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And on it goes

Pretty soon it will be three months with no form of support payment at all from Tab. No spousal, no child, nothing. I know it’s the way of the narcissist, but it continues to boggle my mind that he does not care that he is purposely leaving  his children without the basics needed for life.

It’s not like money is an issue for him (aside from the fact that no matter how much he has it will never be enough), he earns over 250K USD per year. He has money and companies hidden away overseas, he drives a Range Rover, he vacations,  he has a pretty comfortable life. Money, however, is the only real means of control he has left over what used to be his family. Aside from making good on prior threats to harm us physically, it’s the only remaining way he can cause us pain. It’s still less pain than what he inflicted on us when we lived with him, but it’s damaging nonetheless.

I have thought what would I have done if all of this had happened while we were still away and didn’t have my family to protect us? It’s a reminder that God is holding us as we walk on this path of recovery from the abuse and the fear.

I am learning to trust that somehow inside of all of this there is a bigger plan, a greater purpose. I have moments of paralyzing fear that I can’t provide for my kids, I feel like a huge failure that I am not able to support them. But, I chose the role of stay at home mom because I believed in it – I still believe my kids are better people because I have made them my priority instead of building my own career. This is not a slam against working moms in any way, it is just a fact for our family based on the years of abuse we suffered. In small ways I have been better able to protect them because I have been there for them. Better yet would have been that we never were put in this situation at all…. but I can’t go back and change the past.

I have finally realized that there is absolutely nothing that is going to make him care about his kids – I understood a long time ago there was nothing I could do to make him care about me. It is sad, and baffling that someone could choose to walk away from two of the greatest beings who have ever lived. They are the brightest stars in my sky and I could never imagine willfully choosing to not be in their lives. But, again, this is the life of the narcissist.

I have done all my paperwork here in Alberta, MEP here activated their file the beginning of April. Virginia however, has not activated their file yet and have indicated that process could take months. Months where he will be allowed to violate the court order and not make any payments. My only hope is that he is stupid enough to come to Canada and I can arrange for the authorities here to deal with him. It sickens me.

And yet, underneath all of that fear and pain is another feeling entirely. There is this feeling of freedom and hope. He is not controlling us anymore. He has done his worst and we are still standing. Somehow I believe that God will provide for me an opportunity that will allow me to support me and the kids while still being a parent to them. I can’t believe that He brought us this far on this journey just to abandon us now. So we will continue to move forward in faith (and still a little fear – working on that).

In this there is also gratitude that while my kids have spent the last two years being afraid of him from a distance, they haven’t had to go to bed terrified their dad is going to decide that this is the night he chooses a permanent solution to his problems and does away with his family. That is an entirely different kind of fear and one I happily sleep at night without.

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Stepping out of the victim role

I have been spending a lot of time praying about and working towards learning how to forgive my ex-husband Tab – it is so not something I want to do, but something I am beginning to feel compelled to do it all the same. I thought maybe I could forget about him without forgiving – but his energy presence has remained very strong in our family even though his physical presence is non-existent.

Not forgiving him is keeping me in the role of his victim – when I realized that, the way I looked at everything changed.

For a long time I had to be his victim. Part of this was his doing and part of it was mine. His part was playing the role of narcissist and abuser, mine was different as the victim, but also very damaging. I realized a few years into the abuse that life was better for me and the  kids if I was wounded, weak, broken, full of anxiety, – basically damaged and broken. Then he clearly had the power and was a kinder, more gentle version of who he normally was. If I stopped being his victim he took his rage out on S and I couldn’t stand that so I tried to be the weak one as often as possible.

I haven’t seen him in almost 2 years and yet his presence is still strong in our home. It’s there because of the financial dependence and ties, it’s there because of the emotional damage we are still learning to heal from, it’s there because I’m angry as fuck with him (and also scared as fuck if we are being perfectly honest), it’s there because the kids live in fear that one day he will show up, kidnap them, and make good on his old threats to harm or kill them (lovely isn’t it?). I mean, the fears are real – the feelings are real – but they are holding us captive and that can’t happen anymore.

Here’s my issue with forgiveness (well one of them). In the past when I forgave him for raging, cheating, lying, stealing, I had to work at trusting and trying to have a relationship with him and that made my life a very unsafe one. In my brain I know that now I can learn to forgive but that I don’t have to let him back into my world – my heart and my body don’t seem to have that knowledge. So, every time I begin the process of forgiveness my body shuts down in protective mode afraid that he is coming back into our lives to hurt us.

