There is No Win

Coming out of this relationship feels like there is no win. I am stuck to my ex as we have a business together and children together. I am unable to quit from the business as it funds my life and my half of the kids expenses. Because of the children, I see him on a weekly, sometimes bi-weekly basis.

There was a fantasy that played out in my mind where I would be free of him. I would no longer have to have any interaction with my ex. No conversations, no emails, no sight of him, unless by mistake at the local shops. No contact whatsoever. I had hopes of getting custody of the children and funding their needs out of savings and some new job that I would land.

The reality is that a judge threw my case out of court, slashing my hopes of either full custody or even primary caregiver. I can’t leave the business as I have been out of the corporate world for 12 years. I don’t have the confidence to apply for a job that would pay at least some of what I need, nor do I have the experience or know-how anymore. Staying at home has left me out of touch and out of practice. I don’t have the belief that I would be capable. Perhaps there is a part of me that is just idle – the part that has come to enjoy flexible work hours and being able to reap the rewards of having good consultants working for the business.

Recently the ex was in my house and decided it was a good time to raise some of his issues with me. He wasn’t listening to what I was saying and it raised my hackles instantly. I am always on the defensive with him and give no quarter. Trying to have a discussion with him is a pointless exercise in my view, as he baits me, twists my words, doesn’t listen to more than the first sentence of whatever I am saying and talks over me. If, for whatever reason, I manage to get my point across and he can’t argue it, he will look for any opportunity to pull me down or point out my weaknesses.

This lack of rational discussion, or at least that is how it looks to me, means that I am so on the defensive that it makes me irrational too. I get so stuck in the crazy that I make it more difficult for him to deal with me. I am always prickly. I am always wary. I am always waiting for the next blow and I know that it always comes. I end up being the unreasonable party.

I feel like a mean and nasty person after I have had anything to do with him. If I show any kindness or softening of attitude, he tries to exploit it. I am therefore hard with him and I feel guilty. I don’t treat other people this way. I might get angry and be hard, but it is like a flash in the pan and as soon as I calm down, I feel mortified that I behaved in such a way. I suppose I am struggling to find the middle ground. The place where I don’t have to be a cow but also where I am boundaried enough to not be manipulated or caught up in his twisted games. It feels like I am failing myself as a person and I feel like I set a bad example for my kids. I feel trapped in a cycle which I don’t know how to break.

I just feel trapped. All the time. When I am very angry with him, then I have the will power to fight for my life and for the children and for my freedom. But that level of anger is not sustainable for me. It leaves me tired, so very, very tired. And then I don’t have the will to fight. It takes me days to get over an altercation from him. I struggle with powerlessness, lack of energy and how pointless even contemplating fighting is – he always wins out in the end. He lands with his bum in the butter constantly.

Then there are the voices that tell me that I am free. But I am not. As long as he is living and the children are living, I am never free. I cannot get away. Not unless I abandon the children. I don’t know if the boys would notice so much. As long as they are indulged with endless hours of screen time by their father, not to mention the rounds and rounds of junk food and milkshakes and fizzy drinks to which they have unfettered access with him, then they are fine. My daughter would feel it though if I left. It would wound her deeply.

There are still days where I feel that the only way out is death. I have them less than I used to do, but they have not dissipated completely. I have to be vigorous with myself to not implode on these days. I realise too that having to be a friend of mine requires much repetition of the same old, same old. Mostly because I don’t seem capable of getting better at this. I can only imagine how tired people are of talking about getting stronger and moving on and breaking the cycle. So I am talking about it less. I am socialising less. I am doing my best not to infringe on my friends’ time with their families and their friends and their joy. I know that they also have their own stuff to deal with and I just can’t talk about this anymore.

What it boils down to is that if you have children with a narcissist, there is no win. You are trapped forever.

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