A peek into coparenting with a narcissist

Since separating from my ex-wife I have come to understand that she has narcissistic tendencies that I had never seen before. As I recovered from her affair and its fall out I learned to avoid interacting with her around anything involving my feelings.

However, it is much harder to avoid interacting with her when it comes to the kids. Over the last month my daughter has been living with me full time ever since her mother called the police on her. I have been doing my best to support my daughter and trying to help her understand how to talk with her mother.

On most days my daughter does not want anything to do with her. The reason she gives is that her mother focuses on herself, and does not apologize. My daughter is feeling the full brunt of her mother’s self-centered narcissism.

And like a fool I keep hoping that I can help my ex understand what she needs to do to help resolve the issues between the two of them. Copied below is an exchange of texts I had with my ex this morning. It is a snippet, a sample, of what a conversation with a narcissistic co-parent might look like. Continue reading “A peek into coparenting with a narcissist”

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8 Things that Single Dads Find Sexy in a Woman

Earlier today I came across, and retweeted, the article 10 Unusual Things Single Moms Find Sexy In a Man written by Lisa Bien on DivorcedMoms.com. After reading the post pexels-photo-59497I wondered what the male version of Lisa’s list might be. What is it that we single dads find most sexy in a woman?

So I ran right out, got a coffee, and sat right back down to think about it. Unlike Lisa’s list, these eight tips (Lisa’s also work in the opposite direction, so think of this list as 11 through 18) are not based on interviews with other single dads, and are definitely not peer reviewed. They can probably be viewed more as Divorced Dad 101’s list of things he was looking for in a woman when he began dating after almost 20 years of marriage. I did notice that talking about yourself in the third person did not make Lisa’s top 10 sexy man things. Damn!

So, dear reader, please take this list with a grain of salt. Divorced Dad 101 dated for a grand total of 2 months before finding his sexy girlfriend, who in two years has not yet dumped him despite his occasional use of the third person when talking about himself. Continue reading “8 Things that Single Dads Find Sexy in a Woman”

Is the Truth the Most Important Thing When Your Child Reports Being Touched by a Peer?

How would you react if you received a call from the school psychologist, one afternoon while at work, telling you that your daughter reported being touched in the breast and privates by a boy?

When I got that call on Wednesday, I wished it was as simple as getting angry, finding the boy, flogging him, and knowing that my daughter’s honor had been restored. Isn’t that the manly…the fatherly thing…to do? Continue reading “Is the Truth the Most Important Thing When Your Child Reports Being Touched by a Peer?”

A Letter to My Ex-wife on the Occasion of Her Calling the Police on Our Daughter

Dear Ex-Wife:

So many thoughts about a very hard week. And it all started with a phone call from a policeman, asking me to pick our daughter up at your house.

You called the police on our daughter.

Let that statement ring out a little bit. When I spoke with our daughter (DD) on the phone, and when I finally got there, she was terrified. Shaken. Her mother had called the police.

Why? Because DD and her brother had gotten into a fight about headphones hours earlier. Headphones. You blamed DD for being woken up. Later in the day, when she was trying to make you understand that it wasn’t just her fault, you ignored her. You were not able to deescalate the situation. You couldn’t hear our daughter, and instead called the police when you had enough.  Continue reading “A Letter to My Ex-wife on the Occasion of Her Calling the Police on Our Daughter”

Kids and Death: Scary Feelings Should Not Be Avoided

“I hate it when people die.”

One of my students had stayed after school today to make up some laboratory work. Her grandmother died last night. The other grandmother, who she visited in Korea in the fall, had died about a month ago. My student asked me whether it was ok to be angry at other people who are all of a sudden claiming to be her grandmother’s greatest friends, when these same people were nowhere to be found during her grandmother’s cancer. I told her that the one thing I had learned about death in my life, was that everyone responds to it in their own way. She and I spent the afternoon talking about death and dying. Continue reading “Kids and Death: Scary Feelings Should Not Be Avoided”

Top 5 Dark and Angry “Break-up” Songs

Break up songs and divorce.

If you are a child of the 80’s, like me, you may recall this classic scene from the movie Better of Dead (which my kids love by the way…in case you are looking for something funny to watch with your over 10-ish kids):

john Cusack had it wrong though. It is music that can help you make it through the worst days post-separation from your spouse. The real question is what music?

I used to DJ, so I had many options of musical stylings to choose from. I could have turned to the Blues, but most blues songs lament the women who have left. I wasn’t going to pine after the woman who cheated on me as Muddy Waters did in Long Distance Call. Continue reading “Top 5 Dark and Angry “Break-up” Songs”

Top 10 Reasons Why Moshing While 40 Might Not be Such a Good Idea

In my recent post about whether I was going through a mid-life crisis I mentioned that in a couple of weeks I was going to be going to my first metal show in a long time. This got me thinking. We have floor tickets for the show. General admission near the stage.

I know that once those base drums hit my old instincts might kick in and I will be tempted to once again get caught in a mosh (do they even call it that anymore?). But realizing that I am now over forty gives me a bit of a pause. Is it really such a good idea, in my condition, to be thrashing around with a bunch of teens and 20-somethings?

