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VIDEO: "What is parental alienation?" Parental alienation is when a parent allows a child to participate or hear them degrade the other parent. This is not uncommon in divorces and the children often adjust. In severe cases, however, it can be devastating to the child. This video provides a helpful overview.
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Author Topic: Revisiting Past Relationship Issues During Parenting Class  (Read 544 times)
Turkish
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« on: September 13, 2016, 11:33:01 PM »

We're almost done with the series of what I cynically call the "Bad Parents" class.  We're doing it for D4. It's mostly good,  but a lot of the material is familiar to what I've gotten here over the past 3 years on various boards. 

Though I got to the site early,  I left my folder in the car. I figure I didn't need it.  Ex forgot hers,  and sent me out to get mine.  I could have not done it,  shame on me.  When I got back in,  I had just missed them taking everyone behind a locked door. An exiting T let me in.  It was crowded.  Lots of new parents and caregivers.  I gravitated towards a seat at the end of the table, the other side of the person next to her,  but she patted the chair,  "sit here!" Earlier in the day we were there for D4's individual appointment,  and I commented that her H was whipped because he told her that he and I had met.  She was trying to pry from me what we talked about,  and I said that I told him mostly the same things I told her.  It wasn't an aggressive conversation.  So here I was acting whipped.  I squeezed into the space between her and the next person.  In previous classes,  I was able to sit at a corner so I wasn't right next to her.

This season covered Reflective Listening.  Of course it was familiar,  incorporating validation,  empathy,  and mirroring (the good kind). I was going to mention SET, but this T is didactic compared to the one who facilitated the last series we took for S6. I almost want to ask why she asks us to write our names on cards,  because in 5 weeks,  she's only called one person by name. 

She started counting the people in the room,  saying,  "we're going to do this exercise," and I cringed.  Of course I got paired with my ex.  Sure, I can shut down and walk away (it's better than getting punched like her H), but I was always accused of being the bad communicator.  As an old timer used to tell me,  just "bumping the gums" isn't necessarily useful.  This was,  of course,  the point of the exercise,  to teach Reflective Listening to the parents vis-a-vis our kids, a mostly preschool cohort in this instance. 

I was the first to turn my chair (I was listening to the directions, and I sensed hesitation in the room.  Others began turning their chairs,  my ex was slower. She smiled self consciously and said,  "you go first." I said,  "no,  it's ok,  you go." In part,  I wanted to practice what I've learned here.  She still insisted I go,  she was nervous. 

I related in 30 seconds my day,  saying that I was frustrated that while I wanted to get there early,  my boss came to me with a task no one else in the group could do,  and I had no choice,  though even through rush hour traffic,  I did end up getting there on time.  She started off ok,  "I'm sorry that you felt frustrated... ." and she laughed nervously,  not knowing what to say next. 

In a positive tone,  I said something like,  "you seem a little nervous,  maybe at a loss of what to say next.  It's understandable given that these are new tools that we're trying out to help communicate better with the kids." She didn't say anything, so I violated the RL and took the opportunity to bring up the past (maybe shame on me here). I finished with,  "there,  I just did it. " Probably arrogant on my part.  She looked confused.

I said,  "this is what happened in our r/s, the lack of RL. I'd be talking to you,  and this still happens sometimes when we're on the phone,  and you start going 'ok, uh-huh, ok, yeah' and it signals to me that you're done [I didn't go more negative and say,  "you got what you needed,  and at that point you're done"]. Like in our r/s when you'd turn to the tv, or to a magazine while I was still talking." She said,  "I think I do this with H. He says something like this.  But this is what I always meant,  that you were listening to me in order to do x, not really listening to what I was feeling!"

Eh? So she shut me down,  didn't even attempt to RL, SET (except where she briefly related it back to her marriage problems), and turned it back to her.  Fail. The exercise was over and the class went on. 

