Ways of a narcissist “co-“parent

Mr Ex has the kids with him every other week.

They don’t shower or bathe.

They don’t wash.

He doesn’t make sure that they change their dirty clothes (including underwear).

He does not have clean clothes for them – they have to take whatever they (…I…) think they might need themselves, in a rucksack.

They stay up until after midnight watching youtube crap, only to sleep until midday the next day.

He educates them only in typing and the eldest in his very own idea of philosophy.

The apartment is filthy and messy. They come back with socks encrusted with dirt – many times I am forced to throw them away, they are so dirty.

I can’t involve social services because we live in different countries – though only 30 mins apart. The kids don’t officially live with him, so the social services on his side of the border don’t get involved, and the social services on my side of the border can’t get involved because it is not in their country.

Apart from these obvious short-comings, he uses every situation to try to assert power.

There was this play-event going on that he wanted the kids to go to while they were with me. He sent me a picture of a flyer, nothing else. I told him, face to face, that we could talk about the event, if he was willing to pitch in and take the kids there. This is what I always do if there is anything the kids should attend while they are with him, as he wouldn’t dream of taking them to anything I would like them to be.

After that, I heard nothing until the night before the event.

The night before, I get a message “we will manage it!” and another picture of the leaflet, more scrunched up than the first time.

I have had enough of cryptic messages that mean something only in his head. I have had enough of having to guess which context he is currently thinking of. I am extremely good at guessing the correct context, as I have had lots of practice, but I don’t want to have to think myself into his world every time he says something to me. So I ask him the next day what he is talking about.

Turns out, he does want to pick the kids up. However, he fails to tell me when, or whether he will bring them back again, and when (round about) he will bring them back, but he is already on his way. I insist, and tell him I can’t decide until he has given me all the details. I give his a generic list of questions to answer for every event, as I always end up asking him these basic things because he never includes them. The questions are when? where? who? what?. Simple, and one would think that anyone trying to arrange a date with somebody would actually provide a date and time. But as this is not the case, I asked him to simply always answer these questions, because if he does not, I spend time and energy on getting back to him and asking these basic questions, I get frustrated because he only answers half my questions, and every event turns out to be a huge difficulty, just because of the amount of unnecessary communication that goes into it. In the end, only one of the kids were actually interested in the event, and I ended up explaining to him that the leaflet, which he waved about in front of my face again, does not include whether he will pick them up, when he will pick them up, and whether he will bring them back.

Now, this month there are two concerts my daughter should be playing at while she is at her dads.

So I sent the dates, the times, the locations, the event, and the times that I could pick her up as I guess that he won’t be into bringing her himself, as he has NEVER shown any interest in doing that.

No answer.

So, I remind him.

“Oh well, I can’t say, as you didn’t send me all the information I need. I have told you this a number of times – shall I repeat what I need to know?”

Apparently, so he says, his information requirements for making an appointment are different from mine.

Of course he hasn’t sent his “requirements”. He will have to make them up first. He has never had any questions about past events, I checked – BECAUSE I PUT ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION IN.

This is just his game. His way of trying to subdue me into doing as he says. His way of trying to assert power and make sure that I do whatever he tells me to do, and don’t bother him with requesting basic rules to be kept.

All this comes after yesterday. Yesterday it was my daughters birthday, and I visited her at her dad’s (“we always look forward to seeing you” – was his answer to my asking whether I could come. I nearly threw up, it’s so false). His girlfriend invited me in for a cup of tea. This is the first time I have been in his apartment, excluding the time I stormed in to get my ill 3 year old at pick up time, after Mr Ex had tried to tell me that he didn’t want to come to me.

The flat is filthy. They offered me a seat, which was covered in stains. I touched it before sitting down and it was covered in grime which I brushed off before I sat down on the edge of it. The table was covered in crumbs. The floor… There are boxes and junk all over the flat. My daughter showed me her room (finally, she does not have to sleep in the same room as her dad anymore!) which is ok, but it’s empty and naked.

I like his girlfriend. She seems detached enough from Mr Ex, stopping him from taking control of her like he did and still tries with me. We had a long chat in our common foreign language, in which she was complaining about him right under his nose. This is something I don’t join in on, but it’s still amusing.

