Is it me, or is it wrong to call a seven year old with Aspergers a jerk? Hunter has been in one hell of a mixed mood the last few days after my busy season. I’m sure the fact that I’m taking some time off is making her jealous, but listening to her constantly calling him a jerk when he is acting up isn’t something that I respond well to.
I get it. Its tough to watch your son have a meltdown over taking turns batting in the backyard with the rest of the family, or being unwilling to finish swim lessons because the butterfly stroke is difficult and he is tired near the end of the lesson. But it’s wrong to say it to your son, much less in public. The main problem is that Son picks up the language and calls me and anyone that doesn’t agree with him a jerk now. You don’t get a lot of play dates when you are constantly calling people jerks for not wanting to do exactly as you ask. The worst – if I’m tired or frustrated I start talking back to him and that never de-escalates the problem. Only reinforcing the bad behavior. At least I am getting better at pulling back from the situation and just allowing Hunter and / or my son vent the way they are going to. Getting involved in the de-escalation only makes things worse with those two. Unlike my daughter, who like me, needs the love and support to help alleviate negative emotions.
Thursday was somewhat uneventful. Took another day off and watched my Sons baseball game in the afternoon. Talked a little with Debbie since Hunter didn’t show up until after 6. I think I ended up talking too much about Hunter trying to explain to Debbie that the visual calendar will work but as Hunter gets more into her safe zone of work she will continue to stop coming home early and rely more on Debbie and I for coverage – even on “her days.” Try and verify with Hunter exactly when she will be home before telling Son so he doesn’t have issue when she changes her mind like she did on Wednesday. She told him she would be home before going back out and then I get the text that she will stay later at work and be home right before bed time. That creates issues of anxiety and breaks his rule based world which leads to meltdowns.
Went to Target after the game and while I am getting everything packed up Hunter calls with the kids. I hear Daughter crying on the phone as she can’t see me and wants to stay at my place. I tell Hunter I will call her in 10 to talk with Son and he won’t really talk. She tells me afterwards she was yelling at him and he is mad at her so he won’t talk. She then goes on about having to work late because the Company is changing their outlook again. Oh look we are friends again. Must be the fact that I am truly just trying to get along with everyone and not focus on the past. It’s neither helpful or emotionally strengthening. If it keeps a calmer house and the kids see a bit more of a family unit for a little while longer it will be worth it. Especially since it will end again for a while after the meeting with the attorney next week.
Friday I volunteered to help Hunter out since she was “stuck in traffic and wasn’t sure she would get up to my daughter’s school in time.” I worked from home and had a great, but long client meeting in the morning, so I texted her to let her know I could help out this Friday. Talking with her on the phone after my Chiro appt –
– So you got my message?
– Yes, that’s why I am calling you back.
– Any thoughts? Do you want me to help out and pick up Daughter?
– I don’t need your help. I may just be a little late getting there with Good Friday traffic.
– Ok. I have nothing going on tonight. I can easily pick Daughter up since I am almost there anyways coming back from my Chiro appt.
– Well if you have nothing to do anyways, you can pick up Daughter and start dinner. I need to go to Costco and buy a TV, so if you could start dinner that way the kids don’t have their routine disrupted I am sure they would appreciate it.
– Sounds good. I will see you when you get home.
– See you then.
I love the way she uses language. She never needs help; everything is always for the kids. A typical mindset for a high functioning BPD. If there is a perceived imperfection then the whole person is worthless. Splitting at its finest. I tell myself I get to spend time with the kids and I had nothing else to do anyways. I don’t know anyone down here to hang with and I’m not ready to date. Playing with my Son & Daughter are a good use of my time.
After picking Daughter up and playing in the backyard, and yet another blow up over Son not willing to let anyone else bat, we finish dinner and Hunter is putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Son asks me how long I am going to stay. I ask him what would he prefer. He tells me he loves me and has had a great time seeing me, playing ball, and eating dinner with him but he would prefer I leave before the movie. I get it. I am a distraction to the movie night and out of his routine. I tell him thank you for asking so nicely and that I would leave in a few minutes. Hunter overhears and rips him a new one. He flees up the stairs.
I tell her it’s ok. I’m not mad and I am learning to accept my place in the dynamics of the family (not specifically identifying her issues since she neither knows nor accepts that she has any emotional issues – just me). It’s ok – I can go home and catch up on Dexter now that I have finished the Breaking Bad series on Netflix (loved it!).
