Tag Archives: communication

Wives Behaving Badly

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I thought this article was thought provoking.  Sometimes we are guilty of this.  I remember when my husband would wash the dishes and leave water all over the counter.  That is what caught my attention–the water and not the perfectly washed dishes.

Let’s try speaking words of encouragement to our spouses and see things in the best light possible.  Remember Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

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Teamwork Makes a Dream Work

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My husband and I have decided that we are going to start having family meetings at our house.  I’m hoping that it will open the lines of communication between us and the kids.  Plus, it might make life a little easier for us all. Below are a list of things that can possibly be accomplished during family meeting time:

  • address any concerns
  • allocate and monitor chores
  • ease sibling rivalry
  • recognition for jobs well done
  • promote communication skills
  • group brainstorming to solve problems (working together works!)
  • resolve family conflicts
  • provide children with “ownership” in the family
  • create a sense of family

In the next week or so (after doing a little research), I will be putting together the agenda for our first meeting that I hope to hold before school begins.  Any suggestions are welcome.

Frienemy

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Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

                                                 ~Abraham Lincoln

My goal regarding Eliza has changed.  I no longer want to pursue a friendship with her.  I just don’t think it can happen.  Simply put, I don’t believe that she is capable of maintaining a friendship.  There is too much mistrust, bitterness, paranoia, anger, and jealousy on her end.  

 

I thought it would be a noble thing to do.  But if I am honest with myself, she is not the kind of friend I would want to have.  It is hard to call a one-sided relationship a friendship; although she has made spradic attempts to reach out to me. 

  

In my mind I wanted to achieve the impossible—becoming friends with the enemy.  I was tired of the animosity.  I felt like God had provided me with this opportunity to heal some old wounds.  I wanted to partner with Eliza to help her stay connected with the boys. 

 

And it’s not that I “need” a friend because I have been blessed with enough. It is true that we have had a tumultuous past; but I still didn’t find it strange that I would want to befriend her.  Jesus still remained “friends” with Judas even though he betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver.  Nor did he turn his back on Simon Peter who disowned him three times before the cock crowed.  Now that’s what I call pure love and graciousness!

 

I have accepted that we are never likely to be friends with a little sadness.  It would have been cool for her and me to do things together with the kids once she is released.  I was looking forward to having an open, relaxed line of communication.

 

However, I still am willing to remain cordial to her.  I refuse to let my goodness sour because she desires something different than what I had in mind.  I still have hope for other mother and stepmothers who both are willing to do the work involved in interacting in a healthy manner.

 

I continue to escort Ethan for visits.  I am content to provide snacks and sit back and allow them their time together.  If she writes inquiring about the children; I respond in a timely manner.  However, I no longer “entertain” her by letting her draw me in for arguments.  I answer the questions she asks and refrain from responding to any commentary, accusations, or wording meant to trigger a response from me.

 

I have also stopped sending “encouragement” to her.  From time to time I would send her books, cards, articles, and other things of inspiration.  I have visited her attorney to obtain documents, checked on her niece who was in foster care, and coordinated activities so that Ethan and Evan could spend time with their other brother.  I stopped doing most of this in the last three months when I noticed that despite my friendly gestures, she continued to bicker with me.  I had to set up boundaries with her for my own contentment and sanity in this trying situation.  Now I only deal with her on a need to basis.  I no longer try to save her from herself if that makes sense.  In essence I’ve removed myself from the picture as much as I can.  I’ve started to focus more on building solid relationships with the kids instead of her.  I realized that having them in our homes is a gift.  She had taken the boys from our lives for years, but God gave them back.

 

Rhonda has commented that deep down Eliza really probably does want to be friends with me—she just feels that Eliza doesn’t know how.  She is very good at pushing people away and projecting her fears and insecurities onto them because she refuses to trust anyone.  Eliza always feels that others are out to get her.  It is as if she expects everyone to hurt her.  I think this stems from being an incest survivor. 

 

At a visit not to long ago, she introduced me to a fellow inmate as “Ethan’s stepmom and my friend.”  I was a little surprised by this term of endearment but took it with a grain of salt.  I know that her actions do not support her words.  I felt sorry for her and knew that it was an attempt to manipulate my emotions.  I think she knows that I have grown tired of her mind games. 

