Disarming the Narcissist – Case Study 1: The Birthday Party

Narcissus by John William Waterhouse width= Balloons Zena Warrior Princess

Like many Narcs, the one with whom I share a daughter, likes to use the kid as a creepy excuse to impose his presence on me and pick fights. When I wriggle out of it, he takes me to Court. As you can imagine, this is a cripplingly expensive situation for yours truly. But Family Court is a joke, just like the rest of the so-called American Justice System, and the lawyers and judges all make way too much money off it being ineffective to bother changing anything. So most of the time, you must take matters into your own hands, and do so with the precision of a surgeon so as not to damage the kids or your reputation before the Court.

When it was time for my daughter’s 4th birthday, and subsequently her first REAL birthday party with her whole preschool class, the Narc of course wanted to co-host a party. Because I don’t party with people that are incessantly suing me, I declined, which is when his Narc lawyer got involved and the fun began. Kids’ birthday parties are like the caviar of Narcissistic Supply for an NPD dad. Especially if they can get an organized schmuck like me to plan, prep and pay for everything. Ha.

I’m including actual emails, with identifying information removed and names replaced. Here’s a key:

[Yours truly] …………………………. That’s me
[A**hole] ……………………………… My asshole ex
[our daughter]/[dear daughter] …. Our daughter

The Narcissist baits you, but don’t give in

Ever since I left him, the Narc has become superdad, and in true superdad fashion, emailed me a month before the kid’s birthday to see what “our” plans were. Luckily, I had not yet planned anything, so the stakes were flexible.

My firm, detailed and unemotional response citing past visitation patterns and the custody agreement we’d been drafting for the prior year:

The Narc’s Slimy Lawyer

Whenever the Narc knew I wasn’t backing down I’d hear from his attorney. His attorney, whose suits never matched and who’s “office” was at WeWork.com (one of those office-sharing places). And who would look at me like he wanted to fuck me during settlement discussions. He once had to gaul to invite me to do a “settlement talk” without his client present – just him and me. Sheah.

What follows is the long-winded, contradictory email from this slimeball to MY lawyer, suggesting that I’d better spend time with his client if I want to see my kid at ALL on her birthday, or they’ll file a motion:

Shakespeare was totally right when he said “First, we must kill all the lawyers”. They will lie and threaten even when they know their client is the asshole in the situation. Cuz they’re getting paid to. So I had a predicament.

Don’t let them see you sweat

A year prior I probably would have shot back a hot, retaliatory email, which would have escalated into a lot of other emails, which Narcs love to bring to Court to show how unstable you get after they’ve carefully wound you up. This time I decided to be a little smarter.

My response (sent to the Narc only):

Let them think they’ve won

Mind you, no party has been planned at the Museum — in fact, no party has been planned at all. Have you seen Hitchcock’s Family Plot? I love scenarios involving hiding things in plain site as something else. The Narc wants a fight, so you must give them a fight — but rig it.

As expected, the Narc can’t let me get away for a second. We MUST attend the whole party together. Phhhbbbt, so what? It’s a pretend party — and there is no spoon.

Meanwhile, I sent out invites to the real party, which I planned for the same day, just a few hours earlier, at my place.

It’s Never Enough

No matter how much you compromise, they will always push for more. So stop compromising. At this point I’m just fucking with him, which is way more fun when you don’t have any skin in the game.

The thing I find most interesting about the above email is his apparent view that court is somehow disconnected from our ongoing rapport and his lawyer just “does his own thing.” So of course I should be able to happily hang out with someone who is suing me. WTF??

This could go on forever, but I have a kid’s party to plan.

See you at the party, and in Court. Douchebag.

It’s taken me a long time to learn, but Court is just the thing he does to threaten me when I don’t do his bidding in real life. Court is not a place to negotiate, because there is no negotiation – why would the Narc ever negotiate with what he sees as his property? The Narcissist sees the Court as a tool with which to punish your disobedience — not as a forum to resolve disputes. Expect to go when you’ve been naughty, and be able to innocently explain yourself to the judge. Or better yet, embarrass him, so he’ll keep his fool mouth shut, in and out of Court. No one retells stories where they’re the butt of a joke.

