Divorcing a Narcissist: Pt. 1
Too often we are told that divorce is taking the easy way out. If you’ve been through a divorce you probably know that is the furthest from the truth. If you’ve had a divorce with children involved then you know that divorce changes everything. If you are divorcing a Narcissist then you probably have walked through hell to get to the finalization. Kids and a narcissist well you better be prepared to fight harder and longer and to be smarter and more patient during this process. You will be guarding and advocating for yourself, your rights, and for your kids. Divorce is difficult and can be emotionally taxing even in amicable proceedings. If you are divorcing a narcissist you’ve most likely endured varying psychological, physical, and/or financial abuse within your marriage. Making a plan and executing that plan in order to get out of the marriage was the first step towards a better life for yourself and for your children. You may not be aware that the abuse doesn’t end the day you walk out the door. A narcissist will continue to find ways to punish you for leaving. You will be on guard and continue to have to fight for your freedom, your healing, and your right to happiness through out the divorce. Leaving is hard, navigating the next year or more of your new life is harder. Be prepared for the challenges you may face by starting therapy as soon as possible, finding an attorney who is both honest with you and willing to fight for you, and seek support from the people around you. You will need a trusted and safe place to vent your frustrations. It’s the only way you will be able to remain calm and civil in your dealings with the narcissist.
The following is my account of my personal experience dealing with divorcing a narcissist. Not every piece of my story will match yours as we are all dealing with aspects that are unique to our family dynamic and our toxic cycle with the narcissist. This is not intended to replace legal advice or to serve as legal counsel. This content may be triggering.
If you can plan your exit strategy before you leave that is your best bet. It’s much harder to stay gone when there is not a plan in place on how you will escape. Making your mind up that you are done for good is step one. You must be done and be able to accept that no amount of counseling, effort, money or whatever would be enough to change your mind. If you haven’t decided this is what you want and need then you are not ready to leave. Empty threats won’t change a narcissist it will possibly trigger retaliation or a promise to change, but the love bombing and future faking will never last long.
I had decided months prior to having the conversation about separation that I was done. I began detaching emotionally. I had to plan. The following were steps I took when I was preparing my exit:
- Find a therapist for self and for children
- Have a way to support yourself and your family
- Meet with a lawyer for advice and consultation
- Talk to a trusted family member or friend, be careful who you give information to.
- Will you leave the marital residence or will your spouse? Where will you go?
- What assets and debts do you share? Make a list.
- Document everything you recall up until present. Continue documenting and keeping records moving forward.
- Be firm in your decision. Don’t be swayed by love bombing, future faking, or empty promises.
- Be prepared for the conversation about separation.
- Identify and notice the toxic patterns you both perpetuate in your relationship and communication.
Prepare for battle:
The first mistake I made was showing my hand and letting emotions rule my reactions. I allowed the toxicity to continue even after I had left because I didn’t see the full picture. I didn’t see the game. I still wanted to believe that there was a person capable of empathy and love behind the anger that was displayed. I didn’t even know what a narcissist was when I left. I just thought my ex was miserable and wanted me miserable too. After all misery does love company. He would push my buttons, he knew what would make me get upset and what to say for me to lash out. Not only did I give him the upper hand and fed into his narcissistic behaviors, I allowed him to be the one to control my mood and the mood of my threefold. We were anxious and tense and overwhelmed on “switch out” days. We would sit on pins and needles and it would take hours if not a full day for us to settle down after the interactions. It was awful. I made the mistake of agreeing to couple’s counseling as a way to coparent and communicate with him at the onset of the separation. In those sessions I felt safe to express my feelings and thoughts. After a few sessions this was enough to make him so angry he stormed out of the session, caused a scene, and left him on the defensive. It was only a day later that he had cleaned out our savings account and left me scrambling for reserves. A few days after that he filed for divorce, before I could. He filed for full custody of my threefold and charged me with inappropriate marital conduct. I was livid. A few days after that he had my threefold sit me down and tell me they wanted to live with him full time and have visitation with me. I was floored. I was reactive, emotional, hurt, scared and I was pissed. I had never been so angry in my life. It was time to fight, and if he was going to fight dirty then I was going to fight clean just to show I was the bigger person. I did nothing that he expected me to from that moment forward. I would fight for my threefold and fight with the truth. I didn’t need to manipulate my girls. They just needed a reminder of who had always been the parent and who always would be there. It wasn’t a show, a game. They weren’t pawns to hurt him, and I knew that there was no way that he had their best interests at heart. I did and I was ready to show them that I would be there for them regardless of where they lived or who they lived with.
