You see it from across the room….blink (pause) blink (pause) blink…your laptop, your cell, your PC all let you know when you have a new message queued and waiting for you. Wooosh, you feel sudden trepidation…you see blink BLInk BLINK BLINKITY BLINK BLINK!!!! Your device is shouting at you to open it. You know it’s from the ex, you have developed a 6th sense, you stop dead in your tracks.
“Do I open it, not open it, is it an emergency? oh no, wait the kids are with me..can’t be an emergency, what does he want now? It must be something or else he would not have messaged…” Deep down you know what it is and for each Practice Wife the message is the same, “I am here, still part of your life, I will insert my will and disrupt your day (maniacal laugh) and you know you have to answer me”.
You do know this because it’s part of your divorce process. You have been cautioned by your own counsel that you must “Co Parent”, you must demonstrate to the courts that you fully support the relationship between the children and your ex, you are not an alienator, you are above childlike games.
What you really are is FED UP! Because most messages people receive are for work, advertisements, banking and billing and friendly catch ups from those dear to you. Your divorce becomes part of your inbox. That blinking eye, ever so watchful, insidious.
“OK (insert your name) gotta do it, Maybe it won’t be so bad this time, maybe (insert child’s name) forgot her homework and the ex is arranging it’s return”. You muster up, your shoulder up…OMG you want to throw up because you know it’s from the ex.
The Practice Wife has received 100’s of emails since separation from the ex. The ex has suddenly learned to communicate with you. The ex gleefully attaches on to anything that can be twisted, used against you as a means to what is referred to as “building your case”.
Even if you know this, there in the background is the fear of the “what if’s”. What if he tells the assessor that I refuse to return communication where the children’s best interests are concerned. What if the message is another nasty condemnation communication that you laboriously flag to the torture file (pet name for ex’s emails), what if the ex want’s you to know that he has called to redirect the government child benefit from you to him, what if he is letting you know that he and (homewrecker insert name) are off to Aruba for the week?
Deep breath, breath 1-2-3 slooowww it down (insert your name). This is a real problem. When to know that your personal boundary has been crossed and what to do with your meticulously collected torture file.
Rule 1- Don’t procrastinate, open it, read it and whatever you do do not reply. Take time to consider what the message is designed to do. Sound’s paranoid but many complications arise out of knee jerk responses committed in writing. Hitting the send button too soon becomes part of your legal process.
Rule 2- Never Never Never respond to an email upon returning home after a few bottles of wine shared with your female friend group. Tape a sign above your keyboard that says “the sun will come up tomorrow and crazy will still be crazy”. A not well written, incoherent communication is always received gleefully on the other end. Instead call 1 of your partner’s in crime and lament to (insert her name) that the ex has torn another strip off of you for forgetting to send (insert child’s name) thermos in the overnight bag.
Rule 3- Check in with yourself. So many people now know the intimate, gory details of your life. You have pictured the court clerk’s snickering over your filed Affidavits or the 24 year old protection agency social worker dissecting every facet of your parenting. Your life has become centre stage. Decide if you want to continue the encores. Not EVERY communication needs a response, by the time it possibly gets in front of a judge as “EXHIBIT J” it may just be filler by your ex to run up your bill.
Rule 4- Be a lady. As much as it kills you! Do not ever leave the path as a mature, well adjusted, balanced woman even if your everyday you feel like the fool teetering on the edge. This gives nothing to ever come back to haunt you. Sad but true, the number of communications shown to children of divorce by angry ex’s is staggering. The same lips you kiss your children goodnight with are the same that you must approach any communication towards your ex, you can still stick pins in the hidden likeness of him doll later.
Rule 5- Do not send every communication to your lawyer. You can always print or email the torture file that your ex is contributing to that he is inadvertently creating to destroy his own case. Take comfort in that. However, if your ex is stalking you do not hesitate in contacting police services. If you have warned your ex to stop and his communications continue to be abusive, legally you have the right to protection. Many lawyers advise against this, they want to present the perfect litigant in court. However, they are not living your nightmare.
The Practice Wife, if nothing else, is a smart, educated, confident woman. She is in the divorce factory for a reason. The Practice Wife learns to rise above, never hits below the belt, and sets her sites on the end goal, freedom and peace of mind.
Please write in or blog to The Practice Wife, share your story or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow’s blog “Taking Stock…”