She is angry and practically in tears, going on about how she has talked to him about it and its not right and I should be able to stay. I tell her its ok, there isn’t much interaction with the kids while they are watching the movie anyways. She isn’t happy – more sad than anything. I cannot understand why. Was it she wanted company? Is she projecting his imperfection as her imperfection in parenting? I don’t know. I go up the stairs and Son is sitting on the stairs quietly crying. I tell him its ok. I understand and love him, and that I hope he enjoys his movie. I make him look me in the eyes and tell me what my emotion is. I ask him if I look angry or sad. He looks and says no. See – we are all good. No worries. I love you – enjoy your movie night. I leave with a smile on my face since I understand there was no ill will intended by my son and he did give me lots of hugs and statements of love and appreciation for me being there. I will take that any day!
I have planned my weekend around the kids and Easter. Swim on Saturday morning, and Son has a breakdown over the harder strokes near the end of his swim lesson. She tells me I need to get him out since he is acting like a jerk and she can’t handle it. So I go to the pool and talk to him about getting out and then I get him changed. When I come back to help out with getting my daughter changed we walk out and Hunter is yelling at Son about not getting any more swim lessons after April. He can come and watch his sister take them since he doesn’t appreciate it. Since I don’t pay for them I stay out of it, and just assume that when she chills out she will recant her statements. I haven’t heard anything about it since.
She takes the kids shopping and I move the big screen and Bluray with surround sound. Finally, after three months I have a living room I can live in. After installing the iPod adapter and the mic to set-up the 5.1 I can sit down on a couch in my living room and feel at home. The coffee table has pictures of my kids and brothers on it. A nice looking rug and places for people, including my children, and a place for the three of us to play games.
I go to Sons baseball game and Hunter has set out a blanket for Daughter and a chair for her. I come up and sit on the hill right behind them and Hunter tells me to sit with them on the blanket. She offers to share her Diet Coke since she isn’t going to finish it. It is strange to see her act like we are a couple in front of the baseball team. She will waive at me sometimes when I am walking up. We have even kissed a couple of times in front of the other parents when I show up – as long as my parents aren’t around. Once she initiated it.
I hang out with everyone and play with Daughter as she is wondering around the place talking with everyone. She has as much energy as my son does and we all anticipate the Dr’s will want to put her on Ritalin as well. Not sure if I am on board unless it becomes debilitating for Daughter besides she is three and we don’t know how her body will develop in the next few years. She ends up face planting on the concrete right before the end of the game. Bloody lip, scrapped up knee, several tears. She snuggles with mom, then me, then sits on my lap, then sits on moms lap. No ice, just me dabbing the blood off the upper lip. When I see her after nap, she has a Hello Kitty bandaid on her lip and two Captain America bandaids on her knee. What a life…
After the game I catch up on Dexter while they all nap and show back up to Grado at 3pm. Daughter is still napping and Son is watching his movie. I take Hunter into the guest room for snuggle. She is hesitant at first, and doesn’t like the fact that I am grabbing her ass underneath her jeans and kissing her every now and again, but she starts to take it in stride within a few minutes and we hang out in each others arms for a little while in silence then we talk about the kids. It is strange to see her go into “no big deal” mode. It’s like when we first started dating except with clothes on. Those times afterwards in the middle of the day when your tired and naked and the quiet is over with nothing to do but talk about what’s going on in each other’s life. No uncomfortableness. Just open, easy going connection. This isn’t that, but it is similar. Instead we just talk about what is going on with the kids and her work. She never really asks me what’s going on anymore. She always tells me she assumes if I want her to know I will tell her (if she wants to know all she has to go is ask, but that part of her is gone as it relates to me – maybe she will find that part of her one day for me again or at the very least someone else). Once Daughter is awake, the moment is over and we dye eggs and play ball in the backyard.
It’s amazing to see Hunter in this light. She really gets into the baseball and can be ultra-competitive with me on it, although she knows she can’t beat me. Hunter has really stepped up her game in throwing with a little heat over the last couple of months. She winds up and whips it out as best she can. She doesn’t always have aim and I take a few on the side for HBP “walks to first.” She generally understands the humor in what I am doing and laughs, but she would never do any of these types of things in our relationship. She makes a comment about how much I enjoy this type of stuff – like she never saw this side of me. Who doesn’t like whacking the balls over the fence into the neighbors yard. It’s not like they are my neighbors anymore.
