Friday, February 26, 2016

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones

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But nasty texts accusing me of purposely ignoring someone and withholding DD2’s school clothes …will never hurt me.

Instead, they’re just minor irritations.  That I almost didn’t write about, but decided to share the latest, only so that I can meditate on how far I’ve come in responding to him.  Nasty texts such as this used to reduce me to tears.  Or build into a white-hot heat of anger and indignation.  And while I did have a momentary increase in heart rate, it wasn’t because I was upset at him and his insinuations, it was because I was bummed that I forgot to pack the clothes for my daughter’s sake.  

So here’s how it went—I sent the girls on their overnight, and we always have a bag that we exchange with clothes from one another’s house that are picked up at school.  Since DD2 attends private school that I willingly pay for (and which she is thriving in), I also include DD2’s uniform.  There have been times that I’ve forgotten, because, shocker, I’m not a perfect parent.  And the two times before when this has happened, he has texted me in the early evening, and I’ve dropped off the clothes into his mailbox—it worked out fine.

This time around, I went to bed at 9ish (I wake up at 5:30am for work), and the next morning, I awoke in a a bit of a tizzy, suddenly remembering, oh dear, I think I forgot to pack DD2’s school clothes.  I stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth and check my phone, and lo and behold there were twelve texts glowing on the screen, ten of them sent after 10pm, two sent around 5am in the morning.  In the beginning they started off civil enough, but as time passed they become lovingly accusatory and nasty.  Such is life.  My response?  I’m sorry I forgot DD2’s clothes, I’ll bring them over and put in your mailbox in 20 minutes.  (Of course I don’t get a response until two hours later that everything was fine, but that’s par for the course.)

The coparenting counselor says that Exie holds himself to this internal “high” standard of parenting, and every time I don’t meet it, that’s why he leaves lovely notes about sending DD2 to school in leggings that have a hole in it.  Or the snack container that was somehow lost and I was withholding it to spite him and he was going to deduct child support to replace it, or the [fill in the blank] complaint, or the list of how many panties he has sent over.  Yes, I sent DD2 to school in leggings that had a hole in it the size of a dime, not once, but TWICE, because I didn’t see the note or the hole.  The snack container was a mystery to me, it disappeared in school, then magically reappeared and I packed it in the overnight bag when I saw it.  The fill-in-the-blank complaints can be a pain in the rear, but for the most part, these days, I’m able to shrug it off.

In sum?  Sticks and Stones do break my bones, but his nasty comments are having less power over me, and I am grateful.  

Five years ago, I was cowering in fear and terror, contemplating a protective order that was later granted, because he choked the dog multiple times and was threatening to murder my daughter in her sleep and celebrating the idea of putting a bullet through my head, just for a start. 

Nowadays…I live with vigilance, but not terror.  I am so thankful to be five years away from that craziness.

I do wish though…that when you do finally make a break from the violence, that there was some kind of warning that it’s not “over”…that it is a slow journey from managing the terror to managing the crazy to managing the lesser crazy and nastiness.  A journey that probably takes many twists and turns respective to the individual situation and relationship.  That mine became a marathon of less dangerous pain, a continual deciphering of messages and weeding out nastiness, of figuring out how to build up the shields and boundaries while at the same time still embracing that this person will be forever a part of your life, because of the children and what’s best for them (and also keep them safe, keep vigilant).

Maybe one day, it will get better.  The coparenting counselor hopes he will get a life.  She says to not ignore his comments about the leggings or the snack container, because then he just assumes the worst.  She says to write something clever like, ‘hey, found the leggings, hope it makes your day!’ and with a smiley face, because maybe it will snap him out of his obsessive thinking, i.e. it’s not the end of the world!  (I think that’s a bad idea, will probably set him off, but she says if he gets nastier, then stop and refer him back to her.)

How do you filter out what needs to be responded to, what can be ignored?   My original rule of thumb was to limit to healthcare, childcare, education, pick up/drop offs.  Anything else like panties and leggings can be ignored.  But I guess I can see where she’s coming from, too, so I’ve made an effort to address complete misinformation (accusations that I’ve done something he’s assumed I’ve done, etc.).  The last time that happened, it was a lovely marathon of email exchanges that I just eventually gave up on.  (He likes to have the last word).

So then I just repeat my mantra…sticks and stones may break my bones, but you just can’t hurt me like you used to.  <3 p="">

Friday, February 19, 2016


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All’s quiet on the coparenting front.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Ha ha ha ha.
Ha ha ha.

Just kidding.  Actually, I think we’re back to level 5, which I'll take.

