Posts Tagged With: manipulation

bless his heart

Even after all these years, I’m still flabbergasted by the madness that is the father of my children.
I’m not talking shit right now, I’m seriously over here like:

(a quick bit of backstory)
Thing 1’s car gave up the ghost. She sold it for parts and moved on in her life. She and Husband N share a vehicle and they’re OK with that for the moment.

Out of the clear blue, the Things’ father purchases a (used) car for Thing 1. I get this information first from Thing 2 who drove the car home and was tasked with cleaning and detailing it. The next day I get the information from Thing 1 with photos of the car in her dad’s driveway. Later that same day (which happened to be yesterday) I get a call from their dad, telling me with great pride he bought Thing 1 a car. How and what he paid for it and asked me if I would finance the taxes, tags, title, etc. Then he told me he was going to take it his mechanic. I expressed my surprise that he made the purchase without having the mechanic look at it first. Blah blah blah…

This morning at 7:30 I received a facebook message from him.
My first thought (which I said aloud to an empty house) was “This is how we communicate now?”

(When there was still a baby, I was planning a baby shower for the week after Thing G’s graduation while the girls were still up here so we didn’t have to coordinate a second trip this summer. He and Husband N’s mother agreed to split the cost of a rental car so they could bring home their baby haul. Because that changed with the miscarriage, he felt it wasn’t appropriate for Husband N’s mother to pay for a car when there was no baby shower. That made sense to me, and he and I agreed to split the car rental instead.)


Having no idea what it will take to make the care safe, etc. is kind of why you have your mechanic look at a used car before you purchase it…just sayin’.

So apparently after we got off the phone yesterday, he rang up Thing 1 and tried to triangle her into this situation. She shut down his complaining with the logical idea that if he wanted me to give him money, he should have asked me.

To these facebook messages, (I’m sorry, but again I ask, Is this how we communicate now?) I responded as carefully as I could. Essentially I told him that purchasing that car was a decision he made without consulting anyone and since I had no say in the process I have no responsibility in off-setting the cost. I explained that quite honestly I don’t have that kind of money just lying around anyway. I reminded him that there is still a hole in our house and we’re still fighting with the home owners insurance company and we spent several thousand dollars out of pocket to have the tree removed. I closed with “I’m disappointed and disheartened you complained to Thing 1 about it. She doesn’t deserve that.”

I called YBW and he and I talked about it. We agreed that I did the right thing. We agreed that the money that I was contributing to the rental car would be better spent for gas and food on the road as the Things journey to and from for Thing G’s graduation. YBW used the word unilateral and I nearly kicked myself for not thinking that word!

I sent a warning text to each girl explaining that I’d been asked for and refused money and apologized to them if it gets taken out on them.
Thing 1 called me straight away. She apologized for not warning me she told him to just talk about it instead of complaining about it. She and I decided how to deal with getting the car legal and she agreed the money would be of better use for them on the road. She was gracious and thankful that I was willing to help them with that.

So I stopped and breathed deeply and composed and email to my ex-husband.

You caught me off guard this morning and after more time to think about it, I want to respond even more mindfully than I tried to earlier.
Our agreement was for me to pay half of a car rental fee.
When you bought that car, the rental agreement was negated.
Because there is no rental car, we no longer have an agreement.

My initial thought was that I would use the money no longer going to the car rental to pay for their gas and food on the road.

Purchasing the car was a decision you made on your own. Expecting me to offer to pay you after the fact is also a decision you made. Asking me to pay for a decision you unilaterally made is not OK.
I know that’s not what you want to hear. But that’s how it is.

I find myself wondering what is your motivation at this hasty purchase…especially when you’re frustrated I’m not offering to pay you for making it.

I spoke with Thing 1 and we discussed how to handle the taxes, tags, title, insurance, etc. and that’s all taken care of.

I feel good about that. I was clear. I was respectful.

His response email was filled with mad backpedaling and ended with, “Good luck on getting your house repaired and thank you for helping Thing 1 cover the tags title and insurance. I did not intend to create a misunderstanding between us I merely thought that you may want to contribute.”