I tell her I always tried to find ways to do this stuff with her, but she was never interested in it. She just wanted to get drunk or go out “people watching.” I was the one who bought the roller blades which she hated. I was the one that signed us up for golf lessons, but she would never go golfing with me after they were completed. I was the one renting the tennis rackets and courts when we were on vacation and she never wanted to play (too hard, too hot, etc). All you wanted to do was go to the spa. Or horse back riding, but I’m not a fan. I would rather walk with the horses then on them.
She makes a quick facial gesture that seems to imply her visual recall, and I can then see she gets it. She wanted “the party life” when single and I wanted a more robust mature relationship based on commonalities as well as things we could do together and with other couples. I even tried to get her into Bridge once – I great old money card game. We used to play Pinochle with my parents and she was good at it once she learned the strategy, but she never understood the social side of these activities. Winning is part of the game, but so is getting to know your competitors when playing with them. Looking back I can see how the BPD affected her interpersonal understanding of things. If I were to get too close to other people or women in particular she would blow up. Like people were getting on her turf. It’s nice to have someone be jealous of you, but after a while it just destroyed all of my relationships. Unfortunately, her guilt destroyed the only one I was left with (her and I).
After dying eggs, I take everyone out to Chilli’s for dinner including Hunter. I pay. I always do otherwise she makes comments. I think I will die bouncing my last check decades before Hunter burns through her money. I also think I will enjoy it more although the arthritis in my neck is killing me lately. I can’t seem to get it loose or oiled enough to make it go away. No worries. I am sure there are meds for that when I get old.
After dinner I take the kids to Traditions and they are excited to see the furniture at my apartment. My Son mainly just to see that it didn’t disappear. However, he has a major meltdown because he wants a movie night and he knows he only gets one a week (on Friday with Hunter). He spends the next 45 minutes on a tirade while I am trying to spend a little time with Daughter and getting her bath time done. Son finally settles down once he sees it’s his time in the shower.
They both go to their separate rooms to go to sleep and I watch a little more Dexter. Wow – what a difference to have everyone sleeping in their own rooms for a change instead of me going to sleep at 8:30 with everyone in my room.
Of course, by the middle of the night Daughter has climbed up into my bed. A little while later Son complains that he doesn’t get to sleep in my room so I let sleep where ever he wants. The bed is too small for all three of us, and he hates my snoring (sleep apnea – I will most likely die by 75 at the latest), but he sleeps on the side of bed on the floor with blanket and pillows in hand. I get up around 4am and go sleep on the couch in the living room until my Daughter hunts me down and wants up. These couches don’t fit me much less the two of us, so back into the bedroom I go and Disney channel comes on around 6:30. Happy Easter!
I fix the kids breakfast (fried egg sandwich for Son and toast with jelly for Daughter) and we play at the playground until it’s time to go to Grado for an Easter egg hunt. We get there a couple minutes before Hunter and the kids see the Easter baskets but I tell them they cannot touch them until she gets her. She walks in and starts getting disappointed until I tell her we just got here and waited for her. Since she put them together it would be unfair to let the kids go at them without her. Besides my son is never that interested in presents. He just wants shows / movies and the toys he has so he can modify them to play out the things he has seen on tv. My daughter on the other hand needs to be distracted until Hunter arrives.
After the baskets we go outside and do the egg hunt. Hunter has hid eggs all over the yard. I get a little melancholy knowing that this breakup of parental duties worked so well with us. She loved the holiday stuff and I enjoyed the daily activities, sports, and social things. Now it will be divide and conquer and I know I am over matched. She will have more money, more looks, more time with the kids, and the house to utilize to her full advantage. My basic fun personality will not resinate with my son and my daughter is already moving over to be a momma’s girl. I have to accept that the war is over. I lost the last 15 years, and will lose the remaining days of family life. Nothing I can do in this state with the family court laws and cases so Mother friendly regardless of who makes the better parent. Even my attorney who is one of the “Top 100″ in the county for several years in a row is starting to let me know that she can get me better than 80/20, but 50/50 probably won’t happen even with an expensive fight. I’ve already negotiated a very complex and multi-faceted custody schedule that takes three 11″ x 17” pages in Excel and pages in Word to complete the details. Overall 35/65. Everyone talks numbers and all I ever talk about is time. I feel like I’m in a Abbey Road song (You never give your money, you only give me your funny paper). Ob-la-di, ob-la-da – life goes on bra’ – and yes I know that one is on the White Album.
