How a 30 second encounter can ruin your day
There’s no preparing yourself for meeting up with “crazy.” Fortunately I don’t have too many encounters with my coparent. He has the boys two or four days a month.
Yesterday in what should have been a simple transfer got messy. It started off with a vague location. He texted he was “in town.” I replied “where in town.” Turns out he was at the grocery store where I was going to stop anyway. I replied “brt” (be right there.) And then he replied “drop them off at the condo” (a half hour away.) I was confused. If he was at the grocery store and I was at the grocery store why wouldn’t we do the transfer there? I took a deep breath and texted him with “where are you?” And his reply? “At the grocery story.” Ugghh!
Next thing I know he’s walking over to my car. Transfer complete, or not quite yet. In the same voice that I had come to detest, the one where he gets defensive and lashes out at me, he yells, “I can’t take the bike. That won’t fit in my car.” As if I’m supposed to know what car he is driving and that it wouldn’t fit. Ughh! He got me again! Somehow I did something wrong and he had to bully me about it!
I replied, “Fine, I’ll drop it at his friend’s house.” (The one he was planning on biking with.)
What I should have said was:
I would appreciate it if you didn’t use that tone with me. You sound like a bully and that is not an example I want to set for the boys when they’re talking to people, especially women.” In my defense I’ve said that to him before in private while we were together. But in my fight or flight moment, I just wanted to get out of the situation.
I focused on my breathing. I processed the moment. I over-analyzed the moment. I had a PSTD flashback of the moment. I cried a little, did what I could to talk myself out of spending any time thinking about him, and for my two hour drive home listened to a podcast, like I usually do, to take my mind off of the whole thing.
What I can do better next time:
Be very clear on the drop off plans (time, location, items)
Remind myself that he’s still the same person as before we divorced
Praise myself for having the strength to get out of an abusive relationship
Keep the faith that time spent with him won’t harm my children
All about me:
The frustration of not having control, of having to face your mistakes, and not being able to get your point across can be overwhelming. Even in a 30-second encounter. I’ve worked so hard to let go of my past with him and forget it and forgive myself. But when you’re forced into a situation with no backup support and two young men who are the most important people in your life as witnesses, it can be a bit much. Poof! All that hard work out the window. Regroup, relax, and reflect on the good. And breath.
The bigger picture:
How do I let my boys know their father’s behavior isn’t acceptable without dissing him? How can I set a better example? What can I do better the next time I see him? One of my main goals with raising the boys is that they are respectful of all people and especially women. I’ll keep working on that.
In the meantime:
Today I ordered a device to help me monitor my breathing in times of stress. It’s called Spire and it measures your breathing pattern, alerting you to sudden changes so that you can reset your breath. Clearly I have enough inherent stress in my life with a full time job and raising two boys as a solo parent. I’ll take all the help I can get!