High Conflict Court and Therapy

Narcissistic (borderline) parents manipulate family courts to keep their focus on the child’s rejection of the targeted parent.  As long as the courts think that the “problem” in high conflict cases lies in a damaged relationship between the child and targeted parent, they are likely to order therapy.   Even when one parent has been diagnosed with narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder, the courts don't order the untreated, seriously mentally ill and abusive parent to therapy.  The narcissist/borderline is again, left completely unaccountable. 

Family courts order the targeted parent and the psychologically abused child to therapy

to “fix” the problem;

but that never happens.

Even targeted parents want the court to order therapy.  They know that the "problem" is the manipulation and control of the narcissistic (borderline) parent but targeted parents are so grief stricken that they will do anything that might relieve some of the pain from being emotionally and physically separated from their children. 

Targeted parents believe that therapists will recognize the impact that narcissistic personality disorder has on the family and report it to the court so they will stop it;

but that never happens.

Therapy cannot “fix” the problem because the problem is the only member of the family who is NOT meeting with the therapist.  Neither the child nor the targeted parent “has” a mental illness or any other identifiable issue.   They both suffer from the traumatic effects of chronic psychological manipulation and abuse by the narcissistic (borderline) parent.  In addition to the suppressed attachment and the inverted hierarchy where the child believes that he or she is above the targeted parent, other symptoms of trauma may appear as depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, withdrawal, ADHD type concentration problems and lack of communication skills. 

As long as the court continues to allow parents with NBPD to psychologically control their children and traumatize the targeted parents, nothing will change until the children “awaken” once they are old enough to get out from under the control of the narcissistic (borderline) parent on their own. 

Sadly, family courts continue to order therapy while the manipulating parent still has unsupervised placement.   Children cannot recover their authentic selves or their secure attachment to the targeted parent while they are still accountable to the controlling parent.  Therefore, not only will therapy be unsuccessful and a waste of time and money, it actually further entrenches the psychopathology.  As Dr. Childress so eloquently puts it, the child becomes the psychological battlefield between the therapist’s goal, which is to restore the relationship between the child and the targeted parent and the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s goal, which is to keep the relationship disrupted.

In summary, ordering therapy while the child is still enmeshed with the abusive parent further harms the child in 3 ways.

1. Therapy is a distraction from the real problem, which is the child’s exposure to the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s psychological abuse.  This abuse will continue to negatively impact the child’s developmental tasks.

2. The narcissistic (borderline) parent will use the child to sabotage therapy while giving the child another audience to project the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s delusions about the targeted parent.

3. The narcissistic (borderline) parent will escalate his or her control over the child as the child’s mind becomes the psychological “battleground” between the therapist’s treatment goal of “reunification” and the abuser’s goal to continue to use the child to devalue and discard the targeted parent.

 

 

 

What Courts Don't Know That They Don't Know

About High Conflict Divorce/Custody

High conflict family court (both divorce, and post judgment placement and custody) can be differentiated from other cases because of the extreme lack of trust between parties, high levels of anger, allegations of abuse or poor parenting, and protracted litigation.  In addition, one parent will engage in sabotaging the other parent–child relationship, and thus these cases may sometimes be called “parental alienation.”  

The relationships within the family are marked by fear, projection of blame, deceit, betrayal and the refusal to cooperate or communicate.   These dynamics existed within the family long before they ever entered into family court.  High conflict families develop dysfunctional coping mechanisms over time, because at least one parent has a cluster of relationally destructive personality disordered traits.

 “While there are other personality disorders, BPD (borderline personality disorder) and NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) are the most common in high-conflict divorces (definitions added ).  And, “… high-conflict divorces have increased over the past decade, a trend that may be tied to the growing number of people with BPD and NPD” (Eddy, Kreger, 2014 ).

High conflict cases jam up family court dockets because they are opened, but never closed.   Family courts do not have the relevant, scientific information to be able to resolve these cases safely and efficiently.  

The key to solving high conflict cases is recognizing and intervening in the traumatic and dysfunctional relational dynamics driven by one parent who has narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder (NBPD).  This parent affects every step in the legal process by distorting the court’s perceptions of the family, the other parent, and the children.

Research documents that family courts and the mental health professionals have strongly held mistaken assumption about families in high conflict cases. These misconceptions compromise the accuracy and integrity of their practice, decisions, and judgments (Warshak, 2015).

The following are 5mistaken assumptions that are present in nearly all high conflict family courtrooms.

1.  Families in high conflict court are normal. (wow- not by a long shot)

85% of divorcing parents work out a change in home structure without harming the children.  Healthy, normal parents do this without family court.  In fact, healthy, normal parents with empathy would never consider going to family court and putting the fate and future of their children into the hands of a perfect stranger.   The rest of us (15%) are jamming into family courts across the country.  If our families were normal we wouldn’t be in family court.  We put the "D" in dysfunctional.  One parent has a serious mental illness and our children and us have been traumatized/abused for years by that parent.  Of course we are going to be high conflict.

2. Both parents contribute to the conflict.

The controlling parent has one of the most dangerous mental illnesses and uses toxic coercion and exploitation to traumatize the rest of the family.  While he or she may pretend (false persona) to be calm, rational, and caring; it is an act to fool the court and mental health professionals.  Narcissistic (borderline) parents (NBPD) do not enter family court to resolve ANYTHING, but to escalate conflict aimed at blaming and punishing the already traumatized targeted parent for the divorce.  Most targeted parents have complex PTSD from living with a partner who has NBPD.  In family court, targeted parents spend most of their time trying to defend themselves against being constantly attacked.

3. The parent with NBPD has a healthy relationship with the child.

As soon as the couple separated and the disturbed parent could isolate the child from the other parent, the NBPD parent began pressuring the child into the middle of the conflict.  Parents with NBPD coerce their children to align with them against the other parent.  They begin to treat the child as a confident and “buddy,” which raises the child’s status in the family hierarchy to that of the abuser and above that of the other parent.   Teenagers are especially vulnerable to conforming to this cross-generational coalition. Cross-generational coalitions are a profound breach in generational boundaries and a well documented form of pathology NOT a healthy bond!

4. Children, especially adolescents are credible witnesses and should have a voice in placement.

In high conflict family court, the child’s viewpoint never reflects a mature judgment, independent of the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s manipulation and pressure. 

Scientific research in adolescent development and neuro-psychology has found that adolescence is stage of tremendous physical, cognitive, and emotional development.   This means that adolescence is also the time when children are the most vulnerable to the emotional pressures and exploitation from their parent with narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder (NBPD).   Unfortunately, children trapped with the parent who has NBPD do not have the emotional, cognitive, or even physical capacity to contradict and/or defy a parent who holds all the power over their lives.

While professionals may believe that children act mature and are honest, objective, and authentic, children in high conflict court will only express what the controlling narcissistic (borderline) parent demands that they say and do.

5. Removing a child from placement with a narcissistic (borderline) parent would be traumatizing.

There are two mistaken assumptions here.  The first is that family court is trauma informed or at least they know what trauma is.   My experience is that family court is unaware of the profound impact of trauma on the family.  The second assumption is that a child will be traumatized if they are separated from the narcissistic (borderline) parent. 

The most comprehensive way to measure childhood trauma is through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) scores.  Our children experience 7+ out of the 10abusive and neglectful environments identified by the landmark ACE Study in the mid 1990's.   There is very little room left in our children's lives for any more trauma.  The only ACEs that are missing are physical abuse and neglect and sexual abuse.  Our children are some of the most traumatized children in America and need immediate intervention.  Removing them from their mentally ill parent and placing them with the targeted parent will reduce their ACE Score by 75% within a few weeks.

