Disarming the Narcissist – Case Study 1: The Birthday Party

June 12th, 2018
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, who’s “office” was at WeWork.com (one of those office-sharing places), and whose personal assistant was his mother. 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 Narcissist 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.

Letter to every married mom that’s ever snubbed me because I am a single mom

July 12th, 2017
On my bad days, I hate you. But most of the time, I feel sorry for you.

I feel sorry for you because you’ve let yourself go, which is why you give me the once-over with a grimace whenever you see me. And why wouldn’t you? You’re not supposed to be sexually available. You have an owner. You’ve settled down, like a good girl. Anyway, who has time to primp when cleaning up the perpetual trail of chaos that the hubby and kids leave in their wake?

I feel sorry for you because you’ve gotten so insecure about letting yourself go that you’d snub not just me but my kid too. Really? You’re gonna take your sexual resentment out on a CHILD? Go ahead, enjoy your playdates, help the other depressed married moms out with some babysitting. Keep that single mom and her spawn away, lest she go after your fat, balding husband that you haven’t fucked in 2 years. Puh-lease. I wouldn’t touch that creton with a ten-foot pole.

I feel sorry for you because I know you have to ask for something 4 times and then shout before he hears a word you say. It’s like you have to turn into an asshole in order to get ANY help. And then you have no patience left for the little ones, who deserve it so much more than he does.

It hurts when you snub me. I’m also juggling kids and a household. Childcare is just as much a financial burden for me as it is for your family. I could use the same break you and the married moms give each other. If you got to know me, I think you’d like me. But you’ve already decided, so my kid gets shut out.

Maybe you think I don’t notice. I don’t give you the benefit of the doubt anymore. The other single moms and I get together and we dish about how snotty you guys are to us.

I wilt a little every time my daughter asks me for a playdate with someone whose mom I know will not reply. I say that I’ll see what I can do. It gets harder the older she gets, because she remembers who she’s already asked about. I tell her that I sent the mom a message but she is probably just very, very busy.

This is totally an American thing too — the foreign moms are way cooler to me. Why can’t you be more like the foreign moms?

I feel sorry for you because deep down you know how fucked up it is when your kid wants to play with mine and you make up excuses as to why they can’t. Cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

I feel sorry for you because you make your friends based on something as ephemeral as relationship status, and not based on anything real in your heart.

I feel sorry for you because he cheats on you. Not yours you say? Wow, you have a lot to learn about men.

I feel sorry for you because there is a 50% chance you will also divorce. And when you do, and you get snubbed by the married moms, you will realize what a shitty person you’ve been.

I feel sorry for you because you share a bed with the last person on earth you’d want to tear your clothes off. Yup, it gets old, no matter how good it once was. And now you’re both celibate and stuck.

I feel sorry for you because you can’t really talk about it — everyone is supposed to stop asking how everyone else’s relationship is once the rings are on. Is that why you drink so much?

I feel sorry for you because deep down you know you want to leave him, but the money, the money, how will you do it? It all seems impossible. And scary. No wonder you hate single moms. They did the impossible. What would you talk about at a playdate? When the married moms get together everyone dishes about how lame the guy they’re stuck with is. “The single moms wouldn’t get it,” you think to yourself. Oh but we do. And we aren’t afraid to say the unthinkable: “Leave his trifling ass.”

I feel sorry for you because he doesn’t appreciate you, and never will.

I feel sorry for you because what’s behind me lies ahead for you, and the fear of it keeps you trapped. The lawyers, the courts, the money. Yes, it’s awful. I know that going through it is still better than staying in a shitty relationship. But you don’t know that. So you stand at the edge, looking but never daring.

How NOT to pass your pre-employment drug screening

February 20th, 2017
tie-straighten urine-sample smoking-joint I consider pre-employment drug-testing to not only be a violation of one’s right to privacy, but an extremely misguided way to judge a candidate’s fitness to do the job. Back in 2002 when I was in my twenties and the economy was in the toilet, I needed a gig badly enough that I was willing to put up with it. These days I would never consider working for an employer moronic enough to insist such a thing, but of course that’s a moral standard afforded with dumb luck and a bit more seniority in job-market. This post is specifically about Marijuana, no other substances.

1. Book it.
Find out as early as you can, and make the appointment as far out as you possibly can. You will need this time to get the THC out of your system, which lingers for 30-45 days.

I was a temp, it was the post-9/11 recession, and one of my staffing agencies finally had something for me at an Investment Bank downtown. A weekend graveyard shift, salaried, across the street from the wreckage that remained of the Twin Towers. Fucking miserable. But work is work, and it’s better than none. I learned about the piss-test at the end of my interview with the Presentation Center manager, who took herself, and all of it, very, very seriously. It was to happen after the paid two-week training I was about to start. In retrospect, I think this must be a deliberate attempt to let people cleanup and get the narcotics out of their system. If they were really trying to catch anyone, they would spring it on you, right? They outsourced the testing to a dingy little Diagnostics Clinic up on 34th street, and it was up to me to call and make the appointment.

