Why Silence is Sometimes Golden

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I know many of you have been falsely accused of a variety of offenses by the other woman. Some of them completely ridiculous that left you thinking, Where the hell did that come from?? She couldn’t be more wrong!

Its like she concocted some strange story and she fully believes it.

So how do you know when to speak up and defend yourself or to turn your back?

Let the past guide you.

At some point, it was the first time she falsely accused you. And that first time you probably defended yourself.

Because obviously if you just explained it to her, she’d get it.

If she was receptive to your explanation, then you probably have a good chance of her being receptive again.

She wants to resolve whatever problem is looming.

She’s open to you. She’s willing to admit she made an assumption and is looking for the truth.

But if she refused to hear you, insisted that you were lying and that she knows the truth about you, then that’s a good indicator (although not always) that you should probably just walk away.

Remember, silence is golden, because the way I see it you have two choices:

1. Defend yourself. Respond by letting said person know how utterly ridiculous the accusations are. Which would definitely be followed by her defending her position even more and attempting to convince you that she’s right.

Because her belief about the situation is her reality. It may be false, but to her it’s very real and there’s no convincing her otherwise.

Or

2. Ignore it. Completely disengage in regards to the accusations. Don’t respond. Not even once. Put it away in a folder for safe keeping, laugh at the absurdity and get on with your life and the things that are important to you.

Which is more appealing?

Which seems healthier?

I’m not saying it’s easy to ignore someone who is trying to sabotage you – but with enough self-restraint, it can be done. And you’ll find much more peace than if you were to engage her in a futile battle.

You might even find yourself feeling defeated at first, because you so wanted to have a decent relationship with her.

But what you’re doing takes a lot of personal power. It takes a confident person to not need to defend their opinion. To not need to prove something to someone else.

Maybe you reached a point where you were kind to each other and it’s sad to think of those days as over.

Being the eternal optimist that I am, I always say that if you experienced something good before, it’s possible to have that again. Just not while you’re being treated poorly.

Why does this happen?

I guess some women think you MUST be to blame, because if not you, then who?

And if  you’re a stepmom, sometimes when the relationship between your partner and his ex goes down the drain, yours and hers goes down with it, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

But it’s up to you to decide how many times you’re willing to participate in this dance.

How much energy do you have left?

What’s it worth to you?

What’s it costing you?

The bottom line is, you know the truth.

Your loved ones know the truth.

Everyone who matters to you knows the truth.

Why let her words trump all that?

*Note* – I’m not referring to somone who is constantly harassing you or being physically abusive. In those cases I’m all for calling in law enforcement, or whatever means are necessary to keep yourself safe.

(photo credit:sippakorn)

© 2011 Jenna Korf      All Rights Reserved

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Comments

  1. I have been in this situation with the Mom. She insists that I tried to get her fired. I did not and would not be stupid enough to do such a thing. If I did that, she would be griping about $ even more than she does now. What actually happened is that her client, a friend of mine, asked for her to be removed from their case after they found out that was the ex-wife. Her boss followed up to see why, and it was just a mess. I had nothing to do with it & never requested my friend to do such a thing, but she insists that I did. It’s not that she’s just difficult to work with or she’s bossy and rude (all my personal experiences with her)…it’s easier to blame me. I’ve explained it twice, but I’m not sorry because I didn’t have anything to do with it. I’ve washed my hands of it and chose to ignore her each time she brings it up. You can’t fix crazy.

  2. I’m about danced-out and completely out of energy at this point. Disengaging is the smartest choice at this time, which is discouraging, but necessary for me and DH. I’m just going to focus on my husband, amazing stepkids, and our life and leave the mama-drama behind!

  3. Dina McCausley says:

    I’ve been accused of indoctrinating my children to a certain way of thinking, and have also seen where someone tells others publicly what they think I allow in my home (which they can’t possibly know because they’ve never been in my home, or that my actions are all a ruse on one day I’m going to go crazy, etc. I’ve chosen not to respond to those kinds of things because even though the information is incorrect, the person who is saying those things has a loyalty to the person who is the actual culprit, and I know any kind of ‘defense’ I give would either look like I’m trying to get between them, or would just drive them further away. So, I’ve decided they can think what they want. The only way any point of view will change is by continuing to move forward, being consistent, and letting the Truth show itself. If the other party chooses not to see it, then it’s on them,not me. Kind of freeing :-)

  4. YES. Silence IS golden but only because it speaks VOLUMES!! :) I know. Been there done that. 3 1/2 years and counting. And all to my family’s benefit. We’ve grown stronger and more cohesive because of it. I don’t regret for one moment not defending myself, giving her a piece of my mind, or letting her know about herself. I felt I said more by just pulling away, and staying away and uninvolved. Interestingly, now she is engaging in unexpected acts of kindness, and I’m appreciative. I’m very happy with how things are now. I’m still uninvolved with her “so to speak”, but I am grateful for anything nice she does and I acknowledge her for it. I am glad to be in this space. INDIFFERENT, with a tad of wishing her well!

