Posted by: frogstale | April 25, 2015

Writing away your hurt

I know I haven’t been here much, if at all lately.  It is for several reasons.

My children are getting older, the control my ex can try and assert on me is fading as that happens so I don’t often hear from him or get angry at what he does.  It still comes occasionally but the longer I have had to deal with this, the easier it becomes to just ignore or laugh at his latest attempts to provoke me.

It really does get easier and there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

I have also returned to writing my memoir about our relationship.  I am on a major rewrite.

The first run threw was one big vomit of words, hurt, anger and justification.  I thought at the time it wasn’t cathartic, but it is now 3 years since the vomit and I do believe it did give me more peace in the long run.  I understand now what drew me in and kept me and can see the seeds of the toxic relationship present right from the start.

I recommend writing as a healing endeavour – even if no-one ever reads it.  However I do one day want something that I can publish – so I am now refashioning the vomit into a piece of creative non-fiction.  Scenes, dialogue, texture and colour.  And that takes time and priority over blogging.  And of course I have a full life with a full time job, teenage boys studying and playing sport, not to mention my second marriage to someone with Aspbergers which has its own huge challenges.

So I will keep writing my memoir and ignoring my ex and getting on with my life.

K

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Posted by: frogstale | February 21, 2015

Crumbs

As the children get older, and in fact are becoming young adults, attempting to co-parent with a personality disordered ex has becomes less of an issue for me.  Not because the ex has improved, or seen the errors of his ways, or realised his behaviour is affecting the children.  But because the young adults are starting to lead independent lives and are not so reliant on either of their parents.

That is why I haven’t posted much about this and why my life has got more peaceful (in this aspect anyway!).  I also got new orders 18 months ago that cut down the need for communication with my ex to the bare minimum and allowed the children to make all the arrangements with him.

The only downside is that it has meant I have to rely on them to let me know what is going on – and teenage boys are never good at communication – well not my two anyway!

On the rare occasions that we still have to communicate – only by email – it is difficult, nasty and he always gets some sort of dig in.  And for the last two years he has never ever started his emails with a ‘Hi Katie’ and his name at the bottom.  It always starts straight in and there is no sign off.  It bothered me because it has such a deliberately ‘rude’ feel to it.  I started out thinking I would do the same back to him, but my own conscience prevented me from  doing that.

So I was completely taken aback when the most recent email response from him to a question I asked about Easter Holiday dates started off with Katie’ and finished with’ Thanks James’!  I forgot to think ‘ what does he want this time’ or ‘is he sweetening me up for the kill later on’.  Instead I stupidly thought ‘maybe he is being nice and we can start having a civil co-parenting relationship!’

Why on earth did my head go there?  Because that is what I want for my boys.  To know their parents can be civil and that when big decisions have to be made I can discuss them with their other parent.  That I can share joys and fears with him.

How did I get to that point from a simple ‘hi and thanks’?  Because I am desperate for that civility.  Because it is just not his style.  Because not having to communicate with him very often meant I had momentarily forgotten how nasty he can be.  And I also had in mind that I have just taken the boys on a huge overseas trip and thought that maybe he realised he can no longer make passive aggressive comments about me not wanting to spend money on them!

Then I gave myself a mental slap around the face and reminded myself not to be so silly as to accept any small crumb of politeness from him and magnify it until he becomes normal in my eyes.

He isn’t normal.  He has a personality disorder and can never be normal – only put on a mask of normality.

Posted by: frogstale | October 25, 2014

Don’t Ignore the Red Flags Louise

red flags

There’s a minor controversy raging in Australia following the end of the Australian Bachelor 2014.  The Bachelor proposed to the ‘finalist’ on the last night of the show but it was revealed the next day that he had actually dumped her just before the show had aired.  Online article after article appeared, then TV interviews and glossy magazine articles.  To cut a long  and sordid story short for the sake of this blog post, it turns out that Bachie actually preferred the second runner up, Louise Pillidge, who was dumped in the penultimate episode.

