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Thoughts From High Conflict U

As someone who has been working for almost 20 years to help parents navigate the very choppy waters of family court, I get a fair amount of calls and emails from parents who feel overwhelmed with how off track their case has become. High conflict cases snowball into unimagineable craziness and parents desperately want […]

via Who Do You Recommend for a Parenting Coordinator or Consultant? — High Conflict U

Living Rent Free in Your Head

Image courtesy of nattavut at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of nattavut at freedigitalphotos.net

When you devote much of your day in fear of your ex, or thinking about what your ex is doing, you are allowing them to live rent free in your head.  It is completely understandable that if you have had many negative experiences with your ex and experienced a prolonged, bitter custody battle, you would become afraid of having to deal with them in the future.  Still, the best thing to do is to get them out of your head and out of your life as much as possible.

I do not want to make light of the situation.  I hope to help people move forward and stop giving their ex more attention than they deserve.  If you have become overwhelmed with thoughts and fears about your ex, you have to work on changing your thinking.  It is not going to happen over night, but it can be done.  You will have to work hard at it and things may get worse before they get better.  What I mean by that is the controlling, abusive, meddling ex will do their best to make you fail in your quest for freedom.  That is reason enough why you must do it.  When you start paying less and less attention to them and no longer cower in fear of them, they are going to get in your face a little more before they slither away and the fact remains, they may never slither away completely.  You see, the problem is not with you.  It is with them.

Your ex has been masterful at turning the tables on you and keeping you off balance.  Because their behavior is not normal, you may be confused about why they are behaving the way they are.  Worse, you may also be confused that in the real world, people view your ex as very nice, smart, thoughtful, etc.  They may have a new relationship that seems just peachy and you may be questioning if you really are the problem.  Trust me, you are not the problem.

Keep in mind that most people in the real world only get a glimpse of who your ex really is and when your ex wants to, he or she can really turn on the charm.  The same goes for the new relationship.  They must make their new partner see you as a crazy person.  It helps them ensure that you will never go near their new partner and that they will steer clear of you as well.  No one can talk to each other that way.  The angry ex’s secrets do not get divulged.  This keeps their new love in the dark about who they really are and it helps keep you wondering what the heck is going on…and they LOVE that.  Remember how they treated you early on and how wonderful you thought they were.  The new partner will also be charmed.

They LOVE having you fear them.  They LOVE living in your head rent free.  They do not even have to do anything because you fear them so much and try to anticipate what they will do next.  It feeds their ego to know that they are always on your mind.

So how do you go about changing things?

First things first, you have to put your fear behind you.  You may even need to get angry.  You also need to retrain your brain to stop any and all thoughts of your ex whenever they crop up.

Second, have a diversion.  If you are overwhelmed thinking about what your ex may or may not do about any given issue, have a friend or a hobby or even look for a new love interest and whenever you just cannot shake the evil ex thoughts, call on that person or take some time to work on it.  If you choose a hobby, make sure that it is something that will keep you busy.  Reading sometimes will not work because if your mind keeps wandering, you will not really be reading.  Try exercise, too, and some stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, mediation or swinging your arms back and forth for 10 minutes.  Trust me, it works.

Third, carve out “ex free” time.  When you have the luxury of your child spending time at the other parent’s house or with grandma and grandpa or their friends, carve it out.  Announce to yourself that you will not give your ex anymore time than they have already taken from you.

This can be done, trust me, I have done it.  It takes some time and some practice, but once you master retraining your brain, the less you will think about your ex or care about your ex.  It will become habit to you and you will be well on your way to a new and happier life.  One last thing, it is natural to want to put your life on hold for fear that your ex will ruin anything that makes you happy, but that is just giving them more control over your life.  You do NOT want to do that.  Write down on a piece of paper in big letters the following:

NOT ONE MORE DAY.  MY EX WILL NOT GET ONE MORE DAY OF MY LIFE.  MY EX HAS BEEN LIVING RENT FREE IN MY HEAD FOR YEARS AND TODAY IS HIS EVICTION NOTICE.  HE/SHE NEEDS TO GET OUT OF MY HEAD AND OUT OF MY THOUGHTS AND OUT OF MY LIFE STARTING RIGHT NOW.  I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE TREATED THE WAY I AM BEING TREATED.  I DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.

