About Me (Mommy Mels)

Gaslighting Continued…

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:

City, Sea Air, Babies, and Gaslighting

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.) 

Dixie Chick’s “Gaslighter”

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: 

  1. These abusive meltdowns happen at the end of the month. 
  2. 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.  

 

About Me (Mommy Mels)

Black Friday Thankful – In January!

I started this post in late November:

“This Friday, “Black Friday,” will make it four years since I said goodbye to my old life and was forced to embrace a new one, as a single parent.  It can’t believe it has been four years, and I am so blessed to report how full my life has become.

I have spent most of these four years reluctant to date or find a relationship because I was convinced I was living in the “land of the leftovers.”  I had no choice but to focus on the fun aspects of dating and enjoy it’s entertainment value.  I really did embrace this.  I’ve talked to friends about how dreadful it was and I went on many first dates.  At the end of the day, my true gut feeling was that I was blessed to have this time to focus on my children, and when the time was right I would find the one…the “last” one.

I have found so much more than that in my years as a single mom. I have found a wonderful man who has been what I’ve always known was possible.  I have had an amazing support system and with that, came a full circle moment with my best friend and my boyfriend – whom have known each other for 20 years.”

Fast forward to January 23… I found this post in my drafts and left it as it.  We had a fabulous night out with Kate and Ricky on the “Black Friday” that we had our first couples date together.  They love Mark’s addition to our dynamic and he continues to make me very happy.  We’ve been enjoying the early stages of our relationship and all of the new experiences we’ve shared.

In the first few months of our relationship, we’ve introduced our children and have met each other’s former spouses.  We have gone slowly through these uncharted waters, and continue to stick together.  The best and most amazing part of Mark is that he will not quit.  He has made it abundantly clear that he knows how difficult it is to find a partner in this crazy life post-divorce, and he’s serious about making it work.

We have three boys together when all is combined, and that has brought a lot of fun, and it’s own set of challenges. Mark’s son is an only child.  My children are thick as thieves and yet can be SO mean to each other.  The three boys have a blast together and also fight.  At the end of the day, we enjoy our time all together and our couple time that we get every other weekend.

I think what I’ve learned is that it will be a long road for us…but a really fun one. We are in no hurry to push a new family onto our kids.  We just want to have fun together.  That can be hard given each of their wants and needs but I think we’re doing well.  I also appreciate having such a great partner to run my ideas by.  Now to work on getting him to cook more for me… : )

 

About Me (Mommy Mels)

Feeling lonely? Start a dinner club!

I first heard of the idea of a dinner club from one of my great high school friends, who lives too far from me to ever join hers…

Dinner club?  How’s that work?  Do you do a theme?  I had so many questions; it sounded like so much fun and included my fav, wine.

These ideas coincided with the fact that my best friend kept telling me I needed to get involved in something.  She suggested an adult-sports league, fitness classes, something to get me meeting new people.  Finally, I came across this article:

I Started a Dinner Club and It Changed My Life

It’s a fabulous article detailing what one woman did for her dinner club, and the wonderful effects it had on her life.

I live pretty close to my job so I have local friends from work. My high school friends aren’t that close to me and are always busy.  My college friends are all over an hour away, although we do get together at least bi-monthly.  I was in need of some friends.

What I did have, however, were friends scattered here and there that were both local and fabulous.  I went through my contacts and I invited all women that I thought might be interested.

My first step was my interest email.  I received about 10 interest responses.  I invited women who I vibe with but don’t always have the chance to spend time with.  I invited one work friend who has one little girl and no other mom friends.  I invited my neighbor across the street because she’s the sweetest woman I know.  I reached out to friends wives and T-ball moms.  I invited one other single friend from high school.  I even invited the girl that does my facials.

From the interest email I started an invite.  I chose the theme, steak and potatoes, because I was going to host the first dinner club and I wanted to make it a little easy.  I ended up burning my reduction and setting off the fire alarm anyway.  It was perfect.  We ended up with 4 of us that first night and it was fabulous wine talk about men, husbands, kids, and womanhood.

