Exhausted and don't know what to do...(6 Posts)
Hi all, been reading on here for most of the day trying to find a way out of the clouds I am currently in. My marriage ended last August after 15 years together (6 married) and we have a DD who is 11. Despite me trying my hardest, and believing that marriage is a constant work in progress, there was only me in it really. My DH was a compulsive liar who constantly smoked marijuana, denied and denied and denied it and the breaking point was a total outburst from him in front of my family and our daughter whilst travelling on holiday (I realised due to the fact that he wouldnt have any for a few days) I asked him to leave, and he moved back to his mums, I honestly thought we would again work through it, until the lying made me look further into things, more than I ever had before, and checked his phone bill to find an overwhelming amount of calls and texts to a female "friend" all of which he said was "helping him through trying to stop his addiction", um yeah ok?!! This was the last straw for me, and there was no going back. The last 11 months have been really hard, at times darker than I thought they ever would be, but overwhelmingly the thing I am struggling the most with, is his total disregard for our DD. He sees her on average 6hrs every three weeks, and only speaks/texts her a couple of times between visits. She seems to enjoy time with him at the time, but soon after returning she vows never to see him again, and she rarely answers her phone to him or even has it on. I have tried so much to encourage her to speak to him, text him, reply, but have realised that I have done enough of this, and feel I should just take a step back, but this feels wrong. Especially given the fact the Ex feels I poison her against him, and that she "has no chance with you as a mother" Yes I work full time and as a result she has to go to after school club on 4 days a week, but I love her dearly and am only trying to keep my head above water for the sake of her future.
The latest concern which has led me to look on here is that he has a new partner, one that my friend told me about (cheers for that, but Id rather not know!) and I discussed with him that I knew, and could he please speak to me when he felt it may be going somewhere as we would need to organise how and when to tell our DD, to which he agreed. The next visit (two Saturdays ago) he collected her as planned, then proceeded to tell our DD that he had a new girlfriend, explained that she had two children (my daughter always wanted siblings, but Ex didnt want kids!) and then took her to her house for the afternoon to spend time with them. DD was reasonably happy on her return, and who wouldnt be spending time having water fights etc with new "friends" - but has since been extremely quiet/angry/emotional and generally I dont know what to do/say to help her
Sorry such a long post............
Firstly you are doing your utmost and it must feel all uphill when your ex is like a loose cannon.
It is hard getting your head round the idea Dad is flakey and unreliable at an age when even quite stable happy families start to come under the critical eye of the pre-teen. Plus I suspect your ex will have no qualms about disclosing any faults he sees in you in a sort of mischief making to "win" affections from you. Dropping DD into a social situation without warning could have been better handled.
She knows you are in her corner but may feel conflicted - disloyal - about voicing her upset over divorce and her father's different persona when with his gf and her children. NB as uninterested as you were to hear about his love life, at least you could tell him you'd heard, so no chance of him telling DD to keep gf a secret, which sadly does happen.
To assure herself of your commitment and possibly impress her dad with a view to keeping his attention she could devise for herself new hoops to jump through. Along with normal pre-pubescent moods there could be signs of struggling:
I would watch out for any decline in socialising, any increase in her pressuring herself to achieve or excel, or obsession with body image expressed through food - ie controlling her feelings.
Allow her to share (if she wants) any upset or fears as well as any positives from seeing her father. Children often feel expected to put on a brave face, be upbeat and smiley, keep up an image. Ask DD if she has any way she'd like to pour out her thoughts, art? writing?
1:1 time with you every day school/work permitting, another adult mentor she trusts, fresh air, exercise - just so she never feels suffocated or unable to let go.
Thankyou Donkeys, I do hope she knows that she can talk to me if she wants to, but theres also a fine line of talking to me like crap when shes in a mood (hormonal or just other stuff) and still being the parent who has rules. Her dad never really bothered when he was with us, and she remembers lots of things that she should never have heard/witnessed. We had a really good evening yesterday, as we had a good old fashioned water fight in the garden, just laughing and being silly and she loved it, she was clingy to me all evening after that, instead of going in on herself again. It was just nice to have a nice time together.
Perfect timing though her dad rang my phone and left message asking to see her this sunday (she never has her phone on as she doesnt like him ringing) and I genuinely didnt hear the phone as was driving, so was perfect to not have to answer him myself. I gave her the phone to listen to the message when I collected her from school and she just turned it off and said she didnt want to see him. I then told her to at least ring or text him to let him know she had other plans this weekend, but after a few minutes she text to say she would see him, but what would they be doing as he has lost his job (again!). I think shes worried he will take her to his gf again?
Whats the best way to approach or answer her when she switches from not seeing him to wanting to, to dreading going (her worst mood at the mo) - I know I need to let her know I am there but I thought after this many months that things would be more settled for her. She starts secondary school in September, and he didnt even come with us to look at schools or even know which one she will be going to?!
I would put money on him taking her over to play with 'new friends' because his input is very much reduced. Easy options will occur to him first. You look like spoilsport mum if you voice objections because "She's enjoying herself". Of course it is his life, his gf, her house. Some would say, it's up to him how he entertains her.
I would do as you have done, keep her in the loop, but let her decide if she wants to see him. Your instinct is to protect her but she has to see for herself how he is. I'm afraid you will bear the brunt of her disappointment. Set rules and parameters but be prepared for an occasional backlash. Working to keep you both and being a consistent parent you are a great role model. Cut yourself some slack if you rant. Honesty is the best policy, you can't fix everything OP but she'll know you can be trusted.
You are so right! I did look like spoilsport mum after the first visit initially as he told me "she enjoyed herself so whats the problem" my problem was the lack of communication or forward thinking of how this was going to affect her if rushed. I read on a step family advice page the other day that "no one ever complained about taking too long to meet a new family" and this was what I told him, he just laughed in my face, literally and told me I was off my clogs and was just jealous!! Ummmm nope
Thankyou for letting me rant, never thought this would be me, but then I expect we all think that till we get here!
I would try and avoid communicating with him unless it is about arrangements - you will never win the argument and the more he sees he can get to you that way the more he will do it. Keep the boundaries with your DD, be the great Mum you have always been. You can't do anything about what he does other than minimise the negative impact on you and DD. You can only parent DD as well as you have been doing in the hope that she will understand what is best for her. Your ex will get bored especially if his power over you is lost.
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