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The Flip Side of Resilience

While it’s not okay for cheaters to rely on the resilience of children and chumps — it is okay IMO for chumps to find comfort in resilience.

So many good  people feel compelled to stay in atrocious marriages because they don’t want to be the one to pull the plug and leave and hurt the children. There’s no denying that divorce is painful on children. It’s not something I ever want to be flippant about.

But modeling dysfunction is also painful to children. They see more than we think they see, despite our best efforts to protect them. Whether that’s a raging NPD, or a badly lopsided, unreciprocal relationship, or stumbling across the affair(s) before you do — kids sense fuckupedness too.

We model spackle to them. They may begin to see the world in terms of the Powerful and the Chumps. And hey, it’s good to be king! If relationships are about one person appeasing, accommodating, doing more than their share — then a smart kid is going to look at that example and conclude — it’s better to be the Winner who gets stuff, than the Chump who just gives and sucks up. Entitlement can be contagious.

There’s also such a scary view of single parenting, at least here in the States, with much moral opprobrium, which just angers the hell out of me. I know so many terrific single parents, and I’m sure you do too. Hell yes it’s a hard job, but it can also be a rewarding job that turns out some great kids, every bit as much as the Intact Family.

One of the best things about being a single parent is that you get to parent your way, with your values. If you’ve been dealing with a wing nut, it’s so freeing to not have to parent around their nonsense any more.

Chumps who are on the fence to leave — listen, it’s totally okay to think the “kids are resilient” and take the brave step to end a toxic relationship. It’s okay to comfort yourself with the thought that they will be okay and YOU will be okay, better even.

You aren’t leaving a marriage to marry a floozy, or drink yourself to death, or quit your job and become a motivational speaker. 😉 You’re leaving your marriage to save yourself and those kids. Yeah, cheaters love to say they are also saving themselves — oh, how could they carry on with the oppressive bonds of monogamy without cake! Bullshit. They’re indulging themselves, chasing rainbows. Chumps, you are actually, truly SAVING yourself. There is nothing selfish or self indulgent about the painful work of divorcing someone when done honestly.

The kids will be okay, because they have you. As I say a lot here, remember, it just takes one sane parent. A lot of kids don’t even get that.

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  • CL,

    Another outstanding post. As Chump Son, I was thinking along those lines.

    But first a contribution. The phrase “the kids are resilient” to me represents “amnesia-on-demand” from the narc. It’s a form of “entitlement-amnesia,” which says, “I (the narc) set the rules here, and I can do what I want. Your duty is to obey/adapt/flex/make excuses, etc.”

    While I agree with your celebration of resilience, there is also a dark side to being a Chump. If you stay in there as a Chump, there are costs for the kids. Now, everyone has to make their own decision, but Chumps have to think this one through. Kids do see/sense more than parents think. Parents may think, “Oh, on one will notice my/his/her drinking….” Baloney. The kids will sense it even they don’t see it.

    I think the minimal thing a Chump parent do is to validate the child’s feelings. “What Dad did last night — yelling all knight because we didn’t have an extra light bulb in the pantry so he could read in his favorite chair — was wrong.” But Chumps, don’t kid yourselves! (No pun intended.) Many times, the kids in a dysfunctional marriage will compensate by being super-perfect. They take up the slack for a bad parent by trying to make everyone happy. There’s a classic pattern to this. Often, it’s the older kid who tries to bring home trophies and prizes to make things balance out. Frequently, second children may withdraw. Either way or both, there is a Chump-temptation to say, “Oh, Harold (or Harriet) is difficult, but look at how well the children are doing! And we have a nice house, etc. etc.” Be careful of this. Things may not be as all-right as those hard-working kids are trying to make them.

    Again, everyone has to make their own decision, has to decide when (or if) to leave. But don’t spackle or excuse bad behavior. Parents aren’t perfect, but they should be civil. CL makes a good point here. Rapaport does, too, with his “Co-Narcissism” article that I recommended earlier. A parent can make an adult decision to live with a difficult partner. A child doesn’t get to make that decision. Instead, a child can be little a little munchkin tossed into a maelstrom and the disturbances (yelling, strife) can have outsized effects. I think these are all factors to take into consideration, and CL continues to create an heroic forum for putting these tough issues on the table. Having a “pretend-happy” family is not necessarily a great idea, no matter how good it may look on the surface. And we don’t want to cultivate too many “pretend skills” in our kids when we are modeling marriage.

