Category: Flotsam and Jetsam


Monkey came to me the other night to ask me an important question.

She waited until I wasn’t distracted by one of my favorite TV shows, “The Walking Dead”.  However, she did ask during a commercial break, so I did miss part of the show.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m honored that she came to me.

Monkey is now 16.  Apparently, she’s been having some “woman issues” that has her concerned and asked me if I could make her an appointment with the doctor.

I asked her several questions to make sure I understood the nature of her concerns.  I’ll admit, my first thought was she is pregnant and I asked her if she thought she was (her boyfriend, while sweet as can be, is 18, so Hun and I have been insistent on chaperones and expectations – but they’re kids – they’ll do what they’ll do).  She insisted that she was not.  Other than being concerned that a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office might involve a needle, she was unconcerned that the doctor would require one.

Monkey is usually a horrible liar, so I’m as confident as I can be that she doesn’t believe she is pregnant, so I currently choose to believe she isn’t as well.

At one point during the conversation, my show came back on and Monkey pointed that out.  We weren’t done talking (the sound was already muted, but I didn’t think about it till later that I could have just paused the show on our DVR – duh!).  I told her that our conversation was much more important than any silly TV show.  I can’t be certain, but I think that made her feel better.

Towards the end of our conversation, I asked her if she had talked to her mom about these concerns.  She quietly said no.  When I asked why not, she just shrugged her shoulders and looked away.  I encouraged her to talk to her mom about this.  I reminded her that her dad and I only wanted her to be safe and healthy and the doctor may want to do some things that her mom didn’t agree with.  She nodded her head and we left the conversation there with me promising to make her an appointment.

This may end up being a battle with Jetsam.

Other than routine doctor appointments, she fights us on everything else medical related.

I suspect that one of the treatments the doctor will suggest is for Monkey to go on birth control.  Not because she is sexually active (although, she might be), but rather to help control her hormones.  If that happens, I am going to highly suggest an option that doesn’t require remembering to take pills.

And anything I suggest is automatically wrong in Jetsam’s opinion.

Once I have the appointment made, I’m going to set Monkey down and talk to her some more to make sure I understand why she hasn’t talked to her mom about this.  I’m also going to explain why I need her to talk to her mom about it.  Why she needs to be able to confidently stand up to her mom if she disagrees with her mom’s opinion, especially in regards to Monkey’s own health.

It’ll be an interesting next couple of weeks.

There are days when I wish this roller-coaster ride called being a step-parent was over.

There are days when I wish it would never end.

One wish out-weighs the other, but not because of the kids.  Rather because the bio-parent in our lives makes things so much more difficult than they have to be.

Last night, Jetsam called a family meeting with all of her kids.  In the 15 years that I’ve been with my husband, this is the first time she’s done that.  It makes me slightly uneasy because something like this, based on past experiences, typically means that she is plotting something.

I shouldn’t let it bother me, but – also based on past history – whenever she’s plotting something, it always turns out negative for the kids; which in turn, turns out negative for Hun and me.

Just a few days ago, Jetsam attempted to press charges against me for abuse against Monkey.

That backfired on her because the police that came to investigate ended up filing a family violence report against Monkey for assaulting me the evening prior.  At Hun and mine’s request, we asked the officer to call Jetsam to explain the situation, as we knew she wouldn’t take our word for it.  I could overhear the policeman telling Jetsam over the phone, after explaining everything, “No ma’am, you cannot file charges against Karaboo because there is nothing to file charges against.  Monkey is the one in trouble because she assaulted Karaboo, not the other way around.”

Hun and I made sure that Monkey knew that the reason we didn’t allow her to call her mom on the night everything happened was because we were attempting to protect her.  We reiterated everything the police officer said, that if they (the police) had been called out that night (which Jetsam would have immediately done), Monkey would already be behind bars at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC).  As it stood, now that her mom had called the police, there was still the possibility that she may go to JDC.  The report was now in the hands of the detectives and DA to decide if they wanted to press charges and go forward.

I was asked and I declined to write a formal statement for the family violence report.  In my discussions with Hun, my opinion was that I did not want my name formally on anything associated with this report.  I did not want Jetsam or her family to point to my signature and say, “SEE!!  Karaboo is DIRECTLY responsible for what happened to you Monkey!  NOTHING would have happened to you if she had not written that statement!”