 

I have been on both sides of the fence with her—her enemy and her “friend.”  Of course you know what side I’d prefer to be on.  I still pray that God is able to use me in whatever way he sees fit in this situation.  I know it has only been with Him that we have managed to make the progress that we have.  I still believe that anything is possible.

Real Talk

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            Monday I made the two hour drive down to see Eliza so that I could speak with her face to face regarding the voicemail she left.  I could detect the veiled hostility in her message that she attempted to cover up by concluding with and have a blessed day.  I wanted to give her a chance to talk about whatever it was that was obviously bothering her. 

It was a pretty intense visit in which we talked about a lot.  She was defensive (understandably so) and seriously in denial about Evan’s reason for being in residential treatment.  It was primarily her parenting, life, and motives that were being examined.  As I knew would happen sooner or later, events from the past surfaced.  But I was okay with that and was actually looking forward to an end of the pretense that all was well.  It was like a breath of fresh air to a collapsed lung.

 It was weird how the conversation flowed.  She jumped around from topic to topic and eventually landed in the past.  She began with the scarf story.  When CPS had removed the kids from her custody, we had them for a period of five weeks.  One day after visiting with her for a couple of hours, Evan came home with the scarf that she used to wrap her hair up at night.  She sent it to comfort him.  She continued to say that Evan told her that I had thrown the scarf away proclaiming, “Nothing that belongs to your mother will ever be allowed in this house.”  You’ll have to forgive me, but I started laughing at the absurdity of it all.  I would never do such a thing and I actually thought it was kind of cute that she had sent it with him.  I explained this to her and she burst out crying.  Apparently she believed this—though I have no idea why Evan would weave such a tale.  But then again, I do.  Sometimes when children know that their parents want to hear certain things, they will do anything to “feed” this need and begin to fabricate stories.  I’m sure she wanted to hear something “bad” about us, and because he wanted to please her, he came up with the scarf story.  She heard what she wanted to hear and used that among other tales to keep the animosity burning and the rift growing. 

She said that Ethan told her that I said that she would never be able to afford a house like ours.  Another lie.  One day Ethan asked me how much our house cost.  I thought it was a rather strange question coming from the mouth of a then ten-year-old boy.  I responded by saying that there are certain questions that you just don’t ask people and that the question he had just asked was one of them.  I knew that she sent him fishing for this particular information.

Eliza was also holding it against us that a friend of her middle son’s father, Carl, told him that my husband and I said that we did not want the kids at our house.  Carl, of course, relayed this misinformation to her.  I gently pointed out to her that immediately after the incident that landed her in prison, my husband made arrangements to get them.  Now mind you, Eliza is the one who did not want my husband to receive custody.  Before her husband went to prison, she had him call my husband asking him if he would terminate his parental rights! Not to mention, she fainted in jail upon learning that we had Ethan and Evan.

            I was a little shocked at how much she thrived on the whole “he say-she say” phenomenon.  But then again, she does have that drama seeking, immature personality.  It seems that she was expressing her own actual feelings through Ethan and Evan.  She didn’t want to come off as totally paranoid or as if she really cared what I thought about her.  These are her adult insecurities that she has bequeathed to her children.

  She also said that social worker involved in the CPS case told her that she felt I was too controlling.  Again, I had to laugh as I informed her that Shan, the caseworker, had told me that exact same thing about her!    

Eliza attempted to badmouth my husband but I stopped her by simply saying “I am not here to defend my husband—what for?  You had a past with him that I can’t speak on.  Your experience with him belongs to you and him alone.  I understand that he is not perfect and I’m sure that you both did things wrong that resulted in a failed marriage.  But I would like to remind you that he is not the same person that you married, as I’m sure you are not the same.”   She appeared to accept this.

I guess I have moved on because I didn’t once mention any of the problems that she caused for me.  My entire focus was on the kids and how we could continue to work together for the good of the whole.  And in case you’re wondering, Eliza did apologize twice for leaving that message.

            The kids were I teach have a term that they use to describe a serious moment of conversation known as “real talk.”  Yesterday, as tedious as it was, was our first “real talk.”  In the end I was glad that she had the opportunity to get some concerns off her chest.  Do I think there’s more? Yes.  Am I ready to throw in the towel? Kind of.  Am I sick of dealing with her and the whole ordeal? Absolutely!  Am I going to keep talking and working through this mess? Most likely.  Why?  Because I know that I can’t always give up or give in when the going gets tough.  

Fed Up!

