The Ending

the endingGuest Post by Anonymous

It ended with a coat…

An argument between my 12 year old son and my husband ended my 20 year marriage – all over a coat.

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving.  We had spent the better part of three days at our niece’s house, as I was helping her host her first Thanksgiving – for 20 people, no less.  We returned home Friday afternoon after a two-hour drive. I just wanted some quiet time so begged off from a housewarming party we were invited to attend.  Husband and son were preparing to go without me when a fight broke out between them over son taking a coat which husband deemed appropriate for the weather, one which son hated and refused to consider.  The fight escalated into an ugly scene – son locked husband out of house after being chased around the yard by him, in the dark.

The next thing I know, husband is pounding on the door to be let in, which I did, being the wife of a NH that I was.  He stormed into the house in a full blown rage and proceeded to throw our son down to the ground and pin him to the floor with a warning that he was NEVER to disrespect him in such a way again.  The scene ended with the phone in my hand, having entered 9-1, at which point NH backed off.


That moment was my turning point.  I had realized a couple of years ago that my leaving was inevitable but was hoping to hang in for another few years until our son was done with high school.  While not ideal, his love for his dad is real, and my thinking was that if we remained together, I could help facilitate their relationship until a point where he could better speak for himself.

Some lessons come hard, as this one did for both my son and I.  I ended my marriage at just after the 20-year mark, earlier than expected but, nevertheless, apparently at the right time.  My son and I have both grown enormously in ways that I never would have imagined.  We are both thriving.  It has not been easy or fun but even with all of its challenges, at the end of the day, it has been rewarding, empowering, and comforting for us both.


Footnote:  And yes, I did ask the NXH – why on earth did you not just put the coat in the car in case he wanted it, instead of escalating the scene to physical contact at which point CPS was called. (The Monday after the incident son talked to a counselor at school and, as a mandated reporter, CPS was contacted.) His response was that “He guessed he was just looking for a fight.”

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  1. Hi Anonymous,

    your story brings back a lot of bad memories for me.
    I was about the same age as your son was in your story. We were on vacation and sat down one afternoon to write holiday cards to relatives and friends. When I wrote the address on one of my cards, I started with too big letters, ran out of space towards the end of the person’s last name and had to separate the last syllable with a hyphen.
    My narcissistic father freaked out, called me a hopeless idiot and other things, until I stormed off to the hotel room I shared with my sister and locked the door. When someone knocked I thought it was my sister and opened, but it was my father, now even more furious because I had dared to lock the door. The rest is pretty much like your story with the pinning down, only that my mother did not try to call 911. She never did.

    You can be really proud of yourself for handling the situation so well.

  2. Jul,

    My heart cracked a little for the 12 year old you. I’m sorry. Sending her and you hugs.

  3. This story is very very similar to mine as well. My then 16 year old wore a t-shirt to school, not the required collared shirt that his step-N demanded. My son would change his shirt when he got home and this day it was in his backpack. When the N confronted him, my son did not react. In fact, he was completely silent. He knew that if he did, it would be an explosion. I was on my way home from work when the N called and said that my son was crazy and needed to be committed because he was cutting on himself. When I arrived home, I found my son disheveled, the stepN berating him, and my younger son running to tell me how he watched his dad “beat up my brother”. The story from the kids was the same. The N attacked my son, choking him, then pinning him to the floor as he beat his head into it. As I was calming my older son, the N continued his rage by bagging up all my son’s clothes that “he had bought” still ranting about how he was so ungrateful and a loser. I was afraid to call 911 although I told the N if he touched either child I would the next time. I meant it. 3 people notified CPS for us. My son slept with a baseball bat under his bed until we left. I pretended we were going to get through our troubles in therapy while I arranged a rental and the move.

  4. Z,

    Thank you for sending this. It’s a glimpse of the madness that we might find ourselves taking for granted because we are in too deep.

    You saved your kids by getting out. You did.

  5. Ladies – thanks so much to you all for sharing your stories too. Narcissism is so insidious because it causes harm in ways that are gradual and often put aside but for the spouse of the N. It is clear that our children are the ones we must protect at all costs. Sadly my NXH still has court mandated visits but I hope that my son can gleam some measure of hope in seeing that it is possible to turn away when you have had enough. The support of those like you, willing to share your stories, has been such an inspiration to me on this path to thriving and becoming strong again.

  6. Thank you, Anonymous, for a powerful post. We must protect our children and teach them about coping with narcissism. My younger son asks all the time when he will be allowed to say when and how much he wants to see his dad. I promise him that someday he will, even if not just yet. You are stronger than you think you are. I have to tell myself that all the time.

    Jesse, I did save my kids, but I have so much guilt still for having them in that situation in the first place. In the end, I hope they are stronger and healthier than me.

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