 

 

 

 

Fighter

My daughter recently graduated from college in psychology.  She has been accepted into the top trauma focused graduate programs in the country.  She has been through hell growing up in a home with a narcissistic father. 

When she was in 8th grade, she came to me and told me that this song reminded her of me. 

It has been my fight song ever since.

Fighter

 

 

Who's On First

Hey there sports fans.  This is Kay Johnson with an update from the major leagues.

The easiest way for me to keep you posted on any developments is just for me to share some of the documents and emails that go back and forth between Mary, Eve and me. 

Mary’s new lawyer is doing his job.  He calls Mary to make sure that she is doing what she is suppose to do, while he is keeping the ball rolling.  From a spectators viewpoint, I have lost track of the game plan.   Most of the time, I don't even understand the game plan that family lawyers follow because it so often diverges from reality.   Anyway, the following is an email I sent to Mary to get some clarification about "Who's On First?"

To: Mary

First, the GAL needs to be replaced.  If this is done quickly, you can save yourself the trouble of having to subpoena him for the psychological evaluations and parenting assessments.  You don’t need to prove that the GAL is not doing his job, you just need to send a letter to the Judge requesting a new one.  Still, I’d love to help you write the letter because there is so much damning evidence such as:

1. The GAL has withheld the psych report and parenting assessments since last November.

Your new lawyer should have gotten a copy by now, but I’d wager that he hasn’t.    I think the GAL doesn’t want anyone to see it because he placed your son with his father before getting the results and the recommendations. 

Besides the fact that the psychological evaluation probably identifies domestic abuse and physical and psychological (pathological) alienation, I know that it includes some strong recommendations for the court to IMMEDIATELY STOP your husband and get help for you and your son.   It’s almost June and he STILL hasn’t done anything.

2. The GAL recommended taking away all of your contact with your son without due process; even after your parenting assessments all came back so good.  If we had the psych evaluation we would also have evidence of your husband's pathogenic or dysfunctional parenting.

3. The transcription from your old lawyer’s voice mail indicates that the GAL was unhappy with me (or Eve) for hounding him for the psych evaluations and that now “it might not go well for you.”   

4. The GAL hasn’t assessed for domestic abuse, doesn’t understand how damaging narcissistic (borderline) parents are, can’t recognize trauma, has been discriminating against you and biased for your husband, empowered your son to think that he gets to decide where to live; even though the Judge said that “no 16 year old boy is going to be calling the shots", and he thinks that the cross-generational coalition against you is a “good enough” relationship.

5. The GAL has not acted in the best interest of your son—ever!  Every thing he has done is contrary to what the established child development sciences tells us needs to be done.   If he would just follow the state laws that mandate him to use the factors for placement, it would have come out right.  But, I’ve not seen a GAL in WI use them yet.

The list goes on and on---this guy has driven this high conflict case and seriously hurt you and your son in the process.   He will always be a problem.  Your son deserves balanced, objective advocacy from the GAL.

Second, in case I didn’t make it clear enough above; we need the psych report.

We need it so that we can write the interrogatory questions for the deposition and the final hearing.  S pecific, targeted questions are vital to prove how much damage your husband is doing to his son and you AND why he will not stop.

Third, brings us to therapy.  OMG.

There are very few therapists who are going to have a third of what they need to know to bring closure to this case and resolution for the family or give you more placement.  But even more fundamental is that there doesn't seem to be very clear directives concerning WHO is supposed to be in therapy OR WHY!

 

Who is supposed to be going to therapy?

Your son?

Any therapy for your son will be harmful if he does not have protective separation from his father.  In addition, you should be taking him to and from therapy, because your husband will sabotage any progress the therapist might make.  As Dr. Childress says, therapy without protective separation turns your son into a “psychological battleground” between the therapist’s outcomes and what the abuser wants. 

Your husband?   

Well, this goes without saying, because of his abusive parenting (which is probably described in the psych evaluation).  Narcissistic (borderline) patients are few and far between and very difficult to treat.  There have so many problems;  paranoid and persecutory delusions,  anger management,  serious mental illness called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, child psychological maltreatment, and how he encourages your son to emotionally abuse you—need I go on?

You and your husband?

I read the recommendation "to co-parent" somewhere.  Really? Umm —NPD parents cannot co-parent, end of story.  They may be able to parallel parent (maybe), but primary placement of your son must still be with you while he is in treatment.

You? 

Having a trauma informed therapist to help you process the prolonged, repeated psychological trauma is essential for your recovery, but this won’t do anything to move your case along.

When you find out, let me know! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Mother's Day

This will be the 8th mother's day that I don't get to have any time with my son. For the past three years, it has been his choice, not his fathers.  If you’re like me, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.   Even after all this time, I keep thinking that there is something that I can say or something that I can do that will touch his heart again and release his enduring attachment. But his recovery must come from the inside just like mine. 

I can’t change what has happened,

I can’t change him or this day.

 I can only change how I respond to the day. 

 

Today I stand up and take responsibility to enjoy this day, like every other.

 It’s up to me.

I have gone through enough pain, I don’t have to add this day to my trauma.

 

I sent my son a text message and a card with the following sentiments: 

“No matter what, no matter why;

I will always love you as much as I did the first moment that I felt your life in me—

it is beyond words.”

 

Happy Mother's Day To Me and To You!

When Things Go Sideways.

I was really optimistic about Mary's case in court last Thursday.  What could go wrong?  A new date for the contested hearing and the contempt issue against her (not soon enough to be ex) husband.

I must have had the wrong case, because this is the

 email I got from Mary.

 

Hi Kay,

Today in court the 3 lawyers met for about 45 minutes. My (not soon enough to be ex) husband stood the entire time while my friend and I sat in the back and talked. When my lawyer came out he told me that I have to get tested for MRSA.  FYI- MRSA is s a staph type bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body.  It is difficult to treat because it has become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. - But that's not important.

What is important is that this is just another paranoid delusion.  The “MRSA” threat has been going on for weeks now.  My (not soon enough to be ex) husband has been escalating the idea that my son is going to contract MRSA from me if he comes to my house once a week to have dinner.  It’s a long, stupid story, but in a nutshell I have refused.  I am a nurse and I understand all about MRSA and its transmission.  I won’t reinforce my son’s “by in” to my (not soon enough to be ex) husband’s latest psychotic episode to keep my son and I apart.  I am certainly not a threat to my son anymore than anyone he has contact with.  BUT it is the only thing that my  (not soon enough to be ex) husband has to try to blame me for.  

My new lawyer told me that if my (not soon enough to be ex) husband insists that I am a MRSA threat to my son and that I have to get tested, then we are going to demand that my (not soon enough to be ex) husband get tested because he might be a threat for AIDs.  Ha Ha. 

He gets it!

 

Still, the judge talked about MRSA and I have to get tested.  GRRRRRR.   This is so stupid it just burns me that I’ve got to jump through another of my (not soon enough to be ex) husband’s hoops.  But you can’t fight family court, so, I went to get tested for MRSA.  Not surprisingly,  the clinic coordinator said she couldn’t authorize the test because there was no reason.

WOW, the medical profession doesn’t just do tests because someone’s (not soon enough to be ex) husband demands it.  Another famous example of how family court is practicing medicine without a license.

The Judge apologized that this case has been dragged on.  I wonder at what point “dragged on” is determined?    I also wonder why the Court Commissioner who has presided over this case now for 2 years, never thought that it was “dragging on?”


The new court date is 9/26/17 –here is one reason this case gets dragged on!.  I was shocked how long out it is.  We need to have our expert witness secured by 6/9/17.

The judge also said that a 16 year old will not call the shots.  Which is so great! This takes my son out of the middle!  My (not soon enough to be ex) husband can’t use "our son's wishes"  to keep him away from me.  But this is still family court.  The wind direction can change at any moment.