It doesn’t matter.  They will blame me anyway.  No matter what the outcome is.  They will absolve themselves and Monkey of any responsibility.

Monkey acts like this entire incident is no big deal.

She acts like her mom is going to protect her and not allow anything to happen to her.

My question to Monkey is – if the person you have put your trust into has lied to you in the past, failed to follow through on promises and cannot take care of herself without assistance from those around her – what makes Monkey think she’ll come through for her now?

Maybe she ought to re-think who she’s placed her trust in.

Which is really sad and makes me cry to think about.  You’re supposed to be able to trust your mom.  You’re supposed to be able to trust your dad.  When that trust is broken, it affects all areas of your life.

I suspect that Jetsam’s next step is to contact Child Protective Services (CPS) against Hun and me since the police were of no help to her.  I’m not sure why I suspect this, but it would be the next “logical” step in her mind.  She’ll do anything to show that we are abusive, as she’s been claiming for all of these years.

I won’t be surprised to get a knock on the door and a CPS worker is standing there asking to come in.  It might surprise Monkey and Jetsam that I will not hesitate to let them in.  Hun and I have done nothing wrong.  We have nothing to hide.

My only fear/wish is that if that knock comes my house is actually clean the way I like it to be cleaned.

Cousin:  Why do you let her get to you?

Me:  What do you mean?

Cousin:  Jetsam.  Why do you let her bother you?

Me:  I don’t know.  Maybe because I view myself as a strong person and she makes me question that.

Cousin:  Exactly, you’re a strong person.  I’ve never seen you let something bother you like this.

Me:  Because she makes me question if I’m doing the right thing, if I really am being a strong person or just being stubborn.

Cousin:  Oh.  I can understand that.

I had this conversation very recently and it has stayed with me, begging me to explore it more.

Am I being strong?  Or am I just being stubborn?

It’s a fine line.  One that I know has blurred in the past.

I tend to be stubborn about my convictions.  In my mind, that doesn’t seem wrong.

My opinions tend to follow along my convictions.  I know that my opinions are not necessarily right, just my opinions.

So…..why does it bother me so for Jetsam’s opinions to rub me so wrong?  Is it because her opinions are so different than mine?  Is it because she speaks her opinions so earnestly that I see myself in her?

I don’t think it is any of these reasons.

I think I have such a hard time because I know she’s lied about so much, that it is hard to discern when she is lying and when she is telling the truth.  I can totally relate to someone who is passionate about their opinions when it is based in facts.  It is so much harder to respect someone’s opinion if you’re constantly attempting to figure out what is a truth and what is a lie.

So, why do I let her bother me so?

Because I want to respect and honor her as the mother of my children, but I cannot respect and honor her because her attitude and opinions towards me goes directly against my own convictions.

So, what do I do?  For now, I’m going to keep following my convictions.  It’s what allows me to sleep at night.

Continuing my current theme of Jetsam telling us that she is going to get custody of Monkey.

Recently, Hun and I were having breakfast together one Saturday.

He commented to me:  “Do you know what I’m most worried about with her asking for custody?  I’m worried that we will be required to pay for her lawyer and court fees.”

Me:  “I’m not worried about that at all.”

Hun:  “Why not?”

Me:  “Because court costs for custody cases are very rarely assigned to the other parent.  It is on the parents to pay for their own fees.”

We continued eating and thinking.

Me:  “Do you know what I’m worried about regarding Jetsam asking for custody?”

Hun:  “What?”

Me:  “Not a single thing.”

Hun (shocked):  “Why not?”

Me:  “Because she’s not followed through on anything else, why in the world should we be worried about her following through on this?”

Hun:  “Oh”

I went on to explain:  “She hasn’t followed any of the original court-ordered requirements for her to get custody of the kids back, why should the courts award her custody now?”

I pointed out – she did not stay stable for the first 5 years that we had custody of the kids.  She even moved out of state for 6 months.  She has only been stable for the last 2 years because she’s living with her boyfriend.  The house doesn’t have enough room for everyone to move in with her if she was to gain custody.

I reminded him that a home-study would be required.

