I usually don’t share this part of my life, I guess the more distance I can get from this trauma the better, but sometimes I still see it in my adult children’s eyes, and it sparks an ache that brings with it so much sadness. Not that I could have done any more with the situation I was handed, but because I couldn’t save them from what was happening. At the time I knew nothing about narcissism or parental alienation, but what I can tell you is I had never experience cruelty on a level like this before. It is horrible enough when children are dragged through a divorce or separation and all the emotional upheaval it brings, mix this with a predator and life as you know it will never be the same!
You must understand it from the child’s perspective. The narcissistic parent is the alpha and a threat to their well being and emotional health! Children will do anything to avoid being targeted even if it means siding with the narcissist. I learned this from my own childhood as my father would berate my mother and brother and I would play right along. I emulated everything my father did because he yelled the loudest and hit the hardest!
This is a story of a predator that came into our lives after my ex and I had divorced and did not end until recently. I hope by telling my story it helps in some small way.
My oldest would come home and hide between the bed and the wall because his life had become so overwhelming. My youngest would pee in his bed knowing the next day he would have to return to his father’s house as he would shake with fright. He would always make sure to inform me it wasn’t his dad he was afraid of. It was his stepmother!
My boys were 2 and 4 at the time and they were cute as the dickens! They were both so funny and kind. Who wouldn’t love them? Precious little souls approaching the world with wonder and smiles. My oldest was the serious one as my youngest still ate store coupons while we were shopping.
When my ex remarried, I was happy that my boys would have some normalcy again! It was another person to love them throughout their lives. She is also working in a career with children, so I was excited!
For me things changed rather quickly when some of my things that I had left at the house were put out by the curb in bio-hazard bags! For our boys, it started with a blue slurpy.
The boys had gotten up one morning and their father called them into the living room and the questioning began. Their father asked which one of them threw the slurpy on the ceiling? Dazed and confused they didn’t know what he was talking about. As he insisted, they told him they had placed their cups on the kitchen table before bedtime. They were both grounded for a week! This was the first time they felt the betrayal that would follow them throughout their childhood and into their young adult lives.
People needing power and control over others do so much harm and boy were we all in for it! The grooming had begun and all of us were the unwilling participants of what would be a living hell on earth!
Just like many of us who have gone through narcissistic abuse by an intimate partner we know that we had blinders on. We were manipulated and gaslit to believe every word our partners said. It was the same for my ex, but he was also busy building his career, this left the boys alone in her care when he was gone.
Soon I received my first phone call from her, yelling at me about Halloween. My ex husband and I had already firmed up plans but apparently, she didn’t like them. I made sure I told her that this was between my ex and myself and not her. I had set my boundary and hung up. This would be just one of the many abusive calls I would receive in the coming months. I would also learn quickly there were no boundaries high enough to keep this woman from crawling over!
I would pick up the phone and she would be screaming so loud you could hear her throughout the house. I had finally had enough and called the police, she was charged with harassment by communication. As our court date neared, I got a call from my ex. Surprisingly, he told me that he had been on the other end of the phone and she never said any of the things that were written in the report, matter of fact she would never use any of those words, she doesn’t even talk that way! I knew at this point I could no longer trust my ex as the fear grew for what our boys were going through. She decided to drag the boy’s along to the police station when she was getting fingerprinted while telling them their mother was a liar! The calls stopped but then I was getting hang-ups between 1:30 to 2:30 am and I had to get up at 4:00 am to get ready for work. She worked 3rd shift, so I had no doubt it was her, I just couldn’t prove it.
The next incident was when my youngest son came home with fresh scabs on his face in the shape of half-moons. The boys began telling me a frightening story as I did my best not to show my anger! They took their baths together and my youngest had been fussy throughout the day and into the evening. Apparently, she had lost it and while screaming, held my sons head underwater while smacking him on the butt. My oldest was so terrified he jumped out of the tub thinking he was next! I called Family Services and a worker came over to interview the boys. I asked if they could do what is called a complimentary visit to my ex’s home and they did. In the end I would be the crazy jealous ex-wife, the boys were invalidated and there was no further investigation! I had never felt so helpless in my life and my heart broke every minute knowing what they were going through when they were with her!