And then go live it.  If you want to find a new love, seek them out.  Your ex may try to meddle and he/she may try to make things difficult for you in unimaginable ways, but you are stronger than he or she is.  Much stronger.  They have a sickness that they probably cannot escape, but you will choose to get healthier.  You will take steps to ensure that you never choose the same kind of psychopath as a partner again, and you won’t.  Your new love will love you and because they love you so much, they will see what your ex is doing and they will stand by you no matter what.

When you see it, you will believe it and achieve it!

Image courtesy of Nattavut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anger and Your Child

The video below is showing how a toddler reacts to an angry person. It interrupts their focus from fun and learning and puts all of their focus on the angry person. If you watch, you will see the child just stops. The child in the video doesn’t know what to do, except he appears to be bracing himself for what may come.

Think about this child in terms of a nasty, angry co-parenting situation, caught in the middle of two angry parents. While the parents may not be angry all the time, it may be enough to refocus the child’s attention on the battle, and not school or friends or other happy experiences. This is a good reminder to keep those feelings of anger in check during your parenting time with your child, and to do your part to keep the conflict with your co-parent at a minimum. This is not to say that you should blame the other parent for their anger, or try to control their anger, because you cannot. You can only control yourself. However, your decreasing reactions may have a counter effect on the other parent. It is hard to be angry to someone who is not helping to fuel that fire.

Embattled Parents Wanted

Image courtesy of sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you had your fill of Family Court?  Are you tired of the battle, and think or hope that your ex is sick of it, too?

 

Life’s Doors Mediation is looking for parents who have been at war for too long and want to find a new way to parent, whether that means co-parenting, parallel parenting, or something else that we come up with.  I have been quite successful in changing the direction of parents who are looking to the family court for answers.  I’d like to help you.

If you live in Minnesota, please give me a call.  The first 2 parents who call me will get a free assessment to see if we can make a positive change to your situation.  I will even contact your ex to see if they would be willing to call a truce.  After that, I will work with you separately or together, as needed without charge. You have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.  Your children have a lot to gain also.

Can you be a little vulnerable and let go of the family court crutch?  Find out today, 763-566-2282.  You can also email me at susan@lifesdoorsmediation.com.

 

Now or Later

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Relationship problems suck.  They really do.  When you are married, relationship problems suck even more.  When you have children, the stakes are extremely high.

As a coach, I talk to people who are looking for help.  They may want to try communication coaching.  Sometimes, one or both partners have anger issues, and they might want to look into Anger Management.  They may even be contemplating divorce.

Divorce will scare the crap out of you.  Sometimes, it is sprung on you.  Your spouse has determined, without talking to you about it, that they want a divorce.  They have thought it over for a long time, and come to the decision.  You can’t change their mind.  It is done.

Other times, you talk together about how the relationship is not working.  This is a great time to act.  Even if you think this is not a great time because you are on the brink of divorce, it really is an opportunity.  There is something positive in the fact that you have been able to talk about this together.  That shows promise!

For parents of small children, you really need to see the opportunity in this situation.  While some couples will choose to divorce, others may find that they don’t have to.  If no one has come to the divorce decision yet, there is still time, and there is certainly a lot of wisdom in waiting to make that decision while you spend time working on your issues.

Relationship problems are a two-way street.  It is rarely about the actions of just one person in a couple.  The relationship didn’t start out sour.  If it had, why would you have gotten married?  Why would you have had a child together?  There was potential there and most likely still is.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: If I need to make some changes to improve my relationship, should I do it now, in an effort to save my marriage, or should I do it later, to work on the co-parenting relationship?  If you and your spouse have a child together, you are going to have to continue to build that relationship, aren’t you?  If you have trust or anger issues in your marriage, won’t you still have them in the co-parenting relationship, too?

When a relationship has problems, most people seem to know where their own personal weakness lies.  They often know, or are willing to learn about their faults.  If the two people are willing to make changes to improve their lives, it would be better to do it now, before more damage is done, than to have to do it later.  Just something to consider.

Divorce was a good thing for me.  I am not sure my children would agree that it was a good thing for them.  Divorce might be a good thing for you but it might be worth really making sure that you cannot salvage that relationship, especially if you have children who end up being part of that relationship forever, no matter what it becomes.

