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Helping Children Heal While Co-parenting with a Sociopath

by Quinn Piercequinn pierce blog

I sat on the now familiar, well worn bench outside the courtroom, and I watched the strained faces of the people around me as I waited for our name to be called.  It was our fourth appearance in the family court due to my son’s unexcused absences resulting from an illness the school has yet to acknowledge. The whole process has been exhausting, to say the least, but it’s been made even worse by the carnival-like antics being performed by my ex-husband and his lawyer.

As usual, a situation that should solely be about supporting our child has been turned into another  Look At Me, I’m the Victim one-act play.  It seems that any captive audience lately has become an opportunity for him to perform.

Repeat Performance

At our last appearance, our goal should have been  to explain to the judge that my son is not spending his days doing drugs and trying to get initiated in a local gang, but rather, is home recovering from a well documented illness.  So, it was a surprise to many of us when my ex-husband’s lawyer blurted out a well-rehearsed rampage insisting that I have been preventing my ex-husband from seeing his children and they should be placed with their father immediately.

I shouldn’t really say it was a surprise; after all, this is a performance I have seen many times over the past few months, but the fact that it was inserted into the court hearing mid-sentence with no warning what-so-ever, was unnerving.  Luckily, at this point in my twenty years of dealing with this man, I am well aware of my need to protect myself at all times. Even though it is very time consuming and financially draining, it is a necessity.  So, my lawyer was also in the court room to ensure that these ridiculous attempts to back door a custody hearing, and whatever else my ex had up his sleeve, didn’t materialize.

Contradictions

What did surprise me, however, was the fact that my ex-husband was taking both sides of the same issue.  Minutes earlier, he agreed that my son was not truant and that he was suffering from complications of Lyme disease, yet, in the next breath, his lawyer was stating that if my son lived with his father, he would definitely be attending school full time.

By the furrowed brows and confused looks of the lawyers on either side of me, I could tell I was not the only one who saw this as a blatant contradiction.  In my head I was asking: How can you say he is sick enough to be out of school, and then say if he lived with you, you would be able to get him to go to school?  It didn’t make any sense.

Taking Sides

But, when dealing with a sociopathic partner, or ex-partner, nothing makes sense.  One reason may be his ever changing opinions and convictions.  Usually, his stance on an issue is in direct contrast with mine.  Occasionally, he will align with me if it serves his needs and puts him in a flattering light, but never for an extended amount of time.

Throughout my son’s illness, my ex-husband has switched sides so many times I can only imagine he must be exhausted.  What amazes me the most is his ability to portray himself as the victim even when his stance on his son’s illness changes weekly.  I suppose it’s because the underlying message he hopes to portray is that I am the root cause of whatever is going on with my son, regardless of what any experts say.

It’s a predictable pattern of accusations, blame, and outright lies about me in order to gain sympathy and attention for himself.  And, as draining as it is dealing with the never ending drama he tries to create, I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed those moments when his lies catch up with him and even he seems to have confused himself.

Watching the Lies Unravel

I often think of the saying: No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.  It’s a tangled web he’s woven, that’s for sure, but he still continues to pretend he has no idea what anyone is talking about when he is called out on those lies.  It’s disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Even my son is tired of the games and has refused to spend time with his father over the last few months, which has outraged my ex for the sheer embarrassment of having to explain to people that his son does not want to see him.  He constantly asks my son why he doesn’t want to go. I have heard my son tell his father (several times) exactly why he doesn’t want to visit.  It has been discussed in front of health care professionals, lawyers, and family members, yet my ex insists he has no idea why my son does not want to go.  Instead, it has been much more convenient for him to say that I am keeping his son from going over there.

Lead by Example

Fortunately, my son is old enough to be able to express his concerns and make the decision not to spend time with his father.  He understands, however, that his voice will mean very little to his father.  It’s a sad reality that my children’s health and well-being will always come second to their father’s superficial and selfish needs.

