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when leaving a narcissist

5 Mistakes I Made When Leaving a Narcissist & How You Can Avoid Them

when leaving a narcissist

 

Whatever mistakes, miscalculations, or bad decisions there are to be made in leaving a narcissist, I made them.

After sixteen years with a man whom I’d built a life with, had children with, and thought I knew, I made the naïve assumption that I could predict what ending our life together and getting divorced would look like. I counted on his promises of the past to stay true in the future.

Even during the last few years of the marriage when I had to deal more with the evil Mr. Hyde than the good Dr. Jekyll, even after uncovering his double life that revealed his predatory nature for girls less than half his age, I still relied on our shared history as a couple to see me through.

My greatest error arose from my inability to wrap my head around the fact that there are people in this world who lack any sense of empathy, decency, or integrity, and who will stand back with a smirk on their face, holding a bucket of water that they have no intention of using while watching those who love them the most burn in pain.

Believing this to be an exaggeration and that no one could possibly be guilty of purposely inflicting pain on their own loved ones is the first mistake I made. Then it was a downward spiral of my shattered expectations as I learned the hard way that, yes, there are people in this world who will not only smile as they watch you fall and suffer, but will spin the story to such a point that they’ll say you deserved it.

Those people are called narcissists.

And if you’re involved with one, wanting to leave or in the process of leaving one, here are the top five mistakes to avoid. Doing so certainly won’t erase the pain of separation or divorce but will definitely lessen it if your eyes are wide open since then you won’t risk the heartbreak from bombshells that every narcissist is capable of dropping.

5 Mistakes I Made When Leaving a Narcissist

Mistake #1: Believing a narcissist will be a good person and play fair

Every phone call, every email I got from my attorney left me in a state of shock and awe upon hearing what my ex was attempting to get away with or accusing me of. Since I believed what my ex told me prior to filing for divorce, such as that he would make sure our kids and I would be taken care of financially and I wouldn’t have to worry, each realization of what he was actually up to left me reeling as if I’d been sucker-punched that landed me on the floor, of which I couldn’t get up from during the entire divorce process.

How to avoid my mistake?

See them for who they really are and not who you always wanted them to be. Drop the illusions you still carry, such as that they’ll change or they’d never hurt you. No need to be cynical, but crucial to be prepared. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Mistake #2: Choosing any lawyer to represent you

Because of the fragile emotional state I was in at the time and my desperation to get the divorce over with, I did not vet my lawyer. I did not ask any questions and trusted that he would do a good job of representing me. I assumed (because he was a lawyer) that he would know the difference between fair and unfair, that he would hold my ex accountable in disclosing assets, and would advocate for me and my children to his best ability.

My lawyer always talked a big game when we were planning how to respond to my ex’s obvious skirting of the law and the abuse he still inflicted (such as cyberstalking me, stealing my identity, and hacking into my emails), then at the last minute would pull away from any previous plan and encourage me to settle.

His strategy-switching gave me whiplash. And it always coincided with running through another big retainer I’d paid, which disappeared quickly when I was being charged even if I only spoke to his legal secretary for two minutes on the phone (she called once to ask my address, which I gave and then we hung up, for which I was charged a quarter-hour of my attorney’s rate: $75).

How to avoid my mistake?

Interview attorneys. Ask them if they have experience in high-conflict divorces with abusive personalities. Ask them if they know how a narcissist operates. Go with your gut and don’t be pressured into hiring a lawyer you don’t feel completely safe with or whose methods you question. Remember, a lawyer has the ability to make or break you in a divorce. Make sure you choose wisely.

Mistake #3: Letting your emotions make decisions for you

It is a fact that women tend to look at divorce from an emotional perspective. And why wouldn’t we? When we’re heartbroken or disillusioned or escaping abuse, we can’t help but be emotional about our lives as we knew them ending, sometimes going down in a huge ball of flames. However, in general, men look at divorce from a business standpoint and remove emotion from the process (not all men, of course).

