Tag Archive | using children as pawns

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.

Reasons to Document Verbal Abuse

Tonight, I read through a few of my blog posts from seven years ago. My thoughts and points about the situations seem perfectly reasonable and rational to me today. So, either that means I am still sick today in my thoughts … doubtful… or the situation was crazy… probable. Documentation may or may not be useful in court, but it is extremely useful for personal validation. Throughout the years I have continued going to therapy, reading self-help books, and going to self-help meetings. Plus, I am surrounded by friends who are healthy and trustworthy.

Personal Validation

In my blog post Validation – I am not Crazy I am discussing the situation with my ex-husband and his wife signing a power of attorney giving his girlfriend (later his wife) full parenting rights at school with our daughter. First, why would a father sign his rights over to a girlfriend? His decisions to not participate in parenting did not mean the school had rights to give his girlfriend the same rights as I had. So this was my primary concern was that the school told me his wife had the same parenting rights as I had with our daughter. This is not a right they had to give away, especially without my permission or notifying me. Plus, I was actively participating in her school activities and functions.

To this day, I have problems with how the school district behaved. I hope this type of situation is unique to this school district. The schools my daughter went to prior and after this situation have not behaved in that manor. This leads me to believe in the nepotism situation. Simply because she was a assistant school teacher in their school, they gave her extra rights, and  I do not believe they would have otherwise.

Interesting enough, I was posting about her inappropriate behavior that didn’t bother me at first. I wrote, “We love you and miss you pumpkin” signed his wife’s name. Little did I know this type of behavior would continue and excessively. At first, I thought maybe this is just a really kind woman who enjoys sending gifts to our daughter. If my ex-husband and his wife hadn’t been so manipulative on so many different occasions then it would be easy to overlook as nothing. The ongoing game suggests there are always motives at play.

Parenting and Abuse

In my next post, Keeping Children Out of the Middle, I discuss the challenges of preventing this unhealthy behavior from touching our daughter. It is true, once the school was involved with my ex-husband’s manipulative games; it was impossible to keep it from touching our daughter. Divorce is tough enough without adding any additional layers. The school should have been a neutral ground. School had been the one place where she could go that our divorce dysfunction wouldn’t touch her. After that, our daughter had to deal with divorce hell everywhere she went. The school didn’t protect our daughter. They shouldn’t have remained neutral. Thankfully, we never had this type of experience again with the school again.

My ex-husbands manipulations and abuse have been documented over and over again in my posts. Yet, today my daughter is living with her father. How does that happen? This situation is quite sick and twisted. There is no rhyme or reason. No rational or logical explanation. I just realize I have to be okay with the fact that I did the absolute best I could. That I truly had my daughter’s best interest at heart at all times. My best friend constantly says that I handled this better than most people would have under the circumstances. Maybe there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome.

Pain is for a Purpose

Also, I need to keep in mind that everything happens for a reason and/or purpose. It has been really easy to focus on the negative experiences over the past year and that type of thinking surely keeps me stuck. So I realize I need to change my thoughts with purpose. Maybe my daughter is away so I can get healthy and get some freedom away from my ex-husband. There has been a lot less communication with him since she left. Maybe the lesson here is for my daughter to gain a different perspective. Whatever the reason, I must remind myself that I trust my higher power (I choose to call my higher power God) and that means there are no mistakes.

Downhill Battle: Teenager Post Abuse

There did seem to be a downhill battle with my daughter after divorcing a narcissist/abusive ex. You can really see the spiral downhill and how we were unable to turn it around in this story. Our daughter has become extremely irrational and unreasonable to converse with. Ugh! I did exactly what I said I shouldn’t do and argued with an extremely irritating 17 year old.

You may have ready my previous, Resentment Only Harms Myself, where my daughter had a difficult sophomore year.  Her childhood has been filled with so much hell and craziness that she really didn’t need. Sometimes I feel that we are to blame, but I know some of this behavior by my ex-husband has always been beyond my control. However, some of her decisions as of late have been brought on by her own decisions and poor choices.

Post originally written on June 25, 2016:

Background

In the Beginning

During a young age, she dealt with my ex-husbands erratic behavior along with my emotional responses to his awful behavior.  Until I found Alanon, I would often respond to him by yelling and screaming because he was getting DWI, coming home drunk, or not coming home, lying all the time.  No matter how I approached him, nothing would ever change, and eventually I became more irritable and unreasonable. Plus, whenever I would blow up, then he would say, “Look how you are behaving, look how crazy you are acting!”.  Worse, I would feel guilty for my reaction. The reason for my initial anger was justified, however when I yelled back it was like giving away my power.  Also, he knew that and would use it against me.

