Limiting Your Exposure to The Crazy

Cantata’s divorce was finalized yesterday.  She is in disbelief that it is real because her ex has been horrific through this whole thing.  He texts her probably 10-15 times a day.  He flip-flops between telling her that he loves her and wants her back then blaming her for everything and telling her she is a bitch.  Sometimes he does both of those in the same text.  Cantata has been subjected to this for so long because he’s been dragging the divorce out, refusing to give her her freedom.

Cantata did the same thing I did when I was in the middle of my divorce; set boundaries but not have them be rock solid.  We were both afraid to put down rock solid boundaries because we were afraid of what it would like to the judge and court officials.  Also, we couldn’t set rock solid boundaries because we had not made the paradigm shift from victim to survivor completely.  We were still in the process of it.

Now that Cantata is officially free, the rock solid boundaries are being put in place very quickly.  She has changed her phone number and given her ex a Google voice number that he can text when he has their son.  She will have his number blocked from texting her when their son is with her.  She’s also given him a new email address and has blocked him from her other one.  She also has someone else reading her emails/texts for now, until she is strong enough to read them herself.

And here is where the paradigm shift has to happen.  Abused women spend so much time trying to manage their abusers’ moods that cutting communications is extremely scary.  For myself, I felt that if I was reading what he was sending, I could somehow predict what he was going to do next.  The truth of the matter was that in all these years we were married, I couldn’t predict anything he did, I just didn’t realize it.  Having had NO control of my life while married, I struggled to maintain my illusion of trying to keep control of what Bubba was doing by being “informed.”

The ironic  part in all this is that holding on to what I felt was control was confining me to a prison of my own making.  I was still trying to manage Bubba’s moods and actions and was keeping myself from healing; exactly what Cantata has found herself doing.

Once those rock solid boundaries are set, the escalation will happen.  Abusers are used to getting reactions from their victims and when they cease getting those reactions, they up the ante to get it back.  Cantata has just set her rock solid boundary and I’ve warned her that her ex WILL escalate for awhile.  The key here is for her to NEVER break her own boundary.  If she responds even once, no matter how small, all bets are off and her ex will begin again.  She will lose major ground and it will be nearly impossible to regain.  He will have learned that if he just harasses her enough, she will respond.

I’ve learned to never defend myself, never address anything that does not pertain directly to the children.  I also learned to not be polite.

The worst thing you can do when dealing with an abuser is to give them any idea that you are asking them anything.  Instead of “Can we meet at 6 p.m. to exchange the kids, please?” it is always better to say, “I will be at the exchange place at 6 p.m.”  Instead of every saying “Thank you,” or some other nice way to sign off an email, I simply sign, “Hope.”  At first it felt very rude and impolite.  I quickly realized that what normal perceive as politeness, Bubba perceives as weakness and he goes for the jugular.   I’ve had to rewire my brain around this because I’m a naturally polite person.  I’ve had to force myself to act like a cold-hearted bitch in communications with Bubba simply because that is the only way to protect myself.  I know the truth, I’m not a bitch, I’m just dealing with an abuser.  The rules of polite society do not pertain to our interactions.

I’ve gotten through the nasty escalation and found an amazing amount of freedom since Bubba and I only communicate now when he wants visitation.  Yes, he still attacks me regularly when I state that the court orders will be followed, but I’m to the point now where I can simply ignore it.  It no longer pierces my heart.

Cantata still has a long road ahead of her to get to this point.  She will have to stay stronger than she’s ever been before.  But she will learn that the effort she has to expend now is worth its weight in gold when, in a few months, communications with her ex are few and far between.

She’ll revel in her new freedom!

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