Coping occurs in response to psychological stress, often triggered by dramatic life changes.
Basically it’s a survival instinct.
People find ways to cope with stressful situations in an effort to maintain their sanity and emotional well-being.
I haven’t just been dealing with psychological stress the last few months during this insanely drawn out custody battle with my ex - I’ve been drowning in it.
The night before I had to face my ex for the first time in Court back in November, I thought I might have a heart attack.
I don’t think most people realize what a custody battle is like. It’s not just a Court date here or there. It’s reading letters upon letters from lawyers when you least expect them, often coupled with bombs dropped from one party or the other as a method of intimidation.
It gets freaking ugly.
When a custody battle is drawn out with no resolution and egos inevitably get involved, so much hate is built up it’s frightening.
Trying to shield my child from that has just been another added layer of stress for me.
I’m not telling you this for sympathy because I don’t want that at all – although it’s been difficult I’ve also grown as a person and become a stronger woman because of this.
But there are days even the strongest woman throws up her hands and temporarily loses her shit.
On some of those days I prayed for a reprieve so I might keep my sanity through this process. And the reprieve eventually did come in the form of a kind hearted man that showered me with attention and showed me what it was like to be adored.
How lovely that’s been, but what I hadn’t realized was that diving into a romance over the last few weeks was also a way for me to avoid dealing with the stress in my life.
People cope with stress in different ways. Obviously some ways are healthier and more effective than others.
There are things called active coping strategies, which my therapist often urges me to participate in, where one focuses on tackling stress rather than avoiding it.
Of course, because I’m human I don’t always listen to her. I mean, avoidance takes a lot less energy right?
That brings me to the subject of avoidant coping – where you ignore your issues, and instead engage in activities that aid in the denial of them.
Engaging in avoidant coping doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a dumbass or even an asshole – It can happen to the best of us.
The bad part is you don’t usually realize you’re doing the wrong kind of coping until after the fact. Either someone else calls you out on it like your therapist, or you have some sort of AHA moment yourself where it clicks.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized immersing myself in my version of a modern day fairytale wasn’t the healthiest way to cope with my stress.
In doing so I started to lose myself in another person(Why oh why do I repeatedly do that in romantic relationships?!), which also caused me to lose focus on some things that are truly important to me.
But learning that I’ll be facing my ex alone next week without a lawyer quickly brought me back to reality.
The reality of heading back to Court again next week has forced me to come up with a rational plan of action to deal with the situation at hand in a less ego driven way.
Neither one of us will have lawyers – a judge has ordered we give Court facilitated mediation, just the two of us, one last try next week before heading to trial.
This is my last shot to try to convince my ex to end this thing before my son gets dragged into it – a judge has also ordered a best interest evaluation if we can not settle next week.
Having my 8-year-old son interviewed by the Court is the last thing I want.
I will have to be stronger than I’ve ever been in that mediation room next week.
I’ll have to put all of the negative feelings I’ve developed for my ex through this nasty custody battle aside – because this really is not about he and I, it’s about the well-being of the child we created together.
Anger, fear, sadness – none of those things can sway me from what is important in that room. I will need to concentrate on what is best for my son, no matter what I am feeling.
It will surely be a defining moment in my life.
But I know now without a doubt I’m strong enough to do it – as long as I stay focused.
Back to life. Back to reality.
Because my boy needs me.