Fear

Fear is a feeling I’ve been examining and thinking about a lot in my situation.  I find that I do things out of fear of my ex, for fear of the court system and the judge, for fear of being judged inaccurately by anyone. Over time, I’ve gotten more confident in myself – as a person and as a parent.  In my situation, I do tend to come off as pretty self confident to begin with, and the judge said in our transcript that “the mother doesn’t know everything” (or something to that affect).  Previously, my confidence was because I’ve read many parenting books, and I’m open to learning about parenting.  I speak with others to get their take on it in general or for specific issues.  However, the judge knocked me for a loop when he viewed me negatively for being someone who is trying their best as a parent.

With my ex, fear comes into play now not because he is overtly threatening.  Previously he hit walls, shoved me up against them, or leaned into me threateningly.  On occasion, he hit me.  Now, he uses our kids.  His narcissism was hurt badly – first when I wanted a divorce, and second when he was judged as a father in court.  When many people discussed the flaws in his parenting (that he’s quick to react with anger, has poor judgment, etc), his reaction was to continue being in our children’s lives to prove them wrong.  Parenting is the one place where he’s finally gotten positive reinforcement from his negative parents.  His mom literally tells him “I thought you would be a terrible parent! You’re such a jerk!!”  But, then she adds “you’re such a wonderful father, I’m so proud of you.”  In other situations she calls him a jerk, an asshole, a dick.  (this is where my son learned to tell me “Mom, you’re a dick.”).   She says these awful things to him (which are actually true), with a deceiving smile on her face.  So why wouldn’t my ex want to use parenting to get his narcissistic needs met?  For him, it serves a dual purpose.  He also wants revenge on me for breaking up his image of having a family like everyone else.   He knows I want my kids with me, and he isis taking them and spending the time that he “earned in court” with them to get even with me.   He also knows other ways of getting even – like withholding phone calls or passively taking things from the kids that they brought over with them from my house.  Fear now comes from the fear of my ex putting our children in the middle of the conflict and using them to get even with me.

I like reading my daily bible quotes that I get through my “DailyBible” app on my android phone.  I find that many times they might be scary specific to exactly what’s going on in my life.  For today, for example, with the CPS investigation pending, I feel fear about how I will be perceived by CPS.  Will they understand that I am not falsely accusing my ex?  Will they understand that I’m not even accusing him at all at this point? I have these things going on with my kids that don’t add up – redness on their bottoms that I cannot explain through other means, and indirect comments & behaviors from the kids that make me wonder why they would say or do that.   At this point, I’ve sought help from my pediatrician to try to explain the red bottoms, and from my daughter’s therapist to help with her behaviors.

I’m also feeling fearful of my ex’s reaction to the CPS investigation.  He’s bullying and passive aggressive.  However, he has the capacity to come off as though he’s a perfect father who wouldn’t even trim his children’s fingernails for fear of hurting them (uh, no… that’s not really why… he’s just lazy… but he would tell others something like that so they have a sweet image of him and feel sorry for him).  I can imagine him seeming so sweet to others.  Recently, he seems like a normal, wonderful ex-partner in his interactions with me.  Instead of how he normally holds the phone calls over our heads, he’s been having them call and even helping them to make sure the phone is working right.   Now, keeping in mind, that my daughter has her own phone with her but is afraid to use it around him because he’s ripped it out of her hands in the past and taken it away from her …. Right now he’s letting them use his phone sweetly to call me in the one call a night that he allows us.  (see how normalcy is forgotten?  The kids should be able to call either parent whenever they want, but instead our reality winds up that we’re just grateful that he lets them have one phone call each night, and we forget how it really should be!)

The daily bible quote today, Isaiah 41:10, reads:  “10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  I will be doing my best to remember in the days that come that I can rely on my strong faith and in the Lord to help us through the CPS investigation.

“Oh, Fu@k”

Although I try to always remember the positive, it doesn’t mean that frustration doesn’t set in – it does, on a regular basis.  It did tonight as my 4 year old was told what a consequence would be if he didn’t do what he needed to do – and he responded “Oh, fuck!”.  Thanks a bunch, dear ex.  Earlier in the day, I heard my daughter’s toy tell another one of my daughter’s toys “what the hell?”

