Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks for reading

I am grateful that my experiences as described in this blog are helpful to others, even if only to reassure other women (and a very few men!) that they are not alone.

Regarding support groups, I don't know of any in Denver or elsewhere but I'd suggest contacting a counselor or psychologist who deals with narcissism to see if they know of one.

Readers, do you think I should attempt to write a book? Do let me know what you think.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Telling the New Woman about the N

Dear Friends and particularly Jackie,

I do not recommend that you tell the N's newest woman about who and what he is. She is NEVER going to believe you, the evil ex, that he is an N. Remember, he has been filling her ears with falsehoods about you from the get go. Heaven only knows what he has told her but you can bet that it is nothing close to the truth. Remember, what N's do is lie. Pathologically lie. They lie even when the truth would serve them as well or better.

Because the ever persuasive N has convinced her that you are crazy, a b---h or worse, she will never believe (coming from you anyway) that he is, to put it bluntly, a nutcase. So while I admire your altruism, don't bother. All you'll do is potentially drive her closer to him. Instead, simply hope that she gets it earlier rather than later. Hope that her friends see him more clearly than she does and that she gets the red flag information from them. Hope that someone gives her a clue early on. Hope that there is enough info out there now for her to recognize narcissism when it hits her in the face, as it surely will.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What is a Narcissist

"The tragedy is that so many people look for self-confidence and self-respect everywhere except within themselves, and so they fail in their search." Dr Nathaniel Branden

We are all familiar these days with some forms of mental illness, or at least we think we are familiar with certain forms of mental illness. For example, almost all of us know someone who is depressed and therefore we think we know something about depression.
I am certain that all of us know someone who has a personality disorder. We just may not be able to recognize the truly personality disordered for they are different from the cultural norm only by the degree that they manifest symptoms. Further, narcissists are generally excellent at the façade; putting on an outward show for the populace in general, the pretence of normalcy.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, 1994, DSM-IV) which is the “Bible” for psychiatrists, defines personality disorder as follows:

An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.


What this means is that these people are not “normal” and their abnormality is permanent, shows up in all areas of their life, started in childhood or early adulthood, is continuing and screws up their life.

The DSM-IV defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as follows:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy. The disorder begins by early adulthood and is indicated by at least five of the following:

An exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
Believes he is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
Requires excessive admiration.
Has a sense of entitlement.
Takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends.
Lacks empathy.
The patient is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him.
Shows arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes.

Clinical Features of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Patients with narcissistic personality disorder exaggerate their achievements and talents, and they are surprised when they do not receive the recognition they expect.

Their inflated sense of self results in a devaluation of others and their accomplishments.
Narcissistic patients only pursue relationships that will benefit them in some way.
These patients feel very entitled, expecting others to meet their needs immediately, and they can become quite indignant if this does not happen.
These patients are self-absorbed and unable to respond to the needs of others. Any perception of criticism is poorly tolerated, and these patients can react with rage.
These patients are very prone to envy anyone who possesses knowledge, skill or belongings that they do not possess. Much of narcissistic behavior serves as a defense against very poor self-esteem.

The translation, in practical terms, of the above list of problems is as follows.

An exaggerated sense of self-importance


The narcissist exaggerates his contributions to everything and pathologically lies to inflate his self-importance. When he talks about family, work or life in general, there is nobody else in the picture. No one else contributed. There is no teamwork for of course there is no “I” in “team”. He did it all.
For example, my ex “discovered” Eric Clapton. To hear him tell it, none of his friends knew whom Eric Clapton was until he brought Layla to their attention. Thus, he was the “discoverer” of a great musician.
My ex claimed that he was graduated from high school at age 16. The implication was, of course, that he was so smart that he flew through high school like a regular Doogie Howser. It was not until years later that a girl friend and I were talking about his pathological lying. This graduation date came up and I did the math. He was graduated at 17 ½, not 16. This hardly made him a genius and was far less impressive than being graduated at age 16. He was not, it turned out, Doogie Howser.
During the divorce, my ex told my kids that I rarely worked and that I was just a free loader at “his” law firm where he obtained all the clients and did all of the work. His line was that I stayed home, apparently eating the proverbial bon bons. However, in this same story, my ex told our kids that he stayed home with them when they were sick. Thus, he was simultaneously the sole breadwinner and the quintessential wonderful father. I contributed nothing. However, not only did this not square with my then 15 year old’s memory, but this story defied logic for if I was at home eating bon bons, why was he coming home from his all important work to stay with them when they were sick? This did not add up, not even to a 15 year old.

Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.


