Tag Archives: single mothers

A Huge Thank You

A Huge Thank You

I started this blog at the end of October 2011– I’ve been working forwards, backwards and sideways to tell my story— to paint the entire picture.  I still have pieces to fill in…in less than 8 weeks, I’ve received over 9,000 hits on my blog.

I’ve received emails and messages from women who have laughed and cried while reading my story.  Women who thanked me because they felt so alone and had no idea that “this” was happening to other people.  In the very beginning, I would have loved to connect with one other person in the world who could tell me that “everything was going to be okay”.  There were so many times that I doubted that.

Today I was accepted as an “Expert” on About.Com and through my research on this topic, I am healing more than I ever thought possible.  Today, I came across an article called, “Staying Sane While Divorcing a Narcissist” and it covered so many things that baffled me before I truly understood narcissism.

These are the characteristics of a Narcissist that rang true in my X husband (taken from Cathy Meyer’s Article)- not one item…but ALL seventeen:

  • Has a need for admiration,
  • A need to be right,
  • A need to be seen as the good guy,
  • A need to criticize when you don’t meet their need,
  • Is charismatic and successful,
  • Lacks the ability to feel remorse,
  • Has no conscience,
  • Has a tremendous need to control you and the situation,
  • Have values are situational…if you believe infidelity is wrong, so do they,
  • Uses a facade of caring and understanding to manipulate,
  • Is emotionally unavailable,
  • Nothing is ever their fault,
  • Hangs onto resentment,
  • Has a grandiose sense of self,
  • Feels misunderstood,
  • Is not interested in solving marital problems, it is their way or the highway,
  • Is envious of other’s success,

Here are some of the things which caused me to have “Ah ha!” moments in the article:

1. When divorcing a narcissist, Dr. Bansckick says, “he completely dismisses any of your needs, or all the years of devotion and mutual companionship that you had built together.

During our marriage, and prior to my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and having children, I worked between 60-100 hours per week on our businesses.  Sometimes I stopped work at 3am for a 30 minutes cat nap only to wake up and put in another full day.  I did anything and everything to keep our companies thriving.  If you ask him today what I contributed– he would answer nothing and take credit for everything.   In his mind, I stayed on the couch eating potato chips and watching television which is the farthest thing from the truth.

2. A narcissist finds it hard to accept that his influence in your life is over. Whether they file for the divorce or you, the narcissist will attempt to remain in control of his influence over your life. If you have children with this person they will work over-time at attempting to control how child support is spent, how child visitation is handled and every other aspect of the co-parenting relationship.

My X doesn’t view child support as his responsibility in the care of our children– he views it as a way to control me.  Mentally, I’ve recently shifted the way I view his support (which is currently $25,000 in arrears) and it has allowed me to break free from that control.  I am strong and I am capable of providing the basics for my children.  We will have to sacrifice the “extras” such as ballet lessons, gymnastic lessons and other fun treats but they have a well-rounded life and we will be okay.  He doesn’t have control over me and that is a good feeling.

3. Examine your role in the ongoing conflict. The healthier you are emotionally the more success you will have in dealing with the narcissist. You are giving into the narcissists attempt to manipulate every time you respond to him.  

This is something that I came to terms with over the recent year.  He is welcome to send a long, attacking rant by email but it is my choice to read them or not.  I usually skim over it and respond to the valid questions.  I’ve come to view his insane emails as just that– sometimes I just shake my head.  Usually, I respond to the required questions with simple, unemotional responses.  He doesn’t deserve emotion from me nor will he generate it.  I know that’s what he wants and I won’t give in.

4. Deal with the reality of the situation. The world of the narcissist is made up of fantasy, nothing is real, all is a expression of their need to be someone they are not. It is imperative you see the narcissist for who he/she really is and not for whom you wish he/she was.  

This is the thing that I need to constantly remind myself of.  It’s difficult but the reality is- I can’t hold him to my standards.  If I expect him to act in a rational, healthy matter— I am setting myself up for failure.  It just isn’t possible because he is NOT a healthy, rational person.