During the show the Bachie was seen kissing and even fondling every bachelorette he took on a single date.  And as the numbers got smaller he asked each of them if they ‘see a future with me’ and ‘have feelings’?  He was even made to look as if he was going to dump the ‘winner’ Sam Frost when she couldn’t commit to him in one of the earlier episodes!

Now before you all start piping up ‘but it was a reality tv show’ – I am well aware of that.  I know that what we see is a version that the producers choose to show us and that the ‘footage’ is a few minutes culled from hours – and that the victims – oops I mean participants – are coached.

But NEVER THE LESS he kissed those girls, he said those words, he led many of them and I for one don’t believe he showed any respect or integrity in his behaviour.

And he didn’t display any fine characteristics after the show had finished either.  He wrote to Louise before the finale was aired explaining that she was his only love and that he let her go early to ‘spare her more heartache’ and because he was so confused about who he really loved. See Bachelor Tells Louise about his love in a letter

Then he lied about his relationship with Louise on national TV and neither of them had the decency to let Sam know about it before she found out the same way as the rest of us.

There are also interviews with the ‘winner’ Sam, and second runner up Lisa, that  claim that everything Bachie has said is a lie and that they are lucky they both dodged a bullet.  Lisa even says that Bachie called her before he wrote to Louise to ask ‘if she still had feelings and could see a future with me’. See Lisa and Sam’s Reaction

Louise is well aware of the media storm that has gone on and what has been said about Bachie, but she loves him and said that to be true to herself she has to ‘give it one last chance’. See Louise Calls Blake her Protector

Why am I telling you this?  Because I want to tell Louise to listen to her gut instincts and look at all the red flags that this particular Bachelor has demonstrated in this whole sordid mess.

Love isn’t enough.  This guy pashed a dozen girls on national TV in the name of ‘finding the one’.  He proposed to one girl knowing he had strong feelings for at least one other.  He hasn’t been truthful, respectful nor showed any integrity or empathy.

These are such huge red flags Louise.  Can you truly trust a man who did the wrong thing from the beginning?  Whatever he is telling you and however he tries to explain himself, do you really believe him?  Can you trust him? Or do you just want to believe him because you love him and you think love is enough?

Take it from many of us who know, a relationship that starts off with lies is doomed from the beginning.  And I hate to say it but from what has been revealed in the media I would be questioning whether this man has some sort of personality disorder too!

self-absorption-quotes-8

 

The book Disarming the Narcissist lists 13 traits of narcissism:

1. Self-absorbed –  Acts like everything is all about him or her

2. Demeaning – Puts you down, bullyish

3. Demanding –  of whatever he or she wants

4. Unempathic – Uninterested in understanding your inner experience, or unable to do so

5. Compulsive – Gets overly consumed with details and minutiae

6. Addictive – Cannot let go of bad habits; uses them to self soothe

7. Emotionally detached – Steers clear of feeling

7. Entitled – Makes the rules; breaks the rules

9. Distrustful – Suspicious of your motives when you’re being nice to him or her

10. Perfectionistic – Rigidly high standards – his or her way or no way

11. Snobbish – Believes he or she is superior to you and others; gets bored easily

12. Approval seeking – Craves constant praise and recognition

13. Unremorseful – Cannot offer a genuine apology

In my experience, the first 7 traits are common between my narcissistic ex husband and my Aspergers husband.

Self-absorption and lack of empathy however are the key.

Self-absorption and lack of empathy are experienced in the same way by the onlooker – total lack of care and understanding of other people’s needs, wants and desires and the selfishness of only meeting their own needs wants and desires.

The reasons for the two similar types of self absorption are different.

For example an Aspie with a ‘specialised interest’ in photography might work on his photos on the computer all evening, so focused that he doesn’t want to stop to eat or even go to bed will be experienced as selfishness on his part.  The Aspie is however just so focussed on their special interest that everything else pales to insignificance and they are oblivious of the effect their behaviour has on their partner. The Aspie just can’t help himself and doesn’t understand.

