Fast forward a few years, and I found out I was pregnant. It was a complete accident - I was on birth control but had taken some antibiotics. You know that urban legend you hear about mixing the two? Yeah, it's true. From that moment on, I realized that the alcohol was an issue (I wasn't aware yet of the narcissism). We went to counseling, but there was no give on the other end... Other people's advice, though, was to "just stick with it" "he'll come around once that baby is born" "people change". So, I wanted to give my partner the benefit of the doubt, and I stayed.
After Joey was born, not only had nothing changed, but now I was left home alone 95% of the time to take care of him while I was suffering from post partum depression. His father and I fought and fought and fought, until finally I would give in and accept blame. It gradually occurred to me that I didn't want Joey to be raised in this sort of household, and I definitely did not want him thinking his mom was weak - I am any thing but.
I threatened separation but ultimately could never pull myself away... I wanted our family together! I wanted Joey to grow up with his dad! However, five months of this was enough to see that it wasn't worth it. I was not taking care of myself properly and I found that manifested itself in how I was caring for Joey. Not to mention the fact that his dad got arrested for a DUI when Joey was only three months old.
Joey's dad threatened legal proceedings first... And that's the route we took. It was never (and still is not) my intention to obtain sole managing conservatorship, although I could have. As much as I believe Joey's dad will not be a good role model and that I cannot trust my baby in the hands of an alcoholic and manipulator, it is not my call to make. I have to make sure I do my part and allow Joey to make his own judgements.
So, we've already gone through one round of mediation and gotten the temporary orders put in place. To my surprise, being an alcoholic means almost nothing when it comes to custody - it's not illegal to drink, after all. My lawyer never fails to remind me about how much it would cost to take this issue to court, and that it's better for me to settle in mediation.
The issue is, it's almost impossible to negotiate with a narcissist. He has absolutely no sense of what's "in the best interest of the child" - all he sees is a possession he is entitled to. He didn't help pay hospital bills, and he wouldn't allow us to stay in "our" home unless I paid rent (a form of control). He only started paying child support at the insistence of his attorney. He makes over six figures.
I've blown through my initial retainer because I've sent SO many emails to my lawyer to clarify the wording in the orders. When dealing with a narcissist, they'll make you question your entire reality, and everything is a word game. I had to make sure I understood what is required of me and what isn't - for example, Joey's dad tried to tell me I was solely responsible for providing diapers. (???)
It seems he is getting more aggressive with his "wants" and I honestly can't afford to go to court, but I want to keep my baby safe. I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle. Again, I am not trying to take Joey away from his dad, but at 11 months he is going through a critical stage in his development that I believe will be compromised if his dad gets what he wants. We currently have a step-up provision in place that I fully intend to abide by.
If by some miracle I receive more than my goal, I will invest it in a higher-level attorney (I could only afford the retainer for an associate, whichever is the current goal) or put it into Joey's college fund.
Thank you so much for your time.
- Jessica Dang
- Loan VU
- Thu Nguyen
- Alyn Punsalan
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