Yeah, well that’s what I’d like to know.

Last week, when I was sick, my daughter was sweetly conscious of the level of her voice volume as I laid on the couch next to them while they played.  She asked me “is this okay?”, referencing how quiet she was going.  I told her it was fine, she could speak normally and didn’t have to lower her voice.   She replied “Daddy is always telling us to be quiet.”  (oh, I think, that explains a part of the strange behavior when you returned and acted like you were mute kids).  She then innocently mimicked him … “How many fucking times do I have to tell you to be quiet??”.   Really??  He’s cursing at them??  Is that REALLY necessary?

I used that moment as a teaching opportunity, as my head immediately rushed forward 20 years from now, picturing my daughter being in a serious relationship with a guy who speaks to her the same way.  I asked her if she thought it was okay that he speak to them that way?  <no>  Is it showing respect? <no>.   I  said “look at me, love… no one, NO ONE should speak to another person that way.”

Sigh….

And in case you’re wondering, yes – my 4 year old son CAN conjugate the word “fuck” properly and use different variations of it correctly.  On the grand spectrum of things, it’s a minor blip on the screen.  Unfortunately, there are so many minor blips, that the screen isn’t visible anymore!   I did, for the record, send an email to my ex a few months ago asking him to refrain from cursing in front of them, and if he couldn’t, to please remind them that these are inappropriate words for anyone to be using.  Not surprisingly, I didn’t get a response.

Walking on eggshells

I think that the ‘walking on eggshells’ feeling may be more prominent with borderline personality disorder than narcissism.  But since the whole section on personality disorders was re-written anyway… does it matter with where it squarely lands?

Rage… that’s a definite narcissistic trait.  It’s also one which is related to walking on eggshells, as it’s the one that you are trying vehemently to avoid!  Step carefully ladies and gentlemen, because if you take a wrong step… there’s a mine in this here minefield!

Know the feeling?

If only it were predictable.  Narcissists are so predictable in so many ways.  It doesn’t even freaking vary from one narcissist to the next!  The same traits, the same LANGUAGE and SENTENCES are used by narcissists with such consistency that you think they all read the same book (but they can’t read books about personality issues or mental health, because it scares them and they don’t understand it).

What unpredictable rage have you found?

I remember being with my visiting sister and her husband and family one weekend.  We went to church and afterwards stopped to buy bagels.  We brought them home, and my then husband was at home.  He came down to the kitchen to get a bagel.  Out of nowhere, he went off on me about how I didn’t bring home cream cheese.  Really?  I looked at him dumbfounded.  There were five children in his presence and two additional adults, and he’s cursing at me about cream cheese?  So, to offer the benefit of the doubt, I calmly questioned “did you ask me to bring cream cheese?  If you did, I’m sorry I forgot”.  I knew he didn’t – I was just trying to keep a low tone and change the dynamics.  He followed with “we always get cream cheese when we get bagels!!”.  Fact of the matter… we never purchase a dozen bagels, so certainly we don’t “always get cream cheese”!  Thankfully, he went back upstairs in his rage.

Amazing.  And he didn’t think that there was anything odd, unusual or abusive about laying into someone for CREAM CHEESE.

 

Narcissists are …false, …null…, and…void..

Since narcissists lack a true sense of self, they compensate by creating an image of themselves which is sometimes, oftentimes, well… untrue. They elaborate on their self accomplishments so much that it is not even just a fish story, but completely and very outrightly FALSE.

Couple examples from my own experience to describe this.  First – my ex wanted to be in the real estate industry. As he grew up, his dad had a passion for it, insistent that people get rich by their investments in real estate.  My ex’s father didn’t have a college degree and didn’t have money, but he insists that success=getting rich.  His father’s passion for real estate was similar to my ex.  They both looked at real estate, but had no experience or training in it.  However, my ex portrayed himself as an expert in the field. Countless times over the years (oh good golly, COUNTLESS times), he has looked into property for sale and calculated the purchase price and how much renting it would be to create a monthly profit.  It’s never single family homes that he would review- he studies multi-family housing buildings like he’s purchased thousands before (apartment buildings – big or small).   He contacts the realtor representing the listing. He speaks to them as though he has done it before, and he visits the property, sometimes traveling several hours by car to get there. Does he every actually purchase anything? NO.

