About Me

I am a mom with two small children.  My ex has the traits of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, at a pathological level.  It has taken my life savings, all my credit lines and every fiber of my strength to get divorced from him.  He was emotionally, mentally and physically abusive.   During the 3 years it took to get the divorce,  he sued me for custody.  Despite testifying to the domestic abuse in our relationship, and professionals asserting that we could not co-parent, my ex won everything he asked for that day.  Thankfully, that means we have joint legal custody and he has alternate weekend, holiday and summer vacation time.

It is important to me to find peace with this experience in my life, accept it as my life challenge and find all positive things that could come from it.  As a result, I am in the midst of creating this website, as I want to connect with others in the same situation.  As much as I can, I would like to pass along a positive attitude and perspective to others who may be in the same situation.  My spirituality and faith have been significantly strengthened through all this, and my faith continues to be what gets me through it every second.

Truly, it is unfortunate that there are many of us who have to co-parent with someone who is challenged with a personality disorder (borderline, antisocial, narcissist, etc).  I would like to understand the impact on my children from spending time with a pathological parent and how I can mitigate this.  I am searching for research which has been done to understand this aspect of personality disorders.  While I do fundamentally believe that a child of divorce should have access to both parents, I question the amount and level of exposure if a parent has a personality disorder, and believe that the answer to that varies greatly based on the type of PD and the severity of it.  Too often, our court system in the US is focused on ‘sharing’ the children, and not enough focus is put on evaluating how or why the parents wound up in court – and what types of issues they may have.

In the meantime, I will continue to look for the positive aspects within this situation, and strive to make things better for others – through continuing to learn as much as I can about the impact on our children, about the court system that put us in this situation and how to improve it, and how to mitigate the risks of being in this situation as best as humanly possible.

More information about my experiences can be found in the blog postings -  leaving an abusive relationship, the court experience that put us in this situation, healing from the abusive relationship, gaining strength in being assertive, and learning to live within the bounds of our court order.  Please comment, share your own experiences, thoughts and perspectives.  We have much to learn from each other!

Please note – I am using an alias name for me and my children’s protection.  My name is unique, and the things that I am sharing are deeply personal.  I think it is an important experience to share for others’ sake, however.   This is why the names of my children are not here at all and they are referred to as ‘my son’ or ‘my daughter’. It would be very damaging to them for their entire school to find out what they endure and I respect their privacy.

I have struggled with the aspect of admitting what the relationship truly was like to those that know both me and my ex.  Over time, I’ve eluded to the physical and emotional abuse to close friends (note – my ex has been repeatedly fired from jobs for combative behavior, so he shines his own light in many ways).  In some ways, I have chosen to still respect him as an individual, and respect that the personality disorders that he deals with are his challenges in life.  There has to be some good in him, somewhere – even if it’s goodness in an ignorant way.  On the flip side, I also grapple with the threats from him about our lives being a “private matter”, and also how he has told me multiple times that he thinks he is the kind of guy that would one day lose it and shoot down a McDonald’s.  This is not the type of individual where I want to take unnecessary risks.

The pen name I have chosen has meaning to me.  Natalia – refers to the Nativity, or birth of Jesus.  Jesus is always there to support us, and I feel that love daily.  Mary is a strong mother who blindly followed God in faith to do whatever it was that he asked of her, including giving birth to the son of God.  Tessa is simply a name of someone dear to me.  

44 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Jennifer says:

    What an valuable website! It is so nice to see that I am not alone in my struggles with my ex. I could copy most of your postings and paste as my own because our stories are so closely related. Where are your blogs located? I would love to read more. When was your website created?

    Thanks!

  2. Charmayne says:

    I left my ex in 2003 I was due to have our third child. For the following 2 years he tried promises of signing our family home over to me in return I was to move back home with the children and he was to have access to the granny flat to stay in when he was in town to visit as he live 1200 kilometre’s away. On our youngest daughters 1st birthday he gave her a fire blanket and a golf ball as a birthday gift, trying to make light of the gift , I said “what a weird present ” and I gave a laugh, he responded by saying , “well your mothers house may burn down and you will need it”. I took this a threat, but he said its just an observation as my mums house was old. I was researching online for personality disorders and when I read the definition of a narcissist, I was floored as it WAS my ex.
    After 2 years and all the promises and being told I should have his children in a better environment and that why wouldn’t I want to give the kids a “better home” to live in. Eventually I gave in to the guilt trips he was constantly handing me and moved into the house. This situation lasted for one year, the situation was impossible and I said its not working as he continued to putting me down in front of the kids , so I offered to move out and stay else where while he was in town so he could spend time with the kids. This didn’t work either as he would go through all my personal belonging even accounts and bank statements and would state how bad my financial situation was. I then thought ok for the kids sake I will just put a lock on my bedroom door and keep all personal belongings there when he stays with the kids. Well this went down like a lead balloon, he became angry and would say things like “this is my house and how dare you put locks on any room”, this is the point when I knew he wasn’t going to follow through on the promises. So I said he couldn’t stay there in future. At this point I started family law matters, he started an eviction process to have the kids and I evicted from the home. I was shocked at this and said “how can you evict your own children” his response was ” I not evicting them Im evicting you, I told him the kids live with me so if you evict me you evict them but he wouldn’t have that he was doing the wrong thing. So after more then 6 years in family court for a property settlement and family law matters ,My ex was awarded court costs from the property settlement as the courts say I wasn’t entitled to anything from the relationship. Family court matters he was given everything he asked for, 9 days of end of term 14 days holiday and three weeks at Christmas. I was to pay him for flights for myself to fly with the children to him to Sydney and my return flight.
    with all of these processes going his way , I moved out of our “his” house and my hometown and he was eager for the kids and I to get of his house to the point he paid the removals fees and moved us to a small town out of state. This small town was not suitable so I decided to move to Adelaide ,I informed him 8 weeks prior and he didn’t say a thing about it, Adelaide is in the same state he relocated me to 12 months prior. He then took me back to court and ask the court to order me back to my hometown as I didn’t ask permission to move, He doesn’t even live in my hometown and hasn’t done since I was pregnant with our second child. I was granted by the courts that I could stay in Adelaide , but was I found to have breached a court order, he told the court that he didn’t want me to pay a fine as I am a low income earner and couldnt afford it, I though to myself with sarcasm , oh how gracious. Now to end this post I am a single mum on a very low income and hold a pension card with helps with medication for the kids, and he is on a police pension , has a law firm as he is a solicitor , and has more then 12 rental properties , I receives a very small , I mean VERY small amount of maintenance from him , he refuses to help with schooling fees or anything else I ask for help with, calls me money hungry and that I live beyond my means, I have said to him ” how can I live beyond my means when I have just enough for the kids and I to exist”
    I did make contact with the Child Support Agency to make sure this amount was right and do it every year , but they continue to say , that their assessments are correct and are inline with the ATO.
    I do have an extremely supportive mum as she helps out financially when it important for the kids (school shows and the like) and emotionally and thank god I have her.
    why do narcissist always win?

