woman war narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist Is Like Going To War: Here Is Your Battle Strategy

woman war narcissist


What fresh hell is this?

This was a recurring question I asked myself after filing for divorce from the man I had loved, devoted my life to, had children with, and who was also a diagnosed narcissist.

Looking back on my own experience, which was a brutal process that left me emotionally and financially battered, there were certain mistakes I made that could easily have been prevented had I known better. To be clear, divorcing a Narcissist is like going to war, and there are certain aspects to it that if you are aware of and wise to can make all the difference as to how you’ll come out on the other side.

Here is the advice that I wish I had had when going through it. Trust me when I say it could save yourself a lot of heartache, headaches, and potentially tens of thousands of dollars since narcissists aren’t just out to win the war, they’re out to annihilate to whatever degree they can.

For all of you preparing for that battle, or in the trenches of it, here are some tips that I would have given myself all those years ago and which would have made all the difference:

Divorcing a Narcissist Is Like Going To War: Here Is Your Battle Strategy

Find a fan-fucking-tastic attorney who is knowledgeable about abusers and personality disorders (warning: many lawyers are narcissists themselves).

Many attorneys are in this for the money and if you don’t have a good one, they will have no problem charging you for their services while the narcissist purposely creates situations that cost you money.

Make sure you and your attorney are both on the same page and never underestimate how a narcissist will lie, cheat, and steal in order to “win” the divorce. The more an attorney understands the below-the-belt tactics of a narcissist, the better she/he can protect you during the process.

Get rid of any and all illusions that your soon-to-be-ex is going to play nice or care about your well-being and best interests during the divorce or after.

This is where women can get into deep trouble while divorcing a narcissist. We want so badly to believe that our ex would never do anything on purpose to hurt us (especially if we are the mother of their children).

Unfortunately, this illusion will cost untold thousands of dollars in attorney fees because narcissists will mask their cruelty within the paperwork and hide their true intentions behind their lawyer (making it seem as if the lawyer was the one at fault).

Narcissists will do absolutely anything necessary to “win,” especially if you are the one who left them. They are punishers, and you can be sure that you’ll be the target of their punishment.

Stop being nice.

Another mistake that women often make in the divorce process is trying to be nice and playing fair. The problem is that while you are a good person and just trying to be considerate for the sake of everyone involved, a narcissist has no emotional attachment to your well-being and thus will have zero problem in taking everything he can from you (they are known to be particularly brutal during a divorce and step up their efforts to smear your name and drag you through the mud).

Though it may be difficult to step outside of your comfort zone and enter the icky world of a narcissist’s playbook, it’s imperative that you take your emotions out of the divorce process itself (the paperwork, the compromising, the wheeling and dealing) and look at it like a business deal, one that your future relies on. What’s “fair” in your eyes is not going to be even close to what a narcissist thinks is fair, because you’re relying on what’s fair to both of you, while a narcissist is only thinking what’s fair to him.

Navigate the divorce process as though your life depends on it…because it does.

One of the (many) mistakes I made when I divorced my ex was not demanding what I deserved regarding our finances. I had been a stay-at-home-and-work mom during much of our marriage (meaning that while raising our three children, I also helped manage our businesses, took care of our personal finances, went back to school for a Master’s degree, taught dance fitness classes, and built my practice as a board-certified holistic health coach) and was at my husband’s beck and call at all times.

The fact was, he could not have achieved any of our success (and likewise my success was dependent on our mutual participation in our joint ventures) without my valuable contribution. But at the time of the divorce, since I was emotionally and physically depleted after years of abuse, I neglected to stand up for my role in our financial success and therefore came out on the losing end (since I also had an attorney who neglected to stand up for my rights as co-contributor in marriage).

This is why it’s crucial to demand to receive what you’re worth and recognize that worth (such as raising your kids or helping build a business) even if you don’t have paycheck stubs to show for all your work. Again, if you concentrate on being fair and nice, you’ll end up with far less than what’s actually fair since a narcissist is anything but nice. This will require you to step up, make demands, and not be run over by the other party, which may be contrary to your very nature, but your future – especially your financial future – depends on every single decision you make during the divorce process. So give yourself one decision less to regret later on.

Don’t let the narcissist wear you down.

This is a tough one because by nature we victims of narcissistic abuse are empaths to our core. We are sensitive and caring beings. We are thoughtful, compassionate, and believe in the essential goodness of others. Add to that our fragile emotional state and vulnerability, and we are no better off than the target of an opportunistic wolf that is successful only through a tactic of relentlessly pursuing and wearing down their prey of choice.

A narcissist will doggedly harass, annoy, bother, and frustrate you in the hope that you’ll throw your hands up in the air and give them what they want. Don’t let them be successful because you will regret it later once you’ve recovered. Stick to your guns and go with your gut. And see it through to the end without sacrificing your integrity and without having to face a world of regret later on.

Never lose sight of your future (and your children’s future if you have them).

