The structures are not what they seem.
By which I mean, the professionals do not know what they are doing. Yes, that’s a strong statement. But let’s be real.
We’re all just doing the best we can on any given day. And just like some therapists are really good at helping certain types of people and other therapists are really great at connecting with certain types of situations, the reverse is also true of both statements. And it is really, really hard to deal with custody cases, abuse, and alienation. Even worse when it’s packaged up into one family, as it often is.
Families like mine.
Families where things are confusing. If a woman comes to you and tells you, “he wants to destroy me,” she might sound a little on the edge. Is she projecting? Is she trying to manipulate you? Is there any proof? So you might ask her what makes her think that. She might say, “well, he’s dedicated his past fifteen years to hurting and controlling me. When we were together, he would come at me over any little thing. Like folding towels. I’d be folding the towels, and he’d tell me how I was doing it wrong. I’d ask him how he wants me to do it. He’d set down his wine glass and show me how. And then he’d stand there and criticize my every move for the next 15 minutes. I’d ask him if he’d like to help or even take over folding the towels. He’d get mad. He’d say I’m selfish and can’t take feedback. He’d call me an ugly bitch. He’d start a tirade that would last for 45 minutes. He’d follow me around. I’d start crying after a while. He’d tell me that I was so ugly. Look at you, you’re such an ugly psycho. I’m just trying to help you. But you can’t take any help. You have to do everything your way, don’t you. You’re such an ugly person. It’s really unbelievable. Unbelievable. He’d go on and on. After a while, I’d start sobbing and maybe lie down on my side and cover my face. That would only make it worse. I’d be a “psycho” all night long. It would maybe end at dawn.”
And that was then.
Now it’s even worse.
But how is a psychologist going to hear all of this information without stopping you and asking you if he’s harassed you in the past six months?
And that’s what will happen.
And so you’ll bring it up to date a little.
You’ll tell the psychologist that since you left, he directs all of that hate energy at you through your kids. He tells them that you’ve hurt him. You tore apart the family. You don’t care about them. You never cooperate. You take all his money. He’s suffering. He’s suffering endlessly. He just hurts so bad, and he can’t do much for Christmas this year because their mom took all of his money. This statement comes regardless of the fact that he’s not paying child support because you agreed to let it go because you hoped that would calm things down a little. But children don’t know when they’re being manipulated. They’re too young to deal with any of this developmentally. All they know is that they love their dad and they love their mom but that their dad is really, really sad and says it’s all because they’re mom is doing terrible things to him. And that makes them doubt their mom. Start this constant conversation at age five and continue it everyday through adulthood, and you can really change a child’s mind. I call it poisoning the well. And the truth doesn’t matter. You can follow the parenting plan and over-cooperate and smile and pay for their cell phones and smile and pay for their braces and smile and let his mom have them on your weekend because she never gets a chance to see them and smile and do anything it takes to get along.
You will never get along.
Because he will never let you. It doesn’t matter what you do.
And so one day, (in fact very recently), you’ll sit in a new psychologist’s office after he’s been assigned to your case because your ex has sued for full custody again, and this new psychologist will yell at you for picking up your son at school that morning when the school told him that he was too sick to stay there for the day. It was his dad’s day. But his dad wasn’t available. And so even though you agreed to pick him up right away and take care of him until his dad became free, the psychologist will yell at you for interfering with his dad’s time and for violating the plan. You will ask the psychologist what you should’ve done. You will be scared of this man to begin with, because he’s going to form an official “opinion” that will direct the Guardian ad litem’s decision about whether you get to have any more time with your boys than one day a week. So you’ll want him to know that you want to cooperate. That you’re trying to co-parent. That you were willing to miss work and pick up your son to cover for your ex so that you son wouldn’t be stuck at the school with the flu but also so that your ex would have him the first moment he was available.
The psychologist will tell you that you should’ve left the boy at school for the day. Let his dad pick him up there when he’s able. And that until you can learn to follow the rules and be a good co-parent, then you are going to get it in court.
You are going to get it in court.