Saving Face

Image courtesy of Ambrose at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambrose at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After divorce, some people play the victim.  It garners them attention and sympathy from others and helps them explain, in their own mind, that they are not at fault for the divorce.

Oddly enough, even though all US states are no fault divorce states, it doesn’t seem to matter.  Fault or no fault, divorce can be deeply wounding to someone’s ego.  In order to show the world (and make themselves feel better), they have to portray a false reality that their ex is to blame.  They will accuse their ex of having an affair, being mentally ill or turn it around in some other way.  They may tell others that they initiated the divorce instead of telling the truth, that it was their ex who initiated.

Typically, these individuals fear being alone and will enter into a new relationship quickly, long before they are ready.  They have done nothing to come to terms with the divorce or take the time to heal.  They grab hold of the first person who comes along and buys their story.  It helps them show the world: Hey, I am OK.  See?  Someone loves me.  That other person had something wrong with them.  That’s all.  I am not a bad person.  See how quickly someone found me?

The new relationship develops during their grieving process about the divorce.  These quick rebound relationships can interfere with, and may even  halt that grieving process all together.  Because they met their new significant other during the grieving process, they may have shared with their new mate how terrible you are, in order to explain their misery.  The problem is that they will have to keep this story going for the duration of the relationship.  This makes things very confusing to an ex spouse who has to try to co-parent with the person who is trying to keep a storyline going.

The ex spouse will struggle to understand why their child’s parent hates them so and cannot let go of it.  If you are the ex who is constantly lied about, you may become defensive.  You may also be very hurt and feel guilty about the divorce when you have to watch your children’s parent carry on with so much anger,  while you try to take the high road, as they continue to tells lies.  You may hope that they will come to terms with the divorce so that your co-parenting relationship will improve.  Unfortunately, you cannot make things better because it really is not about you.

This is all about your ex wanting to save face.  What does it mean to save face?  To put it simply, to preserve one’s dignity.  It has to do with how one sees him or herself and how he or she thinks the world sees them.  If a person finds divorce to be a highly negative reflection on their worth as a person, and is deeply wounded that their spouse, who promised to love, honor and cherish them no longer loves them, they often cannot see divorce as anything other than  an acknowledgment  that they are unlovable,  and a failure.

As the years go by, you may be shocked at how petty your co-parent is and stunned by their refusal to sit in the same room with you for the children’s extra curricular activities, doctor appointments and even mediation to settle a dispute about the children.  Try not obsessing about changing the other parent, and do not make yourself a door mat and try to appease them in an effort to build a better relationship.  If the other parent is saving face, nothing that you do will change the situation.  It is all about keeping their secrets safe.  Avoiding you, and making you out to be the bad guy,  is the basis of their new relationship.  They will move heaven and earth to keep the story going.

If the avoiding parent starts to repair the relationship with you, their new partner may start to see all of the lies and they cannot risk being exposed.   People who live a life based on lies will never risk a second breakup.  The first one devastated them.  Because they never took pause to heal from that, another rejection would be unbearable.  Eventually, the new partner may start to see that the story they have been told does not make sense, and your ex may possibly have to face their biggest fear, but again, you cannot change them, and it is not your responsibility to save them.

So what do you tell your kids when the other parent spreads lies and acts crazy?  Tell your kids the truth.  Tell them that you would like a better relationship with their mom/dad, and it is not possible right now.  Tell them that you do not understand why the other parent acts that way, but that you love them and will always be there for them no matter what. You may also want to tell them that you feel sorry for the other parent’s pain and hope that one day they will find a way to work through it.  That is all you have to say.  Then you must commit yourself to taking the high road and doing the best job of parenting that you can.

Hostile co-parenting relationships are not helped by seeking revenge or telling the other side what they need to do to make things better.  You are the last person they will take advice from.  Sometimes the best you can do is keep your own house in order and choose a healthier relationship for yourself, and leave your ex to battle their own demons.

Success Story!?

Well, praise be to God.  After many years, and many parents trying and failing to get the news media to do a story on parenting consultants, a couple of brave Moms were able to finally shine a spotlight on the process.  Information is power and so I do call this a success story.  The journalist also interviewed Karen Irvin, a long time PC, and I suppose they had to do so in order to be fair, but that seemed to put the criticism back on the parents more than the process itself.

