Episode 090: Divorcing a Narcissist
Episode 090: Divorcing a Narcissist with special guest Leanne Townsend
If you’re divorcing a narcissist, you’ll need a strong support team and may want to consider an attorney who specializes in narcissism. Leanne Townsend is an attorney practicing family law in Toronto with her own firm Townsend Law. She has particular expertise in domestic and victim advocacy and women empowerment are particular focuses in her work. Leanne offers coaching programs for Divorce Preparation, Divorce Management & Divorce Recovery. In addition, she has a specialized coaching program for Divorcing a Narcissist.
Leanne: 00:05 Welcome to Life Lafter Divorce, episode 90. I am your host, Leanne Linsky
The Boyfriend: 00:10 I’m The Boyfriend.
Leanne: 00:11 Welcome back to another wonderful week of divorce.
The Boyfriend: 00:17 I feel like the divorce court and music or something,
Leanne: 00:21 You’re the editor. Why aren’t you making it happen? Hey, while you’re out there tuning in, make sure you rate, review and subscribe and why not check out the website at www.lifelafterdivorce.com. We have a wonderful shop for some retail therapy. If you’re in the need, which you probably are, and hey, holidays are coming up. Why not gift it to someone who needs it?
The Boyfriend: 00:44 They’re lovely. The special people in your life will appreciate them,
Leanne: 00:49 right? Yeah. Yeah. Someday we’re going to hear a story of someone asked for a divorce by handing them a soap.
The Boyfriend: 00:56 Estrangemint anyone?
Leanne: 01:00 Annulmint maybe. So we have a wonderful handcrafted and divorce theme soaps just for you. And we also have a life coaching and Click on the life coaching link and get your free session with yours. Truly. Alright, so boyfriend,
The Boyfriend: 01:18 so Leanne
Leanne: 01:19 You have a question for me. You’re like, I have
The Boyfriend: 01:21 No, I don’t have a question for you today.
Leanne: 01:22 No. Well, I have a question for you today. Yes, I do. I am wondering, I know we’ve talked about some of your relationships and I think you said at one point someone was stalking you.
The Boyfriend: 01:35 I’ve had a stalker.
Leanne: 01:36 Would you, would you say that person was like just in the sock stocker classification or it was a person like a narcissist?
The Boyfriend: 01:46 How many women nurses, sister out there?
Leanne: 01:49 I guess there are more probably than we think, but,
The Boyfriend: 01:54 but I don’t think I want to put her or put this individual in the narcissist category. She was just obsessed with this.
Leanne: 02:02 Oh who wouldn’t be. Everybody’s obsessed with you. Everyone who meets you loves you.
The Boyfriend: 02:08 No, she was, we were having some hard times and I think I was, I think, I think I was, we were discussing ending it and she would, she’s stalked me up to a laundry mat one.
Leanne: 02:25 Yeah.
The Boyfriend: 02:25 Yeah. It’s just kind of weird.
Leanne: 02:27 Yeah, but stalking is a little bit like, well, she wasn’t peeking in your window. She was just showing up at all. You’re familiar places.
The Boyfriend: 02:36 The laundromat?
Leanne: 02:40 Well, alright.
The Boyfriend: 02:40 So, so that was a little weird. I’ve had a,
Leanne: 02:43 I mean, I’ve done stupid things like that. Yeah. Yeah. But that was like when I was in high school.
The Boyfriend: 02:54 so yeah, but I don’t. Yeah. I’ve had, I’ve had some interesting ladies in my life, that my friends would deem the c word, not the crazy, the crazy word. Yes. so I wouldn’t necessarily use it. I think I probably have used it, but looking back on it I wouldn’t use it. But how about you? Have you dated crazy or have you dated narcissist?
Leanne: 03:20 Crazy. Maybe. I don’t know. Not so much a narcissist. Yes, I didn’t, you know, and the funny thing is I wasn’t even familiar with really anything about like, I feel like a lot of people talk about narcissist today and overused word I think yeah, I think it’s thrown a lot around a lot and I don’t, I don’t know, but I had never really had any education on narcissist or anything like that and I had no real encounter to speak of until I dated a particular person and that was a lifetime of education rolled up into a short period of time. And yeah, it was ugly.
The Boyfriend: 04:01 So you didn’t know it when you were dating?
Leanne: 04:04 No, no, no, no. Someone, a friend of mine actually brought it to my attention.
The Boyfriend: 04:10 Really? Yeah. So you, you were in the middle of it and you didn’t recognize it?
Leanne: 04:14 Yeah. And I was a mess. I was just a wreck because I thought it wasn’t good. I was in the middle of it and and I, I kept thinking like I was doing everything wrong and like, you know, going crazy, like am I doing like why is it no matter what I say, what I do, I feel like I’m just screwing everything up. And it just, it, it’s a mind game. I can’t even explain it because like if you, if you, if you looking back I can see it. But when I was in it and going through it, I’m like, my thing was like, how can someone be so crazy about you one minute and then so cold all of a sudden it’s like two different people.
