All you wanna do is open your email and have peace. Because of the children, you're required to communicate with your ex! Ugh!!! But even the nicest email from them causes you anxiety and even a bit of fear. The unfortunate part is that your ex KNOWS that it gets to you. They studied you while you were together. They know your triggers. They are masters at abuse and manipulation.
You open your email and there it is ... a bold, unread email from your ex. Your heart races, your pulse quickens. What's it gonna be this time? Will they blame you for something? Are you immediately on the defensive even before opening it? Is this email gonna send you reeling into a bit of a funk all day? Can you even enjoy the day with your children after reading the email from them?
The difficulty of becoming unresponsive to your ex's attacks can't be overstated. Their abuse affects you and it will continue to do so for as long as you're communicating with them. There are real dangers in continuing to allow them into your life, even if only via email. Many turn to alcohol and others experience real depression. Stopping the communication is the only way out. But what do you do? You still HAVE to communicate with them about the children. You could ask a family member to help, but that can (and often does) become emotionally burdensome for them too.
These are serious questions that, in large part, your friends and family may not understand. They don't get why you can't just "get over it" and move forward. What they haven't experienced is the emotional abuse you endured by being in a relationship with an unempathetic narcissist. Only those of us who have lived and experienced the abuse truly understand.