Then the judge did a little lecture about getting along as parents--all this told me is that the judge doesn't understand narcissism.

Oh, and remember my old lawyer?  She never served the contempt order to my (not soon enough to be ex) husband. That was her grand finale of complete and utter incompetence and lack of ethics.

There was a stenographer recording the court conversation.

The financial thing got put on hold.

Where do I go from here???

I wish i could have a trauma informed judge hear the case.

Mary

In Our Last Episode...

In our last episode of Mary’s case…

Mary’s lawyer withdrew as her counsel after Mary began challenging her for not protecting her parental rights or her son.  Over the past two years, Mary’s lawyer allowed the guardian ad litem (GAL) to take away virtually all of her custody and placement.  Nothing changed even though the psychological evaluation clearly showed that her soon to be ex-husband was a danger to their son and she was a wonderful, healthy parent.   Mary was on the conveyor belt headed for the meat grinder and her lawyer stood by and watched.

Nothing that had happened in her case made any sense EXCEPT for the fact that Mary had done everything her lawyer and the GAL asked.  This is consistent across the country.  While everyone else is playing dirty, targeted parents stick by their morals and integrity. 

Mary hired a family court lawyer (who was a mother of 4) to protect her rights to parent her son and she was also paying ½ for the guardian ad litem, who was supposed to be protecting the best interest of their son.  Mary didn’t expect that these professionals would not do their jobs.  Bill Eddy, author of Splitting and Don’t Alienate the Kids believes that it is the family court lawyers are the real instigators of prolonged, high conflict cases. They do whatever they want, regardless of the statutes or the moral responsibility to their profession or society.

In high conflict cases, the emotionally impaired parent (narcissistic (borderline) feels entitled to full custody and placement and bullies his/her lawyer and the GAL into frustration and exhaustion.  The targeted parent is reasonable and responsive but erroneously believes that his/her lawyer will protect their parental rights and the Gal will diligently stand guard over the child’s best interests.  This is probably the most harmful misconception that targeted parents have. 

Family court is not a level playing field.  We are already traumatized by all the abuse we suffered before we got to court.  Then our entire world collapses when we are confronted with the reality that our law enforcement, child protective services and family courts are not built on truth, justice and the safety of our children. 

Know this… no one, especially no family court lawyer has the same moral convictions and passion for our children that we do.  Their agenda is to get paid.  High conflict cases are a pain in their butts and they won’t put in the effort to understand the dire consequences of placing the child with the mentally ill parent.  They often choose the path of least resistance.

In Mary’s case,  both lawyers and the GAL had been talking among themselves.  They concluded that the only way that this case would ever end would be to give the rigid, confrontational bully his way.  The targeted parent doesn’t know the legal system or her rights.  She is naïve and will do whatever her lawyer “implies” is the right thing.  In Mary’s case she signed a temporary order that reduced her contact with her son to one meal a week—she didn’t know that she could say no.   Her lawyer told her that this is a victory because they got the psychological evaluation. 

Unfortunately the psychological evaluation revealed exactly what they didn’t want to hear; the narcissist is dangerous and abusive and should not have primary custody or placement.  So they ignore the psychological evaluation and kept to their path of least resistance.

We get this. 

How many times did we let our irrational narc exes

have their way, just to try and keep the peace?

 

 

The light bulb went on for Mary at the 11th hour.  She knew she was going to lose her son because no one in that court was going to fight for her or him.   So she started to fight back.

First she cancelled the temporary hearing, which would have solidified the loss of her son.  This threw everybody.  To her credit, Mary waited until the day before the hearing, to minimize the retaliation from her husband.  

Second, Mary began HOUNDING her lawyer to file contempt against her husband for interference.  Her lawyer told Mary that she couldn’t file contempt; she lied straight to Mary and Mary knew it.  This was when Mary started seeing her lawyer through reality glasses and being exposed for who she was, her lawyer withdrew.

Third, the final hearing was only 2 weeks away and Mary didn't have counsel. So, she sent the Judge a letter asking to move the date of the final hearing because her lawyer quit and she needed time to find a new one.   The Judge called Mary back that very same day and totally agreed.  He also said that he wanted to keep the date set, so that he could address the contempt against Mary’s husband.  This court hearing is tomorrow, May 4th.

Fourth, Mary hired a new lawyer who is rearranging his schedule to be in court with her tomorrow.  He wants to be involved in her case right from the beginning.   He knows narcissists, expresses his opinions freely, takes his responsibilities seriously and is assertive.  He also has a sense of humor, which is a real plus in these cases!

Fifth, remember that Mary filed a child abuse referral with child protective services the day her lawyer quit?

She meets with two social workers today, who are investigating her case.

 

 

 

 

Eve's Case

OK, I only have Eve's Top 5, but that is because Eve's off in family court doing things that I don't know much about.  We'll get more info from her after today.

TOP FIVE

5. Her ex's lawyer made her sit through a 3-4 hour deposition, going line by line through their finances.
4. Her ex's new wife was finally subpoenaed after Eve told them where they could find her.

3. Eve got another bill from her lawyer and she is doing all the work.

2. In preparing for her own hearing, Eve took time to call Mary and make sure she was alright with her lawyer jumping ship so close to the contested hearing.  Both Eve and I felt somewhat responsible because we were pushing the envelope.  But Mary was grateful and very calm about it!!!!!

1. As we speak, Eve is in court.  Something she has been dreading for a long time.  By the time you read this, she may be done with one of the hardest things she has ever done in her life--stood up to the abuser.  No matter what happens, she wins!

Mary's Case

10. I went to where Mary lives to make some connections and learned that I can’t do that.  Ever since I got back (and most of the time I was there) I was a wreck.  I COULDN'T stop thinking about my kids or feeling sorry for myself.    I can read and write about this stuff from my computer,  but face to face with the reality is too intense for me.  Anyway….

9. Mary’s lawyer was all gun ho about the intervention with CPS. She talked to the GAL.

8. The GAL was really interested in talking about it too.

7. I prepared a lengthy document for the court and CPS.  The names were changed but no one is protecting the innocent.  I'll post it under family court here on the website.

6. Mary’s ex-husband decompensated again and now he and their son are on a new delusional bent about Mary infecting her ex-husband through their son with MRSA. –go figure.   Before this it was hepatitis.  But because of this Mary isn't even getting to see her son for dinner once a week.

5. Mary demanded her lawyer file contempt, which her lawyer resisted.

4. Mary’s lawyer met with Child Protective Services.  (I knew that was a mistake).

3.  Mary's contested hearing is May 4.  Yesterday Mary's lawyer sent her a letter withdrawing as her counsel.  

2. BUT, sheprovided a great deal of information in her withdrawal letter,  including the most comprehensive contempt motion I've ever heard, a copy of the psych eval that came back in Mary's favor (which we have been trying to get for over 5 weeks now), and a couple of comments suggesting that the GAL doesn't like being questioned and because we have questioned him,  it may not go favorably for Mary.

1. We filed a 50 page child abuse referral to CPS!!!

This was the right thing to do.  A protective parent cannot just sit back and put his/her children’s life in the hands of someone who does NOT know that this isn’t even a custody case.  Besides family court is so all –or – nothing.  At least if CPS is willing to do the intervention, then everyone wins. 

Somedays I think that we are just about 3 years ahead of our time.

The Brink of Enlightenment

I only knew one thing when I started the National Alliance For Targeted Parents, and that was that we needed to stop talking about our problems and start doing something about them.  The trauma informed movement that began making headlines in 2016, set the stage for a radical consciousness raising and now we are beginning the process of saving every child in every family within our borders and beyond.   

Mary and Eve are our marines.  They were willing to step out and take the bullets, but they found that the only one who was shooting at them was their mentally ill ex-partners who no longer had a “target” to aim at.

