Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

We can literally change in one moment…

I had a wonderful 34th birthday and woke up with my baby boy around 5:30 am today.  He is so adorable and this time is so fleeting that I don’t even care that I could barely move…  That being said, it was still struggle city getting to the Y on time for a short back/shoulder session and then Deacon’s tumble class.

When we got there, we ran into his daddy! I have barely seen or talked to my ex over the last few months.  The divorce proceedings were ridiculously painful and brought out the worst in both of us.  When I saw him this morning, he took our baby out of his stroller and carried him to the daycare for me.  We walked together but didn’t talk much and I corrected the girl when she wrote my name with my married name, since I’ve changed it back.  When we dropped the baby off, he started to walk away but I mentioned the two emails that I wrote about child support, which he didn’t respond to… He said he didn’t have anything to say because he doesn’t have any money and work isn’t going well.  We chatted for a couple minutes and he helped me to understand his work situation which hasn’t changed much since we were together.  In a very positive way, I asked that he please communicate these things with me because it helps me to understand everything and not be angry about the financial situation between us.  We then both walked back into the fitness center and got to work on our own.  Since he was close to me, I asked him something about our 3-year-old’s school and we chatted a few more minutes about other cute things about our boys.

He said “bye” when he left and I continued with my work out.  During a quick break to write down what I was working on, I stopped and thought to myself, “nothing has changed with that man, and I am so grateful that I am no longer in that relationship, but the captain of my own journey now.” I proceeded to reflect on some things about my marriage that didn’t serve me, and where my ex is now with another woman and child in his house.  I almost can’t even describe the feeling I had- but those were some of the thoughts going through my head.  To be completely honest, I am really proud of who I am and what I have made of myself and I’m so happy to not be offering that to him anymore.  I know- really know, now- that there is something big out there for me and not too far away.  Still a little far- but I’m feeling it in a way I haven’t before.

The craziest part of this moment of reflection for me was the song that came on “Beyonce Radio” at the very same moment.  “The Best Thing I Never Had” summarizes my experience with this man.  In some ways, he is the best thing that ever happened to me.  We fell in love, got married, had two beautiful kids, and then my life began.  My new life is so real- so vibrant- and so full – I know I would have none of this if I didn’t have what I had with him- good and bad.  The lyrics in this song literally brought me to tears.  I still cry over the loss of my old life and what I thought was going to me THE life for me…but today, they were really tears of joy.  Bey says, “Thank God you blew it, thank God I dodged the bullet, I’m so over you baby.  good lookin’ out.”  This is exactly how I feel.  I’m no longer even mad at him.  I get lonely and wish I had a partner, but it was never, ever meant to be him.  I was so happy because this song was speaking to me so strongly and I headed down to get my beautiful baby and take him to the tumble class.  I am so unbelievably lucky I had this experience.

The craziest part of it all was that tonight I dropped off my kids to his girlfriend and met her for the first time.  No matter what I’ve said to her in weak moments (which I have apologized for in depth) I have to admit to the world- she is adorable and perfect for him.  I was never meant to be that man’s life partner.

Today, I felt that momentous change that can happen so fast- and you’re never the same again.  I hope everyone in this world gets that privilege.

 

 

 

 

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Choosing Happiness

After a long and at times, debilitating weekend away from my children, I was forced to learn to be without them for a few days.  From the moment my ex left, I was the soul provider for them and haven’t spent longer than one night away from them.  This weekend, I spent four nights away from them and although I forced myself to stay busy, it was really difficult.

On top of it, my ex and I haven’t been getting along at all and although required by law, he wasn’t working with me to allow me to communicate with the children while they were with him.

So I sucked in the morrow of these feelings and I cried and I was angry and I plotted against him and I researched how I could get full custody and I was in a fit of rage and I let it all out…

Then I woke up Monday morning and realized this is not how I want to live my life.  That morning I posted this on Instagram:


For myself and my children- although they were totally unaware of the anguish I was feeling- I have to be strong and get along with their father and let GO of any anger I have towards him and whomever has seemed to take my place in his life.  The truth of it is, we loved each other and we bought a house together and had two beautiful children together.  I can’t hate him.  My friends and family can continue to hate him, and I will not engage in any further negativity he has to offer but it serves no purpose to totally ignore him or hate him and his girlfriend.  In fact, it only hurts my children and it is my job to protect them.