Giving him the opportunity to file for divorce first was my mistake. He was allowed to claim whatever he wanted. He was allowed to file for full custody. It gave him the power in the divorce. It left me with the burden to prove that my threefold were best cared for by me. It left me to show that I had always been their primary caretaker. It made me fight for my rights to be their mother. I was reasonable and decided to contest the divorce, but I contested not with full custody in my counter petition. I countered with 50/50 joint custody and shared holidays. I didn’t retaliate but tried to negotiate the best interest of the girls. I was trying to show good faith, civility, and reasonable expectations. It didn’t work.
- File first, but file fair
- Don’t use or allow your kids to be used as pawns.
- Future faking and manipulation are techniques used by the narcissist to sway you and the children.
- Respond without reacting or retaliating.
- Your children come first. Their best interest is the only thing the court cares about.
- Document everything. Keep records, timelines, text messages, phone logs, and any interactions together.
- Be as civil and cordial as possible in all interactions regardless of their attempts to make you angry or hurt you.
Mediation is Required
Mediation is required as the first step in most contested divorces. I made the mistake that this would be the day where things were finalized. I went in ready to fight for equal parenting time and birthdays. I wanted Christmas and I wanted to make medical decisions. I wanted to be the primary residential parent and have final say on education. I was ready to plead my case. I had a home and was in a great school district. I had made and taken the girls to every appointment for therapy, medication, physicals, sick visits, and dentist appointments. I was the one helping with school. I was the one that they counted on to be stable and they relied on for everything. I had already had one child full time refusing to live with him. My middle daughter, 2, refused to stay there after they had fought and it got nasty a few months prior. She rarely wanted to visit him. I supported her decision but didn’t expect the other children to do that too. Mediation was brutal. It was not the fight I expected. It was hard not to get emotionally charged. He agreed to everything with the kids, but it came down to money. He wanted part of my retirement a job I had only began 6 months prior to our separation. He wanted my vehicle even after he had my new car, but refused to make payments on it and it was repossessed while he had it. He wanted me held responsible for paying him for damages done at the apartment he wanted to keep and forced me to move out of, but refused to take my name off the lease. He wanted all of the possessions and would not budge on the smallest of settlements to resolve these issues. He also wanted me to acquire all the marital debt. He expected me to not file for child support and he did not want to pay arrears for the seven months prior. I should also take less than the state minimum for support and should not make it enforceable for three months so he could find employment because he was let go from his job. I was livid. I gave him everything he asked for except my vehicle and my retirement, but he refused to settle. I was angry and incredibly frustrated. I didn’t understand how he could think he had anything to gain by going to court. I was willing to do just about anything to not make my threefold go through a nasty court battle.
- Mediation is not the end and is only for the courts.
- Don’t go in with expectations of settlement.
- Before you go to mediation decide what your bottom line is. What are you willing to and not willing to budge on.
- Have an accurate accounting of all debts and assets.
- Decide if you are holding on to something to be petty or because you truly believe it is rightfully yours.
- Don’t agree to anything you feel uncomfortable with.
- If you settle that’s it. You don’t get to revise your agreement after.
- Don’t be a martyr and don’t sell yourself short.
- Don’t show all of your cards. Hold some things until you see what they want.
- Be firm. Stay tough. Don’t let them run over you. It’s not easy but don’t react to their demands regardless if you feel they are not fair.
- You have a voice and rights. It’s easy to just agree to get it done but if you feel like you are giving too much it’s ok to say no.
Negotiations with the Narcissist:
There were many times I thought I could make my ex see what he was doing, how he was hurting my threefold, and what I felt we could do to resolve the problems. I was so wrong. I would basically beg for settlement and plead for him to do what was in the best interest of the kids. I couldn’t have seemed more pathetic or more weak in those moments. I gave him the power every time and gave him the control over the trajectory of the process. I postponed trial dates, filing for support, and all court involvement. Why did I do this? I didn’t want to go to court! I didn’t have any doubt I would win. I just didn’t want to put my threefold through the stress and anxiety of court. By this time my threefold were all living with me full time. He was inconsistent with visitation and had stopped all attempts to help financially. I would call him and ask if he was planning to see the girls. I would call him and ask for help. I would call him and tell him how he was affecting the kids. I would cry and try to find some part of him that still felt something anything so he would close this chapter of our lives. I tried to bridge the growing gaps in his relationships with my threefold. I would think I was making progress and that I had gotten through to him. I would go to my lawyer and draw up a settlement for him to review. Each time I would give him everything he asked for, but the only thing I couldn’t budge on was my vehicle. I needed that vehicle to get to work, get the kids to and from everywhere, it was the one thing I couldn’t give in on. I was still giving him the power I made three offers over three months and received no response or refusals each time. I was getting no where. I was getting played. I was getting the run around. He was stalling and I didn’t realize it. I was just buying time and wasting the retainer money I had paid my lawyer. I didn’t realize it until I decided to set boundaries for myself and my threefold.
