Friday, September 28, 2012

Living With My Worst Fears

So began my new existence. Once or twice every month I would spend an entire Friday in court, waiting to have Peter’s latest motion heard. The motions were meant to humiliate me, break me, and defeat me. Much of the content was completely unnecessary. The mental illness argument would present great difficulties disproving. He had spent years establishing this. With his counseling degree and professional experience he had “diagnosed me” with the worst diagnoses in custody battles outside of Schizophrenia.  He stated that I refused to maintain treatment throughout our marriage. This could not be further from the truth; he had required me to be in therapy, always selecting the therapist and “monitoring my progress.” I, too eager to please this abuser, would agree and allow myself to be convinced of what he was telling me was wrong with me.  I was so worn down with years of being judged and scrutinized; every detail of my life analyzed, and with him setting the standard impossibly high, always shifting expectations, I was an on-going failure. The only reason I would stop attending therapy was for financial reasons. We often did not have money for necessities, how could I justify spending money on therapy? Peter would also criticize me for being in such need of therapy that I put the family in financial ruin. I was in a perpetual cycle of “doing what he said” to find it only used against me in another circumstance. I didn’t have a self, or a shred of self confidence-respect-esteem, therefore, I did not have the ability to decide what would be best in each circumstance; I was only trying to please Peter. Now I realize that was/is impossible; I wish I had known earlier…

By the end, my middle daughter and he would regularly mock me and laugh at my parenting when I attempted to discipline her and our interactions became volatile, in part, because she was treated more like the spouse and me like the child. The family dynamic became very confusing and dysfunctional; I was in a romantic/love triangle with one of my daughters. My older daughter remained open minded and defensive of my work in and outside of the house until Peter moved out. Peter parented her in an entirely different way; he was very hard on her and controlling, making her work at a very young age. But by the time I was blindsided in court, she had turned on me with such a vengeance it took my breath away. 

This did not happen overnight, and I assisted Peter in my own destruction. Peter had been using the girls as pawns, cultivating a worship of him. He was special; he had special powers to understand people and powers to correct any and all situations/jobs he found himself a participant. There weren't jobs or churches or environments good enough for him, not even his family until he needed them to help destroy me. When it came to me, he nudged the girls directly and indirectly to be antagonistic, independently confronting me, or with him. I see it now, over the years they began to slowly lose respect for me. Peter would contradict just about any parental idea I had, relax my attempts to establish order, and explain to the girls that I didn’t know what I was doing, just do as he said. He convinced us all that he was the better parent. If this were a partnership and him not wanting absolute power and control, we would have been united, he would've built me up and supported my parenting, expressing appreciation for my work and sacrifices for the family. With me working so much, his turn of the children away from loving and respecting me, as their mother, was easily done.

He often involved them in our fighting. On one occasion, a couple of years before the beginning of the divorce, we began fighting over him wanting to become a massage therapist. He had been recently demoted at work and the job was now beneath him; he was humiliated to remain. My concerns were twofold: yet another certification and not only time without employment, but quite expensive and time consuming to pursue the trade of “licensed massage therapist.” The second concern was other women (and I didn’t know he was currently engaged in an affair with a subordinate at work). Peter had already shown himself to not have much restraint regarding women.  As outlined in Figure 1. The Vicious and Escalating Cycle, he did not consider or even listen to my concerns. The argument ended in him dragging me around the house by my feet, straddling me, choking me, growling degrading and belittling statements inches from my face. I was in bad shape, crying, yelling, and fighting back. This time, however, I called the police. He woke my oldest daughter out of bed and dragged her downstairs. He grabbed my face and told her to look at me and notice how out of control and emotional I was. He told her to look at him and notice how calm he was. He went on to tell her that “her mother” was disturbed and crazy and that he had no choice but to “restrain” me, only to protect himself. All the while asking her to nod and show him she understood. [My attorney says that even police still don’t understand domestic violence. Of course the abuser is fine, he/she just vented on, controlled and abused another person, and they are calm and relieved of stress. Meanwhile, the victim is unheard, controlled, scared, upset, and traumatized. They look like the one with the problem, as I did with Peter.] This had happened, in this way, with my oldest daughter, at least a dozen times over the years, starting at a very young age. My middle daughter heard (witnessed a few times when her father brought her, also, out of her bedroom to look at me) escalated fighting, with me the loudest, but not as much as the oldest. Peter was generally always calm; his abuse very quiet, subtle and difficult to prove. I helped in my destruction because I was emotionally out of control at times in the home.

Peter, desperately, told our daughter it was up to her to prevent her dad from going to jail. He told her exactly what to say. When the police arrived they separated us. I was taken outside, in the dark; he stayed inside with our daughter. The police “did not see any bruises,” (they of course came out later on my arms, legs and neck and how could they see anything without light) and my daughter did as she was told, so he was only sent to a hotel for the evening. 
The next day I called him apologizing and begging for forgiveness. I felt I was the one who was wrong because I was emotionally out of control. This is embarrassing, but my response is typical of long term abuse. He agreed to come home and asked for “complete submission” for him to stay in the house. He also said “that if I ever called the police again, he would take my children, all the money, the house…and it would be very easy to do considering my mental illness [emotionally out of control].” You had better believe I was on my best behavior.