I reminded him that the courts would look at the original requirements and find that she didn’t follow the original court order.  That she signed off after only 6 months, rather than going back to court a year later.

I also reminded Hun that she had asked him, before stating she was going to take us to court, that she wanted him to allow Monkey to either move in with her (Jetsam) or in with her sister.  Jetsam knows there is not room for Monkey in her home – so she was hoping to seem “reasonable” by offering up her sister’s house as an alternative.  If Jetsam offers up this option in court, something tells me that the judge will not view this as a favorable deal.

I could be wrong – I’ve been wrong before.

However, if a parent is attempting to get custody back – stating the current living situation is horrible, but doesn’t have living space for the child and instead tells the judge they can move in with a family member – I suspect the judge isn’t going to go for it.

Now, Monkey is old enough to request to live with someone else.  This, the judge will probably listen to.  As Hun and I have told Jetsam before – we’re not going to pay the court costs to go through the hoops for the kids to live with someone else.  They already live with us.  We’re already meeting all of their needs and some of their wants.

I asked Hun – what exactly are they going to say we’re doing to “abuse” these kids?

That we don’t give them smart phones?

That we don’t allow Monkey to have unsupervised time with her 17 year old boyfriend?

That we don’t give in to their every whim and expect them to do chores?

If we end up going to court and if the judge orders that Monkey is to move in with Jetsam or another family member, then so be it.  We’ll follow the court order – just like we have done in the past.  Until then, I’m not worried about it.

I’ve been thinking about my last post.  About how I confronted Jetsam in front of the kids.  About her giving up on her children.

As I stated, it wasn’t said to hurt or with maliciousness – but I’m sure it hurt anyway.  I know it did.  But I also know that in their hearts, the kids already knew the truth.  It was like a scar had been ripped open, exposed, and there was nothing they could do about it.

This makes me hurt for these kids.  I would never have done half of what their own mom has done to them.  It makes me ashamed that I caused them hurt as well.

I’m not excusing my behavior.  Maybe I am.  I don’t know anymore.  Maybe reading the following, as a reader, you’ll understand better why I said what I said.

All I know is that I have watched lie after lie after lie be spoken against their Dad and myself.  That accountability from their mom was dismissed and all blame be laid at our feet.

Recently, Jetsam made the comment to Hun and myself that it wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t get custody of the kids back.  That she was requested to do unreasonable things by the court – things she couldn’t complete, hoops she couldn’t jump through – to get her kids back.

Of course, this was said outside of the kids’ hearing – when it was just Hun, Jetsam and I.

Some of the things she stated:

  • The courts required her to complete parenting classes. She couldn’t comply because she didn’t have the money.
    • This was the first we had heard about this requirement. We knew we had to attend parenting classes within a certain time frame of having temporary custody of the children – but we were never informed, nor did we know, that she was also required to do these classes.
    • As a mom myself – NOTHING – would have kept me from attending those classes if it was a requirement of getting my child(ren) back.
  • The courts required her to stay within the county. She couldn’t comply because it limited her job opportunities.
    • We also knew nothing of this requirement. Court was in one county – during the custody hearing, once the judge ruled that Jetsam needed to be stable for one year before considering giving custody back, she asked if it was okay that she was moving that very weekend – out of the county we were in.  The judge agreed.
    • This move wasn’t something that was forced onto Jetsam. She made the choice to move to a location that was miles away from job opportunities.  Hun and I are both VERY aware of the location she moved to – we both moved out of that area in our pasts because of the lack of jobs.  Jetsam had lived there previously as well – she knew what she was moving back into.

I guess the point of this is to say, she did give up on getting custody of her children back.  She did not follow through on any of requirements of the court that I’m aware of – except for one.

What I’m aware of: this is what the judge verbally stated in court:

  • Stable home for one year.
  • Stable job for one year.
  • Get rid of the loser boyfriend. (Judge’s words, not mine!)

What we weren’t aware of until just recently:

  • Complete parenting classes.
  • Stay within the county.

Based on her mode of operation – there are probably other stipulations that we are yet unaware of.

The only requirement that she actually complied with was breaking up with the boyfriend.  The others – she did not comply with based on her own statements or actual observations by Hun and myself.

