Tag Archive | parental alienation

Parental Alienation – Parental Alienation Stories

In this post, I am going to discuss what Parental Alienation is and how it affected my family. In my personal experience, there have been three separate situations where it exists and in all three stories men did it.

Parental alienation is the process, and the result, of psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members.

Recently, I have spent hours listening to Amy Baker, Ryan Thomas, and Jennifer Harman discuss in depth about parental alienation. Richard Gardner wrote about this in 1987 and coined the the phrase Parental Alienation Syndrome. He believed that this syndrome was used during divorce by on parent in child custody disputes to the child(ren) against the other parent. In those days, he typically found this to be something that was done by mothers against the fathers. This would make sense, since in early days of divorce; children typically resided with their mothers. However, Amy Baker said that in her research about 75% of the cases were done by the mothers and the other 25% by the fathers.

Gardner also mentions that abuse was not present in his cases. In my situation, verbal and emotional abuse was present in all three situations. I also have strong reasons to suspect sexual abuse may have also occurred. Additionally, all the men I describe below also exhibit Narcissistic behaviors. Plus, I recognize that each of these men are also extremely controlling and emotionally abusive.

Additionally, there were many cases where PAS was legally misused to get custody of the child from mothers who simply had ‘normal parenting’ rules. Anyway, regardless of the criticism attached to this ‘syndrome’. my personal accounts show evidence that it is very much a strategy used to influence children to turn against one parent.

Child of Parental Alienation Syndrome

My first experiences with Parental Alienation Syndrome would have to be my own experiences. My father spent my entire childhood speaking awful things about my mother. In fact, his parents often said horrible things about my mother too. Their primary goal was for me to side with my father or to turn me against my mother for her perceived wrongdoings.

My parents divorced when I was four years old and I began visiting my father twice a year every year from that age forward. During every visit I would hear awful things said about my mother by almost all members of the family. My father called her promiscuous and often said that she was the reason we didn’t have a happy family. He even wrote a poem with cartoon unicorn illustrations telling a story about an unfaithful wife cheating on the husband. This started when I was absolutely too young to even comprehend what he was saying. He often used bible scriptures to justify his comments.

His constantly tearing her down was very hurtful to me as a child. It created so much confusion and I grew into a very angry teenager. Additionally, I was an only child and so there was no one to talk to about this adult business I was hearing. My mother was often not at home because she was a single working mother and dating. So, as you can imagine, leaving an angry teenager alone with very little supervision was a recipe for problems. During those days, I was skipping school, drinking, and hanging out with other troubled teenagers. Then I grew up to marry an abusive man who did the same thing to our daughter.

My father’s comments did two different things. First, they probably created some challenges between my mother and myself. I was very disrespectful and angry. Plus, looking back, I believe most of my rebellious behavior was meant to get attention. That saying that ‘bad attention is better than no attention’ is probably exactly the truth. Another thing, I ended up making many of the same mistakes as my mother throughout my life. So, if my mother were a bad person for those things, then would I be a bad person too?

My aunt discussed how uncomfortable this made her feel when witnessing them doing this to me as a child and my cousins. She told my cousin, “I always liked your mom.” She said she really wanted to make sure my cousin new this about her mother. My aunt definitely believes all of us experienced PAS by our fathers. She also agrees that my grandfather also contributed. My grandfather was extremely controlling towards his wife and children.

My mother told me once that my dad and grandfather drove across several states after their divorce and stole her car. Then they called her up and asked her to meet with them at a restaurant. They told her if she gave back the stocks she had been awarded in the divorce, then they would give her the vehicle back. She said she didn’t know what else to do and gave them back. A decade later, my grand parents were forced filed bankruptcy and so the company was worth nothing today anyway.

Witnessing Parental Alienation

My second experience was witnessing my Uncle turn his kids against his ex-wife. He promised one of my cousins his dream vehicle if he moved in with him. My cousin so badly wanted this vehicle that he agreed to move out of his mothers house to live with this father. My grandfather fully participated in this maneuver and may have helped pay for the vehicle too. In my experiences, Parental Alienation is a family business. So, my Uncle was successful at turning all three of his children against my Aunt. As children, they didn’t dare say anything because he provided a roof over their head and food to eat. So they went along with everything and didn’t visit their mom.

In my experiences, Parental Alienation is a family business.

Now, all my cousins are in the 30s, married with kids of their own. Now, they realize that the problem wasn’t with their mother and that 90% of the problems were because of their father. However, you do not get to make up that lost time they missed with their mother. I spoke to my aunt about this very thing and she said, “I have forgiven their father, but my children have not.” Now his kids have moved away and rarely visit their father. Whenever they visit, they will not stay in his house. It does not seem like the damage of lost time has been repaired with their mother, but they are no longer estranged from her.

Becoming the Targeted Parent

My third experience was dealing with my ex-husband working to manipulate our daughter for all these years. In my daughter’s journal, at the age of 9-10 she wrote all the time about how she couldn’t sleep, her stomach hurt, and her V hurt. I wrote a blog post in 2011 about Journal Entries by my Daughter. V stands for vagina and one pediatrician said to stop using nicknames. I guess if she said that “XXX touched her TT’ may not be as powerful as ‘X touched her vagina.’

My daughter used to complain about her vagina hurting from the age of 4 – 9 and despite our frequent visits to the doctor we were never able to prevent. The first complain happened at the age of 4 and was one year before we divorced. The one common denominator was that every complaint preceded with a visit with her father. All the red flags are present, but we never had an admission from our daughter, and the doctors never discovered medical explanation. My daughter does not remember and there was not medical proof. I have written about this topic over the years.

My ex-husband would continuously put our daughter in the middle of situations or under-mine my authority. Our daughter was subjected to his subtle, but continuous manipulation. This often created confusion for our daughter. Plus, she would become anxious right before a visit with him and then whenever she returned home she was a different child. It would take days before she would start behaving like her normal self. Then we would have to do it all over again the next week.

I never understood exactly what he was telling her. However, I know my ex-husband all too well and his subtle manipulations discussed as ‘helpful suggestions’ from someone who cares. At the age of 5 or 6, I remember her coming home from her father’s house and saying “Mommy, you scared me.” I remember being completely surprised by her comment since it seemed to come out of nowhere. Later on, I asked her “Honey, earlier you said I scared you. What did I do that scared you?” She replied, “I don’t want to talk about it.” To this day, I have no idea what he might have said to her to make her say that.

This blog is full of stories about what my daughter would say or what my ex-husband had told her. The crazy situation where her school was no longer a neutral ground. In one conversation when she was around 16 years old, I told her that I was really sorry she was in the middle of our divorce. She told me that it wasn’t my fault. I agreed, but my response was that I am sure I could have done a better job in my responses. She said that she understood and how hard it was to not feel angry with some people. One year later, she barely speaking with me and we were being sued for custody by my ex-husband of our 17 1/2 year old.