The same behaviour from a Narcissist, still experienced as selfishness by the partner, occurs because of entirely different set of reasons.

The self absorption of the narcissist goes hand in hand with the traits of entitlement, self importance and lack of remorse.  The Narcissist is being selfish and just doing what he wants to do, despite know that it is annoying and upsetting his partner and that shouldn’t be doing it .  He just doesn’t see why he shouldn’t do whatever he pleases, even if it is pissing of his partner.  He just DOES IT ANYWAY.

Different reasons, same effect.

Posted by: frogstale | September 15, 2014

I’m Back!

I haven’t posted in long time.  I was thinking to myself only the last few days it was because I was finally getting over having to co-parent with a narcissistic sociopathic ex husband.  It has got marginally easier with the children getting older (14 and 17) and new orders in place that mean that we don’t have to be in contact by email nearly as much.

There are downsides to such limited communication though.  He has to organise things through the kids – and they are kids!  They forget what he has told them, or to ask important questions – like ‘how are we getting to your place’ or ‘when are you picking us up for the holidays’! But on balance not knowing what is going on is easier than having to communicate with him and I have learned to deal with uncertainty.

I was even thinking that maybe the other people who blog about narcissistic exes for years after they have left might not be dealing with it in the best way.  Maybe they are rehashing over and over again things best left behind when it is time to move on?

I do understand that, like me, we want to educate other people about what to look for so they don’t make the same mistakes as us, to advise and support people who aren’t as far into the journey as we are.  I often feel that the only good thing to come out of my awful experiences are that I can help others.

But I was also feeling that maybe it was time to move on.  To concentrate on other more important things in my life, the health and happiness of myself and my children, my career, friends.

I was thinking all of this.

And then more cr*p has happened and a nasty email lands in my inbox – and I know that I am not quite ready to stop writing about it and I haven’t quite ‘moved on’. I still get angry and fire back an email I probably shouldn’t.  I am not ‘holier than thou’ – I am a normal person dealing with an abnormal situation and I still get upset and pissed off at him.

Will tell you the ‘private health cover’ saga soon – and then the ‘passport’ saga – and finish off the ‘iphone saga’ another day.  Putting it out into cyberspace gets it off my chest and makes me feel better.  And leaves a concrete history about the saga that is my life co-parenting with a narcopath.  Something I hope I will one day look back on with relief when it is over.

But until that time …. I’m back

Posted by: frogstale | July 14, 2014

Dad of the Year – Part 2

I wrote a while ago about how Narcissists, or those with personality disorders, like to play ‘Dad of the Year’.

They like to look good for the ‘audience’ which may be their family, new girlfriend, or just to make themselves feel better because they think they are doing something great for their kids.

There is no real love or feeling.  If there were, all the game playing, manipulation and revenge tactics played out against their ex (me) at the expense of the children, would not occur.

Someone who truly loves and cares for their children tries hard to put all the hatred and conflict aside FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN.  They don’t use the children as pawns in their complex chess game designed to  make their ex squirm.

James had told the world he had bought our eldest son Jack, a car.  Just like the other iceberg truths , there really was very little truth to that.  He did buy a car (truth), but it was for himself.  One of his many residences is over 40 minutes drive away from us but he is only there one weekend every couple of months at most.  His girlfriend’s daughter lives there all the time and the car was for my son and her to share when James wasn’t staying there.  But ….. the car had to stay at his house.

So, if Jack wants to use it he has to walk to the train station here, travel for 40 minutes, then walk another 10 minutes to pick it up. He would probably want to drive back in our direction to actually go anywhere and then drive it back and reverse the journey home again.  Yeah right.  Not happening!

It turns out that because the daughter doesn’t have anyone to teach her to drive (she is 17 and lives in the City by herself while her mother gallivants around the country with my ex) so she got a motorbike instead.

