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Hi All


2 yrs ago I finally left my narcissistic and alcoholic husband of 27 yrs. I always wanted to leave but didn't know how or where to turn to with 3 children. I survived my marriage because of my children, I had them as comfort, what I didn't realize is I was actually destroying them mentally and emotionally by staying in a very dysfunctional home. When my eldest son became a teenager he started failng in school and became depressed, he dropped out of school in grade 10. My son was and still is a very good boy, gentle and caring towards his siblings, The dysfunction in our home hit him hard but he never spoke about it. my ex was abusive towards him out of 3 of my children. My son completely stopped talking to his dad and shut down witht the whole family. This is when it started to become too much to endure when I saw the state my son was in. 


siince leaving i've noticed how much damage is done to my son, the other 2 kids weren't as affected and we have a great relationship, my eldest son is great with his siblings, but he has so much anger towards me for not leaving when I should've. I've tried talking to him but he just won't let go of the past, he says he has nightmares of his dad being abusive. 


I hate myself for keeping my kids in a bad environment, I stayed because of my own insecurities and cultural reasons, Since leaving, its been 2 years and I'm realizing so much, so many regrets. I have finally realized that the man I was married to didn't CARE AT ALL, no matter how many times he was sorry and remorseful but HE DIDN'T CARE, if he did he would never do what he did. He tries reaching out like narcissists do, he tries to lure me back into his web, but never has he admitted to his actions, never has he been sorry. When he texts its all about him.  my son suffers from PTSD and he is aware and hopefully he gets help soon, I've tried talking to him but he won't even look my way, I also will be getting therapy.


Thanks for reading Smiley Sad





Hello @sadmom1, I am sorry to hear about the challenging times that you and your children have been through over the last few years. It is great to hear that you have been able to seek support and that you have been supporting your children in a household away from their father. Sorry to hear that your son has been having trouble managing these feelings lately and that he has not spoken to you in a while. It must be hard to not be able to talk with and support your son in that way. You have been proactive getting support for yourself, which is great to hear. I hope that you find the support to be a helpful space where you can talk about the impact that this has had on you too.


You mentioned that your son is aware and that hopefully he gets help soon. Would you be able to talk to him about getting some help from the local services in his area, such as a psychologist or counsellor. I know that you mentioned that he has not been talking to you, so would there be someone else that could talk to him about getting some further support? He may also be able to call up some telephone counselling services and speak to a trained professional over the phone for further support. I am not sure about what telephone or local counselling services are available in your/his area, but it might be worthwhile looking into if your son is interested Heart Please feel free to keep us updated here on the forums. 

Parent/Carer Community Champion


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Hello @sadmom1,

I'm also sorry to hear about the tough and challenging times you've been having, particularly the impact it's had on your son. While it's easy to say that women should leave abusive relationships, once you have a few kids, it's not that easy to make the move. I don't know much about the actual situation out there, but I do hear about mums and kids leaving and sleeping in the car, and that's not an encouraging situation and not everyone has family or friends they just move in with until they're back on their feet either. However, you did muster your courage and you did take that extraordinarily brave step and have stuck to it. That takes a lot of strength, and maybe you could've gone sooner, but maybe there was something in your gut telling you the timing wasn't quite right as well. 

I remember when I was a kid I was so idealistic. I was much more black and white back then and not very forgiving, particularly when it came to my mum. She'd be late and I'd feel let down and I didn't really feel she understood me. My brother got into a bit of trouble in high school and he dominated my mother attention and I felt invisible. That I didn't matter. It hurt and we didn't get on for a long time. 

I used to see a psychologist and we'd do an exercise where mum would be the empty chair and I'd tell her how I was feeling. It's quite a good idea because I know myself I struggled to find the words and get them out. I write and I wrote volumes but that never helped to build a bridge with the other person. It vented and helped me sort my feelings out, which was also important. 

I always find it helpful to acknowledge someone else's feelings and experiences. After all, to argue or deny it just adds fuel to the fire. I try to apologize to our kids. Sorry goes a long way. 

There are some great communication resources on the Reach Out website and one of the tips I picked up on is sitting beside someone and not giving them direct eye contact when you're having a difficult conversation or trying to reconnect. Talking in the car is a strategy many of my friends use when they're trying to connect with their teens. 

Quite aside from your relationship with your son, from what you say he's experienced serious trauma and having someone he could chat to would help him work through it. However, this can be easier said than done. Another avenue, would be through sport and exercise and physical release. 

