Co-parenting a Teenager with an Abusive Ex-Husband

co-parenting with loveIt is difficult to deal with a manipulative abusive ex-husband. Co-parenting with my abusive ex-husband has been more than a little difficult.  In fact, it has been downright painful at times. Time to make smarter choices when dealing with my teenager.

There are times I have felt hopeless, like this is some sort of game that he is winning.  Plus, he does often treat our daughter like a pawn for some game he is playing.  The problem is manipulation does seem to be pretty powerful tool that is working with our daughter.

Here are the issues:

  • She never gets in trouble at his house. How is this, well there are no rules, or the rules are opposite of our rules. So if you don’t have rules, you really can’t do anything wrong. So what would you get in trouble for?
  • When she gets in trouble at our house, for failing a class, lying, or smoking pot (recently)… she can call him and he will be understanding and we are overbearing.
  • When she isn’t trying in school, we are constantly on her, and he can praise her for bring her F up to a D at the last moment.  They tell her they are so proud of her.
  • Having no rule at his house, makes our house look like a strict household where we are just unfair parents who won’t let her do anything.
  • She goes to his house and tells her “They said I don’t deserve to eat food”, something we never said, and then he calls up and yells at us for saying something we didn’t say.  So when she is angry, she uses this tool to create additional conflict.
  • He and I do not communicate, not that I wouldn’t like to co-parent with her father, but that I really can’t co-parent with a combative parent. So, our teenage daughter takes full advantage of this opportunity to spin the story however she likes to both of the households.
  • His wife has told my daughter that I am crazy, or have ‘borderline personality disorder’.  Keep in mind that she is an assistant teacher and not really qualified to diagnose anyone, especially since we have never met.
  • He has spent years telling our daughter passive aggressive comments, like; your mom is going to be mad at you, you only have one real dad, he isn’t your real dad, you need to listen to your mom ‘no matter how she acts’, we aren’t the food police here, ….

So, I would like to say the truth wins, but it doesn’t always.  I was really thinking today I need to rethink my approach.  So, over here we do get on her too much when she lies, doesn’t do what she says, or does something she shouldn’t. So I realize, we need to pull a little Alanon tools into this situation.  No matter what she does, at her dad’s house they praise her for everything so they look better.

My best guess at this moment, is she is 17 and almost at the age where she could drive.  If she hadn’t been lying, failing school, and being so untrustworthy… we probably would have already have completed driving school, gotten her a used car and had her working by now. My ex-husband wants her to get a license, and this is even after being caught smoking pot in a car less than three weeks ago. He is determined to get her in a car.

He has never wanted to put the work in throughout her entire childhood.  He did not help her with homework on weekends, would say that she doesn’t have homework on weekends.  He almost never took her to any birthday parties that fell on his weekend. He stopped coming to see her during the week and just did visitation every other weekend. So, what is this big push now for her to come live with him.

Well, until she graduates from high school, he is supposed to pay child support.  He made the max amount of money, so he owes the max amount of child support. So, if she came to live with him, he could possibly stop paying child support.  If she had a car, she could potentially drive herself to school.  He may even think she could drive herself to the school by us and not even change schools. He also says he wants to buy her a car, and of course she wants that vehicle.

What he doesn’t realize is that she can’t choose until she is 18, but he believes she really can choose at 17. So, by him telling her this, she of course is really rebelling against the rules.  She doesn’t want to follow the rules and so it is easier to go live with dad, where she can do what she wants.

What do I do about this? It is definitely a tough situation. If she has an attitude and we are constantly on her, and they are constantly praising her, then she feels life would just be better at her dad’s house.

So, perhaps we need to approach this in a better way.  First, I do have her signed up to see a new counselor, because her old one just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with her.  Probably will have to make a deal with her to see the counselor every week until she is 18, then if she still wants to move out at 18, well I can’t stop her.  I am hoping the counselor will possibly be able to reach her between now and then.

At home, I think we need to be more loving.  Continue with our boundaries, but speak more about love and how much we want her to succeed.  Try to release the tension, but at the same time keep our rules.  This new territory and will require plenty of Alanon meetings, Co-dependent meetings and church. Hopefully, she will pull through this okay and survive her childhood.