The next Dinner Club we held was about a month later.  We had a fabulous dinner at one of our members river house… it was beautiful.  Collectively, we chose a Hawaiian theme.  I brought Hawaiian coleslaw and pineapple adult drinks.  This time we had 7 women.  Some were quiet, some were cooking, but the conversation and drinks were flowing.

We haven’t been able to get together since August because we all have difficult schedules.  I think what you need to have is a commitment that you keep to one another.  I am going to try to add some more women to our group and have something when I’m off for the holidays.  I am off in the summer so planning two dinner clubs was easy.  Throw me back into work and two small kids in school and it’s so easy to let it slide.  You need women (or men) who are willing to host as well.  Right now, we only have 2 people willing to host and that can be difficult.  I also like to invite people who may need an outlet like I did. I was in a “Summer of Mel” that involved of lot of travel and self-reflection.  I needed to be around positive vibes.  I got exactly that from my dinner club.

About Me (Mommy Mels)

Take the Trip

Recently, I took a trip to Ireland with two close friends.  We were given strict instructions by one of our mothers to “find ourselves” out there.  While I was in the thick of the trip, navigating our way around the country- or letting Jessica do so…it didn’t seem as though we found ourselves.  In hindsight, almost two months later…we found much more than that.

As a single mother who shares custody, I have more freedom to travel than other moms… Over the summer of 2019 I traveled a ton. I went to Seattle and Canada (for the first time) with my mom.  We also did some time at the beach as a family.  It wasn’t until two of my closest friends found themselves needing to travel, however, that we decided to “jump the pond.”  It was difficult being away from my kids that long, but it was transcending.

Jessica was in an interesting spot in her life and she’s one of the most supportive friends I’ve ever had.  She was bouncing around the idea of a road trip while her kids were on vacation.  My wheels started turning about mid-summer and I said, “Let’s jump the pond and drink Guinness in Ireland!”  Within a week we had purchased plane tickets, filled a new board on Pinterest, and created an Airbnb account.

We bought some converters and promised to only travel with a carry-on.  We brought clothes for all seasons but had no reason to bring shorts or flip flops.  We landed and breathed in.  Deep breaths.  Serenity.  Drinks.  Cocktails with egg whites.  Handsome bartenders with cute accents.  Green everywhere.  Cars on the wrong side of the road.  We never quite figured that out, and thank God I was able to talk her out of renting a car.

We spent a night in Dublin and then took a bus to Gallway.  Gallway is the most charming little town.  I highly recommend. We made friends quickly and received great tips on where to go from there… Our final night was also in Dublin.  We skipped Cork because I screwed up on a tour date to the Cliffs of Mohar.  We saw the cliffs, and breathed some more.  The most compelling idea I found there were the Guarda, or Irish Police.  They don’t carry guns, and you don’t see many of them.

When we returned, we felt good!  We had received that time away and that new, fun experience.  What I’ve gained from that trip since then is the reward I wasn’t anticipating.

I came back a better mother. I came back ready to fall in love again, finally.  I didn’t go on one date or really talk to any men all summer.  It was a cleanse.  My head was cleared of bad dating experiences that were holding me back from finding someone special.  I was also ready to return to work for a new year with new challenges.  My school year has faced numerous challenges.  The calm I found on my trip has prepared me for them.  The experience your body has when it’s taken out of its comfort zone and placed in a whole new environment is confounding.  It’s different than the beach or a beautiful resort.  It’s real, and a new kind of real.

Go find your new real.  Take the trip.  Leave the kids with your parents.  They need that time too.  I owe my ex for forcing me to get out of my comfort zone in terms of leaving my children for longer than a weekend.  My children missed me and embraced me when I returned.  I have also been forced to create a life outside of being a mother because my boys are with dad every other weekend…all weekend.  I’ve finally found peace with this and taken the bull by the horns.  Take the trip.