The Boyfriend: 04:58 Two of you, once you were educated, someone told you about this behavior and you started to realize it. How did you do? Obviously you’re not in that relationship anymore because you’re with me. So, so how did you get out of it?
Leanne: 05:15 Well, that was, that was really a tough situation. I had to leave in a way that, and, and the thing was, is once, when someone wants a friend brought it to my attention that this is what I was dealing with, I was like, oh my God, it, everything suddenly clicked. Like it was holy crap, this is really what it. Because at first I was like, are you get out here? She’s like, go look at this website. I was like, okay. So I did and I sat and I must have read for hours. I was like, oh my God. He was doing all of these things to educated, educated myself very quickly.
The Boyfriend: 05:54 Then how did you get out of that relationship? Because I’ve heard those could be challenging to get out of. Well, that’s just it. I called my friend back and I was like, well, what do I do
Leanne: 06:03 do? And she was like, well, you need to leave, you know, like, just cut it off and be done with it. And I was like, yeah, but, you know, then I started second guessing myself. Like now I’m like, maybe I’m just being dramatic, maybe I’m overthinking this. And so I consulted with another very, very close friend and then I was like, I really want to be sure. So I call to professionals like a counselor and another woman. and they both said within a five minute conversation they each had asked me like a list of questions I answered and I was super factual. I was like, well, you know, and he hasn’t done this or this or this, but he’s done these things. And they were like, how soon can you leave? You know, how soon can you cut this off? Like, you know, does he have any of your stuff?
Leanne: 07:00 Whatever. And you have to leave. But you can’t tell him you’re leaving. You basically you have to go to the person so, and have no contact. Because if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist and you tell them that you’re breaking up with them, they’re losing. They have to. When they have to be. It has to be on their terms, it has to be their decision. And so I was like, what? And I go, I can’t do it that long. They gold now that you know, like the thing about narcissists is they can read you, they can, they can look at you and know what you’re thinking there they are experts on observing people’s behavior. So for me to be around that person for any more length of time, he was going to see that I was different because I would be behaving differently. I would be planning and plotting Miley. I wouldn’t be the same as I was before. My friend enlightened me.
The Boyfriend: 07:59 So did you. What did you get out?
Leanne: 08:01 I did. I had to completely go. So many did try, contacted me and I just had to ignore it. Like once you leave a narcissist, like you can’t have any contact. Like they say professionals has. Say you just gotta you just gotTa get out and be done with it because the minute you open that, that door, even a crack, they will shove their foot in and they will come back and they will come back twice as hard. They will come back on and Oh, we’re going to make it work, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, and then they will just cut you off and leave you hanging dry. Like it’s. It’s very emotionally abusive.
The Boyfriend: 08:39 So. So you were not married to this individual
Leanne: 08:44 automation marriage, just to be clear, but it was a totally different relationship,
The Boyfriend: 08:48 but. But imagine if you were married, how much would that be? Right, yeah, that would be even more difficult because you’re tied to that person in so many other ways
Leanne: 08:56 than just a relationship and that and that type of situation. I mean I was only, I was, I wasn’t married to somebody and I found myself consulting professionals, like what do I do? Am I imagining this? So I, I can’t imagine being married to someone like that. What a nightmare. It would be an exhausting. So fortunately there are professionals out there that can help and we happened to have one of these wonderful people on our podcast today. So you are in luck. I’m super excited about this because I didn’t even know this existed, but there are attorneys who specialize in narcissism. so I would like to introduce you to Leanne towns in. Oh, by the way, we have the same name. So you know, she’s terrific. And we spell, spell it the same way. Leanne Townson is an attorney practicing family law in Toronto with her own firm, Townsend law.
Leanne: 09:52 She has particular expertise in domestic violence from her many years as the lead domestic violence prosecutor and the Toronto West, Crown Attorney’s office, victim advocacy and woman empowerment. Our particular focuses and her work and addition to being a lawyer. Leanne’s passion is her coaching practice as a family lawyer and through her own experience with divorce, she recognized a need for strong support program to help those going through a divorce and separation using a holistic perspective. She offers coaching programs for divorce preparation, divorce management, and divorce recovery. In addition, she has specialized coaching program for divorcing a narcissist. Leanne is regularly interviewed and asked to comment on events in the media and has been featured and lawyers daily, the village post, and she has been a guest expert on a number of radio stations on topics including abusive relationships and divorce recovery. In addition, she has spoken at a variety of events on focused on women empowerment and has also written an ebook on abusive relationships. Leanne has degrees in political science education law. Her biggest pride and joy are two teenage children who she lives with in Toronto, Canada. In addition to her business. Leanne is passionate about fitness, travel and lifelong education. So without further ado, I’d like you to meet Leanne Townson.