- Don’t negotiate with the narcissist
- Don’t assume they care
- Set trial dates and file for support after mediation.
- Don’t use your retainer to negotiate more settlements.
- Make them come to you and meet you where you are.
- Don’t contact them, beg, plead or try to find solutions.
- Don’t let them control the process.
- Communication should be limited and don’t give more information than they ask for.
- Document everything.
Boundary Setting Bad Assery:
I had finally reached my limit of trying to work with and coparent with an inconsistent and low level person. I was done being the person who always bent over backwards. I would no longer be complicit in the abuse of myself or my threefold. We deserved more. It was about time I demanded to be treated with respect and that I be given the common courtesy of communication without attacks. I didn’t want to be the bad guy, but I was tired of being the one that rolled over and gave in. I finally was ready to stand my ground and I wasn’t going to back down. I filed for a support hearing. I then contacted him letting him know that he could have two scheduled calls per week and my availability. I told him communication was to go through me and not the girls. I told him I need 72 hour notice of his intention to have parenting time so we could schedule that with the girls. I told him requests would be denied if he did not submit the request in the required time frame. I refused the implementation of a schedule he requested and told him if he wanted consistency he needed to submit a settlement to his lawyer. I told him he could no longer expect my compliance with his schedule as I had three kids and my own schedule to adhere to. I was done with him calling the shots. I didn’t want to hurt anyone but I was hurting the kids more by allowing him to decide on a whim and leave them wondering when they would see him or if he would be calling. I was tired of being the beck and call girl. He pushed back on my boundaries and I just continued to resend them to him highlighting the specific boundary he was crossing and what actions he would need to take for me to be able to honor his request. Each time I held my ground he got more irritated and saw the balance of power was shifting.
- Set boundaries early and hold them
- Allow the boundaries to remain enforced in order to pressure the narcissist to settle or negotiate.
- Do not violate rights of the other parent when setting boundaries. Make sure you are giving them access to any and all information about the children.
- Make them accountable to a schedule that works for you and the children.
- Your responsibility is to your children not to your ex. Focus on being consistent.
- Setting boundaries is allowed even if you aren’t used to it.
- Be prepared for the narcissist to want to talk to you and to have seemingly sincere apologies. They are manipulating you, don’t fall for it.
Expect the Unexpected:
After setting boundaries the time between phone calls was longer and requests for visitation were nearly never but always last minute. I had expected the boundaries to pressure him to make a move to negotiate or make a plan with his lawyer. I did not think asking for what I felt was more than reasonable of 72 hours for visitation requests would be his reasoning to stop seeing the girls all together. His attempts became few and far between. Days turned into weeks, then into months and our hearing was due to come up soon. Out of no where I get a text from the ex asking to speak with the girls. I obliged. He said he needed to speak to me first. He said he was going to admit himself to a treatment facility to get help. He managed to hurt the kids with his handling of delivering the news. All three girls needed emergency therapy in the days following that call. Then, get this, he didn’t go. He put them through the ringer and hurt them for him not to follow through, again. They were angry, hurt, disappointed and everything between. I had to cut off communication all together at that point. I felt he was only inflicting more damage.
It was time for the support hearing and I had prepared my case. Unfortunately, I had been waiting for word for the whole week beforehand to get word of if he had been admitted to a treatment facility or not. I was forced to contact him as I had no other way to get information on what to plan for. I had finally given up and did the prep work. I didn’t know what would happen. I knew there was no hope of receiving support, just wanted it on the record. He was in a losing situation. He had positioned himself to lose. I knew that I would not need anything but to be honest about what had been happening since day 1. I was just waiting for confirmation from my lawyer that we were proceeding as planned. My phone rang with a call from my lawyer. I was told he was granted a continuance as he claimed he did not have the mental capacity or stability to move forward. He could control the situation and keep me begging for help if he played the mental health card. With the knowledge of how seriously I take mental health he found a way to exploit me. I was completely shocked. I was angry and wanted nothing more than to tell him how pathetic I felt he was for pulling that card in the midst of the true crisis I had been forced to manage as a single parent of my threefold. I didn’t retaliate I simply rescheduled and have been no contact since that time with him.
The Never-Ending Saga
It’s been well over a year that we have been separated. It’s been over a year since divorce was filed. I have moved on with my life as much as I can. I’ve been through hell so far this year. My threefold has been through even more than I have. We’ve been trying to find our way forward and trying to heal from the abuse and trauma we have endured. It’s been hard when someone is trying to continue holding you hostage in the past. It’s been a crazy and rough year. We have had multiple hours of therapy, psychiatric treatment, trauma intervention, crisis management, hospitalization and have come to terms with mental illness. I’ve learned a lot and have worked hard to be the best mom I can and give my kids every ounce of myself. In the midst of this year we have gotten closer and gotten stronger.