In my view, she lied to her children.  She went so far to give up on them.  She disagrees with that assessment.

We’ll see if she actually attempts to gain custody of Monkey as she says she will.

On my last post, I had a reader comment:

Continue to be the bigger person, keep holding back. ~ Jassy

I understand this sentiment – I really do.  I’ve been holding back for the last 15 years.

When I stated I was going to live up to the names I am being called – that is only in their eyes….not mine or anyone else’s.

I’m not sure what made me think of this from all those years ago, but here is a short story on why I decided to go in the direction I’m now going in with Jetsam:

This had to have happened around 8-10 years ago…..

Flotsam and I were “arguing” one day on something having to do with Buddy.  I don’t even remember what we were arguing about, but he was getting frustrated that none of the tactics he was trying were working on me to allow him to do whatever hare-brained scheme he was trying to convince me of.  I’ve since realized that he’s probably a sociopath, but at the time, I had no idea and was just as frustrated with him because what he was saying wasn’t making any sense to me.

After about 15 minutes of the conversation going nowhere, in frustration, Flotsam blurted out, “You’re being a BITCH!”

This hit me at my core, I straightened myself up, looked him directly in the eyes and calmly stated, “You and I both know I am not being a bitch, but if you call me that again, I will live up to the name.”

He promptly backed down, apologized, and went another direction with his tactics.

This memory made me realize that I had never done the same thing with Jetsam when she hurls names at me.  I had never stood up for myself and calmly let her (and the kids) know that I’m not going to put up with that.

Hun and I talked.  We decided that it is past time for both of us to stand up for ourselves and not put up with the abuse.

Here is an example of an event that happened recently.  This was part of a larger conversation where Jetsam was once again blaming us for all issues related to Monkey misbehaving:

In talking to Hun in front of Monkey, Jetsam started spouting off (loudly) that we lied to gain custody of the kids (really??  She keeps bringing this up – we’ve had custody for over 8 years now).

Hun stood up to her and said, “You stood right here on my property and told me that your boyfriend was beating the kids hard enough to leave bruises and doing drugs.  You were fearful that his drug buddies would come by and shoot up the house because of how many problems he was causing!  What was I supposed to do, ignore that?”

Jetasm:  “I never said that!”

Hun (loudly and in her face):  “YES YOU DID!  You did TOO say that!  You were either lying then or you’re lying now – WHICH IS IT?”

Jetsam never answered his question, but instead changed the subject.

I pointed out to Hun later, after Jetsam was gone and we were in bed, that I was very proud of him for standing up to her that way.  He was upset that it happened in front of Monkey.  I agreed that it shouldn’t have, but even if Monkey never acknowledged it, she heard him standing up for her and heard her mom not answer the question.

The last conversation I had with Jetsam (also in front of the kids), where she was basically telling Hun that Monkey didn’t have to respect me, I told all of them, “Let me step in here.  You all keep calling me these names – bitch, whore, cunt – well, I’m going to live up to these names.  I’m not going to put up with it anymore.”

Rowdy happened to be in the car with his mom and tried to spout back, “No one is calling you those names today.”

Me:  “Doesn’t erase the fact that all of you have called me those names both to my face and to my back.  I’m just giving you what you want – me being a bitch.”

Jetsam (flapping custody papers in her hand):  “I’m taking you two back to court to get custody of Monkey.”  (Monkey, at age 15, is the only one she would be asking for custody at this point – Rowdy will be 18 in less than 60 days.)

Me:  “Go ahead, that is your right.  We’ve always told you that – we’re not stopping you.  Just like it was Hun’s right to ask for custody in the first place.  Just don’t give up on them this time like you did last time.”

Jetsam (angry now):  “I did NOT give up on them!  I have joint custody, just like it says in these papers!”  (rattling papers at me)

Me:  “Tell the truth – yes you did give up on them.  The court said we had temporary custody for a year and after that you had to show you were stable.  Those finalized papers show 6 months from the point of temporary custody until the time you signed off on leaving the kids with us permanently.  We never went back to court for another hearing – the judge didn’t make that decision.  You gave up on getting custody back.”

Rowdy:  “I’m not listening to this crap any more, I’m going to the park.”

