So, as these things tend to do, they got worse before they got better. I filed for divorce on my husband's birthday. Until we could get to court, he was able to come in the house, and he would do things like turn on a recorder and follow me around, narrating what I was doing. One time, he got in my face (it was a common trick of his...to get real close and scream, or to come at me with his chest, and then say "but I'm not hitting you."). I was on the floor changing the baby, and he was so close his knee was touching me. I pushed it away, and he jumped up and yelled into his recorder, "see that?? Mommy hit me! Didn't she???" And the kids just stood there horrified because they knew darn well what they saw, and it was NOT me hitting him. But, they were confused because he was telling them to say things. This went on until court. For almost four months, when I sent my children with him, I knew he was telling them to speak into his recorder. My oldest would tell me that it made her really uncomfortable because she knew he was hiding the recorder when I'd call and he'd make them talk on speaker phone. He'd take the younger children aside and try and get them to say things. And there was nothing I could do to protect them. This is par for the course when divorcing a narcissist. They will do and say ANYTHING that makes them look better, or appear to lessen the impact of their behavior. They will shamelessly use their children.
Court came a few months later, and because of this behavior, he was ordered to stay out of the house for good. It was a relief. Before, he would sometimes come and just stand there, just because he knew how much it bothered me. Things with his girlfriend were not good at that point. I believe they broke up, reunited, broke up...who knows. I did know when things were bad with them though because he'd get more erratic and unpredictable with me. His lies kept coming, and at first they would really bother me because it was affecting my relationships with his family and our friends. He told them I had a "retaliatory affair," and some believed him. I did not ever cheat on him. I never even had so much as an inappropriate or suggestive conversation with another man. At eight months pregnant, and then with severe medical complications following Austin's birth, the very last thing on my mind was getting back at him by getting with someone else! Nevertheless, his words to others had an impact on my world. I felt betrayed by his family...they had been my family for the past nine years, and he wouldn't allow them to talk to me. His sister, who I once admired, sent scathing emails, requesting everything back she had ever handed down to our girls. I didn't understand. I still don't. I hadn't done anything wrong. I will probably never know exactly what he's told people, but I do know those bits and pieces. It was through a heck of a lot of therapy that I learned to let it go, and just trust that the truth will come out in time. This is God's plan, and I have no choice but to roll with it. For someone in a similar boat, my advice is to surround yourself with those that believe in you, love you, and support you. Worrying about what other people are thinking only makes things worse for YOU. Be the person you've always been, kill them with kindness, and carry on. (By the way, nothing angers a narcissist more than seeing you happy).
At this initial court hearing, we asked for psych evals to be completed. My point was to prove that he was a pathological liar and a narcissist. I wanted to prove that he couldn't care for our children on any type of long-term basis. It was at this point that the children were assigned a Guardian Ad Litem as well (kids' lawyer). If you're with someone who is playing mind games, and is particularly good at it, the GAL is essential because their only interest is the best interest of the children...they aren't on either parent's side. If you are unfamiliar with the court system, sometimes you need to request this service. A good GAL will see through the BS and will represent the needs of your children in court. Some judges take this recommendation very seriously, others not so much. Its definitely worth the try though.
So because I asked for the psych eval on my husband, I had to have one done as well. And let me tell you, it sucked. It took four hours, and I was emotionally spent afterwards. I couldn't go back to work that day. We talked about everything, from childhood to now, any traumas, any losses, everything. I order these all the time for my clients at work, and after I'd actually been through it, I felt terrible putting them through it too. But, it proved pretty insightful. I'm mostly "normal," ;) with a tendency towards anxiety. That was no surprise. What did surprise me was the diagnosis of PTSD from the abuse. It wasnt until I laid it all out there on the table for the doctor that I realized how very bad it all was. This is not the same form of PTSD as the soldiers who return from war, but its on the spectrum. I have nightmares, and flashbacks. I have triggers...especially sounds...that would cause panic attacks. The sound of his truck, or any Ford Diesel for that matter, the sound of the basement door opening and our alarm beeping...silly things really...that would send me into a spin. It didn't affect my day-to-day functioning...work was fine, the kids were fine...but at night, it all sort of flooded in. My hair was falling out from the stress. My blood pressure continues to be remarkably high.
Listen to your body...sometimes even when you think you are handling things well, its trying to tell you you need help. Its easy to look back now...all the migraines, hair loss, nightmares, heart palpitations, skin bubbles (I had a reaction to too much cortisol (stress hormone) in my body, causing bubbles on my hands and feet. Your body tells you when you've had enough and something needs to change.
This has gotten remarkably long, and I apologize. Its cathartic for me to get it out, and I'm hoping that someone will find me here and realize they are not alone.
More about the permanent custody hearing later...it was a doozy!