    • Hi Charmayne,
      I am sorry to hear you are dealing with this situation. It sounds like although you were extremely brave and strong to break away from him when you were pregnant with your third child – you have yet to find freedom and peace whatsoever. You are still held hostage by your ex and are still in his control in many ways.

      I encourage you to do your best to focus on all the good things that you have in your life, and go to sleep thankful for that. Let me note what you said: You have a supportive mum, your kids have a supportive grandmother, you are in the town where you want to live, your kids are with you the majority of the time, you are able to make it with the money that you have (have faith that God will provide for you – not your ex, and focus on that), and that you have had the strength to change your situation.

      Focus on your blessings and give strength and openings for more blessings to come into your life. When you focus on things (even negative things) you give power to them – so avoid doing this by focusing on the blessings.

      In my own healing path, I looked at my own thinking – conscious and subconscious and how that affected my life. For me, I found there were subconscious beliefs that I am not worthy of having what other people have. I used energy healing to remove this type of belief and replace it with other beliefs.

      Then one day it dawned on me – I wonder if one of the reasons why narcissists tend to win is that they feel so entitled? They go into court battles with the expectation that they will win. The person on the other end goes into the battle with fear and worry. At the end of it, each person received their expectation – right?

      Replace fear and worry with FAITH. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light – God is light. Ask God to light up your life, fill you with faith and then truly believe that you can win when you have to deal with him, and you can have a life with peace (because God can it to you).

      Peace and love to you-

    • Katya says:

      I’m in Melbourne and am also right in the middle (is there a ‘middle’ with a ruthless Narcissist ?). Mine has been fleecing me financially since 08 when our marriage got really bad. So far I’ve uncovered $130,000 missing and he’s come up with a forged loan document that was a ‘outstanding financial liability’ which we apparently owe his charming parents (one who has just died during the court case – Kharma) $240,000. If the judge falls for his lies, this means he has siphoned $400,000 including some other things I have discovered off somewhere in the last 5 years of our marriage.

      He has just inherited millions however unlike your ex who has a career, mine is the classic Narcissist Psychopath and sponges off others. He is trying to take me for every cent – I am his investment that went bad. 2 beautiful children and a faithful wife of 13 years was not enough of a return for him. He wants a full refund now.

      I’m happy for you yours is interstate. My life is hell dealing with this psycho every week and every time. See him I go into full on anxiety mode.

      These b******* just ruin your life and it feels like it will never end.

  3. libby says:

    Natalia Tessa,

    I am so incredibly grateful to have found your site. My husband was married to a woman (who has not been diagnosed but exhibits traits of NPD and has multiple family members with the same disorder) for 3 years. They had one child together and my husband was given primary custody due to the birth mom’s issues with drugs, topless bars, and prostitution when the little guy was still in diapers. I have been involved since before he could talk and have had to fill the role of “mom,” but have done so gladly because that little boy and his daddy are the best things to have ever happened in my life, and I would do anything to protect them.

    The “birth mom” does nothing but cause problems. She is jealous of me and has even stalked me to my car in a private neighborhood and verbally accosted me. My step-son begs my husband and I to live with us “100%” of the time and to not go and visit his mom anymore. The birth mom lies in front of my step-son and teaches him that it is OK to do so. She also has him sleep in bed with her and her boyfriend-of-the-moment (which I find highly inappropriate). I was brought into the situation to make up for the fact that the little guy didn’t have a healthy maternal role-model and it breaks my heart to see a small child have to go through this. The courts are constantly reinforcing the “co-parenting” issue, but it doesn’t seem to work with her. She is months behind in child support, doesn’t show up to hearings, promotes a promiscuous lifestyle in front of my step-son, and continues to have nothing but nasty comments and emails for my husband and I. It is very stressful for my marriage and I do not know where else to turn. I know I’m not the plaintiff or defendant, but I do have to deal with her for the next 10 years. I’m glad to have found a place where other people can talk about NPD and I’m willing to take any advice as to what to do about the situation. Please keep our family in your prayers and I will gladly pray for any of the ladies (or gentlemen) on this blog as well.