When you pass your driving test you can have the car Jack.  All you need to do is pick me up at the airport when I stay here and drop me back at the end.  I’ll just use the car when I am here and you can keep it at your place the rest of the time.  Would you like that?

Luckily Jack has learned a lot about his Dad, and like me he knows that you can’t believe nor trust anything that his Dad says. Both he and I won’t believe it’s gonna happen until that car is sitting outside our house and the keys are on Jack’s keyring.

Well, reluctantly Jack phoned his Dad a month ago and told him he had passed his driving test.  He was scared to ask his Dad about the car, but I suggested he should at least get an idea if he might get it so that we could make alternate arrangements his Dad had changed his mind.

‘Sorry Jack, you can’t have the car at the moment, it needs to stay at the house while there are renovations happening and keep the car space for the builders. I’m not sure when you’ll be able to have it.’

WHAT!  James loves making up excuses and lies that make no sense and leave you going ‘duh’!

Whatever pathetic excuse he has come up with, Jack isn’t getting the car.  And probably never will.

Just another day with a lying, pathetic narcissist ex who plays Dad of the Year but forgets that his real audience is his two sons, one of whom can now see right through the act.

Posted by: frogstale | July 10, 2014

High Conflict Personalities in Family Court

Should Mediation and Counselling Replace Today’s Family Court?

This is the question Bill Eddy asks at the High Conflict Institute.  His answer is illuminating and is something that many of us who have had to deal with ex partners with high conflict personalities (HCP) understand.

Bill recognises in particular that there is often only one person in the family court room with a HCP and they are the ones that can end up ‘winning’ because they fool the courts like they fooled us when we met them.  I highly recommend the whole article (exert reproduced below).

Disorders in the Court

Based on my experience for 12 years as a child and family therapist (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), followed by over 20 years as a family lawyer (Certified Family Law Specialist), I estimate that a majority of the clients in today’s Family Courts have a diagnosable mental health problem: substance abuse, bipolar disorder, major depression, personality disorders. For those involved in high-conflict cases, I believe that at least one party has a personality disorder because the characteristics of such a disorder are extreme interpersonal behavior, which most would consider the behaviors of abusing partners and children, hiding children, alienating children, hiding money, making false allegations and so forth. Many judges, lawyers, counselors and parents now agree with me on this.

 

It’s also important to realize that in many cases there is just one person with such a mental health disorder and in many other cases both clients have such a disorder. Therefore, it is especially important for decision-makers to understand what is going on to make accurate and protective decisions. The risk is that reasonable parents will be punished (restraining orders, supervised access with their children), while dysfunctional parents will be awarded primary custody and praised for their (hidden) misrepresentations to the court, which often encourages more dysfunctional behavior.

 

Based on research at one of the New Ways for Families programs our Institute has developed (which orders parents into short-term counseling before the big decisions are made), over 80% of high-conflict parents ordered into the program have a personality disorder. So this concern is starting to be validated by research. These are not normal families, for whom Family Courts were designed. This trend has been recognized as far back as 1997:

 

While performing our duties in all of these roles [as psychotherapists, mediators, custody evaluators], we have found that clients who engage in protracted adversarial processes, whether personal or litigious, show a high percentage of personality disorders. They make up a significant population of the descriptively difficult clients who consume an inordinate amount of time and energy of family lawyers and the family court system.”

Feinberg, R. and Greene, J.T. The Intractable Client: Guidelines for Working with Personality Disorders in Family Law, Family and Conciliation Courts Review. Vol. 35 No. 3, July 1997. 351-365.

 

The difference today is that the percentage of ordinary clients in Family Courts have significantly reduced, while the percentage of personality disordered clients has increased and may represent a majority – at least in parenting disputes.

 

I commented

When I read the title of the post I thought – another person about to preach to me about how co-parenting should be putting the children first and how BOTH parents should make the effort.

