When Your Ex is a Jerk
Divorce from a jerk can be harder than being married to one. Ending a marriage brings with it a hope for independence and freedom. Once you decide that divorce is the answer to the situation, you start to imagine your new life, a life, that is free from your spouse. You imagine all kinds of things going forward, a new home, a new relationship down the road, not having to answer to another person and the freedom to come and go as you please.
When you have a child with the jerk, you still imagine all those things, with an understanding that the jerk will still be seeing the child. Still, you imagine your parenting time as quality time with your child, jerk free, but you expect that jerk and child get quality some time, as well, and you even start to adjust to sharing your child more than you had hoped to when you first realized divorce was going to happen.
Then, you step into the world of Family Court. It is a world that no one can ever be prepared for. Odds are, you had heard about custody, but didn’t think of it in terms of physical custody and legal custody or parent decision making. Then you start to realize that you cannot get rid of this jerk you married. In the back of your mind, you knew that you would be connected to them because of the child you share, but you still imagined it differently than what the legal professionals say it is going to be. It shakes up your world. It upsets you, angers you and causes you a great sense of insecurity about the future. You don’t want to have that jerk this involved in your life.
When trying to co-parent with a jerk, that insecurity is overwhelming. You want to do something about it, but lawyers offer little help. The jerk will do their best to make your life hell. Either they want to punish you for the divorce, or they see this co-parenting loophole as a way to control you in a way that they could not do during the marriage. Much of the punishment or control stems from their anger about how things turned out for them, maybe they took a big monetary hit or you documented for the court the jerk’s chemical dependency issues or infidelity issues. Regardless, you divorced and jerk and you have to co-parent with a jerk. It can feel like a prison sentence. To top it off, you start living under the fear of what they will do next and that makes you paranoid, defensive and basically paralyzed with fear. Judges and most court authorities will never understand what that is like. They will never understand how you hesitate to ask for what you need as a co-parent for fear of poking the bear. Better to let sleeping dogs lie, right? What’s worse, if you do ask anything of the other parent, they say no, or they make your life hell, so you feel trapped and all you can think about is escape. Family Court doesn’t understand it, but anyone who has experienced it knows all too well that this is what happens.
There is another thing that happens. You start to wonder why everyone thinks the jerk is such a great person when you know they lie and manipulate and often play the victim. It seems that people buy it. It is very confusing to think you believe something different than everyone else, especially when you think everyone is well educated or has some fancy resume, and you think that they should be able to see through the lies. Why don’t they?
They may never see the truth because they may not be looking for it. It might not be important to them in the role they play for your family, at least, as far as they think. Some of these people may see it, but it may take years before they do, so unfortunately, much of this falls on you. Are you going to do what needs to be done for your life and you child, or will you cower in fear, spending every waking moment focused on your ex and how to make people see him or her for who they are and pinning all of your hopes and dreams on what other people will do, see or be? Can you take comfort in the fact that you know the truth. This person is a jerk. You know it, you experience it and have experienced it. You may not have known the truth about the jerk when you got married. Of course you didn’t or you wouldn’t have married them in the first place. The truth came over time, and it will come over time in this new experience of living with a jerk. What you need to do now is trust in your knowledge of both who the jerk really is and that they will continue to do so, let them do so and show their true colors, and continue to be who you are and believe in who you are. The truth will come out, eventually. Court authorities will probably see it, but being able to do anything about it is another matter. Allow the truth to expose itself, even though it is hard to wait it out and never doubt that your child will eventually see truth, too, so make sure you consistently show who you are when you are with them.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.
About lifesdoorsmediationI am a mediator, Life and Divorce Coach and an Instructor of a High Conflict Divorce Program.
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