My Final Piece of Advice…For Now:
Lastly I can’t stress this enough, the court doesn’t care about you. It’s all about the kids. Do not play the role of the victim. Don’t assume that the court will acknowledge your personal pain or the abuse you have endured. It has to be about how the other person’s behaviors have negatively impacted your children. How the decisions made have been against the best interest of the children. If you are looking to get some sort of peace from speaking out about how you have suffered or that you will gain some sympathy, you won’t. Do not let him or the court have any reason to question if you are mentally able to raise your children. As soon as you victimize yourself you only set yourself up for more evaluation, questions, oversight, and allow your mental health to be a concern and a topic of discussion. Do not give them the ammo to use against you. The next part is even if you truly believe whole heartedly that you are dealing with a narcissist do not accuse the other parent of being a narcissist in court. This will only give cause to the court to ask for psychological evaluations and leave you open to being accused of parental alienation. Narcissists are known for being able to play a part when needed. They will never get a diagnosis based on a single evaluation. It takes time to uncover these traits.
We’ve been through the most devastating lows and some incredible highs. I’ve found that I am stronger and incredibly resilient. I’ve been inspired by my threefold and their ability to over come every single obstacle that has been placed in their way. I’ve discovered the true definition of narcissism. I’ve named our trauma as abuse, a word considered dirty and not allowed in the past. I’ve learned more lessons than I can count. I’ve found support from unexpected places. I’ve made it a mission of mine to help others struggling with mental illness, to give people hope, and make sure that others know that they are not alone. My intentions are to offer support to others that don’t have someone who understands the real life challenges of dealing with trauma, abuse, mental illness, divorce, coparenting, or a narcissistic personality. We share to spread awareness and erase the stigma that these issues have surrounding them.
This is only the first part of our story. It’s not close to conclusion. Let my mistakes and my errors in dealing with my divorce guide you to a better way forward in yours. I haven’t been more empowered and more defeated in my life. Divorce is hard and draining. It’s not the “easy” option. Proceed with caution and remember document everything. Good luck! My part 2 should be interesting. ☮️❤️😊~M
My Fairytale: 1 Year in the Making of Happily Ever After.
This is going to be emotional and mushy and ooey.gooey.gross. Maybe even cheesy and make people want to vomit, but I don’t care. I talk enough about the real life drama of my threefold and I. It’s time for the prettier side of our lives. A happier side. A life with promises of happily ever after afters, fairytales and magic. It’s not make believe, it’s all real and sometimes I can’t believe it either. I’m happy and head over heels in love! Love is magical and the most beautiful part of life. It’s what I believe it’s all about. The reason. There are so many types of love and I have experienced them all – parental love, first love, friend love, toxic love, familial love, painful love, and then there is true love. That’s my focus today and that’s exactly what I have found.
In the beginning I was scared. I was weary of anyone with pretty words and big promises. I was coming out of a fifteen year toxic, narcissistic, abusive marriage. I’m 37. I have three kids and I have a lot of damage and baggage. Not sure why anyone would want to get into anything more than a little fun with me. My confidence and my identity was nearly nonexistent. I felt I was good at faking it. Inside I was unhappy and unfulfilled in many areas of my life. Why in the world was THIS man pursuing me? That answer is still lost on me. He is attractive, positive, works hard, funny and unapologetically him. I was so attracted to that energy. He made everything fun and was complimentary. He spoke well of others and was committed in everything he did. He gives his all into everything he does. I was intrigued by a person who seemed so happy, confident and at ease. I resisted at first, the advances, only showing my interest by flirting back and forth. I threw away his phone number but I’m a person who remembers things and his was too easy for me to just forget. I held off and didn’t text him. I didn’t save it in my phone. Weeks went by and he just wouldn’t give up. Finally on a Sunday afternoon I texted him. We texted for hours. The texts began daily and then started my day. I was like a teenage girl full of exhilarated by the easy conversation and very quickly realized that we were a lot alike. He had been divorced for a long time and was coming out of a rather toxic relationship with a long time girlfriend. He has a daughter, just one that’s right in the middle of the two oldest of my threefold. He was sweet and considerate. I found myself having fun again and learning new things about myself and what I wanted in a relationship eventually.
Text messages turned to stolen kisses and sneaky hot make out sessions. Meet up arrangements were served for lunch or after work just to have a quick kiss before heading back to the real world of life. We kept our kids in the dark and didn’t want to get them involved immediately. We kept work professional and kept friends hidden away. We were each other’s secret that we kept from the world around us. It was easy and we didn’t commit to anything more than a few nights of walking in a neighborhood, sitting in parking lots and window shopping. In the easy, I was comfortable, open but still highly guarded. I was allowed to decide how much of myself I wanted to give or to show.
