NOT MY PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!!!
Once Bubba was officially out of the house and I continued to refuse to communicate with him in any other way other than via email, he started sending nasty, abuse-filled, threatening emails. I was also receiving horrible emails from my family. Each and every email shook me to the core. I could now clearly see the abuse and I was so afraid of all of them. I knew I was in the fight of my life – the fight to save my children. Bubba was fighting for custody and my Family of Origin (FOO, for short) was fighting on his side.
I received one such email while at a playdate with Maria, Arcadia, and their children. I was shaken to my core by Bubba’s threats. I was scared sick about losing my kids and I felt like I had to bow to his every wish. Maria read the email and told me he was full of hot air. Legally, he wasn’t saying anything that could hurt me. But he was still abusing me and as long as I continued reading his emails through a victim’s eyes and being terrified of him, I wasn’t going to heal. I knew she had a point, so I came up with an idea. I asked Maria if she’d start pre-reading all of my emails from Bubba and FOO and tell me the pertinent details, while skipping the garbage that was thrown in.
A whole new world opened up for me. I’d given Maria my sign-on and password for my email account. She’d text and let me know that I had an email from whoever it was from and to call her when I had a chance. I would call her and she would give me the pertinent information. I’d also ask her to tell me what else they’d said.
Somehow, coming from her, I could laugh at the horrible things they said. She showed me that they were nothing but a bunch of bullies. I’d get off the phone with Maria and go read the email for myself. Oh, I can’t tell you how amazing it was to be able to read an email and not have any of their sharp barbs hurt me. Having Maria read them for me was like wearing bullet-proof armor. They simply couldn’t touch me anymore. I was learning how to translate their words. I was learning to pick out the information I needed and to ignore the rest of their rants.
The most important thing Maria taught me was my new motto: NOT MY PROBLEM!!!!!!! Bubba and FOO were obviously having very strong feelings about everything I was doing. They are entitled to their feelings but their feelings are theirs alone. I’m not responsible for them – they are NOT MY PROBLEM!!!!! I’d set firm boundaries to protect myself and they didn’t like them one bit.
If an email came in like this:
Why are you doing this to me? I love you and want us back together because I miss you and the kids so much. Have them at our meeting place at 6 pm Friday. I can’t believe you would break up our family like this so that I only get to see my kids every other weekend. How dare you do this to me when I said I’d change. Just wait until we get in front of the judge and he sees what a horrible mother you are for turning our kids against me. I’ll fight you for custody if you don’t listen to me. Stop with the divorce and let’s be a family again.
Maria would text and when I called her, she’d said, “He wants the children on Friday at 6 at your regular meeting place.” She was able to pull out what I needed to know and not give me anything that could hurt me. Even with that, I knew it was imperative that I learn to handle reading these emails on my own. My next step was to ask her what else had been said. She would would tell me very matter-of-factly what else had been said. It really took the sting out of their words when Maria was just giving me a run-down of the nastiness and reminding me that his feelings were NOT MY PROBLEM!!!!
I would then go read the email for myself. It was much different experience reading it after Maria had taken the punch out of it. All I needed to know was the time. The rest was just garbage and he was still threatening and intimidating me.
At first, I used to walk around my house repeating, “NOT MY PROBLEM!!!!” over and over and over again. I knew that it would take a long time to really adopt those words as part of my inner dialogue. His feelings had been my problem for so long that it was hard to change. It took me weeks of telling this to myself over and over for it to just start to kick in. I had many years of it being my problem under my belt for it to be an easy transition. And every time Bubba had an emotional outburst over something he didn’t like I had to fight myself to think, “NOT MY PROBLEM!!!!”
After months, I finally got to the point where my first reaction was not fear, it was to think, “NOT MY PROBLEM!!!!!” It was powerful and it was freeing.