Everyday is a full moon when dealing with a narcissist…
“Is the beam from a lighthouse affected by howling wind and rain? It remains perfectly steadfast and unaffected by the storm. Your true self is like that. Nothing can ever harm you once you are consciously aware that it is so.” -Vernon Howard
My storm continues into it’s tenth year of family court hell. We are currently battling multiple storms in three different branches of the court: all related to the same family.
Family Court: Enforcing the court order which began as a stipulation in November.
Probate Court: Termination of parental rights which will likely be stalled until the family court case is settled.
Criminal Court: My ex-brother-in law’s case approaches year three of this nightmare with no end in sight. You can read the recent update by clicking here.
We had court on Monday, May 20th. We have court again on Tuesday, May 28th and again on June 7th.
And here I thought my storm was in my rear view mirror. A quote I saw stated, “In many cases, the aftermath of a storm is the worse than the storm itself, leaving behind debris, damage, outages and floods.”
On Monday, just before our court case began, my ex-husband officially filed to reestablish visitation with the girls. Yes, you read that right. And, he wants his MOM to be the supervisor. I feel like I am in a bad movie and the background music just took a dark and dramatic turn to keep us all on the edge of our seats.
In court, he showed his crazy: telling the judge that it’s my intention to keep this case going because I am profiting off the drama and, that I run a business teaching moms how to get 100% custody through vexatious litigation.
He spent 30 minutes spewing word salad and talking in circles, frustrating the Commissioner over a Jeep worth maybe $20,000 that he was ordered to turn over to me. I have the Jeep but he fraudulently transferred the title into his brother’s name and refuses to turn it over. Now, his brother is holding it ransom. I, in turn, I am waiving $94,180.82 and all future support in exchange for peace. Now, we are filing contempt charges against him. This comes down to his loss of control. Anyone watching this from the courtroom is probably visualizing him in a straight-jacket however, his distorted, delusional brain prevents him from thinking logically. I want to scream, “YOU ARE ARGUING OVER A P.O.S. OLD JEEP WHEN I AM WILLING TO FORGIVE $100,000 OF MONEY THAT BELONGS TO MY DAUGHTERS!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”
And then I take a deep breath and I consider the source.
He’s a monster and a madman.
At that very same moment, in the midst of my anxiety taking over, the lighthouse sends a beam of light that pierces through the darkness and reminds me that my daughters have a voice. They are 12 and 14-years old. They have a strong voice backed by their memories of this horrible family. I’ve raised two amazing little warriors. While this is my journey, they are also on their own journeys and maybe they will get to use their voice and be heard.
I will do my best to remain steadfast and unaffected by the storm.
I know this is easier said than done and that some days are harder than others.
If you don’t find humor in the madness of divorcing a narcissist, you will likely crumble. Admittedly, sometimes humor comes more easily that other times. It was difficult for me to find humor during the times I was worried about my children’s safety. As I was preparing for an appointment with our new evaluator this week, I stumbled across Seth’s original MSA proposal and I had to laugh. It reminded me of the insane prenup he tried to make me sign.
Number 7 is a doozy. Grab your popcorn. Seth, Seth, Seth…..shaking my head.
These are the factors the court addresses
1) Child custody
2) Financial support
3) Asset division
This will be divorce.
This is obviously not a separation as you have moved onto a boyfriend already.
1. Children’s’ home
does not change. They like it here. 222 Hillcrest is the family address.
Custody legal and custodial is 50/50. I come Friday at 10 pm. I wait in my car
until you get in your car and leave. You return Tuesday 8 AM. I wait in my car
until you arrive. The girls see you hug you and go in with you. Every 6 -8
weeks, one week we alternate. I have some Trade Shows, and races I have to be
at during the weekend. Thus, I will be here working during your time Tuesday at
8 am through Friday at 10 pm on those specific weeks.
2. Court calculator
decides support if any for you. It will only be for half the length of the
marriage, or when you get married whichever happens first.
a) I pay 75% of
education, activities food for girls, medical, insurance, clothes for
girls September 2009 -September 2010. You pay 25%
b) We each pay 50%
of education, activities food for girls, medical, insurance, clothes for
girls September 2010 -September 2025. I pay 50% You pay 50% If we
can’t each afford an activity it can’t happen.