Narcissists live in their own little world where they are king. They are the best at everything, according to them anyway. Again, pathological lying comes into play here.
My ex told our baseball-playing son that he (my ex) had been the star of his high school baseball team and had been recruited to play for his college baseball team. When our daughter asked her grandmother about this, she gave our daughter a very puzzled look and said that my ex did not play high school baseball.
My ex idealizes our “love”. Even now, eight years after separation, my ex harbors the fantasy that he and I were “soul mates” until I turned to the dark side (i.e., began divorcing him). He continues to idealize our former life as the best relationship/love/marriage that ever existed on planet earth. The concomitant is that I am the “monster” who destroyed this wonderful true love when I divorced him.

Believes he is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.


The Narcissist believes that all who are not as special as he is are “cretins” and losers. The non-special “little” people, especially those whom he perceives have “crossed” him, deserve what they get.
For my ex, that meant that he was entitled to cheat and steal from these non-special people.
This bizarre view of specialness also meant to my ex that paying income taxes was something that he was entitled to avoid. He cheated on his taxes by “maximizing” his deductions; i.e., deducting anything and everything including gifts that he had given me, as I discovered during our divorce.
For my ex, his specialness also meant that he could commit acts of vandalism on those who displease him with impunity. This included egging the next-door neighbors’ car and front door in the middle of the Phoenix summer, throwing a rock through the office window of an attorney who sued him for malpractice, tearing down a neighbor’s partially built wall (and leaving a note in his handwriting calling them “cretins”) and letting the air out of a school superintendent’s tires. Each time that he vandalized someone, he eventually would brag about his childish but damaging act. Each time when I found out what he had done, I shocked and horrified. After all, he was an attorney, for God’s sake. He had lots to lose including his license to practice law. His actions were just plain stupid.

Requires excessive admiration


Woe to you if you fail to admire the narcissist’s every action, if you fail to acclaim him the greatest, if you are not in constant awe of him in every way, shape or form. He is the Muhammad Ali of his occupation/profession. Narcissists have a need to be constantly admired and they demand accolades for their alleged accomplishments, which they probably are lying about.

To hear him tell it, my ex was the greatest lawyer that ever lived. He insisted that I simply could not handle our taxes as he did. Initially, I assumed that he was right. After all, he was a tax and business attorney by trade. However, after we separated and I looked at our income tax returns for the first time, I realized that he was right in a backwards sort of way. I would never have cheated on our taxes the way that he did. Thus, I would not have “handled” our taxes the way he did.

Has a sense of entitlement


The narcissist is entitled to everything because he is the best and the only important one in the family or relationship. Thus, he is entitled to have his needs met immediately. You have no important needs. You, the servant, must drop what you are doing and “attend” to him when he wants something. You must do his bidding.

My ex would go into a rage if I did not fix him the food that he wanted when he wanted it. The fact that the kids and I had eaten hours earlier, that I had just gotten home, that it was nine o’clock at night and that I was tired made no difference. My ex was entitled to have me make him something to eat right then and there, when he demanded it.

Takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends


The narcissist uses people, all people including you. Then, when he is done using you (for the moment anyway), he will treat you like dirt. Gratitude is not in his lexicon.

My ex wanted money, which to him equaled success. He was entitled to get money any way he could. This included taking money which we both had earned in “our” law firm and making it disappear into in his own pocket, most likely into a Swiss bank account. He took advantage of me. While I naively thought we were working together for our common good, as a married couple should, he was applying his version of the Three Musketeers slogan: all for him, none for me. He took advantage of my naïveté in trusting the person I was married to take for himself large sums of money that we had both earned and in some cases I alone had earned.

Lacks empathy


Do not expect sympathy from the narcissist for any reason for the narcissist is unsympathetic in the extreme. He has no ability to put himself in other’s places. He, quite simply, cannot relate. He cannot see any side of any issue other than his own. He does not know the meaning of the words “empathy”, “sympathy” or “understanding”. He will never see your viewpoint or empathize with you. Do not bother to try to get him to understand your point of view.
Evil is a lack of empathy. In a television movie shown some years ago about the Nuremburg Trials, one of the characters interviewed the principal Nazis in an attempt to find out how they could have ever perpetrated such horror. He concluded that the Nazi principals lacked empathy, thus allowing the horrors of the Nazi death camps to occur. I agree. Because the narcissist lacks empathy, there is nothing they will not do, no act that they won’t commit, no hurt that they will not inflict.

My ex routinely called me names, even in front of the Judge in our case. Apparently, he did not understand why this might bother me and might adversely impact our “relationship”. Immediately after an ugly, name-calling, threatening email, in his next email he lamented our lost “love” and invited me to go on an around the world cruise with him. Apparently it did not occur to him that the fact that I had not spoken to him in years and would not give him my home address or home telephone number meant that I did not want to be around him ever, under any circumstances. Indeed, he clearly could not understand why I would not want to be around him or speak to him even during those rare occasions when he acknowledges his emotional abuse of me and threats of physical abuse. After all, he says, “I never actually hit you”, as if all verbal and emotional abuse is excused if it did not devolve into physical abuse.