Hunter got Daughter a bracelet making kit – Hello Kitty from the Easter bunny. After the egg hunt, Son is playing Octonauts and Hunter suggests Daughter build the bracelets with me. All three of us sit down and make one each. I really treasured that small amount of time. Daughter and I sharing the beads and putting things together. Hunter is having a good time and Daughter likes that she is getting total attention from both her parents. I keep the hot pink and purple bracelet and get a few pictures with her and I in our bracelets. It is sitting with my keys as I am typing this right now.
It won’t be something she really remembers, but I have the pictures and bracelets to remind me of the day. I look around my apartment and if it weren’t for the pictures and videos I was able to copy before I left there won’t be much for me and the kids in terms of mementos. All those shot glasses from all of the airports and holidays we went on. All of the Honu, All of the memory books locked in the office in Grado for no one to ever really see again. Divorce makes those memories obsolete.
A couple of decades of we did this / we did that turned into I’ve been there before. Amazing how we use language to politely convey messages in between the words. Her mom, her dad – not married. Not married – never married. Co-parents – experienced attorneys attempting to alleviate a high conflict divorce – trying to minimize the expense and emotional damage associated with splitting up with someone with BPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-social personality disorder. Attorneys never use those psychology terms since it is a professional liability to do so since they are not licensed to make that determination, the courts do not care about those types of diagnosis since they do not always lead to bad parenting, and it strikes at the heart of the opposing parties emotional weak spot prompting an emotional (and therefore expensive and emotionally painful) response via the legal system prolonging the agony of the case.
We have lunch at Grado. Hunter assumes I am taking the kids before lunch to my parents, but I say I would just feed them PB&J at my house why don’t we all hang out here. You don’t have to. I know but you shared yesterday I can share today. Besides there won’t be many of these opportunities in the future once third parties get involved. My code for her boyfriends. Again the use of language to help reduce or eliminate emotional triggers. All of the books say to disengage in these activities. Don’t change your style for the BPD. Instead put up boundaries and stick with them. Unfortunately, that also means disengaging from the kids and I am not prepared to do that. I can see she really appreciates having lunch at her house.
On the drive home, the kids are arguing over how the marriage ended in their own 3 year-old way. I don’t know how the conversation started but I perplexed by what I hear.
– Daughter – Mom was mean to dad 20 years ago, but has been nice since. Dad was mean that’s why she kicked him out.
– Son – No mom was mean like 15 years ago and was doesn’t love him anymore.
– Daughter – It was 20 years ago when they married and she was mean to him. She hasn’t been mean to him since then.
– Son – It was like 15 years ago, and she has been mean to him. And he has been mean to her. That’s why she called him stupid and kicked him out.
I ask them who told them this and Son gets quiet and tells Daughter to stop talking. I keep my cool, but I don’t let this go. After nap I ask Daughter what mom told her about why we aren’t living together and she says she doesn’t remember. After my parents diner when Daughter is in the bath and Son and I are sitting on the couch waiting for Hunter I ask him what mom said. He said he doesn’t remember, but I can see he is lying. He is rolling on the couch avoiding the subject. I tell him it’s ok. I’m not mad and no one is going to get in trouble. I just need to know what she said.
– I can’t tell you.
– It’s ok. Your not in trouble. See my face. I’m not made, I’m just trying to understand what she told you.
– She was just yelling and screaming and calling you names.
– Like what.
– I don’t remember.
– It’s ok Son. No ones in trouble.
– You can’t tell mom I told you or she will get mad.
– I won’t tell her.
– She just screamed and yelled and called you “stupid dad” and that is why she kicked you out and you were not allowed to live there anymore.
– Anything else?
– No mainly that.
– Any other names.
– Stupid dad is all I can remember. But she told us if we wanted to go live with you so much that she would kick us out and not let us live with her anymore either.
– Is that why you guys don’t talk about wanting to call or talk with me with your mom.
