Hope is one of my favorite words. It implies that regardless of how ugly and messy things are right now, in this moment... you believe there is a possibility that things might improve. People who have hope are optimists. Optimists don’t just take the crappy hand they were dealt and cope with it; they actively seek out options and possibilities to change the game. Without hope, you become a victim of circumstance; someone who chooses to live with the crappy hand they were dealt, rather than explore options to re-deal the cards.
Without a doubt, if you are co-parenting with a high conflict person, your current circumstances are the worst of the worst. You are co-parenting with a manipulative, controlling,threatening and intimidating human being. You are constantly on guard, waiting for the next shoe to drop. Your character and your ability to parent are attacked on a regular basis. You can’t say or do anything right, everything is twisted and manipulated into a negative.
If you have hope, you are not a victim, you are an optimist. Your mind doesn’t hang out in ‘poor me’. Your mind is constantly thinking, ‘how can I make this better?’ No one wants (or deserves) to be manipulated or controlled. No one wants to be abused or victimized. The word victim feels like shame, guilt, embarrassment, isolation, stupid, pathetic and “Oh my gawd, how did I let this happen to me?” A Google search of the word victim came up with this definition that stuck out for me: ‘a person who is cheated or fooled by someone else, repeatedly.’ In other words, a victim is a cuck-hold. It’s not like you already didn’t feel bad enough, but now it seems that you’re also that person everyone is talking about, and that’s not you. You are not a victim. You have hope. You are an optimist.
You are co-parenting with someone who is hell-bent on destroying you, who twists everything you say into a negative, and who manipulates words and situations to make you look bad. Yet you keep trying to find ways to improve the co-parenting relationship. Your mind is always looking for possibilities to make the co- parenting relationship better. You think things like: “What if I tried only communicating by email, maybe then he/she would choose words more carefully?” “What if I only enrolled the kids in activities during the times that I have them, that way we don’t need to agree on which activities to put the kids into?” “What if I made all the exchanges happen at school or daycare, then we wouldn’t need to see each other?” “What if I just gave him/her everything they want, maybe then the attacks would end?”
A Google search of the word optimist said this: ‘Optimist: a person who has an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.’
Simply put, someone who continuously tries to figure out a solution to a problem, regardless of how challenging the problem may be. That sounds like more like you, doesn't it? You are relentless in your pursuit to find a ‘better way.’ You continually search for the latest proven techniques to help your high-conflict situation. You seek out the help of psychologists, lawyers, friends, family, psychics, Himalayan gurus – everyone and anyone who might provide you with a glimmer of hope that there might be a way to make the manipulations, control, fear, anxiety, shame and stress, stop.
You are not a victim. You are an optimist. You are in the Cycle of Hope.