Leanne: 11:36 Leanne, welcome to life after divorce podcast. Thank you. I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to have you here. I guess the best way is always just to start out at the beginning. So how are you with that? Sounds good to me. So I know, you’ve been married and divorced once, correct? That’s correct. And you are an attorney and also coach. So I’m kind of wondering, did your, were you an attorney when you were married? The first time
Leanne Townsend: 12:06 I was, yes. I met my ex husband, just as I was completing my education and what I was an attorney through the whole marriage. but practicing in a different area of law that I practice now.
Leanne: 12:22 Ah, so did that marriage influence what you’re doing now?
Leanne Townsend: 12:28 I think it did because I’m not so much like now I’m practicing family law doing divorce law at the time I was doing criminal laws and prosecutor. so I wouldn’t say that my marriage influenced me necessarily to go into family law, but a lot of the stuff that went on in my own marriage is influenced who I am today. And I think the coaching work that I’m doing I think in particular was influenced by my marriage and my desire to help other people who go through some of the same types of things that I did, you know, being in a use of marriage and whatnot. So it has influenced the settlement, the direction of what I’m doing now.
Leanne: 13:10 Yeah. So I’m, I know you’ve worked a lot with women who are divorcing a narcissist, correct? That’s correct. Yeah. And that just getting out of a narcissist relationship in particular is really hard. And so I don’t know even know where you want to begin in this conversation because I have so many questions about, you know, what that process is like and especially if you have experienced personal experience of your own that you can bring into it. It gives you a whole different insight than somebody who has never gone through it
Leanne Townsend: 13:44 for sure. I mean I think like so many things if you go through it personally but are able to relate to it and I. So I think you can help people on a whole different level of, not to say that others who haven’t been through something can’t help, but I just think because you personally relate to so much of what goes on, you, you were able to be more impactful in what you’re doing. And it’s interesting with the whole, you know, the term narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder and, and all of that because years ago, that term wasn’t really thrown around or used. It wasn’t widely recognized as a type of abuse and you know, certainly through a lot of my own relationship, I had no idea that that was what was going on because it wasn’t something that you ever heard about it.
Leanne Townsend: 14:39 It seems like it’s been more in the last few years where there’s been more of a recognition of this type of abuse and the effects of it. And you know, from what I’ve seen, this may very well be the most common type of abuse that goes on in relationships that, that’s out there.
Leanne: 14:58 Yeah. And I’m almost wondering like is it that common or is the term over used or is it?
Leanne Townsend: 15:06 I think that’s a great question. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off there because I do think the term is overused. I do think that it’s common to some point, you know, I think years where this wasn’t even recognized, something was missing because it is fairly common. But unfortunately, I do think the term’s overused, I think that, you know, everyone you talked to thinks that they’re a narcissist and that’s not the case, you know, there’s some very specific qualities that someone has and it’s not a matter of just being selfish or self centered, which are the two things people kind of really associate with it.
Leanne Townsend: 15:49 It goes much beyond that. so to answer your question, it is definitely, it’s overused.
Leanne: 15:56 What would be the key things that someone would, that you would ask to really know that that’s what you’re dealing with versus somebody who’s just kind of caught up in themselves?
Leanne Townsend: 16:07 Well, nurses are often very charming at first. So when, you know, if you meet someone and they’re not just, hey, everyone who’s charming is a narcissist, but, but, but they tend to sweep you off your feet and you feel really, really special and they move. They tend to move very quickly. you know, to a more serious level in the relationship. Things move very fast. And you know, you start to notice that it is, it does tend to be all about them. And you’re kind of an accessory to them and their life and it’s about their needs, your needs don’t matter.
Leanne Townsend: 16:48 and usually at some point in the relationship will not usually, always, eventually the narcissist, you know, kind of loses interest in you or you’ve done something that you’re now off the pedestal that the narcissist has put you on. And it’s at that point were kind of the more cruel behavior kicks in where, you know, they barely give you the time of day. You’re, you’re there just Smith’s to you. They treat you like you are not an equal to them. They’re in, they need to feel that they’re superior, that you’re in fear that they, you know, are more powerful in knowing and successful. And your, none of those things are, you only are which you are because of them. and they start sending, you know, that type of message to you. and like, so it’s a form of emotional abuse, again, where everything’s about promoting them and putting them on the pedestal and you being inferior and beneath.
Leanne: 17:50 MMM. Yeah, okay. So just to recap, make sure. So it’s they sweep you off your feet, there’s a lot. And I know I’ve heard the term love bombing where they kind of just come at you at all angles to do that, right? So it’s like really fast and then something happens and then you’re no longer on that pedestal. And then that’s when the cruel side shows up.
