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
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.
The following is a repost from 1/14/13. It is important to post now because the video appears to have been scrubbed from the internet. Does that surprise anyone?
As you know, I am determined to raise awareness about Parenting Consultants, known in other states as Parenting Coordinators. I am also trying to help people avoid this process all together. See the video below, and I have added some links to Liz Library articles about PCs, too.
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?
How do people become mired in the Family Court System? People who don’t believe in their own abilities become stuck in the Family Court System. People who feel wronged become stuck in the Family Court System. People who want to punish their ex become stuck in the Family Court System. People who want the world to know that they are not bad people become stuck in the Family Court system. Unfortunately for all of those people, going to court is not the answer.
The Family Court System is a crazy, mixed up world of opposite outcomes. What you would expect to see happen there, rarely happens. The frequent flyers in Family Court, or High Conflict families, if that is the preferred label these days, think that they can chip away at the system until the truth is uncovered. No one in the system is really trying to get to the truth because, truth be told, the truth doesn’t matter in Family Court. There. I said it. Do you know why the truth doesn’t matter in the world of the Frequent Flyers? Because we are talking about family matters. Families are made up of people, and truth is in the eye of the beholder. You have your truth, and the other side has their truth. Some of your truth may be true, but some of the other person’s truth might also be true. This is why the pendulum can swing back and forth between each side and keep you coming back for more in the never-ending game of swinging the pendulum your way again. The problem with that game is that the other person is playing it, too.
People put too much stock in the system, giving it, and the people in it, way too much power over their lives, but the system has never done anything to deserve this blind faith from the people. If the people realized just how little faith the Family Court System has in them, they would take their children, and their money, and give the system the finger. If you are mired in the Family Court System, take a step back for just a moment, and look at the stack of papers you hold from the court. What have they “given” you that you could not have given yourself? You held all the power in the first place. They took that power from you because you believed that the system was more powerful than you, and more powerful than your children. In your life, no one is more powerful than you. No one. Stop allowing your power to be stripped away from you.
The Family Court System has no faith in you. They do not believe that you can survive as a single parent without a piece of paper that tells you to do the right thing. They do not believe that you know what the right thing is, without a piece of paper that tells you what the right thing is. They brain wash you into believing what they want you to believe, and they convince you that they are the experts on divorced families, because then you will come back to them whenever someone is not following “the rules”.
When you had children, did you wait for someone to tell you that it was the right time? Did you wait for someone to tell you how to parent? Did you ask anyone’s permission to have a baby? Did you and the other parent plan out every minute of your parenting journey with the children? Probably not. You couldn’t foresee everything then, and you cannot foresee, or plan, for everything now that you are divorced either. I suspect most people, but definitely not all people, discussed having a child. If it was planned, they discussed the timing of starting a family, if they could afford to have a child, where the child would be when they could not be home to care for the child. Most people discuss the basics, but then, they were content to let the parenting styles develop and flourish as they learned on the job. When the other parent did not step up as you would have liked them to, you just stepped up, and did what you had to do, and there was probably no pat on the back for doing so, was there? You just did what life required of you, what your children required of you, what your family required of you. You just did.
Now that you walk the path as a single parent, can you just do again? Can you let go of a system that doesn’t believe in your ability? Can you have faith in your own ability? Can you step up when and where you need to step up? Can you have faith in your children to see the truth in who you are as a parent, and better yet, a person? Can you trust in your children to develop their own truth about the other parent? If that parent is who you think they are, good or bad, children will see, regardless of pieces of paper that say otherwise. Actions speak louder than words. Remember that. Live without the court now because you will have to live without the court when your children are 18, even though you will still be a parent. Will you pretend then, that you don’t know what to do without help? Of course not.
Can you improve your life, and the life of your children, because you have faith? If you need more money, go after it yourself. Get a better job. Stop relying on the other person. They have already proven to you that they don’t have the same view of truth that you do. They have already proven to you that the things you’d like them to care about do not matter to them in the same way they matter to you. Stop relying on someone who is unreliable. Don’t seek out worthless pieces of paper. Write your own piece of paper that says, I believe in myself, and then hang it somewhere that you will see it every single day, and then believe it.
The system does not believe that you can be a good parent without the help of the other parent. Prove them wrong. The system does not believe in your ability to provide for your family without financial help from a person who no longer wants to share their life, or their money, with you. Prove them wrong. The system wants to dictate to you how you are going to raise your children. Do not allow that.
You are the expert in your life, and you are the expert on your children. You are the only one who can achieve your dreams. Dreams are not awarded to you in a court order. Dreams are achieved by those who believe in their own abilities. You will achieve your dreams much easier by staying away from a system that has no faith in you. You cannot work on your dreams when you are working on punishing your ex. Do not spend your life looking for a court to tell the world that you are not a bad person. Show the world what kind of person you are by doing the right thing, just because it is the right thing, and by achieving your dreams because you have faith in yourself.
This article was originally posted on May 18, 2011. Due to its popularity, I thought I’d re-post it.
When hit with divorce some people decide that their life is over. They think that in order to be a good parent, they must make sacrifices. They decide that dating has to wait until the children are grown, or they decide that they must be alone FOREVER.
There are always those people who decide that “all men are scum!” or that “all women are man haters!” While it certainly feels that way as you try to heal the wounds of divorce, those statements are blatantly false. Just because one person hurt you, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a loving man or woman out there who has been hurt just as badly, and would love to find someone like you. Many people are looking for a decent, loving individual, with whom they can build a new life, but instead, they do not allow themselves to seek out a potential mate.
It is called fear, people. Fear holds them back from true happiness. Those who live in fear never get to live life to the fullest. They miss out on the joy life can bring. They miss out on sharing a life with someone wonderful.
We can take our past experiences and let them continue to hurt us, or we could chalk it up to experience and hop right back on that bicycle and try it again. What I think people find through dating, especially when they are a little older and have been through divorce, is that they matter, and that they are more beautiful and desirable than they think they are.
The period following divorce can be a chance to learn about yourself. It can be a time to figure out who you are and what your interests are. You can try people on for size and it will help you find the right one for you. Just because the last one turned out to be the wrong one, that is no reason to give up and hide under the covers. I truly believe that there is someone out there for everyone. Just make sure that you have examined your part in the failed relationship and that you are emotionally healthy and ready for a new relationship before you get deeply involved with a new mate. It will save many headaches later if you get your act together!
I have another take on that whole “sacrificing for the children” belief. I think that when you swear off dating, you are robbing your children of a good example. Here’s why: Since you ended up divorced, that was probably not the best example of a healthy relationship. Did you fight? Was there chemical dependency involved? Was your ex physically and verbally abusive? Children learn by modeling. They observe the relationships they see and it leaves an impression on them. The kind of relationship they witness will be the relationship they seek out in their own lives and they will do so without even knowing they are doing it.
One day, they will choose a significant other and have a relationship just like their parents had. Why? Because this is what a relationship looks like to them. Do you want that? Would it be better to show your children how to date selectively and then hopefully find that special person with whom you can have a healthy, lasting relationship with? What a great model to give them, especially if all of the relationships around them haven’t always been the healthiest! Do this for you, but also for your children, and for that new person you have yet to meet, the one who is just as lonely as you are. You just might surprise yourself and find the right one. I know I have.
Keep in mind that there is another reason to open your heart and mind to love, and all of the possibilities in life. Your ex. While I would never recommend dating just to get back at your ex, I do think the best revenge on an ex is for them to see you blissfully happy and successful in life! Go ahead. Have the last laugh.