Amy Baker describes the challenges of dealing with teenagers and how they can be difficult all by themselves. How an Alienator can ride on the coattails of those difficult teen years by promising the children more freedom, less rules, or in our case a car. Initially, when my daughter first left, she wouldn’t give me her phone number for months. I wrote about it in my blog post in 2016 titled Parental Alienation Syndrome – Courts Deny It Exists. It was like I had been completely rejected.

Plus, over the past two years, many people have advised me to tell my daughter the truth. However, in almost every one of the articles and videos I have watched, they say the exact opposite. They often advise to listen, love them unconditionally, and ask questions to help them develop critical thinking skills. They say the child really needs this because the alienator is not going to love them without conditions. Another thing Amy Baker said was that you shouldn’t take what the child says personally because they are only repeating what the Alienator told them. We were definitely guilty of taking her attitude and hateful words very personally.

Life After Parental Alienation

So, right now my daughter is still reaching out to me. Over the past few months we have gotten together many times for dinner or met at coffee shops. Often she will sit with me for 2-3 hours at a time. My new approach is to just listen, be supportive, and ask her questions when appropriate. I might say, “Oh, how did that make you feel.” Last week, she said her father told her to pay attention to how boys treat their mom. He told her if they treat their mom bad they would treat you bad. My response was, “Oh, I am not sure I completely agree. Men can often treat their mothers wonderfully and treat wife or girlfriend badly.”

Anyway, I am not going to talk about our past or my experiences with her father. It doesn’t matter. It does, but telling her the truth is not going to help our present situation. She needs more time and life experiences to figure this all out. Plus, she still lives under my ex-husband’s roof and she will have to live by his rules. His rules are controlling and not appropriate for a 19-year-old adult. However, this is something our daughter needs to figure out for herself.

My Parental Alienation Blog Posts in Order

Hopefully this helps someone else going through a similar experience. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about this topic as well.

Other Resources:

Rising Above – Parental Alienation and the Narcissist

It has been while since I have written. Sometimes it can be just too painful to write in this blog and think about these painful topics. Since my daughter left, it has been a difficult ‘almost’ two years. However, looking back, I realize that healthy progress has been made.

My daughter keeps reaching out to me, but it is clear her loyalty is to her father. About 5 weeks ago, I received a tearful call from my daughter and she said a lot in 30 seconds. I will paraphrase what she said, “Mom (maybe she said Mommy), I hit a curb and my tire is flat, and I can’t reach my dad. I do not remember Step-Mother’s phone number because he took my phone away because I went to X-Friend’s house. I would call Ex-Boyfriend’s mom, but we broke up.”

So, I told her that I would try to reach her dad. She asked if I could send her Step-mother’s phone number. So I sent my ex-husband an email with the subject line “Daughter’s name is trying to reach you” and included the friend’s phone number in the body. I also texted her Step-mother’s phone number.

One of the next times we got together she shared a great deal with me. We sat visiting at Starbucks for more than three hours. She told me what happened with her boyfriend and that was why she went to the friend’s house. I had suspected that was the reason and that she was looking for comfort after a break up. I knew she had really liked this boy and they had discussed moving in together. Although they were very young for those types of big decisions, I just told her to give it time, that time would tell.

Apparently her dad had threatened to pack her (I think he said sh&$) and send her back to my house. So I became a threat. I replied, “Oh, send you back to your mean mother.” She laughed. It was a good visit and I just tried to be supportive. During that same visit she had mentioned that she wasn’t as mad at my husband as she was even six months ago. She did tell me that she was just mad at how he treated her. My husband was pretty mad at how she was behaving before she left. It was a difficult situation for all of us and I am not sure any of us handled it right.

Now, she is forbidden to visit her friend in the city where she lives. This happens to be the same city where I live. It has been about 4-5 weeks since this situation unfolded. After she lied, her Step-mother shunned her for nearly three weeks. My daughter had mentioned how hurtful that was to her. I am not sure what shunning would accomplish, but it seems very punishing.  One article calls this “Silent Treatment Abuse” and says it is a strategy to control someone.

Anyway, we suspect (my mom, husband, and good friend) that this is just another way for her dad to control the situation. My mother mentioned that it seemed like my daughter was starting to get closer and maybe even getting to the point of not being so angry at my husband. That is when her dad created stricter rules to forbid her from coming to our area. My husband believes it is because her dad and his wife are afraid she might be coming to our house. It is interesting because our daughter is 19 years old now. It is time to start treating her as an adult now. There would still be rules that make sense for the household.

Our other daughter still lives with us while she is going to school. She pays a small amount of money that mostly covers what we pay for her car insurance. Then recently we added in 25% of the utilities. However, we do not ask where she is going, who she is going to see, or what time she will be home. She has not broken our trust. We do not ask questions. The only rule is that she needs to call if she is going to be really late so we do not worry. It is still difficult to navigate adult teenagers in the house, but I think we have handled this well.

So, my daughter graduated from high school last week. I never received a graduation announcement because her step-mother didn’t send me one. She did send one to my mother though. We also learned there was a graduation picture that nobody from our side of the family received. This frustrates me because over the years I always gave my ex-husband copies of school pictures. In fact, I took several photos at graduation with my camera using telephoto lens. I thought the pictures turned out very well. I took the time to correct the red eye and sent my ex-husband copies. If he wants to keep those pictures, it is his choice, but I felt that was the right thing to do.

My daughter sent me a text message that said, “Hey btw I wanted to post the pics of me and u and me and nana but I didn’t look good in any of them. So I posted different ones.” The pictures she posted were one of her by herself, one with her dad and his wife, and one with her cousin. This made my mother cry. My mother told her that she flew all the way here and they will never have that moment again. This also made me feel angry and sad because over the years I was the one going to her activities at school. My ex-husband never really participated in school activities. In fact, she wasn’t’ allowed to do homework on his weekends. However, it may be innocent and she truly didn’t like the pictures. It also may be that she didn’t want to upset her dad either. It is possible that it is all subconscious too.

During my mother’s visit, my mom discussed flying my daughter out to see her in the state where she lives. My daughter asked who was going to pay for the travel. My mother said she would pay for it. My daughter said she is looking for a job and what about that. I explained that is considered a preplanned trip and you can just tell the company I am traveling between these dates. Most companies understand this an allow you to take the trip or start after the trip. However, when she talked to my ex-husband he said no to this idea. Then told her that no company would hire her if she was traveling. So, now she can’t come to the city I live in or the state where my mother lives. In this video, Amy Baker discusses the tribal warfare about 20 minutes into the video.  She even discusses how the child will miss major events like funerals. My daughter was not present for my grandmother’s funeral in November 2016. She had to do her schoolwork and missed that trip where my entire family celebrated my grandmother’s life.