Leanne Townsend: 18:12 Yes. They do things like, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the term gas lighting or if you’re familiar with that. it’s a common practice that people who are abusers use where you, you know, is the, is the victim of that. You think your gut is telling you, you know, this isn’t right, this is what happened, this is wrong. And the abuser says, no, no, no. It wasn’t like that at all. It was you who, you know, caused this yourself. You brought this on, you deserved it. And they kind of play a psychological game with you where you start to question your own, you know, recollection, your own intuition, your own feelings because you experienced something completely different than what the narcissist is telling you happened. And because you’ve been kind of groomed for the abuse through being in the relationship, you start to believe what they’re telling you and start doubting your own version of reality
Leanne: 19:12 So when, when people come to you, how long have they been enduring this? Have they, if it had been two people, usually how soon do they pick up on it? And then how soon did they typically in a relationship, because I know I’ve experienced some of this and I’ve talked to some other guests who’ve actually experienced it from being on the inside of that relationship, but as an attorney, like what have you seen? Where are they at in this journey?
Leanne Townsend: 19:42 Well, usually by the time they get to me as a lawyer, you know, they’ve been definitely experiencing the abusive side of it and they usually are, you know, feeling very stuck and oppress that they’re looking to leave the relationship or maybe they have just left, and you know, they’re looking to get a divorce, which is why they come to see me as an attorney and they’re scared and they often feel like they, they’re just overwhelmed and don’t know what to do with my coaching practice. Sometimes I’ll get them coming to me. Well, they’re actually still in the relationship and they recognize that they’re in relationship with a narcissist, but they, they just feel powerless to leave and they don’t know what to do. and so I helped them work through that and get unstuck. but generally the, the clients who come to me seem to have some recognition of the fact that they have been or are in a relationship, a narcissist versus necessarily me having to educate them that that’s what’s going on.
Leanne: 20:53 Okay. Yeah. And that’s what I was wondering, like, are they pretty up on the fact like, oh my gosh, this is what happened. Yeah.
Leanne Townsend: 21:02 So I think to some degree, I mean just because it’s so, I guess what it’s much more widely talked about now, you know, as you say, like myself, I was in that relationship, but I’d never heard of that. And so for years I knew I was in an unhealthy relationship and that there was some level of emotional abuse, but I didn’t really fully understand, you know, what it was. And so, but when I finally heard about narcissist abuse, so I was like, wow, like, that’s exactly what I’ve been through. I can’t believe that’s just hitting the nail on the head. so as I said, I think nowadays because it’s just more widely talked about, there’s more information about it so people are reading it and you know, it’s striking a chord within them that wow, this is what’s what’s happening. But I think even for people who don’t necessarily know it’s narcissist abuse, I mean if someone’s telling you, you know very negative things about yourself all the time and putting you down, you tend to know that that’s not healthy behavior or healthy relationship and that you’re in some sort of emotionally or psychologically abusive relationship even if you don’t know necessarily that it’s a narcissistic abuse.
Leanne: 22:15 Right? Right. Well, when they come to you, when people come to you and they’re ready to get this divorce, divorce and get out of the relationship, what are, how do you guide them through this? Because this isn’t typical divorce anymore, right?
Leanne Townsend: 22:30 Right. It’s, it’s a, you know, it’s going to be a high conflict divorce, you know, generally speaking, if you’re divorcing a narcissist because they, they need to feel that they’ve won at all costs. They need to, they need to feel like they’ve won. They enjoy the conflict. They enjoy trying to get the upper hand. They enjoy playing psychological and financial games. And so if you’re on the other side that it can be very, very challenging to get through the divorce process and you know, stay, stay, sound mentally and say sound financially and not get sucked into the games that have been narcissist, you know, wants to play. And so it can, you know, because a lot of people I have had people come to me where they’ve already know they had a lawyer already and they’ve already been going through the process and they’ve run up a huge legal bills fighting to the nail with the narcissist in the end, his or her lawyer and they like, they’re exhausted and they’re looking for another solution. And I mean it’s tricky because you can’t advise just to give into the narcissist, but on the other hand you have to your battles because the narcissist will want to have everything be a bad note and that’s not gonna help you, but you need to pick which ones are most important. And there’s things you can do as well too. Like before you actually get into the divorce process. If you’re just thinking about a divorce, there’s things you can do in advance to prepare yourself to, to help protect yourself when the process begins.
Leanne: 24:09 Yeah. Okay. So what would some of those things be?
Leanne Townsend: 24:12 well, one of them would be, I think, you know, in the planning stage to make sure that you have some money on hand. So find a way to put some money aside because you know, you will need it. you know, on some you’ll need it if not for the legal fees you’ll need to live on and, and for your post divorce life. So that’s always a good thing. Make sure you have your own credit rating and a good credit score because you’re, you know, anyone getting a divorce was going to need that. another thing that’s really important is just to get your financial paperwork, you know, to all together because if once a nurse knows that you’re going to divorce, he or she may start hiding things and you know, moving things around and, and, and that sort of thing. So if you can get, you know, make photocopies of bank statements and credit card statements and investment statement and some tax returns and all those sorts of things beforehand and hide them away somewhere.