Along those same lines, I once saw a bank charge on his account for City Paper, a local newspaper with classifieds.  I wondered what he could have been doing (I seriously expected it to be a personal ad for some strange sex partner). It turned out to be an ad for his services, but not in the personal ad sense. He was advertising himself to be an experienced property manager!  He has no property management training, much less a degree or even certificate or the license to do it.  And certainly he did not have EXPERIENCE!!  As a matter of fact, prior to meeting me, he owned one house – and he decided not to pay the mortgage for a couple months on it because he was annoyed that the person renting it wasn’t giving him rent (it was previously his single family home and he had to move from the area).  Needless to say, his stubbornness on his mortgage messed up his credit rating and ability to get loans.

What took the cake next was with a business that he did start on the side.  He took to reading about old coins and paper money and how much it was worth to buy/sell it (numismatics).  He began purchasing coins online and selling them himself through e-bay.  He advertised his coin business as selling coins for less because he purchased them with ‘bulk buying power’ and could pass the discount along.  Once, he had a person inquire into having him purchase this person’s set of old coins, which he was selling to make money.  My ex offered him an amount to purchase them, or said he could ‘sell them on consignment’ as he has done “thousands of times before”.  This is seriously what he told this poor guy – and was completely not true.  He had never previously sold coins on consignment.

What happened next is not good.  The poor customer then sends his coin collection to my ex, who doesn’t sell them and doesn’t keep the guy apprised of his progress, and doesn’t return them when asked to do so.  Then the poor customer got smart, and unfortunately had to spend the money on a private investigator to go figure out who my ex really was, where he lived, etc.  Fortunately, upon some ‘gentle prompting’ from the private investigator, the coins were returned along with a check to cover the expense of the private investigator to find my ex.  It’s a good lesson for all on doing business deals on line.

Now, I can honestly say that I believe he doesn’t think he’s lying when he says this stuff.  I think that he creates this “grandious sense of self”, and that this is part of the picture and he truly thinks that this is who he says he is and he has really done these accomplishments.  It’s amazing to watch, and also somewhat sad that he cannot accept himself for who he really is and has to create this false sense of self.

And just think… if he thinks he’s all these things and more… then it makes sense that he also thinks he’s a really amazing husband and father, and couldn’t possibly hurt any of the people around him.  Right?

 

 

 

I am thankful for…

When I am in despair about my life, or thinking that I wish my life was different – one of the best things I find to help is to remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life.   Some people keep a “gratitude” journal.  I’m not always that organized to remember where I wrote it last, so I oftentimes wind up starting my list from scratch, or just thinking it in my head as I drive.  I have various different lists in various different places.  But, I’m thankful for my disorganization!! It reminds me in multiple places how I’m thankful 🙂