3. I pay rent
$1300 and you pay $500. I live upstairs. You live in your room. I leave
Tuesday at 8 am and return Friday. If you need to stay here, use the
sliding door and don’t interact with us during my time with the children. Utilities
are split 50/50.
5. We agree to not
have the girls around the other’s partner at all prior to dating for a
minimum of 12 months. The girls do not need to see you be affectionate with a
bunch of men in their lives. It is pretty clear from
history resisting “Public Displays of Affection” won’t be
problem for me.
6. You get $5000 in
the next 30 days. I get the exact ring and diamond with laser inscribed code
matching certificate that I bought for you 8 years ago.
7. If someone
gets married the girls live with the person not married. This would be too
confusing for them. The other spouse visits at the home the girls are
comfortable in. The married partner may visit at that time but not sleep
over. This stays in place until girls are 10 or both partners are
8. Christmas morning
is spent with me and my mom since she fly back home every year for this
morning. This is what the girls have experienced thus far for every Christmas.
Christmas eve and after 1 pm Christmas day is with you. Thanksgiving is with me
and my family —my brother Jason not allowed. You get all the other holidays.
9. Birthday parties
are at a neutral location (never at the others home) both parents attend and
partners are allowed.
10. You may not move
more than 220 miles from my place of work regardless of your job opportunities,
desires or relationships. It is barely reasonable as it is for me to drive 9
hours every week to see the girls.
11. No silly rules in
the home, no future slander and defamation, no gathering evidence for more
custody, all future provisions for custody changes are waived.
12. Every person,
relative or friend, spending more than 8 hours with the girls must sign on a
non-defamation agreement regarding each parent.
Modified Gray Rock Communication: Yellow Rock - YouTube
Press the “play” button to watch video on Yellow Rock communication
I am a HUGE proponent of gray rock communication when you are dealing with a narcissist, sociopath or other Cluster B disordered individual AND there are no children involved. Unfortunately, if your case is in the family court system, going “gray rock” with your communication can have negative consequences for you.
I know, I know. You are ready to throw gray rocks at me right now. It goes against everything we learn when dealing with a high-conflict individual but please hear me out. Gray rock is life-changing when divorcing a narcissist because it makes them lose interest in you. When the courts expect you to happily co-parent and sing Kumbaya together on Sunday nights, gray rock can hurt you significantly because to the outside observer, you appear cold and rigid. I recommend a modified version of gray rock which I have titled, “yellow rock.” You still get to be a boring GRAY rock but, you sprinkle it with polite, common courtesy. Everything you write is for the court — NOT for your ex.
A few years ago, I received a call from my son-in-law asking me out to lunch. It felt a bit odd as it was not normal for us to meet up during the week to socialize. My wife had always encouraged me to connect more with him but the truth was, I was never that fond of him. I suppressed my feelings and never told anyone. I couldn’t really put my finger on the issue nor could I articulate my feelings and most importantly, I did not want my daughter to know how I felt about her husband. Over the years, I had taken him hunting and we shared many meals while we were together and while seeing my grandkids. I consider myself to be a good judge of character when it comes to friends and acquaintances however, I always had an uneasiness about my son-in-law.
So, I met him for lunch the next week. Shortly in to
lunch he told me, “I feel really strange telling you this Bob, but I believe
Kathy is having an affair” I appeared shocked and concerned but I knew that he
was trying to deflect any suspicions about him. It was as if someone shot me
because I immediately knew it was not her – it was him! I am in the “people
business” and when I smell a rat – I smell a rat! If it walks like a duck,
quacks like a duck and looks like a duck – it’s a duck! However, not to alert him
to what I already knew, I told him I felt bad for him and would probably hire a
PI to watch her and if I discovered that anything was amiss, I would let him
know. He agreed and seemed comforted.
At the time this started, they had been married 11
years. My daughter was 31 and her kids at that time were 7 and 6 – boy and
girl. My son in law was 32. I knew my daughter and her values but even more
than that, she was raising the two kids, was a full-time teacher and a coach at
her school. She barely had time to get to the gym 3 times a week. I confided in
my daughter about my suspicions and she told me she felt the same way, so we
devised a plan.