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A few weeks back my husband received a call from BM with an update about Kierra’s doctor visit.  Kierra had been complaining of chest pains and her doctor had referred her to a specialist.  Well, today is her scheduled appointment and my husband asked me to go with him.  This will be the fist time all have attended a doctor’s visit together.  I had considered calling BM to break the ice before going.  I wanted to avoid feeling awkward. But something happened last Wednesday that caused me to change my mind.

As we are finishing dinner the phone rang and I answered.   It was BM.  She asked me to tell Kierra that she was on her way.  Then she asked if my husband was home.  I handed him the phone and his expression instantly turned serious. All of a sudden he stormed out of the house.  I figured something was wrong because BM sounded frantic when I answered the phone.  When he came back in, it was clear that he was upset.  He then told me that BM was calling to confront him.  Apparently some kid that goes to her oldest daughter’s school told her daughter that my husband was talking about her at his place of business.  Instead of consoling her daughter and assuring her that husband wouldn’t do anything like that, BM added fuel to the fire. 

BM was hollering and screaming that she has a right to call him and complain about what he supposedly said.  She had already assumed that this kid was telling the truth.  My husband told her not to call him unless it concerned Kierra.  The next day he talked to her oldest daughter.  She told my husband what the boy said.  It seems as though BM had added more lies to the pot.

A while back Kierra and her sister had a two hour delay from school.  BM called our home asking my husband to take Kierra to school because the bus didn’t show up.  Husband asks BM if she wanted him to take Kierra’s sister as well.  BM told my husband that she already had a ride.  So when my husband got there, he questioned Kierra about missing the bus and found out that they just didn’t want to go to school.  So he told the sister to get in the car and he was taking her to school, too.  He then called BM to tell her that THEY were being sneaky.  BM went into this story of how her oldest daughter loves school and Kierra is the one that doesn’t like school.  So husband dropped it.

BM had apparently mixed that conversation into what this boy said and made it a big mess.  Because of this, my husband does not want to talk to her at all.  She constantly makes up these stories for no reason.

On Saturday Kierra called my husband and said that BM wants to know if “Kierra” could borrow $20 for her co-pay.  My husband told Kierra that BM needed to write a check.  Yesterday, Kierra called her dad and said that BM wanted to talk to him.  She went into this story about how she doesn’t have any money because she has to give the girls lunch money for school.  (Last week Kierra called my husband wanting to know if he could give her money for lunch because BM didn’t have any money.  He gave Kierra money for lunch.)  She went on and on about she needed the little money she had to feed the kids and for gas.  He told her that she had three weeks to prepare for Kierra’s appointment and that he had to think about it. 

$20 is really no big deal but it is the principle of the matter.  He just gave Kierra money for lunch.  He is so fed up with BM right now.  He said he would pay the co-pay himself and get the receipt.  I’m sure BM will have nothing to say to either of us today. 

 

 

 

Opening Up

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             I am a very private individual.  I keep most of my thoughts close to my heart.  I am hypersensitive regarding most things.  I care deeply for others.  I don’t like to work on teams, believing that I can get the job done better on my own.  I could accurately be described as a loner, preferring my own company to that of others.  It feels safer this way.  

            It is not easy for me to open myself up to others.  Yet I know it is necessary in order to fortify relationships.  I am still hesitant to tell Eliza too much about me.  I don’t want to give her any future ammunition.  I want to be okay if the tides do happen to turn. I know that it is necessary for us to communicate, however, she does not have to confide in me the way that she has been.  This shows a little growth on her part.  She could keep things strictly about Ethan and Evan.  And this used to be the way it was. 

            But in her most recent letter she wrote I really appreciate you sharing with me how Evan is feeling.  I expect him to be angry with me.  I actually expect all of my boys to be angry with me-I don’t blame them.  I mean, look where I am… I’ve made some bad choices in life and I feel I have truly learned from my mistakes. When people are at the mercy of others, they will say and do anything to get comfort.  Does she really mean what she says?  Only time will tell the story of El…

            Truthfully, I don’t know if I’m brave enough to expose my “weak” spots to her.  But yesterday I took a tiny step in that direction.  I sent her eleven poems from a collection of poetry that I am creating called  Dark Days.  One poem in particular revealed a lot about me, entitled Where I Come From.  Keep reading because I plan to write a post regarding how she and I even got on the subject of poetry.  Stay tuned…