Accept the fact, that this might be all wrong and I might have to change my approach again.  In Alanon, one of the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ is ‘Do not be discouraged by the mistakes you make’. These same rules should probably be applied when dealing with teenagers.

Al-Anon Family Groups

Do’s and Don’ts

DO…

  • Forgive
  • Be honest with yourself
  • Be Humble Take it Easy – Tension is Harmful Play –
  • Find recreation and hobbies
  • Keep on Trying whenever you fail
  • Learn all the facts about Alcoholism (or Teenagerism)
  • Attend Alanon meetings often
  • Pray

DON’T…

  • Be Self-Righteous
  • Try to dominate, nag, scold or complain
  • Lose Your Temper
  • Try to push anyone but yourself
  • Keep bringing up the past
  • Keep checking up on your alcoholic (teenager)
  • Wallow in self-pity
  • Make threats you don’t intend to carry out
  • Be over-protective
  • Be a doormat

Prayers for my Daughter

Over the years I have certainly tried to solve many problems myself and oftentimes I forget to ask for God’s help in these matters.  I so often forget that He can perform miracles and I sometimes need to remember to get out of the way.  Yesterday, I sent in a prayer request to our church.

Paragraph : Please pray for my 17 year old daughter. I this past year, we found out she was cutting. Recently we caught her smoking pot and she admitted to trying alcohol. She has been rather deceitful lately. My ex-husband seems to be very permissive and I believe he is coercing her into coming to live with him. I do not think they can make this choice at 17. So I hoping to get her into counseling for the next 10 months and I am hoping this counselor can reach her. There is reason for me to suspect something may have happened to my daughter between 4-9, but we never found out what happened. This may be part of the reason she is acting out so much. Prayers would be appreciated to help her see the truth and the light.

Response from a member at church today:

Susan:

My name is Julie and I am a fellow member at church.

I want to drop you a note to let you know that the Prayer Team is lifting you up in your trial.

We pray that the right counsel and support comes from God into your life.

We pray all the praying, fasting, tears and worship you send up to God does not go unnoticed.

We know our Father is good.

We pray He hears your prayers and that He will act powerfully and swiftly.

With sincere hope and prayer,

Julie 

Journal Comments from 2007

Over the years I found it was helpful to write journal notes and email them to myself, that helped me keep the emails and my thoughts in chronological order.  We really do not have any answers or definite explanations for these kind of complaints that occurred during a five year span. My gut instinct is that something happened, but I may never know the truth.

Email Journal Notes to Self
on December 10, 2007 6:46 pm

Our daughter came home from her father’s house last night and did not have any complaints.

Today the nurse and our daughter’s school called me because our daughter was in her office crying. Our daughter said her vagina hurt and she felt like it might bleed. Then after she went to the bathroom the nurse said she was fine and wanted to go back to class.  She said she could call myself or her dad.

The nurse requested I take her to the doctor because she was so tearful and speaking of blood.

I drove her to the Pediatrician’s office directly after school. She did a urine test. Her urine came back clean. They are sending it off for further testing.

The doctor asked her a few questions about her pain and asked me if it could possibly be from masterbation. I said possibly but we had discussed it to the point she felt comfortable and we talked about avoiding that until we find out what is causing this.  She said she felt our daughter may be using masterbation to relieve stress.

I asked our daughter if she had run water on herself and she said no.  I asked if she was rubbing herself and she said no. I told her it was okay if she was but that would be helpful in the case that was causing the pain. I left a message for her father and he called back while we were int eh car, I wasn’t really ready to talk to him about that at the moment.

Our next therapy session was not until January 8th but I called Chris today and we are going in tomorrow.  Chris pretty much said until our daughter is ready to reveal what is causing this we may not find out what it is.

I purchased a journal for our daughter to write all her thoughts. I told her she could put it in the box I gave her that locks because it is a private place to write all her thoughts. She was very excited about writing in the journal and wont’ stop LOL.

Post-Abuse Reflections

In the end of 2003, my divorce was final and I was living in my own house away from my abusive ex-husband.  Unfortunately, because we had a child together my ex-husband was able to continue his abusive behaviors.  Now he just uses our daughter as a pawn and I am not sure what his end game is.  It is truly irritating that he finds so much joy in meddling and creating drama and problems for my family and my daughter.

