Ignore ding, ding.
Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.
Get frustrated and respond to ding with a short, terse response.
Respond with anger.
Curse under breath and respond again.
And the cycle would have continued and my enjoyable day out with friends on a brewery tour would be spoiled with that seething anger that boils every time the “co-parent” berates and nags with an overabundance of email, text, and phone calls “about the children.” But rarely was it actually about the children. It starts with being about the children, and then becomes an onslaught of accusations and baseless bullshit.
But it stopped that very day. That was the day that my friend took my phone out of my hands because it was doing more harm than good. She looked at me and simply asked,
“Is there an emergency?”
“No, it’s just that the ex is on a rampage and I…”
She stopped me right there in the middle of my absolute justification of engagement into the battle that is my life with the ex. I know I was right. I had every right to defend myself from the abuse she was throwing at me. She agreed, but then added, “…or you can choose to just not engage. Just because that phone dings at you incessantly does not mean you need to respond right there and then. She doesn’t own your time. You don’t owe a response despite their demands. You can choose to not do it.”
She was right. I could choose. But, that damn ding, ding, ding, had been programmed like Pavlov’s dog to bark back every time. However, like those dogs, I could be retrained and the annoying stimulus silenced.
I immediately changed my email settings to automatically archive emails from the ex. This way, I never saw the email until I was prepared to look. I changed from responding to the stimuli to choosing when to respond. The ex didn’t like that, but I did.
Next, I went into my contacts list, selected the ex’s details, and then set her to permanent mute. Electronically muting the ding and buzz and ding and buzz and ding was quite liberating. It was like sitting in a room that just 5 minutes ago was filled with temper tantrum toddlers. Which, in fact, is exactly what that noise was. A temper tantrum of crazy through the electronic world.
With those two little changes, my attitude changed. We went on with the brewery tour and spent the day choosing to not give a F&** about the tantrum. I had beer to drink and great company to keep.