Shows arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes

Narcissist have no compunctions about canceling appointments at the last minute, not showing up when and where expected, being late or simply walking away from social engagements. As the most important person on the planet, they are entitled to do what they want when they want. The world revolves around them, after all.
My ex was perpetually late, habitually cancelled appointments at the last minute and generally inconvenienced everyone around him. If we had friends over and he got tired, he would simply go upstairs and go to bed, without a prior announcement, discussion or even a good-bye. Of course, this happened primarily when my friends were over. He rarely treated his friends with this sort of complete disregard. Only occasionally would he not show up to meet one of his friends at a restaurant, without notice of course. The fact that they were inconvenienced was, quite simply, their problem.
My joke about my ex’s rather complete lack of social graces and courtesy to others was that he had been raised by wolves, like Romulus and Remus. He simply did not care if about inconveniencing other people.

Ah, the Ns! You, no doubt, have your own stories which illustrate each of these aspects of narcissism.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Good Judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment. Rita Mae Brown

With all due respect to Frank Sinatra, doing it “My Way” was, it turns out, way overrated for I too have a few regrets. Indeed, when you have had a narcissist in your life, you definitely have regrets.
Like ever having met him.
Somehow you think that you should have been able to see the N coming. You’ve asked yourself, usually over and over, the following questions :
How could I not have seen this coming?
How could I not have noticed his craziness?
How could I possibly have put up with his craziness for so long?
Why didn’t I draw boundaries?
Why didn’t I leave when he violated my boundaries?
Why didn’t I leave earlier?
How could I have been so stupid as to have children with him?
Was he always like this and I just didn’t notice?
How could I have ignored the warning signs?
How could I have let him do this to me?
If I had a nickel for each time I asked myself one of these questions, I’d be writing this from a flat on the Left Bank in Paris.

These are the regrets. One of the biggest challenges you will face is to let go of the regrets that you have. The years you wasted on him, the money he burned through, how stupid he made you feel, your failure to draw boundaries, the embarrassment you suffered when he did and said crazy things, and more. Much more.
If only. If only you had known.
So stop already.
You could not have known. That’s the point. These guys are good. They do bait and switch with the very best. They start out as Dr. Jekyll and turn into Mr. Hyde. Even trained mental health practitioners cannot easily spot an N. The N you were with ought to be on the stage, his performance was so good, so complete and so total. Barrymore was never as good as an N who is trying to suck you in. The false front of Narcissism is impenetrable.
One counselor I know of dated three Ns in a row. It took her, with all of her mental health education, expertise and experience, months each time to be able to discern that the guy she was dating was an N. If she could not spot them coming, how could you? This is particularly true if you had no mental health training, experience and maybe did not even have mental health information such as the fact that there is such a thing as a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In view of your lack of information and his expertise at hiding who he is, how can you possibly expect yourself to have somehow discerned that the guy you were involved with was a narcissist?
You can’t.
The N’s ability to fool the most discerning woman is downright amazing. Not that I qualify as the most discerning woman on the planet, but I actually tried to logically look at the N I married before I married him. His narcissism was so deeply buried and so carefully hidden by his fake persona, the “false front of narcissism,” that I never, in my wildest imagination guessed that it was possible that the man I married would morph into a full blown, psychotic, verbally abusive, threatening-physical-abuse narcissist.
I never saw it coming.
In fairness to me, I had no mental health experience, expertise or training. I didn’t even take Psychology 101 in college. It was only after I left him and found out that he had a narcissistic personality disorder that I began to read up on NPD. Then, and only then did I begin to understand.
As soon as I understood, I began to regret. In regretting, I was beating myself up for having gotten involved with an N. As some wise person said, “The moment they stop beating you up, you start.”
Beating yourself up with these questions is a complete and utter waste of your valuable time, time that you should be using to enjoy the present and to create your future. How can you possibly enjoy the present when you are focused on the past? How can you decide what it is that you want to do to create a future when you are busy examining and re-examining how on earth you, smart cookie that you are, ever got involved with the N in the first place?
Beating yourself up with these questions perpetuates your victimhood. You are only a victim as long as you choose to be a victim. However, the very moment that you stop lamenting how you got to be a victim, you begin to live in the ‘now’. It is only when you live in the now that you have a shot at creating the fabulous life that you deserve.
Even worse, beating yourself up with these questions keeps you focused on the N. Haven’t you have wasted quite enough time on him? Isn’t it time that you focused on you and not him? To the extent that you are focused on him, the N is still controlling your life and defining who you are. Is that what you want? Are you truly going to let him define who you are even now, after you’ve escaped him?
By letting go of the past, I do not mean that you must forget what you learned in your relationship with the N. Oh, no. You had lessons to learn, else you would not have chosen an N nor allowed an N to choose you. You must learn those lessons or you will be doomed to repeat them. There’s a scary thought; recreating the same situation with yet another N.
However, even the most resolute of women will occasionally entertain the stray thought that we cannot quite believe that we ever put up with the N and his crazy and crazymaking behavior for even one nanosecond. This is particularly true for bright, accomplished woman as invariably we are for the Ns choose only “high status” women. After all, who is best suited to reflect the “glory” that an N is entitled to but a smart, lovely, accomplished woman? At this point you need to remind yourself once again the N does “bait and switch” like a champ. Your only “flaw”, if you can call it that, is that you believed and trusted a man who said he loved you. Is that really a flaw?
Not so much, no.
There is not much sense in crying over spilt milk. What is done, is done. The past cannot be changed and your past is part of who you are. As the Buddha said, “What is, is.” Let go of your astonishment that you, fabulous woman that you are, were ever duped by the narcissistic bozo on the bus. Let it go. It is over. It is done.
Let go of regrets, “if onlys” and what ifs. Remember, as a woman who formerly associated with, partnered with or married to an N, you are in excellent company, yours truly included. Many bright, beautiful, accomplished, superior women were fooled, often for years. Even after the discovery of who and what the N was, it took many of us years to escape. So, let go of the past and breathe a sigh of relief that you are now free of the N and resolutely turn your face to the future.
In the words of the Reverend Dr. King, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Thursday, November 29, 2007