Targeted parents have been the warriors against the ignorance and injustice of those who steal the hearts and souls of innocent, vulnerable children.  We’ve been tattered, tired, fragmented and ill-equipped.  Our trauma debilitating us even further in the court system.  Still, our persistence and determination has landed us on the beachfront and we are taking back our invaded homeland.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the broken system, corrupt lawyers and Judges, incompetent social workers, lack of legislation or money that stopped us before.  It was our trauma; planted and cultivated in our minds by our mentally ill ex-partners.

Mary and Eve are leading us.  Two mavericks who are breaking every barrier that separates them from their rightful healthy and loving relationships with their children.   Their confident and bold ACTIONS are exceeding all expectations.  These targeted parents are empowered with truth, knowledge and the unstoppable love of protective parents.  

Two years ago these parents were being beaten up and re-traumatized by their ex-partners who seemed to be fully supported by the court systems, law enforcement, mental health, money, and child protective services.   Neither of them knew anything about narcissistic (borderline) pathology, child psychological abuse, trauma, attachment, or family law.

Today, they are Teslas, according to a well-educated and powerful law firm in a major metropolitan area.  What he meant was that they are disrupting the status quo by fitting together innovative pieces to bring about tremendous advantages.

The unquestionable sciences and the passion of parenthood are being validated and admired, not ignored.  Mary and Eve have overcome the trauma of paper tigers and learned helplessness and are forces to be reckoned with!  I can hardly keep up!

My job is to document the processes they are using to bring their children home as they wage war in the face of the narcissistic borderline personality disorder  and make these available to EVERY targeted parent.

You can rest assure, that we will never return to the horrific medieval ages in which many of us were unjustly tortured and sentenced to life without our children.  This is because there is no longer an enemy to fight against.

I am in tears; tears of promise and gratitude.  Our losses are becoming our legacies.

“They tried to bury us; they didn’t know that we were seeds.”  Greek saying.

Paper Tigers

While Mary tries to get an appointment for the two us with the supervisor at CPS, Eve is preparing for court next Tuesday. Family Court is a trigger because of all of the traumatic events that happen there. 

Most of us thought that court is where you go to find truth and protection.  We expected to be treated fairly and with respect.  As it turns out, we were lambs to the slaughter! 

 My ex-husband is delusional because he is mentally ill, but I don’t know what excuse family court lawyers, GALs, Commissioners, and Judges can use for getting these cases so completely wrong on every account.  Historically, they support the abusive parent, chastise the already traumatized targeted parent,  think that the pathological cross-generational coalition between the child and the abusive parent is a “healthy bond” and then abandon our children to the abusive parent.  Either by plan or default we were sentenced to a life of crushing sorrow without parole.  But we are trying to change that by confronting the courts with scientific information.

Eve is taking care to remind herself that she is the healthy parent, not the victim, and not the abuser.   But it is normal that when the stress rises, we are more prone to overreact.

I got this email from her a few days ago and responded with my best advice.

“Hi Kay,

I had a bit of a backslide today in energy.  I am interacting with my lawyer's office and they are scheduling a deposition for me and for my ex.  I am so full of fear as to what my ex's lawyer is going to pull.... all the old shit comes bubbling up to the surface.

Regards,

Eve

I replied…

You are afraid of "paper tigers." 

A Paper tiger is a literal English translation of the Chinese phrase zhilaohu. This means that something only seems threatening but in reality is not a danger and cannot stand up to being challenged.

Think about what you are feeling frightened about.  There was a time and a day, not so long ago, when every narcissistic (borderline) ex-partner was a real threat. 

Our abusers plant helpless and frightening thoughts in our heads and cultivate them so we automatically fear them and their invisible manipulation and force field.   

Your fear is based on what has happened, not what is going to happen. 

Picture your ex as he really is;  disturbed, insecure, and desperate.   He is only threatening when he surprises you with crazy manipulation and excessive ranting.   But there is nothing left to surprise you with.  You know him better than he knows himself.  In gauging what he will do next, we might even be giving him too much credit.

You need to look at him realistically, now.  Listen to him, like you don't him.   Don’t respond; just acknowledge to yourself who this person really is.

If you’re still feel frightened then picture him as a potted plant.  How do you respond to a potted plant?   One day you simply won’t.  That is when the healing will come the fastest, but in the meantime, be the broken record of reason. 

 

Any style will do.

Any style will do.

How do you respond to a potted plant?   Well, one day you simply won’t.  That is when the healing will come the fastest, but in the meantime,  don't try to make sense out of the ridiculous.  Be the broken record of reason. 

Here's an example:

Lance: blah blah blah blah lie, lie, lie, profanity, profanity... blah, blah , blah.

Eve:  What is your point?  That is not what we are talking about.   You're not making sense.   You seem stressed. 

(look at your lawyer and his, raise you eyebrows and sigh)

Lance: blah blah blah blah lie, lie, lie, profanity, profanity... blah, blah , blah.

Eve:  Can you please get on the same topic as the rest of us?  Nothing you say makes sense. 

Do you have leaves in your mouth?

 

 

 

 

By Popular Demand...

Thank you all so much for your comments, contacts, and emails.  

And WELCOME to the new parents who join us every day!

 

By popular demand,

We* start our journey

to rescue the first child

 ever

from being abandoned to the

narcissistic (borderline) parent

in family court.

 

*WE are the

National Alliance for Targeted Parents!

Ta Da!

Targeted parents have experienced much more trauma than the average person.  Nearly every targeted parent that I’ve had the pleasure of talking to wants to help the Alliance in some way.  Unfortunately, what we do is not easily delegated and targeted parents struggle with the affects of trauma.

In a recent podcast, Richard Levine, one of the world’s leading experts in trauma, said that trauma is meant to be a good thing.  Trauma survivors are more sensitive to being traumatized again, which doesn’t sound like an advantage to me.   The advantage is that our hyper vigilance gives us the edge over someone who hasn't been sensitized to life-threatening circumstances before.   Unfortunately our hyper vigilance is sensitized to a fault and there are millions of triggers in everyday life.

I know it doesn’t sound like a fair trade but rather than being side swiped from our hit and run ex-partners whenever we are not looking, our hyper vigilance alerts us that the car is coming. If we can keep our emotions from hi-jacking us, we can move out of the way and report the license plate number.

 This is exactly what our targeted parents are doing with our intervention model.   Rather than waiting until the next court hearing to “see what happens” (and you know that isn’t a good idea) our two targeted parents are trying to get use to being in the driver’s seat and build their agency.

 “Agency,” is the ability to change your circumstances for the better and is on the opposite side of the spectrum from our learned helplessness.  Both parents seem to be capitalizing on the fact that they know more about their cases than anyone else and they will no longer trust the outcome to lawyers and judges. The FIT Intervention gives them direction, with or without the help of family court!  So let me bring you up to speed a little before they start blogging.

 

Meet Eve

Meet Eve

Meet Eve.

Eve has a child support hearing on March 13.  She told me that she can't wait for it to be over, but I had to remind her that everything is different now, and March 13 is the beginning.

Eve and her ex-husband Lance, have had 50/50 placement for 8 years.  She has never asked for child support before but because Lance is a narcissist (and I think that he leans more to the anti-social side than the borderline side) he has been more interested in raging war against Eve’s career and income than their son (and he was a little too young to be fully manipulated). 

Eve’s ex-husband was able to destroy her career and devastate her income to the point where she really needs the child support to take care of her son when he is with her. 

Eve filed for child support last summer, but her ex-husband’s lawyer kept pushing the date out until he couldn’t push it any further.   FYI: Lance has a lot of money, a lot of money.

 QUIZ TIME!

What is this child support hearing really going to be about?