Anyway, I was really getting to the point where I almost feel it is time to protect my heart and walk away. However, then I started watching some videos from adults who experienced parental alienation as children. It sounds like they don’t really want the alienated parent to go away. So, maybe I just need to change my approach. I need to be more loving and take this less personally. She is stuck in the middle of this crazy mess and it is truly unfair. This fact has frustrated me for years that she is in the middle of such a Toxic Divorce. It always frustrated me on how powerless I was to stop it.  My ex-husband is very high-conflict and I believe thrives on chaos and drama. As difficult as it may be one some occasions, I need to continue to rise above, and be the bigger person.

In fact, I strongly believe some of their actions are done to hurt me and maybe they hope I will send them an email. I have resisted any contact since last October. It was bad enough to engage is a spat with his wife via email last year. I do really try to take the high-road, but I do often feel controlled and angry. I do not want to be controlled by my ex-husband. There are times it seems like I will never get away from him.

Now, I need to focus on my family (my husband and step-daughter) and myself. I am going to keep reaching out to my daughter, but I need to protect my heart in the process. It may be years before she figures it out and I need to make sure I continue to live my life. One scripture that continues to come to mind is one from Genesis where God will turn an awful situation into something good.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20

I need to hold steady to the belief that good will come from all this. Something good must come out of all this suffering, maybe it is so I will continue to share my experiences so someone else can know they are not alone.

Stop Trying To Co-Parent With A Narcissist

One of the biggest lessons I learned throughout this entire experience is it is impossible to co-parent with a narcissist or abusive person. Whether you Ex is a woman or man, if they are a narcissist, there is no such thing as cooperation. It frustrates me that he gets as much attention as he does. He is not worth my thoughts or time.

There was so much energy wasted on my part trying to reason and rationalize with my ex. He played dirty, was not cooperative, and worked against me every step of the way with our daughter. One article mentions it might be more accurate to say “Parenting in Spite of a Narcissist”. This couldn’t ring more true. This article says, “You spend your time and energy undoing the damage that the narcissist has done to the children.” This statement couldn’t be more true. After all these years, my daughter still left to live with him for car and less parenting.

Another thing, my ex has not been diagnosed. My therapist believes he exhibits the behaviors of one of the cluster personality disorders. I used to just think he was an asshole. However, as time has gone on, I realize normal people do not do the things he has done. Something is definitely wrong with my ex. Happy, well-adjusted people do not continue to wage war against their ex for so many years. Whenever I read about domestic abuse and narcissist personality disorder, there are so many statements that sounds so true. On the other hand, my father has been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. That means he exhibits Schizophrenia and Manic behaviors. My ex-husband really reminds me of my father. This page describes several symptoms of Narcissist Personality Disorder, and every one of these statements sounds like my ex.

A real father would not turn his daughter against the mother. Some who loved his daughter would not take advantage of the difficulties between a teenager and her mother. She was caught smoking pot and lying. A caring father would have stood with the mother (ex or not) instead of against the mother and taking advantage of teenage rebellion. A real father would have insisted his daughter follow the rules and own up to her own mistakes. This father would not turn the daughter against the stepfather and stepsister. None of this sounds unreasonable to me. However, this is all fiction when dealing with a narcissistic abuser.

Another thing I realize is that I need to stop beating myself for the mistakes I made. There really wasn’t a right answer with how to deal with a manipulative ex who was working against me every step of the way. My ex had years to become a master at spinning his web of lies. Many times his stories contain enough elements of the truth and sometimes it sounded like he believed the stories he sells. This is probably why he good at being a salesman and gets to practice this every day.

One of my problems is I don’t play his game back and I never will. That is just not the kind of person I am or who I strive to be. Over there years through Alanon, counseling, and reading self-help books, I am usually aware what is my part and what is not. One of my problems is I use to react vs respond to his attacks or outbursts. I have done better at it over the years by not responding to his personal attacks. It does not mean that I don’t go on to think about what he said for hours or even days. It also doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could say something back.

Right now, I am struggling with how to have a relationship with my daughter. My ex has done such a great job of screwing everything up. My daughter is living with him now and won’t come visit if my husband is home. I am still struggling to get the full answer for why she is so mad at my husband. Maybe he is just easier to blame? In my ex-husbands last email he implied he thought I was going through a divorce. Divorce isn’t even on the topic of discussion. Maybe he wishes I was suffering more than I am.

So, I am pretty angry at him right now. Trying to find it within myself to forgive him again. I just don’t know how to have a relationship with her that doesn’t involve him. I realize she needs more time to mature and realize the truth. I don’t feel like I can have any real conversations with her that won’t get back to the spider. My mother asks why I give him so much power. It is hard because it seems like my daughter is on his team for the time being. To say she is on his team, means there is an ongoing game, and I don’t want to play games.

Now I am trying to navigate the waters of the damage my ex-husband left in his wake with our daughter. Learn how to be a parent in a different and more difficult situation. At least when she was in my home I knew I wasn’t trying to poison her against her father. My primary goal was to teach her right from wrong and to trust her gut instinct. This is something I am not exactly sure how to handle. It does seem extremely important that I take care of myself so I can be the healthiest person possible.

This post was written from a mother in grief. However, I will rebound and my words will come from a place of strength. This is just not how I feel today.

 

An Open Post to My Abusive Ex

Yesterday, I posted an email string between my ex-husband, his wife, and myself. The last email I received was a personal attack by my ex-husband. Although I did not respond to his email, his comments have been ringing in my head for the past 24 hours. Obviously, this is the narcissist’s goal, keeping you off-balanced… all for their love of control.

Actually this situation is bizarre. He never takes our daughter to one doctor’s visit ever in her entire life. Now, she lives with him he is suddenly taking her in to get teeth pulled at 18 1/2 against the advice of her dentist of 7 years. Years ago, I remember when she was 13 he threatened to put braces on her one summer so it would cost me money. How crazy is that? You don’t make a decision just to cost your ex money. This type of control is completely irrational.

So, last December we discussed his removing two baby teeth since she is missing two permanent teeth. Her dentist told me to leave them as long as possible. She said they won’t last forever, but to keep them as long as possible. She said this would get our daughter into long-term situation of having to replace those implants. She said they are extremely expensive and to hold off. She also said she had clients that were in their 30s and 50s that still had their baby teeth. So, this is what I told my ex-husband. I had told him we completely agreed with pulling her wisdom teeth, but did not agree with the baby teeth. He did it anyways.

Then I receive an email from my ex-husbands wife stating she will be getting bridges and/or implants and I was responsible for 50%. She writes in the email that they CCd their attorney, obviously meant to add an element of threat. Their choice to pull those teeth is extremely expensive and really was unnecessary. Plus, last December, I told them that I did not agree with this decision and whatever costs are on them.