    My two cents.

  • Amen, CL, Amen. Like you said, we cannot model dysfunction, kids pick up more than we think or hope in these situations. And if we chumps continue to spackle and refuse to divorce, or spackle through and after the divorce (either stay in the marriage and pretend; or divorce but claim that Daddy’s great, we just can’t live together or we both are at fault or we both fell out of love), then we create a new generation of chumps–our own children. Or perhaps a new generation of children who do not want to grow up to be chumps once they figure everything out (they always do anyhow). Our children sense when something is not genuine, when it is not right, just like we did. They call sociopaths the people of the lie. If we participate in lying to our children and/or living the lie with them, then aren’t they living in that same hellish fantasy world our exes had us in for so long? Looking at the picture and saying “something is not right here,” but being unable to put their finger on why. Don’t we say that that this kind of dishonesty undermined our sanity and sense of reality during our chumpdom? Why wouldn’t it undermine our children’s? We chumps call that ambient abuse and gaslighing when it happens to us…. Is it that different for our children? They, as we, have lived with enough deception and lies, I say NO MORE, and they will be better off than living in a crazy spackled up fantasy world. Like you said CL, we are not the ones leaving to “marry a floozy”, drink ourselves to death or quit our job to be a “motivational speaker.” We are demanding genuineness for ourselves AND our children. We are protecting ourselves and our children. And we are modeling what is real, what is right, and what is honorable. Yes, they will be o.k., even if they know the truth, I think only if they know the truth. Otherwise, we chumps are liars too, covering for the abuser, and creating a new generation of victims.

    • I agree– I haven’t told our kids the reason why we got a D because they’re so young (other than reiterating as often as possible that it had nothing to do with them), but I don’t plan on keeping it a secret forever, and I certainly would never gaslight them by saying that “we grew apart” or some other nonsense. That’s what their father wants– he wants us to say that it was a mutual decision and to not discuss the real reason with the kids. He hates that I stick to the “grown-up problems” line and that I’ve told the kids that I’d discuss it with them when they’re at more developmentally appropriate ages.

      He’s an even bigger fool than I thought if he thinks that I’ll ever lie to our kids. You’d have thought he would have figured that out when I demanded that we get a D only five days after DDay. If I wasn’t going to stick around and support his lies, why would I ever lie to our children?

      • Absolutely Moving On, your approach is awesome. Some kids are simply too young or not ready to be told even a very watered down version of what their father/mother did, but you are not spackling it over either. My kids are “old”, 24, 20 and 13 (and frankly they were light years ahead of me in realizing something was very wrong with their father). Despite this, I did not share many of the gruesome details I learned post D-Day with them–and even less with the 13 year old. It’s interesting, because like you note, I have found that my ex (and his affair partners) complain only that I and the other betrayed spouses should not have allowed even the adult children to know what they did, to which I replied: “If it wasn’t too bad for you to do, it certainly isn’t too bad for me to say.”

        • It is absolutely delusional that the cheaters think that we will just say ‘we grew apart’ in order to cover up the shit sandwich. That’s the line my husband wants me to use too. Because it’s all my fault he had an affair of course. EVERYTHING is my fault. I’m going to borrow your line “If it wasn’t too bad for you to do, it certainly isn’t too bad for me to say.” That’s a great one for the next time he opens his big fat mouth.

  • Right on target again, CL! The kids were my bottom line all along; they were the reason I kept trying to make the relationship work even once the ex wore through my spackling a few years back, they were the reason I told the ex I wanted to separate less than a year before his second affair (he was just too mean too often, to both the kids and I, but he did shape up at that point, a lot), and they were the reason it was easy to decide what to do once I discovered the second affair.

    I could not let my kids grow up watching a woman be so disrespected. I could not let them grow up thinking it’s normal to cater to a bully. I could not let them grow up having to tolerate more fighting between their parents. I could not let them grow up thinking that acting entitled works.