There was a great deal of conflict throughout the 20 years, mostly the typical problems: sex, money, in-laws and children. We, however, were not a team, not ever working toward resolution or negotiation, not working on a marriage or partnership. He had ulterior motives and shifting, insatiable needs, expectations and desires. 

One night while the children were with Peter (most of the time) I was going through the things that he had left. Hidden in the garage I found his journals. I’ve always believed journaling to be about individual growth, healing, and self reflection. His “journals” were documentation of me….hundreds and hundreds of pages. I could not believe it. He had been documenting me, without my knowledge, since the beginning. Entries included date, time, and event. An event could be something like.. we were driving in the car, and I pulled too far into the intersection and because that is something a teenager and inexperienced driver would do, I had slipped into a teenager personality and he named it… This went on and on. I had “affairs” with women and men I could not even remember. I was having sex and inappropriate relationships with nearly everyone I came across. He documented emails and phone numbers he had taken off of my phone. He documented conversations he overheard while I was on the phone. He documented what I was wearing and who I was interacting with while wearing those clothes. They were books of all of my wrongs, mostly wrongs against him, real and imagined. To document someone to this degree is not to love them. This is behavior one engages in to “prove” or “win” or “fight injustice.” I felt sick and numb. Peter was obsessed with controlling and monitoring me. No wonder he couldn’t work for very long, no wonder he so easily brought out his “black box” of my errors in life and marriage to use against me while arguing. No wonder I escalated, how could I compete? No wonder he was so prepared that first day in court…That’s not normal, right?

So what he had successfully done, and proven with the best eye witnesses possible, was that I was emotionally  de-stabilized to the point of dissociation. This can be accomplished by making the environment, of someone who already has post traumatic stress disorder, unstable and unpredictable. Peter offered no safety/security financially or emotionally, offered no love and commitment and most often expressed that he was “one foot in and one foot out of the relationship,” and “that he loved me but wasn’t in love with me.” Peter told me I was worthless and would be alone if not for him, and was so financially irresponsible left me working and problem solving to the point of 3 jobs. I felt like I could not get to solid ground, a foundation or a person (remember I was isolated as well) to count on. Of course I was unsettled and de-stabilized. He, I believe intentionally, was doing the exact opposite of what I needed and rightly expected in marriage and a partnership.

Though I copied those journals thinking I could prove his obsession (there was a lot of bizarre sexual content as well), the Guardian ad Litem and our family psychological evaluator were not concerned about him, but only me. His part did not matter and I was required to attend Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for 2.5 hours every week in addition to individual therapy 1 hour a week and my “rehab” continued. In addition to these requirements, I worked full time and still provided all insurance. I was the crazy drunk taking care of a family of five!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Wish My Story Were Over: My Daughters

If you don’t write with tears in your eyes….I can only think of them for a little while and then I have to change my thoughts before I start to feel very deep emotional loss. My daughters….they are gone. My oldest remains openly and publically hostile toward me doing what she can to turn my son against me; she influenced my second daughter’s turn against me. I’ve had to mourn the loss of them being in my life.

I remember carrying them for nine months. I can still feel them kicking and growing. A mother’s body changes so much in pregnancy. It’s the great equalizer having children, an experience where no woman goes untouched. Nine months of attaching to another human being. I chose a natural birth with each of them so I could experience the natural feeling of bringing life into the world. I have felt everything. I have loved them and given them my 20s and 30s. They were always primary in my mind. I worked, provided and took risks I never would have without them. I gave up opportunities that are no longer an option for me…I gave them my youth. At age 19 I chose to carry my daughter. I launched into immediate and intense responsibility, not able to lean on my sociopath. I know I chose this and chose him to have children with. I can’t believe I did. Today she is a successful opera singer and I would love to proudly share in her success. My second daughter was born when I was 23. I again gave her everything I could. I nursed her and provided. She was an incredibly talented ballerina with all of the natural attributes required to dance at a professional level. To see her dance took my breath away. Her father encouraged her to quit. My heart breaks. My son does not understand why they will not talk to me; he says their reasons don’t make sense.

I have finally taken all of their pictures down and try not to think or feel the intense void. When I tell people that I haven’t spoken to my oldest daughter in over two years and the last time I tried to hug my middle child she dialed 911, leaving, her then seven year old, brother hysterical, they respond “they’ll come around..” I tell people now, “I don’t like to talk about them.”

I don’t foresee a relationship with them for a very long time, if ever.  Here’s why:

Peter is so masterful at twisting and turning reality to such a degree, and with so many lies, I can’t anticipate, much less counter, what has been or being said.

My girls will no longer even accept gifts from me (upcoming blog: Christmas Eve), their last words delivered in screams and now, with the latest email exchange with Peter, I understand the latest “reason” they are not in relationship with me. Knowing the Waltons, the parental alienation is just as intense and likely intensifying to keep the fa├žade going; as more time passes the obvious question from the public might be “so if she were a terrible mother what is she doing now to promote such an extreme response?” It will have to always be my fault and so normal situations will have to be turned into chaos to generate new hypotheses about estrangement from their mother. I have decided the best way to explain this phenomenon is to share the exact language and irrationality I live with. If Peter choses to continue send me belittling, demeaning and judgmental communications then he is providing the text for my book directly.