  1. Two  wonderful children who are giving, caring and sensitive.  (I hope I can nurture this in them and help them to be themselves and be that well!)
  2. All the time my children and I have had together and have together.  We have had many wonderful blessings in this past year.
    1. Last summer and all the activities we did together
    2. The winter break 2010
    3. Spring break 2011, and Easter with wonderful family
    4. Thursdays or Fridays where my ex picks them up later and we have a chance to see each other and do something together
  3. Wonderful, supportive family
  4. Wonderful, abundant, giving friends, neighbors, teachers, acquaintances
  5. The DV transitional housing place where I volunteer – the opportunity to learn from them, meet them and help them
  6. All the experiences I have had, and the time I have had to grow personally, emotionally, spiritually.
  7. Grateful for the divorce therapy group that I’ve been in and the amazing friendships which have developed
  8. Grateful for making it without a job for this long and being able to spend this time with the kids
  9. Grateful for all I have learned – narcissism, personality disorders, abusiveness, etc.  – which I can eventually teach my children about so that they recognize it in their daily interactions with others
  10. Grateful for my daughter’s school  and teachers and the opportunity for them to be exposed to different cultures and languages (she’s in a public language immersion school)
  11. Grateful for our child care center and the wonderful  teachers there
  12. Grateful!!! That the ex moved 30 miles away, thus negating the ability to be a daily part of the kids lives
  13. Grateful!!! For my daughter’s therapist and how she recognizes the issues with my ex and the risk of it J  It feels so awesome to have her validate that he has a history with anger and that this is an issue for the kids! Yay!!
  14. Grateful for my attorney for having referred me to my daughter’s therapist
  15. Grateful for finding the healing power of energy healing
  16. Grateful for our house, and how the kids love it and it feels like home and filled with love
  17. Grateful for my health and the ability to take care of my kids
  18. Grateful for my daughter’s health
  19. Grateful for my son’s health
  20. Grateful that they consistently stay safe when they are and are not with me, that saints & angels watch over them constantly
  21. Grateful that they are smart and aware
  22. Grateful that  my daughter  is speaking to her therapist about what’s going on with her dad, and that she’s willing to also talk with me
  23. Grateful that my children recognize that there’s something “off” with their dad and his family, the way they interact and the way they are hurtful to each other and to others outside the family
  24. Grateful that my children recognize that my ex’s fixation on being the “Miller” family is peculiar and weird and they don’t want to be “Miller’s” (they are very tribal in their way of operating as a family – either you’re in or you’re out)
  25. Grateful to have Mary, the Mother of Jesus, looking after us and praying intercessory prayers on our behalf
  26. Grateful for the other Angels and Saints which are praying on our behalf
  27. Grateful that those angels fixed my computer (s) and my garbage disposal!!

 

Narcisists are a FACADE

What you see is NOT what you get. Narcissists lack a “core”, a true “self”.  I cannot think of any better way to test this theory than to have a deep, heart to heart conversation one on one about morals, ethics and beliefs. Notice that there may be some things that they believe in, but other times there is simply a reiteration of whatever you said. Now, change your viewpoint within the same conversation. Does he/she web and flow with you and suddenly agree with your changed viewpoint? That’s because they really don’t have a core of who they are – something to true back to. They take their identity from others – maybe some from their parents and whatever their parental expectations are of them. Maybe some of it from friends or previous significant other’s. Certainly some of it comes from you.

Watch closely the next time you interact. See what you can do to have a close conversation, if it’s possible. Think back to prior conversations. Does this help make those previous conversations make more sense when you look at it from this perspective?

I remember that this is one of the ways when I finally started to understand the depth of my ex’s issues.  I had a conversation with some friends about raising children, and what morals, ethics, principles that we wanted to instill in our children.  We discussed many different characteristics, whether they were learned, inherited, how much parents had the ability to influence, etc.  It was a very engaging conversation.  I returned home to my then husband, and wanted to have a similar conversation with him.  It was appropriate – we had a daughter who was about one year old at the time.  In that conversation, I saw what I mentioned above.   He couldn’t even process the concepts of what I was talking about because he lacked that much of a sense of understanding of people (no empathy) and couldn’t grasp the ideas.   There was a point when he actually said to me “look, I’m just trying to tell you what you want to hear”.  BUT that’s not what I want!! I wanted to have the same engaging conversation I had with my friends as it would directly relate to raising our daughter.  Only, he couldn’t do that.

Can you imagine going through life that way?

Frustration & Forgiveness

I woke up this morning thinking about how I get frustrated with my kids when they don’t listen and are being actively defiant.  I am trying to think calmly about what their emotions are in this and what they need from me when they are acting that way.  I pray for God to help me with “radiating unconditional love” to them, and to achieve a goal of not ever raising my voice in frustration even a scant bit (is that realistic? I dunno).  My alarm clock goes off to wake me, and the daily bible quote that I have on my phone is popped up.  I read it.  It’s perfect:

Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I’m also thinking about forgiving my hex (ex) as well, and thinking about the context from which he is acting.  He doesn’t know or understand life in the same manner as most of us, and it’s really hard to remember that when interacting with him when he is bullying, aggressive, threatening.