  4. Kelly says:

    Hi Natalia. My mom found your blog and shared it with me as I have been struggling with my narcissist ex husband for nearly 8 years now. My daughter (who is almost 9) and I live under a dictatorship with absolutely no voice, even with the law we are learning. I am the primary caregiver but we have joint custody; something I now regret signing on. I was unaware of his PD when we split up, but hindsight is 20/20. Since I started learning about NPD it is clear as day what I have been missing all these years! So many puzzle pieces fell into place. He is not physically abusive (towards us, although he has come close to being physically aggressive with others in my daughter’s presence a few times) but he is extremely emotionally abusive through control & manipulation. When my daughter was younger I was able to block it out and live my life happily and independently despite the control. I could “manage.” However, as my daughter got older and started noticing differences in how we each treat others, including herself, blocking him out has become impossible. He’s not abusing me now, he’s abusing my daughter (and me through her as my therapists have made me realize) and that is much harder to turn a blind eye to. I love how you said, “While I do fundamentally believe that a child of divorce should have access to both parents, I question the amount and level of exposure if a parent has a personality disorder, and believe that the answer to that varies greatly based on the type of PD and the severity of it.” I have always encouraged my ex to have a significant role in our daughter’s life and he never wanted it. Now that my daughter is pulling away emotionally, and he is jealous of my new husband’s relationship with her, he has become very emotionally abusive with her, and even more controlling & manipulative with both of us. I was unaware of a lot of the emotional abuse until she was at an age where she started coming home complaining and telling me stories of things he had done that “scare her.” Lawyers don’t even seem to hear me when I mention NPD. Maybe they hear it too often when it’s not the case. When you’re living it it’s very real. When you see your daughter struggling from it, it’s very real. So while my daughter watches the clock until the day her voice is heard by the law, I will continue to go to therapy to help my daughter and to help me stay strong, and I will continue to read blogs like yours to know that I am not alone, and I am not crazy :) Thank you for sharing your experiences and empowering others who are trying their best to coparent with difficult personalities.

  5. Kate says:

    Thank you Natalia! I have only just come across your site having researched NPD related issues for the last 5 years. So refreshing to find a space of positivity and realise there are other people who share my hope too! All is not lost by having a NPD ex and our kids need us all the more to be optimistic and hopeful and guide them through their childhood. I have a nearly 5 year old boy and I have only recently decided to be open and honest with him about his fathers NPD following a harrowing year for us and my little boy experiencing narcissistic rage and injury on a consistent basis this year. When we sat down for our first “big talk” the other day I could just see his little face flood with relief and recognition when I spoke about his fathers behaviors and actions of late (withholding him from me, bad mouthing me, being critical, cold and cruel towards my son).
    Although I can’t stop my ex from seeing our son (due to court orders that have no hope of changing) I am now offering my son strategies to Cope with his father when he visits him and to always remember where home is, with me and my loving partner and a soon to arrive baby sibling! Hope and faith is definitely the best course of action. Thank you for affirming this – just when I needed to hear it. Blessings to you xx

    • It’s wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for your warm, encouraging comments. It’s difficult for me as well, and comments like yours help to keep going. I wish you and your son the best. As you learn good strategies that work for him, particularly given his age – will you let us here now about them? I feel the more we can share about how to mitigate the effects during childhood, the better for all of us. I’m cheering for you!

      • Kate says:

        I will definitely stay posted to this site with our experiences over the coming years. Now that I’ve found this place I feel even more empowered to keep up the faith and offer help where I can. Of course, we all get down and disheartened at times too so I am happy to finally be able to connect with other people who “get it”. My family and friends are great but until you live in this situation it’s impossible to really understand the turmoil and emotional worry we ex partners of NPD’s really go through regarding our kids wellbeing and whether they will grow up ok. Did I mention also I am from sunny Australia? It’s great to get a perspective of family law issues from other countries, the US sounds similar to here, it’s more about what is “fair” for the non custodial parent instead of what s best for the child.

        I have felt continually let down by the courts, psychologists and lawyers over the years but have recently found a really great counsellor who respects my feelings on being open with my son and affirms that I am not jeopardizing his relationship with his father by doing so, I am strengthening our bond and making myself available to him when he wants to talk. We are really at a beautiful phase in our relationship where he is just getting old enough to understand the truth and I feel confident in bringing up issues with him obviously in a non confrontational and age appropriate way. I have told my son that his father finds it difficult to love and care for other people but I remind my son that this is not the ideal and I reorient him to all the people who are able to love and care for him in his life. In a way I am teaching my son what I found works for me, don’t be angry and hurt by the NPDs problems and inabilities, instead love them for the person they are warts n all, while still maintaining boundaries and the reality of normal functioning relationships.

        I really send all my love and best wishes for those of you with very young children and I will just say that you will know when they are ready to hear and talk about the undercurrent of bleakness- don’t force it and you may have to revisit it a few times before their little minds are ready and willing and able to process it. They will be ok with our gentle love and our innate ability as carers to melt away the taboo of psychological and emotional abuse. We dont always have to listen to the experts and their advice, I am finally taking my own advice and it is finally working for us! Good luck to all, keep in touch please with your breakthroughs and lightbulb moments and stay strong and gentle with your kidsxxx

        • Oh my goodness – your comment brings up so many thoughts. I have been working on this emotional healing journey using theta energy healing. An underlying belief is that we personally create the situations in our lives – often unconciously because somewhere deep in our conciousness are beliefs that no longer serve us. With this knowledge and the knowledge that I can work on understanding those beliefs, becoming more conscious of their existence and where I may have picked them up in my life… I feel empowered to be able to make changes. In recent sessions, I’ve touched on two of the things you mentioned above… one is the aspect of being worthy of and deserving to have others in my life and my children’s lives who support us. This is in the way of attorneys, judges and therapists. If I subconsciously believe that I am not deserving of this support, then it will not manifest in my life. If I believe that this is what should happen and visualize it occurring, then that will manifest. I have seen changes even just recently where this has come into play. The second is in regards to feeling that I am able to make my own choices in my life and not defer to other experts. I know that for years I did – and in some ways it may seem that I still am by having my son psychologically evaluated. I know that my son is impacted by what is happening and can feel it strongly in my gut, however, I need a formal write up for the courts and others to use in my case. That feeling of knowing that I know what is best and what we need is also wonderfully empowering.

          On another note – there have been others who have found this site from Australia and reflect that the court system is in the same state of affairs there as the US. It seems to be pretty much throughout the world, with the only exceptions being in countries who are much more strict in parents using corporal punishment with their children (see nospank.net for a wonderful site which argues peaceful discipline).

          Thank you so much for being here. I apologize for my quiet over the holidays and will pick back up on posting in the new year. All the best to you!!

