Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 3

(Third of a 7 part series)
part 1, 2

by Zack’s Mom

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin

2. This brings up a related point. Let the narcissist tell the story of who he is.

Left to his own devices, his behavior over time will reveal his dishonesty and contempt to those who might be otherwise charmed.

My ex-husband accused me for years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. In the beginning, I would react angrily and sometimes hysterically, and in the process I looked crazy–which is exactly what he wanted.

I have now taken the Ronald Reagan “there he goes again” approach. When the allegations are made (and they are) I sigh and give whomever a knowing look (the judge, the parenting coordinator, my son’s therapist) “there he goes again” look.

If they ask questions, I answer calmly. (Lots of therapy under my belt has enabled me to roll with getting triggered, rather than acting it out.) Now that he has made these accusations a couple dozen times or so, and I have not been exposed as abusive, he has created a narrative about himself as someone who lies and lobs false allegations.

The judges, parenting coordinator, and therapist have begun to see him for what he is and have lost patience with his provocative tactics.

It’s very Zen: let his own aggressive energy be his undoing: when he runs at you, don’t put up your fists. Instead, step aside and let him crash.

Tomorrow Part 4

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11 Responses to Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 3

  1. PhoenixRising says:

    This is very wise, for the greatest weapon a narcissist or any manipulator can use against you is your own emotions.

    They count on your ability to see what’s going on, and getting upset, giving the appearance that you’re out of control, crazy. Your pointing out what’s true, because it’s negative, can backfire and make you look like you’re making false accusations or are petty or bitter.

    To remain centered, to not let them push your buttons, but just let them reveal who they are to others is probably one of the most difficult thing to do, but the most powerful.

    Sometimes you need to bring something to someone’s attention, it’s appropriate. But however you do it, following the advice here – being Zen – in your stance and demeanor, to always be mindful of how you are conveying who you are is not only important, but often crucial in making all the difference. difference.

  2. Silent4years says:

    I have to say this blog really touched me. I have been trying to divorce a N for about 8 months. Its driving me mentally over the edge. I am on the defense for every aspect of what happened in our marriage, the lies are unbelievable.

    What is striking me most is that people… family and friends believe him. No one asks my story. I feel as if I have to defend these lies on a consistent basis. That is, until I read this.

    You are absolutely right. I need to be calm and no reactive to his behavior and slander. I have joined this site today, and will be using this as a form of reminding myself that I am not alone, there are others that have gone through or are going through the same thing.

    Currently I am in a custody battle in which my “ex” has deamed me psycologically incapable of parenting. I have to now deal with this on top of the mounting bills he left, the foreclosure, the embarassement of his lying. Telling people I have done or am doing what he has actually done or is doing. I am living a daily, sometimes hourly nightmare.

    Thank you all for telling your stories and giving me advice on how to deal with this.

  3. PhoenixRising says:

    Oh, Silent4Years, I’m so sorry to hear what your N is putting you through, but am glad to see by your user name, the implication that while you were silent 4 years, you are now speaking up. And that’s fantastic!

    I’m really glad you’ve found us here. I know it’s a long and lonely battle, and I wish you strength and grace.

    What saved me wasn’t the articles by experts, though there is one author, who really turned on the lights for me – Patricia Evans, who wrote “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”. Didn’t deal with narcissism per se, but really helped to delineate just how gas lighting and invalidating works.

    Anyway, I digress.

    I just wanted to say that despite some good books I’ve read, my greatest source of help, inspiration and validation were other women – most of whom I never met and never will meet. Women in support forums and email lists who were brave and generous enough to share their stories.

    They saved my life not to mention my sanity.

    In all fairness there can be abuse in some of those communities as well. You do have to be careful. But as long as you respect your own boundaries and those of others, there’s a wealth of information and support to be had.

    I know the experiences of others helped me immeasurably. It’s why this blog is here.

    Do keep in touch. 🙂

  4. junglegeese says:

    Wow, I just found this site yesterday and am extremely grateful that I did! I have a wonderful family and support system at church, but none of them really gets it. I found so much to identify with in these Lessons Learned and Depth of Damage, and the comments. My daughter’s father and I (thank goodness we were never married) went to court over parenting time last July, after years of back and forth over PT issues, and he has picked apart the stipulation looking for reasons to fight. I didn’t realize that thriving on conflict was part of the narcissism, but it makes sense.

  5. tt7 says:

    This site is amazing, is there a forum where we can dialogue for real?

  6. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi tt7, there used to be one that I really liked, but it’s currently closed to new members, although you can read. You just can’t post. voicelessness message board

    There have been other forums I used to belong to years ago, when I first separated, but they’ve either closed or reformed into something else. I’m not aware anymore.

    Right now, this blog is the only place that I can run…and not very well, I may add!

    But if you want, you can always post as an author. Email me if you’re willing to share your story. mommawolf07 AT gmail.com

  7. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi JungleGeese, and welcome to the blog! Having a support in your family and friends is wonderful, but it really is difficult to understand what’s going on unless you’ve been there.

    That’s why educating yourself is SO important!

  8. cathib says:

    Great advice, but the hardest thing every to do!!!! Often I wish I wasn’t so strong so I didn’t have to tolerate his terrible behaviour!!!!!!

  9. PhoenixRising says:

    Welcome, cathib!You’re absolutely right. It is the very hardest thing to do, because you’re human, you have feelings and it’s normal behavior to react to such an injustice as false accusations emotionally.

    BUT you can’t do it. Especially in court. Because the N will use it against you and your own emotional state will betray you in front of those who have the power to make decisions.

    It goes beyond tolerating. It’s being smart. It’s a tactical move against a manipulator. Don’t see it as tolerating. See it as empowering. See it as fighting for the safety of your child.

    It makes it easier to handle, when what you’re really like to do is smack that lying face.

    Well, do it in your meditation if you need to. Get it out of your system, so you can be clearer in person.

    I know I tried and failed more often than succeeded, until I finally did, and it does get easier. It really does…though it may not ever be easy, per se.

    Just think of all the inner strength you will have developed in the process! 🙂

  10. rachelrm says:

    I just found this site today. I have been parenting with an N for 14 years. We have been divorced for 10 years. I had heard definitions and descriptions of an N before, but never looked into it further until his most recent attack. This site has been so helpful and it is so encouraging to know Im not alone, or crazy, and that Im on the right track in learning how to respond to his games. I think his most recent attack was actaully sparked by a lack of conflict….he craves it and if we go without communicating for a while, he seeks to pick a fight. This lst time I was shocked, it seemed to come out of the blue and was a painful blow, and he was able to get me very upset and seemed very pleased, but not again. It may mean i loose the battle of the moment, which could mean time with my son. This is very painful, but my son KNOWS I love him and want to see him and that is what matters in the end.

    PhoenixRising Reply:

    Welcome to this blog!

    Interesting point, needing to pick a fight. If things are calm, an N will pick a fight. If things are going well, an N will pick a fight. Happiness seems to be threatening. If everyone is happy, then an N is not in control. People are satisfied with the situation. N’s seem to be happiest when those around them are unsettled or insecure, when there’s some kind of conflict the N can play in one direction of another.

    I comment you on knowing what’s worth fighting for. What you think you’re fighting about with an N is rarely ever the issue anyway. You might believe it’s about this issue or that, but it almost always boils down to a matter of control and the N’s entitlement to it.

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