He entered the territory of lies without a passport for return.
Graham Greene

The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.
George Bernard Shaw

The N’s are pathological liars. That means that they will lie for no reason at all, they will lie when the truth would serve them better and they will lie even when it is highly possible that they will get caught. They lie to make themselves look good in the eyes of others and to make themselves feel as if they are bigger, faster, tougher, stronger or smarter. They lie in order to try to convince themselves that they are "someone", that they are alive and that they matter. The N’s have been lying to themselves for so long about who they are that it is no big stretch for them to lie to others about anything. I have often wondered if the N to whom I was married even understood the concept of truth. Does he just say whatever pops into his head and assume that whatever he thinks is truth? One wonders.
His lies are too deliberate, too calculated to cause harm, too obviously puff pieces. He just lies because he gets away with it. At least, he sort of gets away with it, as long as you don’t count the loss of friends and family.
The N to whom I was married lied early on about how old he was when he was graduated from high school. He said he was graduated at age 16. The implication was that he was a regular Doogie Hauser. However, once I realized that he was a pathological liar who lied about any and every thing, I did the math. He was graduated from high school at age 17 ½. Hardly remarkable.
The N lied to our kids about me during our divorce proceeding. This, of course, came as no surprise. One of his early lies was that I had burned certain documents. The good news is that I had possession of the original document in question together with it’s original raised notary seal. When I pulled the document out and showed it to our daughter, she began to question her father.
This was a good thing.
Our daughter soon realized that the N frequently did not tell even her the truth. The worst of it for her was the Great Diamond Earrings Caper. The N gave her a pair of earrings and with great ceremony announced that they were diamond earrings. (You can probably see this one coming, can’t you?) Eventually, she went to a jeweler to have the earrings cleaned. The jeweler handed them back to her and said, “We do not clean cubic zirconium.” She was horrified to realize that he had lied to her about the earrings and that the “stones” were not big ass diamonds after all. She had worn the earrings for years, believing that at least at this one point in time, her father loved her.
She threw the earrings away.
The N will tell lies about you during your divorce and even afterwards. This is a certainty. After all, you left him. To the Ns, all is fair game and he is entitled to destroy you any way that he can as punishment for the high crime of abandoning him. In the N’s view, he is particularly entitled to destroy your reputation, or at least, what is left of it after hanging around with him.
The N to whom I was married told a series of lies to everyone who would listen during our epic divorce. He told people that I had suffered a nervous breakdown; that I had left and no one knew where I was for 2 weeks; and that I had become mentally ill. These claims were unsupported by anything that looked like proof or even corroboration. Simply because he said it, everyone was supposed to believe that this lie was true. The mental illness lie was particularly ironic in view of his diagnosed-by-a-psychiatrist, indisputable mental illnesses: clinical depression and narcissistic personality disorder.
The lies continued. The N told others in our small, rural, homophobic community that I was a lesbian. That lie was actually funny to most if not all who heard this. One couple to whom he told this reportedly rolled on the floor with laughter. Fortunately, this is such an obvious line of divorce-related bull that I don’t think that anyone believed it. It was clearly the raving of a lunatic, angry, soon-to-be-ex spouse. As such, it had all of the believability of my ex-husband; exactly none.
The only way to handle this Nixonian level of dirty tricks is to ignore the lies. You have to rise above them. The moment that you try to disprove the lies or even argue that you are not a lesbian using your two children as proof, you give the lie a level of credibility that it did not have before. The moment that you try to disprove the lies or even argue that you are not a lesbian using your two children as proof, you give the lie a level of credibility that it did not have before. While I did not really care very much whether acquaintances thought I was a lesbian or not, the effective tactic that I used was to ignore the lie.
I recommend that you do the same. Ignoring the N is always the worst possible fate for them. They want your (and everyone else’s) attention and will do and say anything, anything at all, to get it. By ignoring them, you cause them to suffer the worst possible fate that they can imagine: irrelevance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


