(First in a 7 part series)
by Zack’s Mom
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin
I have been parenting a child with a narcissistic ex-spouse for almost ten years. My ex embodies all the worst traits one would expect to see in a narcissistic abuser: he is entitled, reflexively dishonest, lacking in empathy, insistent on getting his own way, and contemptuous of anything I feel, express, or need.
I used to think that if I were kind to him, he would cease to treat me this way, but about four years ago I let go of that expectation and gave up on every improving my relationship with him. Ironically, that kind of letting go made me stronger.
I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time describing my narcissist, although I will add to the list that he is very smart and very wealthy, which means he can afford lawyers and helping professionals who have, in the past, made my life miserable. But with each passing year, I am stronger and healthier, and moving toward what my therapist calls the best revenge: living a good life in spite of him.
I want to share here (perhaps in part to prove to myself how far I have come) whatever wisdom I have gained, in the hopes that it might help another sufferer.
Life can be rich, fulfilling and even joyful (though the grief is always accessible) despite having a narcissistic ex, and we can raise strong children. They will have their work cut out for them, but by taking care of ourselves, we can help them to stay grounded and help them develop the skills to have a better life.
The reality is that the journey consists of daily steps, and the only way to get through is to accept this truth. The situation cannot be fixed overnight. Your life’s work, and mine, is to use the experience to find out how strong we really are.
I have come to see my narcissist as life’s greatest teacher. If I can live well in spite of him, I can handle anything!
Tomorrow Part 2