The Narcissist Child

This…. All. Day. Long. For a decade now we have hoped that once our kids became adults they would mature, be respectful of both parents’ homes, and accept parental guidance, correction and input from both sides of their family. However, in the arena of strong loyalty binds, sometimes that is just not possible.

I have watched my spouse go above and beyond to parent his children post divorce. In fact, he’s been relatively fair and balanced to all of our kids whether the kids belonged to him only, me only, lived with us, or lived with their other parent (though sometimes he has been partial to his bios which is also to be expected but that’s another blog entirely). Meanwhile, when it came to his own bio child, he has only been used for what he could give and what the child had to gain. Never once have I ever seen the child do anything for my husband. Never. Not even for his birthday or for Christmas though she would do that for the family she lived with full time. On Red Table Talk recently, TI gave an interview where he said that sometimes it feels like fathers are really just used as sperm donors and a paycheck and are expected to be otherwise “hands off” when it comes to raising their kids especially their daughters. When I heard that I literally wanted to stand up and give a standing ovation, hi five, preach boy, and Madea hallelujer. Because I feel every bit of that statement.

It’s always a little disappointing when things – relationships – don’t work out like you’d hoped. But, it’s also VERY good to have clarity and revelation because from there you can move forward as an enlightened and awakened participant.

NOTE of ENCOURAGEMENT: when you begin to set boundaries with a narcissist, they will begin to hate you even more. Their loss of control and manipulation over you will make them crazy and angry. That’s ok. Once you cut those puppet strings you will begin to experience a freedom of your soul. Keep moving forward.

Coffee cheers your way guys.

 

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Boundaries 101 – A Note to Self

I saw this on social media and completely agree 100%. For the first time in a very long time, Hubs and I have been working on releasing toxic and negative people from our inner circle. Not as a form of punishment or payback but because you can only allow so much control and abuse before it takes a heavy toll on everything that is within your realm of responsibility. We have a responsibility to our employers, marriage and the minor children that reside with us to work to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. When other people & their ongoing dramatic situations continually run over into our circle of responsibility, it causes too much strain and takes a toll on everything else. It makes life exhausting.

The other day I saw the statement “Be able to discern your Judas from your Peter. Peter had a bad day – Judas had a bad heart. Peter you restore – Judas you release”. I have discovered that releasing the Judas’ from my inner circle has brought me so much peace, joy and excitement about life that I haven’t felt in years. It is amazing how good life is when you’re free from the baggage and weight and burdens placed on you by others. That’s simply no way to live.

Having boundaries and exercising self care is not selfish. It’s wisdom. And it’s ok.

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What Have You Done for Me Lately

I can hear that Janet Jackson song in my head every single time I hear this story in my small group. A divorced dad who always paid support, attended events, bought Christmas and birthday presents ends up getting treated like an ATM only hearing from his adult kiddo when she wants something. She doesn’t seek relationship, time with her dad, visit on Fathers Day or offer to take HIM to lunch. She just calls when she wants him to fork over finances and gifts.

How do you combat this? You stop allowing yourself to be used. At some point later in life adult children should realize that the parent child relationship is more about advice, counsel and quality time spent together and that it is a two way relationship. Not simply a “hand out” what have you done for me lately ATM cash advance relationship.

There are at least 4-5 women in my small group whose stepdaughters are now adults and their husbands have put a stop to the handouts. And guess what? Most of the adult kids have stopped coming around. It certainly appears that unless the kids have something to GAIN, they aren’t interested.

If that applies to you, I’m sorry. It hurts. It’s sad. It’s disappointing. But it is not unusual or abnormal by any means. Hope for the best that later in life they will mature and gain a much bigger understanding of just how important their father truly is and they will seek relationship rather than material things … eventually.

Coffee cheers your way.

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Blended Families are Like Sonic Drinks

I saw a “first day of school” post on social media the other day where a woman who gets along very well with her ex went on a little rant about how she shared all of her back to school photos and experiences with her ex-husband and that’s how all divorced parents should be (because her way was the right way). That’s great and all but….  nah. I respectfully disagree and did not appreciate the lecture. It doesn’t always work that way. I’ve learned that blended families are like Sonic drinks. If one person is a Limeaid and the other is Cherry syrup and you blend them together and have a Cherry Limeaid, that’s GREAT!!! But I’ve also learned that blended families are not “one size fits all” and many blended families need a little more empathy, support and encouragement as opposed to some holier than thou, high and mighty judgmental outside opinion.

Let’s take my personal situation for example. My ex-spouse sexually abused one of my children, admitted it, plead guilty to it, spent 6-7 years incarcerated for the crime, and is a lifetime registered sex offender. Do you still think that “all families” should be like you and share back to school photos? Or did that added information that does NOT apply to your situation change your perspective about my situation and give you more understanding, empathy and clarity about why I DON’T include my ex in my life anymore. Don’t you think I would LOVE to have a good co-parenting situation free from abuse and trauma? Because I would. But I don’t. I have a very difficult, layered, muddled, complicated blended family situation that is more like mixing a Limeaid with Black Licorice. And sadly and unfortunately, many other blended families do too.

