Throughout the course of one's transition, it is inevitable that she will encounter people, well-intentioned or otherwise, who do and/or say things that consistently make her feel like crap about herself.  In those cases, it's best just to let the person go.  There is one person, however, whom I will never be able to let go; who will always be a part of my life.  And of course she's the only person who I allow to make me feel badly about myself.

Dropped my kids off at my ex-spouses' the other day and she wasn't home yet.  There's a public playground behind her townhouse, so the kids and I went back there while we waited for my tardy ex.  We were probably back there for all of 10 minutes.  A couple hours later, I received an enraged phone call.  She was enraged that I took the kids to the playground before dinner.  Enraged that I had the audacity to not hide in the car.  Enraged that a little girl also playing on the playground saw me and looked quizzically at me when my daughter referred to me as "Daddy."  The phone call went from bad to worse.  By the end of it, I had been told, among other things, that:

  • I stick out like a sore thumb.
  • The little girl's mother called her away from the playground because of me.
  • I shouldn't talk about playing basketball in high school because it is "reliving my old life."
  • The other night at the preschool thing, people were pointing at me and whispering.
  • If I wanted to be treated like anyone else, I had to respect their feelings and not be "so in people's faces."
  • I am transitioning because I'm trying to fill a void that ought to be filled with God.
If being in people's faces means attending school events and pushing my son on the swing, I suppose I'm guilty as charged.

With anyone else, I let these things bounce off.  But with my ex, it's not so easy.  I realize that I ought to take her comments with a grain of salt, um, no, make that a salt lick, but they hurt.  I hung up the phone and wondered how people *really* saw me.  Do I see only what I want?  I never see people pointing or get funny looks, except when the kids call me Daddy.  If I stuck out like a sore thumb, I doubt random women would strike up conversations with me in the ladies' room.  Yet, I allowed these negative thoughts to insidiously worm their way into my brain.  I went to bed and had insomnia for the first time in I don't know how long.

I woke up and got ready for work.  I looked at my frizzy hair, the dark circles under my eyes, the shirt sleeves which are just-a-little-too-short.  I felt like I stuck out like sore thumb; like a joke.  I started shaking and trembling as I looked in the mirror, thinking about all the people who are paying lip service to my face while gossiping and snickering behind my back.  I didn't want to cry, but it was coming.  Went downstairs and looked at all the pictures drawn by my kids on the wall.  I thought about how they didn't deserve to have a parent who is a laughingstock.  My head fell to my lap and I collapsed in the chair in which I was sitting... remained there for about 30 minutes.  Went back upstairs and tried to put my face back on.  Still felt as if I looked ridiculous.  I didn't want to go to work.  I just wanted to hide.  I did, of course, go to work and was pretty shaky all day.

Later in the evening, I got another phone call from the X, telling me that the 26 hours of sleep that I managed to get my son this past weekend, between naps and nighttime, wasn't enough.  That a 6 PM bedtime is too late.  That I need to be a better parent and make dinners ahead of time like she does, so I can have him in bed at 5:30.  That I shouldn't be reading him a book at bedtime.  What the hell?  Who puts their 3-year old to bed at 5:30?  You cannot force a child to go to sleep.  More criticism, just on a different topic.  I didn't budge an inch (good for me!) and called my Mom afterwards to vent.

We talked about my history of constantly giving in to her, trying to please her, allowing her to subjugate me. It has to stop... now.  Stop taking this abuse.  It's abuse.  And I am freaking allowing it.  Stop giving her details like bedtimes, what they had for dinner, stop allowing her to make me feel like I am a bad person and/or a bad parent.  Stop giving her this power over me.  I'll never be completely whole; will never be completely independent, until I do this. I have to stop being afraid of her.


Trepidation is one of the things I'm feeling as I write this, and also a concern that I might be treading where I shouldn't. (Probably in size 18 steel capped boots.) So let me extend my apologies if I cause offense. None is intended.

One of the hardest things to do is to "stop talking" to some people. There's something about the relationship that makes it very difficult. As my therapist once observed, if you're seeking approval from that person - whether you know you're seeking approval, or not, it's all that much harder.

For instance, I didn't know I was all but beside myself trying to gain one person's approval. Talking to someone who knew that person didn't do any good; I needed the distance only a proper therapist could provide. The only thing I was doing on my own was spinning wheels.

It can also be very difficult to not be afraid of someone. Personally, that's not something I've ever experienced, but some people did, once upon a time, invoke a certain amount of anxiety. 20 years later, remembering them invoked anger. Now, I don't care. The difference? I learned to put them and their place in my life in perspective. It was difficult, and I didn't do it alone (I had an excellent therapist.)