It does seem like my ex-husband has his own reality that is not quite valid. Thankfully, I have spent many years going to Alanon, domestic abuse recovery and therapy where I have become a healthier person. I truly believe I can discern between right and wrong and good and evil.  I am not saying my ex-husband is evil, but the things he does to me or to our daughter are not good things. However, in his mind I believe he thinks he is doing the right things.  Maybe he is just so lost that he cannot even imagine his choices could be wrong. I just don’t know why abusers do the things they do, their behavior just has no rhyme or reason.

In 2006, I began printing out all our emails and put them in a big binder that I have kept. I rarely go back and look at the emails, but they are right there and the truth is on those pages.  Debating whether I should start putting them on this blog for you all to see.  What it does meant today, is when he says I am crazy or I did things that I did not do, there is a record of all the communications the occurred.  In fact, I might do that.

I often debate on if I should write a book about my experiences. There is so much written down from when I first began dating him, my thoughts during our marriage, along with all my notes of being divorced from him.  I am so grateful to this day that I do not live with my ex-husband today.  I hope my daughter will be able to discern right from wrong even when it comes to her father’s statements or actions.

When he showed up at the house last week to pick up our daughter.  He did not look healthy.  He looked red and puffy.  It looked like all his years of drinking, smoking tobacco, and eating out so often are really taking a toll on him.  Even with all the awful things he has done, I still do not wish him ill will.  I do not appreciate his behavior and I wish he would just be a good dad to our daughter.

My Anger is a Mask for Fear

butterfliesThis week, I feel like I am all over the place with my emotions.  My mind is going through the past again as this situation with my daughter and ex-husband has made all those memories resurface.  Although, it is a little better than before, I used to feel pretty hopeless at times.  Not suicidal, but perhaps a little depressed because it seemed like by ex-husband could just do whatever he wanted and get away with it.

Today, my anger is really just a mask for my fear.  I am afraid my ex-husband will successfully turn my daughter against me.  I hope it doesn’t happen, but right now she is grounded and pissed about it.  She does seem like she wants to hurt me and she is hurling her dad’s own words at me.  It really hurts that my own daughter would repeat these hateful statements.

During a conversation yesterday, she said, “You are all over the place as usual.” That is totally something my ex-husband would say.  His stupid wife, yes I said she is stupid, send me an email one time stating she felt I had Borderline Personality Disorder.  What business does an assistant teacher have to make any sort of medical diagnosis?  Seriously!

Today, was a better day with my daughter.  She didn’t make any of this easy and at times I felt like driving her to my ex-husband’s house and dropping her off.  However, I think that is what she wanted.  She is just pissed that she is grounded because she got caught smoking pot and after I took her phone away, she was caught sneaking other devices to get online twice. So her solution is that she is 17 and can choose to go live with her dad.  Plus, he tells her this an doesn’t agree with grounding her.

Yesterday, I gave her a list that said something like…

Chore List #1

You are too old for a Time-Out, so it is time for a Time-In.  Your attitude will no longer be tolerated.  As long as your attitude continues you will receive more chores.

  • Chore List

Until your behavior changes there will be no internet, TV, phones, ice-cream, etc…

Today, I gave her a second chore list because she wasn’t done with the first list and still had this chip on her shoulder. She actually came around and did the chores I asked her to do and actually talked a bit more.  She laughed a few times and seemed to let go of some of this anger.

Honestly, why do I feel the need to explain myself to my ex-husband. He has not changed one bit from the man I lived with and divorced all those years ago.  He is still just as narcissistic and egotistical as ever.  I think he really believes he is God’s gift to the world and everyone else is just beneath him. Of course he will not agree with anything I do with our daughter and often tries to work against me and not in the best interest of our daughter.

Sorry, I think I am venting today.  This should have been a fantastic week, I did a webinar for my work and I received a great review and a raise.  It was very much overshadowed by this hell.

I know we will get through all this.  Hopefully, my daughter won’t choose my ex-husband’s house because of his permissive parenting. She really can’t do anything until she is 18 and that is ten months away.  Hopefully she will grow up a little between now and then. Unfortunately, my ex-husband may continue to make hell for us.  I am not sure if he even wants custody of her or if he just wants her to hate it here.  I think she would cramp his single lifestyle.

Time will tell I guess.