    The kids have chosen to spend relatively small amounts of time w/their father. I’m hoping that w/so few parenting demands on him, he can be a somewhat better parent than before. And I use examples from our daily life and from outside the family to get some important points across that I hope the kids will be able to apply to their dad; that we watch what people DO, not just what they say. That love means considering the other person’s feelings. That honesty is at the core of loving relationships. That some people are flawed in such a way that we may choose to exclude them from certain aspects of our lives, or from our lives entirely.

    It continues to break my heart that the ex did not think for ONE MINUTE about what this affair would mean to his kids. It continues to create terrible guilt for me that I spent so little time and thought on choosing a father for my children.

    After the separation, I felt like I wouldn’t get involved w/any man to the extent that he would be part of my children’s lives, until they were grown, because my priority is my kids now. But my therapist pointed out that it could actually be a great learning experience for my kids, in a while, to see a healthier, more caring relationship between their mom and a man. So we shall see ….

    But it helps a lot to tell myself ‘just one sane parent’.

  • How confident should we be in the resilience of children when those children don’t end up living with their one sane parent? Many of us chumpdads have the added bonus of getting to watch our children, from afar, raised by the straying spouse and her fuckbuddy. How do you swallow that shit sandwich?

    • That has got to be a killer, WG. I hope you have some time with them, to build their relationship w/someone who does care about them, does consider their feelings and needs, and does live an honest life. And I hope your kids have enough strength and health in them to value that and grow stronger with that.

      If I were god, a lot of things would be different. ‘Cause sometimes life just sucks.

    • I totally understand where you are coming from, WG. This happens to chump wives, too! We are at a 60/40 custody split, so my ex and his paramour are raising my kids (with basically unlimited $$) on the other side. This woman has been in my children’s lives since they were babies (1,2 and 4).
      It is so hard that I know down deep that they consider her a second mother. Since they are still so young (3,4 and 7), I dread the day I have to see her with MY children…her holding them…them reaching out to her and her fucked up value system. So far it is more than my stomach can stand. THEY pretend to be the perfect family, but with MY kids.

      • Leslie, my heart goes out to you. What a difficult situation! I am grateful that at least my ex waited until the kids were grown before he split. I do have to face the possibility of the OW being grandparent to my grandchildren some day, though. And the ex and OW will have a lot more money than I do to spoil them. I keep trying to tell myself that the more people that love a child, the better off they will be. Still, it will be hard when that situation is a reality. I can say with certainty that what my ex did forever altered the way his grown sons view him. My oldest son might never have a good relationship with him again, and both sons say they no longer trust him. My ex was someone the boys just worshipped before all this happened. They have been terribly hurt by his choices. My oldest son told me he suspected when he was in middle school that his dad might be having an affair with his grad student, but he just didn’t want to believe that about his dad. I told him I also had suspicions, but didn’t want to believe that about my husband either. It was then I realized everyone in our family was spackling to one extent or another.

        • I kind of hate the ‘the more people who love the kids the better’, mainly because if any of the women who fucked my STBX gave a shit about my kids they wouldn’t have boned him in the first place. Final OW is closer in age to my oldest that she is to STBX. She tries to play ‘friend’ to them but is highly passive aggressive and dotes on my younger one because he just wants to get on with things and not have anymore strife. Older one can’t stand her and makes it clear.

          I really don’t think she loves either of my kids. I think she wants them to like her so that STBX can smile fondly about how great things are working out. But the kids remain horrified and when STBX showed up at a sporting event (first time ever, by the way) with OW the kids was so embarrassed. I could have smacked both STBX and OW for being so insensitive to his feelings.

          So yeah, where was I…the more people to love them. No, they both use my kids to put on a nice act but it’s still all about them and their Romeo & Juliet act. The kids, if they protest anything, are treated like their spoiling things by having emotions or anything other than sunshine and rainbows for the happy new couple.

          I just want to move so they can get on with their thing and my kids don’t have to deal with their crap anymore.