A. A Party

B. A Murder

C. Child Support

D. Something completely different

If you picked C - “child support” then you don’t know the narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder well enough yet.

If you picked D and thought “placement” or  “false allegations of being “unfit” or “abusive,” then you win this round.

Since we believe that Lance and his lawyer are planning on making some play for full time placement (so he won’t have to pay child support), Eve is going to prepare for the hearing as the jumping off point to assert the need for psychological evaluations. 

She is preparing 3 files of evidence.  A file on how she is a good mom, a file on how Lance destroyed her income and a file on Lance’s patterns of concerning behaviors that align with narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder.   

 Eve has a new lawyer, whose first comment to Eve was, "Your ex is a psychopath!"  He seems to know this type of personality which means that he should have some ideas on how to deal with him.  We will reserve judgment at this time.

 

  In another part of the country, there is Mary.

Mary likes Charles Stanley

Mary likes Charles Stanley

Hi, my name is Mary. I had the opportunity to meet with Kay a few months ago when I knew I would be driving through the vicinity of the alliance.  We had been communicating via e-mails and phone calls prior to our meeting. I have to be honest, when I decided to reach out to her I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing. Let me explain….

Kay is very passionate and driven when it comes to saving our children and exposing the truth behind the court system. To put it bluntly, she can be pretty radical and fired up when I start telling her about my case. I am very thankful we met and she has been a very supportive advocate for me!

I am at the other spectrum from Eve. My 15 year old son has been psychologically abused by his Dad to the point where my son has to reject me, this has been going on for two years. We are not divorced yet, however I was given dinner once a week with my son on August 24th during a temporary custody hearing.

A positive note in this case, is that my soon to be ex-husband was diagnosed by a court ordered psychological evaluation to be a narcissistic.  But, the GAL will not remove my son from his Dad’s home because he said the clinic told him it would be too traumatic for my son to be with me?

We were scheduled for a temporary custody hearing a few weeks ago after I said this has to stop. All the evidenced show’s my son is being psychologically abused and nobody is doing anything about this abuse. In my heart I knew the temporary custody was going to be a repeat of August 24th. Our final court date is eight weeks away. I spoke to Kay and Eve and they confirmed my feelings. The recommended time the GAL was going to let me have my son confirmed my gut instincts.

I hope and pray the judge will see the truth. It’s not about child custody, it’s about psychological child abuse.

 

This week, Mary will make an appointment with the Supervisor for Child Protective Services.  I will be traveling to Mary's so the three of us can meet (and maybe Eve too!)

We will discuss the FIT Intervention and try to get a buy in.  Our number one question will be; "What do you need from us to open a case for child psychological abuse and protective separation?"

I have prepared a special document detailing 6 ways in which Mary's case rises to a level of child psychological abuse and the intervention necessary to resolve the problem.

If there is time, we may also meet with Mary's lawyer and the GAL with copies of the same document.  If not, Mary will make appointments and deliver the proposal for the intervention herself.

The fact that your eyes are on this case, is a powerful incentive for everyone to do the right thing...

but we will see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress

The Plan

Our Progress

Our Progress

EVERY day I read about more organizations moving towards stopping narcissistic(borderline) parents from psychologically abusing their children.  These organizations include; adult children of a narcissistic (borderline) parent, child abuse and neglect organizations, the ACE and trauma informed movement leaders such as; the American Academy of Pediatricians and the National Education Association.  Also, the APA's task force on high conflict family court cases, the Child's Bureau, SAMSHA, every major University, and hundreds more.  We all seem to be on a converging path to end child abuse and neglect.   The Alliance is the expert on child psychological abuse and neglect and is looking forward to offering an efficient and effective trauma informed program, once we work the bugs out of it. 

Currently, we are field testing our FIT (Families Interrupting Trauma) program with 2 cases. 
We are trying to by-pass family court, but that doesn't mean that we get to by-pass ignorance or obstacles.   Our targeted test pilots aren't fishing for problems but they sure are finding them. 

Both targeted parents have agreed to share the crazy, weird, stupid, frustrating and traumatizing experiences they encounter with you via this blog.   However, in all due respect to me (I’m suppose to be on a sabbatical to finish writing my book), and our 2 test pilots, we don't want to spend a lot of time blogging the blow by blow, unless we know that there are enough people who are interested.

 

So here’s the deal, if you want to follow the drama of two targeted parents who are forging a path for others to follow,  make a comment below this blog.   If you are reading this from any place other than the official website blog of the National Alliance for Targeted Parents, please go to our site (www.targetedparent.com) and join us.   Then, you will get every blog in your inbox.  If we get enough encouragement in the comments below (not on social media), we willkeep the reports coming. 

I’ll be in touch, one way or the other.

Kay

Reversing the Silver Bullet

Reversing the Silver Bullet

Out of all of the horrible things that I went through, I think that one of the worst was when I was falsely accused of being an unfit parent.   My ex-partner didn’t outright accuse me of abuse or neglect but strongly framed me as unstable and hard to live with.   

Targeted parents are empathetic and good-hearted to a fault.  We know real love, real affection, and secure attachments.  Our love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (ok, well maybe just a few). Our love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a).  These are personality traits that the world desperately needs more of, but the only ones who seem to notice our propensity to hold to our positive moral convictions is narcissists. 

Narcissistic/borderline parents project and blame the targeted parent for their abusive and neglectful behaviors.  They accuse us of the very things that they are doing.   They know that false accusations won’t cost them anything, will prolong litigation and they won’t be held responsible for perjury, liable or slander.   An interesting side note is that narcissistic/borderline parents and the children they control use the words “abuse” and “force.”   They do this because these dramatic words intimate the Judiciary from changing or enforcing placement. 

False accusations of abuse or neglect should be as alarming to legal professionals and court authorities as the substantiated claims.  A parent who makes false accusations of abuse against the other parent is clearly the one with the problem.  They psychologically (emotionally) exploits their a child's vulnerable developing systems and also hurt him/her by continually attacking the attachment with the targeted parent.

In addition, these parents intentionally and repeatedly induce their children to publically and caustically betray their loving and devoted parent and corrupt their developing morality. These children learn that they can break any and all laws, deceive and manipulate authorities and feel justified in doing so. 

False accusations of abuse or neglect are not just some little white lies that don’t hurt anyone.  These accusations are so traumatic that they impair the targeted parent mentally and physically.  They devalue the targeted parent’s sense of parenthood; destroy their integrity and ruin their careers and reputations.  Even when these accusations are blatantly unfounded, the suspicions about the targeted parent’s parenting are planted in everyone’s mind.

 

“A parent's right to the preservation of his/(her)

relationship with his child derives from the fact

that the parent's achievement of a rich and rewarding

life is likely to depend significantly on his/(her)

ability to participate in the rearing of his children.

A child's corresponding right to protection from

interference in the relationship derives from

the psychic importance to him/(her)of being raised

by a loving, responsible, reliable adult.”

Franz v. U.S., 707 F 2d 582, 595^Q599; US Ct App (1983).

 

A false accusation of abuse by one parent against the other parent is a painfully obvious, intentional act to harm both the children and targeted parent.   This insidious and coercive type of domestic violence leads to emotional devastation, homelessness, financial insecurity, the loss of family, and even sometimes the loss of freedom.

A false allegation of abuse is a  far-reaching interpersonal crime that is indicative of narcissistic/borderline personality disordered parents.  It is also; perjury, defamation of character, pure trauma and the Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED).  Narcissistic/borderline parents intentionally deceive the court and child protective service while wasting precious time and resources.  More importantly false accusations of abuse are pathological manipulation and control of a child’s  thoughts, feelings and behaviors.   

 

In summary, false accusations of abuse are the toxic synergy of mental illness, child psychological abuse and severe domestic abuse (by proxy). 