My only consolation is that they will not spend the rest of their lives searching for acceptance and love from someone who is incapable of either.  I’m very proud of my son for being able to stand up to his father.   I know first-hand how difficult it is to face an emotional abuser.  As important as is for me to be a strong and healthy role model for my sons, I’m discovering that they are learning quite a bit from their father’s example, as well.  Sometimes, it’s just as important to see how not to behave.

 

 

 



7 Comments on "Helping Children Heal While Co-parenting with a Sociopath"

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  1. Quinn – I so admire your strength to keep standing up to your self-absorbed, lunatic, sociopathic ex. What a nightmare. I also admire your son’s strength. Thank you for continuing to share your story. It is an inspiration to so many parents who are dealing with the same issues.



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  2. Thank you for this story, Quinn. It mirrors mine, and saddens me beyond belief that it has happened to someone else. I’m just shaking my head in disbelief. All 3 of my sons stood up to their father when he discarded us and began his public smear campaign within the community and within their schools. He was a respected and well liked leader and so you can imagine the hell we went through waiting for everyone to figure it all out, and how lonely our lives became. My oldest sons went ‘no contact’ on their father and remain so to this day (almost 5 years since he left). They had lived long enough with his mental abuse and had witnessed their mother being gaslighted long enough. The OW was just icing on the cake. While I continued to work towards co-parenting, and beating my head against that brick wall, they removed themselves from it all. Eventually they told me to just stop doing everything I was doing and let him go. It took my youngest about 3 years of visitation, and some growing up, to decide to go ‘no contact’ as well. All 3 of them told their father exactly what they thought of his behaviors and why they wanted no part in it. I never coached them or encouraged them to stand up to his bullying. They just did! They were actually healthier than I was at the time, and I had to learn to respect the decisions they made.

    The courtroom scene you describe also happened to me in that the psychopath and his lawyer consistently focused on my sons and me, and how ill and bitter we were, in explaining all of my husband’s violations of the parenting plan, inability to exercise visitation, refusal to participate in conflict resolution, refusal to attend family counseling sessions, returned certified mail with medical bills, and refusal to help with college expenses. The psychopath’s main meme was that I had poisoned the children against him and the OW.

    It’s been a long, hard road to travel, yet I know that there are very wise people out there who do not believe his story as to why he has no relationship with any of his sons or his former wife of 25 years.

    I don’t know your son, but I’m so proud of him, too. Keep living by example. There is no other way.



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  3. bgarbled916 says:

    Wow, this experience mirrors mine.. I feel a weight lifting every time I hear about someone else going through what I have because my friends and family are all gone, its just me trying to raise my kids alone in the aftermath of Hell. My kids mother acted the same way and bewildered the court the same way, contradicting herself – thank God – because if she didnt, she pretty much had the mediator fooled up till then. Its sick, and makes me sick. Im still barely able to hold my job and keep a smile on my face for my kids so I dont worry them (we have 50/50, week to week) – I know my Daughter is aware her mother isnt quite right, but she doesnt know the half of what she is capable of and she still wants her in her life and I cant blame her for wanting some kind of normalcy. Still, its hard and frustrating for me. Im drowning in my own tears. I live only for my kids sake. My X destroyed me. As strong as I am, I still have to face that fact. Its something I have a very hard time facing, because I am a fighter – who has lost his fight. My Son is Autistic and she uses him and his disability and those complications against me and hurts him just to get a rise or response from me of some kind now that as of the last four years finally stopped contact unless for necessity… so she makes sure theres problems and makes necessity… I cant win. God bless all who are victims, especially the children. God help us and give us strngth, if there is a God.



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  4. pricer says:

    Wow Miss Q, thank you for posting this story. It kind of makes the ocean I’m swimming in with my ex seem not as big and endless anymore. Unfortunately for me, my children live with my ex and I have to live with the fact for the moment that my children will never be a focus for her. It hurts to know that my daughters wont have their dad by their side to talk to easily like they used to or my son as he becomes a young man. I just hope as they get older their need to keep me in their lives will take hold and they will use all avenues to communicate with me just as I have done for them.



