If you had the misfortune to marry someone with narcissist tendencies, you will know that living with them can be an awful experience. However, once you have found the courage to divorce them, then the awful experience can quickly turn into a nightmare. For codependents who are not used to setting boundaries, it can be hell on earth to finally detach themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, the narcissist will not have any issues with leaving and had most probably checked out emotionally if not physically some time earlier. However, once he or she starts to realise that all is lost, the games may well start. If you are in this position, you will know what I mean. It is the ultimate stage for the narcissist to become the victim and paint you as the worst partner/parent there could be. There is no end to the torture that could be inflicted. Anything from holding up the divorce, threats, manipulation, making excessive demands are all on the table. Even worse, using any children you may have had to manipulate you into a space. It can truly be harrowing experience, especially for people who have found themselves enmeshed with this person. So what’s the best thing to do?
1. Realise that your soon to be ex will be capable of anything. Expect the worst and hope for the best. Definitely expect manipulation, delaying the process, promises to change and general nastiness. There will generally be no limits to this. Be prepared by limiting contact as much as possible. Ignore texts and calls. If there are no children involved, this will be simple. If there is, setting up an email account where communication takes place is essential. He or she will not readily accent these new boundaries and will fight back strongly. He will also not accept that you are about to leave him. You will need to prepare yourself for a change in your own attitude.
2. Get the best team together that you can. You will need as much support as you can possibly get. This means working with your therapist to work through strategies for coping with what could be a long drawn out process. Learning how to react to provocation and manipulation is essential. This means seeking and retaining good legal counsel and using it. It also means having a support network of friends and family to help.
3. Remember that it is a process and processes have a beginning and an end. Even though your partner will not make things easy, imagine the happier life you will have without this person in your life. Your children will be much better off too.
4. Set boundaries. The narcissist will have the view that you are not as good or intelligent as they are and as such, have no right to have your needs met. You cannot teach a narcissist to respect boundaries but you can make sure they do not cross yours. Don’t believe that being assertive or confronting the narcissist will help or constitutes boundaries. Limiting contact and conversation to avoid being sucked in to the narcissist’s tactics. They will push back but it is important to stand firm.