I was getting ready to put in a comment about how it is so easy for others to say when they haven’t tried to co-parent with a …….. put in the appropriate word ….. High Conflict Personality, Abuser, Narcissist, Sociopath or plain old jerk.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find someone else who gets it. You are so right Lori and this post is spot on. So many times I feel so sad that the only other person in the world who SHOULD love my kids the same way I do – their father – just isn’t capable of doing the right thing for them. That I can never go to him with my concerns or issues about our sons, or even to share the joy and pride in things they have done well. I feel a little sad for me, but as you put it so well, I feel most sad for the kids.

To have their parents in a war, and never to be able to see them in solidarity for them, and having to tip toe around what they say to each parent (although hopefully not me so much) in case they upset them talking about the other parent is so awful to see. These poor kids are battling the minefield between two enemy camps and it must affect them so badly.

But what can we do? Nothing. If the other parent can’t, or won’t, cooperate or co-parent, we have no choice. We can just try and reduce the mines in the minefield, hope the kids don’t get blow up, and do our best so we can walk away with our heads held high.

I don’t know what to do.  I am losing my 13 year old son to the dark side.  He lies, then covers it up with another lie and thinks I don’t realise it is a lie.  Then turns his words around to ‘I meant ….’ ‘I thought ….’.  He thinks little lies to cover big lies are OK.  He blames me for things he has done.  The latest is in relation to signing up for extra sports.

He already plays sports on Saturday and goes to training twice a week.  He wanted to do another sport on Sunday which involved 2 more nights of training, somewhere he can’t walk to.  He promised me when I reluctantly agreed to let him go, that I wouldn’t need to take him to training and the game as he would arrange it himself.

Eight weeks later, when he can’t get a lift from his friends he tells me ‘they are getting fed up of taking me’ ‘you won’t take me because you can’t be bothered’.  i have been taking him, most weekends.  But I just got back from another flying visit to the other side of the world for my Dad and I am jet lagged and tired.  He also lied to me last night about a party he went to and getting a lift home.  I am very angry with him.

I have this terrible sense of deja vu.  I left his father because he was a liar and a cheat.  I couldn’t trust him to ever tell me the truth.  My mantra was ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’ and he couldn’t do that.

Now my son is doing the same.  How do I deal with this?  I don’t want him in my life – I can’t live with another liar who blames me for everything.  I just can’t do it.  How do you ‘leave’ your 13 year old son?  And the fact that I even feel this way is so deeply upsetting and disturbing.  I don’t know how to deal with my feelings or him.

I want him to be better than his father, to grow up knowing that lying will get you into more trouble and is just WRONG.  I want him to learn personal responsibility and empathy.  I have tried but I am getting nowhere.  Am I just banging my head against a brick wall and his genetics will always triumph in the end?

There are no answers, just more and more questions.

 

Posted by: frogstale | May 25, 2014

A clear case for Euthanasia

‘I just want to go to sleep and not wake up. I’ve had a good life, I’ve seen you and the boys now and I know you love me. ‘

There are often ‘grey’ areas when it comes to euthanasia. Maybe someone is confused, has dementia, there is a bit of quality to their life, even if we as outsiders can’t see it.

There is no ‘grey’ in my Dad’s case. He has no hope, no present, no future and no life.

He is 78. He got a disease (ANCA vasculitis) which affected his white blood cells which in turn has given him kidney disease. He has 10% kidney function now. Not quite low enough for dialysis but even if it were, because of the original disease, dialysis won’t make his life better.

The high dose steroids he took for the ANCA have given him cataracts, made him deaf and crumbled his bones. The ‘cure’ was worse than the disease.

He might have had a good few years left, but the ANCA seems to have progressed and both that and the steroids have shut his body down.

He sleeps all day. He has no energy to even lift his head up off the pillow. He has stopped eating, apart from 2 high protein drinks a day. He has lasted this long because he was very fat when he first got ill. He is now a shadow …. stick thin legs, skin hanging off him … but his body is still somehow keeping him alive.

He loved to read, to watch operas on his computer, do origami. He was a very intelligent man who had a joke for every occasion. That man has disappeared slowly, like the fat on his belly.