And men who are true narcissists take it even further – to them, it’s war. You’re the enemy. And therefore, you must be defeated. Because I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by my pain, and unable to truly begin any healing process while still in the midst of the divorce, I couldn’t make those important decisions for my future since I was unable to see even the day after the next through my tears. Meanwhile, a narcissist lacking any empathy or compassion, to begin with, will exploit the weakness of another and chalk it up to the necessities of war.

How to avoid my mistake?

Given the fact that most men, especially fathers, come out far better off financially after divorce than women, who tend to see their incomes drop by over a third, it’s imperative that those emotions are put aside for the time it takes to legally separate. Cry, cuss, and rage all you want (if only I had a dollar for every f-bomb I dropped during my divorce) but leave your heart out of it and use only your mind when figuring out those details that will determine how you’ll fare long after those divorce papers are signed.

Mistake #4: Giving in and saying Uncle when you’re too tired to go on

Narcissists are like wolves (no offense to actual wolves who act only out of instinct and not out of any innate desire to persecute those who do them wrong). Their success depends on their ability to exhaust you and wear you down to the point where you stop running, lose your strength, and eventually surrender.

Because I didn’t have a good lawyer to encourage me not to waive my rights or what I was entitled to, I quickly became so drained that I lost all my nerve and gusto to stand up for myself. I gave up and gave in, and because of that I’m still experiencing the effects financially all these years later.

How to avoid my mistake?

Understand that a narcissist is trying to wear you down on purpose so that you’ll give up and give in. Trust me when I say that once you’ve recovered and regained your strength later down the line, you’ll regret it if you do throw your hands up during the divorce and give up in any way whatsoever.

Mistake #5: Underestimating how low a narcissist will go.

Check. Double check. I underestimated my ex to such an extent that I paid for it severely not only with my financial well-being but my emotional health as well since every time I was knocked to the ground by the things he would say or do, eventually I just stayed there huddled up in a ball waiting for the next blow.

How to avoid my mistake?

Think of the lowest possible thing that someone could do to another. Got it in your head? Good, because a narcissist will go lower. So brace yourself and gird those loins for this moment to come.

I wish I could tell you that today I have zero regrets for the mistakes I made when I left (escaped is more like it) and filed for divorce from a narcissist. However, since I’m still paying for those mistakes today it’s hard to not beat myself up every so often.

But then I remind myself lovingly and patiently that I didn’t know. I barely knew anything about narcissists at the time let alone what divorcing one would be like. And I didn’t know how to choose a lawyer. Nor did I feel empowered to stand up for me after so many years of being emotionally beaten down. So when I start kicking my own ass about “what I should have done instead,” I remind myself how far I’ve come despite all the difficulty and trauma of my past.

As Michelangelo said at the ripe old age of 87, “I am still learning.”

And I hope by sharing my own lessons, you are still learning too.

The post 5 Mistakes I Made When Leaving a Narcissist & How You Can Avoid Them appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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eaving a narcissist

Leaving a Narcissist? Here’s How

eaving a narcissist

 

Leaving a narcissist isn’t easy. You make up your mind, you’re going to do it this time and then bam, you find yourself vulnerable to his charms and manipulations. Unless he wants you to go, the narcissist isn’t going to allow you to go without a fight.

Both mentally and physically, he will try to remain in your life and this is why you need all the tricks and tips available to prevent him from working his way back into your life.

If you’re trying the leave a relationship or marriage with a narcissistic partner you need the information below.

Leaving a Narcissist? Here’s How

Understanding The Narcissist’s World

A narcissist truly believes that he is the center of the universe; that he comes first and is always right. Narcissists are somewhat emotionally barren and lack the empathy to even consider the impact their actions may have on those around them.

They are often deeply unhappy individuals (regardless of their exterior appearance) and they like nothing more than to project these ill feelings onto others in the hope of driving conflict – the veritable catnip for narcissists.

