On the Precarious Front

By Reflector

“There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.” ~ Jane Austen

On the “precarious” front this week, my daughter’s mother (MDM) called. She wanted to talk, yet she let on as if she hadn’t been served the divorce papers. It was only later that my lawyer informed me she had received them. I therefore had no clue where the conversation was going. I was puzzled by her unusually receptive tone and her considerate, yet pointed questions. In brief MDM wanted to know if I would reconsider the whole divorce decision and seek counselling with her… etc, etc.


My encounters with MDM require close scrutiny of my motivations. I don’t know which is louder – the external critical parent voice that comes from her, my own or both? As much as I analyze and re-analyze, it’s impossible to come to one hundred percent certainty about another person.

As Austen says, “Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.” However, in spite of human limitations, discernment is necessary and one of the reasons I journal is to be able to explore conflictive issues in a safe environment.

How is it possible for MDM to bear grudges so long (recurrent themes in her letters about how bad my family treated her, etc.,) then, make it appear all is forgotten? How do you approach someone who is combative and tenacious about her sense of her rights one moment, then charming and cuddling then next? When your trust has been eroded by someone’s taking-advantage-track record, how can you be sure what she is saying is true or pretext?

MDM is certain she is right about what she does on DD’s behalf, yet expects me to shoulder the majority of the financial burden. She says there are no jobs for her and that I must accept this reality. How can you measure truth? I want to cut my losses as much as possible when it comes to this legal settlement, yet I also realize it’s important to DD’s emotional wellbeing to maintain the lifestyle she has become accustomed to. The result is I feel divided.

One of the disturbing dynamics of the marriage that I will not forget was the feeling that the more I did for MDM, the less she’d do for herself. It became an embedded pattern and I as the enabler felt uncomfortable with this role, yet did not have the tools to change it.

I’ve also had bouts of heartsickness these days. This is one side effect of having contact with MDM. It reopens the wounds. No matter how ambiguous the marriage had been with the mixture of I-love-you/I-hate-you messages, the move toward divorce isn’t easy.

While separation seems like a suspended interval of time out, divorce feels like death. The person who once played center stage is strangely dead to you, yet alive in your memory or subconscious. As you know our mind plays tricks with memories of deceased people, idealizing them once they are out of sight and you no longer see their flaws up close…

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6 Responses to On the Precarious Front

  1. PhoenixRising says:

    Oh, Reflector! My heart goes out to you. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Mine did the same thing. Stubbornly refused to go to counseling, said it was me who needed it, not him, steadfastly refused to “give in”, and actually told me he knew that’s what I wanted, that I wanted him to go to marriage counseling with me, and there was absolutely no way he would ever do that.

    That’s when I told him I finally got the money for the divorce and was going to file. The VERY next day I get an email from him stating that he thought I had a problem with anger and that we should go into counseling together for the sake of our child.


    He had a year, a year to go into counseling with me, and after that year, came out and told me, no way! And then, when I “call his bluff” (only I wasn’t calling any bluff, because to me it wasn’t a game – I was being upfront with him) he suddenly has this brilliant idea we should go into counseling for our daughter???

    But you see, Reflector, it’s a game. To a narcissist, it’s all a game. When to bluff, when to call a bluff, when to fold…it’s all calculated, judging to see how far he can push, what he can use to leverage, how long he can hold out – what’s in it for him, whether it’s to his benefit or not. Not whether it’s the right thing to do.

    You know, Reflector, it really doesn’t matter to me anymore whether he’s being upfront or whether he’s lying or partially lying or how he compares with other people or what the national rate is for lying.

    I don’t care.

    The bottom line is not where he’s coming from, but where I’m coming from, how I feel and what’s best for me and my child.

    So what if he’s sincere? He’s been sincere many times. That’s not the problem. The problem is that his sincerity lasts until the wind shifts, and then he’s just as sincere in whatever meets his needs then – the hell with you!

    You can’t base ANY decisions on a person like that. You have to make your decisions on what’s right for you and for your child.

    Be gentle with your heart. It’s those idealizations that we mourn for, long for…and the memory of those is exactly what narcissists use to manipulate us. They know what we are in love with – who they fooled us into believing they were.

    Being with a narcissist is like a night in the bar. They are the ones who look good in that dim night light, but a real shocker in the plain light of day.

    And you wind up thinking, “What was I thinking of???”

    Let the light of truth shine on her. Look at her directly. You won’t be so heart sick with that view.

    It gets better, truly. It’s been years since I left him, but I tell you, I just found out about a stunt he pulled, and was absolutely mortified. I didn’t believe it.

    But then it was shown to me to be true, and I thought, man! I still give him the benefit of the doubt, but I’m still proving myself wrong in my over estimation of him – even as it’s at a REAL low bar.

    So, after getting over my initial reaction, I saw him in yet an even more truthful light, and again, I found myself really, really thankful I had left him. Talk about a validation!

