued by many. Today, I wrote to her regarding a possible therapist as we have a court order to learn to co-parent and make arrangements for our daughter with the assistance of a family therapist. The mother has refused to go. She will not honor the court order. In the UK, the laws are only enforced when the perpetrator is a father. I dream of that golf ball……of being 23 and on a beach…..of my daughter not looking at me and wanting to cry when she finds out that another eight days will go by before I see her again…….I guess I really, really need to forgive myself for getting myself in this situation. My daughter is amazing. I love her more than words can say. I would not trade her for the world. When I dropped her off this morning her mother looked so happy to see her and I thought that was good and I felt positive through the early part of the day.

    • Hi Edwin,
      I’m sorry to hear how you are doing. I know the feeling, I’ve been there many times. I also remember finding my ex looking at houses in different cities, and asking what he was doing – he would say he was looking into a job in that city and what did I think of moving there. I eventually learned that he only read a job posting and that he hadn’t even yet submitted a resume. Like you, I couldn’t understand his drastic measures of fully considering big changes on the basis of nothing.

      Last fall, I ran across a church bulletin board which read “He who angers you, controls you.” It’s on a post on this site somewhere. This is true… it’s a tough pill to swallow but there’s joy in knowing it: She can only control you if you let her. If you can learn to step back and not allow her to take your power by creating emotions in you, you will be able to handle her better. For example, when she randomly says “let’s move to LA”, you can say “that would be really interesting! Tell me more of what you’re thinking”. You can say that with the complete peace and understanding that she is just talking and nothing will come of it anyway.
      Even though it seems she has no understanding of how her actions impact you and your daughter… she does in some ways. She knows she’s upsetting you (and wants to do so), and she’ll know it if you can learn how not to react emotionally inside. She will sense it, and it will be a bit debilitating and confusing to her.
      Another example of how it feels when you can center and ground yourself and your emotions: When you are grounded, you can write to her about the therapist, see her reaction about not wanting to go, and step back … thankful that she just put her reaction in writing. The courts there may not listen to one thing that she isn’t complying with, but if there’s a pattern – it may add up. So, record it as one notch in building that pattern. You’re willing to go to the therapist and learn to co-parent, she’s not and you have evidence of this.
      My suggestion would be that when you are stuck during times of not seeing your daughter, spend some of that time in self reflection and healing. This inner healing brings me much peace, faith and hope — I cannot begin to recommend it enough.
      Another thought would be to give your daughter a notebook. Tell her to draw a picture in it each night for you and her to share – ask her to draw a picture of what happened that day for her. You can do the same, and when you are together you can read through them together. If it will anger your ex-wife, you can ask your daughter to tell her mom it’s a storybook she’s making but not tell her mom that it’s for sharing with you.

      You’re doing great.. hang in there!!

      • Edwin says:

        Thanks Natalia.

        The challenging thing with my daughter’s mother is that her resources are extreme relative to the world at large. She could be set up in LA in a few weeks. My triumph is more amazing in light of the fact that the ex has spent – my lawyer’s estimate – in excess of $500,000 in an attempt to keep me out of my daughter’s life. That is rough sledding. Your words are so helpful to me. I just ordered Debbie Ford’s 21 day Cleanse Book.
        Have a great day wherever you are.

  2. JenelleMarie says:

    This is a great update. It always strikes me too how much they are all alike! And yet, the courts can’t see it. Im glad that you are able to get a better schedule for you and the kids and pray it will continue in a positive manner for you!

    • I think some judges in the court can … but then I also think that there judges and attorneys who also suffer from a disorder and therefore won’t see it themselves 😉

  3. N says:

    Very good news! Congrats!
    I would love one day to be able to speak calmly to me x. I avoid nearly all conversation with him because I hate how angry he can make me feel. And I’m not an angry person! Only with him..and it takes a millisecond of him saying his usually banter and I go right back to angry. I would love one day to stay completly incontrol of my emotions when speaking to him (which isn’t often). I’m jelous lol.
    And I completly understand about their inability to deal with change. Its so annoying! I told him I wanted to make changes to our visitation agreement because of his erratic behavior as of late. Obviously he said he wasnt going to agree to anything. Then texted me a few mins later saying I could do what I wanted if I dropped child support. He doesn’t really care either!! Its uncanny the simularities! I didn’t even get a chance to mention what I wanted only that I wanted to make changes. Hes such a tool. So im in the process of finding a lawyer (my last one was crap). This is long sorry :/
    Congrats again!

    • Save that text!! I use the app “back up to gmail” which sends all text to an archive file in gmail. Texts are admissible in court and that way it doesn’t ever just get deleted on your phone (texts are saved only on the phone normally). Even if you never make it to court, it’s great leverage power to be able to say that you can bring that text to court 🙂

      An attorney I spoke to recently (not mine) reminded me that “you are in the position of power”. Wow, it’s truth that was right before my eyes but makes a big difference to remember that I can be in control of myself, how I react and how I deal with him.

      Regarding the anger… your comment resonates with me soooo much. Releasing the anger and resentment that I have has been number one on my list of things to heal. It’s very difficult to do, but I feel like it’s so important for me to move forward. (My daughter says she will never forgive her dad, and I told her that’s okay for now, and we can work together to help her with that when she’s older). I am looking for ways to release that anger of having been ‘oppressed’ for having to deal with him for years – and use exercise, wii boxing ;), hitting a golf ball (with images that he is the ball and I have sent him far away from being able to hurt me or my kids), centering/grounding – and prayer – prayer for God to take residual anger and resentment from my body.

      Anyway – remember your power – I’m sure you can do it too!

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