The most expensive mistake I made in my divorce, and the mistake that cost me not only tens of thousands of dollars but left me in enormous debt afterward was that I didn’t look into my future and prepare for it.

Honestly, my brain at the time felt like scrambled eggs, plus every time I saw my lawyer’s name pop up in my email or on my phone I got a stomachache that laid me up for the rest of the day, so I was not only easy prey for the wolf to devour, but afterward didn’t have the backup plan to put myself back together.

Especially if you are financially well-off (as I was) in the marriage, plan your future during the divorce as though you were planning your retirement, meaning that it’s crucial to figure out exactly what you’ll come away with after it’s final, where that will put you financially, and what your financial life will look like in the following several years (Will you be buying a new house? Will you move? Will you be able to support yourself? Are you changing jobs? Are you getting back into the workforce after a significant period of time? Are your kids’ education/savings/etc. taken care of? Will you be going to school?)

If you don’t have this foresight for yourself, you’re taking a huge gamble that everything will work out for the best. And if you’re divorcing a narcissist, that’s a gamble you don’t want to take.

I realize this list seems cynical and depressing. But trust me, you don’t want to learn the hard way like I did and which I’m still dealing with the fallout from nearly five years later.

Before I filed for divorce, my then-husband promised over and over again that he would always take care of me and our children for the rest of our lives. He swore that I would always be his family and he would make sure I was set up financially so I’d never had to worry about money again.

These promises of his only set me up for failure because I believed him, so when the shit hit the fan I could do nothing but stand there open-mouthed and dumbfounded when he launched his full-scale attack.

Believing him disarmed me, which was his intent. Had I known the destruction and lies a narcissist was capable of, I am certain I would have fared so much better because I would have at least been prepared.

Instead, this is how I actually fared: Once I filed for divorce, the letters from his attorney started, as did the lies and the cheating and the deliberate attempt to strip me of everything we had worked so hard together to create.

Flash forward to the present and my ex continues to live with his young and imported Russian girlfriend in our 10,000 square foot house that we built together. He continues to profit from the businesses we started as a couple and is reaping the rewards of an income that only increased once he got me out of the picture.

I’m not a religious person, but I’ve seen the devil and what he’s capable of.

There is no line a narcissist won’t cross.

There is no boundary a narcissist won’t breach.

There is nothing so low or unspeakable that a narcissist won’t attempt if it means casting you as the terrible one and him as the victim.

They will use their own children as collateral to get to you. And/or they will discard and/or punish their own children to get to you.

Because of this, it’s imperative that you prepare yourself for this war. You can do this with the right attorney, with the right mindset (no illusions, remember?), and with the understanding that you are facing a brutal enemy who will sweet talk you to your face while smearing your name and cheating you out of what’s yours behind your back.

And a narcissist will sleep well at night having no conscience to keep him awake.

The attorney I made the mistake of using during my divorce once said to me, “There are no winners in a divorce, Suzanna.” This is total bullshit. The divorce process is a game to a narcissist. And in my case, my ex won bigtime because he succeeded in his attempt to lie, cheat, and steal his way out of his obligations and responsibilities to me and our children.

This is why you have to stop playing nice and instead play as if your life depended on it. This doesn’t make you a terrible person. This doesn’t make you the narcissist. What it does is make you stronger, wiser, and better off at the end when you can look back on your divorce experience and know that you handled it like a boss, like the person that the narcissist always knew you were but tried to convince you otherwise.

You will come out of this experience with more than a few bumps and bruises, but at least you won’t be saddled with regret or put into a position of powerlessness that prevents you from diving into that great future waiting for you.

You’ve got this, baby. It will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in life, but one of the best because you are owning your power and taking back control of your life from the one who controlled it for so long. This war, this game, isn’t pretty. It isn’t easy. And it certainly isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy. But if you are prepared and go into it with your eyes wide open and your armor on, you’ll have a much better chance of coming out of it with your spirit and soul intact.

And the best part of all? You’ll be finally free to leave the narcissist in your dust as you drive forward into your fantastic future. And that, my love, is the biggest win of all.

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divorce is war

Divorce Is War: Train. Get Strong.

divorce is war


My therapist told me early on that divorce is war. Naive me. I thought to myself, “No, it’s not. We will be kind. We will not go to war.” But I did not understand.

Retrieving yourself from a marriage in which you’ve become so entwined with another human being is a battle like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I am not talking about fights over finances or custody, although that stuff can be brutal too. I am talking about the fight to reclaim the pieces of you that you forgot existed or never even knew were there.

Divorce IS War:

This fight is a fight to salvage yourself, your sense of calm, your dreams and hopes for the future, your routines and ways of living, your traditions for yourself and for your family. The money and custody, that’s another story. You can’t do any of that if you haven’t fought for yourself first.

The day I ended my marriage, I felt gutted and raw. Who would I be? How would I move forward? What would my life look like? It broke me open, and while I knew it was exactly what I needed and there was no other way, it hurt with an intensity that frightened me. I didn’t only feel emotionally raw — the pain was physical too. My whole body ached.

