Life is actually quite good… but it has some really terrible moments… and they’re the ones I need to write about at the moment…

The kids and I found some super cheap flights to Hawaii… over Christmas….

So…. bit the bullet and asked the teen son if he wants to join us….

and…

all hell broke loose with their father…

because technically, he is entitled to have them from Boxing Day until New Years Eve.

He is ONLY entitled to have them every second weekend, and that 6 day period over the Christmas break…

I pointed out that I gave him longer at Christmas, a week in October, his wedding (not his allocated weekend), Easter…. These are basically the only times has has seen them…

As his time with them is obviously flexible and has no set pattern, this shouldn’t be an issue. He can have them over New Year for the same amount of time. Longer even.

But no…

He has to argue…

Because that his is need in life… the fight…

I blocked him on my phone – so he’s now emailing instead…

He told me he’s planning to go to Germany for Christmas. I countered by saying – well that’s great, you won’t be around anyway so the kids will be in Hawaii… No… apparently he’s not going if the kids aren’t going to Germany…. Umm, the kids were never going to Germany….

So he wants to stick to the letter of the parenting orders… Okay, so teen son will spend holidays with me now and you will only see them on the set weekends and that 6 days over Christmas – that’s it?

Oh no… of course that’s not it… He wants me to take the kids to see him when he wants to see them…

Umm, no… you left here to be near a girl you’d known for 2 weeks…Yes, he’s since married her, but he’d known her 2 weeks and moved 5 and a half hours away from his kids to be near her. I don’t have to drive them anywhere…

So here is my question… why do I engage? He only wants the fight. The kids will be going to Hawaii because they’ll talk him into it. Why can’t I break those old habits though? Why do I give him what he needs?

And why does my teen son now hate me once again? Because his dad is upset and that is my fault…

At these moments, I can’t do this parenting thing… I really can’t. If one more person tells me I’m a great parent, I’m likely to throw something solid at them. Because when they say this, all I see is my kids in turmoil and my teen son in particular… I see the tears and the heartbreak… and I know that their father is the one picking the fights over everything, but I have to take some responsibility here…. Oddly though, my son’s most recent mental health team were adamant that I shouldn’t be blaming myself… which is so nice to consider… something to clutch in those darkest moments… Because I see that I should have left… that I should have taken them and run so long ago… that I should have taken the risk of dragging them through the courts so it was documented… that I should have gone to the police when it was all fresh and the evidence was there…. I can’t go back in time and make him accountable.

And people can’t seem to see his manipulation… He says things and they believe him. Just like that. They believe the lies he spins.

I tell them stories to explain it: Miss 9 Facetiming him and saying goodbye. He says: I love you sweetie. I wish I could see you every day… but someone took you away from me.. didn’t she?

Or Master 8 – mummy, you have to give back my birthday money because daddy said you steal it.

The older two, it’s different… he says things to Miss 16 such as – wow, you’ve finally lost some weight (she’s always been thin)… or, this is why you have no friends (she has dozens)…. To Master 14 he plays best friend – how could you dog me, mate? I thought we were friends….

With them all, he plays on their weaknesses…

My son sent me texts abusing me – swearing, name calling…. identical to the ones his father was sending me… so I assume they were sitting beside each other on the couch, as they do, sending messages, laughing and attacking…

So how do I do this parenting thing? I want to run away… I am so exhausted by the tightrope… I can’t keep everyone balanced and happy… and when he isn’t getting his way, it’s always my fault…

I was talking to someone the other day about living in a country town. That everyone saw the nice guy and told me how lucky I am, what a great guy he is…. The friend I was talking to about it looked at me and laughed and said – oh come, on… no-one actually said that surely… as if they would!

Another friend I tried to explain it to told me that at least I hadn’t experienced real domestic violence…

He told me himself once: Oh come on, you’re being a drama queen. You should be grateful. I never put you in hospital, although I wanted to…

He’d tell me: the only reason I don’t hit you is because if I start, I know I won’t stop until you’re dead… and then he’d punch a hole in the wall beside my head… sometimes with a hand around my throat… smash the door down to get to me if I locked it… throw things at me… smash anything near at hand…

When we broke up, at one point, he claimed he didn’t have a temper. The house was three years old and the car was two. I pointed out all the broken things and holes… Over the next two weeks, he fixed them all…. so none of it ever happened…

We lived on a farm… no neighbours… no witnesses…

The kids still tell stories of what he did to the animals… I didn’t do the farm stuff so I didn’t realise… but they remember….

But no-one else knows… because most of it was mind games…

And now his eldest son does the same things… or tries…. and I find myself confused and frightened once again… I lose myself in those feelings and memories… I wake some nights unable to breathe… Some days there will be a memory and I panic… I hear a noise outside or a creak within, and it all comes flooding back… I run a mile from any guy who might even vaguely, possibly, kind of have a temper or any need to manipulate and control…

But I’m fine. Life goes on. I’m strong. Ask anyone. They’ll all tell you tiny snippets of things they might know or may have heard… but none of them really know… and you tell me there’s no such thing as PTSD from DV….

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