5. You can’t teach or expect the narcissist to ever respect your boundaries. You can, however refuse to allow the narcissist to cross your boundaries and cause you undue stress during the divorce process. This is done by you controlling what behaviors you will and will not allow.

This is a prime example of the past weekend’s visitation fiasco.  My X interpreted the new visitation orders the way that he wanted them to read because they way they are written gave him even less control and more restrictions.  I made an exception this time but also made it clear that in the future, I would follow the orders exactly as they are stated.

I end this (LONG!) post with a thank-you to Cathy Meyer for an article that resonated with me on every possible level.  I also thank you for reading my blog and for the amazing comments and emails that I have been receiving.

In Gratitude— Tina

Damaging my Daughters

Damaging my Daughters

Today my 6 year old daughter asked me if the upcoming weekend was her visitation weekend.

“It is”, I replied.

She informed me that she didn’t want to go and asked if she had too.  I informed her that she did.

Do I want her to have to go?  Of course not.  Do I have a say in the matter– no.  Do I want her to want to go?  Of course I do.  If she wants to go then that means it is a good situation.  It means my daughter is happy and safe in his care.  I have let go of that hope.

I asked her why she didn’t want to go with her dad.  She was quiet and didn’t really respond.  I let it go and dropped the subject.  I want her to know that I am here for her yet I don’t want her to feel pressured.  I want her to talk to me when she is ready.  It pains me to know that this tiny six year old girl is feeling angst.  

  • I heard a voice from the backseat as I pulled my car into the driveway, “Dad calls you ‘T-Rex”, she said.
  • “What”, I asked…confused.
  • “T-Rex.  Dad says bad things about you to everyone and he calls you T-Rex so I won’t know who he’s talking about”, she explained.
  • “Who is everyone?”, I asked.
  • “To Popi, Uncle Brian and other people in the family.  He says really mean things and I don’t like going over there anymore.  I wish I could just stay home”.

Deep breath.  Another deep breath.  I wish that she could stay home also.  I hate that I am forced to put my children in the care of someone who doesn’t care.  Their own father.

What I wanted to say: “He says mean things because he is a mean, sick  person.  He is an evil, selfish man who couldn’t care less about the damage he does to his daughters”.

What I said instead, “I don’t understand why dad would do that.  That is hurtful to you and it’s hurtful to me.  It’s a poor choice and I will talk to him about it”.

I emailed him.

I won’t get a response.  It will be an excuse– an attack– a denial.

Tina Rex.  I’ll claim it.  I’ll claim it as my role in protecting my children.  Fierce and fearless against evil predators.

Releasing Toxic Emotions

Releasing Toxic Emotions

My goal is to rid myself of the anger and resentment that has come from this divorce.  The marriage and divorce were both toxic.  I feel like an emotional hurricane has just ripped through my world and now the I am dealing with the clean up efforts.  My goal is to rid myself of those toxic emotions which will be mentally freeing on so many levels.  I need to find the rainbow after the storm.

Two months ago, I sat in my therapists office and I told her that I have been in “battle mode” for so long that I haven’t had time to feel.  I spent two years preparing for the next court date and going through the motions.  Many times I felt robotic.  I had to think of each court date like a project– and leave the emotions behind.  Now in the aftermath of court, I am left with a TON of feelings that I need to process.  The feelings are of anger and resentment.  They are toxic and I want to free myself of them.  Those feelings are not in my job description– I am a happy, fun and loving person.  I am balanced (the Libra in me!) but I don’t want to balance good and bad in this case.  I want to overflow with good.

I am taking steps to rid myself of the negative.  With each post I write, I am able to re-live the experience, feel the feelings associated with the experience and then release the experience into the cyber-world.  (Warning- step away from your computer screen as you don’t want to be in the line of fire!).

I watched a video this morning from Deepak Chopra on releasing toxic emotions.

Click here to watch the video: Deepak Chopra Releasing Toxic Emotions

Below is an excerpt from the video above: 

Toxic emotions can cause toxicity in the body. Toxic emotions like anger, resentment, anxiety, guilt, fear, depression…
What is anger? Remembered pain from the past.
What is fear? Anticipation of pain in the future.
What is guilt? Directing pain back at yourself.