    • Amanda says:

      I’m very excited to find your blog! I’m coming from a similar situation (and blogging about it at ScatteredSmotheredAndCovered.com). I haven’t had the same experience in court as you – in fact, we are getting buried in court. I’ve been divorced for five years and have have a custody hearing in two months to determine custody of our son. My NPD ex is telling the court I’m not fit to mother my child and they are largely listening to him. He has a lot of money and he screams loudly. It’s like entering another universe when we’re in court. Any suggestions you have for shining a light on the personality disorder in court would be greatly appreciated. I’ll be reading through your old posts as well. Thank you for sharing your story!

      • Hi there,

        I’m sorry about your situation – I’m sure you feel under attack from your ex constantly and that everything you do is scrutinized. Remind yourself daily that you are a wonderful mother and practice centering yourself in that thought, so that the tormoil your ex creates cannot reach you or touch you.

        Narcissists in court are a handful, aren’t they? Very entitled. The book/books that I found most helpful are by William Eddy and Randi Kreger: Protecting yourself while divorcing a narcissist. Randi Kreger also has a set of CDs to listen through as well.

        It’s also VERY important to have an attorney who really understands personality disorders. If they do, they will understand how to manipulate the narcissistic traits while your ex is on the stand in the courtroom. You may want to think about whether focusing on the true motive for your ex to seek custody – so that the judge can see that this is a revenge tactic on you, rather than a real desire to parent your child. Also make sure you have people who can attest to your parenting and that they can speak to witnessing how you do this. Friends, teachers, therapists – rather than using family members. It’s challenging to ask others to stand up for you and go to court for you. In the book I mentioned, there are stories of others doing this and emphasizing to the witnesses how important it is for the welfare of your child.

        Another site to look at is http://www.onemomsbattle.com. She’s been representing herself for years against her ex, with many ups and downs.

        I also really recommend doing some intropective work as you can – I found much peace in understanding the beliefs that I have which either help or hurt me – things like whether I am worthy of winning in court and having the life me and my kids deserve. It seems simple, but releasing those believes really has changed the tide.

        I am sending you positive thoughts and prayers. Keep commenting and I’ll also check out your blog!

  6. cyndi says:

    Thank You for being here and starting this site. I left my Asperger’s/sex addicted/NPD spouse 10 months ago. He didn’t participate in the divorce and I have full custody. I have been reading and witnessing the realities of co-parenting (can’t really call it that, he only sees them Sunday afternoons) with a narcissist. It’s very depressing right now, but I’m looking for the light, trying to have faith, hope. What’s constantly on my mind right now is whether or not I should just take off with the kids before he tries to pull me back to court (constantly threatens this). Due to the limitations the ASPIE diagnosis lends, I’m not sure he’d have the gumption to follow through with anything if we just moved very far away. So right now I am constantly evaluating what’s best/worse for the kids. To grow up in consistent relationship with such a psychologically damaging, spirit-killing parent, or to possibly resent me along the way for taking them away from their dad (since they are too young to see him for what he is right now). I sure look forward to reading more here and hearing some feedback. Thanks again.

    • Hi, and welcome! I’m sorry to hear that you and your kids are struggling, and very very thankful to hear you have full custody and Sunday afternoon visitation. When I first started with my ex, I was blindly hopeful to be able to navigate the waters more peacefully. My first year was spent trying to get a property settlement agreement in place through attorneys (incl what we would do with our kids, who at the time were 2 and unborn/preg). He withheld any support for the kids until I would sign what he wanted, even so much as living in my house for 8 months without paying anything towards rent/utilities. At that time, he didn’t want much to do with the kids. He agreed to Sunday afternoons, with the time split so he only had one child at a time. Tuesday evenings he spent about an hour with our infant son (cancelled a LOT), and Thursday evenings were with our daughter. Those times were a pain to navigate, but in retrospect, they were easier and there was WAY less impact to the kids. However, I should say the last time he was physically violent was when our son was 11mos old and he was holding our son through it. There were a lot more calls to the police back then. How old are your kids?

  7. Lily says:

    Thank you so much for your blog! I am AMAZED by how much your experiences mirror mine. I am so grateful that you have the moxie to write about it.

    I spent 7 years in an emotionally, financially and sometimes physically abusive relationship with a narcissist. A successful (but not as successful as he thinks!) salesman and former superstar athlete of a tiny town, my ex almost convinced me that I was the crazy one.

    It’s funny. Most people talk about the little voice in their head that creates their self-doubt and loathing. If you were married to a narcissist you had an actual voice (his) that was constantly reminding us of all the things we were doing wrong, saying wrong and most importantly, appearing wrong to the rest of his world. To combat this emotional abuse, the little voice inside my head was constantly doing a version of SNL’s “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh, darn -it people like me!” Sounds corny, but now that that he is gone, I find that I only have the positive voice in my head!

    I try to teach my daughters that they are allowed to feel their feelings and allowed to be who they are. This is difficult because he, like so many other narcissistic fathers, took me to court for custody and was awarded everything that he wanted. Like I said, he’s a salesman, okay looking and well – known in this tiny county.

    It makes me sick that during “his time” my daughters have been denied birthday parties, play dates and the overall opportunity to be kids. It’s like they are put on display. I can imagine the thoughts going through his head when they are out — “Look at the single daddy with the beautiful little girls!” This is the way he thinks. But in private, he flips out whenever there is a spot on their shirts or they want to talk to me for over 12 minutes on the phone. (I don’t know where the 12 minute rule came from!)

    I just keep praying, keep teaching them that they are wonderful and allowed to have feelings, and keep reading your blog.

    It’s saved on my favorites tool bar. I check it every morning right after my email.

    Thanks Natalia!

    • Thank you!! I’m glad we’ve found each other. I wish you weren’t in the same situation and none of us had to deal with the narcissitic ex, but since we do- I’m happier having the encouragement and perspective of others. The SNL/voice in the head cracks me up. I worked for years to remove his critical voice – and love that you found a way to be immune to those lasting effects. I think it’s so important to encourage our kids to be their own people, no matter what. God put us here as unique individuals for a reason (although I don’t get why some are sociopaths). Thanks for being you!

