When I first became exposed to the term “co-parenting”, I remember having a visceral reaction. I was sitting in the three hour court mandated co-parenting class, breaking into a sweat, and having what felt like a full on panic attack as the woman leading the class showed slides of “parenting schedules.” ‘How in hell was I going to co-parent with a man who was capable of such terrible things,’ I thought as I tried to get myself under enough control to not look like a crazy woman. At the beginning of the class, the leaders made a point to tell everyone to disregard most of what was being said if you were in a situation with abuse/domestic violence.
For some reason, this statement made me feel worse because I knew that somehow the courts were not going to treat my case the same as a cookie cutter domestic violence case (as if there ever is one). I knew how good Luc was at playing in that “grey area” of criminality and how adept at making himself look like the victim he was. That panic that I felt throughout the entire three hours of that class only seemed to get worse as the months passed. While I don’t break out into sweats and actively panic every single time I drop my son off, I never feel at ease because I know his father is damaging. The point of co-parenting is to allow the child to have a healthy relationship with both parents even if the parents are no longer together. My motherly instincts will not allow me to trust that baby boy is ever going to be able to have a healthy relationship with his father because his father is not healthy.
One of my coworkers wrote on the white board at her desk the phrase, “Crazy people make sane people crazy.” Most people who have never had the misfortune of co-parenting with a sociopath (if that is even what you would call this) might think that the below story sounds a little crazy. Honestly, I feel a little crazy sometimes whenever I try and get in Luc’s head and proactively prepare for his next crazy stunt. You tell me, is this crazy? Or is this just a reaction to the insanity of being forced to co-parent with a sociopath?
The Headless Bear
When a person creates an environment of distrust, it makes you question everything. Since the beginning of this nightmare (i.e. the existence of Luc in my life), I have been lied to on a regular basis by this man. Many of the lies have put both me and my family in harms way. Every time I think that things have calmed down, the man pulls another crazy move that I didn’t anticipate.
These crazy moves have left me attempting to anticipate the lies and deception before they happen. Please note, this is not easy as sometimes it makes you feel like you are going down the rabbit hole of crazy.
For my son’s first birthday, Luc bought him a build-a-bear. This was the very first thing that Luc had ever gotten the baby so as you can imagine I was a bit skeptical of this furry creature. Part of me thought, ‘come on cappuccino queen, it’s just a bear’ but then the other voice (the skeptic) said, ‘wait a second…he never does anything just because he is trying to be nice.’
While my first instinct was to tear the bear apart with my teeth and throw it in the mall trashcan, I decided I would do the more sane thing and ask my mother and aunts (who were standing right next to me when I first saw it) what they thought. This is when I realized how truly traumatized my entire family had been. One of my aunts said (before I even told them how I was feeling), “you better check that and make sure he didn’t bug it.” The other said, “It’s too risky, just throw it out – don’t even let it in the car.” I shook my head, threw the bear back in the box and took my son home.
I thought about the stupid bear the whole ride home. I also thought about how throwing it out wasn’t the answer as this could be the ONLY thing my son would ever get from his father (I suspect it was purchased in order to look good in front of the court ordered supervisor who would be testifying in court the next day). That being said, I still didn’t trust the bear. That night the bear spent the night in the garage.
The next morning, I walked downstairs (having dreamed about that stupid bear) and low and behold my mom was awake and didn’t waste any time to ask me what I had decided to do with the bear. I told her that we were being paranoid and that there was nothing wrong with the bear.
On the drive to work, I couldn’t stop trying to figure out if there was more to this bear thing. This is a man who has been lying and terrorizing since he met me. A bear couldn’t JUST be a bear. Once I got to work, I brought up the bear to my coworkers. Some of the more paranoid ones were all for the idea of cutting the bear open and making sure it wasn’t bugged.
Eventually, I allowed my mom to check for a bug. She cut the bears head off and pulled out all the stuffing. Of course, there was nothing there. It was JUST a bear filled with stuffing and a fake heart. (A lot like Luc himself actually) I felt terrible – and a little crazy. My mom told me I shouldn’t feel bad and that the bear was a “casualty of war.”
Yes, one could say it was JUST a bear – but it was more than that symbolically. That bear became a symbol of the environment of distrust. It also made it very obvious to me that co-parenting would be impossible. I have a lot of work to do on myself to get to the point where the little things don’t bother me. I also need to get to the point where I can safely stop anticipating his next crazy move.