Comments for M
here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a
substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.
I think you are showing that your are CONSCIOUS of what you are doing, you carefully choose your words so that you SAY what you need to say, and what you will tolerate, without straining into personal stuff, insults etc.
You are showing the children and their father that you will accept --- no less, and if you are shown unacceptable behaviour you will assert ---. You don't try to control him, to do anything, you just state the facts, you also don't explain or defend what is acceptable to you.
I think you are doing great. I also think you are a good example to your children. I know it is very hard to not want to manipulate Abusers into wanting to behave appropriately as we think they should. Especially when it concerns our children. At times it is hard to bite your tongue and be silent, but as we both know we can't have healthy relationships of sharing with these types. Therefore, we have to settle for doing the best we can not to react to them.
You are doing a good job. You are accepting what is possible. You are keeping your integrity. You are teaching your children that being focused on your priority which is them, and not straying is the best thing one can do.
I say you should be proud of yourself. And that isn't because Trubble rewarded you, BUT because you know inside that YOU are doing the right thing. Grrrr....... It's *General Trubble* to you Ms. Theressa. Maybe *My* reward was true reason for pride. Hmmmph! I'll be back (Unless FakeMommy steals her computer back.)
Well done Theressa
Congratulations, M, you seem to be doing much better in every way! Just one point about your daughter--though on this score it was nice to see what looked like an improvement happening in front of my eyes. When I started reading this mail, I noticed that "there have been domestic violence incidents..." On hearing something like this, many people who suffer from curiosity--like me!--instantly start wondering what happened, and asking questions. Did it end up with dead bodies all over the house, or did somebody just punch a hole in the wall and somebody else started screaming? An "incident" is a mere abstract noun, but verbs have action, also a subject and an object. Verbs have concreteness too. "A domestic violence incident" tells us very little. "X called Y a fat slob, and Y slapped X's face"--that tells us a lot more about who did what to whom. "The incident involved destruction of property." True, but here are more abstract nouns. It wasn't really the "incident" that destroyed the property. A person did it. Whodunit? What property? How valuable was it? How did they destroy it? "Stepmom threw my daughter's CD out of the car window"--that's a vast improvement in clarity. Then there's passive voice. The police "were involved." How? Who called them? Did they arrest anyone? Afterwards, the property "was replaced." Who replaced it? Questions, questions... _____________________________ I hope you don't mind my saying all this, because I'm not doing it to ask for more answers, let alone to pick on your writing style! I'm only pointing out that vague abstract nouns, passive voice, and similar constructions can be ways of withholding information. I noticed this in the description of that incident particularly, though of course you did fill in details later. What I also wanted to point out is that a person's natural reaction on perceiving that information is being withheld--or possibly being withheld--is to probe for more. I don't think you're reading M correctly, She is "withholding" as you put it because she has a habit of bending over backward to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. Very different from the way the word "withholding" is ordinarily used: not giving information to mislead for self aggrandizing reasons.
_____________________________ The chief complaint about your daughter seems to be that she's loud and asks a lot of prying questions. Some of that is normal teenage stuff; the teens are a time of boisterous challenge, and of Questioning Authority. (If boys are boisterous, are girls girlsterous?) And maybe she has picked up some of Dad's ways as well. But I don't think humans are all "monkey see, monkey do" creatures. Being intelligent, we also react against behaviors, or try to find ways of coping with them. Here I get the impression that your daughter might have been living in a world where many things were hidden from her. She knew about those DV incidents, of course, because she was there. But there was the part where Stepmom was saying hurtful things about the girls--covertly, behind a closed door. Dad of course also modeled concealment behavior by not calling you to tell you about the fight and the house swarming with cops. So it became your daughter's role to fill in for him by picking up the phone and exposing that to you. But if she didn't believe that Dad caused those bruises on Stepmom's arm, how far might that be because you've hidden much of Dad's behavior from her in the past? _____________________________ In spite of what she doesn't know, she knows plenty is going on, and many things must have been kept from her in the past that she discovered with shock were to upset her life. Finally I read that Grandma goes to extraordinary measures to hide from the girl the simple fact that she's going to church, and everyone else colludes in the scheme. When the most trivial things like that are the subject of an elaborate deception, I wonder how