7 steps to handling toxic emotions by Deepak Chopra

  • Take responsibility for your emotions.
  • Witness them without judgement.
  • Label them. Is it anger? Is it resentment? Is it guilt? Is it jealousy…
  • Describe it. Describe it in the first person. Describe it from a second person’s point of view…a third person’s point of view. Expression.
  • Share them with someone you trust.
  • Release them through a ritual.
  • Celebrate. 

So, I will continue on my path of releasing these emotions so that I can begin to be “me” again. 

Happy, fun and non-toxic…just like the crayons that I love so much 😉

Focusing on the Angels

Focusing on the Angels

While writing this blog has been therapeutic, it has also been difficult on occasion.  The blog gives me a voice that was previously forced into submission.  I’ve been able to break free from the choke hold.  It’s empowering.  I don’t want to be seen as a victim– that’s not who I am.  There were times in this story that I felt like a victim but that’s not what I want to be known for.  I would go through everything again to be the strong, confident woman that I am today.  I would do it again to find the strong friendships with the people in my circle because I was previously lacking that.

One gift that I’ve been given is the ability to look at a situation and see the positives.  A very wise friend once told me that the story has already been written– it’s my job to walk it out.  I want to walk out my journey with a glass that remains half full at all times.

I’ve received a lot of feedback on my blog from random people and others who are very near and dear to my heart.  I’m listening to all of it and taking the comments to heart.  I appreciate the opinions– the good and the bad. 

I want to stay true to myself with the blog and staying true means remaining grateful for the angels who have appeared in my life.  When things look dim, I try to look for little bits of inspiration– a quote on a coffee cup, a song on the radio or someone who comes into my life at just the right moment.  It’s amazing how the simplest thing can stop a pity party dead in it’s tracks.

In 2010, I met with an attorney in Morro Bay, California who reviewed my case and actually offered to help me for free.  While he could not represent me– he offered his assistance in reviewing my paperwork and giving me advice.  At the time I was incredibly appreciative however, I had a difficult time accepting free help.  I went on my way– court date after court date and loads of paperwork to prepare for each.

In the beginning of 2011, I had reached a breaking point.  He wasn’t showing up for visits, he was violating all of the items in our parenting agreement and was ignoring my attempts to finalize the divorce.  I went back to the attorney and explained to him that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel however, I was out of steam.  I needed to prepare my trial brief which was overwhelming and I didn’t know where to begin.

The attorney and his wife (my two angels) offered to help me once again.  He met with me and reviewed my case.  He gave me pointers on my trial brief and then offered to review it and meet with me again before court to prepare me for trial.  His wife helped me to subpoena the records I needed and helped me with the proper forms.

I went home and I went to work.  I worked night and day on my trial brief— and then again the next day.  And the next.  My final trial brief was 47 typed pages.  FORTY-SEVEN typed pages.  I drank a lot of coffee and I got a few new wrinkles.  My bedroom floor looked like a paper factory exploded.  I didn’t sleep very much during those two weeks– I went to work during the day….I was “mom” in the evenings and after sunset, I became my own attorney.

I met with my “angels” a couple of times for further review and additional pointers and then…I went to trial.  With my 47 page document in hand and my game face back on…Pro se legal representation is defined as advocating on one’s own behalf before a court and that’s what I did.

Forgiveness – and Pepper Spraying Myself

Forgiveness – and Pepper Spraying Myself

That is a big word to me right now.  Forgiveness.  It’s a word that I struggle with. 

I’ve never “hated” anyone in my life.  It’s a new feeling.  It’s a feeling that I don’t like. It’s a feeling that I want to get rid of but I don’t know how.  I believe that to forgive...I have to stop hating. 

I also believe that time helps to heal wounds and in my case– there is no time to heal because every week, there is a new occurrence to hate.  Last night he called…for the third time since last June.  In six months, he has made only three attempts to call.  Within 30 seconds of being on the phone, the narcissism took over– he talked about himself– his race tomorrow in San Francisco.  He made sure to ask my six year old if she was the fastest runner in her class– that is what is important to him.  She admitted that she wasn’t and he didn’t know how to handle it– he laughed…uncomfortably.  It was painful to listen to.  I hated it.