 

It's game time champ, and you're up!!

If you are or have been falsely accused of being unfit for any reason,  you need to hit this one out of the park!  Tell your lawyer to go to bat for you right away. 

What kind of person has such a warped moral compass?  What kind of a parent could intentionally inflict so much pain and suffering on his or her own family---and for what reason?

The answer is obvious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Don't Have To Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater

Healthy skepticism encourages us to check our assumptions, recognize the limitations of our methods, and proceed thoughtfully. When skepticism and controversy about a concept or label still remains an obstacle to resolving a national health crisis, after decades of trying to getvalidation from mainstream health and science, then the validity of the theory or assumptions must be examined.  

When all efforts to get society, especially the mental health and legal professionals to recognize “parental alienation” as a legitimate crisis have failed, then the problem is not on “them;" it is on us.   How can we expect "them" to adopt a concept when we ourselves don't even have a common definition? 

Regardless of the inherent controversy with the term “parental alienation”,  it is short sighted to think that the mental health and legal professions are going to fully embrace a problem that doesn't have a clear, stable definition.  Is it a dynamic?  Is it a mental illness?  Is it child abuse?  No one, outside of our elite little PA community is going to take us seriously until we resolve the confusion about what “parental alienation” is by explaining it simply in language they already know.

A year ago, a member of the Parental Alienation Study Group (PASG), proposed a far-reaching position statement to its members for adoption.  The position statement strongly supported using more widely accepted and less controversial language.  The position statement recognized that the failure with "parental alienation" was more about the words than it was about the actual dysfunctional family.

Adopting this position statement (or an amended version) could have brought this international group of authors and researches in line with the largest, most powerful organizations and agencies in the United States who are working to change the outcomes for families struggling with narcissistic/borderline abuse.  PASG could then network with established change agents such as;  Adverse Childhood Experiences, trauma informed health and legal workers, Child Protective Services, domestic violence advocates, the National Education Association, the APA, and a plethora of others, all fighting to stop this type of horrific interpersonal trauma by a narcissistic/borderline parent.

The biggest problem with shifting the paradigm of "parental alienation" is is that many of us are so traumatized that we can't differentiate relevant from irrelevant information.   We understand and use these words so much that they have become relevant to us-- but only us.

We need to be able to communicate with the rest of our country, but we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater!   Simply put,  “parental alienation” is not the whole enchilada, but a set of abusive strategies (or a pattern of abusive behaviors) that a narcissistic/borderline parent uses to devalue and discard the other parent from the family.

 This is a subtle but significant difference.  The abusive acts of a narcissistic/borderline parent abusive cannot be separated from the abuser's personality disorder or their reenactment of childhood trauma.  The average parent doesn't all of the sudden become a masterful psychological manipulator and exploiter with no empathy who wants to destroy the other "targeted" parent. 

Below is a diagram of the chronology of how attachment trauma impacts the development of narcissistic/borderline personality disorder and how that disorder plays out in family situations.  The hallmark of these parents is that they are psychologically abusive to every member of their family and close friends.  They also like to escalate conflict.  Many of these families breakdown under this unrelenting stress. 

Narcissistic/borderline parents internalize separation and/or divorce as acute abandonment. This stress triggers them to reenact their childhood trauma based which is based on their distorted and disorganized memories stored in a part of the brain's attachment system called the internal working model.  In this reenactment, the abuser casts the targeted parent in the role of the abuser and he or she takes on the persona of the healthy or protective parent.

Reenactment never ends for the disturbed parent.  He or she will always see the targeted parent as the abusive parent and engages in and escalates psychological (emotional and verbal) abusive strategies such as triangulating the child into the a cross-generational coalition against the targeted parent.

timeline PA.jpg

 

The sooner we stop calling post separation domestic violence and child psychological abuse “parental alienation”, the sooner we can engage in meaningful and effective intervention and prevention in a systemic and comprehensive public health plan.

But this is up to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attachment Trauma Reenactment

The following are my interpretations of the chronological timeline of a narcissistic/borderline parent.  I made this 5 minute video a while ago, but I didn't like it, so I never worked on the additional modules.   It is still accurate though so take what you like and leave the rest.

Over time I've tweaked the timeline and separated out adolescence because that is the time a personality disorder becomes fixed, and so many adolescence are involved in these cases. 

This is an enlargement of the development of a narcissistic/borderline personality disorder.

You can see the integration of traits from both types.

This is the a visual of my proposed definition of

"parental alienation." 

What's Working and What Is Not

Dear Friends,

There are so many opportunities for us in the ACEs, trauma informed, and resilience building movement, that I decided the most efficient and effective way for us to get our powerful scientific based message out to all those who can help us end the nightmare of narcissistic abuse, is to publish a book.  So, I am taking a 2-month sabbatical from running the Alliance (including the face book and LinkedIn pages) to write.

 

But before I do, I wanted to up date you on:

What’s working and what is not.

What’s Not Working?—The same things that never worked.

 

 Some targeted parents are still trying to prove “parental alienation” in family court.  GRRRRR.  Please remember that there aren’t any States with statutes that define “parental alienation” let alone have made it a crime.  A lawyer would have to prove “it” by case law- Good Luck with that, Perry Mason.

 I’ve had contact with a few lawyers and GALs who know that one parent is using alienation strategies to discard the TP, but that’s as far as they get.  Even if they get past the obstacles of trying to prove something that most legal professionals have strongly held misconceptions about, there are no laws or protocols to take it to the next level. 

Usually the courts think that the next level is therapy for the child and TP.  We know where that goes-- No protective separation---No reunification.  Therapy further harms the child and further traumatizes the TP.  In addition,  children who express strong desires about placement with one parent, intimidate Judges and GALs.  They are afraid that the children will be too traumatized if they transfer custody from the abusive parent to the TP and they will be held accountable.

What IS Working.

1. Using an advocate.  Advocates can be another parent, friend, sibling, spiritual leader, therapist, a coach or anyone who is willing to help you manage the stress of being re-traumatized by Family Court and Child Protective Services.  It is very hard for targeted parents to effectively manage their own high conflict cases even with all that we know about the circumstances and people.  

2. Designing a plan.  Targeted parents do not have the luxury to “wait and see” what will happen in the next court hearing.  I can almost guarantee it won’t be good.

The abuser is spending 24/7 planning how to execute the next attack, the next step to devalue you and the final phases of discarding you.  He or she has been in the drivers seat since the beginning.  And don’t give credit to the lawyers,  your ex-partner calls the shots.

Plan to take the offensive. Use your advocate. Your lawyer will not take the lead and fix this. Family law professionals do not understand child development, attachment systems, personality disorders or trauma.  We cannot teach them all of this, we must lead them through what needs to be done.

3.  File contempt every time your ex violates a court order (including child support).  The only way the court will “see” the narcissistic/borderline traits will be if you show them.  You want the conflict to be between the abuser and the Judge; not between the two of you.  It won’t take long for the court to see that he/she has no respect for authority and will not comply or cooperate with anything that supports your relationships with your children. This is abuse!

4. Convince the GAL or your lawyer to request psychological evaluations for both of you, as soon as possible.  Use an independent clinic that is competent is diagnosing personality disorders. These objective mental health professionals are pretty easy to find.  Do not use custody evaluators; they work for the court and will not diagnose the personality disorder or work on your behalf once the evaluation is complete.

When the diagnosis comes back with the personality disorder, be prepared to push the court to involve CPS.  If they won’t, you will need to file an abuse report on your own.  It doesn’t cost anything but your persistence.