          • Nord, you have a good point there. I guess I’m being overly altruistic when it comes to thinking the more people who love the kids the better. I’m in a different situation with my ex leaving after the kids were grown. I haven’t had to face the reality of the OW in their lives yet (she is currently married with children of her own). After my ex left I happened to run across a document in which he wrote about his love for his married coworker (former grad student) and how he loved her kids as his own (they are 5 and 7). My son read it and said “If he really loved those kids he would not be having an affair with their mother.” It’s a really sick situation. My ex actually wrote “I don’t have to accept society’s rules, I can live outside what society thinks” at the beginning of the document. That speaks volumes to me about his NPD.

    • Exactly, WG. I had a lot of concern that I was leaving the kids behind in the hands of a NPD monster. Had no choice, though. She was moving in with the affair partner, insisted on divorce, and had all the stay at home mom cards to play.

    • I think that’s a perfect example of what’s completely wrong with our society. Not only is the cheater NOT punished financially in the divorce, but he/she ends up getting the kids as the custodial parent. That’s just wrong. I don’t see how a judge can separate an adult’s lack of morality and inability to be a role model with his/her role as a parent. To me, those things are inseparable. You can’t be a good parent if you’re a shit otherwise. I don’t care what people say– any “good” parenting that you show while you’re cheating is merely for show. “Look, AP! Aren’t I a great mom/dad? Look at how much I dote on my kids! I hope you’re enjoying this fantasy because it’s not going to last!”

      I’m sorry, WG. I hope that your kids eventually see the forest for the trees and realize exactly what their mother and her POS are. All you can do is take the high road and be there for them. They’re really going to need you. People that selfish can only be “sparkly” for so long.

  • CL, what an outstanding post – truth, reality, wisdom, understanding, compassion, hope – you encompassed it all.
    Many thanks!

  • Brava,CL! This post is definitely in my top three!

    My mother divorced my psycho, narc father in 1970 in southern Indiana, AND we are Jewish. In other words, it never happened. However, it was the bravest, most courageous thing she could’ve done for herself and me. Although there were three of us, (kids) there was a big age gap between the older two and me, and they were out of that hell hole house by then.

    My father had had a debilitating, life-threatening illness from which he was recovering, but he was good and crazy (womanizing too, of course) long before that happened, and now he was downright homicidal and I am not exaggerating in the slightest. He threatened to kill us, and from as long as I can remember, would capriciously beat me to within an inch of my life, too many times to count… Once when my mom finally intervened he broke her nose and then came the ensuing “honeymoon.” Classic. There was no such thing as child protective services in those days however, often, I had my hand on the phone, (I was 13) ready to call the cops, but something always stopped me because I was afraid that they would take me from my mother.

    The next three years of my life after he left were the best years barring none. My mother lost nearly every friend, but we moved to Madison WI for a fresh start (she was getting her master’s in social work) where I began my “ballet career” (it peeked at 17) and I will be eternally grateful for her having the courage to face the reality that was her life. It is one of the primary reason that I write on this and some other blogs… No one should live under the tyranny of an abusive monster. And abuse can take many, many shapes.

    It is NEVER better for the children to stay with someone abusive and of course, cheating is one form of abuse.

    I am going for my EMDR consult. I have had tons of therapy… years and years of it… but I never imagined that my husband could’ve ever done what he did. He was the exact opposite of my father.

      • thanks honey. The therapist made me wanna barf. I would say something and she would put on this what appeared to me as over-the-top fake sympathy/empathy complete with sound effects over and over and over… wtf? And this initial “consult” was 325 and I got the impression that this was going to take a while. Why do they do that? I don’t charge a dime for my initial consults as an interior designer. So, she’s history. Insurance only pays for 80% as I’ve met my deductible for the year. This might be a better solution:

  • CL – your recent posts have been amazing. Chock full of advice for anyone living through this stuff.

    My stbx is an NPD. Unfortunately I didn’t know that until I went to counseling by myself when I found out about the OW. He refused, but I was doing the pick me dance twirling in spackle.

    One day I saw an interaction between my two kids. The oldest was bullying his little brother. He was using the same tactics as his dad. His little brother was doing the same thing that I did. Trying to please and taking full responsibility for something that wasn’t his fault. They were 12 and 8.

