Tina's Story

Looks Can Be Deceiving

By all outward appearances, he was normal.  His appearance and the image that he portrays has been the biggest challenge through this court process.

About a year ago, I was sitting in Starbucks working on my laptop.  There were three older men at the table next to me shooting the breeze– they were talking about their wives, the stock market and whatever else older men talk about over coffee.  One of the men mentioned his wife’s shoe addiction and what he would do with all of the shoes if she died.  I laughed because it was funny.  At that point, they included me in their conversation.

While talking to these men about “life”, one noticed that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and made mention of his observation.  I explained that I was a single mother going through a hellish divorce.  I didn’t go into details about my story but explained that I didn’t have an attorney and was representing myself.  We continued talking about the divorce and marriage in general– about the fact that you can be married for years but never really know the person.  I told them that there was extreme debt, huge lies and that I didn’t even know who I was married to.

I live in a small town– everyone knows everyone.  I didn’t quite realize how small my town was until that day.

One of the gentleman said, “we should introduce you to a fellow named Seth who comes in here often.  He is also going through a horrible divorce and has even hired people to follow his x-wife.  She’s sleeping with everyone and is just a mess.  I feel bad for the guy.  His daughters are as cute as buttons– they could be child models”.

My jaw dropped.  He was talking about my ex.  He was talking about my daughters.

The other gentleman joined in by saying, “Poor guy– he has a lot of money and was Pre-Med before shifting his course.  He is pretty tore up about the whole situation.  Found out through friends that she was cheating on him”.

I just stared at them.  I opened my mouth and the following words came out, “You are talking about my ex-husband.  The only thing I can say is that you can’t believe everything you hear”.

Silence.  Awkwardness.

They couldn’t believe it.  This nice girl sitting in front of them was the harlot that they had been hearing about.  The monster that they have conversed about for a year over decaf coffee.  They mumbled.  They asked questions.  They couldn’t believe that this “nice young man” who told them tales of almost becoming a doctor, tales of his fortune and his woes was my ex-husband.  I could see it in their eyes– they felt incredibly bad and didn’t even know what to say.  What can you say?  They too had been conned by him.

Truth be told–

  • Seth wanted to be a doctor but confessed while intoxicated one night that he changed his course after being caught cheating on an exam in college.
  • I never cheated on him although I was so starved for affection by the end of our marriage that an innocent stranger offering me a simple hug could have been my target.
  • Seth didn’t have money- he didn’t even have a car at that point.  He drove a company mini-van because all of our vehicles had been repossessed.  Ironically, just a few weeks prior I watched a tow truck drive through town carrying our Toyota Tundra as I ate my lunch.

I left the coffee shop and these kind gentleman wished me well.  They went on about their day.  I went on with mine.

One Mom’s Battle: Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), Custody Evaluators, therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2009, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother, (Tina Swithin), navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth. Tina’s battle spanned from 2009 – 2014 during which time she acted as her own attorney. Ultimately, Tina was successful in protecting her daughters and her family has enjoyed complete peace since October 2014 when a Family Court commissioner called her ex-husband a “sociopath” and revoked his parenting time in a final custody order.

Tina Swithin: Divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon (print, Kindle or audio format). Each year, Tina offers life-changing weekends of camaraderie and healing at the Lemonade Power Retreat.  Tina also offers one-on-one coaching services and a private, secure forum called, The Lemonade Club, for those enduring high-conflict custody battles.



3 thoughts on “Looks Can Be Deceiving

  1. I am so inspired by you!! I was also married to a narcissist for 4 years and am going through a difficult divorce. I had even given up my high paying job 3 years back for him and so now I am left with almost nothing. There are so many problems I face every day because of his immaturity and ego-driven attitude. I hired an attorney to help me but I am not sure if I can afford him for long. There are so many times that I want to just give it up all.

    Good to see the strong woman you are! I’m impressed and motivated.

  2. I know exactly how you feel, my soon to be X is also a very “charming” person. There is a saying in Spanish “Luz en la calle, oscuridad en su casa” which means “Brightness in the streets, Darkness at home” (my therapist told me this one). He lies about his job, about how involved he is with our kids, and about paying child support (he doesn’t pay any). He comes off as a very nice charming person but the more time you spend with him the more you start to realize how much he lies. It wasn’t until recently that other people started to see him for who he really is.

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