Sending emails like this will not change the fact that you are still responsible for 50% of the cost. Our response was just a reminder that it has been past 30 days. If you feel that you only owe a certain amount then just pay it…which you have not done.  You want to make excuses on insurance filings, etc. which has no weight here. If you can’t pay it then you could make arrangements but you think this is going to go away by deflecting the situation.

Your daughter is 18 and she chose to have this done, just like she has chosen not to see you every 1st, 3rd and fifth weekend. Why is this different?

You know as well as I do you owe this money and there is no legal jargon or opinion of yours that changes that. Wether it’s financial issues or possible divorce issues you are presently having doesn’t change anything (yes she discusses with us your conversations you have had with her). Enough is enough. Be a parent and pay what you owe…just like I did and still do.

His email is not constructive. It contains only one fact that I am 3 days late in paying him my half. The rest of his email is full of personal attacks, his opinion, and non-facts.

The bill he sent me was $2,000. Plus, he didn’t discuss this with me, nor did he give me a heads up on the price or even see if there were other options. He didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me in advance our daughter was going under general anesthesia. After receiving this bill, I contacted the Oral Surgeon and gave them our insurance information. She said she had to wait to get the response from their insurance company so she could send that to our insurance company. I am 100% sure if he received a partial refund we would never see a dime of that.

he rest of his comments about my daughter choosing to get the baby teeth pulled. Um, who is the parent here? My daughter is young and really not mature enough to make this decision. She told me her baby teeth were still growing. I am not sure why she believed that they would get bigger. Plus, this was my ex-husband’s decision. I don’t know why her teeth are so important, but he hasn’t taken her to the weekly therapy sessions he agreed to last summer. She really does need to be in counseling.

Then stating that she has chosen not to seem me every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend was just a mean statement. Of course she doesn’t come see me. He had worked really hard on turning her against me, my husband, and my step-daughter. He actually told her that I have been bothering him for all these years. Um, no, it certainly the other way around. Does he believe his own lies? Is he delusional?

Then he goes on to mention something about financial trouble and divorce? Neither of these comments are the truth. Then he implies my daughter is telling them everything we talked about. That kind of makes me angry. I don’t know if this is his goal to drive further wedges between my daughter and myself. Unfortunately, my daughter does not realize that every single thing she told her dad about me for all these years was used as a weapon against me.

Then he tells me to be a parent? Seriously? Coming from the parent who gets our daughter a permit right after we catch her smoking a bong in a car. This was on a video and posted online. Then he goes on and gets her a car and lets her do whatever she wants. He couldn’t possibly believe that is ‘parenting’. My daughter did tell me she is happy over there. I discussed this with my aunt and she said, “Of course she is happier, she has less accountability, nothing is required of her at his house.” At our house we had rules and you can’t get a car if you are lying, smoking pot, and failing school.

Anyway, I didn’t say any of these thoughts. Some thoughts of anger hit me like maybe he is struggling with money. Or when I left him, I would have rather lived in my car than continue living with him any longer. He doesn’t even sleep in the same bed with his wife. I know this is true because he wouldn’t sleep in the same bed with me either. I have no idea what that was all about. He slept in the room next to our daughter, during the same years she complained her vagina hurt. Everyone suspects something happened. We may never know the truth.

I keep wondering if it will ever end. Can I actually have a relationship with my daughter? Is she just going to run and tell her dad anything I say? She is on his team, whether she knows it or not. For whatever sick reason, my ex-husband just can’t be happy unless he is screwing me. Using our child against me is certainly not in the best interest of our daughter. Truly sick! I just can’t comprehend how people can act that way and never feel guilty or remorseful. What is wrong with his wife that she feels it is acceptable to talk down to me.

This make me feel anxious, sick to my stomach, angry… every emotional under the sun really.  Sometimes I am angry at myself because I just can’t allow myself to sink to his level. Mostly I feel sad about what has happened with our daughter. I am positive she will think about this differently after she grows up. I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

 

Stages of Grief – Dealing with Emotions

It has been two months since my last blog entry. Over the past few months I have gone through several stages of grief.

Stages of Grief

It began with fear and trying to decide what to do about the situation. Then it evolved into overwhelming sadness with frequent bouts of crying. Sometimes I felt extremely angry at my ex-husband for his manipulation and taking advantage of our daughter. Some days I felt angry at myself for selecting my ex-husband all those years ago. Sometimes I hate my ex-husband and wish he was dead, but then I feel guilty for thinking that way. Maybe some of this anger is misdirected, on many days I feel like I have no-one to blame but myself.

Fake It ’til You Make It

A few months ago I made myself start exercising again in an effort to pull myself out of the funk. Thinking of that old saying; fake it ’til you make it. Last week, I began doing my crafts again and I think that is helping. Lately, I have entered a new phase… perhaps this is coming to the point of acceptance or maybe I am just getting used a new normal. On some days I still feel like a victim, but it does no good to think like that. However, it doesn’t change the anger of all the years my ex-husband has been screwing with us and how much I tried to counter it with good messages, to end up losing my daughter anyway.

Yes, so this sometimes sound like a pity party to me. Last week, I began doing some of my crafts again and I think that is helping. My daughter still will not give me her phone number. She still communicates with me through the Instagram app. It is very bizarre.

Just writing this blog post makes me feel like I want to cry again. Maybe that is okay. Plus, I know full well that this journey will not be linear. Of course the journey has just begun and we have no idea where it will take us.

The Past Collides with the Present

There has also been some hell going on with my father at the same time. However, that is another story that probably needs its own blog post. In one of his emails to me he said that my daughter would rather live with an abuser than me. I know my father is not in his right mind, but that doesn’t remove the sting from his words. My father is a very abusive man and uses words as a sword. However, it has been difficult to discontinue all contact with my father completely. Although I rarely speak to him.

“As far as “behavior” is concerned, “Judge not lest you be judged.”   For one who found her first true love while performing at a “peep show,” and what great judgment you demonstrated in your choice of a first husband, and the fact that your daughter, my granddaughter, has chosen to live with an “abuser” rather than you, you do not sound like you are in a position to judge anybody!   I suggest that you “judge yourself, so that God and others do not have to!”

My daughter may struggle with her relationship with her father as much as I struggle with mine. No matter how hateful he is, I still love my father. Plus, he really hasn’t been much of a father and doesn’t deserve my loyalty. Maybe that is why I picked my ex-husband. My ex-husband reminds me very much of my father. My ex-husband reminds my mother of my father.

Secrets of my Past

His comment about meeting my first true love while performing at a “peep show”. What a hateful comment. Yes, I used to be a topless dancer. Life happened, however my ex-husband is certainly not my true love and I did not meet him where I was working. I met him out at a bar one evening. Today, this is my big secret in life and I do not tell anyone about this. Although this blog post is anonymous, I still haven’t been able to discuss this part of my past on this blog until now.