    That was a major wake up call. It played a major part in my decision to leave. There was no way I wanted them to grow up thinking that this was normal.

    I had them in counseling and their therapist actually told me that she believes they have adjusted to the separation, new school, new neighborhood and living with grandmom. Big adjustments indeed. They are also much happier because mom and dad don’t fight anymore. They are happier because they can relax in their new home.

    I do however have to tell them when they start behaving the same way as stbx and I did. The oldest is now 15, his brother will be 12. I still see the bullying and the spackling. Its amazing to me that these things can be learned at such a young age. My hope is to break the cycle.

    Single parenting has its ups and downs. But believe me, the three of us are better off on our own than living with the strife. Staying together for the sake of the kids IMO is not worth it.

    • Wow, Margo. Good for you! To see that dynamic and intervene and change it, and to get the kids in therapy. I’m so glad to hear you’re all doing so well. 🙂

    • I need to get my kids in counseling. Sometimes I think they are handling the whole divorce thing so well and then other times they cry in the bathroom and say they miss Daddy so much. (9 year old daughter did that last night. I wanted to get in the car and find my miserable POS of a husband and run him down.)

  • I’m liking this tone, CL. A little more philosophical–it doesn’t churn the angry feelings quite so much (at least not in me).

    A friend recounted a story about a work project the other day. She said, “Boy. What I’m noticing is that if my numbers or calculations are off, even by the slightest margin, from the beginning—I am so screwed for the rest of the project. I may even lose my job if I don’t stay on top of the details.”

    It hit me–and I said….”That’s like life, don’t you think?” She said, “yeah, but in life, you get second chances sometimes.”

    I said, “Never with kids.”

    There aren’t do-overs, or second chances or make up exams with raising kids. YES–there are problems, difficulties and circumstances that are otherwise unforeseen that come into the equation—but if people (MEN AND WOMEN) thought half as much about the decision to reproduce and raise children as they do a PROJECT at work–I’m not at all certain that we’d have as many fucked up individuals as we have now.

    All of those lame “make lemonade out of lemons” bullshit platitudes do not justify staying in a relationship that is clearly toxic, PARTICULARLY if there are children involved.

    My daughter may have to experience my STBX and his bevy of women through that revolving door he calls a romantic life….but I am going to be the sane parent.

    One other thing that is bothering me about a couple of the comments—obsessing about what my STBX and his OW(en) are doing with my kids, isn’t productive, either. I may make my skin crawl to think about what might happen, but to a very large degree, I can’t control them and I can’t control my kids’ actions towards them.

    If my daughter sees an OW (and is it considered OW if the person he’s with isn’t the person that he cheated originally on me with?) as a sane person and she at least tries to be a sane person, then I have to step back from that. I’m not going to waste my precious time and energy policing his life. Did that, done that, been there.

    My daughter will have me. She will be able to come to me and bounce things that don’t seem quite right to her. And when the time comes, and she asks me point blank why her father and I are not together? As long as she’s old enough to understand, I will tell her the truth and allow her to make her own judgements. If she hates him, then that is her choice. If she still loves him and the OW…that is her choice too and I love her anyway.

    Jealousy is a waste of time. Paying all kinds of attention to the OW/OM and their activities around the kids is relevant, IMHO, when those people are behaving badly.

    But back to the point at hand—I saw things in my STBX that I should have known not to have kids with him. Let alone marry him. But I wanted the charming, handsome quarterback that always got the cheerleader and I was the chubby geek with the big brain. It was MY low self esteem that allowed him to behave the way that he wanted, walking all over me—because I wanted to be with him and believe his lies.

    I knew there were problems early on, I caught him with the neighbor woman “Just helping her out” and hiding her from me. When I chose to get pregnant, it was in hopes that it would change him.

    Bad decisions abound, on both sides. Now my daughter gets to suffer for the atrocious decisions that we both made—his philandering and my putting up with his bullshit.

    I wish that people had to go through a year of weekly counseling, apply for a temporary permit and then be licensed before they can reproduce. Like they do with the high school kids nowadays, and make them take care of a “baby” for the school term.

