Maintain your cool when dealing with an ex

My son is getting married this summer...The problem is that my ex and his family will also be attending the wedding.

My son is getting married this summer and I wish I was more excited than anxious. The problem is that my ex and his family will also be attending the wedding. The divorce was disastrous, and the 10 years since have been a nightmare. My ex alternately ignores the boys or lavishes them with gifts and money. His family have treated me and the boys very cruelly.

Even though they have a rocky relationship, my son does want his dad to attend the wedding and has also invited his dad’s family, but doesn’t want them there. My sons are not aware of most of the terrible things the family has done to me and don’t know how anxious I am about attending and I’d like to keep it that way.

I have had trouble with my ex and his family at other events in the boys’ lives like school concerts and soccer games and I keep envisioning all the nasty ways his family might cause problems at the wedding. The closer it gets, the more trouble I am having. I am actually worried about getting sick or having a panic attack at the wedding. How am I going to get through this?

This is certainly a difficult situation. I congratulate you for not sharing your feelings with the boys. I can give you some general suggestions that might help you manage the day, but you might also find it useful to talk to a counsellor about your feelings and some more specific ways to manage.

I assume that there will be some other members of your family attending. If there is someone among them who you could confide in and who would be able to help you through the day, and who is also cool headed, enlist them. Ask them to stick close to you so that they are present during any interaction between you and any difficult people.

Maintain your cool. Avoid alcohol, which will impair your judgment and loosen your inhibition. When contact is unavoidable, treat them courteously – even if they are not behaving in kind. Try to keep interactions brief; excuse yourself with the need to perform a task or tend to a guest.

Prepare a few polite and socially acceptable phrases to use in response to just about any provocation. Some examples are: say something complimentary about your son or his new wife, comment on some aspect of the ceremony/photos/food/venue/guests, or just smile and nod. If they are trying to draw you into an argument, try saying “I haven’t thought about it like that before”, or “that’s an interesting point of view”, then finding a reason to leave the conversation.

Every thing you can do to bolster yourself will be helpful; think about what you will be wearing. This may seem a little strange, but if you view your clothes and jewelry as armour, you might choose items that help you feel a little protected.

If you don’t already know how to breathe from your diaphragm, learn how and practice before the wedding. Breathing this way will help you to feel calm and avoid a panic attack. Learning or honing your muscle relaxation skills is also a good idea. On the wedding day, be aware of the tension in your muscles and your breath and work to stay relaxed.

Find a phrase or short affirmation that is leaves you feeling strong/confident/peaceful/hopeful/loving and recite it silently and frequently through the day. Pair that with a few deep breaths and a quick body scan to make sure you are relaxed.

Stop recalling all the past problems and imagining the worst case scenarios for this day. Just thinking these thoughts is stressful and will leave you feeling anxious and vulnerable. Instead focus on your plan for coping.

You didn’t mention any physical violence in the past so I am assuming there is none, however if I am mistaken, you may also need to have a safety plan that includes calling 911.

If you wish to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at info@pacifictherapy.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Sara Lynn Kang at pacific therapy & consulting inc. It appears every second Thursday in the Record.

Just Posted

NIC’s new president Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12. Domae has worked at NIC since 2000, most recently as the executive vice president, academic and chief operating officer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
New North Island College president launches draft strategic plan

Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12, 2021

Capt. Jenn Casey died in a crash just outside of Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. (CF Snowbirds)
Snowbirds to honour Capt. Casey, who died in B.C. crash, in 2021 tour

Tour will kick off in Ontario in June before heading west

Artist's drawing of the proposed 52-unit affordable seniors housing project in Comox. File photo
Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society receives federal grant money

The Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society (CVAHS) has received $25,000 in grant… Continue reading

Mark Henderson’s exhibit, “Bikes and Barbies,” is now showing at Artful : The Gallery on Cumberland Road in Courtenay. Photo supplied.
New exhibit at Courtenay art gallery

Artful : The Gallery is showing art by Mark Henderson until Saturday,… Continue reading

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Most Read