Why should I feel ashamed of my past. It is my past and it does not define me today. This was also something I decided to tell my daughter before she left. I was worried my ex-husband would tell her first. If he told her this, his motivations would not be for a good reason. So I felt it was better that it came from me than him.

Last week while in therapy, I told my counselor I had felt like this was my fault for picking my ex-husband. She said, “you didn’t pick someone on purpose that was abusive and you didn’t plan on getting divorced.” She is right, I picked someone who I thought was a nice guy. The person my ex-husband portrayed to me was not the person he really was. I really liked him in the first year, but he wasn’t being real in the beginning. When he was being his true abusive self, I didn’t like him one bit.

Keep a Positive Outlook

I keep telling myself that everything is going to work out in the end. That my daughter will come around and see the truth. That one day we will mend our relationship. Maybe she will see that I am not a bad person and I wasn’t a bad mom. I know I was not perfect, but I continued working to improve myself and our life. I hope one day she can see the truth.

 

Navigating Through Parental Alienation (PAS)

navigating parental alienationDuring the holidays is when I realize that this is a sad time and perhaps I feel a little blue. Navigating through the effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is not easy and there doesn’t seem to be a right answer other than prayers and time.

Today, I read about a new term called Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP) and this definition makes a lot of sense. It describes this as an aggressive form of abuse and maltreatment. However, it does say that HAP leads to PAS. It is my believe that either parent and even guardians can contribute to destroying the relationship between child(ren) and either the mother or father.

As a child, I experienced my father’s constant verbal assaults against my mother. His goal was most certainly to turn me against my mother or take his side. To this day, my father will still say hateful things about my mother. For this reason, I rarely speak to my father, although I still love him regardless. Plus, my father’s stories often contained elements of the truth, but unfairly put my mother down. He would say my mother was promiscuous and even refer to her as ‘satan’.

As a young adult, I also witnessed my uncle (father’s brother) turning his three children against their mother. It wasn’t until they were grown adults and married with families of their own that they came to realize there might be another side to the story. Although my Aunt may not have been perfect, more of the harm came from my Uncle then from her. Now they have a different relationship with their father.

Since my daughter was little, my ex-husband has been constantly undermining my parental authority with our daughter. He would call us the ‘food police’ and basically say our rules were extreme or unreasonable. We had some rules, but I would never consider our rules extreme. My daughter has journal entries from when she was ten years old, where she expresses her confusion about whose rules to follow and how to answer his questioning her. This ongoing parental warfare caused unnecessary stress in our daughter’s life during her childhood.

journal entry about rulesjournal entries questions

Once she became a teenager, she was open to moving in with her father, especially since he was offering her a ‘stress free house’ (read no rules) and a car. However, it is so sad the distance my daughter has put between us so quickly. It has been over two months since she left to live with her father. Still, she does not give me her phone number and my only way to communicate is through the Instagram app. It has been over a month since I have seen my daughter and I hope to see her on December 2nd.

Recently, she reached out to me and was asking if we could get together. Her tone seems to have improved a bit and she seems less angry? Maybe time will help? The problem is she still lives with her father and his motives are not so good. Everything he has ever done has an self-serving purpose. I cannot control my ex-husband or his wife, but hearing my daughter speak in a manner that is definitely not her is frustrating.

Last week, we went to my hometown to celebrate my grandmother’s life. My grandmother lived a long life and she was 97 1/2 when she passed away. We invited my daughter and she said she could not go to another state and miss even one day of school. Honestly, she is struggling with her grades and I am not sure one day would make that big of difference. Anyway, we had a huge family photo and it was sad for several of us that my daughter was not in the picture.

My mom is frustrated on some days and gets very angry at my ex-husband. I am not really sure how much of this is just her being a teenager. Dealing with teenagers can be a challenge without adding combative co-parenting to the mix. Today, I read an article called Offsetting Parental Alienation that gave me some hope. However, the other day I read a comment on Facebook from one of our readers that said their ex-husband was destroying their relationship with their grand babies. This thought just breaks my heart.

I hope my writing about this is helping some people. It is helping me to write these thoughts down. In July, after we were served the suit for custody, my stomach was upset nearly the entire month. In August, when my daughter was home and hostile towards us, we were completely on edge the entire month. In September, I felt extreme grief, knowing that I might have to let her go. In October, my feelings moved into a depression and it was a little hard to pull myself out of that. In November, I am beginning to accept my reality and trying to accept life with my daughter at a distance.

My prayers are constant to for God to keep her safe and protected. I still pray for my ex-husband and his wife and hope they will find their own happiness. Although, I know people rarely change. For now, I will continue to work on myself and continue working on my own health and happiness.

Power Over and the Abuser

power and controlOkay, right now there is a situation that is outside my control. Although I have no desire to be in control, although with that being said… I really don’t like the feeling of being out of control either. This is clearly a Power Over situation for my ex-husband and he has all the control and I know he relishes every moment.

Side note, oftentimes I use pretty pictures of flowers and butterflies when can’t find a picture that represents my story. So now you know.

Yesterday, I dealt with a situation with my daughter and my ex-husband and it is on my mind. One reason I created this blog was to get things out of my head so I can stop thinking about them. So here it goes.

Last Sunday, I sent my ex a text message that I would pick our daughter up at 6pm. I had to contact him because my daughter has not given me her phone number for some reason. So, yesterday I drove 25 minutes to pick her up at 6pm.

My being the parenting picking our daughter up for visitation is still very new for all of us. My daughter asked me if she could skip the last two visits for Homecoming and studies. So I agreed, but I do really want to try to maintain some sort of relationship with my daughter.

I am not really sure why my daughter won’t call me or give me her phone number. All of this is rather insane. Her father bought her this phone and maybe that is why. She had told me she was “suspicious” of why I was asking for her phone number. I had told her I didn’t know what she had to be suspicious about. None of this makes any sense. I strongly suspect that this is a case of parental alienation by my ex-husband. Hopefully my daughter will one day see the truth.

Okay, so back to the story. So at 6pm, I rang the doorbell and knocked since I really couldn’t hear if the doorbell was actually ringing. Nobody answered the door. So, I drove home and decided to send him an email and it was time to get the lawyers involved.

On September 8th, we agreed to let our 17 year old go live with her father. Her anger towards me really began in the summer after I busted her for smoking pot. She became extremely angry at that time. When she went to her father’s house for the July visit, we received a suit for custody from my ex-husband. When she came home, she was more hateful than ever. She was determined to go live with her father and that was that.

So after spending $8,000 on attorney fees we agreed during medication that she would go live with her father. She is going to be 18 in April and it didn’t make any sense to prevent her from going at this age. Our agreement was that we would be joint parents and I would take the weekends and holiday visits. My request was that she needs weekly therapy until the therapist says she doesn’t need to go. We really believe his motivation at this late stage was to get out of paying child support because he paid the max. My attorney suggested no child support from me and he agreed.