    So hang in there. We’re rooting for ya 🙂

    P.S. As for your daughter, as long as you don’t plunge her into poverty, I question the need to maintain the lifestyle she’s used to. Life doesn’t work that way. Just my opinion.

  2. Survivor says:

    It is a game. My current and non NPD husband and I talk about the shifting of the wind of my exNPD husband. We call it Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. He is getting remarried in the spring so we thought his good mood would last at least until then. For some reason, the wind shifted. I spoke to the kids. They were saying that their father was not letting them get food. No, the authorities will not do anything since there is food in the pantry. Been there, done that. My one child decided to sneak food into her food and hid so she could eat. I am thinking to myself, great, he is going to give her an eating disorder. This is not the first time this has happened. My other child who has not heard the previous conversation gets on the phone and said he was told he couldn’t have food either. He told me while doing his homework earlier, he had to use the bathroom. His father made him get out of the bathroom before he was done because he had to finish his homework. My child soiled himself. He seemed so sad when he told me. Of course I was devastated and cried when I got off the phone. It is a helpless feeling when you can’t protect your children.How can someone who says he loves them, be so cruel. This child is even the favored one to his father. Later that night, my child kept texting me saying he missed me. The children would never admit to these things because they are fearful of their father. Of course these incidents occur when the fiancee is not around. I hate to be negative, but the good mood the NPD has will change in a heartbeat. The ones who are the closest get it the most. Sorry to go on with my response but I just had to let this out. Remember, out of a bad divorce comes life. You find yourself again and don’t live under someone’s identity. I just need to find a way to save my children.

  3. Survivor says:

    Wish me luck everyone. The kids are with me for the summer which has basically been great besides a few behavioral transitions. The big test is when I have to share my kids’ birthdays with the exNPD. We will see what tomorrow brings on the other end. At least my husband will be there. Having a support system will make the day a little smoother. The exNPD’s new wife will be there so that will help as well. The ex must be on good behavior or she may find out what really lies under the exterior.:)

  4. strongwoman2011 says:

    Reflector, I have been feeling my own bout of heartsickness. I feel cheated out of the family unit that I wanted. I am a new mom to a 9 week old boy.my ex NPD started sleeping with another woman when I was 6 months pregnant. I suspect that he was never faithful. Its difficult being a single mom but it gets easier every day. I am seeing a therapist to cope with my feelings and set boundaries. NPD don’t respect boundaries so this is difficult. Therapy is helping me reclaim the confident vivacious woman I was when I met Ex NPD. It helps me to remember how inadequate I felt with NPD. Everything they do is about “them” not us or their children. I would be cautious about her attempts to reconcile with you. Is it genuine? Or is it to see if you still love her. My ex NPD, regardless of his involvement with other women. Continues to say and do things to gauge my feelings and play with my emotions. ” We always talked about living in another country, let’s take our son and live in Ecuador for a year, the door is still open for you and me ” or he will walk around my home with his shirt off. Tell me his relationship isn’t serious and he isn’t in love. I am aware that all those behaviors are about his ego and attention. Just be careful. I also wanted to update the group. Unfortunately, my ex NPD continues to come to my home to see his son. He has not complied with the schedule. I am documenting everything so I have a strong case for full custody. I am feeling stronger to fight.

  5. marysue77 says:

    Strongwoman2011, I feel like I am reading my life. My ex NPD cheated on me when i was seven months pregnant, denied it, and I believed him. We started therapy immediately and he promised me in front of the therapist that he would never see her again or do anything like that ever again. When our son was 6 weeks old, I found him and the woman in a coffee shop…she was holding my son. I filed for divorce the next day. I consider myself a strong, indepentdent woman and have been divorced now for 1 year and a half. I would love to tell you that the decision was easy and that I stood by my convictions every step of the way, but I still struggle and battle with every decision that I have made. I am so proud of you for leaving with a 9 week old. I know how hard it is…so hard. The best part about it, your child will never know the two of you together! I have been in your exact position and it sucks…every part of it. Don’t beleive his lies and be strong for your child.

    I have just found this blog, and I have never blogged, tweeted or done anything of this nature before. I am so happy that I found you all…I am truly not alone. I have been in therapy for about 2 years because of this and each and everytime I give my therapist an example of my ex NPD’s behavior, she reminds me of his NPD, and I think it’s reading all of these posts that has really driven the point home with me. He’s a text book case!

    Thank you all for having this forum and sharing your stories.

  6. Survivor says:

    Just a quick followup to the boys’ birthday. The day was actually pretty good because the exNPD needed to come across as normal. If we talked too much to his new wife he would pull her over to separate us. She also said at one point that she couldn’t call him, when we were on different rides, or he would be upset. He would tap her leg if she needed to be closer and she immediately complied with the gesture. By the end of the day, the exNPD wanted to go on the faster rides which due to a medical reason she couldn’t. That left my non NPD husband and I with her for a few hours. The new wife is basically treated the way I was. She is very nice and maybe more of a doormat than I was. She had a rough childhood so I don’t think she even realizes what is happening. She is very nice which I am grateful for because the kids need someone like that in their other home.

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