…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
“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.
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
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
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.
An author stated that verbal abuse is when someone defines you. This is very significant in relation to narcissism. Narcissistic abuse often is covert. Because image and appearance is of utmost importance, most of the abuse meted out by narcissistic people will be under the radar, leaving very deep but invisible wounds. This happens all the time to my dd. Happened to me, too, but what’s significant here is as an adult I had the ability to walk away. A child who has an abusive parent, and does not show signs of physical abuse, is pretty much stuck with that person until they are of legal age to walk away. By that time considerable damage has been done, and even if they do have the ability and desire to walk away, they take the impact of all those invalidating years with them. I find that my most important job as the other parent is to validate my child. He invalidates. I validate. It’s a fine line to walk sometimes, but I cannot leave her to suffer at his diminishing of her and her reality with silence under the pretense of not wanting to speak badly of her father. I don’t … Continue reading
She’s at a friend’s house right now. It’s not too often I have time like this to myself, but as usual, I have to leave in a few minutes to do something. I need to help a dear friend who is facing a health challenge. Though I often feel like I run around too much, I do not resent this. I want to be there. I don’t mind being there for something that’s important to me. What I do resent is the draw on my time by the toxic Ex, the narcissist I was so attracted and attached to at one time, and who I now can’t get far enough away from. It’s not that he asks to spend time with me anymore…only intermittently. It’s just that our interactions are very draining to me, and I never know if he’s going to “act up” or if it will be my lucky day and all will be civil and fine. And then by his choices regarding our DD, he winds up making so much more work for me…or sabotages what I’ve already done. Because he has no real regard for reality or truth, I never know what I might get accused … Continue reading