Leanne Townsend: 25:09 Then you’ve got all that information before you start and you’re not going to have to try and get it later on from, you know, a narcissist who’s upset at you. it’s also important to put together, you know, to preplan and put together your divorce team, which will usually include a lawyer, but also maybe a coach. a therapist, a, you know, a financial planner, the sorts of people and you can interview them, you know, in advance and find people that you connect with and feel comfortable with and you know, put them on your team and you can, again, you can do all this before you even initiate the divorce process, but, you know, so those are all things you can do that help protect you, especially financially. before you know, you’re, you’re in the thick of it.
Leanne: 26:02 So people get our team together, their paperwork together and everything. And then when they have that, they come to you. And then in what ways do you approach this differently as an attorney? Because I’m, like you said they’re prepared to fight. They’re like, it’s almost kind of a, a losing battle because it’s like, no matter what you agree with, it seems like they’re going to question or battle you on.
Leanne Townsend: 26:27 Yeah, I mean, and for just to go back for a moment as well, they should come and see me even before they’ve got, like part of my process is that is a lawyer or as a coach is to tell them to get the pay of the things they need to get together. So it’s good for them to even, you know, come before they’ve, you know, they’re actually officially divorcing. But then once they’ve made that decision and we’re going to start going through the process, you know, one of the things I tell people or tell clients is that it’s really important that the communication that they’re having with the narcissist with their soon to be ex is that he bit very direct, very fact based, very dispassionate, very minimal communication. Try not to get emotional in, you know, what they’re saying, you know, as a nurse assist sends a nasty message or even phones in and says something nasty and aggressive, don’t respond in kind because it’s only gonna elevate things because the is the narcissist wants, loves a fight eight and wants you to fight fire with fire and so you don’t want to do that.
Leanne Townsend: 27:40 You and you want to try and keep feelings and emotions out of your reactions so you know, if you get, again, if you get a message or an email, don’t respond right away. Like take pause, take some time so that you’re not just responding in an emotional state and, and creating a battle that maybe doesn’t need to be there. I tell people sometimes that it’s better if they communicate only in writing, rather than, you know, in person or on the phone because then you’re keeping a track record of what the dialogue has been. And it’s easier sometimes to, you know, be more emotion free and your communications if you’re doing it, you know, in an email or in a text to do versus actually seeing it live or, or saying it over a phone call. and you know, sometimes if like, if, if it’s a particularly bad situation where a client is, you know, really intimidated by the narcissist and re really afraid to stand up to them, it’s better if the communication then is maybe just done through lawyers, unfortunately that can be more expensive because obviously, you know, every time a lawyer is involved in it, usually the clock is ticking and they’re charging for their time.
Leanne Townsend: 29:01 But you know, as you say, in certain cases that that may just be the better solution because the person doesn’t have to deal with the, the attacks or the talks. The toxicity of you know, engaging with the narcissist. Bright. Right. What do you say, what do you think are the biggest mistakes people have made? I think some of the biggest mistakes are like trying to fight fire with fire. You know, go trying to, you know, get like, have everything be a battle because then you’re just, as they say, playing into the narcissists hand, I, part of the strategy is you should pick the things are most important to you and be willing to go to battle on those, but you don’t need to go to battle on everything. and you know, I think another big mistake people make is just not having proper boundaries surrounding the relationship with the narcissist because you know, you generally, if you’ve been in a relationship with one, you haven’t had boundaries and, and the, the, the narcissist is running roughshod over your boundaries and that’s how they’ve been able to, you know, do what they’ve been able to do.
Leanne Townsend: 30:08 So when you, you know, are going through the divorce process, having these boundaries, you know, it’s just so important to protect your own mental wellbeing, your own self esteem and the whole process. And I think that’s a mistake a lot of people make is not having that
Leanne: 30:29 a boundary.
Leanne Townsend: 30:31 Yeah. Not having proper boundaries.
Leanne: 30:32 Yeah. Yeah. So, so once they come to you and you’d get this set up and everything like you, you also do coaching and how is your coaching different than being, I mean obviously there’s some legal differences between coaching and an attorney, but what do you do when people come to you as a coach?
Leanne Townsend: 30:50 When people come to me as a coach, I like, obviously I don’t give them legal advice, then it’s more, well the types of things that we’re even talking about because I’m not, I, I consider that my responses to some of the questions you asked me now or more. It’s kind of more coaching because I’m only authorized to give legal advice in the province of Ontario here in Canada anyway. but with the coaching, I’m more interested in looking at the client and what do they need, what are their goals through the process and what can we do to work together to get them to their goals and make sure they’ve got all the supports they need, you know, mentally, socially, physically, spiritually, all of those things. So it’s a very holistic approach.
