Happy Easter! What’s in a Name?

Happy Easter!

goddessostaraweb

Easter is my favorite holiday! Winter is over (though this year I’m not so sure), and there is a whole new beginning.

Ostara is the pagan goddess of Spring, fertility and the Earth Mother. She symbolizes renewal after the death of winter. Or rebirth after the death and struggle of divorce.

Though very few people know about her, she is very entrenched in our society.

People used to celebrate her on the day of the Spring Equinox, which is pretty much the day we celebrate Easter. Her fertility is symbolized by the Hare, which always accompanies her. Today we call him the Easter Bunny. Rebirth is symbolized by the eggs.

Ostara has many names in the different regions of Northern Europe. In Old German she is referred to as ‘Ostara’, ‘Eostre’ and the month of her celebration ‘Eostremonat’ (Easter month).

Linguistically, not only the word Easter is derived from her name, but also ‘estrogen’; the female fertility hormone.

She has a beautiful lullaby that is sung to children, and which I hold dear to my heart;

“Sweet Child, sleep speedily
Do not cry

Truth forcefully
Fends off the murdering wolf

May you sleep until morning
Dear man’s son

Ostara for the child leaves
Honey and sweet eggs

Mother Earth for the child picks
Flowers blue and red

Bountiful the morrow sends
White little sheep

and One-Eye will protect, swift, hard spears.”

Enjoy your Easter Sunday. I hope it will symbolize to you too that there is life after divorce, that everything will renew.

 

5 Things I Want to Say to My Ex-Husband

Girls night out. Yes, one of the benefits of visitation, you actually get to do things for yourself. I get to go places, study, write and do things, no need to find a babysitter, they are with the other parent.

Photo credit Jason Short @Flickr

Photo credit Jason Short @Flickr

Over a lovely dinner my girlfriend asks me: “So, Ostara, if there are 5 things you could tell Ex, what would they be?”

“Uhm…….. Hello and Goodbye?” Laughter.

Driving home I thought about this a little more. This wasn’t fair. I really don’t have much, if anything, left to say to Ex, but it is not that all in the marriage was bad. And you don’t just erase 14 years of your life as if it was meaningless. That would say more about me, then about the marriage or Ex. So here it goes, my 4 things, as I really can’t come up with a meaningful 5th.

Thank you for the kids

Yes, it takes 2 to tango. The beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, intelligent, well-mannered, funny, delightful (I’m the mother, of course I’m going to gush and be biased!) kids are a product of you and me. And I would not want to have missed out on them for anything in the world. Let’s always celebrate their uniqueness and cherish them. We may be divorced, but we are still parents.

Thank you for the good times

Psychopaths are frauds, and perhaps the good times were just illusions. Whether they were or were not doesn’t matter any longer and I’d like to keep the good memories. Questioning whether it was all make-believe or not, would not only take away from the past, but also from the present. It is not worth my emotional energy. The marriage was a life lesson from which I hopefully have learned, both good and bad.

Thank you for filing for divorce

Yes, I may have had the courage to throw you out of the house, I could never have mustered up the guts to actually file for divorce. Early on in the divorce proceedings I re-read my diaries. I had started when I was 12 and my last entry was 31 December 2004

“Ex doesn’t want me to write to you any longer, it makes him uncomfortable, he thinks I only write bad things about him. “My husband is bad”. I’m sorry to let you go, you have been a source of release and reflection, but in a marriage you don’t do what hurts your spouse. So goodbye.”

The ultimate mind-control.

20 years of writing and my sole support network with my family being overseas had to be taken away because it was a thread to you.

But that is not me any more, divorce has set me free.

Free to pursue my dreams again. Free to love. Free to be loved. Free to cherish and be cherished. Free to (re-)connect with my friends, and I have some awesome friends out there. Free to enjoy life.

Without the divorce, my life would not have been where it is now. Had you not filed, this all would not have happened, and I’m grateful for that.

I wish you happiness

A happy father makes for happy kids. As a mother, want the best for the kids, so I really hope that you are happy. It is really that simple.

Yes, it is a short list.

What Protective Parents Can Learn from WWII Resistance Fighters

Kristallnacht‘ or ‘Crystal Night‘, it sounds so beautiful, yet it was so disastrous.

-- Synagogue in Berlin the morning after the Kristallnacht

— Synagogue in Berlin the morning after the Kristallnacht

The night in which the German SturmAbteilung, or paramilitary, in a series of organized attacks destroyed synagogues, buildings, homes and stores belonging to jews. It was the beginning of the persecution of Jews in Nazi-Germany.

My grandfather was in Germany at the time, as a Dutch Officer. He left, he quit the military, he knew what was coming, he wanted no part of it. He moved home and fought in the resistance, like many other brave men and women, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs. Their courage should be an example for protective parents. Some fights just have to be fought.

1. Chose your venue wisely.

My grandfather didn’t quit the fight, no, he changed venues. The military was aligning with Hitler and his chances of preserving civil liberties in the position he was in was minimal. He went home, and started an underground resistance group.