A narcissist is a master of fakery – he can turn on the charm at the drop of a hat and compound lie upon lie in a bid to get his own way and stroke his own ego. He seeks out a person’s emotional triggers early on and uses them against them once the honeymoon period is over.

A narcissist is a user – he gives very little in the way of genuine warmth to a partner but insists upon a constant stream of it flowing to him. He requires compliments and kind words on a regular basis and will seek to punish a partner if these are not forthcoming.

He sees relationships purely as sources of supply; a supply of attention and love even though he is incapable of returning the latter.

When the partner tries to break away from the narcissist, he doesn’t see them as a loss, per se, but rather their withholding of this supply. He is confronted with a wounded ego and anxiety as to how he will meet his supply requirements. This is one good reason why he is so likely to try and regain the lost relationship – not because he loves or cares for the partner, but because he cannot go without attention and affection.

Understanding The Role A Narcissist Plays In Separation

When you attempt to leave a narcissistic partner, you will face a barrage of mental manipulation, and unless you are able to recognize it for what it is, you will suffer greatly because of it.

A narcissist will attempt to lay all of the blame at your door; he will spin his own versions of past events and seek to convince you of them. He will deceive, trick, and argue in such a way as to not only convince himself that he is right but also make you doubt yourself and the circumstances of your separation.

You must remain mentally strong and maintain your grasp on reality at all times. Don’t let his lies paint a different picture to the one you actually experienced during your relationship.

A narcissist will seek to make you feel guilty and worthless in an attempt to make himself feel better. As hard is can be to resist these attempts, you should try to see through his eyes to understand why he is saying all of these hurtful things. This should help you to reduce their effects on you.

Set Firm, Meaningful Boundaries

When you want to leave a narcissistic partner behind, you will almost certainly find resistance on their part. As I said above, they see your actions as a threat to their ego and an end to the supply you provided them, and they will likely try to worm their way back into your life somehow.

They will turn on their act once again and this may make it appear as if they have truly changed, that they are repentant and that you have shown them the way. None of these things are true; the charm they put on and the pity they try to extract from you are just more mind games to mask what’s real and underneath.

To combat this, you need to set concrete boundaries that prevent the narcissist from being able to play these games in the first place.

You may still be in love with him, which makes it all the more difficult, but by putting some distance between you – even if metaphorically – you will give your mind time to regain clarity and see things as they truly are.

Ideally, you will not take his calls, see him, or have contact with him full stop, but if you feel in some way that you owe it to him (which you shouldn’t), or you have to maintain contact for other reasons (such as children), then do it on your terms. Set the time, place and length of the contact and tell him that it will end at the first sight of belittling behavior, raised voices, or derogatory remarks.

Better yet, if you have to see them for any reason (say you share custody of a child), then try using the Gray Rock Method to interact with them in a way that will reduce the risk of you getting hurt again.

Try To Build A Strong Support System

Escaping the clutches of a narcissist is never easy and there will be times when you feel like giving in and returning to him. This is why it is essential that you find people who can give you the strength you need to overcome the hard times.

Unfortunately, as part of his mind games, the narcissist may well have already contacted mutual friends and family to convince them of your wrongdoing and even if he has not, many people will struggle to identify with the person you describe – remember, he may well have put on the charm around others.

But wherever you find them – and it might be that you have to seek out people who have been in your situation and understand what you are going through – be sure to keep them at hand for the inevitable moments of self-doubt and surrender.

Let them know the boundaries you have set and tell them to call you out should you ever let these boundaries drift or fall down. You may find that you have altercations with your supporters, but let it be known to them in advance that you appreciate all that they are doing for you.

Recognize Your Own Limiting Beliefs

Having a narcissist for a partner can well and truly mess with your head and the result is likely to be a number of limiting beliefs that you have about yourself, them, and your relationship.

