Archive for November, 2011

Yesterday I read a post on the blog A Shrink4Men titled High-Conflict, Borderline Ex-Wives: It’s the Most Drama-Filled Time of the Year!  That mirrors what goes on in our lives every Holiday, birthday or any other special occasion.  It’s sadly predictable.

My husband’s ex finally got re-married about a year and a half ago.  We had hoped that might take her focus off of us, but what little reprieve we got was short-lived.  Within six months it was business as usual with her.  If anything, the remarriage has made it worse where her interference with my husband’s visitation with his son is concerned.

Without exception, the hobbies or interests of every man who the ex has had in her life have been put upon my stepchildren.  If the guy liked kayaking and boating, she made sure they all went kayaking and boating.  When she started dating a guy who liked baseball, my youngest stepson was signed up and made to play baseball.  Same with football.  Believe me, one look at him out on the field and you could be certain he wasn’t there by choice.  It’s been the same with religion.  First, they went to the Baptist church where her sister’s family attended.  Then a guy she dated went to a non-denominational church so she switched.  One of the last guys she wanted to hook before getting married was Catholic, so she started taking the kids to the Catholic church.   The new husband is into hunting, so suddenly my stepson must be interested and involved in the sport of hunting.  This young man is not, and never has been, allowed to have his own voice where his mother is concerned.  He is a soft-spoken young man.  Just turned fifteen.   She easily manipulates and guilts him.  These activities are, of course, scheduled to take place as often as possible on my husband’s visitation times.  This past Thanksgiving Holiday and my stepson’s birthday the weekend before were no different.

The role of step parent to the children of a high-conflict personality is anything but easy.  I have always busted my ass for these kids.  As the kids get older, it seems to get easier.  Perhaps because I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Two of the kids are already adults.   They know and understand even if they are unwilling or unable to admit to themselves what they see.  It hurts to see “Happy Birthday to the most amazing mother in the world” posted on Facebook when this particular son doesn’t even bother to wish my husband Happy Birthday.  Then again, this is the same child who at twelve years old we over heard saying to his mother on the phone, “What do you need me to say?  I will tell the judge whatever you tell me to say.”  This the night before a court date where they subpoenaed him as a witness. What kind of person puts a child in that position?

And then there was the time my oldest stepdaughter posted, “I am so thankful for my wonderful mother.  She has made me everything I am today.”  Being very candid, I must tell you I nearly vomited when I read that.  My husband and I are very close to this child and she is absolutely nothing like her mother.  I would rather have been kicked in the face than read that statement.  It felt like a complete and total betrayal.  Because we are close, I gently asked her about it the next time I saw her.  I explained to her that it hurt me.  She began to cry.  Sob actually.  She told me she was sorry.  That she never meant to hurt me, but that she lives every day of her life seeking her mother’s approval yet knowing it will never come.  She described it as “Everything is always good here.  I don’t have to try to make you and Dad love and support me.  But with Mom, I can never do anything right.  If she’s happy with me even for a few minutes, it is good.”  Isn’t that heartbreaking?  After all, isn’t every child entitled to the unconditional love of their parents?

A friend of mine likens the kids’ relationship with their mother to that of  Stockholm Syndrome.  I believe this pretty much sums it up.  Here is what one link has to say:

What causes Stockholm Syndrome? Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it’s likely the captive would be injured during such attempts.

It’s important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress. The behavior is considered a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse, and has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors.

Over the years, we have gotten great guidance and advice from a couple of highly qualified family therapists who have experience with high-conflict, personality disorders.  They have spent a lot of time and effort in educating us on how to protect ourselves and give the kids a “safe place” from this woman.  Never under estimate these people.  They are masters at lies and manipulations.  Experts at twisting the truth and playing the victim.  I am so thankful to see professionals such as Dr Tara Palmatier writing, speaking and educating the public about these issues.  We need to press forward with getting this knowledge into the family court system.  Not only so that the proper and rightful party is getting hit with the stick of justice, but more importantly, so our kids can grow up being kids.  Not little “mini” adults spending their lives walking around on eggshells, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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I haven’t written much lately.  Not on my blog.  Not on any other sites.  Honestly, I haven’t done much of anything lately.  Lately being the past 6 to 8 weeks or so.  In spite of several trips to a couple of different doctors, I haven’t felt well in quite a while.  That’s crazy, isn’t it?  With everything I have going on in my life, I don’t have time to be feeling bad.

