I can remember the love hate relationship I had with parenting that no one really openly talks about, even more so during difficult times of separation, division of family or when divorcing a narcissist. Most people want to save face portraying an ideology that every thing is “great” with raising children, hiding behind their own face of fear. For me there was nothing more aggravating than not being able to come together as co parents for the sake of the same team, which for me was always supposed to be the kids.
I constantly found myself being counter parented more times than none after the marriage began to break down, being bullied by an ex who at the time wasn’t even living in the state. He would end up driving home every weekend & become even more extreme in his Disney parenting as the consolation prize to his absence. This reinforced the already sloppy boundaries, loose provisions, weaponized incompetence & the unstable foundation that purposely appeared loving & fun to the children who didn’t know any differently.
Most weekends I had to vacate the home only to return to the mess left physically, emotionally & mentally with the amusement park behavior that went on. That in itself was special, but it was the psychological grooming at the time to our 5 year that was something I never was prepared for. During my weekly “cleaning frenzy” to restore the balance back inside the home after he would leave, the one daughter that I shared with him would inform me with hatred that her dad said she could come live with him in Chicago while he attended Podiatry school full time if only I let him.
This went on every single week for years with the same request from a little girl who’s heart felt rightfully broken. It was me who had to add salt into the heartache wound by saying no every single time she asked, purposely being made the one that kept her from being with her father. This triggered within me a pain that was so deep from my own experience of being adopted, that the thought of my own daughter choosing to abandoned me was overwhelmingly terrifying for me. I guess essentially looking back we were both in fight or flight mode, responding to the terror of our own heart trauma.
My ex on the other hand I believe knew exactly what he was doing with her, having no means to care for his kid while attending school using me as the scapegoat to his selfish historical narcissistic storyline. It was his sick distorted way to punish me for “breaking” up the family that I was left to assume responsibility for. Truthfully I had no clue at the time what was going on psychologically, being gaslighted & manipulated to feel like I was the guilty party for all the pain & hurt being caused so I accepted it.
My relationship suffered horrible with my children even though I was the one left to raise them alone, one being pulled in a direction I couldn’t stop & the other going back & forth like a tennis match. I would hid shamefully in my closet most days to cry my heart out feeling like the worst parent ever, taking the small victories as nourishment to survive. I learned through my research that often times an adult will use their own children as a form of a weapon to destroy the other parent as a way to make them pay for the failure & breakdown of the relationship.
Most of the time this stems from their own unhealed childhood that is being triggered & brought to the currant surface again, bringing life back into the feeling of their brokenness. I know personally my own reactions to my children during these chaotic & turbulent times came from that place of fuckedupness I experienced in my own home, not knowing any better until I went for help. You don’t know any better until you do & that’s the gift.
I have had clients over the years tell me similar experiences of destructive parenting behavior that in the end only hurts the children more. Some parents go as far as blurring the lines with enmeshment between themself & the child like an extension cord which makes it’s difficult to distinguish the role between parent/child. This unhealthy attachment creates a co dependency that in the end harms the development of the child in having healthy connections outside the relationship, all the while being unknowingly emotionally & mentally abused.
Parenting is hard but parenting with someone who has it out for your emotional blood is nearly impossible. My advice is to take notes & document everything that happens with dates to use as a journal if needed for the courts. Unfortunately the judicial system family court is so over burdened with bigger issues that most times cases like these get passed over as rich peoples problem, sending you to counseling instead which doesn’t always work if one parent isn’t truthfully on board with it.
In the end I had to save myself for the first time ever personally seeing the family therapist alone while my husband also set me up with a healer. This essentially saved me before I was emotionally destroyed, giving me a sense of self that had been neglected for so long. I learned that I couldn’t control what was happening outside of me & only could be accountable for how I was participating & responding. During these revelations I would individually own my actions with both of my daughters, regardless of their response, acceptance & outcome.
As a mother sometimes you have to be physically willing to let go as your symbol of bravery & courage, even though emotionally it goes against ever natural instinct that you have. This isn’t a sign of weakness but of absolute strength that comes only from being a mom, learning to trust the process. I learned to depersonalized the situation that had more to do with my ex than it ever had to do with my daughter, letting go of her & having faith one day she could make it back home again.
Updated Repost Dec 2017