Here is Peter’s email, with edits of names only, that I received days ago. This is the result of me taking a week-long vacation. I gave him the right of first refusal, which means that he has the first option to take our son. He declined so I gave him the itinerary of Warren’s care one month prior to the trip. If I were wrong about him being a sociopath this would stop.

Blog Author,

You haven't left very much time for a response to your unilateral decision to leave Warren for a week. You communicated this to me by email in the middle of the night, probably as you prepared to fly out this morning - perhaps you are in the air now. This is not full disclosure. Warren benefits from knowing that both his parents know what is going on. He will be aware of the fact that I was in the dark on this plan. All that was communicated to me was that you would be gone over Labour Day weekend. I reported back that I would unfortunately be unable to leave Toronto due to two looming by-elections. What prevented you from being completely transparent about your plan? Will you put your own comfort aside for Warren's sake? Perhaps you agreed with my suggestion a few weeks back that it would be in Warren's best interest for you to not go on the trip at all.  

Did you assume I wouldn't want to be part of planning for his week, had I known you were leaving? I do. I would like Warren to spend the weekend with his Uncle Ben Walton and Aunt Mary Ellen Walton. What prevented you from suggesting this from the beginning? Isn't this clearly in Warren's best interest? Please inform Susan and David that Ben would be delighted to pick up Warren at their place on Friday evening, say 6pm, and return him on Sunday at 6pm. Warren wants to have contact with his cousins. It doesn't make sense to deprive him of the opportunity to interact with his family, especially considering they live a mere five-minute drive from you.  

……financial paragraph taken out….[I had taken him back to court because I’m still paying child support and of course he is more than willing to take the money]…

As you launch into another vacation, I hope you will pause to consider these matters for Warren's sake.

Thank-you, Peter

I responded with the already provided detailed itinerary, again, explaining Warren is busy and I needed to make arrangements so he knew what was going on. I had waited for Peter’s response, made arrangements and notified him. I had even offered for him to stay at Uncle Ben and Aunt Mary Ellen’s for part of the break, but did not hear back from Peter until I was already gone. I had also indicated that I would have limited cell phone coverage making it even more imperative that everything was set before I left. I don’t know what exactly makes him more obsessive: it could be that I took him to court the Friday before to stop paying him child support or the fact that I am vacationing with someone new. There isn’t any way of knowing, but now at the end of my trip he has called me more than he has in over two years. We don’t talk by phone.

Blog Author,

Your statement: "I cannot wait until the last minute" is confusing. I'm suggesting you have indeed waited until the last minute to inform me on planning this week-long vacation, and it is not in Warren's best interest. I didn't even imply it was an obligation for you to have Warren interact with Ben and Mary Ellen, cousin and cousin. I was suggesting it is in Warren's best interest to do so. I am asking you to consider that blocking him from interacting with his family is not in his best interest. I am asking you to consider Warren, and not yourself, and your comfort level. He has clearly expressed to me a desire to interact with my brother and his cousins. I'm not sure how yet another accusation, this one against my father, helps Warren in this case. Will you please stop targeting seemingly anyone associated with me and focus on Warren's well being? Here, you freely target my father without considering what he means to Warren. Have you considered the energy my father has poured into building a relationship with Warren. Warren clearly loves my dad. 

Warren loves his sisters as well, and they truly love and value him. It is entirely inappropriate for your personal and inexplicable vendettas to prevent Warren from freely developing relationships with both his sisters. They are beautiful young women of character. Don't you agree more not less needs to be done by you to promote these relationships along with Warren's relationships with my brother's family? Targeting your own daughters to attempt to mask your gross dereliction as a mother is becoming increasingly difficult, I'm sure. At some point you may need to face reality. I can understand your reticence to do so. I would ask again that you consider Warren's relationships to me, to his sisters, and to his extended family. Warren's dental visits and medical visits are certainly important. I appreciate you taking care of those responsibilities. What I am addressing here is a different matter, Warren's emotional well being.       

Regarding this weekend, it is not too late. All that you need to do is let the Susan and David know that my brother will pop by to pick up Warren for the weekend. Will you make that one call and get back to me to confirm. Warren would much rather spend the weekend with his family than with an older couple.

[Financial paragraph taken out] 

Thank-you, Peter

After a few more of these and the phone calls I did not take, I implored the parent coordinators to have Peter stop badgering me during a much needed and planned escape from the world of computers (I spend close to 60 hours on a computer every week). He did not.

What becomes clearer to me as time passes, away from Peter, is the misery he must live in, all the time, blaming anyone near. The incredible and interesting life there is to live on the other side of a sociopath is undeniable. I look forward to blogging about my vacation and the cast of characters I spent a week with. Though I will admit, with even them, and during my vacation, I could not stop talking about my daughters and how I miss them…always with tears in my eyes…