I tried another email at the suggestion of the coparenting counselor about the Mother’s day week end swap—the plot has thickened a bit, because now there’s an opportunity for me to travel for work the week end that is in question.  At any rate, I asked if he could please get back to me in two weeks.  He responded that he has an event that is being planned around that time (I take that would mean on mother’s day week end, since why would it be a problem for the kids to be with him the following week end?), but that he will get back to me in two weeks or earlier, so I guess that’s progress.  

I will say that the kids have been in good moods since coming home, no stressful stories, and I’m glad about that.  We’re heading into a whirlwind week end of birthday parties—I feel like I’m being a professional driver and pizza delivery person, and that’s fine with me!  Just going to pace myself and enjoy every moment that I can.  

Just one thing that I hope I don’t pay for later—last night, we called dad like we always do, but weren’t able to reach him, so the girls left a message, and we went on with dinner.  I checked my phone, and he texted asking if the girls could call him back, so after dinner, we tried again, but didn’t reach him again.  So I put my phone away and off we went with the rest of our evening, playing with our dog, watching American Idol on the DVR, cuddling on the couch.  After I put the girls to bed, I checked my phone and it’s been blown up with missed calls and texts…I hope I don’t pay for this.  But at the mediator’s advice, I responded (otherwise he thinks I’m plotting against him—her observation as well as mine) via text that we called him twice and didn’t reach him, our evenings are busy, didn’t see the texts until now, and we will call him back tomorrow(today) at the normal time.

So…let’s hope I don’t catch fire for that, but if I do, I guess I’ll put on my fire resistant pants and goggles and head into the flames. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Rise Above

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Yesterday, I finally heard back from the Exie (after three weeks) regarding my proposed mother’s day week end swap.  Nevermind the fact that if I took three weeks to respond to an email or note in the parenting notebook--the nitpicking comments, the arrows drawn in the notebook, the email reminders, would never stop.  But I digress.

Here’s the situation—mother’s day week end falls on dad’s week end this year.  Yes, by decree, we each get to spend some time together for mother’s day/father’s day, but if we do so, then we swap the time either the previous or subsequent week end.  It’s a lot of back and forth for the girls.  So…I am asking for a swap of the week end itself.  

I didn’t just come up with this idea and run with it—I consulted our coparenting mediator about it and she thought it sounded more than reasonable.  Just make it easier on the kids, a straight Friday pick up, Monday return to school, no one loses time.

So off I emailed, saying could you please swap the Mother’s day week end.  

And the response?  I’ll consider it, but it’s too far away to make any plans.

Right, because, it’s so much easier not knowing when the children are with our respective households for planning purposes.  Nevermind the fact that our week ends are locked in for the next 13 years—so essentially—there’s “plans” on the books for years to come…?

So of course I was upset and so angry and cursing (by myself, in the bathroom, the kids already asleep in bed).  Half of it was not just at his passive-aggressiveness, but because I let him get to me again.  That I was SO upset that I was crying.  

I forwarded the email to the coparenting mediator, with just one sentence, “do you have any advice”?  And then I took a soothing bath and went to bed.

Well…this morning, I see another email in my inbox, from the Ex, replying to my email to the coparenting mediator—in my fuss, I had sent it to him instead of her.  He said, “tell Dr. [  ] that I said hello.”  

Okay, so now I’m just laughing.  It’s quite absurd.  Everything.

The passive-aggressiveness isn’t a surprise, why should I be surprised?

That he must enforce his “control” by not getting back to me about MOTHER’s day—is more reinforcement as to why I got out of this relationship in the first place.

Yes, I admit it, the first thing out of my angry head was:  just wait until you ask me for a favor bub, forget you.  (or other harsher words).

But…I have to remember something.  I got out of this relationship for many, many reasons, this being one drop in a big pot.  While he is hanging onto his control and sending me nitpicking emails—I get to have a new life, with my hubby (we’re going on a sweet staycation this holiday week end), and the time with my girls is precious, whether I get to see them on Mother’s day week end or not.  

I feel sorry for him—that he is so insecure in his relationship with the girls that he grasps at straws, makes them feel like they can’t talk to me on the phone, that he leans on them to take care of him (not good for them but we’re still working on it).  

I feel sorry for my girls, that I chose this insecure and angry and power-needy person to be their father. 

But we will make it.  I can make it.  I will continue to be kind, loving, hopeful.  I’ll work on not being surprised when he acts like himself.  I’ll hold onto hope and faith and straight up commitment to help my girls make it out of childhood and do as much damage control and healthy boundary building that I can.