I travel a lot, but my trips are usually no more than
2-3 days. A lot of the time I depart early and get in late. She told me after
she put the kids to bed, he often left to go to his brothers or his mom’s house
which was very close, but he would not come home to very late like 3-4 AM. So,
when I would get in late from my trips Kathy would let me know and I would
follow my son-in-law. Turns out he was having an affair with a former
barhop/waitress that he had hired in his office. She was very young, she had no
kids and had her own apartment, so she could give him the attention he thought
he needed. He thought he had it all – a family and a wife to control, a very
attentive girlfriend and someone he could control both at work and as a lover. Even
though my daughter had visited with her kids in his office several times and
met this girl, she still had an affair with him. I struggle to understand how a
woman can tear another woman’s family apart and give it no consideration. With
all of the women’s empowerment movements that are in place today, I find myself
I continued to follow them weekly, late at night, all
around town. I started taking pictures. One time I was across the street from a
bar they were at and I asked my daughter to call him and ask where he was. I
directed her to ask him if he was having an affair. She did as instructed and
he stepped out of the bar to take her call. She asked him those questions and
he said, “I’m out with a prospect and on the life of my kids I am not having an
affair!” After they hung up from their call, he walked back in and started
kissing his mistress again. Drinking beer, playing pool and kissing like
nothing had ever happened. I followed them several more times for a couple
months and then found a family divorce attorney, moved my daughter out and started
proceedings. He continued to deny the affair and would not agree to anything,
nor would he pay child support. He was adamant about staying in control!
My daughter and I agreed to use the attorney to set up
mediation. My daughter was well prepared with his calls and texts printed out
from correspondence to his mistress and I had all the pictures ready. He would
not agree to anything, especially full custody and child support, until we
showed him our stack of information which stood over 4” high. I let him know
that I would be mailing packets to everyone he knows, including his family
members unless he agreed to everything. He was always all about himself and
what things looked like to other people. He only cares about his image. He
always had to have new clothes, a great truck, pretty wife and perfect kids. He
had to make sure everyone knew who he was and what he had done. He would always
swear that he hated liars and despised people that cheated, stole or lied. However,
when I told him what I was going to do with the information we had, he started sweating
thinking about the affect this would have on him. Within 3-5 minutes, he agreed with everything we asked for
including the child support. My daughter received full custody and full child
After the separation and during the
divorce proceedings, we paid for my daughter and both kids to have some
counseling sessions with a Christian family counselor. The husband went
nuts wanting to know why and wanting to know what was said and even insisted on
meeting with the counselor. After a couple months with all four, separately of
course, she stated that my ex-son-in-law was likely a narcissist. That was the
first time we had heard the word but it started us on our path to education. Boy
did this information change our world!
It’s been several years ago now. While married to my
daughter he went through 8 jobs in about 9 years. He was caught trying to steal
money a couple times and while he got out of jail time, he was terminated. He
is the posterchild of a narcissist and today it’s still all about him. As soon
as the divorce was finalized he moved the mistress into his house. She is about
10 years younger than my daughter but not as smart or as pretty. Since my
daughter now has the kids, he still tries to control everything. He texts my
daughter, several times a day, trying to get what he wants or control what the
kids can do. My daughter has read many books on narcissism but still has issues
trying to control the noise around his continuous assault of her, her time, or
the kids and their overall privacy.
He continuously tries to get close to my daughters’ friends
and especially the kid’s friends and their parents. It reminds me of the
tactics and manipulation that he tried to use on me. Anything he can do to move
closer and control their lives, he does. Now they are older and starting to get
their own phones/devices and he constantly texts them. Per the court order, he
is able to talk to the kids every morning and every afternoon. He usually tells
them what he is doing and what he did that day and mostly just ask’s them what
they had for each meal and what they are having tomorrow. He is and will always
be all about himself! It’s superficial because he isn’t capable of anything
I want to warn all young ladies who are dating to
watch for certain things about a guy that may point to him being a narcissist.
Educate yourself on this topic. It’s important to understand that these
individuals have likely been broken since childhood and no matter how much you
love him, he will not change. Pay close attention to actions – not words.
Actions are what matters. Pay attention to patterns of behavior – small red
flags turn into HUGE red flags. Does he talk only about himself? Does he really
pay attention to what you say? Are material items his main focus? Is he humble
(truly humble or is it an act) or does he have a big ego? Does he have
longtime, close friends or are they superficial relationships? Pay attention to
everything that you see when choosing your future mate.
The nightmare for me is what my daughter and her kids
have had to endure and continue to endure with the reality of his daily chaos
and baggage. The ongoing damage to my daughter and her kids is painful but so
is what my own wife deals with on a daily basis. Our rule is to never say his
name and we do not discuss the issues after 8:00 PM every night. The kids
aren’t crazy about seeing him but they have to go to him every other weekend
and the mistress is now his wife (until he gets a new mistress). We truly
believe if his current, second wife, gets pregnant he again will not get the
attention he needs and find someone else.
It feels like a never-ending nightmare. He has now
moved much closer and is trying to get shared custody and the family court
system is absurd. The family attorneys that we have dealt with in Texas have
been terrible. We have had 6 and fired 6. They want a lot of money but never
follow up and never seem capable of delivering results. The court judges are
stacked and dive no weight to this man’s character or destructive behaviors.
Despite all of this, we have adapted and accepted our
new reality, and each day, my daughter tries to persevere. We have forgiven my
son-in-law of his cheating, lies and theft. We cordially speak to him and try
to speak to the other woman. My daughter still, daily, has to deal with his two
phone calls to the kids, and constant harassment about “why she did this and
that” and “why he can’t do this and that, etc.” He continues to try and
control, just the way his mommy taught him. We shall live with the outcome.
conclusion, I have to say, even with all of the fall out and continued daily
drama of dealing with him that my daughter is much happier than she was when
married and is still happy she made the break from the controlling narcissist. Please
beware that there is this type of personality and behavior out there today and
he is just waiting for someone that does not know the signs. Please, learn the
The Lemonade Power Retreat is my favorite weekend of the year.
When I began hosting retreats in 2015, I expected that others would come and benefit from the experience, but I didn’t realize how much these weekend retreats would enrich my life. My retreats have connected me with a group of phenomenal women – some of these women are my very best friends today. They are the kind of friends that you can call in the middle of a panic attack regardless of the time of day or night, and they are the kind of friends who cherish your children as much as you do. These are my people. The reality is, they are also your people.
I am a bit of an optimist. I search for the positives in all situations. I have come to discover that the narcissist targets the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. They target people who are the exact opposite of themselves. The narcissist targets people who are kind, loving, caring, selfless, empathetic and trustworthy. You were not targeted by chance or by accident. The narcissist did a full scan of your mind, heart and soul and clung to you because they believe your traits and qualities make them appear better to the outside world.
The people that I am blessed to work with everyday are some of the best people I’ve ever known because they were essentially “prescreened,” and they exude all of the positive qualities known to (wo)man kind. This is the thing that makes the Lemonade Power Retreat so wonderful. We are all like-minded people who have been in the most terrifying battle of (and for) our lives. We come together to share, to listen, to heal and to laugh. We stare at each other with our mouths wide open thinking, “Wait, he/she did that to YOU also!?” What once felt like an isolating journey doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. Our stories are all the same yet, they are all so different.
My next Lemonade Power Retreat will be held in beautiful, Cambria, California and I hope to meet you there! This retreat will be smaller and more intimate than most of my retreats as it will be limited to nine people (plus me!). There is an application/screening process and different pricing options available depending on your selected room accommodations. Each room is private (with the exception of one shared room that has two double beds). Each room has its own bathroom and fireplace, perfect for this cozy, healing, autumn weekend.
To apply: Complete your application and submit to email@example.com. Please do not secure travel arrangements until you know your application has been approved. Pricing varies depending on the room you select so contact Tina for pricing options: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Airports: San Luis Obispo, California is the closest airport (45-minute drive). Los Angeles is four-hours south and San Francisco is four-hours north.
Notes: I do not recommend arriving to the retreat late or leaving early. There is so much that we pack into the weekend, you will risk missing out on important pieces. Cambria is one of the most gorgeous, healing areas so if you are able to arrive a day early or stay a day later, please do!
This has been a difficult week for our One Mom’s Battle (OMB) family. We lost one of our members in a tragic, senseless murder.