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  5. Bally says:

    Quinn, my mum left my dad before I was born. The stories she told me about him and some very rare contact I had of him when a bit older indicated he was a psychopath. I’ve only known about this disorder 2 years and he is now dead.

    She was in court all the time because he wouldn’t pay child support that the court has ordered him to do. Instead he raced Formula one’s, speed boats and dined fast women. While living in a council owned house.

    One day her lawyer suggested she tell him that he could have full custody of me and my brother. Because he knew “dad” just wanted to torture mum and win. He believed my father would then disappear. She was too scared to take that risk. Instead she took a different offer to court. That he would hand full custody to her and never see his kids again, in return for not paying any child support. He accepted and signed the papers.

    He didn’t disappear and started to love-bomb her again after the divorce. She started to see him again when I was 8, and introduced me to him. The relationship was on and off again a few times I recall. He did some terrible things to get her to go to him, such as secretly throwing paint remover over her car one night. An car expert told her that whoever did that knew what they were doing. My father had his own mechanic garage. She therefore said nothing to him when he called her a day later to see how things were, and got it repaired elsewhere. He didn’t care she was raising 2 kids without his financial help to do that on her.

    It all stopped when he got another young woman pregnant during this time. But he boomeranged back at rare opportunities over the next 40 years to let her know he still loved her.

    I hope that one day this will all stop for you. It is so painful to read your posts though I appreciate you sharing your experiences to help us all. You are a gem to do this. To re-live it to help others. Thanks Quinn.

    I also wish you find something to appeal to him that in turn lets him lose interest in you and your family. With dad it was keeping his money for his exciting leisure. There must be something that will work.

    Oh, before I forget, when he took ill about 4 years ago he contacted mum. His wife and kids had left him and wouldn’t speak to him. He asked her to send a message to me and my brother (we are now living at other side of the world from him) to call him. We decided not to. I only met him a few times in my life and, as harsh as this will sound to you, I didn’t want to get emotionally involved with him at the end of his life and then for him to die. My friends told me to see him, contact him. Not to have regrets. But I didn’t want the pain that it would bring. He never even sent me a birthday card nor Christmas card in my life. He called mum again to ask if she had passed the message to me and my brother. She confirmed she had and told him that he hadn’t had a relationship with us, it was a long, long time since he last saw us (a one hour encounter with him over 20 years ago) and suggested he write to us in the first instance. His reply was “whaaaat, write to them?”. Never heard from him and then he passed away a year later.



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  6. flicka says:

    Once you stand up to a sociopath (i.e divorce, NC etc.)a psychpath’s one goal in life is to DESTROY their victim at all costs. My ex even publicly stated in divorce court, “I don’t give a damn about the children” (!), so deep was his hatred of me. I represented the only one who had ever stood up to him and his threats/lies etc. But their hatred for their victim runs so deep that it can sometimes end in murder. Thus, I have been told by my attorney and psychological “experts” to go NC but this furthers his goal of emotionally isolating me; I have now become a Howard Hugh’s type isolationist. Surely, there must be a better answer.



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    • flicka .. I have felt this way at times, too. That the spath will stop at nothing until I’m dead. Not so much murder as much as wearing me down to physical and mental exhaustion until I no longer have the will to live. I don’t know how I came to realize this and pull back, but I did. We can not live in fear. It’s like dealing with terrorism, actually, and I did live in an area of the world where this was a daily threat. I learned through some basic training to re-direct my thoughts and live each day as best as possible. The terrorist wants you to live in fear and hyper-vigilant. The same has held true for the spath. I have told my closest friend and few family members that if I die by accident of some sort, to please investigate. And I leave it at that. There’s nothing more we can do but live the best we can, rebuild, walk through each day and enjoy what it brings.



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