Jetsam:  “You will stay right there!  You will not leave!”

There was a whole bunch more to the conversation, but that was the part I wanted to emphasize in this particular post.

Jetsam made Rowdy stay and listen to the rest of the conversation.  The part that she couldn’t dispute was the finalized dates on those custody papers she was so proud to wave around – like she knows more about it than we do.

In talking with Hun afterwards, I pointed out to him that Rowdy didn’t speak much after that.  He’s a smart kid; he knows that what I said was the truth.  It wasn’t said with intent to be hurtful, but it was stated matter-of-factly and to the point.

Who knows.  Maybe going this route isn’t the best idea.  Maybe I will regret it one day.  I can’t say for sure.

What I do know is this – ever since I have made the decision to not worry about what I am saying, I have had more peace than I’ve had in a long time.

Only time will tell.

I’ve debated for 3 days on whether or not to post this particular blog post.  Most people would say – if you have to think about it, then it is probably not a good idea.  Usually, that’s good advice.  However, there are exceptions to that rule.  This is one of those times (in my humble opinion).  At some point, my kids may have access to this website.  If they ever do, then I want them to know exactly what I was feeling and my thoughts behind those feelings.

Juliet:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Many of us know this famous Shakespearian line.

We are taught from a very young age that words have meaning.  We are taught that words can be powerful and empowering.

Sticks and stones will break my bones
But words will never harm me.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticks_and_Stones

Words can also be harmful.  And hurtful.  And emotional.

I’ve been dealing with harmful names and words being flung at both Hun and myself for almost 15 years now.  They are spoken by Jetsam; towards me, towards Hun, and within hearing of our kids.

  • How do you know she’s (me) not a child abuser? (This was flung when she first found out we were dating.)
  • What the hell is going on over there?  That woman’s son (Buddy) is trying to sexually assault Rowdy! (this was accused at the ages of 4 and 5 – and couldn’t have been further from the truth once we sorted out her tirade).
  • You’re a monster!  You placed Monkey in scalding hot water!  I’m taking her to the ER and you can expect a visit from CPS!!  (didn’t happen, both girls were given a bath together – Monkey had a diaper rash, which the ER didn’t even bat an eye at.)
  • You’re the cause of our marriage breaking up – you’re a whore! (Umm….I’m not the one with a 4th child that was conceived less than 6 months of splitting with the father of your children, who by the way, had a vasectomy before splitting with you.  Two weeks after our first date is when Hun found out you were 3 months pregnant.  Apparently, details and facts do not matter.)
  • You don’t love the kids as much as I love them!  (Because I don’t show love exactly the same way she does.)
  • You are selfish!  You only care about yourselves, not these kids!  If you cared, you wouldn’t have taken custody away from me and you’d let them move back in with me!  (Correction, the court took custody, after hearing both sides.  We don’t allow them to move back, because the reasons court pulled custody have not changed or ended.)
  • You’re a bitch!
  • You’re a cunt!
  • You’re a liar!

I’m so tired of turning the other cheek.

I’m tired of trying to be “the bigger person” and not lash back at her awful accusations.

I never lashed out at Jetsam, because I never wanted the kids to hear horrible things coming out of my mouth about their mom.

That seems to have backfired.  Big time.  At least at the moment.

All of the kids speak ill of their dad and me, some more blatant than others.  While they are entitled to their opinions, they are looking at this through a child’s eye, tinted with the lens of a parent who wants to be their friend and give them everything, without any boundaries.  We are vilified for setting boundaries, and consequences.  Of course any child is going to like a parent more who gives them what they want over the parent who taps the brakes.

So….because I’m vilified anyway – because I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t – I’m going to give them exactly what I’ve been accused of for almost 15 years.

I’m going to live up to the names they are hurling at me.

I’m going to be a bitch.

  • Oh….you’re 20, living at home, not going to school, not paying rent, not doing any chores we ask for your help with (being passive-aggressive towards us), and only responsible for your own bills? Guess what – start doing chores, start paying rent, or get out.
  • At 15, Monkey’s plenty old enough to start hearing our side of “the truth”. You’re mom’s a liar and here are the facts (spoken in front of Jetsam when she was calling me “that step-mom who Monkey doesn’t have to respect”).

