Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

What to do Before, During, and After a Divorce with a Narcissist with Tracy Malone | Episode 154

May 18, 2023 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
What to do Before, During, and After a Divorce with a Narcissist with Tracy Malone | Episode 154
Show Notes Transcript

Tracy Malone, our expert on emotional abuse and dealing with narcissistic behavior, is back for part two of our two-part series on dealing with a narcissist in divorce proceedings. We take listeners through tips and advice for different phases of a divorce, the before, the during, and the after. Our conversation flows from what to look out for from gaslighting and educating yourself on your rights, managing your expectations, to building your support team. 

Tracy shares her thoughts and advice on doubts regarding going through with a divorce from a narcissist, and the “staying for the kids” reasoning.  We also dive into the three tips for what to do when you are currently in divorce proceedings and then navigate four tips for how to handle the after, once the divorce is finalized. Be sure not to miss out on part two of the two-part series with Tracy Malone. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Tips for dealing with the before of a divorce from a narcissist. 
  • A note on gaslighting in divorce.
  • The importance of learning your rights; talk to a lawyer!
  • Make sure you manage expectations. 
  • Build your support team; your mental health is on trial. 
  • Tracy’s advice to people thinking, “I just can’t go through with a divorce from a narcissist.”
  • Her thoughts on “Staying for the Kids.”
  • Tips for when you are in the divorce process.
  • Watch out for the Trojan horse.
  • Make sure your lawyer makes a tight parenting plan.
  • Mediation: be sure to know what you want or don’t want.
  • Tips and things people should be aware of after the divorce is finalized.
  • Learn to speak Nark speak: communication will be terrible!
  • Learn to let go.
  • Learn to trust again.
  • Learn to manage your triggers. 

What is Divorce at Altitude?

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.



Ryan Kalamaya (3s):
Hey Everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya

Amy Goscha (6s):
And. I'm Amy Goscha.

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to the Divorce at Altitude A Podcast on Colorado. Family Law.

Amy Goscha (13s):
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me I. know Besides. being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorce client.

Ryan Kalamaya (20s):
Whether you are someone considering Divorce or a fellow Family Law attorney, listen in for weekly tips and insight into topics related to Divorce co parenting and Separation in Colorado. Welcome Back to another episode of Divorce Altitude. This is Ryan Kalamaya. We are joined by a guest, Tracy Malone, who we've had on the show before in terms of talking about narcissism and Divorce. She is back. We're gonna be talking in a two-part series. The first is gonna be focused on the top three tips for dealing with a Narcissist in a divorce.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 1s):
And we're really gonna be focusing on before, during, and after. We will also have a companion sister episode that goes along with that on how to stay safe when leaving an abusive spouse. But Tracy, welcome to the show. For Listeners that haven't heard your other episode, can you explain a little bit more about yourself?

Tracy Malone (1m 23s):
Sure. Thank You for having me so much. I love being with you. I am a divorced coach for people going through a narcissistic Divorce and I've written a book called Divorcing Your Narcissist. You can't make this shit up And. I've just been working with people from all over the world to help them with this kind of situation and divorcing someone that is very high conflict.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 46s):
I've seen these cases from a legal perspective and have talked to clients about narcissism. And I usually get involved right before someone files, but let's get into it. and the first kind of tip or phase that we're here to talk about is before Divorce. So can you tell our Listeners a little bit more about what your observations and tip is and and what people should be thinking about before a divorce, when a Narcissist is involved?

Tracy Malone (2m 18s):
Sure. Thank you. The important part is many people don't know that they've been with a Narcissist until they file for Divorce. That's when everything sort of swaps and changes out. So if you do know, then you're a little bit more prepared if you are just sort of blindsided and maybe they ask for the Divorce or maybe it just kind of evolved that things are getting very strange and you are starting to look things up on Google and you'll find the answer in the Narcissist stuff. So it's important for people to know this because when you were divorcing a Narcissist, you are not divorcing the person that you've been married to. There's, there's a, a switch that flips, which puts them into black and white thinking.