  8. ER says:

    Oh my goodness… I don’t even know what to say other than I am so glad I found this blog. It is helpful for the healing process to understand that I am not the only woman that has to co-parent with a narcissist. It is impossible to please him. I am frustrated by the courts. I have been accused of neglect by my ex in court and the way his snake of an attorney handled it the court ruled that I was neglectful. I was in shock! After everything that I had put up with to protect my child from his father, it was very frustrating that I was now labeled the abusive parent! I have only recently dealt with the abuse from our marriage. (10 years post divorce) I think that healing myself and finding dignity again was the only thing that helped me get thru this past 8 months with my ex. (4 times in court and countless hours with a CFI) I would recommend that anyone that has been in any type of abusive situation, especially when the abuser is a narcissist, seek out a support group. I wish I would have done this years ago!

    • Hello! I am sorry to hear of the experience that you’ve had. The court system is a mess, and many narcissists seem very adapt at being able to manipulate it. It’s disappointing to the soul to repeatedly hear stories like yours. I’m glad we’re connected. I found it hard to find a support group in person – it takes a person who’s really gone through such an insidious relationship to truly get the dynamics and support how to respond. My experience was that others fall prey to the personality disordered individual because they want to respond as if the PD’d is normal, when that’s the farthest from the truth. It’s natural, though, to assume that every thinks fairly rationally, and it take counter-intuitive thinking to deal with the irrational personality disordered.

      • ER says:

        The support group that I found was through the local women’s shelter. They had gotten enough calls inquiring that one of the there was willing to facilitate a group. We meet once per week for a little over an hour. It has been the best thing to realize that I am not alone. Lundy Bancroft Books are also paramount to read for anyone who has been abused. I never believed I was abused because I never had a bruise or a broken bone. I believe it would have led there eventually. I came out of that relationship a broken soul. Only ten years later have I confronted the abuse and now everything makes sense. Now all I need to do is learn how to co-parent with a narcissist. I had truly thought this whole time that I was just not seeing his side of things. Everyone else around me though could see how I was just being walked all over. Things only became bad in the past year especially once I started asserting myself and not jumping when he said jump. Your blog cracks me up because it is like a mirror of my life. The funniest things are the “logic” that a narcissist uses at every turn. It can make a person go crazy if they try to follow the same line of thinking. Do you think that a narcissist actually believes their own lies, or do they know they are lying? I catch glimpses that make me think that he knows he is lying and that he does it for what he perceives as the the greater good. Him. What are your thoughts on that?

        • Sorry for a delayed reply. I was processing your question, because it has been a primary one of mine for years. I think that it certainly varies for each individual narcissist, because there are different “types” of narcissists (‘covert’ and ‘overt’) and also sine various personality disorders can coexist within one individual. I used to think that my ex didn’t realize that he was a liar, or twisting the way things were said or justified to his benefit. My ex is introverted as well – so not the “outgoing manipulative, charm the pants off of anyone” kind of guy. It’s more likely he would irritate the crap out of someone very quickly, or appall them. Eventually, I think I’ve settled on decide ding that for he most part – he truly does know how he’s using and abusing others. I think that the lies and story twists are things that he is usually are of, although there are times when the lie exists because of his flawed thinking – where he may believe himself what he’s dishing out. A great example of this is when he tells others that he’s a great father… It’s one heck of a lie, but I also think he believes in it so much that it makes him unaware that he’s lying.

  9. Grace says:

    I stumbled across your blog today and so wish I had found it three years ago when I was embarking on my divorce journey. My ex was diagnosed with NPD exactly three years ago, and it has been a hellish journey ever since.

    I wouldn’t repeat the experience for all the money in the world, and am just so glad to be as far on THIS side of things as I am (this: divorced (finally), remarried, happy, learning to accept and manage dealings with my ex).

    Thank you for telling your story and for offering support and encouragement to others out there. I searched high and low three years ago for every bit of information I could find on narcissism, and was still not wholly prepared for what it would really be like.

    I look forward to reading your posts and following along on your journey, and hope to chime in here and there.

    Wishing you peace,

    Grace

    • Thank you! Ditto on the wish for peace. I was also on the quest for answers on the web, and it took time for me to go down the healing journey far enough to know that it may help others as well to get myself going on this. I find it awesome that you have a formal diagnosis. My attorney says that the tests are so unreliable, can be found on the web and narcissists are often tricky enough to fake the answers to what they should be. It sounds, though, that maybe it hasn’t helped you (enough) in that you’re still needing to deal with your ex. It’s taken me some time, but I do think that time with a narcissistic parent should be little to none and at the least supervised. Then I think about what it would be like if the court systems / mental health professionals who play in this field all understood that and executed as such. Given the number of people that CAN be found on the web seeking help… that would be a TON of children helped, and a lot more sanity in the world. All the best to you, Grace!

      • Grace says:

        The diagnosis hasn’t provided much support, to be honest. We may have a piece of paper that says he is a narcissist, but I still couldn’t fight for supervised visitation or find a way to have it impact custody dealings. Plus, he likes to tell me how I’m the narcissist, and that his diagnosis is wrong.

        It’s just a piece of paper. His consistent behavior is much more telling, and much more disturbing. There’s nothing quite like feeling powerless and afraid for your childrens’ well being as they skip out the door to Dad’s. Or as frustrating or helpless as soothing hurt feelings or trying to undo the damage wrought after their visit.

        It’s a cycle of managing only what we have control over, which is ourselves and our families. I will show my children what a healthy adult is like, how relationships are supposed to be. And I will pray that it is enough.

        • I can only say I agree with everything you’ve said. My faith has carried me through every bit of it – particularly the aspect of feeling powerless to ensure their safety. There are moments when I feel pure “resign” about the situation, and other moments where I feel a sense of certainty that he won’t be in my kids lives for all that long anyway (which isn’t validated really from anything in particular). I do, btw, find it funny that your ex is projecting his diagnosis onto you… go figure!