After the visit, he wrote “it was so nice of you to come. *Daughter* was very happy”. The only reason he writes these things of course it to have a record of “co-parenting”, of proving that ‘he makes an effort, even if I don’t’, and of course to state that I am the outsider and he and the kids are a unit. I.e. He can be nice to me as long as I follow his rules. His rules being, I carry on as everything was during the relationship. I am the servant, he is the lord. Look, world, how unreasonable this bitch is being.

I wish I could see a way out of this. He does this kind of thing to the kids too, I’ve seen it happen. I tried counseling – but after the session, he just turned everything around, maintaining that the counselor had supported him and told me that I might be overdoing it. I am quite sure that this was never said. I’ve tried going to court – he managed to make sure that I wasn’t there at the hearing and made it look as if actually, he was the one who cared and I was just a mad woman trying to take his darling kids away from him, for which he cares in such a loving and thoughtful way. Next up is another trip to court, this time hopefully without mistakes and with at least a social inquiry at his place.

I am grateful of the fact that I find energy to stand up against this bullying every time it occurs, even though sometimes, I truly feel like just giving up.

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Unsettled

I feel a need to write today, but I’m not quite sure what it is exactly that needs to be rolled into words and conveyable thoughts. So I’ll just start and see what comes of it.

I feel unsettled today. Unsettled in an emotional way – it’s a feeling of being not enough and failing at being the person I want to be.

I’ve had two weeks with the children. Two weeks of improving things again on the educational side – much to the detriment of the time I have been working. But that is just how it is – at least I now have blocks of time for work instead of being called away every 5 minutes by one of the kids. I am now sitting down with them for a couple of hours every day, in which they get their school stuff done. They all sit with me at the table, and I am available for them without being distracted by my phone, work or other thoughts. In consequence, they get through their stuff quicker, I am able to check what they are doing immediately and they are feeling their progress. They wouldn’t normally have accepted this change, as they have been trained to scoff at anything that seems too “school-like”. Only I went on a full blown rant just after they had got back from their father’s, after a day of reminding them all day long to get their tasks done only to find out late in the day that in fact, next to nothing had been done. Instead, my youngest tried to strike a deal with me, concerning the tasks that need to be done before he can watch mind-numbing youtube videos about mine craft. So random youtube is banned now, too, I was that frustrated. They don’t even miss it… instead, they have been building obstacle courses in the yard, reading, playing with lego, and generally being more active and happy. Sometimes banning stuff has positive effects.

So I suppose being a parent is something I haven’t really been failing at.

So why am I feeling ill at ease, and unsettled?

Maybe because I felt again this morning that I am putting too much weight into what passes – and what doesn’t pass – between myself and D. There have been quite a few positive, fun little (written) conversations lately. These kind leave a smile on my soul. Not the kind of  sparkles and bursting happiness of a year ago, but a cautious kind of deep, rounded happiness.

But then there are the kind in which we seem to be completely missing each other – as if there was a world between, two entirely different, unyielding and separate universes. They leave me aching and wondering whether I am just too stupid or blind to see the obvious.

I think this is what is happening today.

I wish I was really the “tough cookie” I am taken for. I’m not really tough. I only have resilience, and goodness knows where that came from. I am able to come back from set-backs and to act as if I am a courageous person, even if I’m scared to bits. On the other hand, I need a ton of inner healing after each set-back, and nearly anything can be a set-back. I wonder whether I am mentally healthy quite often. Or whether this is what depression is, or whether I am heading for any other kind of mental break-down. I have so little drive some days. So little energy to move myself to do things that make me happy. So much need to know that I am not alone, but no way to prove that to myself.

I need some kind of remedy for days like these. Something as foolproof as listening to Yo-Yo Ma playing the Cello Suites when I have just done something very scary and am waiting for the consequences. I hope I find something.

Missing you again

Those five minutes I reserved for myself today after getting home from orchestra practice –

How I wish I would have been able to turn to you and tell you how happy I feel in your embrace, instead of writing about my aching heart missing you being close.

Hello, Dot

Yesterday was a big day.

