I am a retired clinical psychologist academician, mother and grandmother to many. I was fortunate and did not marry a Cluster B; my husband and I will celebrate our 48th anniversary early next year. Yet my life included many Cluster B people – my family doctor convicted for murdering at least one of his sons, a couple of ex-son and daughter-in-laws. I taught at Purdue University where I ran a practicum titled, “The Pervasive Problem Solving Clinic.” Pervasive Problem Solving was my euphemism for Cluster B people’s needs. I taught graduate students in our Clinical Psychology doctoral graduate program how to diagnose and treat people with Cluster B personality disorders as well as how to help their partners, children, and family manage their roles with Cluster Bs in the healthiest, least damaged, manner possible. I earned the reputation as the Cluster B whisperer.
Long before I knew about Tina’s work or OMB, I helped my daughter who did unfortunately marry a Cluster B person. You know the story – mom sees red flags, daughter thinks mom is overly protective, wrong, and Cluster B is “misunderstood”. I remember trying to decide if I should treat her as I would any other person I came across in my professional life and warn her, knowing she would relay my concerns to him and make it even more likely her dad and I would be cut out of her and our grandson’s life or remain silent. I chose warning and as expected, we were removed from our loved ones’ lives for quite some time. It just did not feel ethical to have the knowledge (both her dad and I knew at the first meeting of the fiancé) and not indicate concern. We gave her a safety plan and emergency money so when the honeymoon period was over she had a means of escape. Of course when that time came she felt blindsided by the cruelty, lies, gaslighting, and manipulations of the Cluster B and shell shocked by the family court system where it was not simple to protect her children and self.
She and I were both naïve about family court as are most before they have their own journeys. Once we figured out that truth, justice, and best meeting the children’s needs was not necessarily our family court’s top priorities, we did much better at managing the family court system. Isn’t that sad? It is the same message I try to share with newbies trapped in this high conflict family court system with Cluster B ex partners. It seems jaded, perhaps it is, but it is the best way to navigate family court. One must have a long term strategy and not take personally the most personally affecting adverse decisions that can be made in family court to survive and hopefully prevail in these battles. Our mantra is every text, every email, every communication is strategy based assuming that the judge will be reading every communication. In our case, this eventually worked out to protect the children because over time most Cluster Bs will reveal their true natures and the court will eventually get a fuller picture to use in rendering decisions. We just have to hope and do all we can to ensure that the children’s souls are not crushed irretrievably during the decision making process over the many year’s duration.
My daughter was near the end of the worst of her legal fight to protect her babies when I discovered Tina’s blog. We had reestablished our relationships in the family and I had tried to teach her about Cluster Bs, how to not indulge in negative emotions toward him, how to strategize, and how to heal. She was brave, goodhearted, and resilient. I started at the beginning of Tina’s blog and read backwards. After about 4-5 entries, I emailed my daughter the web address for a specific blog. She read it and like me felt like we had discovered a fellow warrior who understood what we had gone through and who was brave enough to let the world know what family court with a Cluster B entailed. I read the entire blog, then purchased Tina’s book. Meanwhile my daughter and her new (non-Cluster B) spouse started reading too and donating to OMB.
I then discovered the Facebook page and consumed it, eventually beginning to post comments to people struggling with understanding how to place boundaries and strategize with Cluster Bs. At some point Tina asked me to become an administrator on the OMB Facebook page. I accepted and the rest is history. We work well together. I wrote a foreword to her second book which we suggest members use as a handout to give to attorneys, DV agency staff, CPS staff, and to parent evaluators, GALS, PCs, etc. Tina worked to make OMB a nonprofit 501C; we created a board of directors for our nonprofit. She was president and I was vice president for the past year. Now at this point in her life, Tina is ready to step back from administrative work on the board and for the next two years I will serve as president.
Tina will not disappear and we will continue to collaborate in our plans for OMB (aided by Michele and Jennifer as well as many invaluable OMB chapter leaders and other volunteers). In another blog post I will elaborate on our vision for 2017 but in this one I just wanted to introduce myself. I know it can be unsettling to feel like we are losing Tina – but we are not losing Tina. I promise. While most of you do not know me, I have been working behind the scenes helping many and I plan to continue doing my best to help individuals, helpers, court personnel, and state/national organizations that can best assist our members.
One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.
History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with over 100-chapters in five different countries. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level.