It started over a year ago.  a dull, aching pain on my right side.  I mentioned it to my doctor at the time.  He deemed it “muscular” and sent me off with pain medicine and muscle relaxers.  It came and went from time to time and when it flared up I would try to take it easy for a couple of days thinking I had once again “pulled something” in there.

Shortly after the beginning of last year, I switched my Primary Care Physician.  At my yearly physical, I mentioned the pain that I had been having.  Explaining in detail how it varies and on the bad days can spread around my side, up my back and into my shoulder.  She thought perhaps I had a cracked rib so she ordered x-rays, but since that was also the location of my liver she wanted blood drawn too.  Both were done on that day.  I made a follow-up appointment to get the results.  No cracked rib; liver is fine.  Maybe I had pulled a muscle.

A few more months pass.  I have the pain off and on in varying degrees of severity.  It gets pretty aggravating one afternoon, so I take my self over to the convenient care clinic, asking them to check and see if I have a kidney infection.  I am told to go to the emergency room.  This to me is absolutely ridiculous!  Emergency room visits are reserved for blood, broken bones, heart attacks and such in my opinion.  I called around and found another walk-in clinic that would see me.  They did a urine analysis and told me kidneys were fine.  Asking the doctor what the problem may be, I was told that perhaps I was constipated and I should go home and drink Miralax for the next seven days.  I didn’t know what to think.  Maybe I was just really over-tired and this was just a “normal” ache and pain.  Maybe I was imagining it all.  After all, it’s now three doctors who tell me everything is fine.

About two months ago the pain became constant; sometimes just a slight ache, other times, more intense and throbbing.  I started talking to my husband about whether I should go back to my Primary Care Physician, or find a new doctor.  My Primary Care Physician had all my medical records and knows me pretty well.  It’s always a pain to start over with someone else when it comes to doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.  Back and forth in my mind I went, weighing pro’s and con’s, as the pain worsened almost daily.

Finally, three weeks today, on a particularly pain-filled day, I decided to go back to the doctor who was Primary Care Physician when I first moved to the area.  I had always loved him, but hated his billing department who could never get anything straight.  Taking a chance that nothing had changed, my theory was I needed to be healthy even if that meant I would suffer the aggravation of billing hell!  He saw me that afternoon and told me he believed all this trouble was coming from my gallbladder.  Gallbladder???  Could it be THAT easy?  Why had NONE of the other doctors thought about my gallbladder?  This doctor told me the symptoms I described were “classic” symptoms pointing to a problem with the gallbladder.  He scheduled me first for an ultrasound, telling me that even if the ultrasound showed no sign of stones or inflammation, that didn’t mean it wasn’t my gallbladder.  He assured me we would get to the bottom of this.

The following week I had the ultrasound.  It showed my gallbladder to be “unremarkable.”  The doctor’s office immediately scheduled me for a HIDA scan.  The HIDA scan would measure the actual functioning of the gallbladder.  A week ago yesterday I found out that the HIDA scan showed my gallbladder was functioning at only 4%.  This would definitely be what was causing the pain and making me feel so sick all the time.  I met the surgeon on Friday, and this past Monday, I had surgery.  Surgery took longer than anticipated as my gallbladder was twice the size it should have been.

Here’s the crazy part – even the day after surgery, when I was still very sore, I felt better than I have in a long time.  I am so thankful to finally have the solution to the pain and sickness.  So thankful to now be on the mend.

There are a couple of important lessons I have taken away from this experience.  First, I know to trust my interpretation of what is going on in my body.  I need to trust my instincts.  I should have either pushed my PCP harder, or switched doctors long before I got in the situation where the pain was severe on a daily basis.  Two, doctors are human.  Just like in every other profession, there are good doctors, bad doctors, and a lot of in between.  If a doctor isn’t listening to you, move on.  It’s your health and well-being we’re talking about here.

So here’s to our health!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!