Yesterday I went to my ex-husband’s house to pick up my children. His mother answered the door. I have committed to a detachment from her considering the events that developed when we were completing the divorce. In short, she accused me of being money hungry when I have never asked for anything. She clearly doesn’t know me. After 12 years, she still doesn’t know me. She was present for our son’s birth…but, she didn’t know me. Part of me thinks she chooses to not think of me as a worthwhile person because my belief systems challenge those of her own, but in truth, it doesn’t matter. I chose detachment and will no longer engage with her. When she opened the door, all I said was “hi” but didn’t feign complete adoration of her. She took it as me “being hateful” and proceeded to attack me with words and insinuations in the presence of my children.
Good job, super Catholic grandma. How many hail Mary’s are you going to need to do tonight to let go of your guilt for this one and ensure your place in heaven?
Chaos. She is sure chaos.
So what did I do?
I sat down and engaged with my ex. We talked about relevant topics and I gave her short clear answers when she asked me questions. She stood over me glaring like an angry bear that was hungry for confrontation. I did
n’t budge. I took deep breaths and kept my cool. Was I shook? Yes. But I didn’t let it control my behavior. We cannot always control how we feel; we can always control how we respond.
What I did was pull myself outside of the situation and viewed it as third person. I committed to not letting emotions overtake me because all those are are chemicals in the brain that are responding to fight or flight. I did neither. We have evolved past that. I stood my ground and did what needed to be done within the moment, then gathered my children and gave a warm goodbye to my ex and wished him well.
Admittedly, there was a little passive aggressiveness in how I responded, but no one is perfect. What I was not going to do was be a fake person and pretend that I have concerns and want to engage with a volatile personality.
In our relationships we can choose to engage or detach. If someone is abusive with you, it is usually best to detach. Don’t give them fuel. Let them fire up on their own, and burn out on their own, so all they have for later is self-reflection.