Here’s the thing.
My daughter didn’t ask for help finding a car. My daughter didn’t ask her father to purchase a car. My daughter knows that she’s an adult and she and her husband are responsible for their decisions for their life.
Her father wants to be “Daddy the Hero”.
He wants credit because he is the one who found her a car. That he swooped in and made everything “all better” for her. If that’s how he stays relevant and special, good for him.
In my experience, the problem with the whole situation is he’ll hold it over her head until the end of time. She better be grateful af and he better know it or he’ll trot it out every chance he gets. That young woman didn’t ask for anything and now she’s being held hostage by it.
She can handle it though. She’s got mad “dealing with dad skills”.

I just want to be left out of the foolishness all together.

I’m curious what y’all think.
Did I do the right thing? Was I respectful to everyone involved?
How would you handle this situation?
Let me hear your thoughts!

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Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

it can’t be a contest if I choose not to particpate

Thing 2 told her father she’s coming to live here in the fall…this was her decision and hers alone. I offered to help her tell him, she told me she wanted to do it herself, partly because it was her plan and she wanted to advocate for it and partly because she knew if I was involved he’d think I was coercing her. Thing 2 is very bright.

She told him on Tuesday, and this is the email he sent to me Wednesday. Following that is my response this morning.

I am thrilled FOR my daughter, not because she’ll be with me, but because she is ready to climb out of the hole he helped her dig. She’s climbing out all by herself. I couldn’t be more proud.

I don’t understand this “you win” nonsense…but then I have never played the game.

(email he sent early Wednesday morning)
I don’t know where to start and wish I didn’t have to. The idea of letting Thing 2 go to Va. just hurts me so, but it is probably the best thing for her. I just want her to be in the best place for her to grow. Living here has been a slow learning process for her and I feel to blame for that just because she has been home alone far more than she should have been. I have to work and keep the bills paid, food on the table and have entertainment expenses. If she had gone to CHS this past year it may have been a different result and I believe better.
You have gone to Va. and tried to make a new life for yourself but I have been left to try to make a life here where my life of taking care of my family has been twisted to become something different. I am not sure what I can do to help Thing 2 here now that I have committed to the expenses of this house but it would have been the best thing for Thing 2 if she had stayed in school at CHS. I could give up and make my expenses less but now she wants to create a new life in Virginia and that may be the best thing for her.
So now I have to go to work like always and soon I must find a way to make a new life for me.
You Win……..JM

(my resonse)
JM,
The fact that you said, “you win” makes me feel sad and kind of sick.
Nobody wins here. Thing 2 failed her junior year and wants to drop out of high school.
Everybody fails.

I agree she would have been better off at CHS…and that might have been able to happen second semester had she been able to get it together enough to pass first semester and transfer back. But she was not supported by the people who are supposed to support her. We are her parents. We must behave like parents and support our children.
We failed her.

You work the way you work, the way you’ve always worked. It’s not an excuse, it just is.
I understand you’re having to reconfigure the plan of your life. I understand that it’s hard. You’ve stood on your own two feet financially since you bought your first house…now you have to figure out how to stand on your own two feet emotionally, and it’s hard, and you don’t have much practice…so it’s going to feel icky, and I’m sad that it’s icky for you.

I had nothing to do with Thing 2’s decision. She called me and asked if she could come here, asked if she could be in my home. My babies will always have a home wherever I am, I can not, did not tell her no.
I did not feel that I’ve “won” anything. I don’t view those girls as a contest with you. I don’t consider them items with which to hurt and humiliate you. They are my babies. I will always work tirelessly to do what I believe is best for them.
Thing 2 believes she will find success by relocating her life, I support that, not because she’s coming here to where I am, but because I heard her voice, heard the long dormant fire in her belly crackling as she spoke to me. Heard her planning, and being excited to plan, her future.

The fact that you say I’ve won makes me think you’ve got it all wrong…I don’t believe it’s a contest.
I chose to do what I believed was best for me when you decided what was best for you was for me to be away from you. I saw your seriousness and chose to make arrangements to leave when you expressed your desire for change.
I never saw any of our life as a contest, that feels hurtful, as though knowing you and loving you is somehow negated. If it’s a contest then we’ve both lost.

I don’t like that you’re hurting. I have not liked hurting. I don’t understand what happened to the kindness between us, I guess it went away when it turned into some kind of contest.
I choose not to participate in any contest with you. I choose to just be. I choose to just care.

Thing 2 needs something, she’s looking for something, perhaps she’ll find it here, perhaps not. But she’s looking. I don’t want to discourage that.
R

So the high road pays off…my friend and mentor will love that!

Categories: divorce, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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