So I give you the top 10 reasons why moshing while 40 is probably a bad idea.  Continue reading “Top 10 Reasons Why Moshing While 40 Might Not be Such a Good Idea”

Would I still be married if we hadn’t adopted?

The quick answer is no.

My ex-wife once said to me that she would either have a daughter with or without me. This ultimatum was given about a year before we finally brought our daughter into our home, about two years before my ex started her affair, and about five years before I learned of the affair and separated.

The moral of this story is that if your spouse is giving you an ultimatum then your marriage is in rough shape. Be wary. There are deeper issues that need to be resolved if the marriage is to survive.

I wish I knew then, what I know now. However, at that time I didn’t want to lose my wife, white-rings-decoration-macroand I convinced myself that having a third child, a daughter (my first two are boys), would help me grow. I pictured dancing with my daughter at her wedding, and I wanted to have that experience as part of my life. But I still wonder at times, with guilt, how much of a role my daughter’s adoption ultimately contributed to my wife’s affair and our divorce.

We adopted our daughter from foster care when she was six years old. She had been removed from her birth home at the age of three for neglect, and possibly abuse, but the abuse details were sketchy. She came to us with diagnoses of autism and developmental delays. Those were challenges that we felt we could handle, and I had said that I could not take on a child with reactive attachment disorder. I had grown up as a big brother to a boy who had been adopted and had the diagnosis, and I knew that was a disorder that I would struggle with. Most, if not all foster children, who come from trauma are special needs children, and my daughter’s complex needs became clearer the longer she was with us.

The first year was a year of continual conflict. Almost every day my daughter had a tantrum which lasted anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. She frequently woke up with night terrors. During her hour long tantrums I would often need to restrain her by bringing her to the ground and wrapping my arms and legs around her to keep her from hurting herself or her brothers or her mother. Although she never carried out her threats of hurting us with a knife, she vocalized that threat on occasion.

Even before the first year was up my ex-wife had begun accusing me of being an angry person. I would learn later that she started her affair with her business partner about 9 months after we brought our daughter into our home. Her accusations intensified and I began seeing a therapist to appease her. I now realize her accusations were one of the ways she justified her affair to herself and her partner. I was the angry, abusive spouse that she needed saving from. And I also see that the affair was one way she dealt with the stress at home.

What I now also realize is that the first year our daughter was with us was a year of growth for me, and a year of great frustration and stress as well. I don’t deny that I would often yell. For example, the night my younger son flooded the upstairs toilet so badly that it was coming through the ceiling and light fixtures into the first floor, was a particularly bad night. My ability to handle frustration was at an all time low. But considering what we were going through as a family, we would have had a better chance of survival if our relationship was healthy.

nature-sunset-person-womanAfter our divorce process had begun, my ex-wife accused me of abusing our daughter by causing a bruise on her arm in that first year. She used this in an attempt to keep me from my kids by filing a restraining order. I told the judge in the restraining order hearing that it was very possible that I had grabbed my daughter’s arm in an attempt to protect the rest of the family from one of my daughter’s tantrums. I told the judge the story of our daughter’s first year. The judge believed me, understood what our family had been going through, and vacated the restraining order.

I no longer have my wife, but I do have my daughter. She has come a long way in the almost 7 years that she has been my daughter, and despite challenges she is still working through, she is light years from the days of the two hour tantrums. I wonder sometimes whether I would still be married if not for the ultimatum. On my more confident days I know that my wife’s feelings towards me were already broken before we made our daughter our daughter.

I love my daughter. She has brought challenge, joy and growth into my life. And if you are reading this, and wondering whether adoption is for you, then know that it is a challenging path. Stress and frustration are part of the process. Do you and your partner have the self-care skills needed to help each other through the challenge ahead? Each of you will react differently to those challenges, and you each need a level of understanding to make it through and help your partner in the dark moments. Without that ability to support your partner…well…your story may end up similar to mine.

 

Dad Jokes: Music and Marriage

Berlioz_Petit_BNF_Gallica-cropOn our way to a college piano audition my son began telling me about a particularly large piece of music. He described the Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz, which was composed in 1830. It is about an hour in length and is written for 90 instruments.

My son told me that Berlioz had written the piece to impress an Irish actress, Harriet Smithson, who he had seen perform as Ophelia, but had never met. Eventually his love letters and her realization that the music was composed for her led to their meeting and a marriage. It was a marriage filled with conflict, and they ultimately divorced after a few years.

After he was done with his story I told my son the very important moral of the story:

“Women should be very careful about marrying a guy with a big piece.”

Is it a Mid-life Crisis or Something Even More Transformative?

“Yeah. I think you’re going through a mid-life crisis.”sports car

I picked my son up at the airport yesterday morning. He had been traveling for the previous week, visiting and auditioning at music schools. As we talked I told him that I had bought tickets for an upcoming metal show. He responded by proclaiming that his father was half way to death, and that this mid-life status was causing him to try and reclaim his lost youth.

I have been trying to figure out since whether I am indeed going through this thing people call a mid-life crisis, or whether something else is going on. Here is the evidence:

Can you still be a metalhead in your 40s?

Slayer and Testament are coming to town. Continue reading “Is it a Mid-life Crisis or Something Even More Transformative?”