Resentment Only Harms Myself

watercolor butterfliesThis has been a rather challenging week with my daughter.  I feel pretty resentful towards her father for his response or lack of response to this situation.

They say that resentment is like swallowing poison, but hoping someone else will die.

This week:

  • Received some messages that mentioned ‘bud and rillos’, red flag
  • Daughter posted video on Instagram that looked like she was driving and running a red light
  • Friend commented on video and found surprising photos on this page
  • Friend’s page led me to Periscope where the top video was one of my daughter getting high with two friends
  • Daughter comes clean about this, loses phone & internet privileges
  • Next day, gets caught sneaking an old iPhone 4 that belonged to her cousins
  • Next day, gets caught connecting to the internet on an Kindle reader
  • Same day, has a complete melt down over rules and being grounded
  • Claimes, she is 17 and can choose which household she wants to live at
  • Calls ex-husband who starts ranting at me about this
  • My husband talks to ex-husband and gets a few things through
  • Ex decides to pick my daughter up, effectively giving her what she wants
  • Although I told my ex-husband this was a bad decision, I did agree to help diffuse the situation
  • Daughter does call to apologize for how she behaved from her dad’s house
  • She is coming home today at 3pm and her grounding will start over

All of this was certainly crazy stuff.  My daughter could just be experimenting, but all the other lies of course leave room for doubt and concern. This of course makes me wonder if her grades were really due to ADD (something my ex-husband believes) or if this association with pot smoking friends and engaging in that sort of behavior is the true problem.

Given that we found out earlier in the year that our daughter was cutting her leg and now to find out she is doing drugs and admitted to drinking are all big concerns. Obviously I am concerned about the behavior, but mostly what to do about the underlying factors that is making her choose to do these things.

Obviously she is struggling with her pain, choosing friends who aren’t making the best choices, going along with these decisions, and then chooses to lie about all of this even when confronted.

Dealing with my ex-husband is beyond challenging.  He even told her at age 17, she could choose where she wants to live.  First of all this is not completely true.  Yes she can have input at 17, but the courts are still going to decide where it is best for her to live.  My ex-husband is pretty permissive in his parenting style. Plus, this would cost $50-70k, take about a year to go through court, and she will be 18 in less than a year.

She gets caught smoking pot and lying about it about a week ago.  Last week my ex-husband is ready to get her into get her drivers’ permit.  What???  She just got caught smoking an illegal substance, the video we saw certainly looked like our daughter was driving the car when they ran the red light.  Even if she wasn’t, the friend was high when they filmed this video, while driving. Plus, they posted this video not only for me to be able to find, but for the entire world to seem.

You never know if that stuff will go away or resurface later.  Most of these friends blame my daughter because I found out.  It was really that they were all being stupid and posting evidence.  I just happen to above average tech savvy, so when honesty was a big question, I started digging a little and it didn’t take long to figure all this out.

The tamper tantrum she threw on Monday was huge and she was acting like an addict.  If not for pot or alcohol, certainly have difficulty being able to stay away from her phone (other devices) for even 12 hours.  Then as we said, by my ex-husband agreeing to pick her up, basically gives her what she wants. What happens the next time she disagrees with her consequences?

Straight up, my daughter does not like to be told what to do.  Part of me would send her over to her father’s house due to the constant fighting and refusing to follow the rules.  However, I think that would be so much worse for her since he bad talks me and gives her whatever she wants.

Resentment is like swallowing poison, but hoping someone else will die.  So resentment only hurts myself.  I need to continue to make the right parenting choices, continuing to resist reacting, and keep being consistent.  I do know, I will support my daughter until she is 18, but if she doesn’t straighten up, she will be on her own after that.  She is too disruptive right now.

Co-Parenting With an Abuser

light on pink daisy

The most difficult time in my life was when I was living with my ex-husband. He controlled the finances, and I was constantly living on eggshells due to his unpredictable behavior. Today, I no longer have the constant headaches, stomach problems, and depression I experienced daily.

Although co-parenting with an abusive ex-husband can be challenging. It has also created problems between my husband and me at times because my daughter can be quite disrespectful when she talks to my husband. Unfortunately, my ex-husband has encouraged this type of behavior from our daughter.

