I never thought myself the type of person to be controlled by anyone. I am a strong-minded woman, who speaks her mind pretty freely, and I have been told I can be intimidating to some people. I am in no way a mean person, in fact I absolutely hate confrontation. So for me to find myself in a position of “weakness,” controlled by my ex-husband and the games and tactics he would use during our custody suit, would be considered unfathomable to anyone who knew me. But when you are in a custody suit, and the well-being of your child is at stake, emotionally manipulating someone by using their child is the quickest way to break a person.
Let me explain quickly the gist of the situation I was in during this time. All communication was through email so that everything was documented for the courts. Having sole custody means that you have the “burden” (as so indicated in documents) of being responsible for relaying all important aspects of your child’s life and well-being to your ex-spouse. What my ex would do was take my words and twist them. A simple conversation in regards to potty training at night, where I would allow my son to wear night diapers, turned into my ex stating that I was pretty much a horrible parent for encouraging our son to wear diapers on a daily basis. Notice I stated that I allowed him to wear night diapers, he remained in underwear during the day as the problem of wetting himself was simply at night. And for the record, anyone who has ever raised a child knows that wetting the bed is part of a child growing up, and that they all learn to get up to use the restroom on their own time. After all, it wasn’t like my son was going to go into the 3rd grade wearing night diapers at bedtime! Was this trivial in the aspect of life? Absolutely, however this applied to almost every aspect involving our child. One day his father picked him up while he still had his play clothes on. His pants were a little short, but he had been playing in the yard and he knew he could roll around, play ball, in essence be a kid since these weren’t his “nice” clothes. Well, I received a scathing email from my ex making me feel like horrible mother,” what was his child support going towards?”, and if I needed help in buying clothes he would just do it for me since I was not adequately dressing our child.
I can’t tell you how many emails I received where nothing I did or said was right. And if I showed any emotion whatsoever in defense, that was used against me too. My attorney saw right through his antics, as any rational human being would. But when someone continually undermines you on a weekly basis, sometimes a few days a week, it wears you down.
I felt lost, and to be honest this is something that I am just starting to sort out and get through. The custody suit lasted for almost a year, and the judge sided with me but gave him an opportunity to amend some of the time-sharing. He had twenty days to do so, and he never did. What does this say about him? Was this really about his son? His need for control? A possible need for control over me? I am still unclear, but I can tell you something that helped me tremendously and is a great starting point for anyone going through some sort of trial in their life.
I started a prayer journal and I bought a book called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson . Any time I felt weak, hopeless, completely mentally drained by the antics of my ex, I would read and then write. I can’t tell you how much this helped. This book not only taught me how to sort through my feelings, but it taught me how to pray.
I learned that praying is truly having a conversation with God. I went from telling God what I wanted in a broad sense, and learning to pray for things specifically. From there, I went from telling Him what I wanted from Him at the end of praying over a situation at the time, to ending my prayers with, “If it is Your will.”
Now, this takes practice and this takes time. Because when we are in a situation where the light at the end of the tunnel is nowhere to be seen, we pray for things to be done the way we want them so that we feel better. But once that light begins to show us our path, our prayer changes so that we give the glory to God in the way He chooses to answer our prayers.
My prayers which were once: “Lord, I come to you in prayer asking that you have my case dismissed. Hopefully this will ease tension with my ex so that once again we can co-parent,” then changed to “Lord, if it is Your will, and if it is in the best interest of my son, I ask that you allow my custody suit to be dismissed.”
You see, this had nothing to do with me and what I thought was best, but with God knowing what was best for my son.
Once you change your prayers, your prayers change you. It has the power to change your situations. And once you see how God can change your situation, your trials, your hurt, then you truly begin to see the glory of God and His hand in all you ask of Him.