How do you not hate someone who hurts your children over…and over…and over?  How do you not hate someone who has put you through living hell?  Someone who causes you to live in constant fear for your life– for your safety.  Someone who has told lies to win– and someone who’s entire goal is to “win”.  A wise person once told me that you have to love your children more than you hate the person you are divorcing.  I have that going for me.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t.

“True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.” David Ridge

I am now living in a safe environment.  It’s the first time in over two years that I can sleep through the night.  It’s the first time that a noise in the middle of the night doesn’t make me bolt upright, start praying…and cry.  I lived with an industrial strength Mace as my bedmate for two years and a smaller bottle as my constant companion in the house.  It’s not a fun way to live.  I don’t recommend it.

Post traumatic stress- it isn’t just for veterans of war.  It’s also for women who have been through divorce with a scary and unstable person.  I am jumpy and I have anxiety on occasion– it’s getting better but it’s still there.

I want to learn how to forgive and I want to know how to stop hating.  I am trying but I feel like I am failing.  

*************

Note from Tina:

This blog is therapeutic– it’s helping me to heal.  It’s helping me to find my voice and share a story that I have kept bottled up.  Normally, I am funny– I make people laugh and I like to laugh.  Reliving this story is hard.  I am trying to find balance in telling this hellish story but not loosing myself back into the dark hole.

On that note, I must share a little bit of “me” and how dangerous it is for me to keep a bottle of Mace as my constant companion.  I am blonde and anyone who knows me can attest to my blonde moments.  I embrace these moments– they make me who I am.  I had a funny blonde moment with my Mace about 6 months ago and I must share–

I was carrying my Mace through the house and read the bottle which said to “test periodically in a well ventilated area”.  Brilliant idea, I thought!  I’ve never actually “tested” it.  The front yard of my condo was long and narrow– with a wall on each side.  I walked outside and pulled the trigger – a huge burst of red spray shot forth and covered the wall.  I panicked and grabbed the hose– quickly trying to clean the residue which was sure to stain the wall.  In my haste, I ran straight into the cloud of Mace and essentially, maced myself.

You have never truly coughed unless you’ve been maced.  You know that bad cold that turns to bronchitis?  It has NOTHING on a mace cough.  I gasped for air, I cried, I choked…I thought I was going to DIE.  It lasted forever.  and ever.  Once I could breathe, I called my loved ones who proceeded to gasp for air…while laughing.

It get’s better– I also maced my neighbor.  The poor guy next door was in his upstairs bedroom and heard me coughing and gasping.  It walked to the open window to check on my well-being…only to inhale the red cloud as it drifted through the air.

Moral of the story: when they say, “use in a well-ventilated area”…they really mean that.  

Celebration of a New Life

Celebration of a New Life

Today, I am having a divorce party. I’ve been struggling with the title…”A Divorce Party”.

Turns out, there are actually businesses popping up who plan your divorce party such as the Divorce Party Planner.  I don’t plan to celebrate to the point of needing a planner but it’s good to know that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States!

I tried to wrap my mind around WHY I was having such a hard time with the title.  I didn’t want those around me to get the wrong impression.  I care a lot about what people think- sometimes too much.  Most people in my world have no idea what I’ve gone through in this process.  I took the high road and chose not to speak publicly about the specifics of my divorce.  The people in my life—“my people”….they know.  They have been on the sidelines, in my court and sometimes in the trenches with me.

If I wasn’t already struggling with what others would think about my “Divorce Party”…I got an email which confirmed the outside thoughts.  The subject line: Divorce Party?  The message basically said, “I will not be able to attend your party.  I hope you know that I think highly of you however, I must confess that I am disappointed to see that you are so publicly celebrating the loss of your marriage”.    

I am not celebrating the loss of my marriage—BUT I am celebrating a new life.  I am celebrating the end of a nightmare and the beginning of my new life.  I have been through battle and I’m not naive enough to think that it’s over just because I have a piece of paper.  I am celebrating the end of a huge court battle that was always on the forefront of my mind.  This was a court battle that kept me up late at night with mounds of paperwork.  A battle that I thought about day in and day out.  I didn’t have an attorney to go to battle for me.  I had me.  It’s over and I am celebrating.