My ex-husband’s parenting style has created problems for our daughter that make life a bit harder one some days. My abusive ex-husband’s influence on my daughter often brings out a sense of entitlement for my daughter. She likes being at her dad’s house and getting to do whatever she wants, and she sometimes rebels against rules when she comes home.

My ex-husband’s manipulative comments have affected my daughters behavior and thinking on some days. He is so arrogant, and he encourages that behavior from my daughter. He would tell her, “You don’t have to act like you are all that when you are already all that.” What kind of comment is that to tell your child? There are some occasions when my daughters comments or tones sound very much like my ex-husband.

His wife told my daughter she should pick a rich man like she did to marry. She also said she wanted a ring that was so big that her hand would fall to the floor. These types of comments seem very shallow to me. This is just how my ex-husband and his wife behave in general. They think very highly of themselves, and everyone else is beneath them.

I hope my daughter will come through this unscathed. When I was a child I had a father who was not putting my best interests at heart and I think today, I am okay. Growing up with my father certainly had an influence on my decision to pick my abusive ex-husband. My ex-husband reminds me of mine dad. My father thinks very highly of himself too, and that other people are beneath him.

I can only hope that the example we show in our house helps my daughter make the right choice. I am sure some day she will see my ex-husbands manipulative behavior at face value.

Healing the Emotional Scars

healing emotional scarsMy daughter has admitted that her father continues to say horrible things about me, and she just tunes him out. However, having seen her self-inflicted cuts on the side of her thigh/hip and it does not appear she has tuned it out. How much emotional scarring has this abusive relationship caused in my daughter after all these years?

My abusive relationship with my ex-husband and my father has certainly caused some internal emotional scarring for me. Now, I rarely talk to either one of them because they do not change. The best book I ever read that explained the abuse in a way that made sense was the book by Bancroft Lundy, Why Does He Do That? There is no rhyme or reason to why they behave like they do and I am not hopeful that they will ever change.

My ex-husband hates me after all these years. Perhaps he hates that I have left and that he cannot control me anymore. The only thing he can control now is trying to sever the relationship between my daughter and myself. He constantly says things to her like, “Moms and daughters do not get along.” or “Fathers and daughters get along better than mothers and daughters.” All of this is designed to try to drive a wedge between my daughter and myself.

Hopefully, it won’t work anymore for my ex-husband than it worked for my father. To this day, nearly forty years after my parent’s divorce, my dad still says hateful and horrible things about my mother. Seriously, he just can’t get over that relationship that ended so long ago. Now, I have made the decision not to talk to my father because I do not want to continue to subject myself to his verbal abuse. Will my daughter one day have to make this same decision?

I have made the prayer, “Let it end with me.” My hope is the cycle of abuse will not continue with my daughter, and it will end with my generation. This is my only prayer.

Abusive Kids at School

So a lot has happened this week. All of this was crazy and unexpected to say the least.

Starting on Tuesday, the school counselor called to inform me that she had received an anonymous tip that my daughter was cutting.  My daughter assured the school counselor and me that she was not cutting. I even asked her to show me her stomach and legs.  Plus, I believed her because I just didn’t see any visible wounds in any of the places she showed me.

self harmingOn Wednesday, my daughter came home, crying, and admitted she was cutting.  She showed me her leg where she had twenty 2-3 inch cuts in a row.  It absolutely broke my heart to see her wounds, especially when I heard she originally started doing this three years ago.  The only cuts are in this same location on her leg. How could I have missed this? Also, the dishonesty makes you question what else they are not telling you.

On Thursday, when my daughter was heading to the after-school bus, her friend was jumped and beat up by another girl in school. Her friend ended up hitting her head on the concrete, passed out, and then had to be taken to the emergency room. My daughter’s school is one of the best in the area and this was surprising. On the way to the hospital my daughter began receiving harassing threats via Kik chat. Comments like; u next bitch, watch your back, and your next.  Most of Thursday evening was spent with my daughter writing statements and visiting her friend in the hospital room.

On Friday, we visited the school and she gave additional information about the ‘physical altercation’ to the assistant principals. Due the threats that told my daughter she was next and to watch her back, I made the decision to bring her home today. During the school day there was a video of the ‘fight’ being pass around and some of my daughter’s friends started blaming her for not doing anything.