Apart from singing a concert (in which I messed up the first 10 bars completely but nobody noticed, they just noticed that I was a bit quiet…), I got to meet my nephew Dot. He is but a day old and has already seen two hospitals, unfortunately.

Dot had some problems with his sugar level first, and then showed signs of an infection, which is why he has been transferred to a children’s hospital, poor thing. Dot is also huge, leading doctors to suggest that my sister might have had undetected pregnancy diabetes.

So, Dot is a huge baby, unfortunately with a few cables hanging off him (why isn’t wireless technology used in hospital equipment for low risk observation???). I got to hold him until my arms were dropping off and I had run out of nonsense to say to a sleeping baby. He smells wonderfully of baby and makes the most delightful little noises.

There has been a prophecy in the family. One of my aunts is a healer and reckons that she is also a medium – and she told my mum some time ago that some old soul had told her that a baby would be born in the family soon, and that it would bring great healing to the family. I am a skeptical believer in this area, as I have may experiences which seem supernatural, but I also see that it is easy to go overboard with this kind of stuff. Some people start seeing supernatural powers and extra-contextual meaning in every fleck of dust.

I would like to believe in this baby – but I don’t think it’s Dot. Dot is teaching his parents a lesson about loosening up and not adhering to the ordinary, easy normality. He has already started putting them into situations they hadn’t anticipated and there are no rules for. My sister likes to do things “properly”, and I see things coming their way for which there is no “proper way”. She will rise to the challenge, and I hope her husband has it in him to do so too (he has certain “wimpy man” traits, which fits with my sister being the “strong girl” type…)

So,

Welcome to the family, Dot!

I look forward to seeing you grow and take your role in your immediate family as well as in the larger family. I look forward to being your crackpot auntie and doing auntie stuff with you. I look forward to seeing who you will grow up to be in all those years of the adventure of life ahead of you.

Self-Doubt is a Bastard

Self-doubt has been with me since I can remember. It’s a nagging feeling that I’ve made a mistake, said something wrong, gone too far, not gone far enough, been too quiet, been too loud, hurt somebody, done something but not done it well enough, missed some vital underlying message etc.

Take the situation when I was 8, in a new class in a new village where nobody spoke without dialect. I knew from the puzzled looks that something was wrong with the way I was speaking, although nobody said anything or laughed. I didn’t push it aside as something that would probably sort itself out with time, but started consciously studying the dialect to stop those puzzled looks.

Or take a few months ago, when my brother told me that my dad’s new wife had been talking about how “gestört” – socially disconnected / maladjusted she thinks my daughter is. I know that she is not. She is shy, and prefers to observe new situations before being in the center of it, but she is a wonderful person, able to build relationships as well as talk to people of every age she doesn’t know so well, she is able to let me know if she feels uncomfortable (instead of acting it out), etc. Now, this woman is my generation and works as a childrens’ psychologist (which I have always thought was an insult to the trade (and my generation)).

But instead of brushing it aside as a stupid person’s remark and forgetting about it, I still have a nagging feeling that I have failed in bringing my daughter up in a way that will be helpful to her. Maybe, this voice says, I should have pushed her into social situations more instead of accepting the fact that she was extremely shy. Maybe it’s wrong to educate the kids at home without the forced group setting every day – maybe that was a big mistake (not that I could change that if I wanted to, thanks to Mr Ex).

At the same time, I know it’s not true, and I know for example that she is just fine in a group setting, her music theory teacher is always full of praise for how involved she is in class. But that voice is still there.

Another self-doubt situation might be at work, being on a video call with my French client. My French is really not that great, and I should probably be looking after it more. In these calls, I sometimes know that what I’m saying sounds like a drunk toddler trying to explain advanced mathematics. I know that, and she knows that, and I can live with it. But sometimes, the client will just incline her head a bit in a certain way, which will send me reeling.

What did I just say, did I just make a terrible mistake, or did I misunderstand her question? She probably thinks I’m really stupid. Mr Ex always said I was rubbish at learning languages, and voila, apparently he was right. If he was right about that, what else was he right about? How impudent and big-headed of me to even accept this project, knowing my French is so atrocious. She probably has a good laugh about my blunders after she puts the phone down.