I don't know what I was expecting.  Maybe I was a little arrogant,  and I was certainly expecting more than could be worked out in a few minutes.  I probably felt angry while she didn't.  I felt my T on my shoulder,  whispering in my ear what he told me over two years ago,  "I sense a lot of your anger stems from expecting her to be who she is not." And,  "you were just a bad match." Good luck to her H if they are,  but I'll take freedom and lingering frustration over constant belittling (by verbal and emotional abuse) and certainly getting punched any day.  I guess the thing we have in common is both being sent to therapy. 
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2016, 09:22:58 AM »

Hey Turkish   Smiling (click to insert in post)

Eh? So she shut me down,  didn't even attempt to RL, SET (except where she briefly related it back to her marriage problems), and turned it back to her.  Fail. The exercise was over and the class went on. 
Yes I think she did convey that she was more interested in having a conversation than practicing her skills with that response. From this episode it seems like you were taking the class and the exercise a bit more seriously than she was. To be fair, doing the E portion of SET (I'm guessing RL would fit in here) can be pretty tough and expecting a BP to do it seems quite a tall order. I think one of the intentions of DBT (please correct me if I've got this wrong) is to actually try to teach management skills to the BP--and DBT takes quite a long time.   

I also think you're right that she wasn't "correct" in that response she gave when starting to converse about her behaviour with her husband. I think that's also consistent with her having difficulty staying on the exercise.

I don't know what I was expecting.  Maybe I was a little arrogant,  and I was certainly expecting more than could be worked out in a few minutes. 
I think it's not really clear what you were expecting too. Perhaps you were more not very patient than arrogant. I do think you're way more accustomed to the tools than she is. I strongly doubt SET or RL can be taught in a handful of minutes.

When you mentioned your ex was being silent after you spoke, I recalled the recent conversations on the board about validation's frequent first action being "don't be invalidating". If one doesn't know how to validate, therefore "keep quiet" is a natural first response. So quiet is better than risking doing an inappropriate validation / invalidation. I think that's similar to your ex's attempt to deal with RL. I'd think such a person would think to themselves, if you don't know how to do RL on the sentence, keep quiet and wait for the next one.

I felt my T on my shoulder,  whispering in my ear what he told me over two years ago,  "I sense a lot of your anger stems from expecting her to be who she is not."
Your thought here makes sense to me. I think you were expecting quite a large amount from her than what she was capable of giving to you at the class. I mean this next thing humorously more than negatively, but it really helped me to reduce my expectations of my ex. It made things way more tolerable for me (to do the "right" thing afterward too).
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Mutt
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2016, 12:40:09 PM »

Hi Turkish,

Do you feel like communication skills were responsible for the demise of the r/s?

Let me put it to you in a different way, if either of you had learned the communication skills, do you think the r/s would have survived?
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2016, 01:19:25 AM »

 Bullet: contents of text or email (click to insert in post) 'bushels

You are right in that I was expecting too much.  I kind of ambushed her.  Part of me wishes we had the chance to discuss it in couples' therapy,  but she abandoned me there... .much like my mother did over 30 years ago in family happy,  to "fix" Turkish.  

 Bullet: contents of text or email (click to insert in post) Mutt

I used to think so, and part of this may be my rescuer/problem solver personality, t which my ex said I sucked... .I do well in my career of failure analysis though,  they pay me well to solve problems to root cause,  but maybe I have doubts in applying it in real life.  Then again,  I do well with the kids thus far.  

I was trying to solve a computer issue today at home.  I was going to erase my entire bowser history,  but thought I'd look back.  Not a good idea.  I found a Google search "I scored low on personality traits test." I took the test,  and I was OK.  But then I thought that she might have taken it for me by proxy.  I saw dozens (literally) of hair styles links,  and I know she changes her look radically in order to reflect trying to be a different person.  She looked far different a year ago.  When she cropped and dyed her hair blond, I suspected something was up.  A month later,  I got the first regret/apology, and she said she lapsed into the deepest depression she had since she was pregnant with D4, so that meant SI.

I saw some porn links and other sexual stuff. I saw titles to a FB page of hers,  "My Love And I," this would have been only 3 months after she met him and she was still living with me.  I guess me blocking her freed her.  Started something in July,  two months later,  "every day that goes by is one day closer that we can be together forever." Four months later she moved out.  I stopped counting my therapy dollars after $7k over two years.  I could have gotten new windows in the house.  A new motorcycle.  A schwanky vacation. A year's worth of food for a village in Africa.  I relapsed,  briefly.  