Tracy Malone (2m 59s):
And everything that you thought you had gets erased your lives together. That possessions are your children and they're gonna fight for them even if they don't want them, simply because you know them. So it is important to understand that from that point of it being completely different than what you expected because you thought you knew who you were married to. It's a blindsided kind of thing cuz you're not gonna expect the things that happen in Divorce because you've heard of all your friends who've had normal divorces, right? This is above a, a Nark or two above that. People can't expect these things because they're the unexpected. They're on the crazy scale. So if you're talking about the very beginning of it, there's two schools, there's two camps, right?

Tracy Malone (3m 39s):
There's the person like I just said, that got blindsided, didn't have any time to prepare. It's really hard to go, here's the tips before, well, you've gotta do the research, you've gotta educate yourself. If it was your decision, I call it like the dumpy and the dumper I don have that in my book. That way is like, if you are the one that's dumping them and going, I'm outta here, you have more time to plan, you have more time to get your ducks in a row versus the one who is just slammed. I don't even, I didn't even know this was happening. So knowing that the first thing is if it's their, if it's, if it's their idea, you have to realize that there'll be gaslighting involved, always the first thing outta the box, right? Gaslighting is intended to make you be confused.

Tracy Malone (4m 21s):
Put fear in your heart. Gaslighting and Divorce with a Narcissist is you're gonna get nothing. There is nothing. You'll never see the kids. You are a stay-at-home mom and you have no rights. The important part here is to learn your rights. See your lawyer, ask them, is it true that I have no rights? I've been married for 30 years and yes, I was a stay home mom. Ask the lawyer, know your rights, because then the gaslighting doesn't put that fear in your heart, right? And so the other part is to, to learn to manage your expectations. Again, talking to their friends who've had normal divorces, oh, it'll be done in six months. It'll be all great, great. But if you don't learn to understand that Divorce with a Narcissist, I've never seen it less than a year.

Tracy Malone (5m 7s):
You might have, I have never. I've seen them more into the 4, 5, 6 year range if they are really, you know, pretty malignant and willing to fight on things that don't need to be fought for. So managing your expectations is important because if you think it's gonna be a slam dunk and you'll be in and out in just a few months, you are not gonna fight for temporary orders. You're not gonna get support, you're not gonna get status quo. So pay, pay and the mortgage, right? So if you can understand that those things should get into the hopper quickly, cuz you know the court system's gonna delay them anyway. But if you hold onto the hope that it's gonna be done and over, you're going to be in trouble because your, your expectations are not gonna be there for you.

Tracy Malone (5m 49s):
And so, you know, again, all of the things that happen in a divorce with a Narcissist are things that we can expect like stonewalling and obstruction of justice and you know, hiding assets and lying and not presenting the papers. So those tend to slow things down. The third tip on that is to build a support team. You don't realize what's gonna happen. They always go for the lawyer. Maybe a mediator, maybe a financial assets evaluator. But your mental health is what's really on trial here. You have to stay aware. You have to know what's going on. So working with a therapist or a coach like me is gonna help you stay grounded during this time.

Tracy Malone (6m 29s):
Because if you are on a rollercoaster, you're not going to be re able to react. You're going to be reactionary to everything and you're not gonna be able to plan and get the papers and get the things because that's how they want you to be. They wanna knock you off so that you don't take care of everything.

Ryan Kalamaya (6m 45s):
Tracy in my observation is that those tips are helpful for anyone going or looking at going through Divorce, educating yourself, managing your expectations, getting mental health treatment. I tell every client, you need to seek a therapist or counselor if you don't have one because Divorce stopped. Just is, there's no way. I know you've gone through it. We'll kind of tie it all in here soon. But managing expectations, people think that it's really should be just nice and easy. There's kinda the over simplifiers and then the, just educating yourself. I mean, my firm, we, this podcast is part of our effort to provide zero cost education, but I think it is magnified 10 x when you are dealing with a Narcissist.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 36s):
Those issues and those tips are of critical importance because if you miss one of those tips, then you're gonna get way laid and it's gonna be a much more difficult process than people are expecting. But Tracy I'm curious before we move on to kind of the, the tips that you have when you're in a divorce, what would you say to someone? we have Eric and Melanie Wolf, our hypothetical Divorce clients. Let's say that Melanie comes to you Tracy and says, Eric is a Narcissist I know, and you just go through, it's gonna take four or five years, you're gonna be gaslit. And what would you say, Tracy, if she says, it's just not worth it to me, I I'm just gonna stay with him because I can't go through a divorce with a Narcissist.

