The Narcissist and Boundaries

Narcissists don’t like boundaries. If you set a boundary, they will usually cross the boundary on purpose, to prove that you cannot control them. It’s like a challenge to them. Then, they will tell you how selfish or unreasonable YOU are. It’s crazy making, I know.

The first thing you need to learn is that the person who is angry at you for setting boundaries is the one with the problem.Drs. Cloud and Townsend Boundaries-2

To help me set boundaries, I got specific language and ideas from books or my counselor. I gained confidence by “sanity checking” it with another person and confirming that my boundary was wise and healthy.  When my boundary was crossed and tested, which it always was, I was prepared to stick to my consequence. Sometimes that meant walking away, or hanging up the phone, or not responding, or saying “never mind”.

One of the first boundaries I set was a physical one. I needed to feel safe in my own home. When my XNarc came to my door, I practiced that I could either answer or NOT ANSWER my door. I could choose to engage or not engage. If I answered the door, I decided I was not going to invite him inside. If we talked on the doorstep and the conversation didn’t go well, then I would ask him to leave. If he didn’t leave, I was prepared to tell him I was calling the police, and close the door. Then I was prepared to go and call the police. All of those steps may seem simple to some, but because my boundaries had been stepped on SO MANY TIMES prior, and I had been told how selfish and self-centered I was, it took me some time to work through those boundaries and have the confidence that they were healthy and normal and necessary.

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Parenting Coordinators in a High Conflict Divorce

We still meet with our Parenting Coordinator (PC).  I find ours is fairly helpful.  Here are a few ways I think this role can help in a high-conflict divorce:

  • She has us use a tool called “Our Family Wizard” (OFW) for all non-urgent communication.  I was getting 10+ emails and texts a day, even after the divorce.  (Before the divorce was final, I counted 33 one day.)  While rude, contentious and intimidating, the emails and texts were never enough to go to court over to get a restraining order or other protection.  But they were stealing my peace. So the PC ordered us to sign up and use OFW. Except for urgent matters, all communication goes through OFW. I check it once a day. We post all our emails, kids logistics, and requests for reimbursement on this online tool.  The PC monitors our emails and coaches us individually on better ways of communicating. When there is an issue I need help with, I forward the email to the PC and ask her for help responding. It has dramatically cut down on the disruptions to my day. I also think my XNarc watches his words more carefully knowing that someone else is reading the emails. It is bringing things out of the darkness and into the light. Very helpful.
  • She meets occasionally with both of us in the same room to work through issues.  Since I will not meet with my XNarc alone, and our emails tend to become circular and contentious, the PC is an excellent third party to meet with and try to work through problems. Because she is appointed by the court and can testify, if needed, her advice seems to be given more weight by the High Conflict Personality.
  • She helps me set better boundaries. She has given me the encouragement to say “no” and given me the words to say. Once of my issues I’m working on is trying to be too helpful and not wanting to offend. And thinking my words and explanations will make a difference. And…and….OK, I have a lot of issues…..  (That’s why I’m grateful for Jesus each day!) Some examples of things I might say now:

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