    • Ruby says:

      I have thought about the lie question a lot too and I don’t have an answer.

      My ex is also prone to forgetting things (having correspondence in writing helps.). My psychologist thinks the forgetfulness is deliberate and passive aggressive. I am not sure. I think he is just aloof.
      As for the lies, its really hard for me to believe he knows he is lying. I think the magical thinking is so powerful that he often believes what he says. Although sometimes I catch him out, there is some overwhelming ‘proof’ that he blatently lied. Its hard though, because he is “an honourable” man, so ethical and honest and thoughtful.. but not really.

  10. Christopher says:

    Natalia – I don’t mean to be a troll – but this brings up a lot of stuff for me. In order to justify our divorce, my ex shared her views that I was a narcissist with as many people as she could find.

    Here’s the flip side – get a diagnosis from a professional. No matter how much we read on the internet, we shouldn’t diagnose ourselves (or our spouses, former or otherwise) – and aren’t qualified to do so. DSM-IV TR, or whatever diagnostic tool is chosen, identifies behaviors – and there may be a million reasons for those behaviors, which may have nothing to do with a cobbled together diagnosis. (For my part, I willfully participated in counseling and repeated psychological evaluations, all of which eventually went back to her issues, which wasn’t the answer she wanted.)

    I ended up having to fight for custody and parenting rights – and I view that as trying to prevent my own child from being sucked into an unhealthy black hole – her family avoided conflict at any cost, lived lives of emotional immaturity, hid their feelings and then would bottle them up – then explode and run from relationships. One of the more frustrating things is that her background is in psychology, so she should know better. And I have no problem for trying to fight for the custodial relationship – but I would rather her just be healthy, be assertive, and practice good boundaries.

    So, while you are writing out your experience, please be mindful to do so with nuance, and that some may use your descriptions of your ex, and your interpretation of his behaviors, motives, etc. to justify actions that are unhealthy. I’ll generalize by saying that not every person who thinks their ex is a self-absorbed prick who does vengeful things to hurt them is actually right that that person may have a clinical disorder. Sometimes, it just means that they are hurt, they are angry, and its easier to think your ex is crazy, than broken, human and healing – just like we are.

    I would also recommend looking at the resources put out by the Arbringer Institute. It was a very helpful set of tools.

    Cheers!

    • Thank you, Christopher. I’m glad to hear that you had success for your children’s sake. I do understand that there are people who will read my experience and project it out to their ex’s, but I hope it will be minimal. I, too, wish my ex were emotionally healthy and able to support our children the way that they need. For years I had hope, but now I have acceptance that he can’t, and that is the unfortunate challenge he has to face in life. I also have come across psychologists who have strong narcissistic traits or other issues I can’t possibly understand- and probably shouldn’t be practicing.
      I once read that those of us who think about and give consideration to what we are being accused of doing are most likely the healthy/healthier ones – because those that are pathological really can’t fathom that they have issues themselves. In my experience, I have been told by experts in domestic abuse that the tests that are out there to diagnose personality disorders are less than reliable. I was also told to proceed with caution in that oftentimes those of use who have had to deal with abuse for years aren’t stable ourselves – we develop post-traumatic stress disorder. And hey… certainly there was weak enough boundaries to allow the issues to develop in the relationship to begin with, and to that end – I worked on myself and am still working on myself to see what else remains that I need to learn, develop, grow and heal.
      I also want to say that I truly believe in a ‘best parent’ perspective – not a gender driven one. I also understand and empathize that a judge’s job has got to be terribly difficult to determine in such a short time which parent, if not both, have the issues. I do not have the answer for the family court arena on how to ascertain this and make the right decisions for the children involved.
      Lastly- thanks for the tip on the Arbringer Institute. I’m headed that way now to check it out.
      All the best to you~

    • Paula says:

      Christopher,

      You make VERY good points. Only a skilled professional can make an absolute diagnosis, and people who end relationships shouldn’t accuse their significant ex-others of such an affliction in the heat of emotional upheaval. It’s destructive and childish.

      From my personal experience, I had no idea what I had escaped until many months AFTER I escaped. Even my counselors kept telling me to get over it and to move on. But what was I getting over and how could I move on? I initially started searching the internet for what was wrong with me. My ex had accused me of being bi-polar and being alcoholic and being depressed. I went to AA; I sought therapy. But I was never convinced I suffered from anything beyond depression.

      I started reading blogs written by people who suffer from bi-polar disorder. I didn’t recognize myself in them. So, I read as much as I could about the disorder, which led me to discover Cluster B disorders. I dissected myself repeatedly and wrote down my moods and feelings in hopes ONE of them would end up fitting. After all, everything was MY fault according to my ex, so I must have been too crazy to even recognize my own destructive behavior.

      Then I stumbled upon a blog written by a woman who had survived what she referred to as Love Fraud. It wasn’t until reading her blog that I actually considered that the sick one wasn’t me but had been my ex all along! The more I read and the more resources I investigated, I realized I was not alone.

      If it hadn’t been for women (and some men) brave enough to share and write their stories, I don’t know if I ever would have been able to start living again. Blogs like this, or any resource for that matter, will be abused by abusive people like your ex. But I believe that this blog and others like it can only help the men, women, and children who desperately want to escape, or at least cope with, the dungeon of a narcissist.