5. File Child Psychological Maltreatment (also called psychological abuse and neglect, emotional and/or mental abuse and neglect) with your local Child Protective Service Agency.  Child Psychological Maltreatment is the most prevalent and damaging type of child abuse.  And although it co-occurs with physical and sexual abuse it is a formidable type of abuse on its own. Narcissistic/borderline personality disordered parents are psychologically abusive to their children and (ex) partners 24/7. 

These are not custody cases they are abuse cases.

6. Make your concerns about child abuse and neglect known to anyone and everyone.   Otherwise, it looks like you don’t care and you could ultimately be charged with neglect       (I’ve seen it happen)!

7. Keep processing your trauma and elevating to new levels of healing. There is a plethora of information available on the best ways to treat trauma, but you can’t do it alone.  Work with a trauma informed therapist and do your homework.  

8. Become a trauma expert by getting familiar with the ACES, trauma informed and resiliency movements.  They are really very easy to understand and the most powerful agency we have. 

Our children have ACE scores of 8+.  This precisely defines what is at stake.  If a psychologically abused child is not removed from a narcissistic/borderline abuser and isn’t allowed to rekindle the attachment with the healthy parent,  he or she will be at extreme risk for developing self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, promiscuity and criminal or antisocial lifestyles.  These adverse experiences in turn trigger the onset of the most common chronic diseases and a premature death.

 

Until I blog Again,

Kay

 

 

 

2017 Bring It On!

It’s January 1, 2017 (observed)

One of my personal goals for 2017 is to rewire my perspective about my life.  Ok, you got me… this has been my personal goal every new year since I can remember, but I am getting closer.

I got thinking about my life in general.  I was impressed with how emotionally stable I was as I sifted through the chronology of tortures.  Then, all of the sudden, I clearly heard chanting; 

“IT REALLY SUCKED!   IT REALLY SUCKED!  

IT REALLY SUCKED!”

I am usually oblivious to these intrusive negative mood persuaders, but I was pretty sure that this was one of those thoughts that could implode into an emotional meltdown if I didn’t keep the thought from triggering my overly sensitive stress response system. 

I stopped right in the middle of my living room and demanded,

“Really? My life sucked? 

According to who?”

Now here’s the dilemma, I am the only one in the room.  I know very well that the taunting remarks were echoes of years of verbal abuse from my ex-husband, but why was I still doing his dirty work?  Why was I still marching down that same path to trigger my emotional pain?  

While having contact with my ex-husband directly or by what he was doing to the children, he controlled my emotions and self worth, he made me question my intellect, and cultivated my perceptions of the present and the future.  After cutting off contact with him,  I found myself living only in the past.  The past with him in it. The past with my children in it. The past that was 1/2 empty. 

 I have processed a lot of the trauma and the past is starting to become the past, which has no control over my present or future.   But the past will always control our present and future if we filter our perceptions of the world through glass that is ½ empty.

In her Ted Talk, Alison Ledgerwood discusses how we get stuck in the negatives with those pesky personal rejections (10 minutes).

 

After watching this Ted Talk, I began to challenge myself to see my world as it is.  This will take conscious, mindful work, but here is how I am going to start.

When I think about my years in hell and family court (which are one in the same),  I am amazed.  I did everything humanly possible to stop my ex-husband from abusing our children.  And, I did it to the best of my ability.

 I did it alone. 

I did it afraid.

I did it traumatized.

I did it depressed.

I did it exhausted.

I did it all AND

I stayed in the game.

 

As for 2017, Johnny Truant gives us this advice:

 “This is game time, champ.

You're in.

You're in, playing, right now,

and the clock is ticking.”

 

 

 

The Momentum Is Unstoppable

This has been an amazing week, despite my last blog.

And about that…

I am sorry if my last blog made you feel sad.  I was selfishly thinking only about me at the time.  I usually don’t complain.  I know that rumination only reinforces the triggers that cause me to relive the trauma.  But it is healthy to journal and I guess that I needed to vent. You know what it is like to try to tell someone about what the narcissistic/borderline has done to you.  There are no words that can adequate describe the emotions.   No matter how much our friends and family love us, they can’t relate.

For that reason, you are an incredible blessing to me.  You’ve felt the depth and breath of the worse days of my life.  You not only hear me---you know me.   Your understanding and your will to keep fighting is what keeps me going. Thank You.

 

OK, on to the Good News:

Holiday time or not, the work to save and protect our children and us continues, thank God.  The momentum has been swiftly and steadily rising over the last year.  Given the progress that I’ve seen this fall, 2017 will make history. 

Let me share a few very recent examples of how we are beginning to turn the corner on narcissistic/borderline family abuse.

1. Last Thursday, I went to a presentation by a very popular nutritionist (I still want to lose some weight).  Do you know what she talked about?  ACEs and trauma!  As I listened I thought, “This is not an accident.”  The presenter explained that chronic high levels of cortisol from traumatic stress (our ex-partners) breaks down muscle and turns it into fat.  So those of us who have CPTSI – Complex posttraumatic stress injuries are prone to weight gain even if we are eating healthy.  That explained why nutrisystems didn’t work for me! 

We all need to go on an elimination diet.  We need to eliminate the narcissistic/borderline from our lives and that includes our thoughts, feelings and reactions.  For many of you actively engaged in the battle, you need to see this person as he or she really is.  Mentally ill, void of empathy, and living in a delusion.   Narcissistic/borderlines are dead to this world but extremely toxic to everyone else.  They are like an android, programmed by their parents.  There is no upgrade.

2. Speaking of ACEs.  Everyday, more and more articles come across my desk like this one from the Chronicles for Social Change.

“The blockbuster Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study has become the fulcrum of a powerful and diverse consortium of interests bent on preventing and addressing childhood trauma.

Groups ranging from pediatricians and charitable foundations to politicians have increasingly asked how this growing body of research—which clearly shows how bad events experienced as a youngster can negatively affect adult health—can be applied to policy and practice.

While a politically viable and economically feasible strategy to lift up the lives of millions of children has been elusive, the interim step of using the study’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaire as a screening tool is gaining traction.”

This means that we are going to start to see routine screenings for ACEs at just about every point in which our children touch society.  Whenever and wherever our children are screened. it will set off alarms that our children have an ACE score of 7+.  The first question they will ask is, “What has this child been through to cause so much trauma?”   The second question that will be asked is, “How do we reduce this ACE score?”  There is only one way, and we know what it is.

3. I was surprised to read that Dr. Bernet of the Parental Alienation Study Group is familiar with how ACEs cause mental health problems.   He included a discussion about ACEs in an article he published with members of the DSM-V last summer.  While he got some of the information wrong in the article and is still on the fringes of the problem-- pushing the language “parental alienation,” it is obvious that ACEs are entering into every conversation about child abuse and neglect.

4. Also, in a recent blog, Dr. Craig Childress strongly asserts that mental health professionals must STOP using the words"parental alienation.”  He mentions that parents can still use this nondescript term, but I totally disagree. We all need to be on the same page.  We may be traumatized, but we are not stupid.  We have lived through triangulation, aligning a child in a cross-generational coalition and splitting so we can certainly attest to it by the scientific names. Personally, as the parent, I don’t want to look ignorant or throw any obstacles in the way of interventions.  The words “parental alienation” will always divert the attention from our families and ignite the age-old controversies.  Besides, one the strongest assets for the ACE framework is that it provides a common language and platform for all of us to use, and that framework will never include the words “parental alienation.”

5. The BBC aired an excellent investigation about “parental alienation” on one of their network channels.  Within the short documentary, they defined “parental alienation” as a set of strategies that one parent uses against the other…  This is exactly right.  You and I know that these strategies are rooted in the narcissistic/borderline’s decomposition into persecutory delusions because they are reenacting their own attachment trauma.  But, that’s not necessary to explain…yet.