Breaking Point

When my daughter was around four, I remember we had the biggest argument about her fourth birthday party. He wanted to have alcohol and I was convinced this party was for little children.  It really hadn’t occurred to me that he had a problem with drinking at that time.  Once I found Alanon, I began learning that it was like he was throwing the ball and I kept picking it up and throwing it back to him.  Eventually, throughout time I learned to stop picking up that damn ball. When he would throw the ball (words, ignoring, lying, breaking promises) I learned to let it go on by without responding.  I made many mistakes, but I also learned that his behavior was unacceptable and I did not have to continue tolerating it.  By the time she was nearly five, I was buying my own house and getting a divorce.

Divorce

Being divorced from him was harder than being married to him and he made sure of that.  He found a woman who moved in with him shortly after I moved out and I had hoped he would focus on her and leave me alone.  No such luck!  He continued to be harassing and abusive for many years and still does.  Worse, he always used our daughter as a pawn. It would take me many years to learn to talk to him as little as possible.  He is so awful, to this day, I can’t believe how manipulative he is and how hateful he is.

Physical Complaints

Between the ages of four to nine, she complained of her vagina hurting and I would take her to the doctor.  They could never figure out why she was having this pain. One time, her father dropped her off and she crawled under the bathroom sink, screaming that her ‘tee-tee’ hurt.  I called her pediatrician, show said, “If you do not call CPS, then I will.”  So I let my ex-husband know I was calling because I was afraid he would be worse if I didn’t.  I was still so afraid of him at this time.  Plus, he was always threatening to take my daughter away and I was so fearful he had the finances to pull it off.

During this time, my attorney told me to record their conversations.  That night he talked to his daughter and I recorded the message.  He said, “You tell mommy we went straight to gymnastics and back, you tell her that.” When the police officer was filing the report, I remember she raised her eyebrows at that response.  He continued to be difficult after this and my daughter continued to complain about her vagina hurting. The only time she ever complained was after visiting her father.

To this day, I still do not have any answers for why this happened and it suddenly stopped when she was nine years old.

Emotional Abuse

My ex-husband used to interrogate her every time she would visit.  Asking about everything we did, if any guys were ever over.  Then he would email me screaming about this.  Funny, he had a woman living with him at that time?  He also used to pull out all the stops in manipulation. Your mom is going to get mad at you, you are going to get in trouble with your mom, who knows what else…

Whenever she visited his house, she would get whatever she wanted and had no rules.  She could eat whatever and just really had no rules or boundaries.  I get it, he was ‘fun dad’ or ‘Disney dad’. However, he would make comments like we were the ‘food police’ or his wife said I was crazy.  He even mentioned this in a chat this week about his wife saying I had borderline personality disorder.  My comment back is “What business does an assistant teacher have in diagnosing anyone with ADD or any other medical condition.”

So all through my daughter’s childhood she would come home and resent the rules. As she got older, this only became worse.  This was every other weekend we would have hell when she came home for several days.  It was almost as if she had to detox from his house.  Plus, she has been struggling in school for years. It did not help that my ex-husband and his wife were undermining all our rules and working against us throughout her entire childhood.

We have continued to go to therapy.  One mistake I made was we stopped taking her a few years ago when we thought things were getting better.  This was such a mistake, especially when we learned she was cutting herself. She also hooked up with a bunch of friends earlier this year and they were lying all the time about what they were doing.  Eventually that friendship ended badly and all her friends turned on my daughter.

Poor Choices 

Now, she found new friends and was lying again.  I have been paying attention to this behavior and her dishonesty always made me suspicious.  Earlier in the year I installed a program on her phone called UKnowKids.  She was aware I had installed this app on her phone and I told her if she is trustworthy, then we would remove the app. She just really never was trustworthy.  So this app notifies you every time it scans questionable texts.

So a text came in that said, “Going to pick up ‘friend’s name’ and the bud and the rillo.”  So my husband and I were puzzling through this message because it could have meant beer or marijuana.  So, I asked my daughter if her friend smokes cigarettes.  She said, “I don’t know.” So, I asked does she smoke pot?  She said she didn’t know.  So I asked, “Have you smoked pot.”  She said, “No.”

Plus, she had posted a video on Instagram where it looked like she was driving.  She showed me that the phone reversed it, but it was still in question.  Everyone thought she was driving.  However, I looked at the pages of her friends who commented on that post and found her friend’s page.  Wow, this girl had a ton of selfies, but had pictures of her smoking a bong and cigarettes.  Then we noticed a screenshot of a user name for Periscope and the first video is one of my daughter smoking pot with these two friends.

Well, shit hits the fan, of course.

When I was a teenager, you could certainly say I was difficult and eventually grew up. Of course my path led me to marrying an abusive man and extra years of hell trying to co-parent with him. Now, we have a child that not only grew up in a household of divorce, but had to be subjected to years of emotional abuse. Plus, we added a blended family to the mix to further complicate the issue. I had thought we did a pretty good job, but there were high-conflict outside influences and behaviors at work too. My daughter didn’t deserve all this, but this must have happened for a reason. Perhaps some day she will be able to do something good with this situation.