I found out his birthday was rolling around and I wanted to do something big! I got excited and nervous, not sure how it would work out. I was realizing I had either rebounded and tricked myself into believing we would be more when we were both ready or I was actually starting to fall for this guy despite of my attempts to not go there at the time. I had an appointment out of town on the day after his birthday. I didn’t have much time to plan so I decided to ask him if he wanted to go to the beach with me that weekend. We hadn’t done anything intimate and I was scared to death that I was moving too fast. After all, my divorce wasn’t final and even though I was firm in my decision to leave my husband at that time and knew that our marriage had been over for a long time, I was scared I could be making a decision that could cost me in court. I gave in to the desire to see if this man who had begun to take up a big chunk of my time when I didn’t have my threefold was worth the risk I was continuing to take. I was terrified at what he would say or that he would flake out last minute even after he agreed. He took time off from work and decided to spend 2 nights with me and 16 hours in a car round trip for his birthday. I was nervous, excited, anxious, and completely ready to see what would unfold in those 2 uninterrupted days where we had nothing to focus on but each other. It was more than I could’ve imagined it would be and if I was unsure before then what I found on that trip was assurance that I was right about this one. He was falling for me and I was falling for him. I was more scared and more on cloud nine than I had ever been in my life. I wasn’t ready, not even a little bit, but ready or not it happened.
In the months to follow we continued in secret but began being more involved from a distance. We were committed to one another, but due to where we were in our lives, and especially where I was in mine we decided it was best to remain safe in our secrecy. Very few people knew this man existed in my life. Then seemingly all at once I decided it had been long enough. We did an informal meeting with the kids, his and mine, at a Halloween party. It went as smoothly as possible. Though my youngest two were reluctant and didn’t really feel ready for me to have a friend who was a male. I was patient with them. I understood their position. I continued to see him in secret and we had “ninja night” and our own special secret rendezvous plans while I began to slowly incorporate that I was going to date him into my threefolds’ minds. By Thanksgiving everyone knew even if we didn’t say it out loud. We began having outings together with our children included. It was going great and seemed to be exactly what it needed to be and at the pace they were comfortable with. I was happy and they could see that, maybe for the first time.
Then my world fell apart and my other half was not there when it all went so bad in my personal life. My daughter, 2, was admitted inpatient for suicidal thoughts and self harm behaviors. I was devastated. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I cried in my room for hours, and I just wanted to fix it and make her pain stop and make my guilt disappear. I wanted to go into my own dark place and suffer with her. I couldn’t, I had to be strong and I needed to be the mom my threefold needed me to be. I began to push away from the man who was trying so hard to be there for me in the only way he could at the time. I didn’t want to lose focus on my threefold and they needed me more than ever. I gave him every reason to leave. I told him to “take the out” that he deserved someone that could give him all of themselves and I couldn’t be that person. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t just walk away. I wasn’t going to hold it against him. He refused to accept the offer of a less complicated and easier life for himself. He decided that he would be with me through whatever was to come. He never wavered. He was steady and patient. He loved me as much as I would let him and through my resistance.
I moved into my new home and I was excited to have 2 join me. Then 1 and then 3. We made that house a home. We didn’t take but a few boxes of personal belongings from our old life and we began to start over, fresh. Our lives were finally seeming to move forward and we were able to spend our first Christmas together in our new home. I wish I. Could say we lived happily ever after, but the truth is starting over is hard. We had to become more aware of each other and the needs we had individually and as a whole. We were healing, growing, changing, and adapting to a new way of life. In the background of my life was a man waiting for me to be able to give him everything he was giving to me. I struggled as I wanted to be able to give him everything, but I still felt like my threefold would need all of me. I was conflicted and felt guilty about feeling like it would be selfish for me to choose to be happy or if it would be detrimental to a future I could have if I continued to push away from a man that seemed to be everything I had ever hoped to have. I searched for red flags to tell me this relationship was doomed so I could make my decision easier. I picked fights and pushed back harder. I wanted to force the ending that I had imagined would happen if I allowed myself to stay in this relationship. There he stood, taking everything I threw at him and stayed by my side regardless of my attempts to destroy it. He loved me. I still couldn’t see why.
After some time I decided with my therapist that it was time I made space for this man in my life. It was time I take chances and that the risk of being hurt was never going to vanish. He deserved and earned a place in my life. He had done exactly what he said every step of the way. He set out to show me he was different and it was time that I acknowledged. I didn’t have to understand his reasons, but that I couldn’t be half in and half out. He had been committed to making me happy and being whatever I needed him to be each day. I needed to return that commitment and decide to allow myself to be happy. I would never be able to control whether he would hurt me, but I began to realize that I was hurting myself by giving up on our future if I didn’t at least take the leap into faith that in fact he could be the exact person who was meant to be with me. I was so scared and so insecure in myself. I was still healing and so unsure, but I decided to take that jump and try to move forward.