After listening to everyone describe this altercation, it sounds like nobody saw this coming and the other girl attacked my daughter’s friend. The ‘fight’ did not last long before people began pulling her off and my daughter went to help her friend. Then my daughter immediately called her friend’s mother to let her know. The girl who started this fight has been taken into custody and will likely end up in juvy.

Unfortunately, her best friend is now blaming her for not helping her during the fight and insists she would have protected my daughter if the situation was reversed. I am a bit disappointed in her best friend for siding with the group of friends blaming her best friend. There were over ten statements given that described the exact same situation and I imagine they were both pretty shocked and surprised. I also know, it takes a few minutes for your mind to process what is going on and it takes a bit longer to actually react.

So now my daughter has become the second victim in this entire mess.  What a ridiculous situation reaction everyone is having.  Talk about misplaced aggression. Of course, anyone looking back on the situation could say they would have done something different or that my daughter should have done something. I still can’t believe this happened at my daughter’s school.

Next Monday, we have an appointment with my daughter’s counselor and hopefully she can help my daughter sort through this mess.  Unfortunately, I think this has shown some of her friends ‘true colors’.  It is truly unfortunate that all this happened.

Although, perhaps this is a God thing. When we visited my daughter’s best friend in the hospital she had tons of cuts all around her wrists from cutting herself.  It looked awful!  I don’t think these girls are cutting together, but both of these girls are not very healthy at this time.  Maybe it is a good thing that they are not on speaking terms now.

Just maybe, this is an opportunity for them to get healthy on their own.  Recently we learned that her best friend is suicidal, cuts and is seriously depressed. There is a saying that says,”A relationship is only as healthy as the sickest person in the relationship.”  So I can’t see what either of them have to bring to the relationship at this point.

I hope my daughter is ready to focus on herself a little more. Right now, I am providing all the counseling and tools, but it will be up to my daughter if she is ready to get better. My daughter seems to have rational thoughts and wants to get healthy.  Although, it is hard to say because she has been keeping this a secret for quite some time and has been pretty dishonest lately.

This has been a hard week, and I went back to Alanon tonight.  I haven’t been in a while because I felt things were much better in our household. However, things certainly began to unravel this week, and quickly. All I can do is pray for my daughter and provide as many support and resources as possible. I really do not understand this self harming in full, but from what I understand, it is a way to cope with overwhelming emotions.

 

Self Harming Hotline: (914) 603-7362

My Daughter is Cutting

cutting self harmYesterday, I found out my daughter has been cutting herself. When I saw her, wounds I just covered my face with my hands and my eyes immediately began to tear up. As quickly as my tears began to flow, I somehow managed to stop and just talk to her. I just wanted to be supportive to her and figure out what to do next.

She asked me if something happened with her father all those years ago and my answer was that I just do not know. I do not have any evidence that nothing happened anymore than I have evidence that something did happen. The fact is I do not have all the pieces to the story, and my daughter does not remember. Clearly there is a big problem here, and her emotions seem to be coming out sideways.

So I called the counselor we used to see a few years ago, and she remembered us and the backstory. She also happens to specialize in adolescence who cut. The good thing is my daughter and her counselor already built up a rapport and my daughter likes this counselor. It sounds like my daughter is ready to deal with the pain.

It was huge that my daughter told me, and I know that is the first step towards healing. My feelings are so mixed, between feeling like it is somehow my fault or that I should have figured this out sooner. I know the relationship with her father is extremely unhealthy. About three weeks ago I wrote a post titled An Abuser Doesn’t Change His Spots that detailed a recent encounter my daughter had with her father. She said it was that day she started cutting again. Her relationship with her father is very emotionally abusive.

Apparently she has been cutting off and on for about three years. Right now she has about 20 cuts on her upper thigh. It was awful seeing all those cuts because I know they represent her pain. I truly wish we hadn’t stopped going to counseling when my ex-husband started harassing us a bit less. I was under this impression that we were all healing, but I was wrong.

We found some razors in the bathroom that had a portion of them removed to expose the blade. This is how she was cutting herself. The wounds are not terribly deep, but they do look painful. We are going to see a doctor tomorrow to see what we can use to heal these visible wounds. Perhaps she can start the journey healing her inside at the same time we heal her outside wounds.

It is huge that she made the decision to come forward and admit what she has been doing. I know that is the first step towards recovery.

Sources: