A Wink From the Universe

She certainly didn’t need another cup of coffee.

She looked inside her purse to make sure the box of Pepcid was there.  She wouldn’t have been surprised if – in the panic this morning – she’d left it on the kitchen counter.

Good.  There was the Pepcid.  She took one with a sip of cold coffee.

The worst part about these court appearances is that they were early in the day – too early for liquid courage.

At least the kids didn’t have to be at this court appearance.  It was stressful enough without having to consider the emotional fallout from the kids.  It’s not like she could pump them full of antacids.


This is the third time the boys’ father has dragged them back to court.  Each time the visitation schedule is rehashed.  Each time he successfully changes the schedule to more align with his life and commitments.

They live with the new plan for a year until his routine changes, or until he feels he isn’t getting the attention he deserves.

Then he drags them back to court under the guise of wanting to see the boys more.

She knows that it’s not about him wanting to see the boys more, it’s about him wanting the boys to want to see him more.  He’ll never figure out that there isn’t a judge or attorney on this planet that can make his boys want to see him.  In the meantime, his attorney has racked up enough fees to consider an Ivy League College instead of the state university she’d planned for her oldest.

Her own attorney understands narcissism.  This time, her attorney managed to set this hearing in front of a new judge – one who had a reputation for ruling in favor of children, rather than one or the other parent.

She was cautiously optimistic.

She would have to stomach watching him parade through the court room, preening and strutting.

She would hold her head high.  She wouldn’t stare at her hands and risk looking like the victim.  She would be strong.  She would look his attorney in the eye.

She would wear courage like he wears that sickening cologne that he thinks makes him irresistible.

Her courage and strength were built on knowledge.  She’s read everything she could get her hands on about narcissism, NPD and how narcissists manipulate a court room.  All the knowledge in the world can’t settle her stomach.  Trying not to wring her hands while seated next to her attorney, she’s wishing she’d skipped that last cup of coffee.


The boys can’t believe their good fortune.  She never takes them out to eat.  There isn’t room in the budget for dining out or other such extravagances.  Every extra cent is put toward attorney’s fees.

Tonight she’s taking them for Chinese – their favorite.

The waitress can almost feel the collective bubble of optimism above their three heads.

The boys excitedly place their orders.  She treats herself to a glass of chardonnay.

The oldest wants to know every detail.  That’s the way he’s always been.

The youngest wants to discuss skateboarding and video games – anything but their dad and this latest court appearance.

She manages to tell them enough to satisfy the oldest and keep the youngest from sulking, which is easier to do this time because this new judge ruled in their favor.  This time the judge questioned whether all these court appearances were in the best interest of the boys.  The judge reprimanded her ex – in front of the entire court room.

She’ll savor this sweet, small victory for months to come.

This new ruling won’t be enough to keep him from opening up another can of worms, but it is enough to buy them some temporary peace.  They’d learned that temporary peace was better than none at all.


They’d playfully argued over who should get which fortune cookie.

Even her son, the skateboarder, was amazed by his mom’s fortune.

“First they ignore you, then they attack you, then you win.”

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  1. That fortune sent shivers down my spine!

  2. GOOSEBUMPS! And a little teary eyed…
    Mediation #3 is tomorrow.

  3. Z,

    Sending strength, loaning my backbone and keeping the beer on ice.

  4. Exactly what I need! Thanks, sis!

  5. The winks keep us going and hoping and believing in better days. Thinking of all of you and wishing you well!

  6. Lynn,

    Thank you.


  7. Mediation #3…with the court of appeals. I did not have an attorney present. I was sure they read my 7 pages on how my ex is a narcissist and how he is manipulating the court because from the beginning they called him out about talking to our son about these proceedings and our disputes then asked me in private how to approach him in order to get a settlement. I gave them what I would accept in a summer schedule for this year and suggested that they try to make it his idea. Or theirs…anything but mine. I did say that if he thought they were on his side, he would be more amicable, but good mediators don’t do that. So, it was almost at a loss, but we worked the schedule one more time and I made it clear that I would not agree if he didn’t drop the appeal. He took it! It is not ideal for this year, but my rules apply for all the rest. I say it’s a win. :)

  8. Z,

    I’m happy for you.

    Funny how our definition of a win changes with time spent in the trenches.

    You make a major point that is worth repeating… Never let them think – even for a second – that they are agreeing to something that you have suggested. Let them believe it’s the barista’s idea, or your child’s teacher’s offering, or the gas station attendant’s suggestion or anybody but you.

  9. Thanks. Yes, the win perception changes quite a bit when you are focused on getting somewhere…my somewhere is out! Little by little will eventually set me free. :)

    It is hard to accept that you are the enemy, especially when you spent so long trying to keep the peace. What an oxymoron that is to find peace in accepting that you are the enemy. Ha.

  10. Z,

    That’s another thing that many don’t understand…. that we are willing to pay a steep price for freedom – even if it means we are labeled the “enemy”.

    Freedom from the N is absolutely necessary for survival.

    That dismissal thing with the narcissist is so common. The minute we stop sourcing them, we are dismissed and labeled.

  11. So true about the dismissal and label. I will never forget that final emotionless response from him when I told him there was no going back, no fixing anything, that it was over. That was when the war started. Not that moment as he tried to weirdly comfort me as I cried. But by the next day, it was on. My label: bat shit crazy. It makes me laugh, actually.

    I will admit though that I did have a nerve hit the other day when a friend said (in regards to him) that there are always 2 sides to every story. Yes, there are, but when one is projection and fantasy, that is a hard reality to swallow.

  12. Z,

    Yes, there are two sides to every story. In my experience, the N’s side is one of irrationality and psychosis.

    On the lighter side, if you asked a N if there are two sides to every story they’d say, “What? Are you kidding? There’s one side and it’s mine.”

    The “Bat Shit Crazy” label brought back a memory. When I told him I was leaving he said, “See? I told you… all women are crazy. This is what I expected you to do. You’re just like all the rest of ’em.”

  13. Interpretation: See? I have no emotion. Everyone else in this world is crazy but me. No surprise since I am unique and special, but there is nothing special about you. Just remember that!

  14. Z,

    Let’s book them a cruise that sails over the Bermuda Triangle.

  15. Oh, I can see that cruise ship now. All the ascots, high end labels, fine dinners with their pinkies sticking out from their wine glasses, and peacocking going on. Reminds me of the Titanic. :)

  16. The walls will be lined with gigantic gilt-framed mirrors. The soundtrack will be Sinatra singing My Way.

  17. Z,

    I speculate that those who source narcissists end up gagging a lot more than those who don’t. ;)

  18. The victories are so satisfying, though they come at such a cost. I am so glad for you.

  19. Sprung,

    Thank you. And thanks for stopping by.

    Those victories make us stronger. I’ve got some pretty tough kids. ;)

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