About a year ago I wrote this post after coming across a compelling podcast on gaslighting. Gaslighting 101
Here is a link to my initial post:
Gaslighting is so important to understand because it is such a difficult form of abuse to identify unless you’re informed. Then, it becomes textbook.
I know that there are many people receiving this treatment who do not have a name for it yet, because I was there. I have written before, in depth, that my ex is a textbook Narcissist. He thrives on putting other people down. I am his favorite person to gaslight.
Here it is again my friends… “in SONG FORM!” Thanks to the Dixie Chicks! (last quote is meant to be read in Tomatoa’s voice from Moana.)
My college roomie sent me this yesterday and by the time I was home from work, it was all over my news feed. The reason she sent it was because we (we meaning my college roommates with whom I speak to daily) have been trying to identify the patterns of abuse I receive from my ex and his girlfriend in order to be able to better predict when it will come. When I can predict the behavior, it is easier to ignore it, and thus, maintain power. This exercise has been of great help. These ladies are amazing, which is why we’ve been friends and sisters since 2002. They know everything I have been through with my divorce and pathetic attempt at co-parenting. I say pathetic because it is so inconsistent and unpredictable…until now.
Recognizing the Pattern:
Yesterday or the day before, after receiving another nasty text from my ex and his girlfriend- but probably the latter- accusing me of being neglectful, I decided it was time to make a change. I have been texting with this man for 10 years. I am also an English teacher so I spend most of my day identifying grammatical errors. His texts and emails are so erroneous that when they are correctly written, I know they are from her. That is trivial yet relevant because it is a part of the abuse pattern. She seemingly carries around 90% of the home responsibility and I’m sure it is exhausting. When she is upset, she takes it out on him, who attempts to take it out on me. It’s a cycle.
The disrespect comes in the form of texts and emails. I started with my mini-research project by looking back at emails. The really nasty emails started on or around January 24. At this time, my ex was accusing me of sending sick children to his house. He wrote, “If I end up taking them and they test positive I promise you I will take Further legal action for neglecting the well being of my kids. It’s total bullshit and unacceptable!” THIS is gaslighting. Most people would look at this and think, Yeah! Kids get sick! You still have to parent when your kids are sick. He also never took them to the doctor. Shocking. I’m not going to get into details about this issue but his hateful, nasty emails are extremely unnecessary.
The next time that we had a major issue was the last weekend my children were with him. This was around February 24th. I have been having an especially difficult time with my kids going to their dads because my youngest son does not want to go. He screams and pleads with me to stay home. He is four, so I cannot easily get a response out of him as to why this is the case. This has been going on for about a year. The ex claims it’s a phase. I fear that my son doesn’t receive enough attention at his dads because there are so many children and his dad didn’t do much but sit on the couch and drink when I was married to him. So last weekend I asked to Facetime my children on Friday afternoon to check in. We talked and my little man seemed fine. I asked to call again Sunday morning and Sunday night with no response. Finally, my ex responded on Monday morning that they were out of town at a waterpark. It obviously upset me that my children were not in school so I sent a follow up email asking that I be informed on these topics. The response that followed included, “Deacon is fine and maybe the fact that your overbearing and controlling isn’t helping,” and “I think it’s time we revisit the courts to get a new agreement in place. What you are doing is harassing us.” He mentioned court because it is in our custody agreement that I am allowed to Facetime the children daily since they are so young. P.S. I’ll never go back to court. I’ve written about this before too.
My Action Plan
The patterns that the Zeta’s recognized were this:
- These abusive meltdowns happen at the end of the month.
- They happen when the children are with their dad.
My action plan is to simplify. We had become much more convivial throughout the wrestling season but since these last two incidents, that must come to an end. I have always tried to get along with the girlfriend. I have gone out of my way to make sure I don’t offend her, which is easy to do. When I do, I always overly apologize. These days are over. I was extremely worried about my young child and when I reached out for her to help me during said weekend. I was ignored and found this to be blatant disrespect. I think I have reached an age (well, I KNOW I have) where I’m more like my mother…if you disrespect me, you can go ____ yourself and the horse you rode in on. Crude, but to the point. I will not continue to walk on eggshells around anyone.
If my ex husband ignores me, there is not much that I can do about it, but I do have to communicate with him about our children at some point. If he is disrespectful, the plan is to not communicate. This requires an unreal amount of faith and support when the boys are not with me. Shout out to my boyfriend Mark for always being there to support me though these times. I will get there… and it is not forever. At some point, my children will have their own phones, I can call them, and work it all out. It will all work out, regardless.
I joked to my girls and said that March 24th you won’t be able to find me; I’ll be in hiding. I kid. I will be fine, and I will probably be much better because if I anticipate this abusive behavior, I can better ignore it. It is difficult because my children are the center of my world. That world has to end every other weekend. I have made it this far… I can overcome this obstacle as well.