He is now a bit confused, fixated on wanting my Mum to make his favourite chicken soup – even though he can’t eat and has no appetite.

There’s another story – my Mum and their relationship. They should have split up years ago. My Mum married him at 19 to get away from her father (who had some sort of mental illness – probably a personality disorder). She never really loved him but they rubbed along ok for many years because he let Mum’s innate nastiness wash over him (some mental illnesses are partially genetic remember!).

Their ‘thing’ was going on exotic overseas holidays. Mum didn’t want to leave him because she wouldn’t have enough money or a partner to travel with. Dad put up with her because he loved her and didn’t mind being her doormat. In recent years though, my Mum’s behaviour towards him has got worse and she has made it clear how much she now hates him.

Then Dad got sick, very sick. He is at home (not quite ill enough to be in hospital, not quite close enough to death to be in a hospice) and the public health system tries to keep people at home as long as possible.

Mum has become his ‘carer’. I use inverted commas for a reason. She doesn’t CARE at all. She wants him dead. She doesn’t want to have to wipe his bum after he has again pooed in his ‘nappy’ or clean up the carpet where he spilled his overnight urine bottle by accident. She treats him abysmally and is not coping with their situation at all.

I am on the other side of the world. I wish I could help, I would take my Dad in if I could – but the choice I made 26 years ago to emigrate has left me unable to do much more than offer moral support to my Dad and brother. My brother lives 4 hours away from my parents and has his own troubles. He helps as he can, but in some ways he might as well be on the other side of the world too.

I am so pleased that I decided to take his two Grandson’s (my boys) over to see him in January when he was still in a reasonably good state and was able to vicariously enjoy their time in London. (See my earlier post – My Father is Dying)

Finally Mum and Dad have both agreed to move Dad to a home – it will use up most of their savings but Dad might finally get the proper care he needs.

But that actually changes nothing. He will still be asleep most of the day, but on a proper hospital bed that can be propped up if he wants it. He will still be too blind to see the television or his computer but it will at least be in his room if he wants to, too deaf to listen to audio books. What is the point of it all?

He wants to be dead. There is nothing worth living for anymore. There is nothing he can do and no quality to his life at all. He will be moved to a home where strangers will do the most personal things for him and he will sleep the rest of the day.

I am also reminded of my Grandma – who 18 years ago starved herself to death in hospital. She went in for a broken hip at 86 years old and they found she had bowel cancer. She had a colostomy (a bag for poo attached to your stomach) and she had always said she would never have one of them. So she must have decided she had had enough of life and from that point on refused to eat or drink. It took three long months for her body to finally give up . At the end she wasn’t awake much and when she was she wasn’t aware what was going on around her.

I was very luckily back home during this period and frequently visited her in hospital. On one of the last visits I wanted to share some special news with her.

‘Grandma. I have something really special to tell you. I’m pregnant. I am having your first great grandchild. I am so excited and happy. Please start eating again so that you can be around for when this baby is born. There is something worth living for now. Grandma, please squeeze my hand if you heard me.’

My hand wasn’t squeezed but my heart was, I was so sad that Grandma would never know.

My Dad wants to die but he can’t do anything about it. My Grandma wanted to die and took it in her own hands but it was very difficult for her and even more difficult for those of us left behind – watching her slowly dying in front of our eyes in a run down hospital in the East End of London.

Why can’t the Government’s of this world legislate to allow dying people or their families have dignity and choice in the last few moments of their life.

Why do we have to let the dying and their families suffer while they wait.

Surely if a person’s quality of life has completely gone and they express a lucid and clear wish to die, we should be able to help them in the most loving and kind way.

There may be grey – which is one of the reasons Governments hesitate, there may be religious reasons why some people wouldn’t make that choice for themselves or their loved ones. But when there is no grey and the person isn’t religious – it is wrong to make them carry on.

This surely is a clear case for euthanasia.

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