“I know you’re not crazy,” Luca’s therapist at wilderness camp said to me during our phone conversation yesterday. “And when Luca goes to boarding school, I’ll tell the next therapist you’re not crazy, and that you need to be involved in Luca’s treatment, despite what his dad says.”
Although our latest custody order states that Prince has sole-decision-making power over schools and mental health treatment for Luca, we technically still share legal custody and Prince is not supposed to do anything to obstruct my participation in Luca’s therapy. However, he has done just that.
According to Luca’s therapist, Prince has claimed that I am “out of the picture.” I’m nuts, and dangerous.
Which is why I will spend the next few years faxing the custody order to schools and therapists, taking pains to appear extra-sane while I explain that I did not “lose custody” because I’m a whack job, that in fact Luca had been with me the majority of time until he was 13 years old, and that I only agreed to give Prince major decision-making power because I no longer had the funds or stamina to keep fighting.
As the therapist went on about how he’s told Prince he needs to be on the same page with me, and that he’s hurting Luca by trying to chisel me out of his life, I sunk in my chair and felt about a 150 years old.
Prince is not going to have an epiphany. Not ever. He’s not going to wake up one morning and think, you know, I’ve been just lousy to Pauline, but I’m over it now, so I’m going to turn over a new leaf!
Prince is a man who is never satisfied. Since gaining decision-making power and no longer having to pay any child support, he has gone even further ’round the bend into the valley of vitriol. In one recent Our Family Wizard e-mail, he threatened to take me to court because he insisted that I have to drop off Franny to him on his timeshare Tuesday during the summer–but not the school year. When I reminded him that I work full-time and my babysitter was leaving at 3–because I thought he was picking up Franny from me at that time–but could drop her off then, he said that I was still violating the court order if I did not keep Franny till 5:30.
It was not worth the fight. I paid my babysitter for an extra two-and-a-half hours and had her take Franny to her dad’s house.
Prince’s response? Another e-mail excoriating Atticus for being a terrible stepfather. A sentiment which I imagine he is sharing with my kids.
I awoke this morning all racing-hearted and heavy-limbed, feeling slightly deranged. I imagined being at Luca’s wedding, and wondered what role I would have in it, or if I would even be invited. I imagined Franny’s nuptials, and the strain she will feel juggling a mother-in-law, Prince and me.
On days like this, I struggle to keep my head above codependent waters, the seductive current that tries to suck me down, whispering, if you’d just done x, Prince wouldn’t have done y, maybe if you try a, he wouldn’t do c. When I start thinking that there is anything anybody can do to control what Prince does, I know I need to do something fast to keep myself from becoming completely batty.
So I surfed the net for some Anne Lamott quotes this morning. For those of you unfamiliar with her, Anne Lamott is the Patron Saint for Unraveled Souls. She writes hysterical prose about spending much of her life unabashedly addicted to booze, cocaine and bad men, wracked with regret and envy, yet also blessed with recovery, intermittent grace and after years of struggle, a lucrative writing career. She is laugh-out loud funny, nakedly honest, and uniquely inspirational. She is my version of vespers, rosary beads and mantras.
Here is what she said to me this morning:
“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.”
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do.”
When it comes to Prince, I have only two options. I can either make myself crazy trying to get him to treat me like I’m not crazy, or I can accept that I cannot change what he thinks about me. While I wouldn’t totally rule out crazy, for today I choose acceptance.
What about you? What tricks do you have for managing crazy-making people in your life…preferably tricks that don’t get you arrested?