Are You Volunteering for Madness?

Do you ever find yourself going round and round in circles with your ex over the same situations?

It’s enough to make you want to throw up your hands and shout “Why is this happening to me?”

As much as we don’t want to admit it, sometimes we actually volunteer for this madness.

We put ourselves into situations that cause more stress and craziness from our ex.

Why do we do this?

Some of the reasons that we find ourselves in these situations are because we think we are doing what is “best for the kids”, or we are people pleasers, or we don’t know how to live without drama in our lives, or we think we “should”.

How Little League was Making me Crazy

Let me tell you about a situation where I was clearly volunteering for madness.

My ex-husband is a huge baseball fan.  He is also what you would call a “high-conflict personality”.

We were already divorced by the time my son was old enough to sign up for T-ball.

My ex had been dreaming about this moment from the time my son was born and I thought it would be good for my son to start playing sports, so I signed him up.

It started off okay, but as the years went on, my ex’s behavior became more and more detrimental to my serenity.

But I continued to be the ”baseball mom”.  I would keep on top of when the sign ups were happening, make sure my son had all the necessary paperwork, get him signed up, etc.

My ex would get in fights with the coaches – except when he was a coach, then he would get in fights with the parents and his assistant coaches.

We had to keep moving around to different leagues, because my ex would burn his bridges each season.

But I kept being the “good mom” and the “in charge” one.  I would still keep signing him up if my son wanted to play.

And each year I asked him, and he said “yes”.   I told him he didn’t have to, but since he expressed that he wanted to play I thought it was my duty to make it happen.

Until the nightmare season.  My ex was out of control.  We had numerous fights at the field because he wanted to pull our son out of a game due to the coaching decisions or whatever.

We were fighting all the time – all over baseball!

So, as the next sign up season rolled around I decided I had had enough.  If my son wanted to play and his father wanted him to play, they would have to take control of the situation.

I would no longer volunteer for the madness.  Would I still go to games?  Yes, because I love seeing my son play.  But I was not going to do any of the ground work.

I let my son know this in advance as he was now old enough to understand the whole process and told him he would have to let his father know if he wanted to sign up.

Guess what happened – NOTHING.  No sign ups, no games, no comments from my son about missing out, and most importantly, no more nightmare seasons.

Once I stepped back, the problem disappeared.  My son still plays sports but somehow football doesn’t ignite my ex in the same way.

What I Learned

What I learned from this experience is that sometimes by doing what we think is “best”, we are really just giving away our peace and serenity.

Not only are we living in a nightmare, but we are volunteering to be there.  Take a step back and see what happens.



When I Told My Husband I Wanted a Divorce

I thought he felt the same way.

I really did.

When I told my husband that I wanted a divorce, I expected him to be relieved or at least not surprised.

In my mind our marriage had not been working for some time and I thought that he wanted out as much as I did.

Boy, was I wrong.  I don’t think it was because he was truly still in love with me or even really liked me that much, but to him our marriage was comfortable and familiar.

Change was not a friend to my husband.

I had all these fantasies about an “amicable divorce”.  We would both be committed to putting the well-being of our son first, we would get along, no one would get hurt.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.  I hurt my husband (even thought that was the last thing I wanted to do) and hurt people hurt people.  The next 5 years was a trip through hell for me.

This is not a post where I am going to bash and re-count every “terrible” deed of my now ex-husband – I have moved beyond that.

But I do want you to know that I have been through the nightmare.

The fighting, the tears, the threats, the blackmail.

What I wanted more than anything during that time was for someone, anyone to make my ex see how he was damaging our child (in my opinion).  How because he wasn’t behaving like I thought he should, he was wrong.

Why did he not get it?  Why couldn’t he be a rational person and see things my way?

He knew my buttons well and, intentionally or not, he was pushing every one of them.

I was living with extreme anxiety.  I never knew what each phone call or drop off would bring.  Would he be “ok” or would there be another blow up or tantrum over something insignificant.

It broke my heart to see my son caught in the middle and I wanted to know how to protect him, how to give him his own strength.

I had pages and pages of notebooks filled with dates and specific incidents and things said – just in case.  Just in case it got that bad that we ended up in court.  I thank God that it didn’t come to that.

So how did things change?

 I gave up

I gave up trying to change him.  I gave up trying to turn him into a “better father”.  I stopped beating my head against that proverbial brick wall and walked away instead.

I stopped accepting the invitations to the fights.  I stopped trying to exert my power over him and empowered myself to control my reactions.

I had faith that as long as I was a good mom and always tried to do right by my son and let him know how much we was loved by both me and his father, that it would all be okay.

Somewhere along the way, my ex started to change as well.  I’m not really sure what happened.  Actually, maybe it was more my perception that changed.  I can’t know for sure.

Yes, sometimes there are still little flare-ups but they stay little because I am able to just let go.

To not take it personally

To just say “okay, he must be having a bad day” and move on instead of letting it push my buttons.

I has now been 8 years since the divorce and I am still floored sometimes by the progress that has been made.

I was sure that our relationship would never get better – that my son would have to choose which of us he wanted more at this wedding (me, of course!) because his father would refuse to attend if I and my new husband were in attendance.

I would never have imagined that my ex, my son, myself, and my new husband would be sitting down to dinner together on a somewhat regular basis.

And my son? 

He is doing just fine.  He still spends half his time with me and half with his father.  I think he had the whole letting go thing down a long time ago.  So maybe he was teaching me as I was trying to protect him.

In the end, it can all be summed up (as can most things) by the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things that I can

And the Wisdom to know the difference.