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,


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Hi @Birdwings @Sophia-RO 


Thank you for reading, and reaching out. I needed to talk to someone and feel heard :'(


I had a sick mind to remain in my marriage and have 3 kids with him and then use my kids as a blanket for me. This need stems from my own childhood, living with an abusive dad and dysfunctional home, I thought I didn't deserve better and this is how it will be for me.  SHUT UP AND PUT UP!


What upset my son about me was that I used to leave the house with my kids and all i did was drive around until my ex fell asleep and then return home and i did this numerous times. I didn't realize the impact it was having on the kids, I just wish when I did drive away that I never returned. 


When I left  2 years ago, my son and I tried to build our relationship, we tried to start new, and things were going well, as the months went by my son began showing me anger and being disrespectful towards me. I understood where it was coming from and encouraged him to seek therapy. He continued showing anger towards me so I had to remove my self from our conversations which led to him shutting down on me again. This is why we both know we need therapy, 


My other 2 kids can see that their brother needs therapy and they both are very patient with him and keep their bond strong, my youngest son will have those moments with him and talk about his future goals and encourage him to do better which is so mature of him. I am very blessed to have good children considering the environment they've lived in. 


I'm still going through an ugly divorce and renting right now, once we settle in our own home then hopefully my son will begin therapy.






Hello @sadmom1, I hope that you have found reaching out on the forums to be helpful and supportive. Sorry to hear about how you feel that your childhood was related to your relationship with your partner, I hope that you have found that things are better for you now. It is nice to hear about the relationship that your eldest son has with his brothers. Your youngest son does sound very mature, and I am sure that your eldest son appreciates the support from his brothers. You sound very supportive of your son and his needs and it is nice that you will be hoping to get him some further support in the near future. Hopefully you will also get a chance to get some further support from a professional in the future as you mentioned you would like to get some therapy. Thanks for keeping us updated here Cat Happy

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I know it's really easy to place blame in these situations, but honestly, the only blame goes to the paternal party. You probably had no friends, family was probably few and far between (except Holidays), and you just didn't have anyone to talk to. You needed support & comfort as well, and you got it within your children. It's not typical, and maybe even frowned upon to some; but i always tell people you CANNOT judge any situation until you've been in it. Your son will come around. It'll take awhile, so be patient with him. If you're still in contact with your husband, your son probably feels like you never "completely" left. Does that make sense? You will need to use the other siblings as your primary source to relay messages for now. Maybe they can convince him into family therapy (without dad of course)? They can start as the team of siblings all the while, you can be going to the same therapist alone. Start that way. Then eventually, when he's comfortable with the therapist, maybe they can introduce you into the sessions. A lot of people don't initially seek help because it's a stranger, with a perfect life judging me with my messed up one. Which is not the case.
When i first started to read your post, it brought back my childhood memories. I watched my mom & step dad physically abuse each other for years. It did traumatized me. In relationships, i would flinch when there were sudden movement close to my face. Simple arguments scared me because i assumed violence was next up. I DO understand my mother stayed because financially, we would've never made it. I use to think money grew on bushes and we'd be OK anywhere. Now that I'm adult with children, i understand there were FREE services we could've used, and sometimes the alternative IS better than staying. I wish you all the best! If you would like someone to talk to, i am here! WE all are.
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Hi @OutOfOptions 


Thank you for reaching out Smiley Happy


It took me 27 years to leave my marriage, I am mentally damaged, and i'm realizing so much now that im away from the dysfunction. My ex tries to communicate with me to get me back into his web, but I will never go back. I choose to take care of myself and my son's mental health moving forward. I don't have any communication with my son but I will still try supporting him, showing by example. my other 2 kids communicate with him and hopefully he will seek therapy. I'm relieved that you gave me hope that he will get better in time because no child should live with the symptoms of PTSD, he has nightmares of his dad being abusive. 


My childhood was also rough, living in poverty and with an abusive alcoholic dad. I didn't know any better or I felt I didn't deserve any better. My marriage was arranged and the family was financially stable so I felt it was better from where I came from. 


take care 



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Hi @sadmom1,


You and your children have both been through so much. I think the fact that you are spending this time reflecting on what happened and how they are connected to your childhood shows you are already making a lot of progress in moving forward from your marriage and trying to create a better future for all of you. 


The process of coming to terms with abuse, especially abuse that happened to us as children, is something that is different for everyone and doesn't have a set timeline. I think it is great that right now you are also taking steps to take care of yourself and your mental health, and doing what you can to support your son while still respecting his boundaries. It can be really hard when we want the people we love to seek help but they don't want to reach out, but at the end of the day we can't control anyone else's actions, we can only focus on taking care of ourselves.