Likewise, I am responding with all that I know as well.  Sometimes I can take the “high road”, and sometimes it’s really difficult to do that – both with my ex and my children when they are misbehaving.  While I am praying for the ability to always radiate unconditional love, I also need to be able to accept and forgive myself for all that I am, and for those times when I can’t be all that I want to be.

Back to the pediatrician (aka there’s gotta be another explanation than sex abuse)

The Owee

Today was a really hard day.  When my kids returned last night, it wasn’t long before my daughter was on the toilet, and screaming that she needed my help.  At the age of 7, she can do everything herself, so needing help means there’s something wrong.

Her “girl part” was hurting her badly – it was red all around it, and some little bumps on each side.  It looked to be chapped so bad that it hurt her to touch it.  And it was swollen.

This has been happening regularly on the day/days that follow having been at her dad’s for the weekend.  I have no idea what is causing it.  We’ve been to the doctor two other times now, diagnosed with “nonspecific vulvanitus” (or something like that).   In and of itself, it seems like it must just be poor hygiene, maybe that she hung out in underwear she had pee’d in for a little too long… maybe soap was irritating it.

When I put it together with the pattern of when she has an issue and then factor in all of the other things going on with her, it feels alarming.  I still cannot imagine that her dad would touch her in any way.  I cannot imagine ANY adult touching a child in a sexual manner.  It immediately makes me feel like vomiting and filled with pure rage & anger.    I can’t accept that he might be doing that to her.

The Legalese

My attorney says I need to take her back to the doctor.  But why?  I ask.  Certainly it will be the same as before … stay clean, change your underwear if it’s wet, wipe gently front to back.  Can’t determine if it’s anything else.  Staph infections in children are very distinct looking.  Yeast infections are incredibly rare.

But my attorney says I need to because it’s a catch 22.. if there’s something going on and I haven’t taken her, then I will be questioned as to why I didn’t do so.  If I take her, I’m making my daughter upset.

The Doctor (oh, and “The Screaming Fit”)

So off we go… I get her an appointment at 1:30pm.  School is out early that day, so timing wise she will just have arrived at aftercare and I will pick her up and take her to the doctor’s.   That part didn’t go well, but she wasn’t truly upset until she learned where we were going.  She didn’t even ask why we were going to the doctor, what was the matter that she had to see the doctor.  She knew.

She started physically trying to get away, kicking, screaming, crying.  Tears flooded out of her eyes.  “you have to do this”, I thought to myself.  I tried hard to remove myself from the situation emotionally, because I wanted to cry as well and tell her how sorry I was.  I did tell her it wasn’t her fault, and that we needed to just get things checked out.  “But it doesn’t hurt anymore”, she pleaded.  Well then let’s go talk to the doctor for a minute to see what’s making you hurt so much.

She stays crying the whole way there.  “I don’t want to go”, she says repeatedly.  When we arrive, she continues her physical protest.  I carry in a crying 7 year old, kicking and nearly hitting her brother’s head hard.  I tried to put her down but she starts to run away in the office saying “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go”.  I ask them if they can get us a room quickly, or just someplace else so as not to disturb the other clients.  A nurse helps usher us to a room.  My daughter cries and hides.

I’m holding my emotions together well enough to notice that she hasn’t yet changed her verbiage from “I don’t want to go” to “I don’t want to be here”.  She does after being in the room for a few minutes.   She hides under chairs, behind the exam table, etc.  My son asks to read a book and sits on my lap.  Listening to it, she eventually comes close.  I don’t try to hold her because I don’t want to freak her out and make her jump.  She does reach out to me and puts her arms on my back, looking over at the book.

The doctor arrives, and we go through the same conversation.  She suggests that we don’t need to examine.  I tell her I received advise to do so and to have another person or documentation that can confirm what I’m seeing – no matter what that is.  She suggests a forensic exam by the county instead.  (My atty later tells me that these are really difficult and traumatizing on the children).

My daughter  isn’t cooperating.  Her face is swollen from crying.  She looks so sad and hurt.  She physically won’t budge to go to the exam table.