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 28s):
What, what's your response or or guidance for Melanie in that situation when she just can't bring herself to actually file?

Tracy Malone (8m 37s):
Right. And And I will depend on every single client, right? Sometimes it's, they don't have the money to have a battle like that and that fear. and the other part is if I just walk away from everything And, I want that kind of Divorce, just take it all. I don't want anything. And that's also an extremely dangerous sort of thing because you think if you walk away from everything that you will not have that continued battle. But that isn't true. And so it comes in different flavors to where she is, but it's, it's pay now or pay later And. I'm not saying on the, on the actual cost, it's your life 10 years from now will still be as miserable if not worse.

Tracy Malone (9m 18s):
And then one day after you've stuck it out and you've stayed for the kids and you tried as hard as you could, they get a new girlfriend or another boyfriend and they just say aios and you've put in all this time to try to make it work, not gonna get better. That's the bottom line. If we have identified these kinds of behaviors, whether we call them a Narcissist or we just go, they're gaslighting me, they're doing this A, B, and C behaviors, it's not gonna get better. And if you wanna come back and see me in 10 years, you know that's what's gonna happen. It's inevitable. So it's either get the courage, And I would help them muster that. I would help them ease their fears. And not all of them are five years long. You And I both know that they could certainly be done in a year depending on how cooperative the other partner is.

Tracy Malone (10m 5s):
So I would just let them, let their imagination go to the five year mark and go, I can't handle it, I can't do it. I'd be like, all right, let's just take one baby step at a time. Are you miserable? Then we have to get you outta here because it's not gonna get better. And some people stay for the kids and that's the other reason that it's kind of dangerous. We think we're doing the right thing for their kids, but then our kids either turn into little Narcissist or they are abused by the Narcissist, right? And then they end up with the same wound of, I'm not good enough for the rest of their life. So in many ways you are saving them from a life that is watching that and having them think that that's a normal relationship.

Ryan Kalamaya (10m 46s):
Well you covered issues in terms of dealing with a divorce, but walk us through, if Eric or Melanie is in a divorce with a Narcissist, what are the things that they should keep in mind when they're in the Divorce process?

Tracy Malone (11m 0s):
So that tips I have here, it's tip number one, Watch out for the Trojan horse. Narcissists often throw down if you're like, come on, can we make it work? This is the, the person that's getting dumped. So they're like fighting for, no, let's save it, let's make it work. Right? And if they agree to go to counseling and you put the Divorce on hold, I can guarantee you they have agreed to go to counseling so that they can get their ducks in a row, hide assets, buying things that they can do to destruct, you know, destruct the possibility of it. But the reality is it's still gonna happen. You fell for the horse, you've got delayed and all of their money has been hidden and the ducks in the row have been out there and it's gonna be harder.

Tracy Malone (11m 44s):
So, you know, while you are dining on false hope that we might get back together, we're in counseling, it doesn't do you any good. My ex had us do that for a therapy day. we have, we hired the therapist for an entire day and he was like, oh, we're gonna make it work, don't worry. Oh, I'm back, I'm here. Yes. And it was all a cover and he actually used it to get into my new apartment at that time and then take an inventory of what came from Baus, And I got rid of and what didn't. And then came into court with like a documented list going, I wanna have the money for all this stuff that she had to give away because he got into my house and he used the cloak of the, the therapy cuz I believed, I'm like, oh, we're working on it a whole day.

