The Perpetual Victim
I don’t know how he does it. It’s a skill he continues to practice and perfect, I suppose. What’s astonishing is his ability to twist any situation- no matter how absurd- into something where he can paint himself as the victim.
Anyone who was even remotely involved in our lives last year would know that my ex-husband reached a new level of vindictive, hurtful behavior. He manipulated every resource he could access including doctors, courts, school systems, and child services in two states. It was such a forceful and constant barrage of attacks that I didn’t even have time to collect my thoughts before responding.
And that was his goal all along.
Keeping You Off-Balance
The favorite and most commonly used strategy of my ex-husband is the surprise attack. He will always do his best to catch me off-guard, or corner me at in-opportune times when I’m distracted or not prepared for what he is doing.
He preys on vulnerability and indecisiveness. It’s a tactic that has always proven successful- especially with me. What he continues to fail to understand is that while he is incapable of changing, growing, or healing, that is just what his children and I have been doing.
A One-Sided Game
My son once returned from a visit with his father and tried to explain to me the bizarre conversations with, and explanations from, his father. My children are completely aware of their father’s character flaws, shall we say. But, there are still aspects of his personality that baffle them at times.
For example, my son was explaining how my ex-husband described what he believed to be my motives and rationale for things he thinks I’m doing.
The key word here is: thinks . What he thinks I’m doing.
That’s what was confusing to my son. He knew that none of the things his father was talking about actually took place anywhere in reality. It’s as if he is fighting a war against me, except that he doesn’t realize that I’m not actually participating. My ex-husband and his wife spend most of their time talking about and anticipating my next move, which would be more conceivable if I ever planned anything ahead of time. Ironically, one of his biggest pet peeves during our marriage was how ‘unprepared and unorganized’ I was.
It’s funny to think that he now pictures me as some kind of sly, cunning, well-planned enemy biding my time before attacking. Ironically, I usually consider my day a success if I only lose my car keys once.
Planning ahead is not my greatest strength. Not engaging in his fictional game of war, however, may just be.
Unraveling at the Seams
My ex-husband caused so much devastation in our family last year, that my older son is now estranged from him completely. It was a year of blaming, accusing, lying, and threatening me and my children, and yet, my ex is shocked that his children harbor any anger towards him at all.
He insists that I have alienated him from them, and that I have brainwashed them with lies and accusations. But, while he was playing this fantasy game of war, standing on every soap box he could find, and shouting through every social media channel he could access, I did…nothing.
I didn’t have to. Once again, he failed to see how strong, independent, and responsible his own children are. He treated them like they were young, naive, easily manipulated toddlers. More like an image of himself, if you will.
I simply stood back and watched his one-act show go down in flames. His lies started colliding, his actions became desperate and tantrum-like. His credibility slowly eroded.
Strength Overtakes Fear
And just like that, my own fears began to fade- giving way to a strength I didn’t know I possessed. It’s a strength that comes from watching your children come up against adversity and conquer it with a grace that steals your breath. It’s a strength that comes from feeling hopeless and helpless and not giving up.
It’s a strength that comes from surviving years of emotional abuse and believing in yourself enough to say: I will not allow this any more. It’s a strength that comes from raising children whose integrity and courage inspires others.
And it’s a strength that comes from trusting in the goodness life has to offer in order to find happiness and love.
It’s a strength we will all find on this journey together.
Happy New Year…