Leanne: 31:40 Okay. And like, yeah, I’m just thinking because this can be very traumatic. I mean people when they, you know, when you come out of a relationship like this, that’s kind of like you’ve been knocked down, I don’t even know what direction that came from, but here I am and how did I get here? and like it, it’s a long recovery time for this kind of emotional abuse on people and, and the divorce can take a long time. I mean, what has been your experience? What, what do you, what do, how do people get that reclaim themselves? It is
Leanne Townsend: 32:21 a process. I mean, it, it does take, you know, a long time and there’s something you can’t put a timeframe on because different people, you know, will, we’ll need more or less time you saw it. It’s not something that should be transferable to, you know, to else. So, you know, I’ve seen people who take a long time to recover, years and years and, and others who, you know, again, depending on how long they were in the relationship and you know, what other supports they have in their life that can affect things too. so it, it, there’s no hard and fast rule surrounding that. but the, and it is a process. I mean, people have to do the work, they have to, you know, being aware of the situation is, is one thing. but you know, actually doing the work to recover yourself esteem recover your loss is a loss of identity. you know, all of that is something that happened overnight.
Leanne: 33:31 Yeah. Yeah. So as a, as a coach, you coach them to get, make sure they have the other people in their support team more so than anything or,
Leanne Townsend: 33:43 well no, I coach them as well on issues to do with self love and self raising, self esteem and setting boundaries and you know, making sure that they are taking care of themselves by, you know, eating healthy and exercising and you know, going out socially with friends and like all of those sorts of things. So I helped them, you know, strategize about things that they can do in all of those areas to make sure that they’re on track and moving forward in a positive way. so I, I think were appropriate. I’ll refer them off to, you know, other, you know, experts in it. I think they need a therapist. Like I’m, I’m definitely not a therapist. I’d refer them to somebody for that or if they wanted a personal trainer or a nutritionist and that sort of thing. but because I’ve done a lot of the work, I’ve taken first of all, coaching certification, but I’ve also done a lot of the work myself because I went through this myself. So I have a program that sets out, it’s a, it has modules for things like you know, self self esteem and boundaries and self love and things people can do, you know, in those areas to work on themselves.
Leanne: 35:01 Right, right. What would you say like out of those things, but I guess everybody’s a little bit different, but do you have like a specific success story of, you know, how someone has gone through your process of, you know, so we can get an idea like what we kind of know from hearing others what it looks like to be at the beginning of this. But what is like, what have you seen the biggest change in somebody?
Leanne Townsend: 35:27 well I guess one of the biggest changes I’ve seen is I had a client who, she had been in a long term, a marriage with someone who is a narcissist and she got into her fifties and found out he was having an affair on her. And so she ended up getting a divorce and her children were now growing children. They were in university. So she’s been a stay at home mom. She was an empty nester. Now she’s getting a divorce. So her whole world was being turned upside down and I’m, one of the things I worked with her on was she, you know, she needed to have a purpose again. It’s like, first of all, rediscover who she was, what is she passionate, passionate about and you know, what is her, her life purpose now that, you know, being a mom is not as primary because their kids are older and she really loved art.
Leanne Townsend: 36:25 And so, what ended up happening with her is I ended up working with her and getting her to get the, have the courage and confidence to apply for a position at an art gallery here. And you know, and she, she was very knowledgeable about art, but she, you know, she hadn’t worked in years and so, she, she had no idea how to do a resume or how to even apply, find a job, you know, in, in 2018. So I helped her with all of that and she ended up getting hired, which was, you know, I felt like the work she did was wonderful regardless of the result because I always say you shouldn’t tie how you feel about something to the result. It’s more about the process. But then she got a fantastic result there. And you know, now she’s, she’s working there and she’s, her confidence is up so much in her self esteem is high and it’s just been so inspiring and just so wonderful to watch what’s happened with her.
Leanne: 37:25 Yeah. What a big difference, especially at that age, because I mean, you, if you spent most of your life raising children and staying at home, I mean, I think of my mom, that’s what she has done. And then to suddenly shift and to have everything flipped upside down on you. It’s like, I’ve done this my whole life. I don’t know anything else. What do I do?
Leanne Townsend: 37:46 Yeah, exactly. I think it’s fear. That’s the thing when you’re for stay at home moms who are in an abusive relationship and you know, it can be so hard because they don’t have that same network outside of the home that, you know, people who have been in a working outside the home have. And I think often too, I don’t know if you have kids, but often as moms, we tie so much of our identity to being a mom that, you know, over the course of years, it’s easy to lose sight of who you even are as a woman. and especially to, you’ve been in a bad marriage. You know, often you don’t feel very, very much like a woman in some ways because you’re not even having intimacy if you’ve been in a really bad relationship. So being able to rediscover that part of yourself and you know who you are as a woman and even like sexually and feeling sexy and feeling attractive again can be a huge thing for a lot of women that just kind of felt like a mom for 20 years.
