I've had several pretty massive panic attacks lately. I've also had several smaller, more easily controlled bouts of anxiety as well. I'm working on removing the things from my life that cause those anxious feelings, and dealing with the ones that I can't remove. What causes me the most stress is finding myself in situations where I don't have control, especially in regards to my former husband's family. I don't know what information they are funnelling to him and/or his bulldog lawyers. I can't handle having them minimize my feelings or what the kids are going through. Dealing with them at all is a huge trigger for me.
To this end I sent my former father in a law an email that told him, in no uncertain terms, that his contact with my children is limited to written communication or cards/gifts sent by mail. Their therapist and I both agree that the children should only have limited contact with any of my X's family members that are actively excusing his behavior and who are not expecting him to take responsibility for the damage he's done. The former FIL has only seen the kids 2 times in the past year and a half, and never once called me to find out if they were okay. Even when we were only 1 step up from being homeless. If it weren't for Ethel and my parents we would have had to live in my car - but that man lives in a 5000 square foot house with at least 4 bedrooms. Were it my grand-kids I wouldn't care how much I disliked my former daughter/son in law and I would suck it up and offer them a place to live.
As for standing up for myself, well my former mother in law called work and left a message for me. She wants to know if she gets to see Monkey Pants this week for her birthday. She also wanted to know what the plan was for Christmas. I stood my ground. I called her home and left a message on her machine. I told her that I wasn't ready to see her, and that if she wished to she may mail her gift to Monkey Pants and I would ensure that she gets it on her birthday. I told her that I was not ready to decide about Christmas yet, and that I would let her know. I did inform her that the children would not be attending the traditional Christmas Eve dinner and gift orgy at the Great-Grandparents house. (I heard the horrible and hateful things they said about my former father in law when he divorced the X's mother years ago... and right in front of my X and I. I won't have my girls subjected to that kind of poison) I also informed her that if I do agree to meet with them it will be at a restaurant or neutral location. I do not wish to be in their home.
I didn't tell them why, they don't need to know that it makes me feel very vulnerable. I have no control in their environment. I don't want them to know where I live, so they obviously can't come here to my home. So for now, I'm going to refuse to make plans. I'm going to play things by ear and see how I'm feeling closer to Christmas.
Whenever I start to feel anxious, I just keep hearing Ethel's voice in my head, "what can you control right now? Breath deeply and slowly and focus on the things within your control. You've got this, you're not alone."
Whewww... I've got this. I'm not alone.