* Full Disclosure: I do refer to narcissistic exes in the male sense. This is a blog for moms and most situations are going to involve a narcissistic father. However, if your ex is female, this advice still applies to you. Narcissism doesn’t discriminate between genders. *
Quite possibly the worst situation you can find yourself in with a narcissist is when they are the other parent to your child.
This pretty much seals the deal on having to keep them in your life – and the result of this can be a devastating blow to your mental health.
I went through it for a few years – allowing my ex’s presence in my life to cause extreme amounts of stress and anxiety. I lived in a constant state of panic. I suffered from Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome.
I, unfortunately, did not have a handbook or manual on how to deal with a narcissistic ex.
However, through research and trial-and-error, I was able to establish a routine in my life that pretty much eliminated that stress and anxiety.
Now, although my life is certainly not drama-free, I can live it with a sense of calm and clarity.
Here’s how you can change the situation with your narcissistic ex in order to take care of your mental health:
Before you can start rearranging your life in a way to deal with your narcissistic ex and maintain your mental health, you need to unravel exactly what your relationship with them did to you.
It took me a couple of years of my own research to sort out how I was affected by my ex and find out ways to start my Narcissistic Abuse recovery. However, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help.
Narcissistic abuse syndrome is what a person experiences following a relationship with a narcissistic. This includes romantic relationships, work relationships, and relationships between narcissistic parents and children.
The life-long effects of narcissistic abuse can be crippling and the effects it has on someone’s mental health can form a cluster of symptoms:
- Physical and/or emotional reactions reminders of the abuse
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Avoidance of thoughts, people, or situations associated with the trauma
- Negative thoughts about the self and world
- Detachment or isolation from other people
- Distorted sense of blame
I can tell you that I feel like I’ve come through the other side of narcissistic abuse, but I still suffer from many of these symptoms.
The difference now is that I recognize them for what they are.
There was one situation with a friend in which she began to blame me for her mental health issues. As soon as I felt that urge to defend myself and set her straight – knowing it would make no difference – I felt like I was dealing with my ex again.
So I ignored her completely and cut her out of my life. My reaction was my way of avoiding someone that I was associating with my previous trauma.
Consequently, this helped me circumvent a highly stressful situation.
But if you find your symptoms absolutely debilitating and it’s difficult to live your life, then it’s time to seek professional help.
Otherwise, you can turn them into a source of strength, knowing that you will not let yourself be treated that way ever again.
Moving On When You Can’t Move On
Can you move on from a narcissistic ex when a child is involved? Yes and no.
I mean, you can’t eliminate them from your life. They are the father of your child and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
And you may be still struggling with the separation and asking yourself: “Why do I keep thinking about my narcissistic ex?”
However, you can move on from them personally and emotionally by minimalizing their role in your life.
My narcissistic ex is my daughter’s father. That’s it. That’s the only significance he gets to have in my life.
He is not my friend. He is not my co-parent. He holds no real estate in my heart or my soul.
That may seem harsh, considering he is the reason my daughter exists. But, in the grand scheme of things, maintaining my mental health is far more important than giving him credit.
And HE created that situation. Not me.
So you are allowed to reduce your narcissistic ex to the bare minimum. This is how you can move on from them even though they will be a part of life because of your child.
Doing this gives you two significant advantages:
- Because they are not a regular part of your life, you have no reason to regularly feel angry about them.
- Minimizing their role in your life makes it easier to talk to your child about their father.
Yes, they are going to do or say certain things that will make you feel angry, but you won’t have that constant anger twisting your gut on a day-to-day basis. You can confront the anger they cause when they cause it and move on.
Also, because you won’t feel angry all the time, you’ll be more likely to talk about your ex to your child in a more neutral fashion. Which is super helpful if you’re wondering what to do if you run into your narcissistic ex in public as well.
Ultimately, this is so important for your little one because you can’t drag them into the drama.
And think about how light and airy life and your home environment will feel when you stop allowing your ex to create a storm cloud over your life.
Control Your Boundaries
When you entered a relationship with your ex, you were likely in a place in your life when you were doubting yourself and lacking confidence.
Sensing that you were down and out, your ex charmed you and showered you with attention.
You were blinded by the attention and were slowly pulled into the narcissist’s trap.
But, guess what? You are no longer in that trap. You are free.
Except the narcissistic doesn’t see it this way and will continue to try and exert control over you.
While there is no reason why you should have accepted this treatment then, you certainly do not have to accept it now.
And the best part? While he is struggling to control and manipulate you, you are in fact the one in control. You have the control to establish your boundaries and remain within them.
Oh, he’ll try to push your buttons and sometimes you may have to overstep your boundaries to deal with issues that can’t be avoided – such as improper treatment of your child or inappropriate behaviors around your child.
But even those interactions can have boundaries.
My main boundary with my ex is limited communication. I don’t text or email him unless absolutely necessary, which is usually in response to setting up their Skype conversations (he lives away).
Setting boundaries is the best way when dealing with a narcissist to alleviate the anxiety and stress they try to inject into your life.
Don’t Fear Future Relationships
Your experiences with your narcissistic ex are going to taint the way you see future relationships. You’re going to scrutinize every potential suitor with paranoia and fear.
But, you have an opportunity here to learn a lesson from your experience and never repeat it again.
In order to avoid getting tangled with another narcissist, you need to understand that narcissists suffer from a profound lack of self-esteem.
In order to make themselves feel better, they seek partners who also have low self-esteem. This makes that individual easier to control and makes the narcissist feel superior.
So, if you are a strong and confident person, a narcissist will not target you. And if they do, you will have more awareness of the emotional abuse and bail out before it gets bad.
You may feel that you made a mistake by having a relationship with your ex, but you are certainly not to blame. Like any other mistake in your life, the important thing is to learn the lesson.
And the lesson is this:
You control how you are treated by other people. You have the choice to deal confidently and quickly with a relationship that has no value.
The only difference between your narcissistic ex and potentially involving yourself with another narcissist is that you can easily let these ones go.
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to turf the father of your child so you have to purge where you can.
And for the ones that seem worthy of your affection? Yeah, you’re going to pick apart everything they do and question their motives.
But you know the signs to look out for so as long as this person isn’t throwing up red flags, you can allow yourself to open up bit by bit. If they know what you’ve been through, and they’re worth it, they’ll be patient.
It Can Be Better
Your situation with your narcissistic ex will never be perfect, but it can be better.
You have the control, and the strength, to make that happen and start your journey to Narcissistic Abuse recovery.
You don’t need to let that person dictate how you are going to live your life.
How have you learned to deal with your narcissistic ex? How do you keep them from affecting your mental health?
Let me know in the comments!