    • Those are some great insights, Solo. I like your approach of letting the kids choose what they think about the ex and OW and not wasting time on jealousy.

    • yes, I think you also have to get to “meh” about how your ex and their AP (or new boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever) parent your kids. Jealousy and worrying about it don’t do any good and you’re right, you can’t control what they do.

      I think getting to “meh” as far as your kids are concerned is much harder than doing it on your own behalf. Probably because you do love them more than yourself and they were just innocent bystanders in the breakdown of the marriage. And they do love their other parent so they can still be hurt by them.

      I believe I’m “meh” with my ex regarding our relationship, but he can still occasionally get a rise out of me regarding the children. And if he had some romantic partner in his life who was also interacting with them I can only imagine how un-meh I would be.

    • Great post and agree about pre-marriage counseling. I know a couple that got married maybe five or six years ago. It was his third marriage and her second. They went through a lot of counselling prior to the marriage so that they were both on the same page. And they continue to go every now and again, together and separately, to make sure issues are addressed.

      They have a very successful marriage and I plan on doing something similar if I ever decide to remarry.

    • This is right, SOLO. We need to really look at ourselves and figure out why we chose as we did. This did not happen in a vacuum. Many of us knew, on some level, I beleive, that this person was not right to begin with. But, we chose to go ahead , anyway.
      I know for a fact I did this and my kids pay the price for my bad choice. I think it was plain as the day on my face on my face. But, like an idiot, I forged ahead because she was so good looking(almost as good looking as me, if you can believe it).

  • I agree, CL. I find comfort in the resiliancy of kids. Growing up, I knew many kids from divorced homes. Most were fine.

    “You aren’t leaving a marriage to marry a floozy…etc. You’re leaving your marriage to save yourself and those kids. ”

    Damn straight. It was an agonizing decision, but I am doing it so my kids will still have an emotionally-functional mother (and so they won’t be subjected to my STBX’s temper all the time). I’m leaving my narc-cheater because I *have* to. It’s like he was taking-taking-taking, and using me all up. I was almost all the way gone. Sucking the life out of me. A real-life vampire. I didn’t have energy, other than surviving the day-to-day. If I would have stayed, I likely wouldn’t have even had the energy for my kids, either, eventually. I am greatly looking forward to rebuilding my life, where I don’t have a narc-parasite sucking the goodwill out of me.

    CL said – “There’s also such a scary view of single parenting…”

    True. Less stigma than there used to be, though, which is good. In my case, it was *me* who was scared of being a single parent. I hadn’t planned on raising kids on my own, and the thought sent me into a tailspin. But THEN I thought about it, and realized that I already *was* a single parent. I took care of all of the day-to-day duties of the household and child care. When the kids were sick, I was the one who was concerned, took them to the dr., and stayed home from work. I took care of the household finances, cooking, cleaning and other stuff. My STBX was more like an uncle – took our older kid (the older kid is easier!) to do fun stuff, occasionally. Occasionally – when and ONLY when it was convenient for him. “What’s wrong with me? Why is this so hard? I have a house and a husband, so what’s wrong?” Well, my husband is a narc, that’s what’s wrong. Every marriage has its ups and downs, but living with a narc is another story. The STBX’s negativity and mood swings were horrible to live with. Things were *more* difficult when he was home. Much more difficult. So, getting back to my point: When I thought about the actual circumstances of my life, it would be *better* to be a bone-fide single parent than to be with STBX. By far. At least his negativity wouldn’t be around, and I could live in a house filled with peace, for a change.

    As an aside, I think this is a good reminder to not judge a book by its cover. More than once, I heard married people feel sorry for the token single parent in the group. “Oh, s/he has it so tough, with no spouse around to help, so sad”. Not judgemental, just sorry for their plight. Little did they know that I, the so-called-happily-married mom, was *envious* of the single parent. At least they didn’t have to walk on eggshells 24/7 in their own home.

    I was already a single parent, for all intents and purposes. At least now I’ll have a peaceful home – no eggshells allowed!

