Whether currently divorcing or long divorced, with most couples who share children, conflict arises. I, unfortunately, live with extreme conflict. I receive weekly emails with demands, threats, or both. When I send an email to communicate information (I will only communicate via email, much to his dismay) it is met with condescension. Ted looks for ways to cause conflict and drama. This, in turn, can cause extreme frustration or anger in me.
First and foremost, those of us who were married to narcissists or just people who exhibit behaviors of a narcissist or sociopath, we must remember that is exactly what the instigator wants…either a reaction to them or even better, a reaction to the kids about them. They will do all they can to push our buttons, so the most important thing we can do is NOT miss a beat. We must not give them the satisfaction of ruffling one little feather.
This has taken me years to learn. I will not go so far as to say I have mastered it, but I am feeling closer than ever before. PTSD still overcomes me when I have to deal with my “triggers.” I strongly feel this needs to be my next step in healing, and will be working through a healing program to hopefully fix this. I will post my progress when I start Quanta Freedom Healing with Melanie Tonia Evans.
All of the research and “learning the hard way” has led me to better communication with Grant, my son who at one point had so many walls up, he was on the verge of falling into Parental Alienation Syndrome. My relationship with Grant has improved, especially when we get several days together away from the influence of dad. Is it great or completely fixed? No. Will it ever be? I must believe it will.
I still stumble, but I have learned I am human and I apologize when I do. These are a few parenting tricks I have learned over the past 6 years.
1) The less I say, the better it is for the kids and the happier we all are.
I used to feel they need to be informed of what to expect from parenting time coming up, but the fact is, all they need to know is it that “We are working on it.” If the kids want to know where they will be and when, tell them in a happy tone once plans are in place.
2) “Mom, we have a family event for dad’s side on your time, so we are going, right?”
After fighting exhaustingly for every minute of parenting time I have, I value my 10 days per month a great deal. This quote will send my blood pressure through the roof in .0139 seconds every time. I used to go into a tirade about following rules and respecting my parenting time but this just put the kids in the middle. I have learned to step out of myself and assess the situation as if I were hearing a friend looking for an objective opinion. Then….I…..take…..a…deep…..breath, put a smile on my face and say I will discuss it via email with dad and if fair arrangements can be made, then the request will be accommodated. Then I change the subject.
3) Try to avoid reading emails during parenting time.
I avoid the “nasty-grams” like the plague unless there is something important to discuss during my parenting time. Emails are his way of trying to exert his control over me and making me feel as small and incompetent as he can, so my demeanor and mood change dramatically while dealing with them. What comes out of me is nothing but negative energy. The less the kids see any behavior besides happiness and love while with me the better. Reading email is one of my triggers for the PTSD symptoms I experience anyway, so I don’t like Grant or Kristy to see me that way.
4) The power of the put down.
As much as I am put down in emails and to Grant and Kristy, I do not retaliate against my ex in return. Ted walks on water to Grant and is emotionally abusive to Kristy. They both love him in their own way, though, and they have that right. I will comment on bad behaviors occasionally but not the person. I strongly believe in educating them on the right ways to treat others and healthy ways to deal with problems and look at life. I help Kristy deal with “dad’s type of personality” the best way she can in order to have the relationship she wants with him. I try to prepare her for his outbursts and accusations. She has to find her own definitions for him. All I can do is be the best example I can.
Believing in the positive, forgiving myself, and learning acceptance have completely changed how I parent. My home needs to be the “happy” place filled with love while with my children, and so does yours. Does this mean I am sitting back and getting bulldozed? Absolutely the opposite. I pick my battles, document everything, and try as hard as I can not to react.
Healing will not begin until you are ready, and can no longer live in the darkness of the past. Are you ready to let go of the past and begin to heal? True healing never happens while looking over your shoulder and remaining the victim. This is necessary in order to be the best parent possible for your children, no matter what is being thrown at you.