He has not taken her to one single therapy session in two months. All of this is so frustrating. I have no idea if she didn’t want to be there or he didn’t want her to be there yesterday when I went to pick her up. Without therapy, she only has her father and his wife who are not really doing what is best for her.

So, I sent him an email:

Good Evening (Insert Ex Name Here),

Last Sunday, I sent you a message to let you know that I would be picking (our daughter) up tonight at 6pm (screenshot attached). Tonight, at 6pm, I rang the doorbell and knocked and nobody answered. Nor did you respond to my text or call me to let me know she would not be there tonight.

(Our daughter) asked for a little time to get acclimated and work on her schoolwork. I agreed to her request temporarily. However, it has been over a month since I have been able to visit with her.

In the past 12-13 years, I never discouraged (our daughter) from visiting you during your weekends. Also, I never alienated you with her as you have done towards me. I expect you to show me the same courtesy. 

Also, you have not taken her to one therapy session, as you agreed to during mediation. The therapist is still recommending therapy as noted in the attached letter. 

text-to-ex

He responded with this:

This is a false statement…nothing has been signed by you. I have done nothing but adhere to the mediation orders and if I recall when she was with you on your visitation I had to pick her up premature to the weekend visit due to “issues”. Bottom line, call your attorney. 

Okay, something that has been extremely helpful in the past is breaking down his messages. So, he says ‘This is a false statement…nothing has been signed by you’. It sounds like he is saying since I did not sign the agreement that I received last week yet, he doesn’t have to do what is says. However, his actions so far is to have our daughter move in and changed her schools.

Then he says ‘I have done nothing but adhere to the mediation orders…’ and by this he must mean than he has custody of her and changed schools. Weekly therapy was required and he has not taken her to a single session. Then he brings up something from the past that occurred in August ‘and if I recall when she was with you on your visitation I had to pick her up premature to the weekend visit due to “issues”.’ This has absolutely nothing to do with this situation.

Notice how he never addresses why she was not there at 6pm and simply says ‘Bottom line, call your attorney.’ He loves to use clichés in his emails. As soon as my attorney explains a section that was highlighted in the agreement I plan to have her file a judgment against him. In fact, I really want to play hard-ball here with him. Perhaps my attorney has some ideas.

‘Bottom line’ (do I sound more intelligent using this word?) he is not complying with what he agreed to do during our mediation. Plus, since our daughter does not have a car or a license yet, someone else would have to drive her away from the residence. Also, out of courtesy a simple phone call or text to let me know she would not be there did not happen either. Who am I kidding, since when has my ex-husband ever been respectful or courteous?

Obviously this is a power-play for him. He likes to be in control and he is right now. So, my challenge is to do what I can do and let it go. This does not need to become a fight for me… or something that I spend all my waking hours thinking about.

Anyone else experiencing something similar to this situation? In my next post I discuss Accepting the Painful Reality.

Aftermaths of Parental Alienation by a Narcissist

parental alienation - parental warfareMy daughter visited me this weekend and things didn’t go as I expected they would. Perhaps this was too soon for her to come home to visit. Right now, my daughter sees me as the bad guy and she is especially mad at my husband. Plus, we had to deal with three months of hateful behavior and blaming me for all her problems. This was while her father was suing us for custody. It always seemed like my ex-husband was playing a continuous game of parental warfare, and although none of us wanted to play, he was winning.

“If you dig ’80s movies, you might remember War Games. What did the computer realize about thermonuclear war? The only way to win was not to play.” – by Eric Barker

On Friday, I picked her up and we came home. She came home with a big suitcase to pick up all her stuff to take to her dads. The only issue we had was I was there a little early and sent her a message that I was outside when she was ready. Then a few minutes after the hour I sent her a message asking if she was here. About ten minutes after the hour I rang the doorbell and then she comes out with a big suitcase. I asked if she would please let me know if she was running late. She said that she didn’t think I would want her to stop to to text me.  I did feel a little frustrated about this because for years, she won’t make her dad wait for a second without being ready, but she doesn’t feel any need to be timely with the rest of us.

Another brief conversation was when I asked her why she hadn’t given me her phone number. She said, “Well, you didn’t ask.” So I asked if I could have her phone number. Here is a little back story to why I don’t have her phone number. My ex-husband disagreed with us taking away our daughter’s cell phone whenever she was in trouble for lying, smoking pot, or failing school. He told us it was ‘ludicrous’ that we would take her phone away. We consider her phone to be a privilege and if she is making poor choices she loses that privilege. So he decided to get her a new phone so it could not be taken away. When she went to live there in September, I decided there was no reason to have two phones and had planned on selling her phone. We are stuck in contract for a little over a year. My husband had an older phone, so I wound up taking her phone (since it was pink) and gave him my phone. She and I have been texting through Instagram over the past two weeks.

Okay, so on Friday night, we went out to eat dinner. We decided on Sushi.  My husband did not join us because he thought it might be best for just the two of us to go. Last time, we went to dinner, she was not super thrilled that he was with us. Her behavior did become worse and worse by the time she made it to ninth grade. She became more rebellious and began hanging with friends who make it a point to be deceitful. I do not think the pot smoking video I found was the first time and she admitted to a few other occasions of drugs and drinking. Hard to say how long this has been going on.

That night, she and I went out to eat dinner. My husband did not come. I do think there are some frustrations and resentments between them. He is pissed off on how disrespectful she is to me and how she talks to me. She is pissed off at him because of how he talks to her. He thinks it is because he won’t put up with her disrespect. He says she is a teenager and she needs to be respectful when she is in our home. What pisses him off is when hears her talk to me, he hears my ex-husband is talking to me.

Let me tell you about my husband. So, my husband is a great guy. He enjoys helping around the house. He cooks, he cleans, he builds things, he fixes things, and he works hard. My only complaint about my husband is his temper and he knows that is my big issue. However, his temper pales in comparison to my ex-husband’s temper. First, I never feel unsafe with my husband. When he loses his temper, it is usually done in a passive way and it irritates me to no end. It is clear that he is upset and when you ask him what is wrong, he says ‘nothing’ and it is obvious that is not true. Usually it is over other things; like his work, or something won’t work, or that someone didn’t do what they said. Then he gets over it pretty quickly after that. He isn’t good at dealing with his feelings in a constructive way, and that is what irritates me. Other than that, I really can’t complain about anything.

So the relationship with my husband and my daughter actually was going pretty well for years. The only problem was my ex-husband had told her that she only has one dad. That my husband is not her real dad and she doesn’t have to do what he says. I am really not sure what else has been told. I believe these comments were due to my ex-husband’s insecurity because my husband has been more of a father to our daughter than her biological dad. My husband has also been a full time dad of his daughter who is now eighteen. We haven’t had problems with her and she is still living with us while working full-time and going to school. This daughter is also pretty intolerant of my daughter blaming others and when they have conversations, she has told her exactly that. My daughter is sneaking around smoking pot and my step-daughter is not.