If you can't go around it, over it, or through it, you had better negotiate with it. Ashleigh Brilliant

The two keys to negotiating are superior information and learning to smile and say, "No, no, no, no, no" until your tongue bleeds. Unknown

There is a really wonderful children’s book that I read over and over to my children when they were tiny entitled “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff. The story is about the fact that when you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse demands more and more until he owns you and your entire house.
The author must have known a narcissist. This is how a Narcissist negotiates. They always want more. And more.
For those of you who did not marry or enter into any sort of business relationship with the N, you can skip this discussion and consider yourself either very fortunate or just plain smarter than the rest of us. You, lucky soul, can escape the force of the N’s sucking black hole by simply leaving, in the middle of the night if necessary. I strongly recommend that you do just that; run, flee, leave the N just as fast as you can if you haven’t already. Consider anything of yours that the N still has in his possession simply lost. Trust me, the cost of trying to get your possessions back is much higher than the cost of simply replacing them. Write your losses off as a lesson learned under the “School of Hard Knocks” and know that it could have been worse.
You could have married him.
For those of you who married an N, you are not so lucky. You are going to have to negotiate with the N. Good luck. You’re going need it.
The N’s do not negotiate well for quite a number of reasons. First, as a narcissist, the N believes that he was the one responsible for accumulating whatever you have. All success is due to him. You were unimportant to the marital financial success, just as you were and are unimportant in every other aspect. To the narcissist, you simply and completely did not and do not matter in a real and fundamental way. It is irrelevant whether you were a stay at home wife or whether you worked outside of the home. It does not matter whether you were married one year or thirty. The N’s overweening sense of self-importance tells him (and he tells everyone else) that but for him, you would be nothing, have nothing and consequently you are nothing. Therefore, according to him, you are entitled to nothing.
Second, irrespective of the facts, basic fairness, common sense, and certainly irrespective of the law on gifts and inheritances, the N believes that he is entitled to anything that he wants. In addition to anything that he actually desires, he will keep anything that you would like to have simply in order to deny it to you. This is true even if the N really does not want “it”, whatever “it” is. He wants “it” as long as you want “it” even if he has never used “it” and never will. The N’s rage at your “abandonment” of him (even though he quite literally drove you away by his emotional, verbal or physical abuse) will kick in when you attempt to negotiate a divorce settlement.
Third, you are not really a person to the N. The entire concept of separate personhood is foreign to Ns. People are only useful tools to the N. The feelings, goals, dreams and desires of the tools are irrelevant except in relation to the N. Other people’s sole existence on the planet is for the purpose of being used by the N. Your function was to serve his needs. However, you dumped him. You are therefore no longer a useful tool. Because you are no longer a useful tool, the N has no empathy for you, no care and no consideration.
Negotiating with someone who has no empathy for you and is angry at you for leaving him is tough.
Do not expect the N to be rational, logical or objective about you or your legal rights. Certainly do not expect him to consider what is “fair.” Fairness is a concept that is not in his lexicon. You are no longer useful therefore you should get nothing, zero, nada.
The N’s have no respect for the legal system. The law simply does not apply to them. Therefore, they have no interest in dividing property according to the law. This is particularly true if the N you were married to is a lawyer, as mine was. The N I was married to knew exactly what the legal system would and would not do. He knew that he could do anything, no matter how outrageous and legal system would do nothing to him. He knew he could lie with impunity. He knew that either the Judge would believe him in which case he would win and that if the Judge did not believe him, there would be no consequences for his lies.
Because the Ns are pathological liars, you can expect the N to do what I like to call “Revisionist History” during your divorce negotiations. Revisionist History is the story that the N is now telling about you. The N’s Revisionist History is unlikely to be based upon anything that looks remotely like reality. Not coincidentally, the N carefully creates his Revisionist History in order to show what a wonderful guy he is and what a do-nothing leech you are.
For example, the N whom I was associated with propounded a line of Revisionist History that was both illogical and incredible. He and I jointly owned our law firm. We worked together for 10 years. I did the litigation; he did the business, tax planning and estate planning. We were in the same office, working together every day.
However, during our divorce, the N’s line of Revisionist History was that I stayed home all day every day and did nothing (presumably eating the proverbial bon bons). Who exactly it was that handled the litigation for our firm, how all of those timesheets and billing statements were generated for me and where the heck those clients who were mine came from the N did not bother to explain. I was a leech, according to the N.
In addition, according to the N's Revisionist History story, he was the one who stayed home with the children when they were sick.
If I was a stay-at-home “leech” (his word, not mine), where I was when our children were sick? This the N did not bother to explain for, of course, it is inexplicable and not coincidentally, untrue. This Revisionist History came from a man who never stayed home with the children even once when they were ill.
Facts are, of course, irrelevant to the Ns for they are pathological liars.
Winning is everything to the Ns. They especially need to win over you, the person who is abandoning them. Thus, they will do anything to win, whether fair or foul. Watch out for foul. Foul can be pretty darned foul. Do not have great hopes that the legal system to protect you, for it most likely will not.
Fighting keeps you in the N's life. Like a bad four year old, if they cannot obtain positive attention from you, they will seek negative attention. There is no attention that is more negative than a high-conflict divorce.
So, how do you handle negotiating a division of property from the N whom you were married to?
Ask for far more than you actually want or expect.
The N believes that he is God’s Personal Gift to the negotiating table so you have got to appear unreasonable at first so that he can negotiate you downward. Hopefully, what he’ll negotiate you down to is what you wanted in the first place.
Play to his ego with flattery.
Make him think that he is the big cheese and you are just a little ole woman as in the Scarlet O’Hara-ish “Oh, whatever shall I do?” Make it clear that you would be nothing but for his expertise, his financial acumen, his brilliance. Yes, this approach stinks and is offensive, ridiculous, unliberated, nonsensical falsity but ask yourself the following question: Do you want to get away from him or do you want to be enmeshed with him for years upon years in the slow-moving and highly expensive legal system? You can suck up to him or pay your lawyer tens of thousands of dollars to have the legal system grind you up and spit you out. The benefit of the suck up Scarlet O’Hara approach is that it costs you nothing and may lead to softening him up long enough to get a decent deal.