Heidi De Leon first contacted OMB in 2016, feeling failed by the system like so many of us. On December 27, 2018, she send me a chilling email – a journal entry from her daughter. According to the entry, Heidi’s ex-husband, Edward Epps, Jr., had threatened to kill Heidi and her husband Joe, if Heidi’s recent child support modification request was successful. Heidi took the threat seriously as she had always done. She notified law enforcement and was finally successful in obtaining a restraining order. Sadly, she had asked for a restraining order twice in the past and was failed by the system. On January 6, 2019, less than two weeks after discovering the threat against her life, her ex-husband followed through with his chilling threat and murdered Joe and Heidi De Leon while holding two children hostage and finally, taking his own life.
The man capable of this brutal murder had received 50/50
custody despite Heidi’s pleas to the court to protect her little girls. In an
email Heidi sent me in 2018, she said, “I tried getting full custody but he
muddled the waters so bad nobody knew what was true. My kids were constantly
telling me he was telling them to break things and to kill me.”
In a system that is so overly-focused on a parent’s right to 50/50 custody, Heidi was failed by the Idaho family court system. Heidi’s children were failed. Lives are now reduced to media reports and press conferences but who is being help accountable? Who is the Judge who didn’t take the time to investigate Heidi’s claims about the danger posed by Edward Epps, Jr.? Why isn’t the media blasting the Judge and other professionals who now have blood on their hands? Heidi’s concerns were credible but no one listened.
Heidi’s reality is my worst nightmare and my greatest fear. If you are following my work, it’s likely your greatest fear. My inbox and voicemail box have been blowing up this week with messages from others, terrified that they will be the next Heidi De Leon. Through countless tears, I counted in my mind the number of moms that I know whose ex-husbands are “this” dangerous. I sobbed to my husband that I can’t keep doing this work anymore. My heart felt shattered and heavy. The next day, I remembered something I’d seen online the day prior: “It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt but wash your face and get off the floor when you are done because you don’t belong down there.”
I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. While my voice couldn’t help Heidi, I will keep doing “this work” in her honor because I do hear success stories. I do hear about family court professionals who listen, and act accordingly. I know that we are making a difference. We make a difference when we listen to someone struggling. We make a difference when we validate someone’s pain. We make a difference when one person is educated on Cluster B personality disorders and we make a difference when someone out there feels less alone.
I know this is a terrifying, isolating journey. I know that
like me, you feel that no one is listening. One thing that I know is that I am listening and I understand how dark
this journey feels. I remember that for the first six years of my battle, no
one was listening. It took one person (a custody evaluator) to protect my
children when I felt like everyone else had failed. The thing is…we never know
when someone will appear and light our path or turn things around.
You make me one promise and I will make you one in return: promise me that you won’t give up and that you won’t lose hope. I promise to keep raising awareness, to keep shouting from the rooftops and to keep educating family court professionals. I promise to keep doing this work so you are not in the trenches alone. I promise to do this in Heidi’s honor.
My book, Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield is a compilation of questions and advice from those in the family court trenches. I will be beginning a new series of blog posts culled from our support forums at One Mom’s Battle and the Lemonade Club.
Today’s Question: Trial lawyer: I am starting my search for a trial lawyer. What are some important questions to ask them?
Advice from the Battlefield:
What is their experience with my Judge?
What is their experience with a diagnosed Cluster B as opposing party?
What strategies can be used to settle out of court?
What is their record in front of the judge and their relationship with the judge? All campaign donations are public record. I would start first with the attorneys that contributed the most during the judge’s last election cycle. Unfortunately, family law is a corrupt system…esp. if the other party has money.
Ask for a list of GALs (minor’s counsel) they recommend.
I would ask about fees
and billing. I had a great law firm but they charged for everything.
Financially this battle can break you unless you can find an attorney that will
work with you.
Ask about their experience with “high conflict” personalities… some may be more familiar with that term or type.
I avoid attorneys with extensive marketing campaigns. They work by volume not quality. The best don’t need as much marketing.
I would try if possible to ask around as to who else he has represented in “high conflict” cases …also most court records are open and you can do some digging (although having the time to do so is another factor ) . Also, what is the lawyers personal life if that is at all possible to ascertain even minimally. High-power attorneys, law enforcement , judicial often have certain inclinations and traits themselves: generalization of course , and of course there are many doing good as well .
