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How To Survive Divorcing a Narcissistic Asshole
In the Order You’ll Face Them
(I say guy, could be girl)
If you are like me, you are heading in to a divorce with someone you suspect is a Bad Guy, perhaps a narcissist. Trust me when I tell you: If you suspect it, it is true. And, even if it’s not true, it won’t hurt to take the following self-preserving actions.
- Freeze all bank accounts, lines of credit, credit cards and retirement funds. If it can be frozen, freeze it. Do Not simply remove your name. Why? On the off chance that you are divorcing a Bag Guy/narcissist, he doesn’t give a shit what happens to you financially. In fact, he feel 100% justified spending anything he can get his hands on, because you took advantage of him; you were the problem. I did not freeze anything until 2.5 years in, and I’m paying the price. Perhaps you view this as an over-the-top, overtly hostile move and are hesitant to take it. I Get It. When it was recommended to me that I do this I thought “he’s going to hate me and make it worse than it already is”. Here is the Truth: If you are divorcing a narcissist, He Already Hates You. So, freeze the accounts for 2 reasons: 1) it will minimize the financial damage and 2) it will speed up the process. He’s going to need money to create his new life. In freezing all assets you are forcing him to negotiate with you. &, when you start thinking “oh no, what will he do to me; I’m scared” Trust Me: He’s already planning how to screw you. He already has a plan for jerking you around every step of the way. So at least take your money out of the equation. And, please understand – even if you were a stay at home mom, or like me – chronically ill – It Is Your Money Too. Leaving the house every day for 10 hours “working” does not make him more valuable than you. He is able to do that Because of You. Don’t doubt your worth.
- 2) Do not give him anything he hasn’t asked for. He left his cd collection? Don’t pack it up for him! He left all his cookbooks and his shot glass collection. Great!! If he’s walked away, you get to sell them. Don’t give them to him. He will stuff them in a box in the basement of his new girls house and never look at them again. You, on the other hand, can get money selling them. Money you need, and most likely deserve.
- Don’t push him to see the children. This one is hard. You are a normal parent and, as such, are concerned that your children not be damaged or feel punished. Trust me: if he hasn’t asked to see them, don’t bring it up. If you force him to take them they will feel punished! Children inherently know who wants them around and who doesn’t. It is not your job to make him a responsible parent. You might also be sick and tired of being his babysitter, always on call whenever he wants to screw around. I get it. I’ve been my ex’s babysitter for 25 years. Feel angry if you need to but put the kids 1st. You’ll be happy you did in the long run.
- Do not fall into the “blended family” trap. You are not a “blended family”, you are an abandoned wife. Yes, it is unpleasant to think of yourself that way, but it is imperative that you do. He wants you to be his “friend” right now. After all, you wouldn’t screw over a friend, right? In fact, you’d do just about anything for a friend. That’s what he is counting on. I know how painful this is but you must let him go. It will hurt. It will suck. You will feel lost, embarrassed, scared, helpless and all sorts of other crappy things. Feel it. Accept it. Experience it. Bypassing this pain will leave you angry. Bypassing these feelings will ensure that you are the same person he left. Don’t do that. You are better than the person he turned you into, and now is your time to grow. Take the growing pains and trust that eventually they will subside, and left behind will be a person you really freaking like!! It is so worth it.
- Stop accepting the script he assigned you. Sit down and give some serious thought to what your “role” was in your marriage. Write about it, talk to others about it, do some serious soul searching. I’m willing to bet that what you have come to believe as your faults are actually his faults, projected onto you. Think back to who you were before you got married. Is that who you are today? If not, why? Chances are because he reinvented you in the way he needed, to keep you where he wanted you. You are not perfect, nor do you need to be. But you are infinitely stronger, happier, healthier than he made you out to be. Burn the script he wrote for you and rewrite your own script. Now is your time to be who ever you want to be. Want to be a hippie? Go for it! Want to be a writer, a florist, a day care provider, a mini Martha Stewart? Try them all on and go for which ever one feels best. You are in charge now, not him.