Personally, having experience on both sides of the process, I know that there is enough blame to go around.  Parents can become quite hostile with one another.  That is a problem.  However, there is the problem of having a process that takes money away from the families who need it and having no way to get out of that process if you find it does not help your situation or it turns out to be much more expensive than you had anticipated.

The news story says that parenting consultant contracts are for two years.  I still hear from a multitude of people that have no end date in the contract or court order.  Much of what is wrong in the system is that the system does not educate itself on the latest recommendations, nor do they require any special education for parenting consultants.  It is available, but it is not required.  As Karen Irvin said, “We’ve developed a two-day training that we think should be four days, but I don’t know that we could get people to a four day training.” I’d like to challenge that thinking because many of these same people are willing to attend a three-day divorce camp!

Parents do share some of the responsibility for how bad the relationships are because there are times the PC is used as a weapon and just the presence of the court authority overseeing your life can invite nit-picky battles that probably would not happen without the presence of a court authority and the false sense of power that provides.  But the court would be wise to put in place some on-going training requirements and also to adopt standard language for a pc order that includes a time limit either across the board or an agreed upon term determined by the parties at the time of the court order.  Plus, I want to see attorneys required to inform clients that the court cannot order a parenting consultant if a party does not agree to have one.  That does not happen very often.

I do have some things coming that I think will help the situation.  I am just not at the point where I can make my announcements yet.  Just know that some things are coming…soon.

Watch the news video and let me know what you think.  Did this new story help to raise awareness?

http://www.clipsyndicate.com/video/play/3898036

A Song of Truth


This song expresses what I want you to know.  Times are extremely difficult for many of you right now, but it will get better.  Anytime we experience times of struggle, it can be overwhelming and you might think, “Is this all there is?  Is this my life now?  Why me?  Why now?”  All you can do sometimes is pass the time with some simple pleasures.



When I used to feel alone and friends weren’t around, music was always there for me.  Those times when I thought I could not live through the nightmare I was experienced, music was healing and allowed me to express my anger and shed many tears.  The craziest thing of all is that I went through so much personal growth and if being spared the difficult times would mean that I would not be who I am today and doing what I am doing today and being with the love of my life today, I would choose to go through it all again because of what I found on the other side.





And I cannot forget my favorite Jo Dee Messina song:










Update on my most recent personal experience


As you may have read previously, back in June, my ex filed for custody of my youngest son.  My son and I had had an argument over the fact that his room was a pig stye and I wanted it cleaned.  That was my only crime, demanding that my son clean his room.  I had let my guard down, expecting that my ex would not go backwards and would actually tell my son that his behavior was not acceptable anywhere and would not be acceptable at his home either, instead he filed for sole custody, told the same lies to the judge that he always had told way back when and pulled his poor, poor pitiful me act yet again.  I expected the judge to review the case and why I won sole custody, but the judge was lazy and did not want to do his job.  The judge did not allow me the opportunity to speak to my son or to allow me to set up mediation.  Mr. Judge Supreme wanted to show how powerful he was an after telling me that court orders cannot be enforced, he can uphold laws, such as law 609.26, ignoring the past physical abuse that my ex perpetrated against my son, the same child as was in the middle again, and not follow laws or court orders or even the proper procedure, and granted my ex sole custody.

As I strongly suspected, my ex was only interested in ending child support early.  Had he told me so, I could have accommodated him, but he could not admit to that.  I did know that my ex has been extremely jealous of me having my own business and being a mediator and divorce coach.  This has been driving him nuts and his attack was solely an effort to get back his money that he did not feel I deserved or needed.  You know what?  He can have it.  He is an alcoholic and it will not bother me if I see him drink himself to death with it.

You may think that this is a horror story and that I am upset about it.  I am not.  I have my son back.  I want to give you all some hope for those of you living in fear that your ex will turn your child against you.  I always tell people that the children will be the ultimate judge of you and your actions had better be in their best interests if you want to win not just the battle, but ultimately win the war.

I let my son go with his dad.  I sent him a few emails about my love for him and my expectations of what it would mean for him to be a man.  At the time he was 6 months away from turning 18.  I also let him know what truths I knew about him and explained to him that I would always be there for him, but that I would not allow anyone to treat me with disrespect or to lie to me.  Then I left him think about things and I completely left the choice of visiting me up to him.