Here’s to hope  <3 p="">

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Trust is a hard thing to do

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Is it wrong of me to wish the Ex would move to Siberia?  Sigh.  Yes.  I guess it is.  Dammit.

One of the things about this whole parallel-parenting situation that I’ve learned is—I just have to let go.  For the sake of the kids, let go.  Trust that they will be okay, that they will learn to stand up for themselves.  Trust that their love for their father is really going to be okay, and not turn them into care-taking worriers who will inherit concerning traits like getting into relationships with men who will take advantage of them, bully them, make them feel bad, along with making them feel good.  Trust they will learn to stand up on their own two feet and learn how to be a woman in this world, how not to undervalue themselves, how to expect respect as the norm (not the exception), how not to lose sense of their self-worth.

Good lord.  

That’s a lot of trust.  I don’t know if I can do that.

I guess I can teach them to use their words—to talk (or write, or express) how they feel.  When they’re hurting from what their father said or did, hug them and allow them to cry, soothe them, confirm that what happened is not okay, to recognize the difference in how things can be done.  And when they’re feeling defensive about their father, allow them room to care about their dad so much, because as any child does, they love their parent with all their heart.

Recently, I did have to pick up the phone (see why I haven’t, here), to remind DD1 about her music class--the previous week she'd forgotten.  DD1 was talking and telling me about her day, and then she said, "Oh, and then DD2 got BUS-TED," and then she said "Ow!" and was quiet a second, then she totally changed the subject.  I asked her, "what were you saying about DD2 honey?" and she just ignored me and kept going with the other subject and acting weird on the phone, so I dropped it.

I asked the play therapist about it, who responded, well, it’s what happens at dad’s house stays at dad’s house, and I’m sure what happens at mom’s house, stays at mom’s house.  Just keep the communication channel open.  They’ll tell you if it’s really concerning.

(I asked my therapist about it—her opinion is that the girls don’t feel safe talking to me at their dad’s house—they sense it’s a sore spot with him.  They know they can’t show their affection to you when he’s watching, so that’s why they do sound stressed when they do.)

So…I broached the subject with DD1 when they came home, and DD1 (always defending her dad) didn't want to talk about it, but DD2 did, and then DD1 chimed in a little bit.

Apparently the girls were at the Ex’s friend’s house last week end (they have two girls, and before divorce, I spent time with them, very sweet girls), and DD2 didn't want to leave when it was time to go.  So DD2 and DD1 said their dad left DD2 there, and DD2 said she spent the night all alone and she was scared of monsters, and then DD1 said well, we came back for her, mom.  Then DD2 said that she wasn't allowed to sleep in daddy's room, and that she was all by herself and scared of monsters all alone all night, and DD1 got to sleep in daddy's room. (DD2 was crying big alligator tears at this point and clinging to me for big hugs).  DD2 also said that when they went to get ice cream, DD1 got a big huge scoop, but I only got a little scoop.

So all I did was just hug DD2 a lot and tell her that I loved her, and I was sorry she was scared, and that it's not okay for anyone to make her feel scared.  And she just kind of cried it out and then we read a story.

So...the way the story came out, it was kind of jumbled up, in a 5 year old way, so at first it sounded like DD2 was left at their friend's house all night.  Then that DD1 slept in dad's room all night, then it sounded like DD1 just watched t.v. in dad's room until late, according to DD1--and again DD1 was very defensive about not wanting to talk about it too much, so I didn't ask anything more.

At any rate, life seems to be okay now.  Later, I did ask DD1 if she had her own bed at dad's house, and she said yeah, and that she was watching t.v. in dad's room.  She said she and DD2 share a room at dad's house, with their own beds, and if one day Uncle moves out, then she'd have her own room, or if Grandma dies, she'd have her own room.  (That's my macabre, concrete 4th grader).

It’s hard to tell what really happened, all I know is that I have to be there for my girls, to tell them it’s okay to have their feelings, help them untangle the complications.  I worry about DD1’s protectiveness with her dad, and that DD2 will learn to protect him, too.  But what else can I do?

I wish I could do more than trust they’ll get it, one day.  Trust that they’ll learn to be strong, one day.  Trust that they’ll trust their voices, one day.

On a more positive note—we’re celebrating our doggie’s first birthday this week end.  I borrowed a pan shaped in a bone and we’re going to bake her a cake.  Plus, I’m going to make their favorite—my special grilled beef rib recipe.  So hopefully…the next few days will be filled with happiness.  At least I can trust in the week end.