So, now to Saturday. We had been up and had done quite a few things and my daughter woke up sometime after 10 am. She was in the kitchen cooking breakfast. I said good morning to her. We had discussed cleaning her room  (because it is a disaster area). She asked if I could give her a little time to wake up first and I said okay. Then I asked her not to forget to send me her number. Then she said this, “I am suspicious of why you are asking for my number.” I asked her what she meant. She said, “Well, why are you asking for it now? Why didn’t you ask for it earlier?” I had said that there was nothing to be suspicious over, and that I had told her the day she left to go to her father’s house that I didn’t have her number and she would have to call me. She kept asking why I was asking now and I did say I was surprised I had to ask at all.

This conversation just escalated from here and she seemed mad at me for more than one reason. To start this conversation did not go that bad. I did say, if she wanted to go home early, that would be okay, but I wasn’t going to fight all weekend. Things escalated from here and I asked her to pack her things and it was time go early. She brought up again that her dad doesn’t care about me and this stuff is my problem. She went upstairs and didn’t come down for a while. Then she came down slamming her suitcase down every step. A plastic piece brook off the suitcase and I picked it up and swept up all the tiny pieces of plastic from the stairs. She asked me what I did with the piece of suitcase and I said I threw it away. She asked if I was sure it couldn’t be repaired. This suitcase may belong to her father.

She called her father and asked him to pick her up and he agreed. I asked if she was going to say goodbye to my husband and his daughter (I said their names). She walked into the kitchen, stood there for a second, and then walked out. My husband and step-daughter were in the middle of having a conversation and then she just walked out of the kitchen. Then I asked her why she didn’t say goodbye. She said, “I am not saying good bye, nobody said hello to me. I never feel like I am part of the family” I did comment that, “You are always part of the family.” Well, my step-daughter overheard that and said some comment about she didn’t know she was leaving. My husband said, I didn’t realize you were leaving (they didn’t). Then my daughter says to my husband, “When I was hear on Friday, you didn’t say one word to me.” He said, “Well, you didn’t say hello either.” She replied, “Well, you are the adult here.” He said, “Well, you are the one who likes to argue.”

Our conversation didn’t get better. She blames me for all our problems. I said that I was very sorry she had to go through this difficulty, and that it was not her fault, but I refused to take all the responsibility for these challenges. She continued to blame me and I did pull out a huge binder of all my communications with her dad and said, “You keep stating things that are not true, the truth is here, this was incredibly difficult.” She asked, “Why do you have all that?” I said, “Because your father has been threatening to take you away from me since you were five years old.” The one thing I said that I regret saying is, “I wish I had never told your father I was pregnant with you.” This was hurtful and not good to say, but I can’t tell you how much I wish that. My ex-husband has been a plague on our lives.

“Such men are loathsome and I find it almost impossible to feel any empathy for them, though of course they never come for individual treatment so I don’t actually have to try. The word I use to describe them is reptilian: they seem so cold-blooded, without any genuine feeling for other people, and their desire to inflict pain or even destroy their former spouses seems inhuman, snake-like.” – by Joseph Burgo

I hate my ex-husband for all the challenges we have right now. It is hard to say how much difficulty we would have if this was just a normal teenage situation. However, co-parenting with my ex-husband has been more than difficult and he has done everything he could to undermine our authority and relationship. Was I the perfect parent, no, probably not. Did I purposely try to screw up my kid’s life, absolutely not! Co-parenting with an person who seems set out to destroy you just makes for an impossible situation.

“The narcissist initiates an all out war against you. He knows that you will go down–he will be the triumphant winner. Winning is the only thing that the narcissist knows besides his perpetual god—-money, property, social prestige, raw power over others. This is an extension of his extreme sense of self entitlement, grandiose inflated ego, blind ambition and lack of a developed conscience.
Narcissists Never Play Fair; this is not part of their psychic structure.” by Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

So, she decided to take her suitcase and walks out to the sidewalk to wait for her dad to pick her up. This was in the middle of the day, but I stood watching her through the window until I saw his truck pull up to pick her up. I get that she is mad at me, but she throws out blanket statements, but doesn’t want anything said back.

My husband feels she is just a mouth-piece for her father right now. My husband is furious and said that any hope of reconciliaton right is never going to happen, that my ex-husband will screw that up.

“He experiences the continuing reality of a woman who rejected him as a continual threat, a constant assault upon his ideal self-image; as a result, his defenses remain on continual alert against it. At the least provocation — that is, whenever shame threatens to emerge — he will viciously strike out, like a snake assaulting its prey.” – by Joseph Burgo

Years ago, I thought I was only dealing with an alcoholic, but it just wasn’t the full picture. When I went to domestic abuse counseling, they could describe my relationship perfectly without my saying anything. It was as if they had a window into my life.  However, reading about Narcissism, that is probably the best explanation of my ex-husband. So are more situations of domestic abuse rooted in narcissism?

 

Sources: 

Parental Alienation Syndrome – Courts Deny it Exists

parental alienationWhat became increasingly frustrating about this entire situation with my daughter was that the courts do not consider Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) a real thing. The attorneys said that although they all know it does exist, they are not allowed to talk about it in the courts. She said they will often use code words to describe this syndrome instead. There is an ongoing debate about PAS in the court system. It sounds as if it has become a tool in the court that can be abused by either the father or mother

First, let me say that I believe Parental Alienation is a real thing. During my childhood, I was a victim of Parental Alienation by my father who was constantly tearing down my mother. I will never know how much his comments factored into my anger as I became a teenager. Not only did this anger affect my mother, but it also helped influence some very poor decisions that would affect my life for years to come.

Now, my father’s criticism of my mother backfired for several reasons. My mother was not the awful person my father tried to describe. Also, as a young girl, his criticism of my mother eventually led me to internalize his comments. I had actually made many of the same mistakes that made my mother so awful in his eyes. To this day, my father will still say hateful things about my mother and his behavior has factored into my decisions to limit the amount of contact with him.

My abusive ex-husband has spent years talking negatively about myself and my husband to our daughter. I had truly thought I was doing a good job of countering these comments, but once she became a teenager she began to become more openly defiant. She absolutely refused the follow the rules and even claimed our rules were extreme. There are differences between my ex-husband and my father. My father’s verbal assaults on my mother were very direct and he would flat out say she was promiscuous or refer to her as satan. My ex-husband is very subtle and passive aggressive in his comments.

