“You don’t have to stay…”

…but I do.”

She didn’t say it as an accusation, not quite…just a hint of recrimination as we were driving to the drop off. But my guilt made it feel that way.

And I do feel guilty for not being there as a buffer. Initially, she wanted us back together again, because that’s what kids do. That and her father would play videos of happy times together and tell her how he loves me and doesn’t know why I left.

But even without that manipulation, she would have wanted us to get back together again.

Eventually, though, her reasons for this began to change. It wasn’t just that she wanted us together again. As she got older and started seeing sides to her father that she hadn’t seen before, the reasons for my leaving became clearer to her. And now she wanted me to come back so she wouldn’t have to be alone with him. So that I could protect her, be a buffer to his emotional abuse, when he wasn’t being a “Fun Pal Dad”.

We talked about this the other day. I told her I would not have been able to protect her if I had stayed. I said I was losing so much of myself, there would have been nothing of me left to protect anyone.

And who would protect her from me? I asked her.

I told her when a woman is in a situation like that, she gets filled with anger, and that it would have spilled out over her. I told her I could already see that happening when I left. It’s one of the things that gave me strength to leave.

Moving out enabled me to create a safe space. Yes, she has to be with him for much longer periods than she likes, but she’s not with him all the time, and I do have her more. My home is a respite, a nurturing place where she is respected as a human being. She can have a taste of what it should be like.

No walking on eggshells. Here, she can be renewed.


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8 Responses to “You don’t have to stay…”

  1. Survivor says:

    I have told my kids about me leaving was a safe thing too but I have extreme guilt over it. When my daughter was 5 she said she wanted her mommy and daddy to get back together. Her then 7 year old brother heard the conversation. He asked her if she remembered what happened to mom and she said no. My son said that dad was not nice to mom and it wasn’t good for her to be at the house. Now I tried to hide everything from them so it took the wind out of me when I heard his words. This weekend my oldest said, “Mom I can just be free and have fun when I am with you.” I really hope they can see normal and not be a statistic of NPD.

  2. PhoenixRising says:

    I understand. I’ve also had to deal with my daughter’s anger for leaving her, even though intellectually, she knows it’s the best I can do. I do have her more often than her father, but she really hates having to be with him at all.

    It’s been very hard. I do feel guilty when she’s with him. But I know I would be totally worthless to her if I remained.

    At least this way, I’m regaining parts of myself and I can provide her with a safe place, an authentic and validating place when she’s with me. Which would have been impossible if I stayed, because the life would have been sucked out of me, and i would have been like one of those left over shells of a body in the spider’s web totally unable to protect her.

  3. Mr Survivor says:

    In Survivor’s case I firmly believe that her ex with NPD would have killed her and the kids wouldn’t have had a mother at all. The more she pulled away the more violent he got. It’s the same situation I saw with my NPD father except he was the one leaving. However he still was more violent with my mother at the end.

    One thing to remember about someone with NPD is that you can tell yourself that it’s better to stay with them; for the kids; because they will change; because they will be violent if you leave. However when they are done with you, they will throw you away like the trash and it very well could be violent.

    Protect yourself and get out as soon as you can. That is the only way to deal with these people.

  4. PhoenixRising says:

    Oh, wow…I just realized you know Survivor. Just thought it was a cool common name thing…your comments are well taken.

    [Just want readers to know that Survivor did verify to me that Survivor and Mr. Survivor do know each other, and it’s cool. 🙂 ]

  5. Mr Survivor says:

    One more comment on not staying. I can tell you that the kids see more than you think they see and sometimes you don’t realize the impact of what you know they saw. Seeing my father sitting on top of my mother in the hall way hitting her then saying “Jane, get off of me” when he saw me walk into the hall left a huge mark on me. This and the years of having him physically and emotionally abuse me made me despise the type of people who would do things like this.

    I have to say that it hurt a lot when my ex-wife (who has a different personality disorder) said she was always afraid I was going to hit her. It kind of proved that she really didn’t know me or understand what I had gone through as a child.

    Anyway that is just one example of how my NPD father impacted me. I will submit more of the story sometime soon.

    PhoenixRising Reply:

    That is SO true. Kids do see a lot more than you think. The impact runs a lot deeper and the consequences more dire than we can imagine, when kids are exposed to the crazy making dynamics of narcissism. That example is a classic example of gas lighting, when the obvious is denied and you are asked, no demanded to totally abandon your ability to discern reality and accept someone else’s version. It truly is crazy making.

    If you’d like to submit a story as an article, email me, Mr. Survivor. Or you can just post bits and pieces as comments. Either way, I appreciate you sharing your story. It’s not always easy, but it can be very freeing.

  6. Survivor says:

    Mr. Survivor- The thing you did was allow your NPD experiences to positively impact your interactions with your children and stepchildren. That allows them to experience a male role model that nurtures them and unconditionally loves them. You show them that there is a choice in how they interact with others. The positive male role model is the one thing I cannot be for my children so I appreciate you giving them a chance to experience it.

  7. PhoenixRising says:

    Oh, yes, how important a positive role model is. And having that contrast, to see those two choices before them, to be able to experience even if for three months out of the year, a whole other way of being is a life saver – literally.

    Any source of unconditional love can be the turning point in a young child’s life.

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