Please stop throwing stones at divorced parents who choose to disengage, set up boundaries, and parallel parent. Unless you know all of the facts and behind the scenes information, you have no idea what some divorced parents are going through or how sad they are that they DON’T have healthy, amicable, co-parenting situations.

Hugs to you all on this difficult blended family journey because like Stepmom Magazine says, “even when it’s good, it’s complicated”.

Coffee cheers your way. I hope your Sonic drink blends well. But if it doesn’t, I understand. No judgment here.

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Children are Not Assets for Wealth Distribution

I saw an article the other day that went on and on about parental equality post divorce. Some things I agreed with and some things I didn’t. But one of the statements that I really found to be profound was this: Children are not assets for wealth distribution. Oh my gosh YES!!! Working with a family law attorney for 20 years, I saw so many people who used their children as assets to (1) control or (2) for wealth distribution and in both cases it’s absolutely disgusting. Children are people. Human beings. And they did not ask you to bring them into this world and they should not be used as bait if your relationship with their other parent fails. I cannot tell you how many people – usually women – I’ve seen use their children in an attempt to gain or maintain control of their ex or to gain wealth from their ex spouse. So, I’m making this little journal entry so I can remember this phrase.

P.S. I’m not talking about child support or providing for the child. I’m talking about situations where a child is used for FOR money or to control the other parent. There is a very big difference.

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The Empty Promises Game

 I had a teenager tell me the other day that “my parent tells me all year long that they will do it for me on my birthday, but every year when my birthday comes around, they don’t do it”. I have a small group of about 30 women and MANY people in that group say their kids experience that with their ex-spouse as well. The ex-spouse promises things (a cell phone, vacation, movies, etc.) but then doesn’t do them. I think one of the biggest problems with that is that the kids start to see their parent as a liar. The parent loses all credibility and the child no longer believes anything you say. There really is no reason to try to win over a child with empty promises. They may be appeased temporarily, but I promise you that they do not forget. They may not bring it up in order to avoid confrontation, but they do not forget.

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Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts… Blended Family Edition

Though blended family life does have good parts, highs, and some great memories, those are not the seasons that lead to this blog. This blog and my book outline were created from the lows and the painfully difficult seasons of blended family life. Maybe the best way to describe my particular blended family situation is “death by a thousand paper cuts”. I love this online definition of Death by a Thousand Cuts: a figure of speech that refers to a failure that occurs as a result of many small problems.

You see, blended family life is not necessarily miserable because of 1 or 2 particularly difficult things. It’s the thousands of small (and often large), difficult things that continuously overlap and rarely seem to improve. Even when you think a difficult season has ended, it’s usually really just the beginning of another even larger event. It’s like labor pains. That painful one ended but just wait … it gets worse.

I’ve lived in poverty in the projects, have been dirt poor, have been a single mom, have had a child nearly die on me, have dealt with unbelievable family betrayal, and some other really difficult things that may be revealed later. But none of that was as hard as blended family life has been collectively this past decade.

Granted,  I am a perfectionist and want to get this right. But I’ve also learned that the blended family life game is simply not a game that can be mastered like Chess. It’s really more like The Hunger Games where the rules are ever changing and the situations get more difficult. Once you’ve mastered Level 1 and survived your first night in the wilderness, the sun comes out again but with a new set of increased challenges. Those fresh berries you thought would nourish you ended up to be poisonous and your district teammate and partner that joined the game with you often ends up becoming your opponent (especially where their respective biological children are involved).

If I look back at my inner child, the little girl that I used to be that had never ending hopes and dreams, I can honestly say that growing up, getting married and having children was never it. Even when I became pregnant in high school I sat for my GED, went straight to college and graduated in the top of my class as a young, single mom ready to join the workforce. I went back to work doing the work I loved when my third child was only 12 days old because we had a large case set for trial that I had worked on for 3 years. I loved my kids more than life itself but I balanced work and home, hobbies and fitness for years. Getting remarried a decade later and becoming a work from home stepmother did not change the fact that I am a career woman, not a homemaker, and nothing is going to change that. I have never wanted to be a SAHM. Not then with my kids. Not now with his kids. Yet I feel like that is the box that my spouse wants to check off of his list. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a bad@$$ stepmom. I encourage, support, chauffeur, chaperone, prepare meals despite hating it, buy clothes, decorate rooms like a boss, and attend nearly every single event they have, but in the back of my mind I have that nagging feeling that it’s still not enough and that my husband should have married someone else. Someone different. Someone less like me. Someone more like Susie Homemaker. Maybe I should have married someone more in line with my life who had grown kids or older kids or no kids so that I wouldn’t feel forced to fit in a box that was never suited for me in the first place.

I say all this because I know for a fact that I am not alone. I know that half of my small group feels now or has felt in the past that maybe they should not have gotten married and joined the blended family circus. Some have left the game. Some are still fighting for their marriages despite the difficult journey. And that’s what it is. A journey. And there are good times and bad times. We can choose to fight the fight or walk away but that doesn’t change where we are today, right now, in those tough moments.

Hugs, support and coffee cheers to each and every one of you that has “those days” “those seasons” or “those moments”. One way or another we are going to make it. We are going to survive. If it all works out, hopefully we will even get to see the view from the top of the mountain one of these days. Even if it’s not today.

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