My new husband and I have quite similar personalities, and unfortunately so do our exes.
In fact, my husband’s ex reminds me so much of mine that every time we have any form of contact with her, even written, I end up a crying mess.
Initially, because she’s the mother of my stepchild, I thought I should be friendly with her. Show her I was supportive of our co-parenting situation. Supportive of her.
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When the handovers became high conflict between her and my husband, I agreed to do pickups and drops-offs of our daughter instead.
I get along with most people, and I thought I’d be able to smooth things over with her too.
My husband had been finding handovers hard, and I hated seeing him so stressed. Instead of supporting him to come up with a solution, I jumped right into rescue mode.
It was a huge mistake.
The first few weeks were okay.
She was charming and polite. Friendly even. What was everyone so afraid of? She’s a tiny, pretty woman who, as far as I can tell, is a loving, capable mother.
Then in the third week, the facade started to slip. "See why I stopped trying to deal with her?" my mother-in-law said.
She had warned me. So had my husband.
I wanted to keep helping, keep doing the handovers. But internally, it was destroying me. Her tactics to manipulate, control, and intimidate were far too familiar.
I tried to hide it, but my husband could see what was happening. He apologised for agreeing to the arrangement, and when they drew up the new parenting contract, he included a section saying she was to have no more contact with me, in any way.
I wish I’d listened to their warnings and never met her.
Then perhaps I wouldn’t be able to imagine her expression or hear the contemptuous tone she uses when we read her long rants in the "co-parenting book".