Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 7

(Seventh of a 7 part series) part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 by Zack’s Mom Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin 7. This might sound crazy: Pray for the narcissist. I am not religious, nor am I endorsing a religious path. Here is my thinking: your narcissist is very sick and very damaged. He is not as strong as you are or can be. Pray to whatever higher power you have. It will release your hatred and anger. If you are hateful, you are hooked, and if you are hooked, you are leaking precious energy that could go toward surviving and healing. 8. You don’t have to be perfect. You cannot make up for the narcissist’s deficiencies. Kids don’t need perfect parents; they need good-enough parents. When you do something that hurts or upsets your child, do the restorative work of saying you are sorry. Narcissists never say they are sorry; they are incapable of copping to the very human flaws we all have. Apologizing to your child when you mess up is a source of power, not weakness. It models good behavior for the child and acknowledges to him or her that … Continue reading

Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 6

(Sixth of a 7 part series) part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 by Zack’s Mom Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin 6. Getting yourself strong gets your child strong. Mirror your child’s feelings. I have found that this simple process lets my son know first that he has been heard, and second that I believe him–something he won’t hear from his dad. My narcissistic ex often told me that my thoughts or feelings were imagined, incorrect, or the result of my own confusion, and now he is doing that to my son. Mirroring is very simple, but deceptive in that it is also very powerful. If my son says, “I hate transitions. I miss you and I don’t want to go to my dad’s house,” I say, “Transitions are really hard for you because you miss me. You hate them because you have to leave me.” Mirroring is not about fixing, but about holding the child’s emotions. My son’s therapist tells me that this kind of interaction by a parent is descriptive rather than proscriptive, proscriptive being the kind of talk that contains a lot of “shoulds” and “don’t dos.” His dad’s response might … Continue reading

Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 5

(Fifth of a 7 part series) part 1, 2, 3, 4 by Zack’s Mom Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin 5. This brings up another related point: Get yourself strong. Go to Al-Anon meetings, go to a therapist, go to the gym if you can afford it, walk around your neighborhood and swing your arms as if you are boxing. Find or create powerful affirmations and repeat them to yourself. Some of mine are I am strong, healthy and powerful. I do not have to act out of hatred. I am bigger than the narcissist. He does not limit my world. Develop a special outside interest that takes your mind away from the ongoing conflict. Treat yourself well, even if it is in small ways–sitting quietly to drink a cup of tea or looking at photographs from a happy time. Your narcissist is not all-powerful. He is a puny bully who tries to look large. You must take back your power. ~The therapy I found most useful was EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a therapy for trauma survivors. EMDR was the key to addressing the ways in which I was triggered and … Continue reading

Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 4

(Fourth of a 7 part series) part 1, 2, 3 by Zack’s Mom Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin 3. Don’t convince yourself that everyone believes him. I used to think everyone thought my ex was as charming and bright as I once did. But when I met him, I had poor self-esteem and was drawn in by his manipulations. Not everyone will be drawn in. Over time I have come to see that there are plenty of smart people–at my son’s school, in our circle of friends, and even in “the system” who get his schtick right away. Not everyone, but enough that I can tell myself he is not as powerful as I once convinced myself he was. 4. Remember that narcissists organize themselves around conflict. In other words, conflict gives them a focal point for their energies and bullying strategies. If they can provoke you, drag you into court, start a fight, get you going, they will–because it gives them a goal and a project. It is hard, hard work to get to a place where you are strong enough (and fearless enough) to resist fighting. It is better for you … Continue reading

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. … Continue reading

Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 2

(Second of a 7 part series) part 1 by Zack’s Mom Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin Here is what I have learned. For ease of writing, I have used the name Joe for my ex. It is not his real name. 1. Choose your battles wisely; focus on winning the war, not the skirmishes. Letting the small stuff go will conserve your strength. My ex remarried and told everyone at my only son’s school that the new wife’s children were my son’s “brothers,” not his stepbrothers, so in time other parents (who had not met the new wife but met my ex) came up to me to ask how my other sons were. I was outraged at this rewriting of history, as it gave the impression that the new wife was my son’s mom. However, when I calmed down, I opted out of confronting him. I waited for my opportunity at school, and the next time a parent asked me about my other children, I shook my head in puzzlement and said, “Oh, Joe must’ve told you my son has brothers. I’m not sure why he says that. His second wife has kids … Continue reading

Lessons Learned: From Anger to Healing Part 1

(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 … Continue reading