Everything you imagined the world would be has just been decimated. You have to reinvent all of it for yourself without the husband you chose in it. You’re on your own. And depending on how long your marriage was, it may have been a long time since you’ve been this alone. I get how scary that is. I was married fifteen years and in that relationship for twenty. I wasn’t single in my twenties at all and had only a few months left in my thirties.

Even in kindness, divorce is war.

You are at war. When you are trying to make a marriage work, you take the armor down and try to connect. Going through a divorce, you put the armor up and keep yourself safe.

When I first realized my broken marriage could not be salvaged and that I could not stop my husband’s lies and betrayals, I cried. I cried a lot. I didn’t sleep much. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t feel strong. But I wanted to be strong.

I needed to be strong.

The night I told him that he needed to get out, I cried until two a.m. and then woke up the next morning, tired and weak, and I ran.

I was not a runner. I did not run fast. I did not run well. I did not even love to run. But I loved to feel strong. The more I ran, the more mornings that I got up at the crack of dawn and carried myself out the door, the stronger I felt. I did yoga sometimes. Hot yoga, with half-naked smelly people in a room heated super-hot. And when I did it, I felt strong. I went to the batting cages and hit balls.

It felt good to hit things.

I went to kickboxing classes and punched heavy bags. The instructor asked me who I was so mad at. It felt good.

I was training for a fight that I didn’t even understand. At the time, I couldn’t wrap my head around any of it. All I could do is cultivate my strength.

If you are going through a divorce, you need your strength too. Even if your divorce is kinder than mine, you will need the fight to reclaim your sense of self.

To get through this, you need to be stronger than you’ve ever been before. Whether it’s running or meditation or weights or yoga or swimming or dancing or whatever – go do it. Find all the strength you can even when you think there’s none left. Connect to your body, your physical strength first. The rest will follow. It’s tempting to curl up in bed and eat your way through this, but it will leave you feeling weak and sick.


You never needed him to be the person you want to be. Fight and reclaim the pieces of you that were so wrapped up in your dreams for the future with him.

You can do this. I know that you can. And if you believe it, you will.

Eat well, exercise, sleep – these are the three things that you can do to train. As a therapist, I also know that these are the three things that help balance your brain chemistry and keep you feeling balanced. But don’t do it to balance your brain chemistry. That is too reasonable for how you feel right now.

Do it because you want to come out of this stronger and fiercer than ever before. Do it because you need your fight and you are worth fighting for.

If it feels like there’s a dark cloud hanging above you that you can’t get out from under, fight like hell to get to the other side of it. If you can’t, find a good therapist or someone to help drag you through. There is no weakness in getting help. I did. Get the help you need before you sink and then get up and train because divorce is war.

It will pay off, no matter how much it hurts. I know. I have been there.


Excerpted from You Got This: Healing Through Divorce  

You Got This Whitney Boole

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taking the war out of divorce

Taking The War Out Of Divorce

taking the war out of divorce


I recently read the comment below on a FB post about divorce. I’d like to share some thoughts on what I interpreted and feel about the comment. On a whole, I agree with him, but, I don’t think it necessarily has to be that way. You can take the war out of divorce.

“Does divorce ever end? The answer, predictably, is “Yes,” but not until you’ve reached the end of your patience, logic, optimism, and reasonableness. Because you see, that’s exactly the point: The divorce wars have little to do with Mediation or Courts or even which spouse is the more childish of the two. It’s about power and who can manage to stand on the log longer before toppling off, into the rushing water below.

If you really want to make it to the shore of singledom without finding yourself tossed into shark-infested waters, learn the art of endurance. Exercise until the sweat gushes from pores and glands you didn’t know you had; take a Yoga class and learn discipline of the mind, spirit, and body.

Build up your strength from within and get ready to stick to what you want like a barnacle to a shipwreck. After you’ve proven your tenacity, it won’t matter whether it’s a mediator or a lawyer assisting you on this voyage: You’ll have set your course and now all you’ll need to do is steer towards your goal.”

Taking The War Out of Divorce

I won’t argue with anything in the above statement. If you have been through an adversarial divorce, you know from experience that it does boil down to who is the weakest, who has the most stamina, and who can hire the most expensive attorney.

I will argue with the person’s belief that all divorces have to be that way. The war can be taken out of divorce if you make the decision to not allow an adversarial attorney to decide which path your divorce will take. What most people going through a divorce fail to understand is that they and they alone steer the course and determine how forceful the waters become.

I fully understand that if your spouse is acting irrationally and has gone on the attack that you have no choice but to protect yourself. I encourage you to do so. I hope though that anyone reading this and contemplating divorce is able to understand that divorce is about ending a marriage.

It isn’t about punishing your spouse or using the legal system to get back at them. It is about taking the high road, showing integrity, putting your children first and gently taking apart something that, at one time meant the world to you.

I think if we can all stop and remember that we have been given the responsibility for dismantling something we once thought was precious, we will be more respectful during the process…to ourselves and the person we shared that something precious with.

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