As you know, hindsight is 20/20 and after dealing with an abusive man for more than twenty years there are decisions I wish I could go back and change. Obviously, we are unable to go back and change anything that has happened in the past. Knowing what I know now, I realize some decisions would have been so much better for my daughter and my family. Perhaps these decisions may be of some help to someone else who is going through this today.
There is a story that happened today that prompted this blog topic. For now, here are the facts, my ex-husband is highly abusive and has been emotionally abusive to our daughter. I believe my ex-husband has Narcissist Personality Disorder. We have been divorced for over twelve years, but his constant emotional abuse, under-mining of our authority, and using our daughter as a pawn has been relentless. This situation has created a perfect storm for a teenager. She thinks I am the one who has been harassing her father for all these years and her father has done nothing wrong. My reactions have certainly not always been as good as they should have. Sometimes I handled things extremely well and sometimes I didn’t. However, this has been extremely difficult and painful and I do not know what I could have done differently while co-parenting with him.
Trust My Instincts
First, all these year ago, when I was dating my ex-husband. I would have trusted my instincts and not allowed my abusive ex to talk me out of what I was feeling. My gut instincts told me there was something very wrong with our relationship and I would allow him to talk me out of that thought. He would reply with things like; “All relationships have problems…” or “You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.” I should have trusted my own gut instincts that told me something was wrong and just gotten out. I should have left, never looked back, and just accepted the pain of being lonely after a breakup. That loneliness would have been temporary compared to the hell of dealing with him for more than twenty years.
Not Tell Him I Was Pregnant
Another thought I have sometimes, how much better it would have been if I had never told him I was pregnant. I should have just moved away and went to live with family. If he had never known he had a child, it would have been better for my daughter. Dealing with an absentee parent would have been better than seventeen years of emotional and psychological abuse. They say it is better for a child to know there father than not, but in this case, it would have been better for her to not been subjected to the constant emotional abuse.
Offer No Child Support and No Custody
My ex-husband had to pay a lot in child support. Had I known that he was never going to back off and would keep emotionally abusing our daughter for all these years… it would have been better to offer him no child support in exchange for giving his rights away. Our daughter has been a tether-cord for him to continue using her as a pawn to hurt us. My ex-husband’s constant manipulation not only affected our daughter, but it also affected my husband and his daughter. Luckily, my husband and I stayed strong throughout this hell and we came through it.
Fought the Courts to Move Out of State
Normally geographic change do not solve a problem. However, I wish I would have fought the courts to move away from this state and live closer to my family. My ex-husband immediately put a clause that prevented me from leaving the state or moving past the surrounding counties. However, his continuous abuse has been extremely destructive on our daughter and my family. It would have been better that I had moved further away and had support of my family. Plus, if she had seen him less frequently, that might have been better for her. At least there would have been bigger breaks between his manipulations.
Bought a House Further Away
When I purchased my house, it was only five minutes way from my ex-husband and that allowed easy access for him. If I had known he would never give up and go away, it would have been better to move 90 miles away from the man. It would have made it a little harder for him to have access and continue harassing as he did. Living close to my ex-husband allowed him to pick her up during the week and ever week we had to deal with the emotions of back-and-forth visitation. In the best of circumstances, going back and forth is hard enough. However, when you are co-parenting with an abusive person, this makes the transitions even harder for the child or children.
Obviously, all these thoughts are a moot point now. However, when you are dealing with a person who is abusive or has a personality disorder there may be no winning scenario. The biggest casualty here was our daughter and then myself. Sometimes I beat myself up for not being a perfect parent in an imperfect situation. Dealing with my relentless abusive ex-husband gave our family little peace.
Most blog posts say when you break up with someone with NPD, there should be a no contact rule. Any contact with a narcissist is too much contact. However, we had children together and that made no contact impossible. However, when people (like my mother) say things like “You have to have a relationship with him… you have to work with him.” Unfortunately, people with NPD don’t play fair or by any set of good co-parenting rules.
I would welcome your thoughts about this topic.