My personal journey in healing from the emotional abuse. No communication, distance and time helped us find closure and peace.
Today, I am happy to say things have settled down in the past few years. It is my belief things have changed because we moved further away from my ex-husband. Normally a geographical change does not fix all situations because wherever you move, ‘there you are’. However, when dealing with a controlling and abusive ex-husband I think geographical moves may be necessary.
When we initially moved my ex-husband told our daughter I moved her away from him to make it harder for him to see her. My ex-husband, his wife and my daughter’s school were the motivating factors in why we decided to expand our search into other areas in the city. It is still hard for me to believe all that crazy stuff happened in the first place.
Insanity at Daughter’s School
My ex-husband’s wife (who was his girlfriend at the time) transferred to my daughter school as an assistant teacher. My ex-husband signed a Power of Attorney giving his girlfriend full-parenting rights over our daughter. His girlfriend was starting visiting my daughter at lunch daily. Every day giving her gifts (flowers, erasers, pens, candy, etc….) which began to create jealousy with my daughters friends who were not receiving this special treatment. My daughter issues with her friends is what prompted me to go to school to complain.
The school staff informed me that his girlfriend had the same parenting rights I did. What? Even my ex-husband doesn’t even have the same parenting rights that I do. According to my court, signed Divorce Decree he wasn’t even allowed to pick her up during school hours unless it was an emergency. So how in the world did the school allow a ‘secretary’ signed Power of Attorney give her the same rights as I have?
We dealt with that craziness for two years and then I decided it was time to transfer her out of that school. During that same time, my husband and I were looking for a slightly bigger house. Then suddenly, perhaps out of frustration, I said to our realtor, “Where else in this city have we not looked?” So she began showing us different homes in other neighborhoods around the city. As soon as we saw this neighborhood we knew we wanted to live here. Then we began looking at all the homes that were available and here we are.
You can read additional posts that I wrote about that insanity in What a Tangled Web They Weave blog post.
Geographical Move Creates Closure
When we first moved in the summer of 2010, we decided not to tell my daughter about our decision. My ex-husband is very manipulative and had way too much control over her at the time. My daughter was only ten years old at the time and would often answer his questions to make him happy. So we looked for houses on the weekends she visited her father. We had told her one week before we were moving and showed her the house. Then when my ex-husband picked her up we handed him the address of where he would need to drop her off.
He was super pissed to get blindsided like that, and I can’t blame him entirely. However, with all his scheming we really did not know what to expect from him and decided not to let him know until it was a done deal.
He told my daughter that I moved further away so he couldn’t’ see her as often. He (well his behavior) was the motivating factor to expand our house search further out. However, he was not the reason we chose this house. The first year he kept with his Wednesday through Sunday visits. He had to pick our daughter up after school on Wednesday, drop & pick her up Thursday a Friday and then bring her home on Sunday. It was a 40-minute drive from his neighborhood to ours.
The second year he told our daughter, he was just going to pick her up on Friday through Sunday from now on because he knew she had friends she might want to visit instead. It is my believe that it was just too much work for him to drive that distance so many times per week. Plus, he drives a truck and gas prices were not helping. However, it was better for my daughter to have a less disruptive schedule which helped life settle down here.
Peace and Closure For Our Family
In 2011, I remembered feeling very angry for a while about my ex-husband. It seems like I was finally able to grieve and go through emotions I had not been able to go through for years. I moved into my house on October 2003, and my divorce was final the next month. My ex-husband spent all those years harassing me, threatening to take our daughter from me and worse using our daughter as a pawn. Our poor daughter has had more than her fair share of tears. Our poor daughter has to learn how to be a child of divorce in a parental warfare type situation.
My ex-husband is a very manipulative person. It took me the longest time to figure out what he was telling her every time she visited him. She was afraid of me at times because he would tell her things like, “You are going to get in trouble with your mom.” Or, “Your mom is going to get mad at you.” His comments were very indirect and passive, and it took my daughter a long time to realize what he was doing to her.
My daughter is 15 now, and it has gotten better. She says he still says awful things about me, but she lets it go in one ear and out the other. Hopefully, she is truly able to do that. It is unfair of my ex-husband to do that to her. His efforts to alienate our relationship did not work so I think he doesn’t a hard anymore.
Zero Communication and Facts Only Rule
Every divorce book or co-parenting book I have read says you should co-parent with your Ex and try to create a similar home structure for the child. It seems that a normal divorce situation is hard enough but when you are dealing with an abusive (or perhaps narcissistic) ex, this makes all rational and logical solutions null and void. The rules are very different when you are dealing with a toxic ex, narcissistic ex or abusive ex. Moving further way from my ex-husband was probably the first step to our finding some peace.
I do believe the biggest factor that has helped ease our daughter’s suffering was to enact the Zero Communication Rule with my ex-husband. That means I never talk to him by phone. Any email communications are written with the Facts Only Rule. For example: “I took her to the doctor, she has Strep, I have attached the receipt, your half is $X for the doctor co-pay and antibiotics.” Also, I never ask him questions or request his opinion on any matter. I have even learned it does no good to tell him about her grades or any other subject. In the past when I would tell him about her grades he would just blame me for her struggles.
One of my biggest problems was getting advice from family members or other friends (some who had not even dealt with divorce) that simply wouldn’t work with my abusive ex-husband.. Plus getting rational and logical solutions to deal with my irrational ex-husband probably wasn’t the best advice for my circumstances. This slideshow is excellent advice and eventually I did all these suggestions after learning the hard way.
1. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid that every divorced couple should be able to co-parent. If you have a relentlessly high-conflict ex, try parallel parenting instead: different houses, different rules, and as little contact as possible.– Virginia Gilbert, licensed marriage and family therapist (Source)
OMG this could totally be MY EX! Even this: “I have even learned it does no good to tell him about her grades or any other subject. In the past when I would tell him about her grades he would just blame me for her struggles.” Life did get better when he moved away, and as the kids were able to open up about the mean things he would say about me, and still does. My daughter blocked him from calling her in part because of that and how he won’t take responsibility for anything ever! Smart 15 yr old!
Psychotherapeutic counsellors and coaches can help you through the emotional trauma. Because healing from an emotional trauma can sometimes be a lengthy and difficult process, it is prudent to have professional guidance by your side during that process.