far this habit of hiding things is a family pattern. Was there any reason why the girl couldn't hitch a ride to church to see her altar boy, whom she won't be seeing for very long anyway? It's not as if she can come to much harm in a church. Well, maybe she had homework or some other reason; but if so, nobody would stand up and simply tell her No. Instead, they had to arrange it behind her back to avoid conflict. But in my mind, if somebody learns that important information is being withheld from them all the time, apart from being angry about it, the most natural thing in the world is to suspect that something further is being hidden, and demand loudly to be told what and why. On those grounds I can't be surprised at the girl's behavior. _____________________________ If she has a yen to go and live with Dad now and then, could part of that be because there is a certain kind of openness in his home that she's attracted to? All right, so Dad and Stepmom fight like a couple of Kilkenny cats. I must admit that's not quite my idea of Happy Families, but that's the way some couples carry on. They might even be a good match for one another! In a way I have to wish them luck too--because I'm sure they're going to need it! ;-) But if Stepmom makes hurtful remarks behind closed doors, at least she says them loudly enough for everyone to hear anyway. She shows everyone her bruises and says "Look what your Dad did to me." She walks out on him; she threatens to call the DA about him, and he in turn calls the cops on her. This is all about exposure. And when they want to say "I hate you," they both do it openly, by yelling, screaming, and namecalling, mauling one another, and strewing one another's CDs all over the highway. Could anyone who lives in that family miss what's going on? _____________________________ It is unfortunate that your fiance, who sounds like a good guy, appears "boring" to your daughter, and I hope this isn't a clue that she's more addicted to the kind of drama that goes on in Dad's home now. But if she does ask to go and live there, I'd agree that it's safe enough to take her seriously. She probably won't, and even if she does, she'll probably want to come home as soon as she's war-weary, hopefully having seen what goes on there as a ridiculous tragicomedy that nobody would want to emulate. Actually having to live with it is very hazardous to one's CD collection too. _____________________________ Still, I can't add much to Dr. Irene's good advice when you've already gone so far in the right direction. All I'd do is wrap up together the whole notion of being more "upfront" with your daughter. On her side, by all means take her wishes seriously--if she's bluffing you'll be calling her bluff--and on your side, when you can afford to be straight with her about what you want from her, you can also afford to be more open about your feelings and opinions and what's going in the family. Then she has less call to demand and probe for whatever she thinks might be hidden from her. A bit more "glasnost" all around, so to speak, in the wake of the family perestroika. And while you're in the business of not covering up for Dad any more, I do recommend extending this good habit to not covering up for Grandma any more either. She's setting a bad example for everyone of concealment and refusal to confront conflict. If she wants to inveigle the whole family into another of her convoluted coverup conspiracies, however petty, I suggest telling her "Sorry, Mom, but I don't want to be a party to this kind of deception. And I haven't got the time for it anyway." Stop "fixing" things for her too and let her deal with it. I'm glad you're doing so well anyway. Good luck for the future! :-)
Whoever you are, you've made some good points, but your style is somewhat ...er... angry. Cool down.
Hi, Theressa. I've read some of your messages here and on some of the boards. You've come a long way! I appreciate the feedback.
Take Care, M. Hi M!
I'm trying to do this in html. Hope it works!
OK.. it didn't work
Here it is "cleaned up": M is replying to the person above with the questions.
Congratulations, M, you seem to be doing much better in every way!
Thank you. I feel much better too. This is very long. I hope you don't mind my paring it down a bit.
Feel free to ask for clarification on anything that I've missed (though I won't promise to give it to you).
Just one point about your daughter--though on this score it was nice to see what looked like an improvement happening in front of my eyes. Yes, she seems to respond to the firm and direct approach very well. I have to be in the mood to stay firm though. This takes energy. When I started reading this mail, I noticed that "there have been domestic violence incidents..." On hearing something like this, many people who suffer from curiosity--like me!--instantly start wondering what happened, and asking questions.
I understand that you are curious. My impression upon further reading is that your curiosity was satisfied on this score. Am I correct?
I hope you don't mind my saying all this, Not at all. because I'm not
doing it to ask for more answers, let alone to pick on your writing style! I'm only pointing out that vague abstract nouns, passive voice, and similar constructions can be ways of withholding information. I noticed this in the description of that incident particularly, though of course you did fill in details later. While I love to read, written correspondence is not my forte. I tend to be as brief as possible. My goal was to address my reaction to B's email.
