Today, I feel rather sad and it is difficult to write when I feel sad. Yesterday, I watched my seventeen year old get into the car with my narcissist ex-husband to go live with him. Everything about this truly breaks my heart. There is a new pain I feel that is so deep it is hard to even describe. Sending her to live with her dad is really not what I think is best for her.
However, she is seventeen and if she stays she will continue to be resentful and have her fantasy picture of what it would be like to live with him. Visiting him every other weekend versus living with him full time is very different. My ex-husband exhibits all the behaviors of a classic narcissist. Also, his ultimate weapon has always been gaslighting. He has done everything he can over the years to convince me that I am the crazy one here. Sometimes I do feel like I am the crazy one, but thankfully I have twenty years of documentation and a wonderful support network of friends and family to confirm it is not me.
Gaslighting – manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
Turning Children Against Other Parent
The worst was when my daughter came home in July, from her summer visitation at her dad’s house, and began telling me that it is me who won’t leave her father alone. She literally believes the story in reverse where I am the person who is harassing her father for all these years. Over the years, he has told her twisted versions of the truth and some outright lies. In 2012, he told her that he always took care of her while I was just on my computer all the time (Abuse and Coparenting – Rising Above the Games).
So, he has managed to turn our daughter against me and she believes he is telling the truth. In the article Abusers and Leveraging the Children, they say that abusers will use anyone to do their bidding, including turning the children against the mother (or father). She was determined living with him would be better and was extremely angry and hateful for the past three months.
This hurts me that my child would see me as the abuser in this situation. Doesn’t she know me better than that? I thought I did a better job at raising her in this difficult situation. When your ex-husband turns your child against you, it leaves you wondering if you failed as a parent. Wondering if you failed to teach your children right from wrong. Feeling like you must have failed in your parenting. Perhaps the biggest problem isn’t me, but that I am coparenting with a person who is not doing the right thing. Just maybe being countered at every step helped shape this outcome in an unfortunate way?
Lawsuit for Custody
In July, we were served papers where my ex-husband was asking for custody of our seventeen year old. This absolutely made my stomach sick. We had to hire an attorney and answer their suit. His attorney also set it to go directly to court when our 2008 modification clearly states mediation must happen first. So, we had to answer his request and reschedule mediation.
On Thursday, my husband and I attended the mediation and we decided to let her go live with her dad. He asked for the custody arrangements to flip and he become primary conservator and they would negotiate the child support. My attorney asked for and we received the following:
- Nobody is primary, it will be joint custody
- My ex-husband has to take and pass a drug test or everything revert to the previous orders
- Weekly therapy for our daughter until the therapist determines it is no longer necessary
- Our daughter has to take and pass three drug tests for three months before she can get a drivers license
- Nobody buys a car for her until she is 18 (due to getting caught smoking pot in June)
- Our daughter needs to take a psychological evaluation
- No child support
- Attorney fees, we asked for all, but we got $1,500
As we discussed with our attorney and mediator. At seventeen, it didn’t make sense to fight for her at this point because we would just have an angry teenager who is absolutely convinced she wants to live with her father. She is practically an adult. Even if we had her stay, she would want to leave as soon as she turned eighteen. We did the best we could to put some safe guards around her and had to let her go.
Rose Colored Glasses
Right now, our daughter sees her father through rose colored glasses. Over the years, they have let her do whatever she wants and bought her a lot of things. She constantly came home with expensive gifts like pandora bracelet, expensive clothes, and has been promised a car. They often ‘joke’ about our unfair or extreme rules. Plus, she has been hanging out with friends who have too much freedom in their households and can confirm how we are too strict. We are definitely not overly strict, but when comparing a permissive household to our house, it probably does seem extreme in our daughter’s eyes.
The Mask Will Come Off
Perhaps living with her father 24/7 will allow the mask to come off. Just maybe, she will eventually believe the ‘truth’ she has been told may not actually be the whole truth. I have not shared with her all the details of our relationship because she does not need to know. Although, maybe this is wrong. You do not want to involve children in adult business, but maybe this just further perpetuates the false narrative the abuser tells children?
My father was very much like my ex-husband and spent years trying to make me hate my mother. The difference is I didn’t see my father as often as my daughter visits her father. Plus, my father was a bit more direct than my ex-husband’s subtle manipulation. My father would outright say my mother was satan. My ex-husband is much more convert and manipulative.
My mother and I did have a lot of problems when I was a teenager and I am not sure how much my father’s comments played into that or not. Eventually, I became aware that my mother was not the problem. To this day, my father still says hateful things about my mother and our relationship is very much estranged because of it.
Truth Will Prevail
I have to believe that eventually the truth will prevail in this situation. What I don’t know is how long it will take before my daughter realizes that I am not the abuser here.
My uncle, my father’s brother, did turn all three of his children against their mother. They wouldn’t have anything to do with their mother for years. It was a case of true parental alienation. Now, that they are all adults and married, they realized that their mother may not have been perfect, but it was mostly their father that was the problem. My cousin said she won’t even stay at her father’s house when they visit him and would rather stay at her in-laws house.
Ending the Cycle of Abuse
This has been an incredibly difficult journey. I see this story from so many levels; as a child of abuse, as a victim of domestic abuse, as a parent of a child being emotionally abused. This is so sad and I truly hope my daughter can see the light, get healthy and maybe this cycle of abuse will end with my generation. I do not know what the future will bring or what our relationship will be like in the future.