- Breath. Wait 24 hours before reacting to anything. Don’t respond to him, your attorney, your family or your friends, until you have thought it over for 24 hours. You are raw right now. You want to scream, and cry and carry on. Of course you do!! You are human! You would never do to another what he is doing to you. Take a good hard look at who is doing what. Do not fall into the trap he’ll lay in which he is the victim and you are the victimizer. Also, as hard as it may be, keep some people at arm’s length. Right now you are an emotional cripple. Some people can handle this. Many though will hold this against you. Those who are unable to accept their own emotions will forever treat you like a child if you allow them access to your inner most pain. There are 2 types of intelligence: intellectual and emotional. If you are surrounded by people who lack emotional intelligence they will become extremely uncomfortable with your pain. In their discomfort they will try to “fix” you. They will try to make you understand that you have to “get it together”, “get over it”, “stop over reacting”. Don’t fall for it. You are experiencing a death right now. Your marriage, and the life you thought you had, is dead. Those with emotional intelligence will allow for this emotion. Stick with those who say “of course you are fucking furious! I’m furious too!”
- Let your inner control freak bitch take over. You have put up with shit for years. If you are naturally inclined to doubt yourself, find a strong tv or literature character and channel her. I use Wonder Woman. I even have cuff bracelets I wear to remind me that I don’t have to absorb every stone thrown at me. Don’t play Nice. He isn’t going to Play Nice. While this will feel uncomfortable, if you practice it enough you will find yourself easily saying “no, that doesn’t work for me. Here’s how this is going to go”. And trust me, when you can finally utter those words without self-doubt or fear, you are ready to embrace the new you.
- Stop justifying your actions. You are the one and only person with all of the facts. Those around you, your family and friends, will hear most of the facts but few will remember them. It is the rare person who can listen to your heartbreak, embrace it as their own, and remember every tiny, tedious detail of your life. It is hard work to do this for another. There are some who will do this for the first few months, or the first year. Suddenly they will begin to forget what you’ve told them. You’ll find yourself having to explain and justify what you are doing. You can love these people, but take a step back from what you share with them. Look around and you will find people who you never thought would be there 100%, but actually remember each little facet of your ordeal. If you are like me you’ll be surprised to find out this is your cousin, not the immediate family member you thought would always have your back. Remember in all of this, there are 2 components: the emotional and the factual. Look to those people in your life who can embrace both. Not everyone can, and don’t be surprised when you find the most support where you thought you wouldn’t.
- As time goes on, modify how much advice you seek. As you process your pain, as you put distance between your ex, as you move forward in the legal process, you will find that you suddenly have your own thoughts. All of the sudden it won’t matter what your brother thinks, all that will matter is what you think. When you get to this place you will initially feel terrible. All of these people who were there for you every step of the way are now just pissing you off. Now that you have begun reinventing yourself you are finding that you have actual opinions. Opinions that are your own, that are based in the facts of you life in a way very few have access to. You will find yourself saying things like “I don’t mean to offend you but……”, or “I’m getting so tired of having to explain/justify this….”. There will be some who take offense to this, and will insist on monitoring your every move. There will be others who understand that you have grown and their role is now different. It’s as if you were a child and you’ve suddenly grown up. Those who allow this growth, accept it, celebrate it, are your go to people. Those who don’t trust you…..not so much. They are the ones who enjoy being superior to you. More put together, more intelligent, less emotional. Don’t ditch those people, just rely on them less. FInd the people that say “gosh, I totally get that you don’t want my advice, you want to do your own thing, and I’m ok with that and want to help you”. These are your peeps.
- Believe. Accept that it is only in surviving the bullshit in life that we become better people, and you are on your way to being the person you were meant to be. Corny, I know. Two years ago I scoffed at those who stated this. Unfortunately, it is true. If you walk through the pain you will come out on the other side stronger, happier and simply better than you’ve ever been. This will take time and it will be exhausting. There will come a day though, when you look at your life and think “holy shit…..I could never have dreamed of a life like this – it’s really good!”. Not to say it will be all puppy dogs and roses. You will still have a boatload of shit to wade through that most never experience. In wading through all that shit though you will learn to stand strong, tall and unflappable. If you are at all like me you’ll now be saying “bring it. I can handle it. & – don’t fuck with me, or you’ll regret it”. For most that would seem an unproductive attitude. For us, it is the best attitude we will ever have. Embrace it!