“I want other people to know this is child abuse”

She’s starting to tell her friends. I Know she had mentioned it once or twice before, but it seems she’s doing it more often now. I’m not so scared for her if she sticks with the children from my circle of friends, but what about when she tells the children of his friends? Will this get back to him? I shudder to think what it could be like for her if he were to find out that she was “making him look like a bad father”. Some of the most abusive vocal tirades I’ve received from him came when an innocuous remark I made was twisted through his filters to be a judgment against him as a father. You can’t make a comment about an specific action or behavior without him hearing it as a personal indictment against him, and then watch out! I understand how frustrating this is for her. The hypocrisy is so hard to take, especially when you’re aware. For me, I used to think, “Oh, this is the real guy. This is the real him, the one I fell in love with.” I just didn’t get that the Mr. Hyde side was the real him and … Continue reading

How convenient: situational helplessness

One of the things you’ll notice about a narcissist is not only their weird priorities but how they switch from forceful entitlement to hands-up-in-the-air helplessness. As I shared in an earlier post, my dd’s father will force her to watch documentaries that distress her. They have nothing to do what she’s studying at the moment in her academics. They’re just stuff he wants to watch and for some bizarre reason, believes she should, as well. However, he can’t see to it that she takes a shower when she’s with him. “She doesn’t want to”, he’ll say. Well, she doesn’t want to watch well produced documentaries of people’s gross inhumanity to one another either, but that doesn’t stop him from enforcing his will upon her. Certainly, my dd is the kind of kid who would go for a year without taking a bath if it were her choice. But guess what? It’s not! As a parent, we have the responsibility to get our children to do things they don’t want to if it’s in their best interest. We have the responsibility to teach them self-discipline and good life skills. How is it that he can suddenly become so helpless and a … Continue reading

“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 … Continue reading

They don’t see…

“Everyone thinks he’s the greatest dad in the world, because when we’re with other people he talks so sweet and kind. But they don’t see what he’s like when we’re alone.” This hurts her. But at least it hurts her and she knows it – unlike me when I was a child who numbed herself out and grew up into a woman with tunnel vision. She does not believe this is the way it is or shoves it aside. She does not pretend this dichotomy doesn’t exist, blowing up and exaggerating the “good side” into full delusion. Her awareness of the two faces makes it harder, but it will also make her stronger. I soothe her pain with empathy and love.

The Importance of Validation

I set up an appointment for my daughter with a therapist. First for a kids’ group and then one on one. The reason isn’t just for the coping skills she’ll learn or realizing that she’s really not alone in facing life changes and challenges. It’s for the validation. I was told one of the things she would be learning was how to express her emotions. To me, what’s priceless is that she will be given the message that her feelings are even valid to express. That she has a right to them and that others find them important. Being with a narcissistic parent, she has learned to show him what he wants to see. I had asked her the other day if she gave her father any indication that she liked some of the documentaries he made her watch. She looked at my rather incredulously, almost like I was stupid, and said, “Uh…yeah. If I didn’t, he’d get mad!” She told me not only does she have to be there when he watches these documentaries, but if she looks away or hides her eyes or covers her ears, he will get angry and threaten that she will never watch her … Continue reading

Giving Her Choice

She loves to wrestle with her dad. That’s one of her favorite things to do and something by both enjoy. And she loves eating crabs and watching a good movie. That’s one of his favorite things to do. It’s also what makes being verbally and emotionally abused so hard. Any abuse any time is difficult, but when it’s intermittent, not matter how frequently it’s like having your hope dashed over and over again. It becomes a series of “little deaths” so that eventually you find you’ve become a zombie. Narcissism is insidious form of torture. It rips your heart apart in ways that are difficult, if not impossible to heal. Not just within the relationship but within your self. That’s what makes me worry the most. It’s not what she has to go through day in and day out when she’s with him. It’s what it’s teaching her about love, about trust, about men. I don’t just listen. I talk to her a lot. My main goal is to help her to become aware of what’s going on inside her, so that she can make empowering choices for herself. So she can discern and determine whether a particular dynamic is … Continue reading

One Step

There is a lovely little story, “Little One Step” that I used to read to my daughter when she was younger. I find it to be very relevant now and a story can come in very handy when you’re not sure what to say. You never know when a child will feel comfortable or feel the need to share their feelings. My daughter had spent the day playing with her dear friend she hadn’t seen for quite a while. They had gone to a birthday party together, and by all counts, she should have been flying high on the way home. But half way there, she brought up her father. For the sake of creating a context, let me backtrack a bit. When I had picked her up from her father’s a few days ago, she told me that just before I arrived he suddenly brought up her reaction to a documentary he had forced her to watch. She didn’t know why. He was just talking and the next thing she knew he was talking about – no, mocking her about her reaction to this documentary three days previous. She was very upset about this.