I’m reading through some emails and notes from the summer of 2014. It really hits me hard how many games were played with my children. My oldest son was 17 and had quit the job he held at his father’s business. He went through a hard time making that decision but decided he needed to set boundaries. My ex could not separate work from personal issues and it drove my son crazy to be bombarded at work. No amount of communication about this with his father remedied the problem. His Dad didn’t think he would find another job but he did. The same day he quit he was hired for a dollar more an hour and while it was a temporary summer lifeguarding job, it boosted his confidence.
What happened next was typical narcissistic game playing. My ex wanted to plan a vacation with the boys but was sabotaging my son’s new job. He wanted him to take off to go on vacation. My son said no. He was 17 and trying to be responsible. What ensued next was bombarding me with insults. The communication between us has more than 4 times he calls me a bitch and accuses me of not wanting the boys to go. I responded neutrally and calm explaining that his son was trying to be responsible and he wasn’t a little boy any longer. He just wanted his Dad to move the date by one day so that he didn’t have to take off. The ex refused and they ended up not going that year. The final email says, “I didn’t make reservations because our son felt the need to set boundaries.” My youngest also had finals.
There are a few reasons I bring up this memory. One is that I am so proud of my oldest for setting his boundaries. He grew so much that year emotionally and now he is able to spend time with his Dad on his terms. They work together again and they can even go watch football. He comes home when he wants and spends time when he wants. He stood up for himself and his father had no choice but to respect him or lose him. My son says he has to see his Dad as two different people. He compartmentalizes work Dad when he’s with Dad and vice-versa. He said he had to do that in order to have a relationship and it’s working. He found his way.
I was proud of myself because I had endured unimaginable abuse and still been the Mother I needed to be.
I also bring this up because while he still emails me and turns things around so he can call me a bitch, we are in such a better place just 2 years later. It seems like a lifetime ago. The boys and I have grown, set boundaries with the ex, with each other and are adapting to our new life.
I love not having ties to the old home. I stayed for the right reasons. My kids needed to be there but it cost me a lot of heartaches, worry, and anxiety and stress being under his watchful eye. We are only one town over. Just over the bridge but it seems light years away.
There are things we miss. Our huge backyard. Our wonderful neighbors but life is easier. The yard work is done. The repairs are taken care of and the house is so much easier to clean. I used to work 3 hours and not finish. Now I work one and it’s all done. It’s great! Less space but we quickly got used to it. As I continue on my journey, I hope to downsize the stuff I brought with me even more. I was able to get rid of and sell 3/4. I hope to downsize that by another 1/2 and organize it.
Listen, it’s all a process. A long one, a process that won’t happen over night and I want to be very transparent about that but if I can do it, you can do it. Set your mind to it. Expect set backs and bad days but know that as you move forward, the bad days become less and the set backs are virtually non-existent because you will soon find that it was your narcissist that was placing those huge boulders in your way and what life throws you, you can more easily handle without the stress of walking on egg shells and facing your narcissist’s judgement.