Leanne: 38:50 Yeah. What a huge transformation. And so, you know, you have people, it sounds like of all ages coming to you in a different, different places. Some people have been with somebody for a really long time. Other people have maybe been with someone for a much shorter period of time. But what is the worst effects of being with a narcissist? What is like the worst that you’ve seen? I can’t even imagine it’s got to be. I don’t even know if that’s a good question.
Leanne Townsend: 39:18 Well, I mean, I think the biggest effect is just on self esteem. You know, I think people, they believe they, they start believing the message of the narcissist and maybe on some level they felt that, I think they felt that way to begin with about themselves, which is why they were vulnerable to the, to the abuse. which reinforced what they already were thinking, but you know, they come out of the relationship and they just feel so unworthy and so lacking in confidence and so unable to assert their own needs in the world because they’ve been putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. And so in just the complete loss of identity with that. So I think that, you know, that’s probably just the roughest thing to see is just the, you see a beautiful soul in front of you who’s been through so much and you want them to see what your seeing and they’re, they’re not seeing it and it’s, you know, it’s so sad to see something like that. But then the beauty of coaching is to be able to help them, you know, start to see that same person that you see.
Leanne: 40:28 Yeah, yeah. Well that’s gotta be hard to have, you know, the, and that really tugs at your heartstrings is to see people hurting and in so much pain. But what a, what a reward to be able to see them come through the other side and as a, as a person, as a coach and an attorney doing this work and knowing the, you know, being like you said, being in a relationship with a narcissist is exhausting and it depletes you. How has it been an an attorney when you’re dealing with that? You know?
Leanne Townsend: 41:01 Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question because it’s, it’s hard. I mean, I have to be very careful with my own boundaries to be honest and protecting my own energy because I do find unfortunately, most of the clients who come to me isn’t as an attorney there in a very negative head space. Their life is negative. They feel negative. I, all I’m hearing from them is negative, negative, negative, and it’s, you know, it’s sucks energy from me. So I have to be very careful to make. I’m doing my own self care, you know, the tools I’ve learned through my own country that such a self care and self love and all of those I have to do that myself to protect my own energy. And, you know, I’ve learned the hard way myself with that were, you know, I, because I have a big heart and I want to help people.
Leanne Townsend: 41:53 I have clients calling me on weekends calling me on in the evenings, messaging me and I went through a period of time where I, because I felt bad for them and I felt that there in emotional turmoil, they need me to respond right away. And, but then it was just, it was eating up all my own, you know, I’d be home with my kids and I’m dealing with messages from clients and that wasn’t fair to my children. So I started having to put my own boundaries as well on, you know, when, when I respond, is something, an emergency that I need to respond to you right away or can it wait till the next business day? and you know, often it gets weighed and I, you know, as you say, that’s been part of my own journey. It’s just learning those boundaries to protect my own self and my own life.
Leanne: 42:42 Yeah. Yeah. You would have to. And, you know, and as hard as that would be because you know, those people are feeling very desperate and reaching out. And I’m wondering if, if someone who’s been in a relationship with a narcissist and is getting out of that, they seek you out because you understand their story. Does a narcissistic or seek out a narcissist attorney that’s like.
Leanne Townsend: 43:08 Yeah, that’s a great question. I sadly, I think there are probably a lot of narcissists who are attorneys, because a lot of narcissists tend to be in jobs to get where they have power and, and you know, potentially money and success. And so certain occupations I think attract more of that type of personality. But, I mean, I think most narcissists aren’t a, first of all, we’re not aware they’re a narcissist. They, you know, they, they don’t really because they don’t self reflect at all. So if they don’t even identify themselves as, as being a narcissist, which is one of the reasons why they don’t generally ever changed their ways because they have no desire to, but they probably are drawn to, you know, other narcissists this especially in, in something like a legal battle they, they’re going to want to have, they’re not going to, they would perceive a lawyer who maybe isn’t a narcissist. It doesn’t conduct themselves that way as being weak. so, you know, they probably are predisposed to seek out those types of lawyers. Although, I mean, I’m sure that’s not always the case and I certainly don’t want to suggest that every attorney who is representing something bigger is in, isn’t success because that definitely is not the case.
Leanne: 44:19 Right, right. Yeah. You’ll be getting some phone calls.
Leanne Townsend: 44:24 Yeah, I definitely am not saying that.
Leanne: 44:27 So what happens like after, after the divorce and people get coaching and stuff, what do you ever. Do you ever have repeat clients or, or people coming back to you weary of what their next step is in relationships?
Leanne Townsend: 44:44 I do have that a little bit. I haven’t had any repeats like family law clients, like it seems like once I’ve done one divorce, I haven’t had anyone come back yet for a second one, but maybe if they need to be practicing family law longer before that happened,
Leanne: 45:01 I don’t know. I went to my same attorney twice but it was within the same, you know, 10 years or so.