  5. Oh I so needed this article right now. I’m very much struggling again. Silence is such an art and needs lots of practice. I feel like I should keep a rubber band around my wrist and snap it hard each time I even start to THINK these bad things and hopefully prevent it from coming out of my mouth. I was on such a high after finishing reading the book and now I feel like we are back to the very beginning again with no ground covered or nice playing field set before the new school year with the kids. My husband doesn’t get it, she doesn’t get it, I’m holding on by a thread to ‘get it’. It’s so hard but I need to let it go and not get consumed by it and let it take me down. I struggle with the difference between venting with friends and family vs keeping it all inside. I usually need other peoples advice on how to handle things because my husband and his ex handle things to irrationally when it comes to each other, I’m the closest thing to watching the CRAZY unfold. I need some balance and perspective elsewhere. I’m going to TRY over the next week to practice silence and see where it gets me.

  6. I don’t even respond to the BM anymore. IF it gets very disrespectful my husband might ask her to cease her attacks, but without any expectation of her responding to the request kindly. Usually there will be about five more nasty emails. Whatever.

  7. CKsmom, I’m sorry to hear you’re burnt out, but it sounds like disengaging is the right move for you. You need to recharge, and you can’t do that when you’re constantly engaged in the battle. Focus on the good stuff and let all the other stuff go. :)

  8. Stepmom, it’s amazing at the stories they can concoct and believe with all their heart. They’ll lay all the evidence out for you – which in their mind adds up to their assumption/belief about you and the situation. It’s almost like they’re connecting the dots incorrectly. The cause and effect they come up makes sense to them, but it’s not the reality of the situation. Best to let it go and leave them to wallow in their drama.

    Thanks for commenting!
    -Jenna

  9. Dina, that’s right, it’s extremely freeing not to try to convince someone of something they’ll never believe. :)

  10. Celisa, thanks for sharing your success story with everyone! It’s great to hear women speak about their experiences of using these tools. It helps show others that it really can work! Glad things are working out for you. :)

    -Jenna

  11. Amyleigh, it sounds like you need a major support system. Staying silent can be tough, but everytime you want to defend yourself or justify an action just ask yourself “has it helped in the past?”

    As far as venting, I think it’s healthy not to hold emotion in, but instead of talking to family or friends who will only fuel your fire (while validating you), how about journaling? Or using our online community?

    Hang in there!
    Jenna

  12. Jenna, whenever you post things like this up, I get excited for other BM’s and SM’s. And I hope that my story helps.

    I hear and read so many horror stories from both sides, I want to convey how letting go was the healthiest thing I did for myself and my family! Toxic relationships are just not worth holding on to.

    It was so hard at first not to respond and defend myself. For almost a whole year I ached to send an email response I’d written in retaliation to an email BM had sent DH and I, attacking and accusing us of things she believed to be true all the while ommitting a slew of behaviors of her own. I’ve never told or shown ANYONE my sharply crafted letter, telling her all about herself, putting her in her place, using years of facts to support my arguments, chopping her accusations to threads!!! I think I edited that letter thousands of times before I archived it!! lol I was really proud of that letter. True story! It made me feel good to be able to put all of my venomous thoughts about how I felt down on paper. That letter was an AMAZING piece of work! It would have won in any moral court! lol. It not only helped curb my desire to engage her in battle, it was my way of dealing wtih my sometimes uncontrolable urge to let her have it.

    I realized that retaliating was going to lead me to more nasty attacks and possibly even a physical confrontation. I thought, THAT WOULD CERTAINLY NOT BE GOOD. So I continued to use my letter as a way to release my fury, in a responsible way.

    I just recently started to completely let go of the resentments, and I say all of this to tell you that it’s NOT easy!! Take it one day at a time. Realize that BM is not your responsibility and having a “relationship” with BM is not necessary, especially when its a BAD relationship. Remove yourself. It is exclusively the parents responsibility to communicate and care for their child (SS). If your husband is paying attention he will understand and leave you out of the communication, scheduling and arrangments for Step child. When SS is home with us, I give him lots of love, I feed him, wash his clothes, occasionally clean his room, talk to him, and find ways to nurture our relationship and that is all. It takes alot of reflection and inner work, but guess what? It’s 110% worth the results!!

    In the thick of it all, my marriage was struggling, my relationship with my children was on auto-pilot, I’d gained 15 lbs, felt fat and I was an emotional mess. I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.

    Today, my marriage has never been better, my relationship with my children and SS are really good. I am present! I’ve lost those 15 lbs, and got my body back. I FEEL FABULOUS! And I am happy. I am really happy!! I have a great career; and I also sing in a local band, for fun and chump change!