Then I realized that everyone close to her has ended up in therapy.  Me,  H, the kids.  There are restraining orders associated with both relationships either side of mine.  I checked her husband's FB page today.  :)espite my counsel,  it looks like he's taking the one down position and blaming himself for her criminal battery.  I was going to show him a screen shot of the RO she got against the previous bf. It never came up.  I'll let it be. I recently found it in a bag in one of the closets. I returned the bag to her this week.  Their journey their own,  even if part of me wants to help (strangely).

My boss,  who's known me for 24 years at different companies (a mentor who's basically seen me grow up since I was 20)  said that she's toxic. He said,  "Who's the common denominator in all of this? Her. But you have two great kids from all of this,  so don't forget the positive."

Reading the revenge threads lately,  I've thought of the day when I could tell her I read some of her communication,  and her journals she abandoned in my house,  one conspicuously on an empty shelf. What good would come off it, for me,  her,  or the kids?  

These thoughts keep me attached to the spectre of a relationship long dead,  and may damage whatever relationship we have now,  one in which she still trusts me to an extent.  What serves the greater good?  They which is doing no harm,  and letting the past be the past.  I slipped up in the class last week.  Maybe detaching means owning only that which I have control over 100%, which is just me.  
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2016, 09:51:18 AM »

Excerpt
Reading the revenge threads lately,  I've thought of the day when I could tell her I read some of her communication,  and her journals she abandoned in my house,  one conspicuously on an empty shelf. What good would come off it, for me,  her,  or the kids?

I agree. It would rub her nose in it and would it really register with her?

Excerpt
Maybe detaching means owning only that which I have control over 100%, which is just me. 

That's a good observation and I would like to add - time. More time behind you helps.
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2016, 09:32:02 PM »

It's hard for me when I realise some of the things I put my partner through. It's more difficult when I see that it's a result of me experiencing something with my parents. It's more difficult when it's not obvious. You're not alone with the parent overflow-issues Turkish.   Smiling (click to insert in post) 

I'd like to help, and I think you're quite expert with these issues, but something that helped me was a constant reminder to keep the issues where they belonged.

For example, if I was harsh in a way toward someone else, and I wasn't happy with how I handled it, then found that was because of something my parents subjected me to; then I made it a point to consciously remind myself that the set of events started with my parents, and that's where it belongs. It wasn't easy and it takes a lot of repetitions but I think it's well worth the effort. If you're interested in looking at this, we can PM!   Smiling (click to insert in post)
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Turkish
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2016, 11:49:58 PM »

In the past three weeks,  I've revived calls from first a sheriff's deputy,  then an Adult Protective Services social worker,  all about wild accusations towards me (and even S6 and D4!). They did investigate the supposed financial abuse,  but the bank put that to rest, and I was told that the accusations towards my kids were "of course ridiculous." I'm done with my FOO . My mother will become a ward of the state and likely be locked up,  effectively.  I told my boss the other day what had been going on (in won't detail it on this board,  though I did on C&H), and he commented wondering how I turned out functional.  He's known me for 25 years.  So I'm left with no family now except for my kids.  

I often like talking to my ex on the phone,  but not in person so much.  A few nights ago.  I made D4 angry.  She wanted to call her mom.  She left a voice-mail,  crying for Mommy. I texted her to say D4 was fine,  listen to her voice-mail.  She called back.  The kids were still awake.

Half an hour later,  I got a text telling me she had listened to the voice-mail.  She said she was sorry and that she wished she could take it all back.  Yet another apology.  She only started being sorry when she felt hurt. This is a year now,  where I've heard her periodic apologies. Enough. 

I didn't even feel angry.  I told her that we were where we were and that we needed to move forward and be there for the kids.  She thanked me.  I certainly could have latched on and "punished" her more,  but she realizes it.  No need to further escalate or cause drama.  She's got enough of that going on in her mind. Punishing herself will spill over to the kids.  I need to be strong and detached for them.  

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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2017, 02:48:23 AM »

Hi Turkish 

I appreciated your last post. I will probably read about your experiences with your FOO.   Smiling (click to insert in post)

I praise your choice to not latch on to punish her. It takes strength to do that. It takes strength to refuse to escalate or cause the drama to persist. I think there's compassion there when you chose to spare her of those dramas--there's compassion for all of you. Keep strong!  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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