Just keep swimming, OR how NOT to cope with Exie’s crap that he places on your child

Despite the tone of the blog lately, I’m actually a happy, energetic, extremely silly person.  I love people generally (when I’m not raging about crazy people treating women like chattel, I don’t love those people), but I believe in the relative goodness that exists out there in the world.  This was buried for a time, but it came back out—I remember after six months of my ex out of the house, my friends were saying, wow, the old jane is back!  And it made me realize how long I had buried my heart and soul in fear, and it was, indeed, coming out again.  You know, the whole surviving through crappity crap terrorizing and witnessing pet and child abuse and feeling powerless to stop it, until I finally got the help I needed to get the hell out.  In fact, that’s pretty empowering, but before I pat myself on the back, it came at a great cost—I lost friends, I made some really close ones, some friendships are forever changed, but I’m hoping that forever is a mutable word, since we still have forty or so more years (I hope).  I went to the brink of bankruptcy and survived that.  A good dose of anxiety and PTSD rides along my shoulders every day, the triggers at some turns fading, at others activated like a tsunami warning siren, or a fire alarm in your building in the middle of the night, but I digress.

Today, I am not happy.  And dammit, I so wanted to be!  I had an amazing dinner cooked by the hubs last night, some lovely panty tossing ESS EEE EXX, hee hee hee!! (okay sorry for the TMI, but I am a newlywed, after all). Yesterday, I was completely zen and dealing with the situation as best as could be. 

Then I get an email today at 12:17am, informing me that Exie asked DD1 if she wanted to go to her last ballet class of the term, to which she responded NO, and that he would not agree for DD1 to continue with ballet going forward.  Great news!  Because of course DD1 would pick spending time with Exie over ballet, that’s what she knows is expected of her.  And of course she will tell Exie she doesn’t want to go, after the one week end he had to do anything ballet related with DD1—her recital that took away time from him each day.  Guess who got a “concerned” email from Exie that very Monday morning?  Yay! Lucky me.

Did Exie talk to the ballet teacher or the director about “his concerns”?  Nope.  He is more interested in picking an activity for her so that “he” can be in control, than allowing her to continue one that she has thrived in(and he hasn’t paid a cent for) over the past three and half years, but let’s just flush that down the toilet.  Because, it’s all about HIM and HIS choices and HIS concerns and HIS feelings, and not about DD1’s.

So let’s just run down the list of how NOT to deal with Exie on the latest:

  • Sending a curse-laden email calling him out on his emotional manipulation of DD1.
  • Forcing him to support the activity, and too bad, I’ve chosen it, so he has to support it, and not only does he have to agree with it, he has to PAY for half of it (yep, that would go over really well).
  • Start calling him names and telling DD1 what an awful dad she has who would stop her from attending ballet.
  • Allow new husband to enter the fray and fight “fire with fire.”

Well, the first one wouldn’t accomplish crap, so why bother.  It might make me feel better for getting anger out into an email, but will it change his behavior?  Nope.  It will just cost needless emotional energy in the end, because of the toxicity that it would induce.

The second one, while a legal possibility, is not viable, because all it does is escalate the conflict, escalate DD1 to be in the middle, and force DD1 to go to ballet with one parent who completely disagrees with it and who will show disapproval every chance he gets.  So any positivity she would get out of ballet will be nixed with Exie manipulations.

The third one, the cardinal rule of never putting the children in the middle and making them feel bad about their other parent, is obviously a no-brainer no.  Vent alert:  why is it that all consciously intentioned single parents who love their children understand how much negative speak hurts their children, bend over backwards to NOT say anything negative, and yet the respective Exies just throw out the negativity like chocolate chips in a Nestle chocolate factory?  Seriously?  If I had a dollar for every nasty thing that was thrown at me, either directly or through the children over the last three years…yay, first year of college paid for, easily.  Whatever.

And finally, the last one—while I don’t have as much experience, because we are a newly blended family, I do know instinctually, and also listening to my therapist and attorney, excluding A from the equation is the best possible way forward.  A does not need to insert himself on the conflict.  I am the captain of the parenting ship, and A is my awesome, supportive, loving co-captain.  It’s hard, I think, maybe for men in general (I’m not a gender studies researcher by any means), to take the back seat, especially if they have alpha male tendencies of wanting to FIX things or SOLVE problems.  It’s been a challenging and rough process for A to learn that the best way at winning in a situation is NOT fighting, is NOT engaging.  Remember the old school rule that made no sense as a child—ignore the bully, because then s/he has nothing to work with?  And how much that sucked?  But with someone like Exie, that’s the best way forward, to not engage and respond minimally.  It gives him less power over us.  Unfortunately, by not engaging, Exie is now haranguing the children, which tears my heart.  I have to trust that is what our awesome play therapist is for—to help DD1 cope, and also how our positive house will give DD1 room to figure it all out.  That’s what the therapists advise.  Maybe I need to go back and re-read Divorce Poison!  :(

So this is what I will do, instead of all those other four things.  I will respond to Exie that DD1 ought to have closure with her last class and note he does not agree.  I will note that the last time DD1 “took a break,” she requested to return, and will ask him to be open to hearing it should that happen again.  (I actually ran this by two attorney friends who think it’s a good idea).

Next, discuss with the play therapist, who appears to be well versed in Exie’s manipulations of the girls, especially with DD1, and is helping DD1 cope with the emotional neediness of her dad. 

And then, keep an eye open and move on, because I have two other fish to fry having to do with a special event and maintaining boundaries with Exie, and it’s likely more crappity crap will be thrown around.  Maybe not!  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, right? 

p.s. I realize ending ballet is not the end of the world.  And maybe it’s not the end of ballet, maybe she will circle back or maybe not.  I’m lucky to have been able to send her there in the first place, I am not completely insensitive to the social disparities in our crazy world.  I think most of this post is being triggered by Exie’s need for control eclipsing DD1’s desires and interests, which is in turn a trigger to our world from before.  Rawr.  Baby steps forward.

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