This piece, about what happens to the people that leave relationships abruptly and/or with deception, caused quite a stir on Facebook recently. The comments fell into two camps: “Thank you for validating my experience” and “I’m the one who left my marriage and I’m tired of being painted as the bad guy.” The reaction got me […]
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 […]
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!
Life’s Doors Mediation offers services for individuals, couples and families. Many people are not aware that mediation works for all forms of conflict. You don’t have to be going through divorce to try mediation. I also offer marital mediation so that a couple can work on saving their marriage. Whether you try to piece a marriage back together, or work out a better co-parenting relationship after divorce, the benefits are far greater than what you will experience as a couple. If you have children, they will also benefit. They will learn that forgiveness can happen, and that all is not lost when someone makes a mistake. Extended family, neighbors, and coworkers also benefit when you learn peaceful ways to resolve conflict. Everyone can benefit from taking the time to resolve conflict, rather than avoid it. Avoiding conflict is nothing more than delaying resolution. Conflict will either stay the same or build up, over time. You can try to hide from it, but it has a sneaky way of creeping up on you when you least expect it and are the least equipped to deal with it.
If you are struggling in a relationship, consider scheduling an appointment for coaching, or mediation. While some relationships cannot and should not be mended, such as abusive, coercive or those involving substance dependency, many relationships can be repaired.
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 email@example.com.
I often listen to parents who are so enmeshed in the Family Court System that they are willing to flat-out tell a potential Parenting Consultant that they want to prove the other parent is “bad”. There are several things that astound me about this revelation.
One, my surprise at hearing them openly admit that? This used to be a strategy, but now is just a sad fact of truth.
Two, what do they hope will happen from proving the other parent is “bad”? None of them seem to know this, but I suspect they hope that the other parent will lose parenting time or custody. Still, they never really “get” how the System works. I do, and therefore, I am horrified that anyone would entertain this notion. Yes, you could call me a hypocrite, because I did get sole custody, but I did not get sole custody by proving how “bad” my ex was. I got sole custody by proving how the delay in decision-making, on important issues such as medical care, was detrimental to my children, AND detrimental to myself and the children’s father. My whole family won when I won sole custody! So it perplexes me when parents want to show how “bad” the other parent is.
Three, are their lawyers just hoping to pocket a lot of money? As a non lawyer who knows just how biting the system is for children and families, I cannot think of any other reason a legal professional would direct their client to drop their children deeper into the system. I would tell you, and have told some people, to run like hell in the other direction.
The problem with trying to prove the other person is bad is this: suppose you succeed? Do you expect some miraculous event to occur? A Parenting Consultant/Coordinator is there to help the two of you communicate and co-parent, and if you cannot make a decision about an issue regarding your child, then the PC can. The PC cannot change custody or child support so you’d maybe, at best, get a shift in percentage of parenting time, if you successfully prove “badness”. You still have to compel the professional to act. For some reason people think that if you can demonstrate how bad the other parent treats you, something magical will happen to free you of that other parent forever.
The truth is that if you are trying to prove the other parent is “bad” to you, nobody really cares about that. If you are trying to prove the other parent is “bad” to the children, bad is rather hard to define. What you think is “bad” may not be what the court professionals think are”bad”. If the other parent is physically abusive to the children, you may get somewhere, but you need to make sure you know what you are asking for. It would be extremely rare for a parent to be cut out of the children’s lives completely. I have seen cases where the parent cuts a parent out of the children’s lives completely, but the courts rarely do.
I guess what I am trying to say to you is to be careful about going down this road. It often backfires. If you do succeed in showing the bad side of your ex, you and the children will be made part of the (losing) effort of trying to fix the situation. You will likely see and interact more with your “bad” ex than ever before, and so you will not be rid of them, you will have to put up with much more.
One more thing, usually, if someone is truly acting “bad”, you should have no need to show that. The professionals on the case will see and understand it, eventually. The unfortunate thing is that many parents trying to prove their ex is bad, come across as desperate and unstable, creating their own threat to their parenting time with the kids.
My best advice would be to stay out of court and away from court authorities as much as you can. Don’t let them take control of your children.