I had a great talk with one of my mentors today--about what it's like on the other side, getting away from our abuser, but still having to co-parent with him. She is a seasoned veteran handling complex cases where children are witness (or victims) to violent crimes. Her stories make mine seem like an after school movie, rated a-ok for public viewership, and at the same time, she has said that every story has meaning and power, and the abuse was escalating. I told her that sometimes everything is a-ok, I'm confident, strong--zen warrior pants planted firmly on and waging the disinterested, civil email war just fine thank you. I've got this. You do not own us anymore, despite how you try.
And then some days, not so much. Barrages of
e-mauls, complaining about my quality of childcare, nit-picking my
choice of haircuts, accusing me of over scheduling my daughters'
activities (the irony being that he refuses to take them on his weekday,
so all weekday activities fall on my days). The latest--it's lovely
parent-teacher conference time, and guess who responded and confirmed
the time, but didn't tell me about it? I found out from my daughter.
heart pounding, I called the teacher, afraid to air our dirty laundry
but requesting a special separate conference so I do not have to be in
the same room as my abuser. And of course she agrees--yes, she takes me
at my word, no she doesn't need to see the TRO that was filed in the
past when things were really bad. (I wonder if these teachers have seen
everything.) The adrenaline rush building up my courage to ask for
this, the fear that it won't work out, then relief like a river poured
over my face and body and I can barely breathe, but then I can breathe
again. I think--how did i work so hard to get out of this situation, to
endure a custody battle for two years, and yet still the fear comes
rolling in like thunder. How little progress have I made?
described to my mentor all the digs of late--that I jeopardized my
daughters' safety by allowing them to ride horses with my sister-in-law,
that I am neglecting my motherly duties by hiring caregivers that he
doesn't know and not informing him, threatening to withhold medical
copays to pay for a mini lunch tupperware that went missing, suddenly
demanding to have a sit down meeting with my new husband. She
recognized immediately that he is acting and waging a battle for control
in any way that he can--and the needling commentary is all that he can
do. That I have been lucky enough to move on and be fulfilled and happy
in a new life, but he has been left behind, and he will likely be this
way for the rest of our parenting lives. AKA, the rest of my life as a
parent of children who I'm responsible for--and beyond. Weariness sinks
into my bones at the thought.
One of my fellow
single parents who also remarried (and just gave birth to a beautiful
baby girl) commented that when she gets stressed by similar (and worse)
antics from her ex, she does her best to vent away somewhere, then she
puts her feelings "in a box" and packs that box away to be looked at
later. That we have moved on in every way that is important, and we can
be happy, and that after some time, she can actually laugh at the
silliness, the pettiness, the ludicrous allegations.
know the best way to "win" is to not let it bother me. To be the bigger
person. To disengage. To focus on all the positives we have now--DD1
is old enough to have sleepovers with her pals, and we've hosted several
already, DD2 is a growing jumping bean who is now enrolled in
gymnastics, we've made new sets of friends with both daughters' pals'
parents, making positive bonds--in particular with a veteran blended
family who empathizes with us after dealing with similar issues for over
15 years. Most noticeably, DD1 has made strides towards re-bonding
with A, despite the negative commentary from her dad. Today, she
spontaneously held A's hand, which she hasn't done for months--when she
easily did so during our courtship and prior to our engagement. My
heart melted. At story time tonight, she demanded to sit next to A
while I read the story, in fact both girls did. Talk about a swooning
Funny, re-reading this, I think I just talked
myself out of the weariness for the moment. Yes, I'm so weary from the
negative commentary. I need to focus more on the positive. Writing
helps...some days more than others, but I'm thankful that it's helping