How do you tell the story of one of your dearest friends who has lived the Narcissistic nightmare? You rearrange the characters. You rearrange the nuances of the abuse but once you have lived it, you realize, it doesn’t matter what form it takes, it has the same effect.
My friend. Beautiful, talented musically, honor society, strong, kind and painfully shy in high school. Meets an attorney after college and falls in love. Their once loving marriage goes from having 3 beautiful girls to him having an affair, her asking him to leave and it all falling to pieces. Shocked and now alone, her wonderful parents move into her big, beautiful home to help her with the girls and slowly her soon to be ex-husband starts with the manipulation and games and as she gets deeper into it, she realizes the signs were always there, she missed them. Why wouldn’t she? Most of us have been there. We’ve never been treated like that before and it shell shocks us.
Years later, both having moved on, he is still financially abusing her and emotionally alienating her where the girls are concerned. He took over the payment of the cell phones and then blocked her from contact with her girls. Two of which were in college so they had to communicate through email. The girls, who relied on their Mother as their strength had to be shut away from her but were too afraid to confront their Dad as they were seeking his approval and love. My friend stuck that one out and eventually, it all worked out because the three of them were smart enough to go around it and not allow him to bask in the glow of his dirty deed.
Now, this attorney, who has always tried to manipulate this sweet, quiet, reserved woman, has once again started in financially. He believes that if he ignores her request to pay his part of the girl’s medical bills, that eventually, he can tell her that she did not send him things in a timely manner. What he didn’t count on this time was her friend, a former paralegal, and someone who is not afraid of the repercussion of him, helping her to correspond. The result? A shocked attorney who now sees his ex-wife as having brass balls! The letter that followed was threatening, manipulative and incorrect and at first, she was taken aback by it but in talking to her, we picked it apart and I was able to tell her, she just took her power back!!! He is responding in the way he is because he knows he has lost his power and that she is no longer going to be intimidated by him.
Narcissists gain energy through their opportunities to derail and degrade and have power over someone. She has been a source of that energy for many years, even as an ex. The reliability of her response, which was usually one of meekness, (not weak, because she is not, meek) was paramount to his ego. He was the attorney after all. He used all the legalise he could muster when she copied in the magistrate of their last adventure in court, to respond to him. She called his bluff. She let this man, who has a reputation and was a judge, know that she’s not f*cking around anymore. See, she played nice during the divorce knowing that his income would support her girls. She could have ruined him in the beginning but took the high road. Like most of us, she is that nice, wonderful person who fell for the narcissist’s charm. But you know what? We all hit that wall when we no longer want to feel intimidated every time the mail comes or the phone rings, and as her girls go onto their careers as successful, strong, women, thanks to her, she realizes that it is time for her to be strong against him and take her control back. He really can’t hurt her or her girls anymore.
What’s next for my friend? Embracing who she is, helping her girls as they come to terms as they realize on their own who their Dad really is and let go of the idolization and keeping her power. He won’t be walking over her again any time soon.