Narcissists. Round dos.
After years of abuse, reclaiming your life and developing confidence in your own decisions should be your priority. The sad truth is, your narcissist formed a codependent relationship with you, and you will feel about as strong as someone recovering from food poisoning. You will be shaky and easily swayed unless you don’t identify why the narcissist could inveigle his/her way into your life, and then you must make solid changes within yourself.
Part of this reclamation after a toxic marriage will be establishing and maintaining boundaries. Narcissists hate boundaries. Let me say that another way: narcissists hate when other people have boundaries. During and after a divorce, you’ll be pushed, bullied, and punished for your boundaries. A narcissist will also push the boundaries set by the legal system, especially if you have children. A narcissist has an insatiable need to be the center of attention and for everyone else to provide the emotional security they cannot find within themselves. This need will cause them to think of how the children make them feel, how you make them feel, and they will try their best to make sure everyone bends to their needs, regardless of the people they hurt. Your pain, the child’s pain, is nothing to them compared to the pain they’ve experienced. This will be difficult to navigate because during your marriage you wrapped your life and emotions around the chaos of demands and emotions of your spouse. You might fall right back into this, at some point they’ll start charming you again, but a clear and healthy way to stand firm is to hold to your court order. They will begin to push against the visitation agreement. Do not give in; it will be a fight that expands and contracts based on how the narcissist feels. Hide behind the protection of the legal system. Don’t try to make your ex happy. It won’t work, and they’ll begin to manipulate you and probably the children.
About the kids: remember never to hesitate in protecting your children. The best interest of the child, and harm to children, are always at the forefront of the judge’s mind. This is the ultimate consideration. If one parent is acting in a way to harm the child emotionally or otherwise, the court is there to help protect the child. If your ex is causing them pain, take legal action. Remember, a narcissist pushes boundaries. It’s best to have firm boundaries and to take action quickly in order to maintain the boundaries set forth during your divorce. Contact your attorney and make a move (file something) to have the parent’s visitation limited or completely taken away until they can be trusted not to harm the children, emotionally or physically.
Take care to seek a large support system and, as we suggest with even the most normal of divorces, look to the professionals for help with emotions and the ramifications of divorce; it’s stressful even in the “amicable divorce” scenarios.
Should you have any questions in maneuvering through a divorce such as we’ve discussed, call our office to find out the details of your legal boundaries and how to protect yourself in the future from more issues. It’s all part of why we’re here.