6. From the family court arena, a member of the Alliance and a candidate for both her family law and social worker degrees, recently published an article in Family Court Review titled: High Conflict Divorce: A Case of Child Neglect.  In her well-documented article, Alexa Joyce proposes that high conflict divorces are cases of child (emotional) neglect and should involve child protective services. I talked with Alexa about how well her article has been received by the extremely conservative but powerful Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.  Alexa told me that her arguments (which stem from the ACE study) are strongly supported. 

7. Finally, an investigative reporter has taken on the daunting task of exposing how Family Court Judges are placing children with the abusive parent.  I don’t want to let this cat out of the bag just yet, but she has already published in ACEs Too High.  I'm following up.

On a personal note, I was honored to receive a full scholarship to attend Rick Hansen’s Foundations of Well Being Program.  It starts in January and I am sure I will learn ways to improve my life by using my brain, by one of the best teachers.  I look forward to sharing. .

 

 

Kay

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghosts of Christmas Pasts

Even though I grew up in poverty with my severely handicapped mother and an alcoholic father who was rarely home, I loved everything about Christmas. 

I knew that Christmas was about Jesus bringing light and love to a weary world and sharing what you could with others. These were things I could have.  Besides, my Aunt Dot would always give me $10.00, which seemed like a fortune. 

The day after Thanksgiving, we would go up into the attic and bring down the advent wreath, some garland and my mom’s Christmas tapes. My mom would listen to her favorite Christmas music over and over all the way through Christmas Day. We kept trying to give her new ones, but Christmas wasn’t Christmas if she didn't hear her favorite songs.

She delighted in everything that my sister and I did to decorate the old dilapidated house.  We draped the living room with treasures that we found in huge bins at St. Vincent DePaul and lit up every corner with brightly colored lights. Even the ratty, pink, lace wreath had a special place over the fireplace.

Every Christmas was magical, UNTIL I got married.  Little by little my narcissistic husband choked the joyful spirit out of the season.  His birthday was on December 23rd, and he constantly reminded everyone that he had always been “ripped off” because of Christmas.  He would make up stories about how sad his birthdays were when he was growing up to get sympathy and to keep the focus on him.

Of course, I didn’t know that the stories were not true. So every year, I was determined to make his birthday so special that he would forget all the bad ones before.  Of course, that never worked.  No matter how elaborate the plans or how much everyone focused on him for the day, his birthday was never anything but a “rip off” And he never missed the opportunity to tell us so. He carried this chip on his shoulder from Thanksgiving through December 26th.  Now, I have only a handful of memories of past Christmases that don’t bring tears to my eyes.

Our daughter, Alexis was always wide-eyed and quiet.  She was confused about how everyone was happy about the holidays except her dad.  He was a stay at home and she had bonded closely to him.  Whatever her dad felt, she felt. Christmas was confusing for her.  By 4 or 5, she had figured out that her father would snap at her for just about anything during the Holiday Season, so it was best to stay out of the way.

Our younger son, Scotty was more wild-eyed than wide eyed.  I guess he inherited my genes of a love for Christmas.  Up until he was 6, Scotty loved Christmas too.  His eyes sparkled brighter than the lights on the tree.  He had no sense of time and everyday he would ask if it was Christmas yet. He was a list maker like me, and would write down every toy he saw on T.V. during December.  But, the most fun we had on those early family Christmases was when Scotty and I would mix oatmeal and brightly colored glittered together for Santa’s reindeer.  Scotty was worried that Santa wouldn’t find our house because we lived so far out in the country. We needed something to make our house visible to the reindeer from the sky.  On those cold, crisp, early Christmas Eves, Scotty and I sprinkled our special reindeer food all over the driveway before we hurried off to bed.

As Christmas morning rolled around, the kids would be jittery and giggly. They bounced on the bed, announcing that Santa had come and begged to dive under the Christmas tree.  I smiled and waited. Sometimes their dad would play with them for a little while and I would think for a moment that maybe this year would be different.  But narcissists can only tolerate seeing that others are happy for a short time; even when the “others” are their children.  It never took too long before he would get angry at them and demand military obedience.

First, the kids had to settle down and eat breakfast. Then, when much of the wind was taken out of their sails, we walked into the living room for the presents.  Opening Christmas presents was regimented and required the “proper” emotional control.

I did love to watch my children open the presents I had bought and wrapped with all my love. I also liked helping them pick out or make gifts for their dad.  After the presents were opened and everyone was busy playing, no one would notice me leave the room with nothing.  My husband never even looked up or thanked me for all the extra time I had put into decorating, cooking, baking, buying and wrapping presents, etc.  I always did these things alone.

As I cleaned up the paper, scissors and tape that I had left out from my late night wrappings, I cried softly, happy that there were at least a few hours of quiet and concentrated play.  I consoled myself by trying to focus on Jesus and thanking God that the holiday torment was over for another year. I didn’t need any presents, I was more concerned that my children had learned that Christmas was all about their dad. 

The longer I was married, the more my feelings of Christmas joy and wonder turned to work, disappointment and fear. Then came the year that we divorced and it got a lot worse.

It was 2009. My ex-husband had the kids on Christmas Eve and I was to have them Christmas Day.  About 10 am, my ex-husband galloped into my house with Alexis on his back.  He smiled at me.

I looked behind the both of them. Where’s Scotty? I questioned. “He didn’t want to come,” my ex said, as if it were no big deal.   I barely heard my ex-husband babbling explanations and telling me what I should and should not do. I grabbed my coat and headed out the back door.

“There is no way, I’m going to be without my son on Christmas!” My mind raced as fast as my car. “No way, he or they are going to start this; my son, my day, my Christmas.  Scotty, what are you doing? What are you thinking? You have no reason, no reason at all not to want to be with me on Christmas.” Who gave him a choice and why?  He is only 13!  He is my son too!”

I pulled into the driveway.  The house had absolutely no decorations, not even a Christmas tree.  It looked as bare and empty as my ex-husband's heart.  I rushed out of the car and I was through the door starring at my son before I knew it. “What?” Scotty asked. I paused. “Get your coat, it is Christmas and it is my time with you.” I said calmly but sternly. “I’ve let you stay with your dad a few extra days here and there, but I will not spend Christmas without you.”  Scotty didn’t move or didn’t argue. “This is not a choice young man, it is not your decision, it is not your father’s decision.  If your dad wants to change placement he has to go through the court, until then we follow the placement orders.”   Scotty and I locked eyes.  “No, I am not going with you to your house.”

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. My ex-husband jogged into the room behind me and I heard him say, “You’re not going to call the police.”  Wow, was that a question or a command?  “I will if you don’t tell Scotty to get his coat and get in the car, now.” I said, never changing the tone of my voice or taking my eyes off of my son.  I dialed the number.

Officer Henzel arrived in minutes and assessed the situation.  He went into the living room and sat down next to Scotty.  My ex-husband and I backed into the kitchen ignoring each other. Scotty came out of the living room, got his coat and headed out the door in stony silence. When we got back to my house, he promptly locked himself in his room.

Christmas didn’t exist in 2010.  I didn’t put up a tree, declined invitations and tried to pretend that it was just another day.  Scotty now hated and rejected me and Alexis had learned that Christmas was about her dad and had become passively aggressive.

I would be alone and that was all I wanted. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold back the grief, loneliness and loss. Crying was the only way I knew to release the years of hurt and disappointment that had turned Christmas from a time of joy to the most dreaded time of the year.  I hated the entrepreneurs who would shove the illusions of happy families, decked halls, and shared laughter under your nose.  It only served to pry the gap between my dreams and reality farther and farther apart.

It’s now 2016. My children are 20 and 22.  I have not had a Christmas or a Thanksgiving with my children since 2009.  Some years have been easier than others, but there is no denying that every Christmas I am visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Pasts.