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From what you have written about your husband, leaving him was a difficult decision and you had the children to consider.
Alcohol dependence, combined with his narcissism will have caused your husband inner self-conflict.
A man who cannot face his own challenges and conflicts will choose an option that will be easier than confronting himself. He'll take his psychological aggression on someone else. Sadly it is those closest that bear the burden.
Your oldest may have been affected more deeply due to his sensitivity - making him more vulnerable.
There's even the possibility that your husband saw something in his eldest son. A man your husband felt he couldn't become. A young man who may have brought about feelings of his father's insecurities.
One way to deal with that potential threat. Slowly erode his son's self-esteem in order to feel that power, that control over the household.
People often make the mistake of questioning why someone in your situation does not leave. There are the practicalities such as finance, accommodation and organisation of the family.
You blame yourself for staying with this man and using your children as the reason. However. Your husband will have been extremely clever at manipulating and controlling you.
Underneath it all, you were hoping for a loving, fulfilled family life - just like anyone else.
Your own childhood experiences - together with your husband - will have re-enforced that inner belief you were not worthy of more.
Your husband will have instilled a belief that leaving wasn't an option. Where else would you go?
You were under the influence of a person who was in psychological control. A man who exerted power over you. A bully is stronger when they believe their target cannot escape.
Your son may blame you.
However. Blaming you won't help.
You stayed by your husband's side because you believed you were doing the right thing. You stood by his side for the sake of your marriage, family life, cultural reasons and to support the children.
Your eldest son may feel unable to forgive.
He may feel angry at his father - yet more angry at himself for allowing this to happen.
Some of this anger and disrespect may be in part a reflection upon how he feels about himself. Just like you, he needs to accept that he was not to blame either.
There's some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of your younger siblings. Perhaps a little young at the time to understand the situation, they certainly have sensed what was happening to the family.
Their patience and understanding shows. There may be an opportunity to encourage the younger siblings to talk to your son about trying therapy. They both understand that their older brother is in need of some help.
Although it is going to be difficult for you to discuss therapy with your eldest, the time has come for your son to accept he needs it. Therapy will help to overcome the effects of your marriage experience.
It's now finding a way to encourage your son to try counselling.
There are likely to be many mixed emotions in a situation like this and although your son may be laying much of the blame on you, he may feel some anger towards himself. Counselling will help him to address this and the deeper anger towards his father.
Over the years, your son has unlikely been able to confront his father and express this buried anger. Talking things through with a counsellor will help to unburden the build-up of these suppressed emotions.
You also write that you will be having counselling/therapy yourself. It may help you to re-connect with your son.
It may be worth researching advice on financial help. In a way - you're having to start all over again.
Although your son may acknowledge that he needs the therapy, he may need gently encouraging. Underneath it all, your son may really want to re-connect with you. Yet he just can't find his way through all those mixed emotions and past memories.
You used to wish you had just driven away and not returned to this man. Well, you have eventually achieved that goal.
Without your husband's presence - over time - you'll carve your own lives as a family and this will hopefully help both you and your son re-connect, then move forward.



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@PaulSSmith Thank you for this detailed writing. Every part is so true. I'm grateful for you reaching out.


Yes my ex was very manipulative and showed a caring side most of the time with me, but took his aggression out on my eldest son, I didn't see most of the abuse, it happened while i was either out shopping, or at work. He knew how to hide it. 


My eldest son was and still is very sensitive, he never spoke to me about his dads abuse towards him he feared that we would get into a fight and he would be the cause of it and he didn't want to make things worse. I wished he was much stronger, it would've helped me leave sooner.  


There was something my ex didn't like about he's eldest son, even though he was well behaved. My ex took it as a threat that he can never be a man like his son. 


I'm happy that I've moved on and i'm giving my son all the space and time he  needs. My son did go for therapy while we were still living with my ex but he told me there was no point going if he was coming back to the same dysfunction. I know he will seek therapy again, I won't be the one recommending it to him but my youngest son is compassionate towards his brother and allowing him to open up to him, which will lead my son to recommend therapy to his brother. 


Its been 2 years since living apart and recently my ex is reaching out to my entire family, he kept calling and texting crying he wants me back, and having a pity party for himself making every one feel sorry for him, all this done while being heavily intoxicated. Its been 2 years wouldn't you see the damage, wouldn't you want to start working on yourself, but no this characteristics is from a narcissist.