I’m done playing Mrs. Nice.  I’m done being concerned with their feelings, when none of them are concerned with mine.

Screw that.  It’s time I respect myself for a change.

I’ve always been the person who spoke my mind – except when it came to Jetsam.  Out of respect for the kids, only because she is their mom, I held my tongue.

I know what tact is – I use it all the time in business.  I can be tactful – I have been tactful – I’ve been beyond tactful over these last 15 years.  I will continue to be tactful, while also not caring what happens to come out of my mouth.

I’m not going to worry about, “Oh….I shouldn’t say that in front of the kids.”

Why should I?  Jetsam doesn’t worry about what she says in front of them.  And they are her children!  After all – I can’t possibly love them as much as she does since I didn’t give birth to them.  Since that is their belief…..fine.  Everything I’ve held back all of these years will no longer be held back.

They think I’m a bitch now….

 

Beyond Livid

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I’ve been trying to decide if I want to continue or not.  I’m not sure if this is still my season.  After all – there is a time for everything….

From a mental stand point, I’ve had a horrible last couple of days.  My mind will not turn off when something is bothering it.  It keeps me awake and doesn’t allow me any mental peace.  I tend to lash out at Hun when I’m like this.  It isn’t his fault.  I’m so sorry Hun.

From the outside, the weekend was spectacular – I spent Saturday with LaLa, friends and girls from my family having lunch and painting; and Sunday lazing around the house doing not much of anything.  Outwardly, I had a lot of fun!

I’ve tried to put my mind to sleep.  It won’t listen.  From past experience, it will only rest when I’ve gotten what’s rattling around inside, out.  So I’m going to release what is torturing my mind out into the universe.  Maybe I can get some sleep tonight – I do have to work tomorrow after all.

Once again, we discovered Monkey actively going against our rules.  I had known for several weeks that something was up – I didn’t confront her until I had proof.

One of the first “signs” of proof I had was my Mom asking what had happened this time with Monkey as she had posted a very unflattering comment on Facebook about her father, Hun.  Something along the lines of Hun being, “a sperm donor” was posted several days before Mom brought it up to me.  Neither Hun nor I had seen the post, so I knew immediately that she had blocked us again (one of our rules was that we were not to be blocked).

I brought this information to Hun’s attention (not in a good way – again…I am very sorry Hun!  You didn’t deserve my outburst).  He, in turn, brought it to Jetsam’s attention on Saturday while I was away painting.

Jetsam’s response was agreement with Monkey!

I am beyond livid at this.  How dare she?  I am ashamed of her as a mother.  I am ashamed that she calls herself a mother.  She should be ashamed of herself, but alas, I suspect she is not.

Why in the world would they refer to Hun as this?  Confronting Monkey gave me no answer.  She had no reason she could explain to me why she would say or believe this.

I want to just shake Jetsam and scream at her.  I want to remind her that Hun has ALWAYS been there for his children – both physically, monetarily, and emotionally – where she hasn’t always been there for them.

I want to remind her that SHE is the one that was pregnant by another man, before her and Hun’s divorce was finalized.  And that the guy who got her pregnant has never once paid a dime in support and has been in his child’s life less than 6 months total.

I want to remind her that SHE is the one who insists we don’t love the children, just because we don’t give in to their every whim.  That just because we have rules and structure and accountability and parent differently than she does, doesn’t make us horrible parents.

I want to remind her that SHE is the one that insisted they not show any affection towards me.  That she insisted they couldn’t trust me, couldn’t count on me and couldn’t believe anything I said.  When this subject comes up, the kids can never remember anything where I lied to them, didn’t support them, or wasn’t there for them.  It is ALL a mental game to appease their mom, protect themselves from her anger towards me and not appear to be choosing me over her.

I want to remind her that being divorced parents does not mean that whichever parent the child hates, the other parent has won.  How horrible for the child!

I want to confront her, shake her silly and insist she listen.

She will not.

She will not be ashamed.

She will sit there in a self-righteous manner and believe that she has won.

I am angry at her for doing this to her children.

I wonder if the children will ever truly understand what she has done to them.

I wonder if there will ever come the day when the kids understand what we tried to do for them.