I waited until the Narc asked before giving the time and location of the fake party:

You know what his response to that was? To send me $500 via banking app. HA. It’s like I’m his kiddie party concubine and I’m getting a doggie treat for good behavior. More like icing on the dogshit cake I’m baking him.

Day of, I was preparing my place feverishly, and the babysitter was scheduled to pick up my sweetpea from her father’s. In addition to being stressed out about organizing a kid’s party, I was nervous about something going wrong with my plans and her father figuring it out, potentially ruining her first real birthday party with a nasty fight. The morning of, I carefully drafted, but did not send, an apologetic cancellation email. The guests arrived as I was frantically inflating balloons from a helium tank. My babysitter had cooked up a storm of Moroccan food. Presents were ripped open anywhere and everywhere and thrown asunder. We sang Happy Birthday, and as the train of guests approached her with the lit-up cake in my hands, my little one beamed with proud anticipation, clasped her hands, and inhaled like an opera singer commencing her solo before blowing out the flames. Cake was had, and my apartment looked like a bomb hit it.

A few minutes before 4pm, I received a panicked SMS

I pulled up my prepared draft email on my phone, and hit send:

Then I grabbed the girl, told her to say goodbye and thank you to all her friends that came to the party, hopped in a cab, and headed to the Museum with my heart in my throat. I anticipated a fight.

Holy cow, Narcissists are gullible

When we arrived, he and a few other people were waiting in the lobby. As soon as my daughter entered, a little girl exclaimed “Birthday girl!” and she went off to bask in the attention while I contended with her father. With wide eyes, he asked if I was ok. I clutched my stomach, made a face, and wearily uttered “yeah, I’ll be alright, but I really gotta go.” as I backed out the door he asked about the cake. I responded that it was consumed by the few concerned friends and neighbors who hobbled the last minute gathering for her. He was disappointed, but with a face of purest concern, told me to feel better. I stumbled out and walked home, utterly dumbfounded that the stupid fuck bought it.

The Narc’s Wounded Ego

Of course, it wasn’t long before lil miss was talking about the big bash mommy threw for her. A week later, I got the email informing me he’d figured it out.

It really succinctly outlines his Modus Operandi towards me: If you do not spend time with me, I will take your baby away.

But I was so high on my win, I was bulletproof. And I had learned an important lesson about how to deal with Narcs. Don’t confront the beast head-on. You’ll just lock horns, which is exactly what he wants. Instead, tell him what he wants to hear, and then go around him.

While he was on vacation I spoke with his father and his brother and the babysitter, all of whom agreed with me: sending my little girl to stay with the new parents of a two-week-old, who lived a couple hours car ride away, through the weekend, was a terrible idea and she should stay with me if her father is going on vacation.

It took me a couple years and many thousands in legal fees to learn that reasoning, crying, screaming, and getting a restraining order isn’t going to do a damn thing. Instead you must make the stalker think that you are where you are not and that you are not where you are.

Once I figured that out, it became like a game. He’d ask if I was bringing our daughter to her friend’s birthday party (scheduled during my weekend with her), so I’d say we were upstate, and then ask a few friends to report on whether or not he had shown up before I decided to go (because what kind of creepy dad would show up to a kid’s party without their kid, right?). Same thing with field trips, but I ended up missing more of those. Doctor’s appointments were fun. If he insisted that we go together, I’d schedule it with him, and then call back and reschedule for earlier in the week. Then day of I’d text him to say there was an earlier cancellation. He would drop everything and bike over the bridge in the summer heat… only to get there long after we’d left the office and descended into the subway. I’d offer a shrugging apology and then suggest he take her to the next one – by himself. Because NORMAL parents alternate with that shit instead of treating it like some kind of bloody DATE.

Eventually they get tired and stop bothering. Curt graciousness and your continued lack of company offer little in the way of Narcissistic Supply, or fodder for the Court, and they don’t REALLY want to put in the work of attending birthday parties, fieldtrips and doctor’s appointments with the kid – it’s just an excuse to hoover and terrorize you.

Don’t let them see you sweat.

One Response to “Disarming the Narcissist – Case Study 1: The Birthday Party”

  1. Emily says:

    Luckily narcissists are rarely as intelligent as they think they are. Unfortunately, they’re every bit as controlling as we know they are. I feel for you with this. I dodged a major bullet with my ex (also a serious narcissist).

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