When The Narcissist Comes Back To Town

it’s been a rough weekend so far.  The ex has come back to town and it’s always messy when he does.  As the ex-wife of a narcissist, I am staying out of the situation, but watching it unravel is exhausting.  Because tempers run high here when he’s around.  The miscommunication and narcissist abuse that happens when he’s here affects our normally peaceful home through our kids.  And I resent it.

The kids have a tough relationship with their dad.  They attempt to balance the like/dislike that they feel for him and while I understand their dilemma, having walked that tightrope for years myself, I resent what it does to our home when he’s around.  Because the kids have a hard time processing the dad they remember who was a warm, supportive man and the shell of a man who is angry, vindictive and doesn’t communicate.  And while they don’t want to give up on the dream that he will awaken to being the dad they remember, they can’t help reacting to the present situation.  And it ain’t pretty.

So the push/pull of narcissist abuse continues.  One minute they like their dad and the next minute, they’re blowing him off because they’re hurt that he blew them off.  And who gets to hear about it all weekend?  Me.  Mom.  The stable one who observes the whole situation knowing that they have to decide for themselves what they will and will not put up with in regards to their dad and his family.

But they’re young adults and they don’t always see clearly, much like I didn’t when I was in the midst of the dysfunctional marriage to a narcissist.  Between their dad (the ex) and Grandma (his narcissist mother), I was bullied for years and now my kids are.  The constant shell game of blame has ratcheted up over the years with the kids being bullied, but hanging onto the relationship out of duty and wanting the good ole days back when they were kids and were love-bombed.  I can’t protect them now.  I can only offer advice when it’s requested.  Which I do when they want to talk about it with me or ask me what I would do if I were them.  But that’s been hard because the reality of present day dad and the one they have put up on a pedestal from memory are two completely different personalities.  And even when they are getting along with their dad, it’s tenuous because they never know what could set him off.  And the ex’s go to is Grandma who controls everyone, the whole family.  Their dad will tattle to Grandma and in turn, she will defend her son and blame the kids even when something is her son’s fault.  The ‘poor daddy’ mantra has been drilled into the kids’ brains since he left our family.  Grandma blames the kids for everything and while it worked for a long time (they felt badly, believed everything she said and took the blame for not being good-enough sons to their dad), they’ve seen the mask slip and can often see her (and their dad) in a different light.  But old habits are hard to give up when you have a good heart and just want things back to when you felt comfortable as kids.  As one of them said to me, “This growing up stuff stinks.”  And I agree.

It used to be I had to deprogram my kids after a weekend with their dad when they were younger.  They came home with attitudes and it took a few days which I dreaded.  Did that ever happen with you?

Now we don’t have that issue.  They know what type of behavior is expected here and what doesn’t cut it.  We have bonded, the three of us, to cultivate a warm, happy home that includes gratitude, kindness and love.

But this weekend has been rough on all of us.  And it’s not over yet.

Does this sound familiar to you too?

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9 Responses to When The Narcissist Comes Back To Town

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    Sounds oh so familiar and we are not even divorced! My husband is basically a good guy but when the two older kids were younger he had severe stomach ulcers and was sick a lot of the time. Because of that events that were planned got cancelled, promises made were broken and I always felt I had to step in the middle to keep “the peace.” “Don’t make too much noise, dad’s not feeling well.” And of course they always came to me to ask permission for things. When our youngest was little he had recovered from the stomach issues but hurt his back at work and started drinking. Ugly scenes there and again I made mistakes by trying to justify the situation. “He’s frustrated because he can’t do the things he used to do.” “He’s in pain and the alcohol helps.” “He’s bored.” Finally the situation got so bad that we did end up going to counseling as a couple, but the damage done to the kids is, I’m afraid, not going away any time soon. I have a good relationship with them because I realized what I had been doing was wrong and I apologized and am consciously trying to change that enabling behavior but he doesn’t know how to talk to them now. Fortunately he has stopped drinking, but that was because he developed heart issues that the doctor said were caused by alcohol intake. The kids are now all adults (the youngest has a psych degree and her input helps a lot) so they don’t feel the need to cater to him and are starting to stand up for themselves and call him out on his behavior. Yeah, fun times around here occasionally. The interesting thing is that until the drinking started and I began having deep conversations with the kids, I never realized my part in all of this. I thought we had a “normal” happy family.


