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

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Love is the Answer to the Family Court Question

"Tulips and Heart Shape Butterflies" by anekoho
Image courtesy of anekoho/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This post is more on my theme for this week, “The greatest of these is love”.  Love is the answer.  It is the one thing that is missing from the Family Court System.  How can a system that works with families be devoid of love?

How do I treat parents who struggle for  years without end in on-going court battles?  Why do I connect with these parents, while the court authorities label these families , placing  judgment, such as high conflict, or label the parents and children with some mental behavior disorder?  While court authorities may be correct in recognizing some disorders that are present in these lives, they may instead be seeing a situational manifestation of the underlying stress, emotions, extreme fear, and lack of understanding the system that keeps  these people living back brained, every day of their lives.

These parents wake up in the morning wondering why. Why did this happen to me?  They go to bed at night asking, why.  Why can’t this stop?  Why can’t I have my life back?  Why?  I never did anything to deserve this!  No one ever called me a bad parent before.  They cannot understand for the life of them how the things they have always done without being vilified for, and were instead, often praised for, are now treated like a crime.  Treated as a crime that is not on the books, not listed in the world in general, as criminal behavior, but in this new setting of darkness, it is a crime and  punishable.

I’d like to see the system change.  The system can work where it needs to, but it takes so long, and it is not really doing any justice.  It was put in place to help people terminate a marriage, and to establish a place in their child’s life after that marriage has ended.  It was not put in place to follow families for years, and to pick at every little parenting decision that they make. Those of us who are parents understand that we don’t always do the right thing.  Sometimes we don’t know what to do, and that is made worse by not having the freedom to figure it out through trial and error.  We do our best much of the time.  There are certain triggers for parents, or  anyone for that matter, who is struggling.  When you are hungry, lonely, tired, angry or afraid, you don’t always do the right thing, have the right reaction, or choose the right path.

All people have these feelings from me to time in their life, but the families who are frequent fliers in court experience trauma all the time.  They go through life thinking that they are done with this system, and wake up one day and there it is again.  Rearing its ugly head.  It is maddening to try to become free, and find out you are not.  In their face is another battle, and another request for thousands of dollars to pay an attorney, thousands of dollars that this parent would rather spend on their family.  Thousands of dollars they would rather spend on their family, on their children, and on more positive things in life.

You can’t disengage from the Family Court because if you don’t respond, if you don’t show up, the consequences are severe.  The other party wins.  What kind of justice is that?  We should be  able to say, no more!  I quit.  I’m done!  I am not going to engage in this nastiness anymore!  I am not going to engage in that which takes me away from my children.  I am not going to engage in that which makes me so weary that it takes away so much time and energy away from my children, that it is beyond ridiculous.  I’m not going to do it anymore.

But they do not let people do that.  Parents are often punished with a financial judgement or losing time with their children, and sometimes, losing their children completely.  They have been accused of doing things that are often unproven.  Accused of things that other parents do in their daily lives, and no one judges them for it, or punishes them for it, and no one says anything to them about it.  No one thinks anything of it when t involves a parent not in the Family court setting, because no one is pointing it out in a court of law, and saying that they don’t like that behavior.  Unfortunately, that is what these on-going court battles are really all about.  One parent doesn’t like what the other parent is doing.  It has nothing to do with laws, and so these things don’t belong in court.  They just don’t.

What I do differently, is that I love these people.  I accept them for who they are.  I accept the fact that they have faults, like we all do, and I help them take the system that is all powerful, and break it down to size.  I help them realize that it is a set back in life, but they cannot allow it to be all consuming.  I cannot do it for them, though.  They do it for themselves, but what happens is that I trust them to do it.  I stand back and I let them do it.  And if they are struggling to know what to do, at times, I work with them to help them figure it out.

We need to be loving these families.  We need to be holding them in our hearts.  We need to be loving the children, and allowing both parents to be who they are and not label what kind of parenting they should do.  Some will co-parent, and do it well.  Some will co-parent and not do it well.  Some will not be able to co-parent, and they will need to find another way, but it doesn’t need to be labeled as anything other than parenting.  It doesn’t  mean that these parents are bad.

In a lot of these battles the parents are chastised for their struggle.  Judges and court authorities chastise them  for bad mouthing each other.  Yet, what is the court doing?  What are the court authorities doing?  They, too, are badmouthing the parents.  They are not looking for the positive.  They are looking for who is to blame.  They are looking to find fault.  They are often looking, not for the good parent, but which one is the worst parent.  The court thinks that both parents are bad, because, to be honest, the court doesn’t think highly of either one of these people.

We have to do better, and I know we can do better, and when these parents are supported and accepted for who they are, and held accountable when the children aren’t safe, or the children are hurting emotionally.  What I mean by accountable is not punishment, but it is, asking them what action they will take for their children’s security.  We need to give them the support, the tools and the space, to rectify the problems.

These parents wants to make things better.  They want to do better for their kids.  They want to be left in peace.  They want that stress taken away, so that they can focus on parenting and moving in a better direction for them and their children.  Sometimes the other parent is going to move in a better direction with them, and sometimes they are not.  When the other parent will not move in a positive direction, we need to give a parent the permission to say, “They are not going to move on with me, so I have to move on by myself.”  Then, just let it be.