      Sincerely,
      Paula

      P.S. Coincidentally, when trying to save my relationship with my narcissistic ex, I suggested that we read Leadership and Self-Deception together published by the Arbinger Institute. He flat out refused to even consider the activity. Probably because I suggested it and not him. :)

  11. Kelly nardiello says:

    Wow this site is exactly what I have been looking for but didn’t think even existed. I currently share custody 50/50 which is my own fault because I have kept allowing myself over my daughters four years of life to be bullied into give him more and more time. We tried 50/50 for a couple months before we put it into writing and I could not honestly say that my daughter was not happier on this schedule when it was being followed exactly and her dad and I were being cordial and cooperative. But once I signed an informal order he completely flipped the switch. Not only is he not cordial, he is combative and situationally abusive in a way that is more personally directed towards me and his anger over a new relationship of mine not “crashing and burning” as he so described would be his absolute delight to get to watch happen to me. He has taken personal measures to disrupt my life (taking a car we bought together in his name he never put a dime in and can’t afford so is now requesting child support In order to keep this second car). He is also severely messing with y daughters schedule. He routinely picks her up from daycare on my days and plays mind games with me for hours before I know where he is and then makes me wait outside his house for 30 minutes or more and when I get angry puts on his good boy voice and says things like “this conversation is not appropriate for our daughter, you are abusing our daughter emotionally”. He makes important care and medical decisions without consulting me or even telling me; he keeps her past his alloted time though demands his time be honored. He refuses to answer emails that I send him regarding anything unless he needs something from me. I feel like he is trying to phase me out as the mother of my child and worse I feel I have absolutely no control over it. I desperately need to speak with someone who can help me discern what is right and wrong to do in a certain situations. Please if anyone reads this email me ASAP; I need help. Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Kelly
    Kelly.nardiello@gmail.com

    • Hi Kelly,
      I am sorry you are dealing with this – you have to have tremendous strength to deal with not knowing where your daughter is, when she is going to be returned, etc. First – think about the things that you can do something about and then focus on those. One – do you have an attorney that can advise you in your state, who totally understands domestic abuse. They don’t need to understand personality disorders but understanding the abuse/control dynamic should suffice. Calling agencies that help with those leaving domestic abuse relationships can help point you to attorneys that they recommend. I called a similar resource to come across my attorney. Second – record everything. The easiest way that I have found is to just write notes into a diary/calendar so I can go back through and make a list of times when my kids weren’t returned on time or other themes. We used this when we went to court (yes, I had a crappy judge, but in many cases this helps). Three – when you draw up an agreement or ask to revise what you have, use as much detail and non-negotiable language as possible. Make it very clear so that he cannot renegotiate everything and that law enforcement can follow it enough to figure out where your daughter should be and when. Try to stick to that schedule no matter what. Fourth – limit as much as you can the contact between you and your ex for the time being. Since he seems to be doing things to get even with you – the less that he thinks it bothers you, the better. If you can have him pick up or drop off your daughter from school or relatives or friends – then he doesn’t see you AND there is another accountable person in the picture. Have someone else pick her up when he is late returning her rather than you – because then someone else can testify to having to have to wait.
      I have to run right now, but wanted to jot down a few thoughts and get your comment posted in case someone else can see it and respond as well. I know the desperate feeling that you have – and how much it stinks. I’m praying for you and cheering you and your daughter on!

  12. HE Sidney says:

    This is a great resource and I appreciate you. I am desperately pouring over anything I can get my hands on… I have an 11 yr old boy, and I’ve been divorced from his dad since he was almost 3. He is a very popular and well liked person, and he puts on an air of being almost like a hippie. It’s hard to explain. He is a musician and is somewhat well known on a small level and people think he has hung the moon. Nobody could understand how I could want to leave this wonderful, sweet, caring, and cuddly man. They just don’t know him like I did. I started dating him when I was around 20, so I was pretty young and impressionable. When we were married, he was so controlling. He has this view that women in general are inferior, he talks about the fact that he is a genius and how he has always been told this since elementary school. He made all of the decisions, he would not usually hear me talk, but when I did get the floor he treated my views and ideas as if I was a little girl that he could just pat on the head. I had to cook, clean, do all of his packing (we traveled a lot) and if anything was left out of that suitcase all hell would break loose. This really started to wear on me as I got older and started to find out what was important to me, what my interests were, etc. He had no interest in learning about me. He did however forbid me from eating hard candy because he was afraid that I would choke. There were many weird little things like that I couldn’t do. I knew it was over when we brought our son home from the hospital. Not even a day in the house and he starts in on me telling me I was breastfeeding wrong, and he was really upset about it! Things just got worse. He smothers our boy now. He insists that my son have all of the same interests as him, he makes him study all the time and quizzes him. When I tell him that he is pushing him too far he tells me that he and my son have a relationship that is more special than most other peoples’ relationship with their children. I have also been informed that our son is a genius thanks to him and that he must have maximum time with our son to help him realize his genius. He is now planning to relocate to another state with our child and will not hear me at all that our boy has a little brother (1/2 brother) here and my whole family, not to mention ripping him out of school as he’s about to enter middle school which is such a hard age in my opinion to have to be in a completely new place not knowing anyone. We are having our trial soon, and so far it seems to me like he is going to win. I am full of sadness and despair. I sometimes just want to jump off of a bridge!! It’s so good for me to learn about narcissists because I’ve always been made to believe that I’m crazy.

    • Hi there – I have a couple thoughts for you regarding relocation and the court case. First – think about the term “self-fulfilling prophecy”- and how people will see things come true in their life that they fear. Since you don’t want to go down that path – try your best to think positively about the outcome of the case, envision in your mind each day how the judge will say that he rules with the mother. You are your own power – just believe – this can happen!
      Second – I’m not sure where you are, but in my state, when a parent wants to relocate, they have to argue why it is best for the child. Not the parent (i.e. ‘parent has a new job’), but why it is in the child’s best interest. What you are doing is clearly and simply pointing out why it is in your son’s best interest to remain where he is: same school, difficult age to transition, family and friends there supporting him. Really- in these simple terms – you have the best argument. Judges would rather keep things as is than change things, when it is working for the child.
      Third – For thoughts on how to stand up to a borderline or narcissistic personality in court (your ex sounds like he may have some borderline as well) – try this book by Randi Kreger and Bill Eddy, “Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. I know you’re already divorced, but the principles still apply. !!
      Be strong!! You can do it

  13. ME says:

    Thank you SO Much for your blog. It was like I was reading about mine and my daughter’s life. I think the best advice I’ve gotten so far is to remember that it is “His version of HIS truth”. I’m almost 10 years in the relationship and been divorced and away from him for almost 4 years. Our daughter is almost 4 and although he didn’t want her or me after she was born, he has fought me for her every day since. A counselor once told me that “he gets pleasure from her pain”. How sick is that? The court systems and the guardians and the people that work to help divorcing couples NEED to be better educated on personality disorders. I’m still trying to figure out how to set good boundaries and how to communicate with him as of course, everything is MY Fault. Thank you for including God and the Bible verses in here as well! I’ll add you and your children to my prayers! THANK YOU and KEEP THE FAITH!