2. Stop smoking, start exercising.
THC bonds to lipids (a.k.a., fat). When that fat is metabolized, the THC comes out in your urine. This tends to occur at a relatively steady rate, regardless of cleansing. Given that the half-life of THC metabolites is 7 days, most people will be below the testing threshholds in 3-4 weeks. So if it’s too late to have a smoke-free month before test time, you need to try to get rid of as much of the fat in your body as possible. Exercise like a mutherfucker, and:

3. Diet, and then STOP.
Because you want your body to convert your fat reserves to energy, instead of the new fat you are consuming, you need to reduce your fat intake in the weeks leading up to the test. A couple of days before the test, you want to keep whatever THC is still in your body IN, by slowing your metabolism down to prevent any more THC from getting into your urine, and providing new, un-thc-tainted sources of fat to metabolize. That’s when you STOP exercising, and start piling on the bacon. In a nutshell: get as much THC out of your system as you can in the weeks before testing, then a couple days before test time, keep whatever remains in.

What I did instead, is get one of the “cleansing” drinks from a smoke shop, which I drank the day before. I would not recommend this.

4. Piss in that cup.
Some people try messing with the test-taking process, but I’ve heard too many amusing anecdotes about this backfiring. Anyway, they test the temperature to make sure it’s fresh, so good luck figuring that out without it coming out of your 98.6 degree nether-regions.

I was given the privacy of a bathroom with a closed door, but I’ve heard of other clinics where you have to go with a clinician standing right next to you.

5. Screen calls.
Because if you fail it, you’d better have time to come up with a fancy excuse and hope they either don’t give a shit or will give you another shot. You need this crappy gig.

It was a week after actually working at the Bank, that they left a message on my answering machine (remember those?) saying I needed to retake the drug test. I didn’t pass — but I didn’t exactly fail either (there was no indication of THC reported). Instead what was flagged on my report was “Low Creatinine levels.” What is Creatinine? Creatinine is a waste product of protein metabolism. As an indicator of drug-use, it’s dubious. Women have lower creatinine levels than men, vegetarians have lower creatinine levels than meat-eaters, and people with low body-mass have lower levels than people of high body-mass. The point is, they are testing levels of all sorts of other stuff in your pee to make sure you aren’t trying to hide something. Color, pH, and creatinine, among other things.

SO my creatinine levels were low. Why? It could have been the headshop drink I ingested. But how would that lower levels of protein metabolism? My hypothesis is that I would have received the same results had I NOT ingested the headshop drink. Because I’m female, slender, and was vegetarian at the time. Had I known about Step #3, I might have escaped this fated curveball. I felt vaguely vindicated when bit of web-searching revealed that Delta was facing a lawsuit from one of it’s pilots who was fired over test results indicating low creatinine levels. However this did not help my situation. They expected me to re-take the test. Obviously, having presumed that no news is good news, I had reverted to my sinful ways.

5. WAIT before reverting to your sinful ways.
Everything takes time, including clinicians analyzing your precious piss, writing up a report, sending it to your manager, and her opening the email or snail-mail and deciding what it all means in the scheme of her painfully narrow world-view. Give it a couple weeks to filter up through the powers-that-be before you go packing your bong. Oh fuck it, you’re not going to listen to me, you’ve been thinking about that huge joint you’re going to roll for weeks as soon as you bust out of that clinic. Which is why you will need to:

6. Come up with an excuse to buy some time.
You will have to repeat steps 1-5.

When I called back to innocently ask what the drug test result could possibly mean, I had recruited my friend D to lend me his phone, which had caller-ID block. I knew from previous temping gigs that all the banks had caller-ID on all the phones. If I was going to claim I was out of town visiting family for the week (which was perfectly appropriate, given that my shift was the weekend shift and I was off on the weekdays in between), I’d better not call from a local number.

Much to my surprise, the unimportant and unimaginative HR person that had been tasked with managing me and my drug test snafu was NOT at all pleased when I cheerfully informed her that I would not be able to book another appointment at the clinic immediately, but would be happy to do so upon my return at the end of the week. So up the chain of command it went to the manager that had interviewed me, and my staffing agency rep got involved to smooth feathers and mediate.

6. Keep your cool.
The type of people that want to drug-test you are generally inflexible, unintelligent twats, and may want you to jump through a few more fiery hoops in order to justify their existence.

“BUS TICKETS??” I exclaimed. The bitch manager wanted to see bus ticket receipts from my fictional trip. My agency rep calmly explained that there was some suspicion on the other side. I complained that this was ridiculous and invasive and that I had thrown out the ticket stub. She asked if I could save the return ticket receipt. I said I could. This satisfied her and she said she would let them know.

7. Get by with a little help from your friends.
When I hung up the phone (D’s phone) after this last exchange I turned to him, flabbergasted. I think I started to cry. The tears dried quickly as despair was consumed by determination to weasel my way out of this. D remembered that some friends of his HAPPENED to be doing a gig in the same city that my fictional trip to visit family was, and he called them. They were coming back Friday night. They said they would save their stamped bus ticket stubs and get them to me.

8. Pat yourself on the back for a job well-done.
All I had to do was wait out the rest of the week. I had played their game.

The next day I got a call from my staffing agency rep. What a job that must be. Have you ever heard a little kid say they wanted to be a staffing agency representative for investment banking temps when they grow up? And you never will. She informed me that they rescinded the offer of permanent employment, and they would like to bring me on as a temp. Of COURSE — they had just spent all that money training me, and I was already well-liked both personally professionally amongst the raucous and easy-going weekend staff, who either didn’t know or didn’t are about the drug test. To let me go would present a loss of time and profitability. Or maybe they didn’t want to pay for another drug test. Maybe they needed to have the last jab, who knows. I happily accepted, for I had wanted to remain a temp anyway. It was a shitty job at a shitty time, and the following year during a slump when they laid off all the temps, off I went, never to be drug-tested ever again.

Where the fuck are all those people now I wonder.