Judges can change and will change. I focused on my relationship and trust with my attorney. I asked my attorney to tell me what is not worth fighting for. Like asking for $1,000 or X, Y and Z when it will cost me $3,000 to fight for that. In some light discussion (but would make a difference), I asked that he not retire or move (happened with my first attorney before first trial) until my child turns 18. For awhile, the closest advisors I had were ones I paid for: attorney, financial advisor, and therapist. Take care!
If you have time, go sit & watch your
judge & the attorneys in front of the judge. Get names or cards. Talk to
their clients. Evaluate the lawyer.
I’d say some
is seeing how responsive and professional they are. My old attorney provided me
all written correspondence, motions, court notices, etc for my case as it
occurred. (Maybe this is standard…but I think not). I wasn’t as organized
back then, but it made it much easier to then decide to go pro se later (due to not
having $$) and to understanding what she was doing in the background which I
then in turn have tried to mimic as pro se.
county court records. The best atty’s will have hundreds of cases. Martingale.com is also a better indicator of their
reputation amongst fellow judges/lawyers (remember judges at one time were
lawyers). Websites like avvo will delete negative reviews, so if you see a negative review, likely that person made a
lot of hoops to get through. Also check case law in Westlaw/Lexis Nexus for
appeals and cases they won/lost. You can also search the judge in case law; see
who had the most success litigating w that judge.
very careful of the ones that market “cluster B expertise”. In my area, I found
a “cluster B” attorney and she completely took advantage of me, felt justified
in charging me $50,000 and said she gave me a “50% discount” because I had a high conflict situation, then
threatened child custody when I questioned her billing practices. She is now
suing me for fees; and I’m counter suing for malpractice. I hope I’m in the
minority here. I have found the best atty’s normally deal w high conflict
situations, esp those in appellate law.
Imagine giving birth to your new baby and shortly after, being told that you have terminal brain cancer. Imagine making the tough decision to leave an unhealthy, toxic situation only to have that individual make a power play and try to erase you (and your parents) from your child’s life…while you are in a battle for your life. Literally.
Meet Dawn. She is a local mom in my area and, she is the amazing warrior that I described above. You may have even read my previous blog post about her.
With the help of an attorney, we have made huge strides in a short period of time but, we still have work to do. When I first met Dawn, she had been bullied out of considerable amounts of time with her son. Her already minimal time with her little boy (Monday – Friday from 9am to 2pm and every other Saturday from 9am to 2pm) had been hijacked by her ex who enrolled him in daycare three days per week without her permission (and, against court order as they share joint custody). Dawn’s time with her son was now cut to Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday.
When I was first told about Dawn’s story, I almost couldn’t believe it. What type of person would go to such lengths to keep a child away from his terminally ill mother? I told myself there had to be more to the story. I researched the case at the court house, I researched both parties and then, I invited Dawn and her mother to meet me at my office. Dawn is strong and she’s a fighter, but she’s facing the fight of her life (literally) and the added stress of having to fight to see her her little boy is horrific. If you are reading this blog, it is highly likely you are in a custody battle of your own so you understand the nightmarish roller coaster that Dawn is on — this should not be where her energy is going.
With the help of her attorney, Johnathan Hosford, Dawn’s case has made great strides forward in a short period of time. She now sees her little boy Monday through Friday and every other Saturday and he has been taken out of the daycare that he was unilaterally enrolled in. Today, Dawn was met with a huge setback which involved law enforcement. Her ex’s family bullied her and forced her to visit with her son at their home and on their property. This is obviously a toxic environment.
The court order clearly states: “The parents agree that the mother will have the opportunity to visit with the child on her days at another location outside the paternal grandparents residence as long as the mother is supervised (due to her health condition) by the maternal grandparents.”
This case is scheduled to be in court on January 29th (prayers appreciated) however, with this current violations, it is likely to end up in court sooner on an ex parte (emergency) basis. This is going to require attorney fees and I will be working hard to ensure that Dawn’s ability to fight this battle is not hindered by her financial situation. It is my goal to take this burden off of her shoulders — and I’d love your assistance. Whether you can give $5 or $500, all donations are equally appreciated.
PLEASE share this blog (Go Fund Me) if you are able — I am reaching out to media sources for added exposure and appreciate your assistance in helping to correct a horrible injustice.