Tracy Malone (12m 29s):
How nice. I really believed it. But it was all an act and he had no intention of stopping ball from rolling. He just wanted intel and he wanted to sort of make me feel like I was safe when it was a lot easier to pull the rug out under me when I found out I wasn't. So that's one of them. I want people to understand that the amount of drama, I'll use the word drama that you see in a narcissistic Divorce is a reflection of what it's going to be in co-parenting land. And that's what the second tip during this is to make sure that your lawyer makes a really tight parenting plan, makes a really tight consequence ridden.

Tracy Malone (13m 11s):
If you don't give me the retirement money you're gonna do, then we, you know, something can be done. Consequences if they don't do it, deadlines that they must do it by. Because if you have a deadline that by January 1st he's gotta turn over the money and Eric doesn't turn over the money, now it's contempt of court because that date has passed. If it's arbitrary, okay, sell the rental house and give her $300,000. There is no deadline, there is no fault, there is a really hard time to chase him for it. So making sure that you prepare for that because it is going to be your future If you're with a Narcissist, co-parenting with them is twice as hellish as it is going through the Divorce.

Tracy Malone (13m 52s):
And depending on how young your children are, you know, if you have 17 year old children, you're in the bucket for a couple more years. If you have three year old children, you better make sure that you know what the rules are and make sure that they have clear orders if you would, to follow them. That's our second tip. My third tip during it is about mediation. And when I have people come to me and say, we just spent a $40,000 mediation day and nothing was decided, I saw your eyes widened. What I've had it happen many times because it's, it's, it's a long day. However many lawyers and mediators you're paying. If you go to mediation without some kind of offer on the table, then you are spending your eight hours making the offer.

Tracy Malone (14m 35s):
Right? If you know a baseline and you could go up or down also knowing what you want and what you don't want, people walk into mediation. Again, if you don't have the correct numbers, you don't have everything fully disclosed, you're walking into a mouse trap where they can say there's no money. See, here's one statement, I've got the rest hiding in Switzerland, but here's the one statement and I'll give you your percentage, right? So it's really making sure you know all of that stuff. And if you don't have wiggle room when you go into mediation, that's important too because again, negotiation is ask for more, settle for what you want. So people need to understand that about mediation.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 15s):
This episode is brought to you by our law firm, Kalamaya Goscha Amy And I describe our law firm as an innovative and ambitious trial team that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries and criminal defense in Colorado. We currently have offices in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Denver, and Boulder. If you wanna find out more, this is our website, Kalamaya dot law now to the show. Yeah. For Listeners out there. And they're likely listening to this who will be on YouTube. But one of the references that I make for mediation and preparing clients is the haggle, which is my python.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 58s):
And, and there's this famous skit, in essence it's John Cle, the character goes up into like kind of an Arabian bizarre like marketplace. And he says, I'll, I'll, I'll take that basket from you. and the guys like, no, no, that's not what we do. We, you gotta give me a price. And. I say, oh that's so insulting. And then I come off a price that's offensive to you. And it's a back and forth and you know, to prepare people kind of what you were talking about, the expectations. I mean that is often how mediation goes, but I completely agree. I had a mediation last week and there is nothing more frustrating than having a mediation where the other side's just trying to figure out what their position is.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 42s):
I mean, for me, I can only speak for my firm and me is that we will come up with a game plan in advance. We'll advise the client this is what mediation is and prepare them and, but really come up with a game plan that we're starting at X we're gonna make, you know, a move and do this and do that. And there's gonna be compromise. And, but to really draw the line in the sand and say, we're not gonna go beyond this. This is our bottom line and where that is. And that how much movement is really gonna depend on the, the issues, the facts. But especially when you are in a divorce involving a Narcissist that can be very problematic.

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 23s):
Everything is gonna need to be their idea. So it's a kind of a brainstorm session of how do we get them to make the offer that we are willing to accept. But it it's just their idea. And that is one of the, the negotiating aspects of dealing with a Narcissist, especially when it's in mediation.

