Monday, August 11, 2014

The Time When He Targeted My Co-Parenting Relationship

I'd been divorced for about three years before I met him. My ex, my older son's father, and I had gotten to a pretty decent place during that time where we were successfully co-parenting. We had taken him to a few monster truck shows together, sometimes had dinner together with him, and communicated about him in effective and positive ways. I'm not saying there was never conflict, but we had worked hard to get to that place.

Drama was minimal at that point.

I think I can pinpoint the moment that my ex became a real problem in the eyes of my abuser. It was probably within the first month.

We were in a store and my cell rang. It was my ex, who was at a concert. They were doing a cover of Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere." When we were together, I used to do the entire rap for his little girls. He'd called so I could hear it. I laughed and said something like, "Awesome! Have a great time!" I may have shrugged and made a "wtf" face.

But what I remember clearly was his face. He was not happy. Not at all.

The "blank empty" came into his eyes.

"What did he want?" he demanded.

"He was just calling from some concert. They're playing a rap I know all the words to." For some reason, I wanted to move on to another topic quickly. I could feel the tension rising.

"Well why is he calling you? He's still in love with you. Why do you answer his calls? Are you still in love with him?!" and on and on came the interrogation.

From that moment on, he was on a mission to drive a wedge between my ex and me. He began making constant comments about him being a "tool" and a "dork" and a "retard." He cut down his looks, his intelligence. He said that I shouldn't be friendly or even civil/cordial toward him. That it should be "all business" and matter of fact, and absolutely no more activities together with our child. That was not appropriate...unless I was still in love with him. Otherwise, I had a boyfriend now, and that should end. I shouldn't see his girls anymore either. We were divorced and they shouldn't be a part of my life. That only showed I was still attached. And buying the other parent a small birthday present for our son to give? Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts? All of which we had exchanged in previous years, for the benefit of our son, so he could give gifts? Also not appropriate. I had moved on and gift-giving, even if it was technically being handed over by the child, should be stopped. He wanted to see any emails I received from my ex, and insisted on being involved in responding to them. He would ask me often if I received any. I'm a bad liar. "My" emails went from friendly to flat and even somewhat combative in a very short time.

I know it sounds like I didn't stand up to him about any of these things. I really did, especially the gift-giving. I sent him links to articles about divorce and children, where experts said it's absolutely appropriate for ex-spouses to buy small gifts to give each other that the children would present. I argued with him that we were teaching our son the importance of recognizing others on their special day, etc. Nothing I said mattered. I think at some point I thought it was just easier to do it his way.

Besides, he said HE would buy gifts for my son to give me.

But the worst part was that he began to disparage my ex in front of my son. That was one I didn't back down on, but it never stopped him. He called him a "retard" often in front of my son. I'd admonish him, saying that it wasn't good for my son, that it's still his father, that he needed to not say such things in front of him. He'd then accuse me of still being in love with my ex because I was defending him. He said I must be, or I wouldn't care what he said. I explained over and over that it wasn't that at all. "I left him 3 years before I met you," I said. "I obviously had moved on or I would have gotten back with him in the first place." Accusing me of still being in love was deflecting my point, which was don't talk badly about my child's father in front of my child. Hell, or in front of me! I wasn't the one bringing him up all the time.

It didn't matter. The comments continued. All the way to the end.

And sadly, to this day, my co-parenting relationship with my ex, I fear, is irreparable. And, his daughters hate me for cutting them out. I can't blame them. They're in late high school and early college now. Young women.

Probably the perfect candidates to hear my story about abuse.

But back to the point: I was so bent on "proving my love" to him, that I didn't see all the collateral damage that was happening in my wake...and how long-term the effects would be. And the guilt I would carry. Likely lifelong.

But that's what sociopaths do! They systematically chip away at their victims' relationships so they become more and more isolated...and dependent on them. This would be the first of many.

Love and Support for Kate Ranta and Family

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