The milestones that I lived for had to do with the next court date—or the next filing deadline for the next court form.  As much as I WANT to “live in the moment” and practice what I preach when it comes to enjoying life…it’s been impossible for me to do.

So…tonight I will celebrate this new life with my closest friends and my people from the trenches.

Court- August 2011

Court- August 2011

 

August 10, 2011–I sat in court- again.  I remember how nervous I was before each court date.  There were times when friends would go with me and there were many times that I went alone.  I would cling to my little bottle of Bach Rescue Remedy which is a homeopathic stress relief concoction.  Four drops directly under your tongue– there were times when I wanted to drink the whole damn bottle.  Four drops should suffice for normal stress– this didn’t feel normal.

On this particular day, my rock (aka Significant Other) went with me.  I had never brought him into court prior to this but no one else could attend and I needed him there.  I needed someone to remind me to breathe.  It seems simple, right?  Inhale…exhale.  Repeat.  It isn’t always that simple.

The court ordered an attorney to represent my children– someone who could dig deep and get to the bottom of the issues.  I was beyond ecstatic.  I felt like the Family Court Services’ Parenting Evaluation had failed us for many reasons.  The evaluator was sold on his charm even with piles of evidence– she bought the story that everyone buys.  He is the ultimate salesman which has been my biggest obstacle through our divorce.

He didn’t adhere to the restrictions in the Parenting Agreement and there were zero ramifications.  Zero.  I was clinging to the hope that this was the final ticket.  I filed a plea with the court: please, please grant Minor’s Counsel to represent the girls.  I felt like it was my last hope.  I sat in the courtroom and listened to the judge approve my request.  I felt like jumping up and down right there in the courtroom.  This was a well-known attorney– the best money could buy if you were seeking a divorce attorney.

Our next court date was scheduled for August 31, 2011.   

I met with the attorney who was appointed to represent my daughters.  He listed to my concerns.  He asked all of the right questions.  I was hopeful.  I was organized– I had my 3″, pink binder and everything was labeled and in order.  I had been waiting for this moment for so long.  He asked me to email him additional information on several topics that we discussed.  I agreed.  His job was to call everyone who knows us: teachers, principals, nannies, babysitters, marital therapists and friends.

I went home that night and I stayed up until 1:30am compiling everything he asked for.  I emailed it along with contact information for all of the above-mentioned people.  Then…I waited.  I wondered.  I waited more.  I was getting anxious.  The court date was approaching and my daughter’s teachers still had not heard from his office.  Our former live-in nannies had not heard from him.  No one had been called.

One particular visitation before court, he (my ex) was refusing to tell me where the children were going to be residing in his care.  He was due to pick them up at 3:30pm.  I reached out to the attorney for assistance.  The attorney called me back at 3pm and expressed frustration with his lack of cooperation– I told him that he thrives on causing me to worry about my daughters.  He agreed that it seemed to be the case.  He didn’t understand why it was so difficult for him to simply tell me where my children were going to reside.

August 30, 2011— The day before court and still no one had heard a word from his office.  I couldn’t figure out what was happening.  I didn’t understand.  This was the person who was supposed to be working in the best interest of my daughters.  At 5pm, the night before court, I received a call.   He asked if it was okay to postpone the court date– to ask for a continuance.

I was relieved.  My greatest fear was the attorney going into the court with limited information.  I was confident that now he would contact all of the people who knew us– who could attest to my concerns.  People who could verify my claims.

Court was postponed until Wednesday, September 14th, 2011. 

Always on Guard

Always on Guard

I received an unusual email from “X” with an offer to take the girls on Valentine’s Day weekend– he wanted to switch weekends with me.  He said, “I’m happy to take them so that you and Glenn can have a weekend away”. I knew something was up.

1. He has never said a nice thing about Glenn and in fact, constantly makes digs about him being older than me.  The reality– Glenn is nine years older.  That’s it.

2. He has never offered anything nice or kind in his life– at least not in the ten years that I’ve known him.  His “offers” always have something to do with his needs or gains.