After a period of adjustment, he did get past the fear of making his dad mad at him and started coming to stay with me with great frequency.  He learned that his dad is not there for him and he had been used.  You see, his dad got to keep his child support money but made my son pay for all of his expenses, including food, and medical supplies and medications for what is a chronic medical condition.  He would not help my son get his drivers license or any of the things one would do if they really wanted their child.  When he got sole custody, he left me listed as my son’s education coach at school and lead the school staff to believe that my son still lives at my house.  Why would anyone who wanted custody and claimed child endangerment (because I told my son to clean his room) not take over these issues for their child?  Because even in my case, the coparent’s issue is not about the child.  It is solely about control.  My son is even afraid to tell his dad that he lost his glasses because his dad is a horrible person when he is angry, even after 2 stints in anger management.

Anyway, it was a difficult period of time and since then my son has turned 18.  He is making plans to move closer to where I live.  The only reason he hasn’t done so is because he has a job out near his dad’s house.  The best part is that he now spends a great deal of time at my house, pretty much whenever he is not working.  His brother took him to get his drivers license last week when he was at our house and he passed.  Even though his physical address is his dad’s house, his dad spends very little time with him.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that you can win in the end, even if you have lost some major battles during the process.  In the end your child will know who is the one who is there for them.  The other point I am trying to make is this: you know who your ex is.  He or she may perform in front of court authorities or other professionals that are involved with your child and draw people into their pity party or manipulate them into aligning with them, but ultimately there comes a time when the kids are grown.  You will find that you were right all along.  Your ex is who they are and they can pretend all day long to be what they are not, but where it matters, for example, with their children, they cannot hide the truth.

Another bonus is that I think my son learned some important lessons as well.





Let Them Surround You


 

Are you being beaten down by a parenting consultant, another court authority or your ex?  Have they convinced you that you are a horrible parent or that you might be crazy?  Don’t let them do that to you.

I am certain that you most likely have some people in your life who love you, care about you and are amazed at your strength and your perseverance.  They know you are not perfect, but they also know that you are not a monster and you should not have to put up with the accusations and insanity that comes by way of a nasty, bitter, ugly divorce and coparenting situation.  Those people are the people who matter and they outnumber your attackers.  Keep them near you.

What I am suggesting to you is to do the math.  Quite possibly, there are three to four people who are making your life hell.  Those people are in the minority.  They do not count and they are not worth using your energy on.  The players are probably the following:

        1. Your ex
        2. A parenting Consultant
        3. A Family Court Judge
        4. A Guardian ad Litem

That is it.  The maximum number of hellions in your life.  Their opinions of you do not matter worth a hill of beans in the scheme of your life.  They are in a system in which they choose a winner and a loser.  That is just the nature of the family court beast.

If you have five or more people in your life who build you up, love you, and believe in you, those other people are outnumbered.  Why do people tend to believe the voice of the few over the voice of many?  Why do you take to heart those things that are said to cut you down by those who don’t matter, instead of basking in the words of the people who are there for you and are in the majority when it comes to the court of public opinion and know the truth about you?  Think it through.  Think of the family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors and compare the numbers.  If you do, you will find that the numbers are on your side.  Let yourself be surrounded by people who matter, people who will still be in your life after your children are grown and the family court experience
is only a painful memory.  I am also in your corner because I know the truth.  Family court authorities do not know you.  They do not know your child.  They are not going to take the time to get to know anyone.  It may appear to you that they have gotten friendly with your ex, but it is doubtful they give your ex the time of day either.  That may be your perception.

You may want to believe that because they don’t like you, they do like your ex.  The reality is that they probably think very little about either of you.  The court authorities see cases like yours day after day after day.  They think you are all the same.  They do not know what it is like to have to live with the eyes of the court on you year after year.  It is horrifying.  Because they are never going to understand how it makes you feel, they are never going to understand your reactions to it and they are going to draw the wrong conclusions.

The people who are close to you and support you have seen the toll it is taking on you.  You owe it to yourself to let them be the loudest voice you hear.  If they are telling you that you are a great parent and you are not crazy and that you really are under attack, you owe it to yourself and them to ignore the others and focus on what it true. 

*Image courtesy of Ventrilock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 





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