    • scr4pl80 says:

      Sorry, didn’t mean to spew like that!


    • janieleeds says:

      Janet, thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for all that you and your family have experienced because as we know, it isn’t easy. And I’m so happy to read that you and your kids are still connected because that’s so important. We do what we think needs to be done in the hope that we are doing the right thing for everyone because it comes from a place of love and wanting peace and a ‘normal’ family situation. But when there are other factors, it gets more difficult and when you’re in the midst of the chaos, trying to keep it all together, it’s harder to see the big picture.

      I am sure you did a great job (as noted by your relationship with the kids). Good for you. I think when we share, we help each other through the difficult times. Meaningful sharing helps to heal us all and to give us more information when we need it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. TJ Fox says:

    Sadly, the battle your kids are having isn’t so much with the man himself, but with the ideal of who they thought he was or who they think he should be. This is because they haven’t accepted who he actually is, which is a person fully capable and willing to be a disappointment to them, despite his projections that he isn’t that person.

    After the split between my family and me, I realized that after feeling like I missed them but didn’t at the same time, I didn’t really miss THEM specifically, but the idea of what they were supposed to be in my life.

    As a child, no matter how old, you really expect your parents to love you for you, to support your accomplishments, encourage your dreams, and care for you when your hurt. When they don’t, you think there is a reason or an excuse for that specific time as to why they didn’t. Even when they don’t do these things, over and over, you still struggle to believe that isn’t the “real” them and expect things to get better. Sometimes they do, but in the case of a narcissist, that is the real them. Being able to acknowledge and accept the ideal versus the reality is incredibly hard. Things become blindly easy once you do. It still hurts like hell, but it is easy because you no longer have the expectations of the ideal.

    Sadly, when it comes to your kids, this is a realization they are going to have to make on their own, and it is a horribly painful process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janieleeds says:

      TJ, I have tears of gratitude pouring down my cheeks. You said it so beautifully and from your experienced perspective for which I’m grateful (and saddened that you understand perfectly what they are experiencing). You are so right and your explanation makes perfect sense for it took time for me to see it from the other side as well. And I experienced it from the ex-wife point of view and not the child’s.

      It is hard for them to see reality without their bias of my dad needs to be a dad with the hurt clouding their point of view. One of the kids can see more clearly than the other, but they ‘see’ from a child’s point of view of loving grandma and loving dad who they portrayed back in the day but are not now.

      It’s a sad situation for all of us here at the house tonight. Tempers are flaring (older kid) because he’s hurt and now mad at me for trying to explain the situation so that he understands the ramifications of his choices. It’s hard to watch as they figure it out and yes, it is a horribly painful process. I can’t wait for them to have the chance to talk with their therapist next week.

      Again, TJ, thank you. Sending a virtual hug.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TJ Fox says:

        It took me years to get to where I’m at right now. Years of tolerating so much. I can only hope that your kids are wiser than me and can see it all clearly long before they reach my age.

        I hate that you all are suffering through this.


  3. Ainsobriety says:

    My kids continue to refuse to have any interaction with their dad.
    It has been over a year since he saw them, except at Cleo’s surgery.

    My mom is a full on narcissist and I grew up with that. I can be very codependent. I love to be a martyr and make sure everyone else is happy…this behaviour has not served me well.

    It’s amazing how in hindsight my ex treated me just like my mom and my kids see him like I see her. Closeness can be blinding. Sigh.



    • janieleeds says:

      I’m sorry Anne. But you are so right that closeness can be blinding. Awareness is step one which means that we can’t not see what it is and that forces us to deal with it.

      I just want peace for us all. Lessons learned and that we come out of these experiences with strength, compassion, growth and kindness – as well as positive change, even though we understand that change is difficult and we can only change ourselves.

      Big hugs to all…

      Liked by 1 person

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