Do not denigrate him or challenge his lies at the negotiating table..
He does not wish to be reminded that but for his spendthrift ways, you two would be better off financially. He does not wish to be reminded that but for you, he would be bankrupt. He does not wish to be reminded of any of his financial misdealings and he certainly will not admit them. His rather complete inability to manage money may be an objective fact but this is not helpful at the negotiating table.
You are not trying to convince anyone of anything at the negotiating table. You do not care what his lawyer thinks of you nor, frankly, do you care what your lawyer thinks of you. S/he works for you. You are not friends. So do not bother telling your side of the story at the negotiating table. No one cares. Ignore his false statements. Do not get upset or angry at his lies and do not respond to his ridiculous statements no matter how outrageously false they are.
Keep in mind the goal: getting away from him. Fast. With as much as you can.
Never let him know what items you care most about getting.
The items of personal property that I wanted most disappeared. The N removed my jewelry from our safe deposit box in southwestern Colorado, denied that these pieces of jewelry had ever been there and denied knowing anything about them. Now, the jewelry that he stole (not to put too fine a point on it) was not particularly valuable. However, it was mine and I wanted it. The N knew that I wanted my jewelry back. So it all disappeared.
I obtained a copy of the check in/check out sheet from the Bank, showing that immediately before separation he had been in the safe deposit box three times on one day and that the box was empty immediately thereafter when I had it drilled (he would not give me the safe deposit box key). But these facts did not prove what items had actually been in the box when he was there on that day. So, the N to whom I was married has and will retain my jewelry.
Oh well.
I also wanted an old English Writ (a 200+ year old English document) that was hanging on the wall of my former office in “his” small office building. My Writ had been given to me a couple of years before marriage by a friend who picked it up in London on her first trip there. The writ was, therefore, my separate property and was legally mine. The writ no doubt was very inexpensive. Even 20 years later, a replacement Writ could be obtained for $25 on the internet. But the N did not want to give my Writ to me. At first, the N admitted in sworn testimony at his deposition that my Writ was hanging on the wall in my old office. He testified he would give it to me when the current tenants moved out. During the divorce, I kept asking about my Writ by email and he repeatedly promised by email to give it to me. Somehow, he never quite found the time to do so.
Eventually, I asked the Judge to Order that the N turn my Writ to me. At this point the N’s story changed for he had figured out by now that my Writ was something that I actually wanted. Now, for the first time, he denied ever having my Writ. Instead, he testified that my Writ had been destroyed long ago.
Not even the Judge bought this change in the N’s party line.
Eventually, I went to the office, walked in, handed the then-tenant’s staff a copy of the Court Order and walked out with my writ. The N called the police and tried to have me arrested for trespassing and theft. Fortunately, the police had no interest in arresting me in view of the Court Order.
The moral of this story is never indicate to the N that you really want something, even if it is legally and morally yours. You can expect that the N will not give it to you even if he personally does not want or need it. Do not rely on the Court system to get your property for you for the legal system is unlikely to be of much if any assistance.
Instead, I recommend that you feign disinterest or casual, offhand interest. A gentle, “Sure, yes, I’d like that,” is more effective than "It is mine; you have admitted it is mine, now give it to me." Try to avoid the bull in the china shop approach I used.
Pick out something that you do not really want and insist on getting it in the negotiations; capitulate at the last minute so that he can "win."
Since the Ns want, nay, need to defeat you, give them something that they can defeat you with. Pick something out that you do not care about and demand it. Claim that it has sentimental value to you. Claim that it is of critical importance to you. Claim whatever you think will work and add new arguments about why you are entitled to this whenever they occur to you. Do whatever you need to in order to establish the item’s importance to you.
Then, in order to get the deal you want, capitulate on this item. Let the N have it. They will feel superior, as if they “won”. You will get what you want: out.
Make sure that any agreement you make can be completed immediately if at all possible.
Do not take any long term payouts if you can avoid it. Avoid any agreement that requires his cooperation over a period of time. The one thing that you can be sure will happen is that the N will change his mind about what he has agreed to immediately after the ink is dry, if not before. The fact that you entered into a contract is irrelevant. The fact that your agreement has been made a Court Order is irrelevant. The N will change his mind, particularly if your agreement requires him to pay you anything. Do not rely on the legal system to enforce your agreement for the law is rarely effective and is highly expensive.
The N with whom I was associated “settled” with me a couple of times. The first time, he called me within a week and left a message on my machine repudiating our entire agreement. He later filed a motion with the Colorado Court asking that the agreement be set aside even though (1) we were both represented by counsel, (2) a sitting judge was our mediator, and (3) we dictated the terms and agreed to it in open Court in front of the Trial Judge on that same day. When the Trial Judge would not let him out of the agreement, the N sued me in Federal Court in Arizona, a state in which neither of us had lived for 10 years, to get out of the Colorado divorce settlement agreement.
This tactic did not work. But it still required quite a bit of my time and energy to defeat his claim. Had I not been an attorney, it would have cost me between $5,000 and $10,000 to defeat his claim.
Because a leopard does not change his spots, I was better prepared the second time that we settled. The second time around, the N simply ignored those portions of the settlement agreement that he did not wish to abide by. However, as the majority of the second agreement was self-executing (in that a deed of trust protected my interest), I simply ignored the N’s refusal to play by the rules.
The moral: if you can, obtain an agreement that does not require long term payouts or any cooperation from the N.
Exploit their moment of weakness.
If you get lucky enough to catch the N at something whether it is cheating on you, stealing from you, doing something he had promised not to or any other thing that you can use as leverage to get out of this marriage, exploit it immediately. The N may have one temporary moment of seeming remorse. If so, go for it. Do not hesitate. You can depend on the remorse disappearing shortly. Use what is available to get away from the N.
Negotiating with an N is difficult. It is, however, not impossible. The only possible saving grace at the negotiating table is that the N probably hates paying lawyers more even than he hates the fact that you might end up with something out of this marriage.
Think about these tactics and use the ones that work for you. Keep your goal in sight and do what you have to in order to obtain a relatively decent “deal” and become free.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that.