Over those next few months, there was a lot of adjusting. I realized that I was far from perfect and still very broken. I stayed guarded and protected myself and my threefold above all else. I was still scared of what the future would bring. In the moments where I could free myself from the anxiety and overwhelming fear of messing it up I was happier than I had ever been. I was able to be me. I was loved for that and accepted just as I was. There was no expectations, no eggshells, no disapproval, and no spiteful or nasty name calling. It was pure in those moments. I was relaxed and carefree. I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was lost in love and it was easy. Things were different. I didn’t feel the weight of everything as heavy as I had before. I began to allow walls to come down. I was in the now. I was present. I was thriving in every area of my life. I was excited and ready to make the big steps and do the hard work to move forward.
Then out of no where it all came back again. I was on a high that seemed would never end and suddenly it’s like my whole life came to a crashing halt reminding me that you can’t predict the future. 2 was in crisis again and after my every attempt to keep her safe and make her feel the love and support she was still very much unable to move past her trauma and move forward. She felt like nothing was going to ever get better. She had struggled as she felt guilty for setting boundaries with her father and felt unable to cope with the emotional turmoil in her life. The past was bound and determined to keep her and she felt if she was unable break free from it she would set herself free in the only way she knew would make the pain end forever. She was readmitted to the hospital and again I felt alone in my struggle to save one of my threefold from herself and from our tumultuous past. I wanted to fix it and I couldn’t find my magic wand. This wasn’t a pain that would end because mommy kissed it and made it better. This was not a scraped knee or a broken bone that would mend in a few weeks or months. There were no surgeries. There were no cures. There were no guarantees. I could only hope and pray that my decisions were being made in accordance to what was recommended by her mental health team and that those decisions would be made with her best interest at the top of mind.
I don’t have all the answers and love doesn’t fix everything. Sometimes it’s not enough. I’m twelve weeks in to 2’s inpatient journey this year. I’ve had breakdowns, I’ve lost sleep, weight, money and peace worrying about the future for my threefold and for myself and for the man that my threefold and I have grown to love and depend on during the past year. My threefold have accepted him fully as a new addition to our lives and they now tell him daily they love him too. They have made room for a man and made room for another sister. We are learning all of us that our family is unique and that we can lean on one another for guidance, support, help and mostly we are learning to love.
Regardless of what life throws at me and what argument we have, disagreements are present, or the hurt that we can inflict on each other we find a way back to the love. We find comfort there. In the midst of everything going on there is always a silver lining if we only choose to see it. We aren’t perfect people. We are however the perfect people for one another. So true love and soulmates exist. Fairytales and romance movies or novels are stories but they can also be present in reality. Choosing love is worth the risk of a broken heart. Being with someone who stands by you and loves you through the ups and the downs regardless of if it’s the best of times or the worst is unconditional love. I am grateful I took a leap of faith and allowed myself to choose happiness. I’ve never been more in love or felt more loved than I have this year. When it felt like everything would fall apart and I couldn’t make myself see the silver lining I am so thankful that the man in my life chose to show me the way. I call him PPP because he is the perky positivity peddler and he always sees his way to the good in all things especially me and my threefold. I am learning, growing, healing, and changing still, we all are, but this year made me see that we are going to have a long journey ahead. The bad may keep happening and our past may be testing us all, but in the love we share we have a direction forward. We are prepared and ready to take on the world and rule that world, unicorn style!
My Mom is Forever 48: Gone but not Forgotten.
Today would’ve been momma’s birthday, instead she is forever 48. Even after more than 13 years the grief still lingers and makes itself known reminding me of the giant hole that was left behind in our lives over a decade ago. I still wonder why she had to leave us so soon and when there was so much more to do, see, experience and when God knew how much I would need her in the years that were left ahead for me. I was so young and naive, 23 and pregnant with #2. #1 was almost 4. I was a newlywed and trying to figure out my life. Then in an instant it changed forever. I learned it was I who was now the mother.
I’m not sure what a birthday with my mom that would look like anymore. I often wonder if she would’ve been happy or if she would have hated the idea of getting older. I am not a fan of these days that make me think more of her than I typically do. They say “time heals all wounds”, but I don’t know if that’s true. I may never heal from my mom’s death. There was too much that I felt got left unsaid, too much that was left unresolved, and too much that we never had the chance to experience. My mother died and I wasn’t ready to let her go. I couldn’t understand why or what purpose this pain served. I became angry at God, at her, and most of all with myself for all of my mistakes along the way. I still haven’t released myself from the guilt, the grief, or the pain that quickly rushed in and took hold that early February morning 13 years ago unexpectedly out of no where. She was too young, she wasn’t sick, and I didn’t understand how this happened so quickly.