    • Ditto on the prayers in return! I wish I could understand that strange attraction that personality disordered/psychopathic people have in staying connected in a negative way. It’s down right scary. I can’t agree more that everyone “in the system” who is in contact with divorcing couples need to be better educated about it – and that’s one item which is constantly showing up in my prayers. I hope that there is a day when it is very clear that the very small percentage of divorcing couples that wind up in the court room are there not because they are “high conflict” but because one (or both) have personality disorders – and we, as a society, have a means of quickly and accurately assessing who does and then protecting the normal parent and/or the kids. Take care of you and your precious little girl.

  14. Alix says:

    I can relate on so many levels to your blog! I was searching online about co parenting with a narcissist, and came across your blog. I am at the beginning of what seems like an eternity of a battle with my soon to be ex…I feel like the only one dealing with such a horri me nightmare…funny how the true colors truly shine when going through a divorce! My x was uninvolved as far as parenting,to fighting me for custody because he “refused to sign anything that makes him look less of a father” ugh!
    Anyway, nice to see that I am not alone, and comforting to see someone finding peace…great blog!

    • Oh what a perfect topic… the “image” of a narcissist. Is it about being a real, substantive parent – or is it the image of the perfect family life that matters? And when that image of the ‘perfect family life’ that he was portraying to himself and others dissolves… then of course he has to defend that he was a perfect dad and it wasn’t his fault it is falling apart. Many people told me that over and over again guys like that will fight for the time for their children and then after they win it… they consistently fail to follow through on it, cancel their time, etc. Perhaps you will find that same situation happen for you and your kids :)

  15. Bobby says:

    Looking for help for me and my wife in dealing with her ex. Someone she can talk to. Her ex is undiagnosed but meets all the characteristics of NPD. It is a nightmare to say the least. Can you send me an email with your contact information?

  16. Amy says:

    Natalia,
    I was so glad to find this blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I am amazed how people in a relationship with a narcissist have such similar experiences. It has been so frustrating to go through the divorce process and listen to the therapists, lawyers, judges, experts, etc. explain how the “co-parenting” relationship is supposed to work. I truly believe that traditional “co-parenting” is impossible with a narcissist which is why I am so glad to hear your experiences. Dealing with someone with this personality disorder is a different animal and I don’t think that people understand completely unless they have had to do it. In fact, I am still surprised frequently by the awful things that my ex-husband does and says. I can’t even talk to him about the simplest of issues regarding my child without him trying to manipulate the situation. The sad thing is that even though we are now officially divorced, I believe that he will continue his attempts at bullying and controlling my son and I for years to come. It will never be over.

    Please keep writing. I need all the advice I can get on how to protect my son and my sanity when dealing with my ex-husband.

    • Bonnie says:

      Amy, I totally agree with you. Co-parenting with a narcissist is impossible. And yet, it is expected. So frustrating. You are not alone. It is as if you read my mind. Keep your chin up! Bonnie

  17. Wendy says:

    Natalia, Thank you for sharing your experience. I was married to a narcissist and we have a ten year old son. Unfortunately, even though we divorced 7 years ago, I have not set good boundaries with him until recently. He still doesn’t follow the rules in the court order. He thinks he is above the law and that he is more intelligent than any therapist, doctor, lawyer or judge. He has told me, he thinks people are intimidated by how smart he is. I’ve tried to modify visitation because he brainwashes our son, and doesn’t care for him properly but I couldnt afford to take it to trial. It is really hard to deal with. I look forward to reading your posts. Happy New Year!

  18. Thank you for your comments! It helps me remember why I had started this and to return to working on it. I’m sorry to hear that you have to deal with the same – and happy to report that I am finding more and more internal peace despite the situation. I hope that you and others can do the same.

  19. Evelyn says:

    Hi there. I just wanted to thank you for this blog and website. I will be returning. I’m going through a horrible experience trying to separate and divorce from my husband who sounds exactly like yours, without harming the kids. In the 10 minutes I’ve scanned your site, I feel like I am reading about myself. Thanks for sharing. I hope you continue to post.

  20. Kiwi girl says:

    your experiences with your ex seem like a carbon copy of mine! I have one child, and a narcissistic ex husband that seems hell bent on destroying me and our child. The court system in NZ is similar by the sounds as they are so focused on what is “fair” for the parent rather than what is in the best interests of the child. I have the added worry of our boy being diagnosed with Aspergers sydrome and dyslexia and he is struggling at school. I now find mountains to climb in every direction. Firstly with the ex who is a manipulative, abusive and angry individual who is constantly causing pain, stress and kaos at every opportunity, the court system which will not look at the specific circumstances of a very anxious and frightened little boy and a school system that is woefully inadequate to support the very intense needs of my son. Add to this the fact that I must work full time to support me and my child (I get no financial support at all) I relate to your blogs and find near identical situations IN EVERY SINGLE ONE! Like the phone call with-holding (classic example). I have also found much strength from learning about the personality dissorder and from reading about other peoples experiences. It does arm me with tools to help cope. I have often found myself wanting to just give up and move away but then I look at my wonderful loving little boy and relise that I could never give up fighting to be the positive difference in his life.

    I am also very blessed with wonderfully supportive parents – without who I could not do what I do every day and a wonderful partner (who has the patience of a saint) and a smattering of understanding and compassionate teachers who keep trying to make a difference.

    Please keep writting your blog as sharing does definitely help to ease the burden and reading it helps give me strength.

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