And now I understand why my daughter is getting so hung up on saying mommy is the best and her favorite now. If she doesn’t Hunter threatened to kick her and my Son out of the house. I am sure that is horrifying for a three year old. It also makes sense why the two of them have been so unwilling to spend more than the one night at my place. As much as Hunter wants and desperately needs the time away from them she has emotionally blackmailed them into staying with her. A typical emotional response to abandonment by a BPD, and dangerous to children this age. Especially my son with his issues. It also gives me an idea of what she is telling her family and now the people at church and school. Its the same distortion campaign she waged 11 years ago in preparation for leaving me for Chris. I’m mean and have anger issues. I make her feel small and keep her from having friends or a life.
Most people are going to believe her side of the story. I can’t help that since I am the one in Orange County and all they will see is a supportive mom doing her best in a tough situation. However, smart people who get to know the both of us will eventually see the truth. Her family won’t. They will believe the lies since they are supposed to, but not everyone will. Her sister-in-law and her family won’t. Hunter said they didn’t invite her to anything for Easter and I almost believe it. She had bought herself a few shrimp to cook for herself for dinner. A half-pound of unshelled shrimp isn’t enough for two people so I am guessing she had dinner alone. I have also offered to switch up the parenting schedule so she can go to singles events and other things but she doesn’t seem to be going to anything. I wouldn’t know if she did, but I don’t get the sense she is venturing out. I just have to figure out a way of combating the distortion campaign at the church and figure out if she has actually told people at work or not or if she is just saying that to get me to feel sorry for her. I am sure I will find out in May when I start hitting the streets down here and I talk with people about it. Some of the people she works with are in the same networking group. Maybe some drinks with key players in the area and I will end up knowing everything I need to know. And if she hasn’t said anything at least I can get a better version of things out there first.
After nap time, the kids and I go to my parents house for Easter with my sister, her son, his dad (notice the language conveys the fact that my sister and her son’s father are not married). Another egg hunt and way too much food and candy.
We get to Traditions around 7 and I text Hunter to come over and pick up Son. Daughter is staying the night and the two of us are hoping that by summer Son has seen me drop off my Daughter to school and make it to Grado before his ride picks him up enough to alleviate his fear. I tell Hunter to come to the apartment. I’m tired of walking everyone to the front of the complex.
She comes in a brings a small plant as a house warming gift. She spends a few minutes with Daughter drying her off after bath and then her and my Son take off. I hug and kiss her goodbye and tell her Happy Easter BooBoo. She says Happy Easter back – no pet names. I know she was uncomfortable coming over, but she needs to get used to it. I didn’t think she would be so upset about it afterwards. She texted me around 9:30 and said she had been cleaning all night. The cleaners came over there on Friday so there was no need to clean, but she cleans when she gets angry. I try and soften things by letting her know she can call to talk and catch up if she wants to. She sends me the pics from the weekend and tags me on Facebook on her Easter photo. I’ve stopped posting them to my page. It sends a strange message to third parties, but since I have stopped following her I’ve asked her to tag me in photos of my kids so I know about it. I hate when I get a message from someone about the kids photos and I don’t know about it. I am sure over time that will have to stop too as we “unfriend” along with relatives so that I don’t have to see her dating. That would just be aggravating.
The best part of the last few days – other than I have decided that I do need a few more days off this week although I won’t get the full week off like I would like – is on Thursday as I was starting to go off on one of my self-wallowing pity parties I stopped near the beginning and consciously told myself I did not need to feel this way. I could chose not to be unhappy about the situation. I didn’t have to go through all of the painful memories to help bolster my resolve on the divorce. I didn’t have to go through all of the name calling and blaming of her for the things she did. I didn’t have to hate myself for making poor choices in the past. I just had to tell myself I could chose the way I felt. The tears stopped. I got out of bed, and went on with my life with a positive attitude. It’s not an easy thing to do, but the fact I did that the first time on Thursday and have been able to do it a couple more times since then gives me hope. I am flexing a new muscle and it will only get stronger and easier as time goes by. I was even able to get a little physical with Hunter without any emotional upheaval afterwards. I enjoy the snuggle, she enjoys the snuggle – it makes life easier when we are around the few times a week. As long as we don’t do it in front of anyone else who might get the wrong idea it works for us. I can chose to love her and not let her change my emotional state. It’s not easy, but its a process, a mental muscle that gets easier every time I exercise it. Speaking of exercise – I need to start working out again!