Recently, I read an article on divorcing a narcissist and, of course, it made me think about my husband’s ex. According the Mayo Clinic website the definition for a narcissist is the following:
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
I read this and thought it was on par with HER personality and what we’ve been putting up with. I also have some advice of my own that might be helpful to someone in my own position.
1) Do not engage.
This advice was given to me by a co-worker who had just gone through a divorce with a real jerk. Her thought was that certain people really get their jollies (as my mother would say) from getting people who are on their S*** list all worked up. What really bothers these people is if you don’t engage them… at all. Just act like nothing bothers you. Whenever my husband’s ex is being a particularly big pill, at the end of the conversation I will say “you have a good day, now”. You can hear the steam rising from her head.
2) You. Will. Never. Win.
I’m not talking about winning the legal battle or winning the “good fight”. I’m talking about winning the argument and getting them to shut up … about anything. You are inferior, they are superior. You are an idiot, they are a genius. One of the funnier things I’ve had to deal with in regards to my husband’s ex is her ego. She will always say “YOU need to pick him up because I have to work. I’m working ALL DAY.” (a) all day… wow, that’s rough. (b) we all work, get over it. (c) I have a master’s degree and work in finance. She has a highschool diploma (maybe) and sells makeup at Macy’s yet her schedule is more important in her eyes… always. There’s no winning that fight. Just try to agree on a time to do the pickup and move on.
3) Even if they say it's about the kids, it’s never about the kids.
It's about them and what they want... Revenge, feeling superior, whatever their messed up psyche desires.
4) It will never get better.
I remember the time and place when I realized that the situation with my husband's ex will never de-escalate. We were in family therapy and I was particularly annoyed that day. I was “sharing” and just blurted out “it will never get any better. We will be at Jay’s wedding and still have to deal with her badmouthing. Jay will have kids and have to deal with HER trying to alienate the grandkids from us. Her appetite for revenge of some sort will never subside. It will never improve.” I remember feeling so helpless thinking that this crazy person will have a place in my life… always.
5) Find a way to let it go.
This is a tough one. Just today I found myself engaging this person who has Jay 9 months out of the year and told that he needs 10 extra days to “prepare for a flight” to see her family. A 10 year old needs 10 day to prepare for a flight? I engaged her and told her that was ridiculous… I set her off into a texting tirade. I should have known better than to tell her that her excuses were ridiculous.
6) Build a loving home where your values rule.
I found an article last year that talks about how to deal with the child choosing the other family. From the circumstances of the article, it sounded like the child was being trained to alienate the other parent (been there, done that) and how to deal with the aftermath. When you are dealing with a narcissist, the kid is being trained to hate you. And many times, the kid sides with the narcissist because they present themselves as the victim of the scenario. They are so crazy... uh, I mean, persuasive, that you would think that they have to be right. They seem to know what they are talking about right?
If you are dealing with a narcissist, I'm sorry. Try to remain calm, sane and remember that as much as you want to tell this person to go F themselves, your stepchild will hear it or read it and that will only be used as amo to prove you're the a-hole and the ex is the martyr. As the kids get older, you will have to deal with the other party less and this other person will be less of a thorn in your side. At least that's what I'm telling myself.