For instance, you might believe that:

  • they truly love you
  • your love for them can prevail given time
  • you are to blame for the ending of the relationship
  • they bring you happiness that you will not find elsewhere
  • things can go back to how they were in the beginning
  • they have seen the errors in their ways once and for all
  • you can fix them and that it is your duty to stay and help
  • they feel the same way that you do

Not one of these things is true. They are incapable of love, meaning your love can never prevail. You are not to blame and you can find greater happiness elsewhere. Things can never go back to how they were and stay that way because they have not seen any error in their ways. You cannot fix them and nor is it your responsibility, and they most certainly don’t feel the same way as you.

Practice Self Kindness And Understanding

An essential component of saying goodbye to the narcissist in your life is to be kind to yourself in the process.

During your time together, he will have broken you down repeatedly and left you doubting yourself, your beauty (inner and outer), and your ability to function without him.

Just know that you are deserving of more. You have a strength that has been hidden in the shadows and all you have to do is learn to summon it again.

It will take time; more time than it ever takes to move on from the breakdown of a healthy relationship. You will have to give yourself some leeway and know that hard times are ahead and that they will test your resolve.

But kindness to oneself is a powerful thing; the more you practice it, the more it takes hold within your heart. You should be acting out of kindness towards yourself each and every day until it becomes natural once more.

Rebuild Your Self Image

The narcissist in your relationship will have tried to shatter the image you hold of yourself and remake it as he sees fit for his purpose. So when you leave him behind, what you see in the mirror could be very different from that which you saw before you met him.

A part of your healing will be to rediscover what it means to be you; there will be some additional scars inflicted by your ex-partner, but your inner self will eventually shine again.

The post Leaving a Narcissist? Here’s How appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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My Story of Divorce: Leaving the Cage (Part 1) 

My Story of Divorce: Leaving the Cage (Part 1) 

Deciding to divorce was not only the best thing for my emotional well-being; it was also the best example I could set for our daughter.

The post My Story of Divorce: Leaving the Cage (Part 1)  appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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5 steps to take when leaving a bad marriage

5 Steps To Take When Leaving a Bad Marriage

5 steps to take when leaving a bad marriage

 

Leaving a bad marriage is not easy so if you’ve decided you want a better life and are putting an end to a toxic marriage, bravo! Recognizing that you’re in a bad situation is hard enough but then respecting and loving yourself enough to say you’re truly done is daunting but doable if you are truly ready to leave.

Here are 5 steps to take when leaving a bad marriage: 

1. Therapy

Can you afford therapy? If you’re leaving a bad marriage, you will need support and to work through the issues that have built up during the marriage. Another great reason to try therapy? When leaving a bad marriage, you may be tempted many times to go back to your ex and a therapist can support you on your journey towards a healthy you and either rebuilding a healthier marriage or, a healthier life ahead outside of the marriage. Many therapists will work on a sliding scale and if you cannot afford it, try speaking to someone you trust like a pastor or rabbi, etc.

2. Finances

Are you working or, are you a stay-at-home parent? If you aren’t, will you need to support yourself?  Most likely the answer is yes so start applying to jobs, even if you find something that’s simply right for the meantime. Any bit of money earned is a step towards your independence, which is crucial when leaving a bad marriage.

If you’re already working and you are the breadwinner of the family, stop and consider how divorce will impact your earnings. Speak to a local attorney and find out your state’s laws on child support and spousal support.

Let’s also not forget any debt you and your soon-to-be-ex may have. Are you prepared for how that could be divided during a divorce? Important things to consider.

More financial factors:

  • Do you have a bank account in your name only? If not, open one. What about a credit card? Open one as well.
  • If you’re a stay-at-home parent, can you brush up your resume because you will need to work after divorce? And can you find family or loved ones to help with childcare when you return to work?

3. See a Lawyer

If you are determined to divorce and your spouse isn’t willing to use a mediator, which is a more affordable option than a litigated divorce. Most lawyers will do free consults and will give you a decent idea of what you are heading into financially and if you have children, with regards to custody. It never hurts to be prepared and no: don’t tell your partner you’re consulting with a lawyer!