What I also wanted to point out is that a person's natural reaction on perceiving that information is being withheld--or possibly being withheld--is to probe for more. Yes.
But if she didn't believe that Dad caused those bruises on Stepmom's arm, how far might that be because you've hidden much of Dad's behavior from her in the past? Don't know. She knows her dad was verbally and emotionally abusive during our marriage. I don't remember any physical abuse which occurred after the children were born. I assume that she wants to believe the best of her father.
Finally I read that Grandma goes to extraordinary measures to hide from the girl the simple fact that she's going to church, and everyone else colludes in the scheme. Well, that's one take on the situation. Was there any reason why the girl couldn't hitch a ride to church to see her altar boy, whom she won't be seeing for very long anyway? Yes, there was a reason.
It's not as if she can come to much harm in a church. Well, maybe she had homework or some other reason; but if so, nobody would stand up and simply tell her No. Instead, they had to arrange it behind her back to avoid conflict. But in my mind, if somebody learns that important information is being withheld from them all the time, apart from being angry about it, the most natural thing in the world is to suspect that something further is being hidden, and demand loudly to be told what and why. On those grounds I can't be surprised at the girl's behavior. She was once diagnosed as having a reactive personality and withholding is the path of least resistance for us. We have been working on this, too. While her father tried to control her reactions by dominating her. I tried to control her reactions by withholding information which I thought would provoke a response.
If she has a yen to go and live with Dad now and then, could part of that be? because there is a certain kind of openness in his home that she's attracted to?
Could be. I think that she feels powerful there because she is able to be a cause of contention between them. I, also, think that B and A enjoy having the excitement of the (to me) extreme ups and downs. They are probably very well suited to one another.
It is unfortunate that your fiancé, who sounds like a good guy, appears "boring" to your daughter, and I hope this isn't a clue that she's more addicted to the kind of drama that goes on in Dad's home now. I hope so too.
But if she does ask to go and live there, I'd agree that it's safe enough to take her seriously. I've done this. It hurt her feelings. She asked me if I didn't want her. I assured her that I did want her with me. She hasn't brought it up again.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
One more thing to address here:
<If she wants to inveigle the whole family into another of her convoluted coverup conspiracies, however petty, I suggest telling her "Sorry, Mom, but I don't want to be a party to this kind of deception. And I haven't got the time for it anyway." Stop "fixing" things for her too and let her deal with it. >
I want to address this. There is not now nor can I ever conceive of there being anything convoluted or petty about my mother, her actions, or her intentions.
NOW, thanks for the feedback :) :) You sure got it! I'll be back.
Wow! I can relate so well. I thought my own Mom was a door mat to my DV dad. I had little respect for her. Now I am dealing with my own verbally abuse ex and learning how to protect myself from the on-slaught is challenging. I refuse to be a door mat yet standing up for myself doesnt come easy. I see from M how it is process you must live and not only read about. Thank You for sharing! Pineapple
I think you are aware of what works with your daughter, and what doesn't work. I gather from my own perspective of your responses above that you know that the "Firm, direct, respectful approach" works.
I also gather you know that not saying it like it is, makes further problems down the road. THOUGH I do not SEE you not saying it like it is. I do see you SAYING "I will accept xxxx but I won't accept YYYYY" I aplaud you on this.
I think you already know being direct instead of fearing what others might agree or disagree with is the best option. I also gather from your posts that you know what is right for you. AND you trust your own mind. You do what feels right for YOU.
In my opinion you stick to the priority. E.g YOUR daughter's wellbeing. What is okay and acceptable and what isn't. You don't personalise this stuff. You are being assertive.
I do agree that secretiveness is a complex issue. It depends if you are protecting someone who needs protecting, such as a young child who is not yet at the stage of being able to properly comprehend and understand and question what is being said.
SO as for you keeping things out of the children's eyes as far as possible was a necessity in the past. You seem to know yourself that now with your older daughter that it is better to be upfront and say "This behaviour is not okay" (whether that be her fathers, his partner, hers, your new partners, or your own)
I also agree with you when we write we don't always feel we need to elaborate, we can use abstract nouns. The reason is that we appreciate that readers are intelligent enough to interpret things in a way they wish.
