What’s it like to maintain Modified Contact?
It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time.
You know you were meant to do more with your life than being stuck in a marriage or relationship that makes you hate yourself.
But then, starting a new life feels risky — and the thought of failing and crawling back to your Ex to beg for another chance paralyzes you with fear.
You yearn for independence and to see where your new life takes you. But having these desires is not enough, and you know it. To make it work, you need to maintain Modified Contact with every cell of your being.
However, if you share custody with a narcissistic Ex, you may be teetering between forging ahead with your newfound future…or giving the Ex another chance while falling for their tempting promises.
Because let’s face it, most people who share custody with disordered Exes haven’t implemented Modified Contact in its true form. And with Father’s Day around the corner, it’s likely you’re being bombarded with emails and texts which promise change and yellow brick roads.
It’s irrelevant whether your Ex is male or female. Father’s Day is a prime occasion for narcissists everywhere to try and lure their former partners back into their maze of crazy…but if you give in, you’ll soon learn their promises are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
So, what’s a would-be survivor of narcissistic abuse to do?
Well, first, there’s a huge difference between running into obstacles while doing something the right way, and failing because you fell for the same old lies again. In case you’re riddled with cognitive dissonance in the face of Father’s Day, following are five ways to ignore Father’s Day fantasies and maintain Modified Contact.
The whole point of Modified Contact is to lower the Ex’s access to you. Leaving them with open contact through your cell phone only keeps you deeply embedded in the cycle of abuse.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I cannot offer legal advice as it pertains to custody arrangements, but I can tell you from my own encounters with shared custody that it’s likely you aren’t required to give them access to your cell phone. From experience, unless your legal custody order specifically states that your Ex should be allowed to contact you 24 hours a day, seven days a week regarding your children through your electronic devices, then it’s likely you could arrange to have them contact you via landline or email, instead.
Changing your cell phone number and letting the Ex contact you by email is especially nice since most everyone has their email set up to go to their phone, anyway. This way, you can read the email and decide whether you need to respond right away. It also cuts down on ambushes because emailing takes more effort.
Texting, SMS, and messaging platforms are easy venues for the Narcissist to attack at will. Cut out that option for them. Of course, your Ex will throw a hissy-fit, so be prepared. However, not only will this decrease the number of stealth attacks, you will have some nice email documentation to present to the court if you ever need to file a harassment order or simply want to demonstrate his or her instability.
Summary: Letting your Ex contact you by cell phone is a self-sabotaging snare, especially on the occasion of Father’s Day. The holiday hasn’t changed your Ex or inspired them to improve their behaviors.
It may seem your situation is different from everyone else’s. That maybe you and your Ex are tortured soulmates, long-suffering best friends, or that you’ve traveled many lifetimes together.
But, the hard truth is this – if they were going to change, they would have done it by now.
Consider this quote by Pema Chodron:
Narcissists show up in our lives to bring our core wounds to the surface. Only by facing these core wounds can we begin the work of healing and banishing self-sabotaging behaviors. Unfortunately, due to the traumatic nature of narcissistic abuse, many targets get stuck in repetition compulsion rather than exiting the relationship and moving on to the first stages of healing.
Psychologists and thought leaders have recognized a tendency for humans to be drawn to situations that trigger unresolved traumas from earlier in their lives. A child who has an abusive parent may later be repeatedly drawn to abusive partners. Someone who was often abandoned may be drawn, unconsciously, to people who will become close to them and then suddenly detach and leave. 
In the world of psychotherapy, this tendency is referred to as repetition compulsion, which was coined by Sigmund Freud as “the desire to return to an earlier state of things.”
Narcissists are masters at figuring out what our weaknesses, wounds, and fears are. Since most of these developed during our childhood, it only stands to reason that they choose to push buttons that trigger our childhood wounds. In fact, the narcissist brings the childhood wounds that we’ve suppressed from our subconscious mind to the conscious, turning our innermost sufferings into everyday reality.
This is precisely how they keep us compliant and obedient – and enmeshed in a relationship with them. And they know that all they need to do is keep you hanging onto the fantasy of their potential…which is especially appealing during Father’s Day.
It’s enticing to believe you can win back the narcissist’s heart, leaving their new partner feeling rejected and undesirable – especially with visions of a restored family unit dancing on the horizon.
The important thing to remember, though, is that if your Ex has a new partner, yet is telling you how much they miss you, it’s prime breeding grounds for triangulation.
When the marriage or relationship ended due to the narcissist leaving or your discovering their infidelity, it was your signal that things were over. Going back to them is NOT the solution to your problems or the end to suffering and loneliness. The damage is done.
If you give in to the urge to accept the narcissist back into your life, the only thing you’ll get in return is the temporary high from thinking the fantasy will come true at long last…followed by more disappointment and heartbreak.
Before you know it, you’ll be hearing all about your Ex’s relationship problems with their new partner while you take the position of The Fallback. You’ll be expected to pass the handkerchief and be a shoulder to cry on.
Or, if your Ex is malignant, you’ll fall prey to their diatribes regarding how you could never compare to their new love, ensnaring you in a “trance of unworthiness” which you’ll feel perpetually compelled to resolve through the humiliating “Pick Me” dance and accepting crumbs when you really want the whole loaf.
This request appeals to your desire to protect your children from a broken family and the impact of divorce.
But if they really cared about ‘the sake of the kids’, they wouldn’t have abused you, cheated on you, or subjected their children to a toxic environment.
Imagine sitting over a nice Father’s Day luncheon, when your Ex turns and asks, “Do you really want to break up our family?”, followed by a dramatic, Oscar-worthy turn to the children and “Kids, your mother/father wants to break up the family.”
Translation: Why don’t you own their crimes and continue hiding their immorality from the children? In return, they’ll mete out some mind crumbs now and again.
Alternately, the narcissist will be on their best behavior, pretending to have had The Epiphany, only to morph back into their true self at a later time, imparting more cognitive dissonance and emotional trauma to you AND the children.
Never mind that the new partner is waiting patiently for the narcissist to join them after your lovely family get-together.
How many times have you forgiven your Ex on special occasions, only to have everything collapse in a heaping mess around your ankles?
Why not try something different?
Don’t think of it as losing out on a potential reconciliation. Narcissists don’t reconcile – they recycle, reuse, and re-traumatize.
Your potential doesn’t exist with the narcissist. Your potential is harnessed through the power of your decisions in each moment.
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 THE REPETITION COMPULSION. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from http://www.systemsthinker.com/interests/mind/repetitioncompulsion.shtml
Kim Saeed is a narcissistic abuse recovery expert on a mission to help abuse survivors to heal, find purpose, and live joyfully after No Contact. She also hosts a podcast called Heal, Grow, Evolve, where she aims to help people create meaningful lives and relationships after emotional abuse. Listen and subscribe at www.healgrowevolvewithkim.com