Grief is a unpredictable emotion. You expect it at first and then expect it to subside. It does over time diminish as you begin to go back to the day to day routines in life. No matter how long it’s been, grief can be triggered to come back full force even when you least expect it. It lingers within you and that rush of emotions can flood you as strong and fresh as the onset of the initial loss. There isn’t a timeline where you suddenly stop grieving. I’ve learned that no amount of time or distance will make me stop needing, wanting, or missing my mom’s presence in my life. If anything the time is just seems to make me realize how long it’s been since I last saw her face and heard her voice.
I had to hold on to what I had left in those first few years because my grief was drowning me after she died. I watched as my family moved on with their lives and felt like I couldn’t. I felt like I was responsible for carrying the grief for all of us for a long time. That I had to be the one who was kept her memory alive for everyone. People stopped mentioning her name as they grieved her loss in a different way. I held onto the pain because I felt it was all I had left of her at that time. I know now I have a lot more of her to hold onto than the pain. I see her face sometimes in my own. I hear her words or tone come out of my mouth when I speak in certain moments. When I need her with me I can now have faith that she is watching over me and leading me in the right direction. She taught me about what kind of mother I needed to be for my children. She taught me also all the things I don’t want my children to have in a mother.
Somewhere along the way I realized although we fought and argued and hurt eachother that she was always there to help me when I was ready to accept it. She was always willing to offer her advice and opinion, I sometimes would take as criticism, but it was from a place of genuine love and wanting me to be my best. She wanted me to be better for my family then she was for hers. I may always be grieving, but I can now see that my mother’s memory doesn’t reside only in that grief. She resides in me, my brother, my dad and our children. She is there and will always be watching over all of us. Happy Birthday Momma. I miss you today and everyday. Your memory lives on forever in our family and the time we had together.
Some days, like today are just harder than others. Some days in the ordinary moments it comes rushing back, that loss, out of no where. You expect the birthdays, anniversaries, the holidays, and the day you said goodbye to be difficult. The milestones, the celebrations and the failures, or anytime that you would’ve appreciated their presence, their guidance, their comfort or their love to be with you. It’s such a complicated emotion, grief. Losing a parent is a big loss, and when you feel like things should’ve been done differently and better it can leave you not only grieving but riddled with the confusion and guilt that their absence has brought.
PS: I owe my mother that my threefold even exists! She told me not long before her death right after I found out 2 was going to be a girl – “you are going to get threefold back for what you put me through!” We laughed as she chastised me for being such a horrible teenager. When I found out I was having another girl with 3 after she had died I could hear the laughter of her in my head and the repetition of those words over and over. So this My Threefold was born in that moment. ☮️❤️😊 -M
Breakthroughs and Boundaries: Focusing on the Future
I have such a hard time setting boundaries. I always have. I am so proud that I have been able to begin to set boundaries for myself. I looked back over the past year of our lives, that of mine and those of my threefold and realized my weakness in setting and maintaining boundaries was hurting them in big ways. Not only have they needed more from me but they expected it and after all they have endured this year and throughout their childhoods they deserve it. I’m proud of my growth that seemingly began to come together all at once.
These past few weeks have been a struggle and a true test of my strength. I needed these last few weeks to show me just what I am capable of. I brought myself to the edge of a breakdown and stared down at how far I would fall with all I had to lose. I wondered where I would be if I just let myself free fall and allow the stress to consume me. I’m not proud that I wondered if it would be easier to just allow myself to lose total control and touch with reality. I wondered if anyone would be there for my family visitation or if I’d have a ride home after discharge. Ultimately, I decided that I had far to much to lose and nothing to gain except more stress and I got terrified of the consequences. I’ve been through a psychotic break. I’ve lived in fear of hitting the ceiling of my stress and anxiety a million times in the past 11 years since that 4 week psychiatric admission.
I had a total of 8 panic attacks in 3 days over the course of last weekend. I had 4 more happen at various times over the next 2 days. By Tuesday I had been put through the ringer. I had a toxic argument with the Exhole that I engaged in and fed into for the first time in nearly a year. I have lost countless hours of sleep working into the night on everything in my head. I took off 2 days from work because I couldn’t focus for long periods of time on anything at all. My anxiety and ADD were fighting against me. I was unfocused, anxious, and near manic. I realized I was going to force myself into psychosis if I didn’t gain some order and control back over the chaos that was enslaving me.
I was physically ill. I had the sinus infection of the century that I couldn’t seem to kick for months along with a double ear infection. My energy was zapped and I was left feeling like a zombie due to dehydration, lack of proper nutrition, and running on 2-3 hours of sleep and some nights none at all. I had multiple nights where it was seemingly too much. I ended up starting to let every little thing eat at me and consume me. I couldn’t keep going this way. If I didn’t end up in a psychiatric facility I was going to end up in a hospital because my body couldn’t continue functioning while I abused it to the extreme.
