“All children deserve parents. But not all parents deserve their children.”
Years ago, during my high school English teaching days, I used to post a daily quote, and have my students respond in writing. I loved how the words would encourage quiet self-reflection, and the kids’ differing opinions made for a lively discussion at the beginning of every class.
I left teaching three days before giving birth to my eldest child, and always missed these regular interactions… until recently, when I started posting to Instagram for Been There, Got Out. I quickly discovered that this could be another place, though virtual, to have ongoing discourse.
A few weeks ago, I posted the above quote, and shared that my ex-husband had completely missed my son’s high school graduation – he was actually the class’ commencement speaker. I expressed my feelings of deep disappointment for my children’s not having a father who cared about their achievements and milestones.
And then, something unexpected happened…
Recently, I read a post on Instagram from @been_there_got_out. It resonated with me because I had similar feelings after I left my narcissistic ex-husband. This was the first time I ever posted a comment outside of family and friends. I felt compelled to respond…to encourage.
It’s only been a little over a year since I learned what narcissistic personality disorder, (Narc), is and that I was once married to a Narc. After coming to understand the characteristics of this disorder, the light bulb came on, and I was finally able the make sense of the complex post-traumatic stress disorder, (C-PTSD), I suffered as a result.
It took over a decade of therapy, anti-depressants, prayer, and meditation to evolve into a thriving survivor of narcissistic abuse. Mine was a triple whammy of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. With the gaslighting, he almost caused me to think I was losing my mind. Thankfully I got out before that happened.
I wanted @been_there_got_out to know that she wasn’t alone and that in time, things will get better.
So I wrote…
“I totally understand how you feel. I once felt the same type of anger years ago regarding my narcissistic ex-husband. Eventually, I resolved that when it came to their father, I preferred my children having no role model, rather than a horrendously bad and toxic role model.
Begin finding relief enjoy not having to go through a power struggle whenever he’s around or feigns to care. Because that’s exactly what would happen if he were in your children’s lives.
In his absence, you can mold them into being kind, loving, and responsible adults, as well as teach them by example what normal looks and feels like. I got a chance to raise my children without interference, thus breaking the cycle of abuse.
Plus, without my ex in the picture, he couldn’t undo the positive values and traits I worked hard to instill.
My ex-husband missed my son’s birth, first steps, and riding without training wheels. The sad part is that we lived under the same roof.
I also taught my son how to tie a necktie and drive. We were divorced 7 years when he graduated high school. I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling him that his father lied, and to not expect to see him at his graduation. My ex even lied about flying his mother and so she could attend. Poor thing kept checking her email, waiting for a confirmation from the airline!
My son was devastated, but the important thing is that I was there. Your son knows he can rely on you as well, and that you have his back.
In time, boys grow up to be young men and they began seeing the same picture of their father as we do. And by that time, the damage is irreparable and the trust evaporated with each new lie.
My daughter and son are now happy, loving, and forgiving 35 and 27 year old adults, respectively. Sure, they miss not having their father in their lives when they were growing up. However, as happy, peace-loving adults, they both told me that they did not miss the chaos, negativity, and messiness he brought into our lives. They thanked me for allowing them to see my strength and reliance on God.
I never had to bad mouth his father, because all his lies and broken promises eventually caught up with him.
So you hang in there and remember that you owe nothing to your ex, nor do you have anything to prove to him. Release him from your life, and protect your children from his poisonous presence. The best revenge is to be happy and to savor your peace of mind without him.
I’m sure your children are resilient and will continue to thrive. Things will work out for them… They have you!!!”
I hope others will take similar comfort in another’s experience, and know that both you, and your children, with strength and effort, will get through this, and thrive.