About Me (Mommy Mels)

Chronicles of Dating at 36

I came across this meme on the Gram that had me in tears:

It’s pretty accurate.  I also love updating my peeps on my dating life because it is a guarantee to have all of my friends hysterics. At our most recent girls night, my high school friends told me I need to start a podcast on this topic.  While it is humorous, I’m not sure I have that much material.  I need to have some guest bloggers weigh in on this topic as well.

The last year of dating for me was entertaining for sure.  Most of the fall I didn’t date.  I am sure I went on a couple dates, but I mostly flirted with a friend who kept me out of trouble. Oh- I did go on a few dates with an ex-lover.  He spent the whole weekend with me and then was engaged to someone else about 4 months later.  Poor girl has no clue.  I went on a couple more dates…come spring I met a fellow who refused to take his hat off and then accused me of trying to change him.  I saw recently that he put a “trump 2020” (the only time you won’t see me using correct capitalization) on his truck.  BULLET DODGED.  What’s sad is that he has a daughter and yet is promoting a racist, rapist.  He’s also in a new relationship.  The best part, I have an “fista” Gram account (as my students call it) for my fitness obsession and BOTH these fools have tried to follow me.  We’re not cool, just so we’re clear. Day Ones- am I forgetting anyone?

Red flags continued.  This is a total red flag for me- if you’re so happy with the woman your with, why are you trying to follow me on social media?  Neither will ever read this post- just exposing what’s out there in the land of the leftovers.

The last date I was on was the last day of school.  I’ve spent all summer in love with my children and traveling like a rolling stone.  There are no words for the positive effects this has had on me.  The connections I’ve made and maintained are saved for another post.

It’s so important to continue to recognize red flags and dodge the bullets that come in the form unstable men.  I have one more fabulous trip before I dive back into the job that I love.  I may, mayyyyy get back on the dating scene in the fall.  I have still only been single for 4 years.  I don’t want to look back 30 years from now and think that I didn’t give myself enough time to re-create myself after my divorce.  My children need me all of the time and they will get every fiber of my being that they request.

Most importantly, what is mine will find me.  It may be in 5 months, 5 years, or when I’m 50.  I’m not worried about it because my life is so full.  I’m going back to school to become a school psychologist because there is a overwhelming demand for this career.  I am fully positive that I will find love again and I will fulfill my dream of becoming the millionaire next door so I can enjoy all of the things my family has taught me to desire.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to sprinkle all of my dating experiences, that I simply can’t make up, into the world of my followers.

About Me (Mommy Mels)

Three Rotations Around the Sun

Ok so while I don’t write at work, I’m doing hall duty and it’s far too distracting to get anything worthwhile done.  Our kids are awesome- don’t get me wrong.  Our systems have narrowed it down to just a few that don’t follow policies but I’m blessed to have fans who stop and chat with me on their way to the bathroom while I’m out here.

This past Thanksgiving marked three years since my ex “Ninja Vanished” on us. I could not be at a better place. I am blessed to spend the majority of my time with my children and I feel like I have mastered the art of making the most of my time while they are with their dad.  I’ve realized that the best way to spend my time is in self-care.  Many times that means I’ll fill my night up with the gym, maybe some sushi take-out, and cleaning or organizing my house.  Maybe one night a week I’ll go out to dinner with work friends.  I also go to bed early and catch up on uninterrupted sleep.  It’s not always easy- especially because as I write this- tonight is a Monday and they are headed to dad’s tonight… I’ll miss them, and never a day goes by where my heart doesn’t ache without them.  But, alas, it is what it is.  I’m doing the best I can.

I can say, that as long as I am with my children, I am as happy as I could be.  I have short, short moments when a friend in a happy marriage gets to do something incredible with her husband and I think- How did I screw that up so badly?  But- they’re short.  I had some entertaining insight this weekend when my ex accidentally sent me a long list of screenshots taken of our conversations…including his call log…to show his girlfriend all of our correspondence.  Whoopsie on his end!  I had to call him out- my mom yelled at me for even responding- but it was an impulse thing.  I just said “wow” and “why doesn’t she realize I’m the LAST person on Earth she would need to worry about?” and “It’s sad, and why would she want to isolate herself from me?” That about covers my reaction.  And it was exactly that.  A reaction.

