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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="">3>