This is going on while I’m trying to get through what I am trying to say, and ends with me putting the phone down and feeling utterly exhausted. A few weeks into this project I got an email from the client’s account manager, saying that the client is very happy with me and the project (this is a “historically difficult and unhappy client”). What a clash in my head.

I’ve managed to understand that this voice is full of nonsense most of the time, but I can’t shut it up. I also can’t ignore it, deep down. I only manage to disregard it and hopefully not base my reactions and behaviour on it on the outside. When it gets bad, I remind myself of the things and accomplishments I feel good about, and try to get these to speak up a bit, louder than the unwelcome nagging voice. I find other reasons for the slight inclination of my client’s head – a glitch in audio quality for example. I’m pretty good at coming up with other, more positive reasons for situations which make me question myself.

But it’s a huge and constant effort.

I look forward to learning to quieten that voice some time.

Brownish-grey

I miss you.

Terribly.

Painfully.

No matter how much I keep myself busy, and physically and mentally occupied, I am still missing you. I am growing and feeling better about myself steadily, but underneath that, there is a hollow space that wasn’t there before. This space is always there, lying underneath all the other, mostly positive feelings, giving everything a slight brownish-grey tinge.

All the time

Every day

and every night.

Even a great day full of laughter and sunshine is slightly grey, because you are not part of it.

I miss talking to you, making you laugh and diving into your thoughts and opinions. I miss inviting you to peer into what makes me tick, and how I work. I miss knowing that you care. I miss feeling safe.

I miss kissing you, and feeling your touch. I miss your voice caress my senses. I miss your smell, and the feel of your skin.

I miss being able to tell you this.

I miss you

Journal Update

It’s been a while…

Life has been quiet and incredibly interesting – the currents are changing nicely.

I have changed the way I teach the kids – I now use weekly plans instead of having it all in my head and having the kids practice math/writing/etc every day. This goes completely against what Mr Ex does with the kids – which is only book-based, following his own, very singular curriculum. The kids are still adjusting, but it is more interesting for them and I can see the positive effect of this approach already.

Work is very demanding at the moment, but it has not yet taken over my life, and I don’t think it stands a chance actually. All the same, I’m getting very positive feedback from clients, so apparently, setting priorities away from work is not doing any harm.

I am also preparing a summer adventure – voluntary work with  kids in my new language. So far, the formal stuff is organised, and I know what I will be doing. I still need to prep everything though, fix the dates, make sure that I can actually give yoga classes and science sessions (etc) for kids in a foreign language, practice understanding said language when it is spoken at street level, and so on and so forth. Some days I get really excited and feel this is going to be an amazing experience, other days I’m so scared I consider blowing it all off. But – I have a habit of doing scary things sometimes, and apart from a headache and perhaps a difficult day, I have never regretted this habit. So scared or not, I’m doing this 🙂

The most exciting part of organising until now was definitely informing Mr D that I would be around for an extended period. Although this is not an excuse for getting myself over there, I had promised that I would inform him if I was ever planning of coming over, and inform him I did, with a beating heart.

His first assumption was that I was coming over for SOMEBODY (male) – I think I may have managed to convince him now that that is not the case.

So, we will definitely see each other.

A week after this, he told me he would be “close” to me that same day, and would I be around to meet up? – “close” however was still a 5 hour drive and no other sensible way to get there. So I said I’d love to, but I couldn’t make it. But I wanted to so bad – and the two people I talked to about this both said something along the lines of “oh well, you’re right not to go, but when you change your mind,  xyz…” – apparently it would have been typical me to go after all, on a work day, just for the chance of a few words. It’s really interesting when you see your own personality reflected in such a way – I rather like it too…

Anyway, after opening and closing google maps 826492 times and searching every flight website there is for two days, I sent Mr D another message with the screenshot of the distance, telling him that I can’t decide whether it is too far or not – he managed to silence the chaos in my head by reassuring me that we would see each other soon. The world erupted in sweet-smelling roses with that, and I was my usual balanced self again.

We have been in touch from time to time – even on a video call, when my youngest rang him without warning me and all of a sudden, there was Mr D on the screen… it was lovely, although my youngest was a bit irritated because he wasn’t the center of attention, which he usually is with his big friend.