So I am choosing happiness.  I understand how co-parents can hate each other because when children are involved, they use them against each other.  I am choosing to attempt a peaceful co-parenting relationship with my ex.  I have come to peace with the idea of my children being with them because he is their father.  It is dangerous for me to drop my children off at a place with two people that hate me.  I have said things that I am not proud of and I am done being the antagonist in my story.  I am ready to be the hero for my children so they never have the ability to say I had a negative impact on their relationship with their father.  I will continue to protect them, but not fight with him.

My plan this week is to apologize to my ex and his girlfriend for the way I have acted.  Then, I have done my part.  They may still chose to not communicate with me but I have to let go of anger and bitterness for what he has done to me and have faith in the universe for what it will bring to me.  There is really no other way to truly live…

 

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

The Primal Year 

I have been inspired by some recent conversations to reflect upon my first year of separation and new normal.   A beautiful and wise colleague of mine told me she heard it takes three years to get over a divorce. That sounded so long to me when she first said it. Now at the beginning of my second year I realize it is because my first year was very traumatic and very primitive.

On this day last year, my father was driving my car with my family of three from Memphis, Tennessee to Delaware to take my children and me “home” and take care of us.  I had taken the kids to New Orleans to try to reconcile with their father and my he basically decided he couldn’t and more or less said “you know this life and house and world we have built here? I am leaving it and I am also no longer paying for it. You can take our two-year-old and a five week old to your parents and they can take care of you.” I didn’t eat for two months. The only thing I was capable of doing was making sure my children were healthy and happy and safe. We were totally without my spouse. He chose to live in Louisiana and then in North Carolina for work and for 10 months my children saw him once every six weeks.

It was August before I felt like myself again. Although I wasn’t myself – I was a totally new self. I had to learn primal activity all over again. It began with breathing. I saw therapist and told her that my mind was no longer processing things that I needed it to process. My mom directed me in life and I would have to write everything she said down just to remember to take care of the littlest things. The therapist explained that this is a fight or flight mode  that your body experiences when you go through trauma. I realize now that I had to completely re-learn how to live and it took a while because I naturally put my children’s needs and wants before my own.  It started with breathing.  My therapist taught me how to breathe again.  Yoga helped me a lot with this process because I was able to spend an hour only focusing on my breath.  I began doing hot yoga because the temperature was so intense I had no room for thoughts outside of my breath.  The sweat that I felt in those classes taught me the feeling of sweat again.  I promise, I forgot what it felt like, not because I hadn’t sweat, but because when I did-I wasn’t even there.  I was a shell.

I spent through June 10th rotating through these emotions.  On that day, my mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  This was an awakening to pull my head out of my ass because my problems were so minuet compared to the journey she was about to begin.  I fell apart all over again.  How was I going to survive when the person who was helping me raise my children was now going to be in so much pain?  I wouldn’t have even moved my things out of my house if it weren’t for her telling me I had to do so.  I was letting life pass me by because I was only capable of taking care of my children and couldn’t deal with the idea of a divorce. She kept me going and now she was falling apart.  In a way, it gave me the push I needed.  I no longer could feel sorry for myself because I had to get my shit together and be there for her in the way she was there for me.

 

By the end of June I got my job back from where I was working before I left town with my ex.  That was the first light I saw at the end of my tunnel.  Getting my job back gave me strength and liberation and a sense of security I never imagined needing.  I was penniless when my ex left and I had taken a year leave of absence from my job to stay with the baby.  We didn’t even have health insurance and I had two babies.  Thankfully, I was able to get on Medicaid until I could go back to work, but I will never, ever, forget being so “hungry” for job security.  I am now a better teacher because of this experience.

In August we all went to Rehoboth for two weeks.  I feel like that vacation finally brought back all of my senses.  I felt so blessed to feel the sun and the heat of the late summer, and share that with my children.  It was such an amazing time with my family and my poor mother couldn’t even go outside while we were there.  We were lucky enough to have planned that vacation in between her treatments.  Since she is superwoman, she was was also running her office and team from the condo we rented.  Pretty insane and all so beautiful at the same time.

