Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CVC, Or, co-parenting with an ex-abuser SUCKS

I know it could be worse.  I also know I need to stop expecting it to suck, because even though it does, having a crappity crap attitude about it doesn’t help.  Or so I tell myself.

Vent alert:  looking back, at every juncture where there is a co-parenting “issue,” I can’t think of ONE scenario where the ex has chosen the peaceful route.  If there was a button, i.e. “How to make this crap more stressful,” he hits it every time.  Let’s call this my CVC, which sounds like a weird STD, but stands for my Cynical View on Co-parenting.

I wish there was an exception to this rule.  Honestly, cross my heart.  I’d write a sweet blog entry about how this one time or times, how it went smoothly—and thank goodness for that for everyone, especially for the children, because parenting is supposed to be about THEM, and thank goodness for parenting post-divorce and not being a pain in the a$$ about it.

Alas, not the case.  Which is why I have my CVC and crappity crap attitude, even though I remind myself not to.  It’s not so much a futile wish he will change, because after years of anger explosions and the multitude of apologies that followed and then reliving the cycle over and over, clearly, he hasn’t or maybe, for whatever reason, he can’t (this is probably where I should move to forgiveness but I’m too bogged down with CVC).  It’s just, I keep hoping something will happen for him, some revelation, some transformation, for the kids’ sake.  Dammit, manipulating them is just not the way to go—it stresses the crap out of them.  And it’s also why I do not return the favor, why I never speak ill of him in front of the children, why I always show happiness when they share fun stories about what they did with him, because to not do so hurts them and puts them in the middle and makes them feel responsible for our adult crap.  They already feel responsible for his crap, they don’t need to be responsible for mine.

So…this week’s drama—there is a holiday and it follows his custodial evening.  He is saying that he gets the holiday, like he would on a Friday or a Monday connected with his week end.  I kindly (I promise!  No witchy tone or i-told-you-so—I have learned to communicate in a business, emotionless tone, as if writing to a bank teller or utility company) reminded him that holidays such as this are not treated the same way—it’s spelled out succinctly in the decree (thank you, judge for understanding that we needed strict details!), to follow the normal time-sharing schedule.

He has not responded, of course (CVC!).  Will he show up with the children at the designated spot?  And if he doesn’t, what should I do?  My attorney says I could call the cops.  And while I understand why she is saying that, I also do not want to add more drama to my children’s lives.  Seriously?  Go pick them up from his house with the cops?  How is that helpful to the kids? 

I talked to our third party counselor, who assists with the ‘business’ of parenting—who is good with the ‘traffic,’ i.e. trading time when special events come up.  But she is useless when it comes to holding him accountable for his actions, and her advice on this situation is to offer him a “compromise,” kind of standard counseling speak, now that I think of it.  And in “normal” situations, this could possibly apply—agree to share the holiday, agree to swap some time. 

My situation with an abuser who already has no boundaries and who continually seeks to regain control through lengthy emails and accusatory comments—well, I have been advised by countless experts to hold the line.  Keep the boundaries strong.  That one of the reasons we have such a detailed court order, is because there is an understanding that rules have to be set for someone like him.

My therapist has told me the third party counselor keeps treating my ex as someone who is “normal,” and has difficulty understanding the dynamics of abuse.  I find this to be true.  I have learned over the years that I cannot go to the third party counselor with anything beyond logistics, because I cannot trust her to take my concerns seriously or to bring them to my ex without worrying that somehow my children will end up paying the price—i.e. the emotional manipulations will be made apparent to him, he will then take it out on the children for telling me, then the children will become afraid to share their concerns with me.

So in this case, offering a ‘compromise’ is off the table—this merely lets him have control where it is not warranted, lets him ‘get away’ with cheating the time table, and the one thing I learned after going through all of this crappity crap is that before, when he was allowed to explode and break things and choke the dog—there were no rules and now there absolutely has to be.  Before, I would scramble to fix the situation, to put our house back together after the earthquake or tsunami of his anger tore it to pieces.  How is that the third party counselor is asking me to ‘fix’ this situation by compromising—simply because he got confused or is refusing to correctly read the decree (CVC says the latter)?  It is enabling at best and unacceptable at worst.

This is why I have CVC.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  Read the words.  Follow the rules.

Let’s hope he responds. !@#$!


  1. Great venting post, Jane. I also suffered from CVC although I didn't have that name for it :) Stay strong and you are so right in being very careful about compromise. NO way. He wants to keep control and that's how he's doing it by 'not understanding' the decree or making excuses. Have you read Divorce Poison by Dr. Richard Warshak? If not, I highly recommend it and think it will help you in this co-parenting situation.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Yes, thank you for the recommendation!! I do have the book and have read it cover to cover...our play therapist also helps us to help the children not feel caught in the middle...it's an ongoing situation.. :(

    2. LOL. I have a similar CVC. And every time I think he may have finally got it, we go right back again. You're right though - stand your ground. And thanks Lisa (and Jane) - I'll look up the book - I hadn't heard of it.

  2. After my first divorce I was always making concessions and doing my best to be cooperative but my dad told me something about my daughter's biological father that made me realize that no matter what I did he would always find something wrong with it and that every time I gave in to him it was just creating a bigger and bigger monster - that my cooperativeness was actually seen as weakness. I had to stand up to him and show him and let him face the consequences of his actions instead of making compromises all the time so "nothing bad happened". He used my fear of conflict to control me and get whatever he wanted. After I stopped being afraid to use the tools at my disposal (police, court etc), I became so empowered and stopped feeling like I was still under his control. They only have as much control as we allow them. I stick to the parenting agreement period - no exceptions, yes sometimes it's hard but ultimately it makes things a lot easier. Your kids will wake up a lot sooner as to who he really is when you stop protecting him from his actions and they will also learn about standing up for themselves as you set the example that you will not be disrespected.

    1. thank you so much for your response! I totally get the enabling the monster. :( i'm glad that you are in a better place now!

    2. with their father I am in a better place as he has basically disappeared from the picture after he went to prison for harassing me but if you read my blog you will see I went from bad to worse and now we are trying to recover from it but things are getting better and I hope they do for you too