4. Line Up the Troops

If you have kids, start lining up support now. It is hard being a single parent so having family and/or friends, who will help you and your kids through the transition, especially if it’s an ugly toxic marriage, will be immeasurable. Some family may have a hard time agreeing with your situation even if the marriage is that bad, so tell family members you can count on to be helpful on this journey.

5. Mantras/ Stress Outlets

Ending a marriage whether it was a good or bad marriage is emotionally taxing. Start finding ways to decompress whether it’s through meditation, yoga, reading, weekly meet-ups with a friend for a beer, coffee, a football game, or a manicure, or going for a run.

Even more pressing, start to work on your way of thinking and how you view yourself and your ability to handle divorce stress. Daily positive mantras such as: “I deserve a better life” or “This will get better” or “I am whole on my own” are good ways to mentally train yourself to want better for yourself and help you through the dark periods of separation and divorce.

The bottom line? You deserve to be happy and if your bad marriage is not fixable, don’t feel bad about walking away.

The post 5 Steps To Take When Leaving a Bad Marriage appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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before leaving your abuser

11 Steps To Take Before Leaving Your Abuser

before leaving your abuser

 

Breaking up a marriage where there are children involved is a heartbreaking and extraordinarily difficult decision for any mom to make. She may have no choice if she is being abused, whether verbally or physically.

Allowing the abuse to continue sets a bad example for her children and has a deep impact on them, even if they are not being subjected to abuse themselves. They will be more likely to grow up thinking that this pattern of behavior is normal, and become either an abuser or a victim of domestic abuse themselves.

As she is most likely the primary caretaker of her children, it is up to her to break the cycle of abuse in her family. Unless her husband is willing to acknowledge and make amends for his actions, go to a therapist, and permanently change his behavior, the only recourse she has is to end the marriage to protect herself and her children. It’s vital for her to not only take financial precautions, but also to practice self-care, and use stress reduction tools and healing techniques to get through this difficult time and begin to heal.

If you find yourself in this situation, take these important 11 steps before leaving your abuser.

1. Safety First. Your family’s personal safety is the only thing that really matters. If either you or your children are being subjected to physical violence, take them and leave the home right now. If you suspect that physical abuse may be imminent, take the children and leave right now.

Use the resources listed in the Emergencies Tab on the Breaking Bonds website, a free resource for abused women, to find a secure place to stay if you don’t have somewhere else to go. You can access the rest of the information on this website from a safe distance.

2. Have Money. Before alerting your abuser that you plan to leave him, set aside hard cash for emergencies and transfer up to half of the balances in the bank accounts to an account in your name alone. Have the bank mail the statements to a post office box instead of to your home. You will need to be able to pay bills until you are able to petition the court for financial assistance.

Abusers will frequently drain the accounts once they discover they are going to lose control over their victims in order to retaliate or to force them to drop the divorce petition or settle for unfavorable terms. Do not drain the joint accounts yourself and leave your husband without any funds, as that would be unethical.

Disclose what you have done with the money in your first meeting with your lawyer.  He or she may have different advice as to whether you should move funds to a separate account before filing for divorce. Inform him or her that an abuser will do whatever it takes to be punitive and maintain control, and it is highly likely that he will drain the household accounts as soon as he is aware that his wife plans to divorce him.

Although your attorney can ask the judge in your case to issue a temporary order to freeze your jointly held bank accounts, such measures will take time. You must have funds for the day-to-day living expenses for your family and to pay your attorney and court expenses in the meantime.

3. Go-to Bag. Prepare a go-to bag that contains contain cash, your driver’s license, credit cards, checkbooks, a list of your assets and debts, a set of clothes for you and the children, toys, court papers, your passport, birth certificates, medical records, marriage certificate, social security cards, medicines, insurance information, immunization records, welfare documents, immigration papers, and other legal documents. Keep copies of court papers in your possession to prove to the police that your spouse is violating a court restraining order if you have to summon them.