Leanne Townsend: 45:07 Yeah. but yeah, I do have some liquid. The coaching aspect where because coaching, I always find any way, you know, certain points people need more of it in their life and then they need to go and you know, maybe spread their wings and, and use some of the stuff that they’ve learned and, and, and maybe not have coaching is as often and, and you know, and then come back if something comes up that they want to work on. So I definitely have clients that fall into that type of category where, you know, there’s some. Initially I always recommend doing it every week because I think you need the momentum that, that gives you and the consistency and accountability. But after a period of time, it’s not needed to be that frequent.
Leanne: 45:52 Right, right. Well, that’s pretty awesome that you offer this because it’s, it doesn’t seem like many people are, are, are there, and I’m not aware of it, but it doesn’t seem like there are that many people that that’s kind of a niche and it’s probably very underserved.
Leanne Townsend: 46:10 I think it is. Like I’ve definitely had been very well received when I tell people what I’m doing and people, you know, a lot of people have been telling me there is such a need for that or I wish I’d had some, you know, something like that when I went through my own divorce. That’s the type of feedback that I’m getting and I feel that the skills and experience that I’m bringing to it are somewhat unique just because of my background as a lawyer. Like there’s lots of, you know, there are a lot of coaches out there. there are some divorce coaches, but I combined like, it’s, it’s more unique because I combine the sort of, the hard stuff like the hard skills to do with, you know, with what sort of strategies did you use, do you need a aggressive lawyers? You need a mediator, do you need, I’m a warm and fuzzy lawyer.
Leanne Townsend: 47:02 do you, you know, what, what are, what are your finances like, what do you need to do there? Would you turn to in order to feel financially empowered, but then I also have the soft piece pieces like the south, what are you doing for yourself care and, and how are you dealing with self love and making sure you’re incorporating that into your life and boundaries and, and so I’m combining both sides of it and I haven’t seen something there. Usually when one coach or one program or one aspect either, you know, the self love, self care boundaries, but not the finances in divorce strategy or you’ve got someone who’s dealing with divorce strategy and finances, but they’re, they don’t care about your self care and self love.
Leanne: 47:46 Yeah. Yeah. Well, you’re in Toronto, right?
Leanne Townsend: 47:50 That’s right, yes.
Leanne: 47:51 So, so you, you can practice law in, in Toronto, but what if we have, you know, we have listeners all over, what if a listener is in Chicago and they want coaching, would you still be able to coach them?
Leanne Townsend: 48:05 Definitely. I have client coaching clients from all over the world and my coaching program, the way that they work is, it’s an online program, but it also includes a weekly Skype or zoom call so I can connect with someone anywhere, through Skype or zoom. And then the coaching modules are just emailed out for the client to work through those exercises. There’s information and then when we do the Skype resume call, if they have questions or particular areas that they want to work on, we can focus in on that.
Leanne: 48:49 Okay, great. Well that is really good to know because like, you know, like you say, not many people are combining the two things. So someone might find a good attorney where it is ever. They live wherever they live in the world, but if they still want that coaching to go with it, along those same lines, it’s good to know that you’re available. And then, you know, if you were to leave our listeners with like one really big juicy piece of advice, what would that be?
Leanne Townsend: 49:19 Oh, that’s it. That’s a good question because there’s so many things I would probably want to stay. But I mean, I guess the biggest piece of advice I would say is to not like not ever make a rash decision when you’re going through a divorce because it can lead to bad results in so many ways. Either you behave in a way that you later regret by, you know, saying you’re doing something that you wish you hadn’t or you walk away from things because you just want to get it over with. You just want to have peace in your life so you don’t stand up for yourself and fight for certain things. and then you know, years down the road you wished you had. So just by never making a rash decision when you’re going through the process, I, you’re less liable to have one of those situations happen.
Leanne: 50:13 Yeah.
Leanne Townsend: 50:14 Just maybe to add onto that is just to listen to your gut instinct because the team that you assemble, it should be people that you feel comfortable with. Not not intimidated by or not or you know, when you hear your lawyer talking and they’re talking about approach and you’re not comfortable with it, it doesn’t resonate well with, you know, your gut is telling you something and maybe that means that the other lawyer is better students, you know, for your situation. and so I just think it’s important to listen to your gut.
Leanne: 50:46 Yeah. Wise words, right? Don’t act out in anger and make those quick decisions and really listened to your gut. And it’s so weird that we don’t do that more often.
Leanne Townsend: 50:56 It is. Especially if you’ve been in an abusive relationship, I think you don’t trust your gut and you need to.
Leanne Townsend: 51:04 Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, so Leanne, thank you so much for, for coming on today and sharing all of this with us. I really appreciate it. I love what you’re doing that you’re really reaching out to an underserved community of people that are in relationships like this. And I, I appreciate it. I hope our listeners do too, and I’ll be posting all of your information in our show notes so people can reach out to you if they have any questions you need to contact you and I look forward to talking to you again.
Leanne Townsend: 51:34 Yes. Thank you so much. It’s been my pleasure to be here. So thank you for inviting me.
Leanne: 51:39 You’re very welcome.