I wonder if we, all of us, any of us, will survive these years or if one day we will look back in regret and say, “I wish we hadn’t done what we did.”

Parental Alienation

For those people who have never been exposed to PA (Parental Alienation) or PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome), it is difficult to comprehend exactly what life is like for families exposed to this.

First, a brief history/explanation:

Who discovered Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
In association with this growing child-custody litigation, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner first identified Parental Alienation Syndrome in the 1980’s. He noticed a dramatic increase in the frequency of a disorder rarely observed before, that of programming or brainwashing of a child by one parent to denigrate the other parent. 

However, the disorder wasn’t just brainwashing or programming by a parent. It was confounded by what Dr. Gardner calls self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration against the targeted parent. He called this disorder Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a new term that includes the contribution to the problem made by both the parent and the child.


What is PAS?
Gardner’s definition of PAS is:

1. The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.

  1. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. 
  2. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.


What is the child’s part in PAS?
Gardner notes that the PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:

  1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.
  2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.
  3. The child is sure of himself or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate.
  4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.
  5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.
  6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.
  7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced.
  8. Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brain- washed against the alienated parent. The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with this parent, even though he or she has told him that he has to, it is a court order, etc. The alienator typically responds, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m not telling him that he can’t see you.”

PAS is an escalation of Parental Alienation (PA)
Dr. Douglas Darnall in his book Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children from Parental Alienation, describes three categories of PA:

The mild category he calls the naïve alienators. They are ignorant of what they are doing and are willing to be educated and change. 

The moderate category is the active alienators. When they are triggered, they lose control of appropriate boundaries. They go ballistic. When they calm down, they don’t want to admit that they were out of control. 

In the severe category are the obsessed alienators or those who are involved in PAS. They operate from a delusional system where every cell of their body is committed to destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child. 

In the latter case, he notes that we don’t have an effective protocol for treating an obsessed alienator other than removing the child from their influence.

An important point is that in PAS there is no true parental abuse and/or neglect on the part of the alienated parent. If this were the case, the child’s animosity would be justified. Also, it is not PAS if the child still has a positive relationship with the parent, even though one parent is attempting to alienate the child from him or her.

Source: http://www.breakthroughparenting.com/PAS.htm

Now that a definition and explanation has been made, back to my own personal life and post.

This subject came up, once again in my family, because of a brief comment my mom made on Thanksgiving.  The comment stayed with me for the remainder of the day and turned itself over and over in my head.

The scene of the comment:  Monkey was with Hun, Buddy and I at my parents’ house for our Thanksgiving celebration with my extended family.  LaLa has taken a 3rd shift job and was sleeping.  The plan was for LaLa to sleep until about 2pm, go to Jetsam’s house and pick up Flounder (as Jetsam was working), swing by our location to pick up Monkey and then head to Jetsam’s extended family celebration.

As planned, LaLa arrived with Flounder and greetings and well-wishes were exchanged all around.  After about 5 minutes, the three left.

My mom commented to me, “What happened with that?  Flounder was pleasant, polite and cheerful with us.  He acts nothing like Rowdy or Monkey (who was being very grouchy about having to come with us and couldn’t leave fast enough).”

At the time, I just shrugged….. but the comment stayed with me and fermented in my mind.

It dawned on me.  Flounder has no bias against us because Jetsam has not spent the last 14 years of his life implying that we are horrible people.  Sure, he may have overheard her saying things to the other kids, but as his loyalty was never “tested” or “required”, none of the negatives stuck with him because he didn’t experience having to choose between parents.  LaLa, Rowdy and Monkey have spent the last 13+ years having to carefully choose their emotions, lest they make their mom upset over any minor thing.

Talking with Hun about the incident, we theorized that the same Parental Alienation that has happened with LaLa, Rowdy and Monkey, probably has also happened with Flounder.  The only difference is, his father isn’t in the picture and so, there is no one to lash out at.  While Hun and I are VERY present and easy targets, so we get to experience the abuse in all of its horrifying glory.

This makes me terribly sad for my kids.  They have been brainwashed into believing that Hun and I are abusive, horrible people who are hated justifiably in their young minds.  Besides continuing to do what we already are doing, there isn’t anything left for us to do.  Either the kids will mature and realize that their impressions are/were wrong or they won’t.