I had to reel myself in and remind myself that I am not dealing with sane people.  My ex-husband has a personality disorder and as my mom reminded me, his girlfriend takes her clothes off for money- clearly not a stable person.  She is very threatened by me- a concept I understand but nonetheless cannot wrap my head around.  Immediately after my reaction, it was turned to “my fault.”  “Because of things I’ve said in the past” she needs to know all that is said between us.  I can’t even remember what I could have said- but the point is, that is a typical response from a Narcissist.  It has nothing to do with me, but he must deflect his  shortcomings onto me.  That is how he functions.  In addition, I found out that he has me in his phone as “Lucifer” with the middle-finger emoji next to it.  Again, his shortcomings, not mine.  It is sad that I have to share my children with someone who has such blatant disrespect, but this is the cross I have to bear.  I wouldn’t trade my children for anything in the world and I have an incredible support system to remind me of all of my blessings when I’m faced with any abuse from their father.  It’s up to me to react to him.  Reacting to him is acknowledging the abuse.  I need to remember that next time.  Sorry mom, you were right.  As always.

As we go into the holidays, it’s amazing to reflect on where I’ve been and where I am now.  I have no pain in my heart like I have in previous years.  I have only joy when I’m with my children and family.  I do not feel like there is anything “missing” from our family, despite my being a single- parent.

On a side note- This past weekend my mom brought some wrapping paper to my house and it was exactly the roll from Walmart that I was going to get…until I saw a better deal with four rolls for the same price.  It took some searching, but I’ve realized that she and I are about the same person.  I can’t think of someone else I’d rather emulate.

About Me (Mommy Mels)

Off-Balance

When I talk to my friends about where I am in life, in terms of recovering from my divorce and being ready for something serious, my response is that I am still off-balance.  There is something that feels off still.  I don’t feel like I am ready for anything serious yet, but also, nothing in that category has come along.

Perhaps my heart was waiting for what it always knew…that my husband was always a cheater.  Recently, I had an a-ha moment.  By accident, my phone brought up a number that I had saved.  It was the number of a girl that used to work for my ex.  I had it in my phone because I used to help him with some administrative stuff with his job.  He fired the girl “because she went crazy and was telling crazy lies, like she wanted to tell you (me, his wife) that we slept together.” He even showed me the texts.  He said, “look at this lunatic and her lies!” She quit/got fired/whatever.  Never heard from her again.  I totally believe him.

Holy crap.  This asshole 100% slept with her.  This happened around Thanksgiving when we had an almost-1 year old and when, I believed, we were very happy.  Originally when we were breaking up and he had an affair, I always believed that it was because he became so unhappy.  That wasn’t the case.  He always cheated.

I will be honest, I tried reaching out to the girl.  I wanted some kind of corroboration to this story that left my heart hurting.  She has 4 different Facebook accounts.

This morning I came across this meme and boy does it hit home.

My ex recently had another baby with his current girlfriend.  Friends have wanted to know how I feel about that.  Indifferent about the baby and relationship, very sorry for the girlfriend.  I really feel like she is his next victim but she won’t have the cushion to land on that I did.  He’s winding himself up in another spiral of debt and over-committing to financial obligations that I know he can’t fulfill.

In no way to I miss my ex.  Being with him would be a total living nightmare.  I don’t even miss the “family dynamic” I thought I had anymore.  I am so happy with my little boys.  My soul, 2 years and some months later, is just still off – balance a little.  I have a very cynical view on men.  Many man I’ve gone on dates with have in fact cheated on their wives too.  Do they all cheat?  I have friends, married friends, who insist they do.  Who knows.  When I stop caring I’ll know that I am more balanced.  In the meantime, it’s momming and fun with friends and family.  I am feeling very positive about this summer as well!  How could I not?  I’m off for 9 weeks.

It takes a really long time to get through a divorce.  It’s not easy.