Eventually, the doctor says that we’ll just need to physically force my daughter into it (because she needs to move on to the next appt.. I felt somewhat frustrated by her stance, actually).  So, we do just that, grabbing my daughter and putting her on the table, trying to console that it will just take a minute.

The doctor says it does look different than the last time, but not conclusive of a-b-u-s-e, and actually possibly less like that is what caused it. (I actually thought the same when I looked the night previously, because it as red down and around the vaginal opening as the last time.).

I ask how long urine underwear would take to make it look as it did.  The doctor says “a few hours?”.  I ask my daughter how long her underwear was wet the night prior.  She won’t answer.  She eventually does after we leave the doctor and she is more settled – and we decide on it being less than 30 minutes worth.

Please, not again

I don’t want to go through that again.  Documentation or not, that felt so incredibly wrong and hurtful to put her through that.   Her little face was swollen from sobbing, and she said to me “Mom, I TOLD you I didn’t want to do that “.  I felt like I violated my daughter myself by forcing her through the medical exam.  What good am I if I’m doing that to her?  How I am any bit different than her Dad, at least in the regard of not respecting her wishes to keep her body to herself?

From here out – we’ll continue with her counselor and hope that it helps us to figure out what’s going on for her.   I hope that she gets to the point that she feels she can speak up and share what’s going on for her while she’s there at her Dad’s – no matter what it is, as she currently shares so very little.

Narcissists Lack Empathy

Empathy, per Websters:

1: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this
Personal example:
A dear friend of mine was pregnant.  She knew the baby would require heart surgery after being born and was small for age.  She was monitored closely during pregnancy.  The baby, a little girl, was born with a very rare disorder, and had far more issues to contend with than the doctors were anticipating.  She passed away 3 days later.  My friend and her husband had two other children and everyone was distraught, as you and I can easily imagine.  They had a memorial service for their daughter, which was well attended as we all felt so heartbroken as well.
My ex did not attend the service, and I didn’t expect him to do so.  He still lived in our house at that time and I was hoping he would move, as I had told him my desire to be divorced well over a year prior.  I will never forget this day:   As I was in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher, he walks in and leans up against the counter.  “I don’t understand” he says.  “What?” I ask.  “What all the commotion is about… I mean, it’s not like the baby was ever born or anything.”    Now, I explained that yes the baby was born, and how that didn’t really matter because the life of the baby started long before.  He stares at me blankly.  “I still don’t get why everyone is so upset with it”, he says and walks away.
Narcissists lack empathy.  They really have no idea or understanding that what they do or the way that they act impacts or hurts others.  They have no idea how to relate to others.  When you think about it from this perspective – that, in many ways, they aren’t meaning to be mean or abusive… it helps to empathize with them, and to forgive them for their actions.

Bullying

We had a fascinating realization today through my support group.  My ex asked for makeup time for missing his evening visitation because I was out of town with my father in the hospital.  On the surface, this seems simple.  He missed a weekday evening – which would be about 5:15-8pm, or maybe 3 hours.  He asked for Sunday morning as makeup time, and he would take the kids to church and our daughter’s horse lesson – amounting to 4 hours (he estimated – but I know it would take longer).

On the surface, this seems like an easy thing to do.  And in a relationship with equal power and respect, if time was missed then both parties would respectfully try to make it work out.  However, in my view, in a normal relationship with equal power and respect – if one person had a parent in the hospital, then it’s not worth bugging them for that time to be made up.

That said, my gut reaction was “no”.  What I had wanted was to have someone who didn’t covertly threaten me that I had to be back for the Thursday visitation time – when he knew that my father was in the hospital in serious condition.  I wanted someone who reasonably said “geez, don’t worry about it – I’ll see them when I see them, take care of what you need to do”.

I also remembered vividly when my sister was 34 weeks pregnant and in the hospital finding out that her baby had died.  I stayed in town long enough to not miss his Sunday time because I was more scared of him then – and in effect I missed being by my sister’s side when she most needed me there.  I missed ever seeing my angel nephew’s little body and giving him a kiss to take to heaven with him on his little piggie toes.

And I certainly missed ever being appreciated by my ex, or anyone, for putting his needs first.

