Family, Self

5 Ways To Keep Your Courage UP And Actually Leave A Difficult Person

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5 Ways To Cope When Divorce Involves A Personality Disorder

I want out of this relationship, no matter what the cost!”

That’s a tell-tale statement to me. It speaks of the frustration, despair, overwhelm, and emotional exhaustion that being with a chronically difficult person creates.

“I want it over with! I don’t want to deal with it anymore!”

I’ve had both men and women tell me all they want is to get out with their clothes and their kids, no matter what else they may lose.

I say,“Hold on, and hold up! Out, absolutely, yes, I understand! But, with your fair share and doing the right things for the children. Let’s do this reasonably…at least on your end.”

You are at your wits end — holding on by a thread. Your last nerve has been danced on by an entire army. You just want the emotional terrorism and crazy-making to end.

Believe me, I know, I’ve been there.  

To end the relationship while keeping your sanity, self-esteem, and self-control, make sure you follow these five essential steps.

1. Learn — and believe — the truth about chronically difficult people.

The sad truth is, chronically difficult people seldom change, especially in the face of potential loss.

Losing is unthinkable to the Hijackal™ (AKA the chronically difficult person). I define Hijackals as people who hijack relationships for their own purposes, while relentlessly scavenging them for power, status, and control. 

Sounds familiar, right?

Hijackals are all about winning. In even the smallest way in the simplest conversation, they will go for your jugular if they think they are being criticized or made to look wrong. It is their nature to protect themselves by lying, manipulating, and even seducing you to keep from being accountable, responsible, and honest about themselves.

To a Hijackal, divorce means losing — losing face, losing the image they've worked so hard to project, losing their money, and losing respect for themselves and from others. It also means losing their possessions, and, unfortunately, in a Hijackal’s mind, these include their wife/husband/partner, children, friends, home, and lifestyle.

So, they fight. Sadly, It’s not because they want you. It’s because they don’t want to LOSE anything

2. Make the decision.

Sounds so simple, but I know it’s not. 

You are entangled, enmeshed, and embroiled. Part of you leans one way, while another heads in the opposite direction. You are furious and know that you never want to have another circular conversation. Yet you can't help but think, “Maybe there’s hope. Maybe if I’m more patient, more loving, more giving, more ...” 

Still, nothing happens. Nothing changes. You’re still there having those same conversations in your head the next day … maybe even kicking yourself for it, too.

It is SO difficult to make that final decision and move into action. Actually doing it takes conviction, courage, and reliable outside support. Infrequent as the good times were, you desperately want to focus on them.

Don’t fall for those tricks of mind and heart. Make up your mind and take the next step. You deserve better!

3. Minimize contact.

You want to be kind, reasonable, and as pleasant as possible. That’s noble and ideal.

And it's also one reason it's taken you a good long time to leave the relationship. Once you make the decision to leave for good, you MUST take quiet, strong, consistent action and follow it with strongly-expressed and maintained boundaries, including minimizing contact.

If you have children and you need to talk with/to your ex, be factual, not emotional. No accusations, only simple, pared-down statements of fact and need in the best interests of the children. If even minimal communication seems impossible, try using software such as OurFamilyWizard.

4. Debrief with an expert instead of debating with your ex.

Conversations with your ex have never gotten you far. 

Reason and logic don’t work, because Hijackals are irrational. You have to take charge of yourself and recognize that leaving is not up for discussion. You are doing it — or have done it — and you are absolutely NOT returning to the chaos, uncertainty, and constant bids for control.

If you haven’t yet, find a relationship consultant or counselor who specializes in working with the partners and exes of Hijackals. I have heard many sad tales of professionals they worked with who really did not see, or believe their particular problem until they found me. Choose well so this doesn’t happen to you.

You need professionals who not only are in your corner and have your back, but have the on-the-ground, real-life experience understanding relationships with and divorces from a Hijackal. This is one of those things that is difficult for someone to really “get” unless they’ve lived it. Interview attorneys, mediators and coaches/therapists until you find one who has had experience with Hijackals. Preferably, choose one who has been through their own divorce from a Hijackal.

Also, be aware that Hijackals often hire attorneys who have Hijackal traits. You need to be as well prepared as possible. It will likely take you several interviews before you find someone who understands and has the necessary horsepower to represent you well, but it is worth the time.

Caveat: When you are leaving an impossible partner, you’d like to believe that others will understand what you’ve been going through. They often nod and seem to empathize. Don’t confuse this with understanding and having the chutzpah to be clear, assertive, and strategic in your case. My clients are often shocked by how they are treated in court.

There are a unique set of strategies you and your attorney will need to help the court to see the truth about the Hijackal. Ask those you interview about their specific experience dealing with high conflict cases, and make sure they can site examples that show they know what they are doing.

5. Know what you want and stick to your guns.

You’re worn down and worn out. Nothing holds a candle to the emotional exhaustion of loving, living with, and leaving a Hijackal. It’s such a long journey for most people, and by the time you’re ready to say “No more!” you are having difficulty just putting one foot in front of the other.

In that state, you’re vulnerable. You want to be fair, but you must not be taken advantage of. That’s why it is so imperative to do due diligence in hiring the best professionals. They will help you see what you’re too tired to see, and support you when you feel like caving in.

I mentioned that I often hear a new client say, “I just want out, no matter what it costs.” I understand the feeling, but it’s not always a good idea. You will need to find that calm, quiet, assertive center within yourself to do what it takes to get the best divorce agreement, parenting plans and child support possible. You deserve that.

Divorcing a Hijackal will likely take longer than you want it to. And, yes, it will likely cost more than you want to pay — emotionally, physically, and financially.  

If you cave in, though, the truth is you will likely spend a longer time regretting that than the impossibly long time it seemed to take to find the strength to leave! You may wish you'd mustered the strength, courage, and conviction because the consequences of not doing so leave you feeling beached, bereft and betrayed.  

Hang in, get help and keep on walking directly away from the crazy-making.

Sanity truly awaits.

If you need help to see through, think through, and work through what’s really going on in your relationship visit Rhoberta Shaler, PhD at Dr. Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor, is ready to work with you. Start with a free half-hour relationship consultation. You can also get her free ebook, How To Spot A Hijackal, at