The month of September was perfect.  I had it all together.  I had my job back, my kids were perfect and healthy and I wanted to date again.  I met a guy who wanted to be far more serious than I did and I ended up breaking his heart. My ex also “did the right thing by his children” and moved close to us.  I was not prepared by any means to deal with this.  I barely spent a minute away from my children for 10 months and then all the sudden  I had to share them with this person whom I loathed.  My brief relationship ended and I felt like I was back at square one with my rebuilding.

I was totally heartbroken over sharing my children and there was no custody order in place so I had no idea how to handle the legalities of my new situation.  I just kept plugging away at life and holding my babies close.  Work kept me sane.

November and Thanksgiving made it a year since my finding my ex in his affair. This was my turning point.  I decided to be more present as I went through the motions, expected the worse, and really was handed the best.  My holiday was wonderful and I was living again.  Not only was I living again but I was enjoying every moment of it.  My ex didn’t request to see the children much either so that was a relief.

Once I started putting the work into myself again, I got through the grief very quickly.  I realized that I spent a year hiding from the pain and that was the only year of my life I will ever spend not-living.  I have a strong, wholesome, new life and I wouldn’t change one thing that happened to me.  I don’t regret one action I took, one reaction I made, one choice word I said about my ex or whomever was entertaining him at the time, one tear I cried, one meltdown I had, one dollar I spent or one over-sharing conversation I had that year.  It was the most transforming year of my life and I am so in love with the person I am because of it.

This next year will be more about person growth, healthy decisions, and protection my children so they never know all the pain that I know.  I don’t know where he’ll be or for how long, but my sons will always have one strong-as-shit Momma Bear to back them up, support them financially, and work her ass off to afford them all the luxuries she was blessed to grow up with.  I will continue to save for college, I will make sacrifices, I will work overtime, I will do whatever those two need, so they never spend a minute of their life feeling like there is a void because their father is a defective person.  And lastly, I will share my story because it is a beautiful one and if it weren’t for those who shared their stories with me and kept me believing that there is light at the end, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  I am forever indebted to those who helped me.

 

 

 

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Dealing with what I was dealt…

So this time last year, as I mentioned, I was trying to work things out with my soon-to-be ex husband.  Since it was the holidays, we were trying to save face and keep it together in front of family.  It was nearly impossible.  Looking back, my mother has told me that she could sense it was falling apart. Long story short, I went to the ends of the Earth (or America- Louisiana to be exact) to try to save my marriage.  He was working in LA for a bit and we drove down as a family to be together.  The girlfriend was also down there.  It took 10 days before I found them together.  I can’t say I regret that decision because I had to try.  I couldn’t stand the thought of the destruction of my family.

Well, FF to today, he was out of our lives for 8 months after that.  In October 2016, my ex moved 3 miles away to try to be near his children.  It doesn’t work for us at all because we just can’t get along.  This entire page and just about everything I do day to day is an attempt to deal with the cards I was dealt.  I have week moments.  Today my children are with him.  My nanny is at his house, and he is letting his new girlfriend babysit them after she leaves.  There is nothing I can do about it. It’s out of my hands.  I do know that fighting is horrible for my children.  They do not see us fight, in fact, we don’t even see each other much.  I try my best.  I block him so I’m not tempted to text him but then when he eases up, I unblock him.  It’s cyclical and not working.  I’m at a loss in terms of how to deal with him.  I have a list of things I need to process so I think if I get through this list, maybe I can?

Him cheating thumbs-ups

Him being a con-artist (lies constantly)

The girl he left me for thumbs-ups

The new girlfriend👍🏼

His Tinder Accounts/Obsession/Ridiculous amounts of encounters since we split👍🏼

My kitchen (he has ALL of “our” property-gifts from my family only)

All of my house decor

Sharing Custody👍🏼

Him -in general- being a dirt bag

He ruined my finances👍🏼

*thumbs-upsdenotes cards I’ve processed