    Ever since I let go of BM being the focus of my anger. I had tons more time and energy to take care of the happy in ME! That is all for the infomercial! :)

  13. Jenna,
    Thanks for this post! I agree, silence is Golden and oh so powerful. There have been so many things that have come up over the past 6 years of dealing with the Bio Mom in my blended family and disengaging has been the best practice. It took a little bit to realize that it doesn’t matter how many attempts my husband made to try and get her to be reasonable or understand that our requests to set some more healthy boundaries (as in, not allowing her to drop by our house unexpectedly or change the timeshare schedule without a few days notice, etc.) were really in the best interests of everyone, specifically their mutual daughter. She interpreted the setting of boundaries as a loss of control and there was no turning back after that! The relationship has been strained ever since. I think boundaries are a completely foreign concept to her, but my husband was on a fast road to a heart attack with the amount of anxiety he was having to manage with never knowing when her next hostile “drop by” or accusation or attempt to find out how we manage our house and control it would happen. He was bending and swaying to try to keep her calm to the point it was killing him, physically and emotionally. It was a hard road for quite some time, but we now at least have some structure in their mutual daughter’s life that never existed before the boundaries were set. This helps everyone in the family, and I think even her new family, have a better sense of stability and security. Things are much better now even though I am fully aware that while I am an optimist, the reality is this will not last and she’ll swing back around the other direction when her energy is no longer on wedding planning.

    Thank you for this post!

  14. Thanks, Charlene! Sometimes the other person reacts heavily to new boundaries put in place, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing what’s best for you and your family. It’s up to that other person to find their own way to cope with it. I’m glad it’s working out for you, so far ;)

  15. Thank you for this article. Time and time again I set my boundaries and told myself not to buy into the drama and take it personally. The last big blowup was her confronting me in front of our children’s school (one of mine and one of hers) and me spending alot of energy trying to convince her she was all wrong, I disengaged. Each time she e-mailed, called and texted by DH trying to get him involved, I disengaged. And while she has already crossed all of the boundaries she was so angry with me for what she perceived as me crossing, I’ve learned to just let it go. I no longer respond to text messages from her. I allow my DH to address them if he feels it necessary. It’s really difficult at times. But after each episode, it becomes easier and easier. I remind myself that it’s her crap, not mine and I’m able to be more positive in our whole family situation. Thank you for all of this wonderful info! It’s so nice to know there are others out there who are going through this AND surviving!! :-)

  16. I stayed silent for 6 years. Let her tell lies about me to my husband, to step-daughter’s teachers, to the courts, etc. I never directly responded to her attacks. As you said in your article, I was lucky and these people knew my character and knew her character, I didn’t feel a need to defend myself. What has been extremely difficult for me, is that step-daughter has believed some powerful character assasinations that her mother has waged on me and others. This is where I struggle. To watch step-daughter believe and act upon lies that her mother has told her. It is painful to watch her believe things and make some hurtful choices based on false information. I worry that her future has some bad outcomes that she either continue to believe what her mother says and hurt supportive people in the process OR to completely lose faith in her mother. These are the times that it is difficult to stay quiet, and paradoxically difficult to speak up.

  17. Thanks for your comment, Lilou. You bring up a great point. What I’m referring to in my post is not arguing with her about her reality of you. But when it comes to other people, especially the children, I would definitely make sure they know the truth. I believe it’s important to let the children know that although “she might believe…this is what’s true about me/the situation.” The book Divorce Poison talks about the different ways to cope with Parental Alienation, and one of them is to inform the kids about the truth, from your perspective. You don’t have to say “your mom is a liar,” But you could say “she might have told you this/Your mom believes this, but this is how we see the situation/the truth about me is…” Make sense?

    I wish your family the best!

  18. I should clarify that although I was posting about myself, I am not the only one that the mom has told lies about. At first, husband confronted her about the lies, and mom flat out denied it and then grounded stepdaughter. We finally came to terms that we can’t control what she does. What has worked for us is to stop refuting directly what she says, unless it is a matter with the court or teachers that we have evidence and what she says actually adversely effects us (we really haven’t had to do this since both entities know all three of us and can weed out her lies without us saying anything. What my husband and I have decided to do and seems to work with stepdaughter is to ignore the lie and make sure to emphasize our positive qualities. So if she says we are mean and don’t care about people, husband might say “wow stepmommy stayed up reading stories with you, and cooked your favorite meal, that was really caring.” or “I am so glad that stepmommy listens to you kids when something is upsetting you and helps you through it, that’s really caring of her.” Sometimes it isn’t necessarily directly at stepdaughter, but instead will make sure she is “accidently” overhears someone saying something nice about one of us. Our thinking is that this way we aren’t asking her to choose, but indirectly pointing out “this is what mom says, but this is the evidence you experience.”

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