Estranged children by a Covert Narcissist
I have finally decided to tell my unbelievable story. It's unbelievable because of the invisible damage my ex-husband of 24 years has caused me, my children and my family. We have been separated now for 6 years and last month I suffered another PTSD flare-up due to a new evolution of his abuse.
F (my ex-husband) is a depressed covert narcissist. His demonstrated fake "love" for me and my children (one 23 yo boy and one 19 yo girl) was unparalleled. My own family thought that he was an angel. When we visited them interstate, he would sleep on the floor. I did not feel the need to point out that he sometimes slept on the floor at home.
I tried to support him in his depression but he refused my help because "it's none of my business". So I put up with his lethargy, apathy, putting me down, gaslighting me, picking on what I say and do with my beloved children, mocking my ethnic background for 15 years. Then he started cheating on me at the same time I was getting international recognition for my work and he became more abusive in private. I pulled back from work and tried to "save my marriage" but he became abusive in front of my children. I asked my brother to talk to him, but F told him how I am impossible to live with (sleeping on the floor was evidence of his martyrdom). My brother was also convincing me at the time to try harder to please my ex-husband to spare the children from a broken home. My brother now also believe that it was all my fault.
One year after the break-up my daughter was admitted to hospital suffering from PTSD. Living mostly with him (the children were with him during the week with weekend-stays with me then) he took over her treatments with the help of a psychiatrist that he briefed who subsequently banned me from seeing my daughter. I was so distressed firstly for my concern for my daughter in the hands of a depressed narcissist and second for not being able to see my daughter. I suffered severe trauma as a result of the separation.
My relationship with my daughter, my son, my brother and mother (who lives with my brother) is now estranged. I tried so hard to support my children even when they were nasty to me but they continue to treat me with contempt. I feel alone and I have lost hope of ever repairing the love my children and I had for one another. Thankfully, 2 friends who have known us for decades and my counsellor validate the abuse I suffered. I don't know what the next step is in my recovery but I'm trying it here as well.
I'm afraid I could not locate your first two posts, so I'd like to welcome you here now to the Forum and will say first off that I believe you in all you say. That might sound a fumy way to start a response, however your post is one where you have been disregard in favor of a convincing and toxic person who like many such people is a "street angel", someone who puts on a likable and believable front to all who he wishes, whilst behaving the exact opposite in private.
So if I was in your place I would find it important and a comfort to be believed and validated.
All the time someone is deliberately being fed poison by a parent it is next to impossible to counteract. Love effort and support can all seem to be a waste. Highly discouraging, and enough to make one doubt oneself -which is another reason I why I said the above. Heart-breaking in fact.
Reading you post in which you say you have an 'ethnic background' and the fact that all your relations side with the male and you are urged to "try harder to please you husband ..." makes me wonder if your parent culture does not value women the same as men. Please excuse me if I misunderstand.
I did notice you said you had some success in your own right, and that seemed to exacerbate matters.
Now I do not believe in false hope, but do also think that as children grow and mature, maybe have families of their own, or face external problems, perhaps in employment or marriage, that their perceptions can change, Life does that to people. It might be a surprisingly small event, such as F neglecting one child in an hour of serious need, that turns perceptions around.
So please do not give up. In the interim estrangement may help, you in particular. As you say it is highly traumatic for you and sometimes distance is the only answer.
In the meanwhile living a life that is an oasis of sanity can have is own effect on you and seem perhaps a refuge to others. You mentioned you daughter had PTSD, and I know from personal experience that is not something that quickly goes away. You yourself have the same problem.
May I ask what medical support you have to help with this, and in general. I know you mentioned a councilor, do you find that enough or are PTSD symptoms beyond current efforts requiring medication and therapy perhaps? I have found, over time these to be a great help.
I do hope you come back and talk some more
Thank you for comforting words. And yes, I used to believe that one day the children will see for themselves how damaging their father is but not anymore. He did neglect and acted selfishly once when my daughter was recovering and it did allow my children to see his selfishness at least but things didn't improve much between us. True, they are now civil to me but the contempt they feel is now for me AND for their father. It's as if they're so hurt that they can't see beyond the hurt they feel for their parents who have let them down.
Added to that is the fact that my son still lives with his father and grandparents with his girlfriend (It's a huge house and he has a floor to himself). He's studying for a PhD so he doesn't earn enough and my apartment is too small for him and his girlfriend. So even if he wanted to believe me that their father is a narcissist abuser, it would create such a conflict in him that he wouldn't be able to live with himself. So, it's easier to revert back to what he's been programmed and brainwashed as a reality. This will continue now for a long to come and the damage is irreparable especially when the girlfriend is also benefiting from his father's largess. Being surrounded by his loving and caring father's family while mine chose to punish me is bound to create a false image of his mother with all this support he is getting from his father and his grandparents.
My daughter has decided to live on her own and she's struggling despite her mental illness. When her apartment flooded and she had to move immediately, she decided to couch surf at friends instead of staying with me even though I have an empty bedroom at my place.
So you see, I have given up after 6 years of separation (and many more years before that when their father had already started brainwashing them). For the first time, I feel angry with them sometimes. This is a new feeling. I used to feel hurt, grief, worrying about their well-being and I still do but anger seems to be a new feeling and I'm not sure if this is healthy at all.
I would feel the anger too, a lot of it. such injustice and untrue misleading behavior, and its horrible effects would leave me with anger at both my ex and the kids.
Apart from anything else I believe it would be the start in me of not being a victim, but a person of substance and worth.
I do not have your family problems, mine were different. coming from a very class conscious family in England after the war -a different world -I was disinherited due to my fiancée being 'unsuitable'.
Actually they did me a favor, I had to grow up, however it did mean that all the love in my childhood had been pretense, and then my anger started, it helped my know I was justified, it helped me to know I was a worthy person and did not deserve to be wronged.
It is true for you too.
As your children approach adulthood they are responsible for their actions and beliefs, and if they blindly follow then they are at fault too. Kindness and empathy should be part of their makeup to be worthy people.
I truly believe your anger is healhy
Thank you Croix. I don’t see anything wrong with being a victim because that’s a fact. The difference though is that I consider myself a survivor now. Victim hood is belittled in society for the wrong reasons. By attaching negative attributes to victimhood it damages those who have suffered from abuse. It’s as if the victim is not supposed to feel the pain and anger of the abuse and “ rise above it”.
For many years I felt this way. Being strong is opposite to being a victim and so I was not allowing myself to acknowledge that I was a victim and it delayed my recovery.
I hope that makes sense.
Thanks again for sharing your story and for your words of encouragement. They are very helpful.
You are showing me being a victim in a new light, one that I had not thought about. For me being a victim was more of a passive thing, and the idea of strenght starting seemed to me to be no longer being passive.
I expect you are quite right, and I'll think on it some more. It is a pleasure to learn other's thoughts , it helps.
Although I'm quite a mild person anger has helped me in lots of ways, from surviving being invalided out of my vocation to giving up smoking. For me it is a source of strenght, even though I do not get angry often. Perhaps it will help you in your feelings about a family who have wronged you.