I declined stating that we didn’t have plans and would be home.  He got frustrated and the truth came out– he had plans.  He said that his work was sending him out of state and that he was unable to keep his normal visitation.  He needed to switch weekends with me.  I didn’t have plans so I agreed to switch.

The power of Facebook and Social Media— his Facebook page showed him snowboarding in Utah all weekend.  Not the work trip that he had cited.

Why the need for lies?  Someone once told me that if you tell one lie, you need to tell at least 20 more to cover the initial lie.  I know this to be truth.  Had he just told me that he needed to switch weekends, I would have gladly done it.  Instead, it was a slew of lies– 1. He was offering to help us have a romantic Valentine’s Day…then he had an out-of-state work assignment…then he publicly posts Facebook photos of himself enjoying a weekend in Utah.

The lies are constant and unnecessary.

The truth is rarely utilized.

The result: I am always on guard.

The 2am Phone Call

The 2am Phone Call

My X’s alcohol problems had been an issue on and off throughout our marriage.  He was either a hard-core triathlete who trained six days per week or he was a depressed alcoholic who would sit on the couch for hours on end watching television.  I hated how he acted when drinking.  He was strange– very manic and somewhat feminine.  I hated going to public events while he was drinking because it was embarrassing to watch.

I was staying at my little sister’s home in Orange County for the weekend with Glenn and the girls.  My cell phone rang at 2am and I bolted upright and ran for the phone.  The sound of a phone ringing in the middle of the night is never good news and my heart was pounding.  My mind was racing and my first thought, “Oh my God- the girls!” before I quickly realized they were tucked in safe in the bedroom next door to me.  I saw the phone number that was calling and it was him– at 2am.

Me: “Hello?!”

A strange, unfamiliar voice was on the other end of the phone with commotion and music in the background.

Stranger: “I’m sorry to wake you but I called the last number that was dialed on this phone”.

Me: “Okay….?”

Stranger: “I am concerned about the guy who owns this phone.  He was extremely intoxicated and left his keys and phone behind.  We are trying to make sure that he is alright”.

By this point, I am annoyed beyond belief.  I am annoyed that this is the father of my children.  I am annoyed that we breathe the same air on occasion.  I am annoyed that this is a man who has a degree from UCSB in physiology/cell biology yet he is trying to pretend he is a 21-year old frat boy.  I was annoyed that his drinking problem could mean that he was dead in a ditch and I was annoyed that his antics woke us at 2am.

Me: “I’m his ex-wife so I can’t help you.  I will call you in the morning on this number when I can think clearly”.

I was also thankful that I was no longer in a relationship with this man.

Too Hungover for Visitation

Too Hungover for Visitation

Sometimes I am still shocked when it comes to his actions and I’m not sure why.

The girls and I decided to go to the pick-up location (local coffee shop) early for cinnamon rolls and coffee.  We were scheduled to meet “X” at 9am.  On our way out the door (8am), my phone rang.  It was a strange area code (925) so I ignored it.

8:05am- another call from a 415 area code.  I answered the call.

Me: “Hello”

X (in a tired, raspy voice): “Someone stole my phone last night and I just woke up”.  I was 8am and he was four hours north of us– in San Francisco.

Me: “Don’t bother coming– we are going on with our day”.

A slew of emails transpired back and forth over the next few hours– he arrived for pick-up 6.5 hours after his scheduled pick-up time.  He looked disheveled and smelled of alcohol.

Since his mother had been informed of his initial call and failure to show up for his visit, he was obligated to email her back (and cc me) explaining why he was late for a visit.  To his mother, he can do no wrong.  She is a living, breathing Pollyanna– in denial…unable to admit that her child has issues and wanting nothing more than a happy, cozy explanation for anything that resembles a problem.

He painted the prettiest of pictures– a dinner party the evening before…complete with cute doilies and tea cups where everyone was passing their phones around to share pictures of their children.  His phone mistakenly ended up in a friend’s purse and he was home in bed, safe and sound by 11pm.  This was his story and he was sticking to it.

The dinner parties that I’ve attended don’t end up with me hungover, unable to pick up my children, loosing my phone and looking like I’ve been wearing the same clothing for three days.