Then if they feel they want more clarity they are adult enought to ask. The purpose of your post, its intent was not to clarify, it was to briefly outline the circumstances. To get to the point.
The point was in my opinion that you were not OKAY with some of your ex's and his partner's behaviour. And also some of your daughter's behaviours. Therefore, you were illustrating how you had handled in an assertive way the situation.
In my opinion you handled it in an excellent, assertive manner.
I however, agree that I would let your mother handle saying NO to your daughter. It will teach her much. It will teach her that she can't always have her own way. Sometimes she has to look at other options, or change what she is doing to accomodate herself.
Your daughter therefore, will learn life isn't fair. Its what you make of it. By the way you respond. Such as deciding that what one can't do may annoy them today but tomorrow they will understand it was a blessing. Since it afforded them time to do something else.
I think you are going to teach your daughter very healthy behaviour. I have no doubt that you know what you are doing. AND are finally trusting yourself to know what is not okay for you, and then you are asserting yourself, and using your power to work on the priorities.
You know you can't control your ex. BUT you can take your responsibility seriously and decide what legally is not okay for your children. You are doing this.
You are not getting resentful and bent out of shape about your EX. You are not showing jealousy. ALSO you are not defending your current partner. You are saying "LOOK he isn't perfect, but I love him. AND I know he loves my children and respects them."
M I think you are on the right path to becoming a self empowered human being. WHO has dropped her past bad habits of defensiveness.
I think you are finally seeing your brillance, whilst accepting the possibilities but not being bitter.
I think you will go along way. YOU are focused and you will see results.
WELL DONE, Theressa Yes Theressa. Well done, you too!
I have wondered how C may view me with regard to how I interacted with her father. I'm pretty sure that she saw me as weak. I'm also pretty sure that she doesn't any longer.
It does feel like an on-slaught when you are dealing with abuse and intimidation. Like everything is going so quickly that you don't have the time to react much less the time to think about how to react appropriately. I'm learning...slowly... but I'm learning! :) It sounds like you are learning too! Thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone in this. It makes a difference.
Take Care, M.
Thank you so much for the feedback. There are still things that I have to 'sit with' before responding or even deciding if I should respond but I can tell that it is becoming a more comfortable process.
You understand so well. Have you considered becoming a counselor?
You both did well and I have one thing to add. It is imperative that you teach the children how to deal with having to spend time with an abusive parent.
My X is one of those and I put my son through a children's intervention therapy program that was given through the local domestic abuse center.
They taught him that his father's behavior was NOT his fault; and they taught him ways to get his inner core stronger so that he wouldn't be scared. In essence, they taught him how to deal with a bully that was 10X as big as he was.
It worked. My son is very strong plus he KNOWS what his father is; accepts that who and what he is and has moved on. He does a few hours of visitation EO Sat; sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad...but he knows that his mother is very strong and that his father is an abusive person.
I have been divorced since my son was one a half years old, I have sole custody and have not allowed overnights to date ... and I never will agree to them.
His father spends alot of time threatening us with legal action -- but it has never come to pass....7 years of threats.
Remember bullies only like to prey on the weak ..... so get strong.
what a ulgy mess , isnt there an easyier way . its not always giving in , aka : giving away your power ! one strike of anger doesnt have to be ofset by the others strike of anger . and it seems like the dock in some way is egging it on ? i understand being asertive , about the best intrest of the children . but it seems like moms & dads always have a different oppinion .try finding a common ground (I AM SORRY , ITS NEVER TO LATE !) and work on the positive . the hostility is doing a number on the kids . i know , i grew up in it ! and at 35 , going through divorce , i am finally realising it ! hbboy
To the writer of 'getting strong'. I agree. It is imperative that we understand and develop our strengths and confidence in ourselves and in our ability. I'm finding that as I get stronger I am less often upset by whatever he says or does.
Also, I want to reiterate that children of angry and/or abusive people should get counseling so that they have the tools necessary.
I'm sorry to hear that you've had so much pain. I'll be keeping a good thought for you.
I'm interested in knowing how you'd recommend handling this situation? Can you recommend a good place to start in searching for 'middle ground'?