My oldest son would tell me through tears that his stepmother would ask him how he could love me, I wasn’t a good person and I had so many problems and I didn’t love him or his brother! He would tell me “mom, I told her I wouldn’t care if you were in a wheelchair, you’re my mom and I love you so much”! It was at that point that I took him to the mirror and sat him on my lap telling him to look. I explained that half of his face was from his daddy and the other half was from me and how we both loved him so much! It didn’t matter what his stepmom had said, nothing would change that!
I was elated when they all went to family therapy! That lasted a whole two sessions as their stepmother cried helplessly telling the therapist how painful it was to be there, so they quit! I remember my youngest telling me that his stepmother did this so the therapist wouldn’t find out what she was doing to them at home.
I finally did take my ex to court. His family decided to confront me before the hearing asking me how I could do this, they of course not having any idea of how much the boys were suffering. Abuse is always so silent to those who aren’t targeted! The Judge saw right through his new wife! Just watching the Judge question her antics was an enormous validation of what we were going through. As her narcissism filled the courtroom, I shook my head thinking are you hearing yourself? All her witnesses were trying their best to paint a beautiful picture of her, but it wasn’t working. When the boys finished their testimony in the Judge’s chamber the questioning changed. The Judge asked if my ex husband was aware of the corporal punishment going on in the house as he quietly said no. I guess the boys had told the Judge the story of when their stepmom got mad and went to slap our oldest boy but instead hit the neighbor’s kid!
Before the court hearing I had no reason to tell the boys what to say other than to tell the Judge the truth. It wasn’t until after the hearing the boys told me their stepmother had threatened them! She told them that if they said anything that their father would no longer love them, and they would not be welcome in his home! There goes the beacon of truth! I was crushed! No wonder they were in tears before the hearing! It was a damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario and they knew it!
It didn’t take long after that for her mask to slip and soon my ex’s family was begging him to divorce her. He didn’t, I guess the prospect of being alone frightened him more.
Years later one of my creditors called me about my car loan. I was asked if I had called planning to pay off my car in two lump sums. What sparked their interest was the number that showed up on their caller ID. It was from another area and a different cell number. They gave me the number and I called one of my boys. Sure enough it was their stepmothers cell! This is a mental game of triangulation so you know they can get to you anyway they please! When I mentioned this to my ex-husband, I was told she would never do anything like that, while I knew she had enough of my information to steal my identity!
Soon they were buying their second home, this is when my ex-husband found out she had racked up about $90,000 in credit card debt! A few years later he would find himself in bankruptcy court as he and the boys were constantly canceling and cutting up new credit cards as she would be in tears!
My youngest son was getting calls from the college he was attending asking why one of his bills weren’t paid. He called the company that issued the check telling them he had never received it. To his surprise they told him that the check had been cashed. An investigation ensued and the company had given him the name of the person who cashed it. It was his stepmother and she had kept the funds never telling anyone! This was fraud and my ex quickly cleaned up the mess. The years of denial was slamming my ex in the face and this was another wake-up call that would go unanswered.
Our boys are older now, raising their own families. They are very successful men with a great deal of strength and perseverance. Their father is finally divorcing their stepmother. The hurt and betrayal that they have experience since they were young is unimaginable! The story above is just a very small summary of some of the things we went through. Now that things are finally coming to an end she has taken on the role of the victim.
We are well aware of the tactics of narcissism, parental alienation and what it does to families, because we lived it!
We survived and although both boys were affected, they are using many healthy coping strategies to get them through. They still have a great deal of work to do but as we all know, healing begins with a thought! I kept things as positive as I could as they were growing up. Because of my own recovery I have had the opportunity to learn the new language of an abuse survivor. So I have been passing that down to the next generation. This enables them to put words to some of the many things they painfully experienced and recognize it when it happens again. I have been a walking talking recovery and healing billboard and with the strength I have gained there is no question that they will become healthier men because of it. I have hope for the future as the poison that has infected our lives has finally been cut away!
The boys have two younger siblings and we have talked at length about not putting either parent down in front of them and to be as supportive as possible. Their stepmother unfortunately is still practicing the same toxicity.
The boys know how it feels, all of it, and they never want anyone to have to go through what they did! None of us would wish this on our worst enemy’s! It was a nightmare that is finally ending!