Going full-blown into the court circus can be very challenging. And financially very costly, not to speak of the emotional cost. You see people age right in front of you. Other venues are available to you; mediation, arbitration and if you’re remotely lucky you’ll actually be able to come to an agreement with your ex yourself. If not, then……

2. Fight smart, fight strategically.

The story of an attorney representing a protective mother versus a psychopath father will always stick with me. The attorney advised the mother to give the father lots of time, she was hesitant but eventually agreed. The father was too self-centered to actually parent and sure enough, not too long after the father was fed up with the responsibilities of caring for children and the mother ended up with sole custody.

Custody arrangements very often change over time. Depending on the nature of the situation your children are in, this may not be the best solution, but it helps to think outside of the box. Build the relationship with your children first, give that a good foundation.

WWII resistance fighters did not go on (many) suicide missions. They stayed hidden and low profile, but struck when necessary, they fought the necessary battle at the right time and the right place. It wasn’t till the end of the war that the Germans realized the extend my grandfather was involved and how he had systematically resisted them.

3. Realize you’re in it for the long haul.

In 1938 nobody knew how long this was going to take, or even realized the extend of all the atrocities to happen. Likewise, custody battles with personality disordered other parents will escalate over time. Most custody situations are not over till the child reaches maturity and when you are dealing with PAS, it may be a life time.

If you have some sort of access to your children, use it as quality time. Built strong bonds with your children without letting the battle interfere with how you interact with your children. The strongest bonds between child and parent are formed with quality time, even if it is very little.

4. Never give up.

I know I have been at the breaking point. Wondering whether it would all be worth it. I have observed divorces in ex’s family; they don’t stop till they have full custody and the ex-wife is destitute. I wrote that email to dr Warshak that I thought it would be better to walk away. His immediate and stern response was ‘don’t you dare, would you give up if there was physical or sexual abuse?’.

My grandfather knew he was the underdog, but that did not deter him, nor any of his fellow resistance fighters. Thanks to them, thanks to the men and women who fought for our freedom, whether allied forces or resistance fighters, the world was saved from Evil.

When your child is in an abusive situation, whether physical, sexual, or psychological, you have to fight the fight. The road is long, the road is hard, yet when the kids are adults you want to say that you did all you could. There is nothing more devastating to a child growing up believing that a parent abandoned them, whether it is true abandonment, or perceived abandonment due to manipulations of the other parent.

Hug Me! Or What Makes Post-Divorce Child-Parent Relationships

RING RING” Phone Ringing!

(substitute with any fancy ringtone you desire)

Ostara: “Hello”

Ostara’s Mom: “Good morning. Listen, let me get right to the point. I just spoke with your Dad and he is trying to reach you. He just wants to know how you are doing, you should give him a call.”

Ostara: “Uhm, I’m 40, and supposedly an adult. I think I can manage my social agenda.”

Ostara’s Mom: “Well yes, but we are your parents, regardless of how old you are. Your Dad has not spoken to you for 1 week. Go call him.”

OK. I laugh.

If you had told me 14 years ago my parents would call each other on the phone to talk about their children, I would probably have thought you were crazy. Their divorce had just started and of course emotions ran high.

Ok, REALLY high. let’s not minimize it.

Fast forward to today. My parents each have their own lives and have successfully recovered personally from their divorce. It’s in the past. The present and the future holds their children and grandchildren. My parents support the child’s (although adults now) relationship with the other parent. Did they make mistakes? Of course! They are normal humans, not saints.

This phone conversation made me reflect about my relationship with my parents. Did it developed rather typically? Or did divorce change how I feel about each parent?

If I thought I would find an answer to this online easily, I was delusional. Enter the complicated research area of post-divorce social science. There 2 things I find problematic with a lot of the ‘popular and often quoted’ research; most studies do not take into account the developmental stage of the child and the emotional/psychological stability and health of the parent.

Both of these factors would influence the outcome or conclusions. Toddlers and teenagers act differently. As a toddler I worshipped my mother, as a teenager I did anything to defy her, which by the way, is completely normal  and healthy way of teenagers separating their identity and individuality from their parents. I would have skewed the data had I been a research subject. Children growing up with emotionally/psychologically unhealthy parents have a harder time with (maintaining) relationships too.

Ahrons and Tanner researched the child-parent relationship 20 years post-divorce and their findings are most interesting. They found that 62% of the now adult children reported the relationship with the father was better or stayed the same and 73% reported the relationship with the mother was better or stayed the same.

Gender had no influence on the change of relationship with the mother, but father-daughter relationships changed after remarriage of the father. The type of custody, joint/sole/split, or whether there had been a change of type of custody did not matter.

But wait. These numbers look familiar!

And they are. They are similar what attachment studies tell us about the child-parent relationship! Basically, about 61% of how an infant is bonded to a primary caregiver (non-gender specific!) is how they are bonded 20 years later if they had 1 or more traumatic life event.

These studies recognize that traumatic events like divorce, child abuse, loss of a parent and emotional/psychological health of the parent can change the level of bonding, or the child-primary caregiver relationship, but not in the majority of children/adults. It is the quality of the relationship prior to the traumatic event that is the determining factor.

Well, I guess my relationship with my parents is normal. That’s a relief. I had a good relationship with both prior to their divorce and today I still do. I love you Mom & Dad!

This topic is not done. While most children maintain a good relationship with their parents after divorce, there are children who do not. Emotional/psychological health may play a role, but what about Parental Alienation?