Pearl Bailey

I think that’s the problem. That’s why the Ns cheat everyone they can, sooner or later. The Ns have cheated themselves by never looking into their hearts, never confronting their fears, and living the lie of pretending to be something they are not (the “false front of narcissism”). After all of this internal pretense, cheating the rest of us comes easy.
Whatever the reason, the Ns are cheaters. They will lie, cheat, steal and hurt without compunction or conscience. The only times that they do not cheat are when (1) the punishment is significant and likely to be immediate or (2) the other person or entity is of higher status than they are and they want something from that high status person.
You are one of the people that the Ns will cheat.
The N to whom I was married cheated ex-wife #1 out of most of what they had accumulated in their marriage and took great pleasure in bragging about that fact. According to him, she got nothing but dishes and household goods while he got all of the real property. Now that I know who and what he is, I suspect that she, smart lady, simply gave up her interest in the real estate just to get rid of him.
The N had a good chuckle a few years later when his ex-wife #1 (I am ex wife #2) called some years after their divorce to accuse him of switching the diamond in the ring he had bought her. During their divorce, he insisted that her diamond ring be appraised. The ring was a gift from him to her and therefore her separate property – he, an attorney, knew this; she, as a non-attorney, apparently did not. The ring had been purchased from a reputable jeweler and thus she had a description of the diamond’s size, color and clarity. Sadly, ex-wife #1 allowed the N to take her ring to a jeweler who was a client of the N’s. Some years later, ex-wife #1 had occasion to have the ring cleaned and appraised again for insurance purposes. The diamond then in her ring did not have the same size, color and clarity as her original diamond. A switcheroo had been made.
Surprise, surprise, surprise.
The N thought this was hysterically funny. He claimed that his jeweler must have made the switch, unbeknownst to him, of course. I wondered about this at the time. Now I am confident that the N had the jeweler make the switch in order to cheat ex-wife #1.
If he will cheat her, he’ll cheat you too.
If the N with whom you were or are associated cheats the government, watch out. This can be risky to you. The N to whom I was married was a tax lawyer and took great pride in”handling” our income tax returns. I knew during our marriage that he was “aggressive” in claiming deductions but I assumed that he had not gone too far. After all, he knew well the power of the lRS. When I finally looked at our tax returns during the divorce, I was appalled and more than a little worried. I immediately researched the “innocent spouse doctrine", a rule of law that protects spouses (usually women) who simply sign off on the tax returns that their husbands prepare, as I did. If you filed tax returns with an N, I suggest you look them over and hope that the IRS never targets him or you will spend your days explaining to the IRS that you had nothing to do with the preparation of the tax returns.
There are other, many other, examples of the Ns cheating. Their cheating is part and parcel of their need to feel superior. Because they are superior humans, they are entitled and need not obey the rules that us peons live by. Because they are superior, they are smarter than everyone else and will not get caught.
Or so they believe.
If the N with whom you were associated has an opportunity, he will cheat you notwithstanding his claims of undying love and soul-mateism. The N’s alleged love does not extend to sharing “his” money or property. Your money and property are jointly "ours" to the N while his remains his alone.