So my reaction was ‘no, there’s not a provision for makeup time!’.

(I am working on forgiving him of our past).

I sent the request on to my support group to see how to respond ‘no’ nicely.  Two of them responded that I should just give him the time and be done with it.  One pointed out that at least the activities are known & controlled for – perhaps putting the kids in a safer position.   This friend has an ex that works with her on parenting.  The second responds ‘even though you don’t want to, just give him the makeup time – you’ll look better in the long run’.  Both of these answers made sense on the surface to me.  They were, in reality, what I wanted to do – because what I’ve wished for in the past 10 years was that I was dealing with a normal person.   I’m not, though

As it was already, I had a long conversation with my sister while in the hospital to just to determine when to get back and best avoid his wrath. In that conversation, I went through the options – I could return earlier on Thursday, but then the kids would have a 7 hour drive, followed by at least 2 hours with Dad, return at 8pm, and have to get up for school the next day.  If I returned – I would have to send our daughter to school even if I thought she needed a ‘breather’ day at her own house to recoup emotionally.  If I held her out of school – I would hear hell from her Dad.   Option 2 – return early on Thursday, but tell him I’m not back yet and give the kids the evening at home to recoup, so that she doesn’t need to miss school the next day.  This was risky – because he has a tendency to check my every step.  What if he drove by and saw my car home, even though he lives 30 miles away (because he would)?  What if he questioned the kids on it when they returned?  Option 3 – return late, miss Thursday evening visitation, let our daughter skip school, and take the wrath for missing Thursday evening.  Option 4 – staying through the weekend – didn’t feel like an option because I know him well enough that I would have had that thrown at me in court faster than an alligator at the dentist would bite when a tooth is pulled!

So… back to the group’s responses…. The other group member responds by saying ‘give him make up time that is equivalent to what he missed’ OR just respond that you can’t do that time on Sunday and leave it at that.  You don’t need to suggest other times, just leave it at that and maybe he will just drop it.  She bawked at doing the time on Sunday – the same as I did.  It’s precious weekend time, and activities that are priceless to me (well, maybe not the horse lesson per se, but going to church and providing a church formation for my kids is essential).

I felt puzzled.   I had explained and told stories to those first two groupies about the domestic violence, the way that he threatens me, the fear that I have in me that I desperately work to remove.  The exhaustion that I feel for having this individual haunt us every day of our lives.  Certainly they understood?  And they do – but they don’t.  They still answered the question from their own personal perspectives and paradigms.

They answered based on my ex being ‘normal’ and how one relates with a normal individual.

Wow – I conclude… even judges, attorneys and therapists who have domestic violence training will react from their own context.  They won’t understand the actions of someone who had dealt with what I have.

But why?  I pondered our group further – one of those two has an ex with strong narcissistic traits.  He goes through the trash she throws out and judges it.  Why doesn’t she understand?  OOOHHH… because he doesn’t BULLY her.   The one person in the group who understood my perspective – also has an ex who is extremely controlling and bullying – who thrives on controlling her through creating fear.

THAT is the pivotal component.

I think that the other portion of this that should be told is from my kids’ perspectives.  When we were in the hospital, both of my young children knew it was Thursday – Daddy dinner night.  They were thrilled to hear that we would miss it and not return on time.  THRILLED.   The littlest one in particular agonizes over spending time with his dad.  The oldest used to – but something has changed (could it be that he’s manipulated her enough?).  Even at that – she was ecstatic to be able to miss the time.   What would it feel like to them, if I had to tell them that they had to make it up??  (the last time I did that – make up time because our daughter was vomiting and couldn’t leave the house – they were distraught with it.  And then worst of all, they both came back a reeling mess – because he spent the entire time angry and yelling at them.  Is that what we were making up? Time that he could’ve been yelling at them?)

Net net – it was a fascinating realization on the limitations of domestic violence training and how much people innately reflect on a situation based on their own experience, even if they have been subsequently taught something else. That means that judges who work with cases of domestic abuse, and have learned the dynamics of an abusive relationship, are probably still naturally prone to evaluate the situation based on their own personal context.  So then, how do we change that paradigm?