On a really twisted note, Mr Ex’ new girlfriend is now also practicing THE LANGUAGE with me – because her Ex is from there. Imagine the energies zapping through the atmosphere when I came to pick the kids up and we were chatting in front of Mr Ex, who didn’t understand a word, in the language of her Ex and my current interest. He was close to exploding in his jealousy-laden world. And all I could think was “Not My Problem”. I enjoyed the whole experience.

I am still following and exploring allowing femininity in my life. It feels so good, so much more rooted and right. Maybe I’ll find time to write more about that and my insights, and the effects that this journey of the mind has had so far sometime. I would  like to, but there are other things that come first.

 

I was Scared Last Night

… with the wind beating against the house, forcing it’s way in at the windows, causing doors to bang inside and things to bang and break outside.

I got up all the same at 3 o’clock, when a loud bang woke me with a start. The wind had blown the inside cover panel of a window box into the room, in the children’s bedroom.

Thank goodness they weren’t there, and it only scared me.

I didn’t fear that the house would collapse or that something really bad would happen.

I feared being on my own in the darkness, all the noise and the brute force beating against the house and making its way inside.

I was scared because I knew I was all alone, unprotected from the darkness and the raw sounds from the storm.

I wanted protection of human touch. Receiving and giving trusting protection just by being together.

What a teacher that storm was.

Work-Life Balance

Is it possible?

Surely only if your work is actually something that you would include in your life if you had the choice. Then it is automatically part of your life and doesn’t need artificial balancing…

I’m finding it hard at the moment – I dislike being at the office, doing the stuff that I have to do to fulfill my job. I like the people there – I would in fact choose to spend time with some of them from time to time, so it’s not the social aspect.

It’s having to deal with petty problems all the time. Even when they are solved, nobody is happier and the world is not a better place. The only outcome is that my employer has made a bit of money.

I was rather thrown into the field I work in, IT. It wasn’t my choice, I didn’t study it, I have never enjoyed it, but I landed there all the same because Mr Ex insisted that this was the only field that mattered in the world.

So I’ve been thinking. What could I do that I would be good at, that would be meaningful, provide a comfortable living for myself and the kids, and that I could really make a difference with?

I’m good at teaching, in particular complicated, scientific stuff. I like to break it down, as simple as possible, instead of insisting that it is complex and thus must be hard to understand. I’m good at listening and providing honest feedback. I’m good at being positive, and showing others positive options. I’m good at understanding whole situations and consequences of different actions, and finding good ways forward. I’m good at reviewing processes and adjusting them if necessary.

I  have many ideas of things I would like to do – but they would not provide a living for my whole family, nor would I have the time to build these things up at the moment.

So maybe I will just have to wait until the kids have grown up. This is not something I really want to do, because I feel I am just wasting time and energy in my current job. But it might be necessary for better things to open up when I am ready for them…

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts…

And frustration…

plus a growing urge for change…

 

What a Ride!

What a wild ride this year has been.

I feel strangely reminded of last New Year’s Eve – same job, same house, same status – but on the other hand, I am so far away from last year.

There is Mr D – and although he has decided not to play an active part in my life now, he has left a big print on my soul all the same.

With Mr D came a new language, and many new people of which some have become friends ♥.

With Mr D also came the realisation of my interfering masculine energy – an energy that is secondary to my nature and sometimes required in my life, but is better suited to play a helping role rather than a leading one. I think this may be one of the big lessons that Mr D came to teach me.

Last year also brought a lot of new direction for myself – yoga, which centers me, running which makes me feel good, and a deepening connection with my running buddy and co-homeeducating neighbour. I had given up on yoga for a bit over the last few months, but have started again and notice now how much it does me good. My smile is coming from my heart again, and I feel more connected and whole than I have done for a long time.

Last year has also been a big one for the children – they have become such grown up people. It pleases me to look back on their development and see that they are growing into wonderful people – people I would choose to have around and spend time with.

I wonder what the new year will bring. I know what I wish and long for, and I think I have an idea now of what my part is in getting it.

Happy New Year!

La Multi Ani!

Bonne Année!

Frohes Neues Jahr!