In the past couple of weeks, I have come to realize that my Custody War with Luc (my sons sociopathic father) has entered a new phase – I’ll call this phase the “unsustainable pseudo co-parenting” phase. The initial Custody Trial is over and our Family Law case has been closed. No matter how bad the judge, lawyers, and supervised exchange professional all want us to go away, none of these people are going to be able to cure Luc of his psychopathy so “going away” is not going to happen.
In my post last week, I noted that my lawyer had suggested me and Luc get “Family Therapy” in order to learn how to communicate with each other. I have thought a lot about this suggestion, and its clear and unabashed ridiculousness. Here I thought that my attorney’s had gotten up close and personal, witnessed the crazy, and understood the depth of Luc’s disorder over the past year. After suggesting that I sit in a room across from my own personal terrorist, however, it became clear that I had been in this fight alone and I was really nothing more than – a client.
At several points during this Custody War, I remember asking my attorneys to try and make the Custody Order as detailed as possible. I knew that with any vague language, Luc would go to town and continue to terrorize me and baby boy at every turn. I ended up being somewhat disappointed with the final order as it left several unanswered questions and had holes big enough for Luc to drive a truck through. What we ended up with appeared to be a bandaid instead of a real plan.
By giving Luc weekly visitation, the court was asking us to “co-parent” (all be it minimally considering I was granted sole legal custody). I was asked to share “critical information” with Luc via third party (i.e. attorneys) and we were never to communicate directly with each other. The court recognized, at least somewhat, that there was a physical threat involved with direct contact and that “co-parenting” in the classic sense was not possible. The court failed to address, however, how on earth we were supposed to “co-parent” given that communication was too dangerous. They didn’t cover this issue in the court mandated Co-Parenting class I was forced to attend (that Luc was able to effectively skip without accountability).
The supervisor for the exchanges has expressed that she will not pass messages between us, as Luc has already attempted to use her as his personal secretary on numerous occasions. His lawyer has dumped him for not paying her and my attorneys are sick of this case and want me to “go to family therapy” vice bother them with important information to pass (such as medical emergency and doctors information).
According to wikipedia (which I understand is not always a reliable source), the principle of co-parenting states that a child has always and in any case the right to maintain a stable relationship with both parents, even if they are separated or divorced, unless there is a recognized need to separate him/her from one or both parents.
(Note: As I am sure many of you who have been through a Custody War with a psychopath will agree, the threshold for a “recognized need” to separate a child from one or both parents is extremely high.)
I take real issue with this concept of co-parenting. The idea of co-parenting fails to take into account parents who are not capable of sustaining “stable” relationships with anyone – including their own children.
That all being said, I call this phase I am in “pseudo co-parenting” because its not co-parenting in the true sense at all. It feels as if I am going through all the motions (so to follow the court order), but I am waiting for the next shoe to drop because this is not reality.
What the court failed to realize is that it doesn’t always boil down to the child’s right to maintain a relationship with both parents. I think my son has the right to have a father who cares about him, is stable, and who capable of maintaining a healthy relationship with him; however, I understand that this is not possible given WHAT Luc is – a psychopath. I would like for a magical genie to show up at my front door and grant me three wishes too, but will also never happen.
The Waiting Game:
I received some legal advice this week from at attorney who has been practicing for nearly 30 years. She also specializes in cases involving domestic violence. I went to her for some advice on how to manage situations that appear unsustainable and how to deal with this new “phase” of the Custody War. After hearing my story, she said “you need to learn that you cannot ‘manage’ a person like this. You are dealing with someone who is dysfunctional at his core; therefore, any time you spend trying to make him functional will be a complete waste of your time.”
This advice seemed so simple and obvious. I felt a little ridiculous that I needed a lawyer to point this out to me after an entire year of feeling like I am beating my head against a wall to come up with a solution to this madness. This lawyer was dead on point. She identified after only a five minute conversation that I was trying to manage Luc, trying to make him less dysfunctional, and trying to make him a better father.
The ugly truth is that this phase of “unsustainable pseudo co-parenting” is maddening. This phase is difficult because while it appears impossible and unsustainable, and there doesn’t seem to be a playbook on how to fix the situation. There are a lot of things I won’t have control over. No matter how much I document and how much I plan for the safety and protection of my baby boy, Luc will continue to lie, deceive, and terrorize.
So, for now, I battle my nerves and practice my “grey rock” of emotions when faced with Luc’s terror and menacing behavior. There are many things out of my control in this situation, but I can control one thing – I can be the best mother I know how to be. This is going to be one bumpy ride and the war is far from over.