Funny how that works.
Watch out if he prepares documents such as trusts or deeds for your signature. Do not under any circumstances rely on his alleged “love” for you in signing such documents.
If at all possible, do not let him treat your contributions to your jointly owned business as less than his. For example, in our first legal corporation, I allowed the N to hold 90% of the stock and I held 10%. Thus, he was entitled to 90% of the profits even though we both devoted full time to our business and did not divide the income by who had earned it. I also allowed him to pay “us” by cutting a check to him. This had the effect of making it seem that he was making all of the money and I was making none. Fortunately, we eventually dissolved this corporation so it had no effect on my eventual divorce entitlement.
A friend of mine did the same thing. She worked full time and was instrumental in “their” business but all paychecks were paid to him. Thus, no payments to her social security fund were made and it looked as if she was not working even though she clearly worked full time.
I look back now at my actions in horror. I am a lawyer who should have known better but made just about no effort to protect herself. I have to ask myself, “What was I thinking?” The answer is that I believed that he loved me. I did not know he was a narcissist. I had no idea that he would cheat me. I had no plans to get a divorce and fully expected that we would live happily every after. So what did it matter who held what number of shares in our professional corporation? What did it matter who got the paycheck? The answer is: it does matter. Only a selfish man who loves only himself would want you to have less than what you are entitled to.
The moral: protect yourself. Watch everything. Get copies of records and keep them at a girl friend’s house. Trust nothing that the N has to say.
If you are separated but not yet divorced, look hard at the money trail. Is money missing? I found out mid divorce that the N to whom I was married had told male clients that when contemplating a divorce, they should put cash in either Swiss accounts or the Caymans. Needless to say, given the fact that some of “our” money seems to have “disappeared”, I suspect that the N to whom I was married has Swiss or Grand Cayman bank accounts.
Another form of cheating is the N’s love life. From a sexual perspective, the N’s seem to come in two flavors: sexless and overly sexual. The overly sexual Ns will, from all reports, cheat on you at every opportunity without any compunction.
One N would wake his wife up at 3:00 a.m. to have sex with her. No foreplay was involved and her pleasure was not relevant. She eventually refused his “advances”. Her refusal was baffling to him.
Other Ns are known for their appalling list of during-the-marriage/relationship “conquests.” They will have sex with anyone they can and will say anything in order to do so. This over-the-top sexuality is part of the Ns view of themselves. The not only think that they are entitled to have sex with anyone they want to as they are, in their view, the best and smartest guy in the universe, but they believe that they are smarter than everyone else so they can get away with it without getting caught. When they do get caught, they are neither apologetic nor regretful. After all, they are simply doing what they are entitled to do, which is any thing they want irrespective of any hurt that their actions might cause you.
The N to whom I was married was of the first variety, sexless. The sex in the first half of my marriage was, after the initial stage, infrequent. However, I was working so hard at that time and was so busy with our two little children whom I was solely responsible for that I was ok with the infrequent sex. After all, I was tired. Make that exhausted.
The sex in the second half of our marriage was non-existent. In fairness to him, at this time the N had a number of physical problems, such as chronic sinus problems and alleged neck pain. Nonetheless, withholding something that the other person wants, especially sex, is a great way to control them and control is always the N’s ultimate goal.
The bottom line here is that the N’s cheat. Their cheating is part of their entitlement, part of their view of themselves as a superior person, part of their pathological lying. The Ns are good at cheating.
We women are not good at protecting ourselves. We need to get better at protecting ourselves, planning for the possible demise of our relationships and thinking through the consequences of buying into whatever that men want. We need to draw boundaries. I did not do this. But then, I am writing this so that you do not make the same mistakes that I did. In the words of Rita Mae Brown, “Good Judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment. “
Ain’t it the truth.