How do you all cope?
I am not new to steplife. I have been with DH for 8 years, married for 2 years. SS was 10 months old when DH and I met. BM is classic NPD. See my previous post for more back story. I have witnessed BM's verbal and emotional abuse, complete disregard for boundaries, and use of false allegations, lies and antics as a means to win first hand. I have watched her use SS as a pawn in her sick games and I have watched SS suffer in the process. I cannot fathom anyone wanting control so badly that they are willing to hurt their child in the process, weaponizing them against their parent. I have 9 years left in stephell and I have only barely survived the last 8 years. My issue isn't with SS, he is wonderful and I love him very much. My issue solely stands with BM.
I have gone to counseling. I have disengaged from BM. I have cut all communication and exposure to BM. DH and I have gone to counseling to sort out our trauma together. DH has put very strong boundaries in place and maintains those boundaries. He does all pick ups at BM's house out of state. He never leaves the car. He set the boundary that BM only picks SS up at our apartment clubhouse. I am never present for exchanges. All communication is limited to email only. DH is excellent with the BIFF method and ignores the crap. DH maintains our household with as little interference from BM as possible. And... DH does all the parenting when SS is here.
Yet, I am always feeling the need to brace for emotional impact when SS calls DH for his court ordered twice weekly calls or when SS visits for 6 weeks of the whole year. Every communication from BM makes me panic, even if I don't know what it says (full on heart racing, palms sweating, thoughts racing), like I am always waiting for the next fight. I spend most of the year preparing for the feelings surrounding SS being here and then leaving, and the grieving process that goes with that, knowing it will be months until we see him again. I grieve on the phone when SS tells us that he is doing nothing with BM, because she never does anything with him, just wanting to have him with us instead. I grieve when SS does do fun stuff with BM, wishing he could experience it with us too - like trick or treating, snow days, weekend trips, etc. All the normal parenting stuff that DH and I miss out on with him.
DH has gotten good and suppressing it. It all bothers him but he is good at accepting the things he cannot change and moving on.
My question is, how do you cope? How do you cope with the gnawing feeling that you have let this child, who you love so very much, down? How do you cope knowing that you and DH spent months preparing for a court case, gathering evidence and figuring out strategy because it is your only hope for change only to lose? How do you cope knowing DH has gone to court (and spent too much money) to fight and try to right the wrongs for this child, only to have the system fail and BM get her way because BM begged, cheated, lied and stole her way to victory? How do you cope with that fact that the judge only ruled in BM's favor because BM is a BM? How do you cope when SS cries during a visit about wanting to see you more while saying that BM won't let him, knowing you are powerless to change it? How do you cope with the petty emails that BM sends about "wanting to coparent and ensuring SS's best interests" when you read between the lines knowing she means "controlling and keeping SS away from DH"? How do you bite your tongue when you just want to give this woman a piece of your mind? How do you cope and not let these feelings and this trauma fill your headspace all day everyday? How do you not let every little thing impact you, not make your blood boil, and move on?