The relationship will be what it is going to be, and if given time, space, and acceptance, they might come into a better relationship.  If court professionals keep pointing out how bad one is to the other, the court system is doing what they accuse these parents of doing to each other all the time-badmouthing.  I think it would be much better if the court would focus on the positive things that these parents are doing, because there are positives.

I came from my own high conflict battle.  The other parent and I were never going to see eye to eye.  We had completely different world views.  We married when we were young, before our front brains were developed, and by the time our brains were developed, we were totally different, with different views of the world, and different paths we wanted to take, and that is all there was.

Divorce law shouldn’t be about changing the people into what some legal authority wants them to be, because this court involvement in families ends when children are 18.  So why should a parent change their life, and who they are for 1-18 years in the system, when their life will hopefully be 100 years long or so, and they have to be who they are.  People have to be who they are, and be accepted for who they are and not criticized all the time.  And then they can soar!  But keeping these families in court is like tying an anchor to them.  It’s a heavy weight that they always carry, and they cannot fly.  They cannot be free.  The court should be about laws, but families are about love.  And if the court is not going to love them, then the court needs to get out of their way, and let them be the light, and the love, for their children.

 

Ready to tear up?

If this video doesn’t make you tear up, you cannot possibly be human! I love dogs and I love to see videos like this. It is hard to surrender a dog, but there are times in life where you just cannot care for them. If you have a pet that you cannot care for, please call your local humane society for help. Never leave your pet abandoned and alone.

Proverbs 12:10
“Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.” (ESV)

Can You Work on Coparenting by Yourself?



It takes two to co-parent, no doubt about that.  The family courts are filling a lot of people with false hope by making parents believe that watching a video, attending a parenting class, or having a parent coordinator or parenting consultant as the case manager of the parental relationship can force co-parenting to happen.  There are cases where none of those things are going to work.

I know that this line of thinking does not endear me to the family court or put me top of the list when they appoint a parenting consultant, but I have to say it anyway.  I am a realist and one who speaks the truth, whether or not that truth is popular.  Does that mean that there is no hope for the high conflict divorce parents?  No.  That is not what I am saying.  I am an eternal optimist and I believe that all things are possible.  When two people want to have a relationship, those two people will have the relationship they want, but one person cannot have a relationship.  That is what cannot be done.  In the same way you cannot make someone love you if they don’t, you will not get a cooperative co-parent if they have no interest in co-parenting with you.

Some people can and do co-parent effectively.  Those parents have had closure from the end of the relationship and have healed their hurts.  They also see a way forward without the other parent sharing their life and can separate parenting together from having a life together.

Those who cannot co-parent effectively, those referred to as high conflict families, have never had a healthy relationship.  They may not even understand what a healthy relationship is.  They have probably never experienced one themselves and have never seen one in action in their extended family. 

There are many factors that contribute to hostile co-parenting situations.  Chemical dependency may have been a part of the relationship, for one or both of the parents.  Abuse, which can take many forms, may have been part of that household in one way or another.  There may have been a prolonged custody battle, in which the lies and mud slinging stung and deeply wounded one or both parties.  As an aside, if you told horrific lies about your ex and now expect them to co-parent, SHAME ON YOU!  As I wrote about before, co-parenting requires a level of trust.  If the type of relationships I mentioned above exist for you, there is no trust, or at least not enough for someone to trust you with the children or take your word on anything.

Co-parenting means that you will be on time and return the children on time.  If you are going to have parenting time on certain days, you will move heaven and earth  to see the children those days.  You will make the children a priority and you will treat the other parent with respect.  The other parent has a life without you and their time, their interests and their home, including phone and email, must be respected.  The phone and email are not to be used to insult and threaten them in their own home.  You do not have to like what the other parent does and they don’t have to like what you do, but as co-parents, you must treat each other with respect.

If you have the misfortune of a hostile co-parenting relationship, nothing will make the other parent change their ways.  There isn’t a court order or a parenting consultant or a law in the world that is going to make them change their ways.  You already know this.  The court already knows this.  The only one who can change someone’s behavior is the person behaving that way.  Court orders won’t work.  You can tell the person until you are blue in the face that they need to change.  It won’t make it so.  The person who is behaving badly has to see their mistakes and want to change.

What can you do about it?  The only effective way to shut down someone who is trying to upset you is to work on your reaction to them.  The best revenge is to let them know that they are not going to get anything out of it and you are not going to waste time on what they do or say.  So many people fear that their children will believe lies the other parent tells them, but if you do right by your kids, they will know truth.  Kids will know who was there for them and who was standing strong for them.

You cannot force someone to co-parent with you.  Pushing the issue in court will only further alienate the other party.  If you are going to improve the relationship, give them some time and space and stop tattling on them.  If they are ever going to warm up to the idea, they need to have time to heal first.  Stop pushing them.

Focus on you and the way you parent.  Do not make excuses for the other parent when you talk to the children and do not criticize the other parent.  If the children ask why mommy or daddy won’t talk to you anymore, tell them that you hope, in time, things will get better, but you both need the space to adjust to single parenting.  Also tell them that you are always there for them and they will always be taken care of.

When you prepare yourself to be a great parent, regardless of what someone else is doing, you gain confidence and independence.  If you do not have to rely on that other parent, you will not be disappointed.  The other parent may do their part and that is great, but your saving Grace is to be able to parent with or without them.

Image courtesy of Jeron van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net





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