After my 4th panic attack Friday night in 8 hours I knew I was in for trouble. Everything set my anxiety over the edge. I couldn’t shove anything else down. I stayed up all night Friday night with a racing mind that I couldn’t shut down. I couldn’t even meditate because it made it worse to sit still as my mind wouldn’t clear. Saturday I wanted to make everything stop. I had an emergency session I scheduled with my therapist. I began telling my dad and my fiancé that I was on the verge of needing to go to the hospital. I scared them and my threefold with my erratic behavior. I couldn’t see that sleep and a break was what my body and mind were begging me for. I saw the light last Sunday. I slept some, more than normal and woke up feeling more relaxed. My unicorn as he has been tokened at work and now at home by my threefold and I, the trusted PPP had a long cathartic talk about his concern for me and I told him everything I could think of that he needed to know about my past, my trauma, struggles with addiction, grief over my mom’s death before we had a chance to heal the childhood pain she caused me, my marriage, the abuse, nearly everything that I had never admitted to anyone before. I was ready for him to tell me it was all too much, but instead he spoke with sincere faith and love, he infused me with supportive and positive energy. In that moment I fell in love with him all over again and thanked God for giving me the gift of what I can only define as true love. I vowed then and there that I would move mountains to make sure that I didn’t mess this up for my threefold or I.
I still didn’t sleep Sunday as I prepped for the first day of school. I was still scattered and unfocused. I wanted to be better and began figuring how I was going to make my words match my actions as I know too well that your intentions have to be both heard but and seen in order for change to take hold. I decided to work through what I needed to do in order to make my struggles feel less like they were controlling my life. Something clicked as I finally began to see that my need to feel in control of every single thing was in fact making me lose control over the things in my life that I could control.
My breakthrough made me set boundaries that had been needed to be in place for a long time, but my fear and my own insecurities were had been keeping me from setting those boundaries and enforcing them. It was past time I did what was best for my threefold and I, as well as our new family unit. I restored my strength and realigned my focus as I began to reflect on what I could do right now to make all of us feel safe and instill confidence as we faced the beginning of a new chapter in our story.
Breakthroughs and Boundaries:
- Focus on each day as it comes with emphasis on where we are headed instead of where we have been.
- Set myself and my family up for success by establishing routine and a schedule for our day to day lives.
- Accept that I need help to care for my threefold and ask for it when needed. When received acknowledge it and show gratitude for the support received.
- Meet people where they are as much as possible, being more understanding of their own struggles and the frustrations those struggles bring. Give those around me the allowances I give myself while recognizing those that may take advantage of the good nature of that goal.
- Validate my threefold in their feelings and offer solutions that are action based in a compassionate manner.
- Let go of things I cannot change and focus on the behaviors and actionable steps I can take to improve my situation in this moment.
- Manage priorities and make lists to gain perspective on what I need to do each day. Have a list for home that is separate from work. This will allow not only me to notate what I need to accomplish, but also show that I am accomplishing things throughout the day, remind me to focus on what I can do now, serve as a way to put the thought on paper so I do not forget it when I can work on it, allow me to focus fully on each task and redirect my focus when I feel scattered. If the thought is out of my head it will lower my anxiety by knowing that I have notated it which means I will get to it. This lowers overwhelm of trying to remember everything and be more able to refocus when distracted.
- React differently and from a place of thoughtful consideration.
- Listen and hear what others say when speaking to me. Soak in the words and allow them the full opportunity to speak before formulating my response.
- Give myself grace during this time to fail, fall and be flexible with my methods.
- Reassess and reevaluate how I can do things as I see something may not be working.
- Proactive planning will be my priority as I look to manage my time. I can set limits and timers on the amount of energy I need to give to any task.
- Set aside a chunk of time for myself to rest, relax, and recharge each day.
- Communicate openly and honestly with my family at home and at work about anything I speak about.
- Accept myself with intentions to change anything I don’t accept.
- Be grateful for everything good in our lives and realize that anything else is teaching me how to be a stronger and better person.
- I am doing my best each day. I’m doing so I am giving 100% to everyone and everything that I can that day. Understanding that my best some days will be higher or lower on the scale depending on what I feel. I am never going to be or maintain perfection and no one expects more from me than I expect of myself.
- I am safe, secure, supported and loved every second of everyday. I am healing and progressing.
- Boundaries are important for us all to feel comfortable. Establishing boundaries and maintaining them makes others see that I prioritize yourself and therefore they should respect those boundaries as they are how I feel most secure right now.
- It is my job as a mother to set boundaries for my threefold as they cannot be expected to have to set and maintain them if it concerns their health, safety, or to protect them from being hurt or hurting others.
- Everything is coming together to show us the purpose and plan for our journey. All we can do is have faith and know that everything happens for a bigger purpose.