During the years, my abusive ex-husband and his wife were very good and coming across as the supportive and understanding parents. My ex-husband managed to convince our daughter that I am the one who won’t leave her dad alone. Over the years I sent my ex-husband several emails, asking for him to stop talking negatively about myself and my husband. We also requested that he contact myself or my husband if he had any questions instead of asking our daughter.

Even if the courts considered PAS a real thing, I do not know how you would prove such a thing. My daughter thinks I am a awful mother and my ex-husband ‘hung the moon’. Her memory of events has been altered to fit a plausible narrative that paints me as the bad guy.  So now, at the age of seventeen, we agreed to let her go live with her father. He has offered a house with few rules and consequences. Plus, he has promised her a car. Moving to live with my ex-husband sounds like a teenager’s dream come true.

Now, I accept that I was not always perfect and at times I definitely ‘reacted’ instead of ‘responding’. However, I always tried to teach our daughter right from wrong and it included apologies whenever I reacted in a way I shouldn’t. It was very difficult hearing my teenager talk to me like my ex-husband would speak to me and I should have done a better job of not taking it personally. Teenagers are also pretty good at playing both parents, even in the best of circumstances. My advice to anyone else, is hold your tongue and wait until you can ‘respond’ and avoid ‘reacting’. Easier said than done I know.

We will see over time if my daughter gains a different understanding living with her father full time. I was only 21 when I met my ex-husband and it took me the longest time to figure out our relationship was one of emotionally and psychologically abuse.

 

The Narcissists Ultimate Weapon – Gaslighting

gaslighting and childrenToday, I feel rather sad and it is difficult to write when I feel sad. Yesterday, I watched my seventeen year old get into the car with my narcissist ex-husband to go live with him. Everything about this truly breaks my heart. There is a new pain I feel that is so deep it is hard to even describe. Sending her to live with her dad is really not what I think is best for her.

However, she is seventeen and if she stays she will continue to be resentful and have her fantasy picture of what it would be like to live with him. Visiting him every other weekend versus living with him full time is very different. My ex-husband exhibits all the behaviors of a classic narcissist. Also, his ultimate weapon has always been gaslighting. He has done everything he can over the years to convince me that I am the crazy one here. Sometimes I do feel like I am the crazy one, but thankfully I have twenty years of documentation and a wonderful support network of friends and family to confirm it is not me.

Gaslighting – manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

Turning Children Against Other Parent

The worst was when my daughter came home in July, from her summer visitation at her dad’s house, and began telling me that it is me who won’t leave her father alone. She literally believes the story in reverse where I am the person who is harassing her father for all these years. Over the years, he has told her twisted versions of the truth and some outright lies. In 2012, he told her that he always took care of her while I was just on my computer all the time (Abuse and Coparenting – Rising Above the Games).

So, he has managed to turn our daughter against me and she believes he is telling the truth. In the article Abusers and Leveraging the Children, they say that abusers will use anyone to do their bidding, including turning the children against the mother (or father). She was determined living with him would be better and was extremely angry and hateful for the past three months.

This hurts me that my child would see me as the abuser in this situation. Doesn’t she know me better than that? I thought I did a better job at raising her in this difficult situation. When your ex-husband turns your child against you, it leaves you wondering if you failed as a parent. Wondering if you failed to teach your children right from wrong. Feeling like you must have failed in your parenting. Perhaps the biggest problem isn’t me, but that I am coparenting with a person who is not doing the right thing. Just maybe being countered at every step helped shape this outcome in an unfortunate way?

Lawsuit for Custody

In July, we were served papers where my ex-husband was asking for custody of our seventeen year old. This absolutely made my stomach sick. We had to hire an attorney and answer their suit. His attorney also set it to go directly to court when our 2008 modification clearly states mediation must happen first. So, we had to answer his request and reschedule mediation.

On Thursday, my husband and I attended the mediation and we decided to let her go live with her dad. He asked for the custody arrangements to flip and he become primary conservator and they would negotiate the child support. My attorney asked for and we received the following:

  • Nobody is primary, it will be joint custody
  • My ex-husband has to take and pass a drug test or everything revert to the previous orders
  • Weekly therapy for our daughter until the therapist determines it is no longer necessary
  • Our daughter has to take and pass three drug tests for three months before she can get a drivers license
  • Nobody buys a car for her until she is 18 (due to getting caught smoking pot in June)
  • Our daughter needs to take a psychological evaluation
  • No child support
  • Attorney fees, we asked for all, but we got $1,500

As we discussed with our attorney and mediator. At seventeen, it didn’t make sense to fight for her at this point because we would just have an angry teenager who is absolutely convinced she wants to live with her father. She is practically an adult. Even if we had her stay, she would want to leave as soon as she turned eighteen. We did the best we could to put some safe guards around her and had to let her go.

Rose Colored Glasses

Right now, our daughter sees her father through rose colored glasses. Over the years, they have let her do whatever she wants and bought her a lot of things. She constantly came home with expensive gifts like pandora bracelet, expensive clothes, and has been promised a car. They often ‘joke’ about our unfair or extreme rules. Plus, she has been hanging out with friends who have too much freedom in their households and can confirm how we are too strict. We are definitely not overly strict, but when comparing a permissive household to our house, it probably does seem extreme in our daughter’s eyes.

The Mask Will Come Off

Perhaps living with her father 24/7 will allow the mask to come off. Just maybe, she will eventually believe the ‘truth’ she has been told may not actually be the whole truth. I have not shared with her all the details of our relationship because she does not need to know. Although, maybe this is wrong. You do not want to involve children in adult business, but maybe this just further perpetuates the false narrative the abuser tells children?

My father was very much like my ex-husband and spent years trying to make me hate my mother. The difference is I didn’t see my father as often as my daughter visits her father. Plus, my father was a bit more direct than my ex-husband’s subtle manipulation. My father would outright say my mother was satan. My ex-husband is much more convert and manipulative.

My mother and I did have a lot of problems when I was a teenager and I am not sure how much my father’s comments played into that or not. Eventually, I became aware that my mother was not the problem. To this day, my father still says hateful things about my mother and our relationship is very much estranged because of it.

Truth Will Prevail

I have to believe that eventually the truth will prevail in this situation. What I don’t know is how long it will take before my daughter realizes that I am not the abuser here.

My uncle, my father’s brother, did turn all three of his children against their mother. They wouldn’t have anything to do with their mother for years. It was a case of true parental alienation. Now, that they are all adults and married, they realized that their mother may not have been perfect, but it was mostly their father that was the problem. My cousin said she won’t even stay at her father’s house when they visit him and would rather stay at her in-laws house.

Ending the Cycle of Abuse

This has been an incredibly difficult journey. I see this story from so many levels; as a child of abuse, as a victim of domestic abuse, as a parent of a child being emotionally abused. This is so sad and I truly hope my daughter can see the light, get healthy and maybe this cycle of abuse will end with my generation. I do not know what the future will bring or what our relationship will be like in the future.