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I'll be honest, I'm struggling emotionally at the moment. Kids away for a whole month. Ex has done something to my eldest - I don't recognise his character.

Every time I try to speak with him on skype, he just says bye and hangs up. Only a week ago we were laughing and playing.

I've had the most amazing 5 months with kids since moving out. I feel that it is all I am ever going to get. 

I feel helpless, hopeless and traumatised. I know she will devote every ounce of energy to hurting me as long as I live - even if it means turning the kids into emotionally and psychologically damaged drones.

How do you cope? Where do you get hope from? People say "once they grow up, they'll learn about your sacrifices and naturally grow closer" - I don't think I can wait that long.

My kids are my life. Without them, I have no life.
The first 6-12 months are always the hardest. I've lost a step-daughter of 8 years out of my relationship due a poisonous EX but time does make things better. I think I've been running on adrenaline for the past 9 months and now I've finally got my access sorted (in my favour thankfully) it's only now it's finally hit me that I've got nothing left to "fight" because it's all over and I have my court order. Thankfully my ex know's when she's beat and I know how her mind works so I can usually anticipate any potential issues she might try and throw my way, thankfully not as bad some of the horror stories I read on here. It's easy to say things will get better but trust me time is needed and it does ease tensions and it does get better, you have to think positive. Try not to overthink things it can you drive you made thinking "what if's". Focus on your life with your kids and try not to get drawn into ex's playing games. Always remember the kids will work it out for themselves and see people for who they are.
PD - This must be hard, kids are always flighty and easily influenced, once you have them back in your presence I'm sure they will revert to normal. When they are with her just give them space, let them know you are there for them but don't force it. And hard as it may be keep as busy as possible, and good luck!
A month is a long time. But as Tigre says - use the time to read up and prepare. Your ex is taking full advantage of the resident parent being allowed to take the children abroad for up to a month. Mine did this (during term time!) which led to me applying for a better order. The only thing I can say is this may help you in the long run.

Another thing that can help is starting a new email address and occasionally writing them the odd email. They don't get it of course, you write it and send it and have the password of the email address. It helps to feel you've said the things you want to say. Then one day, if you think it's appropriate (as things can change) you might want to show it to them. I did something like this but things have improved and I now don't think I would want to show it to son.

Meanwhile - read what you can. I found this book good for developing ways of managing alienated behaviour when you see the kids (and it's an eye opener as to what the ex is actually doing). It helped me a lot at a difficult time and my ex was absolutely textbook - helped me see how she was doing things and what to do about it.

This book is expensive. It's also difficult to read - but there is one very very good chapter on preparing to apply to court - it helped me get my application right when was dealing with heavy parental alienation going on. That chapter is written by Nick Woodall. It helps with the language to use, how to present evidence and a timeline and how to start out with a good defined order and take it from there. TBH I only read that chapter! The rest was a bit wordy. But that chapter is very very good - on negotiating the court system with parental alienation.

I also wouldn't rule out emailing the ex while they're away - maybe after a week. To get some evidence and ask for Skype contact. So just to be clear. You didn't agree the holiday dates for the summer? She changed what was agreed, is that right?

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