In the span of a week, the ex said she hated me and both of the kids expressed their own riff on that theme as well. How do you handle it when your 17 year old calls you a “creeper” and your 15 year old tells you to “suck it” and actually goes into more detail than that… With the ex, I have grown to expect such insults, but it is always so discouraging when you hear that from your kids. I’ve written here before about how I always return such insults with love. Unconditional love seems to be the only “weapon” I may have in my severely depleted arsenal.
That said, with my 15 year old, I actually did come back with some Fatherly concern. “This type of language is ungodly and crude. You know better. You ARE better.” Didn’t seem to help much. I got more of the same, though a bit tamed down. I did email the ex and screenshot the text so she could see what had happened and she said “I think it will stop.” I seriously cannot imagine a reverse situation where the kid doesn’t lose his phone for a week. But discipline was never useful for the ex. Discipline may make the kids not like her as much as she needs to be liked by her kids. Besides, it suits her purposes to encourage the hatred of their father. They bond together even tighter with a common enemy. It’s been like that for 5 years or more.
Needless to say, there is a wave of hopelessness that washes over you after hearing stuff like this from your progeny. These kids are part of me. I raised them as best I could with my ex for more than 16 years. To hear those whom you love most in the world attack you like this is disheartening, discouraging, depressing, dispiriting, and just about every other D-word you can find… It strikes you right at the core of your soul and robs you of any confidence and peace. Which I think is the main idea the kids have in doing this. They are in pain and they want me to feel the pain as miserably as they do.
Combined with a difficult work week and some other relationship and dating issues, it made for a pretty difficult weekend.
So now in retrospect, what could I have done differently? How could I have handled it better? Not trying to pat myself on the back, but I don’t know that I could have done much different in the situation. I think the despondency that comes after these episodes is also part of the healing process. I have to allow myself to feel the pain and the wound. I can’t shorten it much; I can’t act like it doesn’t happen; I can’t wish it away; I can’t cover it with activity. None of those coping mechanisms work very well. Of course I can do all of those things, and literally have over the last few months, but at the end of the day, it usually works better just to feel it. To marinate in it for a while. To sit and think it through. Then get up, dust myself off, rub some dirt on it and keep on. Nothing earth-shattering here. Nothing to see here.
I wish there was a much better answer for you guys struggling through this stuff out there. I wish there was a three point formula that worked into a nice acronym that I could preach to you. There’s not. It’s hard. Hang in there guys. — Jim