4. Make Copies. Make copies of bank and other financial statements, deeds, paystubs, recent tax returns, estate documents, and emails, texts, posts, or video that incriminate your abuser or prove his infidelity without alerting him that you plan to file for divorce. Store this evidence somewhere safe outside the home. Abusers frequently remove or destroy records once they become aware of the divorce.

5. Protect your Children. When you leave your husband, take your children with you to avoid losing custody of them. The courts may consider your leaving them behind to be abandonment, a sign that you are an unfit mother willing to leave them in danger. Or that you are lying about the domestic abuse. Even if your husband tries to intimidate you to leave without the children, do not let him force you to leave the house without them under any circumstances. Call the police if you must.

6. Document Abuse. Take pictures of any physical abuse and date them. Start documenting verbal abuse in a journal that you keep outside the home. If your abuser becomes violent, call the police immediately and have them take pictures to document the abuse. Make sure that you have written down the names of the officers who are present. Have your abuser arrested. If you give him a free pass, the abuse is likely to escalate. Protect yourself and your children.

7. Get Help. Use the Resources Tab on the Breaking Bonds website to find safety resources, therapists, and financial and legal assistance in your area.

8. Protect Credit. Before you file for divorce, obtain a credit card in your name alone. You may not be able to get credit based on your income alone, so make an application to get the card before you file for divorce so that you can qualify for credit based on your joint income with your spouse. As soon as you file, close any joint credit cards that have a zero balance and put a freeze the jointly held credit cards. You won’t be able to close them out completely if they still have a balance, but you can prevent any additional charges from being added to joint debt by freezing the account.

You are responsible for payment of any joint debt that you or your husband incurs during your marriage, even debt that your husband will ultimately be assigned in the settlement. Credit card companies are only concerned with whether you signed for the card, not the terms of a court order. Document all phone calls you make to the credit card companies and send them follow-up letters requesting that the lender report to the credit agencies that each of these credit card accounts was closed at your request.

Late payments and skipped payments will adversely affect your credit score for years to come, so do your best to make sure that payments are made by the due date for any debts you or your husband have incurred while the divorce is still going on. Your credit score will affect whether you can buy a home in your name alone or if you can refinance your existing home to remove your husband’s name afterward. It also affects the rate of interest that you will be charged on any loans you apply for in the future. Do what you can to protect your credit score.

9. Confide Well. Be careful whom you confide in. Some of your friends, colleagues, and family members may be judgmental or repeat to others what you have said to them in confidence. Even worse, the word may get back to your abuser. Do not confide in your children unless it is absolutely necessary, as they are dealing with enough emotional turmoil and deserve to have their childhood protected.

When discussing the situation with your children, say that you don’t feel safe living with their father or leaving them alone with him. Tell them that he does bad and scary things, not that he is a bad person. It is not necessary or helpful to elaborate. The best plan is to confide mostly in your therapist and your dog. Then give it to God.

10. Self-Care. Take care of yourself so that you can handle the stress of the divorce effectively. You will need physical energy and brainpower to deal with a very manipulative and unscrupulous opponent over a period of many months. Begin making changes now in your daily routine so that you get enough nutrients, exercise, and rest to feel empowered and think clearly. Mindfulness, deep breathing, meditation, prayer, time with friends and family, journaling, time outdoors, uplifting music, comedies, positive affirmations, massage, aromatherapy, and a daily gratitude practice are all wonderful tools to reduce stress and stay strong during this difficult time. Use the tools that work for you regularly to begin to heal. This will also boost your self-esteem and confidence.

11. Choose You. Choose not to be a victim any longer. Stop blaming yourself! He has been brainwashing you into thinking that everything is your fault. He is the one who is mistreating you and making your family life miserable. Take back your power and take appropriate action. Do not argue or engage with your abuser. Use your legitimate fear of him to protect yourself and your children. Use your anger, which is telling you that something is very wrong with your life, to overcome your fear and make the changes that you need in your life.

The post 11 Steps To Take Before Leaving Your Abuser appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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