For my own piece of mind, I will continue to believe that they will eventually realize that we do love them, always have and always will.  No matter what.  I love you guys!

Rowdy

Hun moved Rowdy out of our house over the Memorial Day weekend of 2015.

It was a Memorial Day weekend that I will not soon forget.

I don’t think any of us will forget that weekend.

The weekend wasn’t planned to be Rowdy’s last with us….it just worked out that way.

The weeks leading up to Memorial Day were tense, stressful and everyone was walking on eggshells….waiting on the other shoe to drop.

Rowdy failed almost every credit his Junior year in high school.  Not because he couldn’t do the work, but because he refused to do the work.  Everything Hun and I offered to him was met with resistance.  Bringing Jetsam into the conversations didn’t seem to help.  We offered many ways for him to redeem himself.  Things that were his idea, we agreed to try.  Things that were Jetsam’s ideas, we agreed to try.

Every time we turned around, it seemed like he was sabotaging himself and all of our efforts.

Lies and disrespect became his mantra, especially towards me.

These actions rubbed off on Monkey and she seemed to be taking lessons from her older brother.

Jetsam said she supported us, but her actions proved otherwise.  Several instances of her actively undermining us lead to another visit to our house by the police.

Rowdy called them.  He claimed we were abusing Monkey.

Four officers showed up at our house that day.  Every one of them asked me if I wanted to press charges against Monkey.  If the “assault” had been perpetrated by Rowdy, the answer would have been yes, but as the issue was with Monkey, I told them no.  I did ask them to thoroughly explain to both Rowdy and Monkey why what had happened wasn’t abuse, how they both were in the wrong and to please stick around because Jetsam would probably show up any minute.

The cops’ conversation with Rowdy lead to him screaming and cursing at them, including the captain of the force.  Surprisingly, he didn’t end up arrested due to his actions.  It also lead to the cops having a conversation with Jetsam (yes she did show up) and them telling her that she was interfering in our family life and rules.  She apologized to Hun.  I have yet to receive an apology.

Hun was at a loss for what to do about his son.

I told him that I had been warning him for years that he needed to figure out a way to get through to his son and now it may be too late.  That the attitude we were seeing from him now, at age 17, was formed years ago when respect towards adults was not insisted on at age 7.  Now it was his problem to deal with as I was “just” the step-mom and thus had no say in the issue.

I told him I supported his decisions regarding Rowdy.  I told him that I would never force him to choose, as one’s own child(ren) is/are more important than a second spouse.

Hun started to make a choice, but then hesitated because it was a very hard decision.

I reminded him that I also have choices.

I let him know that stalling, hesitating or refusing to make a choice would force me to make a choice.  Those that know me well know that once I make up my mind, I will follow through unless new information is presented to me.  Hun knew that I wouldn’t make the choice that would make him happiest, but rather would make me happy.

Hun chose to move Rowdy out of our house.  He made this decision 100% on his own.  I did not help him pack any of Rowdy’s things.  I did agree to look at the room to make sure Hun hadn’t missed anything, and pointed out several things that were missed.  I did not help load anything into the truck.  I refused to go with Hun to drop the items off.  This had to be Hun’s decision through and through.

I held Hun when he got back and let him grieve.

The report Hun brought back with him was that Rowdy and Jetsam were very upset went Hun arrived.  A comment from Jetsam of, “So you’re kicking your son out?” was met with, “I’m tired of him disrespecting us.”

Rowdy being gone has allowed our household to become somewhat normal.

We’re still doing the same things we’ve always done.  Work, sleep, eat and support our kids in their activities.  The only difference is we aren’t fighting to get one kid to go with the flow.

It makes me wonder if we did something wrong with Rowdy.  It makes me wonder if we should have tried harder.  I wonder if Rowdy will thrive with Jetsam.  I wonder if he will eventually try the same things with her that he did with us.  I worry about how his life will turn out. I worry that he will fall into some of Jetsam’s habits and tendencies.  I worry that we’ll not have a relationship with him going forward.

I miss him.  I miss his humor.  I miss his willingness to learn cooking.  I miss the sweet side of his nature.

Maybe someday he will miss us as well.