That is not what forgiveness is, and obviously I have a long road ahead of me learning what exactly it is and how to do it. I don’t have a role model for this kind of thing, I don’t particularly want to be the trailblazer – but here I am. If I can learn forgiveness and show the kids how to forgive someone we were supposed to trust – if I can show us all that we can do that and still be safe, that we can be free, that we are no longer the victims – then I will have changed the way we live the rest of our lives.

I’m working on it.

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The crystal ball

I wish I had a crystal ball so I could see what the future holds. I think my biggest fear is not knowing how I am going to support the kids and myself. As of right now, TAB has court ordered support payments (that are always late) but they won’t last forever. Either he will decide to stop paying, he will lose his job again, or the court will decide I have had enough time to get my act together.

The problem is, I have not had enough time to get my act together. In the last two years since we left him and moved home:

*my dad died

*TAB cut off all of our finances, closed our joint account and told me he was not sending any money for either the kids or myself (I had been a stay at home mom over 10 years by that time).

*I filed for divorce and took him to court for emergency support payments.

*TAB came to town sending my son into a spiral of depression which included having suicidal thoughts.

*My mom’s illness got worse and her care needs increased.

*My son was triggered once again by TAB and sent back into a suicidal depression.

*My daughter also struggles with the  hurt and pain of growing up in an abusive home.

*I have started the process of learning to heal myself. I was destroyed by this man, unable to think for myself, unable to believe I had any value at all.

*During this time I have also experienced the deaths of two uncles, my godmother, a family cat, two ranch horses, and two ranch dogs (my kids were very close to both the horses and the dogs as well as the cat).

Like I just can’t catch a fucking break. Somehow inside all of this pain and chaos I am supposed to start a career and support us.

I pray about it all the time, I feel deeply that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. I am told to just trust and move ahead as I am, looking after those I love, having faith. Usually I do. But, it’s also really freaking hard. I’m essentially living on love and miracles. And we have had a lot of miracles in the past few years, they have saved our lives. But, I sure would like it if I could just peer a little into the future and know that we will be ok, that I will be able to provide properly for my kids, that I can continue to look after them the way I am right now. Because this parenting stuff that I do is the most important thing in the world to me. If I can’t get them through all of this and have them be happy, healthy, secure, loving beings then what was the point? But, it does not come with a paycheck.

Just a little peek into the future to see a calm, happy, secure family there too would be nice.

 

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Handing off the stress 

I spent the morning downtown meeting with my divorce lawyer. Among other things, TAB is refusing to pay to treatments that have already happened and have been agreed to in mediation. It’s ridiculous how much money has been burned in this divorce – but that is exactly what a scorched earth divorce is. The depths this man will go to to cause chaos and pain is incredible. 

What I have learned in this process is to pass off as much stress and anger as I possibly can. I have kids in crisis who are damaged and scared as a result of life with an abusive narcissist. That really needs to take up my time and focus, not worrying about the grenades he continues to launch. 

I have a great lawyer. She’s good at her job, and I click with her personally. I feel really fortunate about this. She gets who TAB is and understands the chaos and crazy he tries to create. I trust her, and I am able to hand off a lot of my worry and stress to her. It means I can take a deep breath and focus on what is important – my kids, my sanity. 

We spent a lot of time today developing a game plan to move ahead. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life fighting, but I also need to resolve some really big financial issues so that the kids and I are protected.  It’s a big price I paid giving up my career to raise the kids while he became a very successful business man. And yet, even being in this place where he has tried his hardest to leave us destitute and broken, I wouldn’t change my years at home with my kids for anything. 

I feel like he’s trying to break me. Even still, when I haven’t laid eyes on him in almost two years, he’s still trying to destroy me. It’s not just being dramatic. I spent the last years of our marriage hearing him tell me how he was going to either off me himself or drive me to a place where I lost the will to live. 

I’m stronger than he thinks I am. So are my kids. 

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The cost of the visit

Even though TAB and I are in the throes of a painful and brutal divorce, even though the kids have no contact with him, I have worked very hard with their grandmother (his mom) to keep a close and loving relationship between her and the children. Honestly, I feel that she and I also have a pretty decent relationship. Given the things that we are finally saying about how her son treated his family it must be pretty gut wrenching for her to deal with.