One of the things about people who were once close is that they know the buttons to press. They know how to invoke a reaction! I've never seen a "clean" divorce; some of the messiest were the ones where the couple seemed to be the closest. And when it comes to kids, well, that's a guaranteed issue. If you did exactly what she wanted, as she dictated, your ex would find something else to criticize, or change the parameters. It's probably not about what time your son goes to bed but more about that she no longer has a say in it when he's with you, and a reaction against you. (Not to be personal, or insert myself into your situation, of course! And my apologies if that comment was too personal.)

Pushing that old "guilt button" is easy for some; it's important to know that's what they are doing. I wish you well in your endeavor to stop her hurting you. It is possible, even if sometimes it doesn't seem so.

Carolyn Ann

I know somewhat what you are going thru Faline with your ex, had the same problems just not the addition of transitioning. I learned that phone call can always end with a 'talk to you later' and then just hang up. It took a little bit of training but eventually she learned. And yes, there were two girls involved whom I fathered. We have a good relationship as they are now mothers in their own right. They just don't know about me as 'Elly' yet.

Hugs, Elly

Faline: there are two overlapping issues. For years my ex-spouse whom I divorced in 2000 continued to make me feel guilty about anything and everything. Having left the relationship for valid reasons I nevertheless, felt like the one who could not sustain the marriage. This is an issue that is not related to transition.

The transition issue re-awakened guilt again 10 years later. This time however I rejected the guilt, because there was truly nothing to feel guilty about.(we have discussed this).

It seems that in your situation your ex spouse is using the fact of transition to foster feelings of guilt and inadequacy to maintain control and to punish you.

My only suggestion is not to buy into it. If people didn't whisper about being trans, they'd whisper about being tall, fat, too long hair, too short hair, hate her clothes, look at her butt, my god can you see those legs, look at her mustache or whatever other stupid reason that blinds them to the reality of the person in front of them.

If she continues along this path, she will nothing but hurt her and your children. She is not entitled to any more extensive information about your kids time with you than you are for her. I would require her to provide this information in the same detail that she asks you for it. I do not believe that she will continue to ask for it if you are serious.

The ex. I can relate in a lot of ways of course. Of course my ex and I didn't have kids and she has already moved on with her life and is much happier for it...I think that gives her a peace of mind to allow me to live my own life without at least major criticism thrown in my face.

But that was not always the case as you probably know.

But you're have to stand up for yourself at some point. You have rights. You are a person. Not something to be trampled all over.


She is a heinous, heinous bitch...a verbally abusive one. You are lovely. Don't forget that!

Faline. This woman, your ex, is just being viciously vindictive. She hates what you are doing and mostly likely harbors huge voumnes of resentment towards you. Personally I would avoid her to the max.

I understand that you share custody and neccessarily must have some contact, but I would take "Mom's" advice and build a high strong emotional wall.

Someone once said that "Hell hath no Fury like a woman scorned". Take heed Faline, and stay as far away as possible from this poisonous, hateful woman.

Faline -
The last paragraph of your post is pure truth.
It should be printed and attached to your fridge with a magnet.
I spent 16 years putting up with the crazy things my ex would do: micromanaging my parenting, switching visitation, flip-flopping holidays.. getting my daughter all excited about something - and then putting me in a position where I had to either take it away, or bend.
I put up with all of in hopes that one day she would realize I was a "really great person".

When I realized all on my own that I really WAS a "really great person", I stopped caring what she thought and stopped allowing myself to be controlled. You're there - roll with it.

@Carolyn - no trepidation necessary... you were spot on... thanks.

@Elly... lately, there's not even a "talk to you later."

@Kathryn... guilt is my main problem. damn Catholic upbringing!!

@Debra... someday I promise to post about standing up for myself. :)

@Ash... <3

@Anne... on the other hand, I'm being scorned as well... I need to summon my fury, no?

@Stacy... I keep thinking something will change, that I will do something to get the proverbial pat on the back. We are really great people, no? You and I, I mean.

Just wait - that pat on the back IS actually coming, just not from where you might expect it. One day when they're grown (and they don't want to borrow your car or $20)those shorties of yours are going to tell you, out of the blue, what an awesome Mom you are. That's the one that matters.

On the one hand, wanting your children to be happy and healthy is non-negotiable. What you do to further that should be your decision, and not part of an underhanded scheme by your ex. Shame on her!

You do not need to justify yourself, or the way you spend time with your children, or any of the rest. At this point, there is no way to walk away from this attempt to manipulate you. All you can do is build up those walls and put glass shards on the top to keep out the riff-raff.

The worst part of her interference is the effect it is having on your self-image. Sort out the strategy you will take (I also like your mother's supportive instruction), get strong and stay strong. You are way too good a soul to lose sleep over this.

As Stacy says, some day they will tell you what you need to hear now. Just believe it!


This enrages me. Absolutely makes me angry. You are nothing but a loving parent and a beautiful person, inside and out.

You're stronger than this, you're stronger than her.

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