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?