    • I was basically a single parent as well. My STBX thought that doing a couple of household chores and babysitting the kids (and I use the word babysitting because that’s what he was like– someone I had to pin down and make arrangements with if I wanted to do something) made him a father. I was doing everything myself, and on top of that, I returned to work part-time, so I was physically exhausted. Add his parasitic vampirism (both great images, BTW), and I was depleted, period. I have so much more energy and feel better– I had so much anxiety that I was exhibiting physical symptoms, and I thought for sure that I had some kind of frightening medical condition. Once I moved out… it was like I had flipped a switch. I had not realized how unhappy I was, but I was deep down. My life on my own as the custodial parent of my kids is paradise compared to how I was feeling in my marriage toward the end. The A just gave me the impetus to get out.

  • I know I am late to the conversation, but can anyone tell me how the EMDR counseling helped them ? My counselor has recommended it . I need someone to wipe my memories away if that would be possible.

    • It doesn’t wipe the memories away, but it reduces your distress at the memories, and makes them less intrusive. So the total result is feeling a lot better and having a better quality of life! It doesn’t work for everybody, and there are other equally effective ways to treat PTSD, but it can be very very helpful.

      • Ooh goody, and opportunity for a book plug for one of my favorite psychologists:

        http://www.amazon.com/The-Time-Cure-Overcoming-Perspective/dp/1118205677

        Book Description
        Publication Date: October 23, 2012

        In his landmark book, The Time Paradox, internationally known psychologist Philip Zimbardo showed that we can transform the way we think about our past, present, and future to attain greater success in work and in life. Now, in The Time Cure, Zimbardo has teamed with clinicians Richard and Rosemary Sword to reveal a groundbreaking approach that helps those living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to shift their time perspectives and move beyond the traumatic past toward a more positive future.

        Time Perspective Therapy switches the focus from past to present, from negative to positive, clearing the pathway for the best yet to come: the future. It helps PTSD sufferers pull their feet out of the quicksand of past traumas and step firmly on the solid ground of the present, allowing them to take a step forward into a brighter future. Rather than viewing PTSD as a mental illness the authors see it as a mental injury—a normal reaction to traumatic events—and offer those suffering from PTSD the healing balm of hope.

        The Time Cure lays out the step-by-step process of Time Perspective Therapy, which has proven effective for a wide range of individuals, from veterans to survivors of abuse, accidents, assault, and neglect. Rooted in psychological research, the book also includes a wealth of vivid and inspiring stories from real-life PTSD sufferers—effective for individuals seeking self-help, their loved ones, therapists and counselors, or anyone who wants to move forward to a brighter future.

    • EMDR has transformed me. Yes it is expensive if you find a qualified therapist, but I found it cheap in relation to the benefits I’ve gotten.

      It involves taking a powerful negative idea you have about yourself, “I am unlovable”, “I wasn’t good enough” or whatever it is for you, and through a series of steps you get to a place where you reprocess those thoughts into positive ideas- and you truly believe them and feel them as true. It keeps working afterwards. You find the negative thoughts and beliefs in those traumatic memories: the day you walked in on your spouse in bed w/someone else, sexual abuse memories, your mom slapping you…etc. You pick the images that won’t leave and reprocess what they meant about you. I wish you the best!

  • I regret not fighting for custody of my kids from my first marriage.

    My (first) ex is a BPD+NPD cheater+abuser. Despite that, as a man, it would be extremely difficult for me to get full custody of the kids, so I played the appeasement dance for years; it’s been 11 years now, and things have evened out just in the last one or two.

    I should have done whatever it would take to get her the hell out of the house and keep the kids: commit her, or move and disappear. But, back in that jurisdiction, proving infidelity or non-physical abuse is next to impossible, and even so, temporary custody is *always* granted to the mother until the final ruling is reached, after a trial that takes five years on average. (This is not in the US)

    So instead of fighting for paternal custody and going NPD, I was the sane parent in their lives, but from my own small apartment, still within the blast radius of my ex (whom I endearingly call the “psycho ex”). I lived nearby, saw them daily, kept them over alternating weekends, dropped them off at school, but still at her whim.

    Despite that, the kids have turned out well, and have learned how *not* to be like her, by having me in their life. For which I’m grateful.

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