 

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.

 

Children – Abusers Weapon of Choice

My mother was visiting this week and things just weren’t the same without my daughter. Normally, my daughter would be here and happily participating in all activities. This year, my mother and I had three short visits with her instead. My daughter has stated that she does not want to see my husband or his daughter. She said she felt like she would be judged.

The only thing I know for certain is my husband was not the primary problem here. However, I do feel he could have done a better job in how he responded to my daughter’s defiance. Plus, we both could have done a better job not responding to my ex-husband. Dealing with my ex-husband constant chaos, drama, and lawsuits certainly created disruption. When you are dealing with an abusive ex-husband who is parenting against you, I am not sure there is a perfect solution. Nothing could prepare you on how to deal with a controlling and manipulative ex-husband.

The visits with my daughter were good and she actually drove herself to meet us. She was early and remembered to say thank you for the meal. She also told my mother she was so glad she was able to visit with her. These are good signs that our daughter is growing up and maturing.

Continued Self Improvement

In the last fifteen years, I spent a great deal of my time working on self-improvement. Working on improving myself is something I expect I may have to do for the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel like I move on, but don’t really get over the abuse. Maybe it would have been easier to get over the abuse if my ex-husband hadn’t been constantly creating problems and using our daughter as a weapon against me for all these years. It has been 13 years, and I felt like our entire family was under constant attack. Never did we go a period of more than 6 months without some drama or hell being created by my controlling ex. After my daughter left to live with him when  she was 17 1/2, it seemed like my ex-husband has finally left us alone. The price… losing my daughter to my abusive ex-husband.

  • Alanon – I began going to this program in 2003 and it was extremely helpful and I still go on and off today
  • Domestic Abuse Counseling – in 2005, I started began seeing a Domestic Abuse Counselor and attending a group meeting
  • Reading – over the years I have read many books about varying topics: Joint Custody with a Jerk, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Why Does He Do That, Codependent No More, etc…
  • Writing – I also spent time writing in my journals as well as this blog in an effort to continue moving forward in my journey of healing

Teenagers Playing Sides

Dealing with a teenager can be difficult under any circumstance. Then when you add an abusive ex-husband and his manipulative ex-wife to the equation creates one big problem. Plus, my remarrying resulted in a blended household that created another challenge.

Teenagers can be really good at playing one parent against another even when you aren’t dealing with divorce and abusive ex’s. It seems like teenagers can learn very early on who to go to get whatever they want at the moment. One good article is Surviving (Your Child’s) Adolescence that talks a great deal about how children and teen learn to push buttons to get what they want.

Perfect Storm

It does seeme like this situation of co-parenting with an abusive ex-husband was very harmful to our entire family. My daughter has certainly had some challenges in dealing with him. This situation seemed to create a perfect storm of challenges where there was never a single solution. Plus, it seems like there was never a day where drama and chaos didn’t exist.

Actually, it did some good to read those blog entries. I have forgotten so much of the manipulative stuff he has done over the years towards our daughter and myself. It is truly sad for our daughter that she had to go through that for so many years. It is more frustrating that there was nothing I could do to prevent any of it. No child should ever have to be put in the middle or asked to pick sides. Even today, I just don’t have any solutions to all that has rocked our family.

 

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.

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.

 

Children – Casualties of Parental Warfare

flowers roseToday, I had to make a super difficult decision. It is likely I am going to have to let my daughter go live with my abusive ex-husband and his wife.  I do not believe this is the best decisions for her, but she will just resent me if she stays, and will likely move in eight months when she turns eighteen. My heart is absolutely breaking over this decision.

She is a casualty of the parental warfare my ex-husband is waging on our family. It is so sad, because I feel like nobody wins here, everybody loses. Unfortunately, he has waged war and our daughter is a victim in this horrible situation. She is a casualty of parental warfare.

Sending her to live with my abusive ex-husband seems like the worst thing for her.  His permissive parenting will not be good for her, but she is almost an adult and may have to learn the grass is not always greener.

She has been absolutely hateful since June, ever since she was busted smoking pot. As soon as we took away her privileges, she threw a tantrum and called her dad, her dad swooped in and picked her up didn’t discourage her behavior. Plus, he took advantage of her anger to help turn her against me.  In the end, I am not sure if it made any difference all the decisions I made or the lessons I taught. In then end I feel like I lost our daughter anyway.

The problem is, that I chose to marry this man all those years ago, and he would never stop being abusive. No matter how I responded, he just continued to user her as a pawn in his personal game. Perhaps God is working some miracle here for all of us. Only time will tell.