Tracy Malone (17m 45s):
Yeah, I love that you are preparing your clients. I wish more did, I had a wonderful lawyer, but I was not prepared. We had eight hours And I could see them in the other room. Him and his mommy and daddy were in the other room and all they did was shake their head, cross their arms. No, they came back. The only response we got was, you're not getting one red penny is what they said. And again, eight hours, not a single thing happened. We ended up with seven trials after that. It was a ridiculous Divorce. But I should have seen the reflection on the wall from that mediation where they weren't gonna budge, they were gonna lie, they were gonna make false allegations and build something. And that's what people have to realize.

Tracy Malone (18m 25s):
There's a little mud slinging in mediation, but not as much as you would if he got into court. And so these are just your expectations. I'm glad that you guys are helping people with that.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 36s):
Well, let's do it into the post reel. Let's assume you settle at mediation or you go to trial. What are the tips or things Tracy that people should be aware of after a divorce?

Tracy Malone (18m 49s):
Sure. So the first thing is learning to speak narc speak and narc speak is, is learning. Because communication's going to be terrible if, especially if you've got children, if you're lucky like me where you never see them again, that's a wonderful thing. But most of the time there are children involved and so, you know, communication is gonna be hard. So you are gonna have to do the work. They're not gonna change, they're gonna continue to harass, they're gonna continue to blame. They're gonna continue to get on your case as often as they can. And so if you learn different communication skills, and there's a lot of amazing things out there. I pulled, we've heard of Biss for People. Oh yeah, brief, informative, firm and friendly by my friend Bill Eddie.

Tracy Malone (19m 31s):
And that particular one is a green version. There's two, there's a red and a green. And that one is for co-parenting, right? So it's how do you handle them in an email? How do you hand the middle in a text? How do you do it on a parenting app? Got a lot of information, but don't stop there. Like, just cuz you read one book and the and the communication isn't working yet. It's a spectrum, right? And yours might relate to something else. I have this other book called Magic Words by my friend Lindsay Ellison. And it's just the teeniest little book, but it's got these phrases that kind of I'll see make you wanna throw up in your mouth. They make you just sort of like, Ooh, that feels so icky. That's, I don't, that's ingenuous, right? I trust you. What?

Tracy Malone (20m 11s):
You don't wanna say that, but what you are doing is soothing the savage beast ego of a Narcissist. They wanna be trusted, they wanna be seen, they wanna be heard. And so if you kind of incorporate some of that magic stuff into your communication, it will change. The last thing I have on here is, I know we're on a podcast, but Yellow Rock canned responses for one mom's battle. You can go and download it. It's simple little phrases that you can use, especially in the parenting apps, in texts, just, you don't have to answer everything. So learning how to speak is gonna prevent you from being triggered every single day. The next thing is learning to let go, right? There's so much that you were gonna carry.

Tracy Malone (20m 50s):
How could they do that? Oh my gosh, who does that to their children? You're just going to be sitting there holding all this stuff and you will not be able to move on. Your kids are going to struggle because you can't let things go. And it's not like let it go and you're not singing a song, right? It is accepting what they're doing, but not giving it the emotional energy to hold it and, and just going, okay, they pissed me off, I'll hold it for five minutes and then I'm not gonna hold onto that. They still did it and it still wasn't nice, but I don't have to ruin the next six hours of my day holding onto that anger because they've triggered me. And then the last one is learning to trust again, so many people after Divorce and after betrayal, which is always part of the Divorce process, is that all the errors outta your sales and you just feel like I'll never trust again.

Tracy Malone (21m 40s):
and the important part is that you will trust again. And you probably do trust, you probably trust your children. You might trust your family, you might trust the gleaning ladies, you might trust your doctor. So walking around, going I'll never trust again is something that you're doing to yourself. It's negative self-talk. But if you're thinking about I'll trust again, like I'll never trust another person to be married to them or be in a relationship. you know what if you learn to trust yourself, that if I see these really bad behaviors with another potential partner, that I trust myself, that I will not let them stay for 20 years. I will trust myself that if I see A, B and C, they're outta here, right? So learning to trust yourself is core, and without that, you're, you're going to not be able to trust someone.