S went into her place last week over his teacher’s convention and spent a few days with her. In that time TAB called constantly (according to S), and S actually spoke with him one time. They generally don’t have contact at all – by the choice of the children – but TAB knows how to get his attention and was offering to buy him a Patriots jersey.

Right after the phone conversation S started having anxiety attacks. He was texting me and telling me how he was feeling, he closed himself off in his room there and meditated, he did all the things he has been taught to do in order to cope with the panic and anxiety. TAB however, kept calling. S didn’t talk to him again, but just the presence TAB was making was enough to make S feel insecure and afraid. S is afraid TAB will come up here and take him and hurt him. Based on our past experiences, the fear and rage that was in our home when we lived together, I totally understand why S feels this way.

Two days after S came home he sat me down and told me that all of the anxiety and fear that he felt after feeling TAB’s presence so often during his visit had brought back his thoughts of suicide and harming himself. Fuck.

This is the cost of the visit to his grandma’s. A place where he should feel safe and secure – it has left him feeling like his life is in danger. Not just feeling – it has put his life in danger.

The morning after our conversation I was hit with a letter from TAB’s lawyer stating that he was questioning the cost of the therapy treatments I have been getting for S. Even though we have gone to court and I have permission to get treatment, I still am paying lawyers fees to argue about this with the person who is causing the damage to S in the first place. The only thing he has to do is help financially with his children and he can’t even do that.

I wish it was easier for the kids to remain in a no contact situation with him and still maintain a relationship with their grandmother. The after effects of abuse are horrendous and ripple out in so many unexpected ways. Here we are – it’s been two years since we have lived with him, we live two thousand miles away – and my children are terrified that he’s going to show up and hurt us all. I carry those fears as well, I understand exactly why they feel the way they do.

And I wish it was different. I wish our family story was a different one. This is not how I had imagined it at all as we were building our lives. But, this is where we are now. All I can do is keep focused on keeping the kids safe from him and from themselves. S is this incredibly strong and loving ray of light and the fact that he is dealing with this at all breaks my heart.

The cost of that visit was incredible.

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He does not want us to heal

It has now been almost two years since my children and I have lived with our narcissist, and for almost a year and a half before we left he was only home the occasional weekend. We now live two thousand miles away from him, my daughter and I have not seen him in almost two years, and my son for less than an hour one time since then. His physical presence is no longer felt in our lives, but the fear, the trauma, the dis-ease, that stays with us.

We all work hard on our healing. It has been my life’s focus since before we left. And yet for the last year my son – the wonderful sparkling ray of light that he is – has dealt with suicidal thoughts, my daughter cries because her father has no idea who she is, and I work at building myself back from the broken mess that he left me. We try and go no contact, my daughter does not speak to him at all and my son only every few months for a few minutes. I have to talk with him sometimes as we deal with the divorce or issues with the children. We have shared custody even though he has no relationship at all with the kids. That means I constantly have to talk to him to get permission to do even basic things for the kids. Of course, that all comes down to money and his unwillingness to part with any of it.

Last weekend my son spent a few days at his grandma’s (dad’s mom), and the dad (whom we will call TAB – short for The Angry Blob) called several times S (for son) ended up talking to him briefly one time and then either didn’t pick up the phone or left the room when his grandma answered for the multiple times TAB called after that. It puts him in a state of fear and anxiety having TAB call, TAB knows this and continues to make calls over and over whenever S is visiting at his grandma’s. S lives in terror that TAB will come here and harm us all – and based on how our lives were before we left that is a very real fear. The threats of harming us all were made many times.

So now my boy is home from what should have been an enjoyable few days with his grandma full of suicidal thoughts, anger towards his father, and fear of being hurt. We have been living in a safe environment for two years and still there is all this fear and trauma left in our lives.

We have an excellent tribe of people who support us, a great healing system, people who help out S and I when he is in this state. But who would have ever thought this would be my life? Or the lives my children would live? Thank God we are learning coping skills, we meditate (which is a life saver… literally), we spend time with family, we see therapists, we are building a new life.

He is determined to not let us heal. Fortunately for us, I am a very stubborn and strong willed  person and I am confident that we will heal – in fact we are healing and have a lot over the past little while. But is it ever a long process!

What I have found is that people don’t talk a lot about what family life is like with a narcissist, or what life is like after – when you are recovering from narcissistic abuse. I am going to talk about it. I think it’s important that we share these things so that other people who are also in trauma know they are not alone – so we know we are not alone.

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