Tracy Malone (22m 25s):
But don't jump to the, oh my God, I'll never trust again. I had this lesson last night in one of my groups and one girl was like, I'll never trust again. And I was like, you know what, if we jump to that, we're missing all the steps. I will trust again, but I'm gonna learn how to educate myself. I'm gonna learn how to do this. I will learn here. I will trust that I will get it when it's time. Don't rush new things, but know that if you have a, a sequence of what you're going to do to learn to trust someone again, And, I, call it a trust policy. Someone breaks your trust. How many times are you going to let them do that? That's the courage. Kick them out of your life no matter how good they look on paper or how long you've been. But I've invested six months, I'm like six months or 60 years.

Tracy Malone (23m 8s):
Which one do you prefer for torture? you know, you just have to pick and go, I'm not doing this again. And there's too many flags. So those were the three tips for after.

Ryan Kalamaya (23m 18s):
Well, I really appreciate the tips that you're sharing with our Listeners Tracy. I, I guess there's a couple responses in that. The first is that one of the kind of most rewarding, my favorite parts of my job in, in representing people is just to really see that that rebirth, the opportunity for someone to into the obs observation by me, to see someone when they come and oftentimes they are beaten down and they have, you know, convinced themselves that they're not worth anything. And I tell them you're worth what you tolerate. And they've kind of admitted that they're not being treated, they're unwilling to tolerate the gaslighting, the abuse or, and, and it doesn't necessarily have to be that, but being unhappy, they're just not gonna tolerate that in their, in their lives.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 13s):
And to really see someone, even they can go through hell in a divorce, but to see them a year or two afterwards and to just see the confidence and, and what you said in terms of trusting yourself. I also think that in terms of the communication after a divorce, there's this kind of window up o of opportunity that I see where people are sorting the dust is up in the air and we're really kind of seeing how things are gonna shake out after the Divorce. And there's this training, both people are training and feeling out, and especially when you're dealing with a a Narcissist, that person's going to push the envelope and see how much they can get away with.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 55s):
And if Melanie Wolf, she puts up her hand and says, Eric, I'm not tolerating this anymore. And he, she communicates with him. And b I love that it's something that we recommend to our clients, but there's a particular kind of cadence and, and way to communicate. And after a certain time, Melanie, you know, she follows those rules and the magic words and all of those things. Then she's established a relationship with Eric where he understands that he can't engage in certain type of behavior and he's gonna take his kind of energy and his narcissistic kind of focused elsewhere.

Tracy Malone (25m 32s):
You mentioned something and, and if I can add one more after thing, because you just like triggered me to think of it. It's learning to manage your triggers because Eric is gonna keep on poking you until you don't allow it, which is what you said, but you don't allow it because you know it's a trigger. you know how to manage your triggers, you know what the feelings are when he does it. And you can start to take out some of the electric energy from that trigger by having tools in your tool belt. That's a really helpful thing to also make sure that you do that work because if you do, then they've got no power here.

Ryan Kalamaya (26m 8s):
A lot for people to, to consider. Easier said than done when you are in the thick of it. But for anyone that is dealing with a Narcissist in their relationship, in their marriage or they're going through a divorce or even afterwards, there's hopefully a nugget of, of information here. And Tracy really appreciate the work that you're dealing and your time and sharing your insight on how to deal with a divorce and before and after with a Narcissist. So thanks. We'll have links to your podcast in the show notes. I know you have a YouTube channel that people should check out, will have information on that. And then, you know, people should also, if you like what you heard from Tracy, there are other episodes in which she is a guest.

Ryan Kalamaya (26m 52s):
We'll have links to those in the show notes. Until next time, thanks for joining us on Divorce at Altitude Hey Everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, insight, or discussion helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast. For show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode, visit Divorce at Altitude dot com. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me at Kalamaya.law or 970-315-2365.

Ryan Kalamaya (27m 31s):
That's K A L A M A Y A .law