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To wish my alcoholic ex would just sod off for good?

(30 Posts)
Snorbs Mon 27-Jul-09 12:23:07

My alcoholic ex bounces from drunk to sober every month or two. When she's sober she sees the DCs once a week (after passing a breathalyser test - this was a Social Services requirement although SS aren't involved any more), and phones them every day. When she's drinking she drops out of contact for days, weeks, sometimes months.

She was supposed to be seeing the DCs today. Last night she phoned up to speak to DCs (after not speaking to them for a week and missing last week's contact day). She promised the kids she'd see them today and acted all appalled when I confirmed with her that she would actually make it. She then tried to argue that she didn't need to have the breath-test any more as there was no way that she would fail it as, of course, she wasn't drinking hmm I reminded her that no breath-test, no contact, and after a bit more histrionics she put the phone down.

This morning she phoned up to say that she not only failed the breath test but was over the drink-drive limit so she wouldn't be seeing the kids. So my kids are disappointed and fed-up, I've got to change plans to make sure that I can look after them today, and I'm still expecting yet another letter from her solicitor demanding more contact.

She's a pathetic, selfish, tawdry, unreliable, abusive drunk and I am so fucked off that her selfishness is still affecting my children so much and still having such an impact on my life. It's been like this for two years, ever since SS said that my kids should live with me. And yet I still hear the same old excuses, the same lies, the same promises that she hasn't got any capability of keeping, and the same threats and demands from her solicitor.

I wish she'd just sod off and blight someone else's life. The way she drifts in and out of my kids' lives is, I'm sure, doing them more damage than if she just buggered off for good. The uncertainty is really not doing them any favours at all.

So, AIBU in wishing she'd just get lost? I know she's my DC's mum but, honestly, what kind of a parent is it that prefers to get pissed than to see their children?

AnyFuckerLikesItUpTheBum Mon 27-Jul-09 12:27:29


in her present state she is doing more harm than good

have you taken note of every instance where she lets them down?

I think you need to re-visit any contact arrangement you have with her

Nancy66 Mon 27-Jul-09 12:36:16

She's a pathetic, selfish, tawdry, unreliable, abusive drunk

......I agree. I feel sorry for your poor kids they deserve better.

I don't know what to suggest. I do sometimes think children are better off without a certain parent in their lives, especially one that forever lets them down.

Sorry, no useful suggestions at all. I take it she's done the whole rehab route?

MyCatIsABiggerBastardThanYours Mon 27-Jul-09 12:43:48

YANBU Surely you can apply for even more limited access to the DC by her?

Longtalljosie Mon 27-Jul-09 12:48:50

I agree with AnyFucker about needing to keep a diary of this...

I do feel for you. YANBU - I just wish there was something I could suggest.

racmac Mon 27-Jul-09 12:55:29

Is there a Court order in place? Can you not stop contact and allow her to take you to Court - refuse access - its not in their best interests to be fucked around all the time.

Feel sorry for you and the kids YANBU

GypsyMoth Mon 27-Jul-09 13:00:56

courts won't promote contact for the sake of it if there is no commitment to the children. you have to prove this,and maybe get a cafcass assesment. i'd downgrade contact to indirect.

why are you putting your kids through this?

Snorbs Mon 27-Jul-09 13:16:21

I've got a contact diary for this year. It makes for sorry reading as she's missed nearly a third of all contact.

The contact arrangements are a hold over from when Social Services were involved (there are no formal residency/contact orders) and I agree that they just don't seem to be working. But I think that's not so much an issue with the agreed frequency of contact but more that she just can't be relied on to do what she's agreed to do. It wouldn't matter if we agreed she should see the DCs every other day or every other week - she'd still get pissed whenever she wanted and not bother turning up sad

When Social Services were involved they organised a load of specialist alcohol abuse counselling for her which made cock-all difference. A mutual friend then stumped up damn-near £5,000 shock to get her into rehab for a couple of months. She was drinking within a month or so of leaving. She's currently claiming to be attending AA but I don't believe that for a second.

In many ways it would be easier if she just came out and said "Snorbs, I'm a drinker and I'm going to carry on being a drinker. Let's work out some way I can do that but still get to see the kids every now and then." as at least then we could get away from the bullshit and make some pragmatic arrangements. But that would require a degree of honesty that I genuinely don't think she's capable of.

GypsyMoth Mon 27-Jul-09 13:21:13

i think you need to make a stand here. put your own rules in place. how old are dc?

AnyFuckerLikesItUpTheBum Mon 27-Jul-09 13:37:38

so there is no existing contact order ?

then make up your own, one that suits the children and minimises the fall-out when she lets them down

if that means she doesn't see them at all, so be it

if she doesn't like what you propose, then she will have to go to court and you have your evidence that she is unreliable and a practicing alcoholic

harsh, but necessary, for the chidren's sake

MIFLAW Mon 27-Jul-09 14:14:30

I do agree with you that, at the moment, it is better for all concerned if she does not have contact with her children.

however, I can assure you that, if one is an alcoholic, knowing you should do something about it and actually doing something about it can initially be very different things. She may well be attending AA, for example - it is not a maigc trick and does not automatically "work", however bad you feel about your drinking and its consequences. Indeed, the remorse of such activities can lead to still more drinking to blot out the shame.

You are probably right that it is honesty that is lacking. You know all this anyway.

i guess I am saying that, yes, you should exclude her for now, without any qualms - but please, if you can, find it in your heart not to close the door permanently, because she may yet surprise you.

Snorbs Mon 27-Jul-09 15:52:45

DCs are 10 and 7. To be brutally honest, I've shied away from making any big stand because of (possibly unfounded) worries over how it would look if/when this goes to court. I've heard of some spectacularly stupid decisions passed down by family courts.

Plus, due to my financial position, I'd have to represent myself - I earn too much for Legal Aid but not enough to pay thousands for a solicitor sad.

MIFLAW, I would never close the door forever as I know that there's always the possibility of her changing. But I seriously doubt it's going to happen any time soon. On the other hand, I am starting to wonder if my willingness to promote contact resuming the minute she sobers up from the latest binge is in some way enabling her alcoholism. As things stand, there are no significant consequences for her continuing the cycle.

MIFLAW Mon 27-Jul-09 16:29:31

I can only share my experience which is, in some ways, not that relevant to your situation. Still ... It was certainly a big impetus for me to examine my drinking when my friends and partner distanced themselves from me to varying degrees. In this respect, you may well be right about "enabling" her alcoholism.

I should stress, though, that, for me, this was the beginning of the end rather than the end itself. Even within AA it took me over a year to accept that I was a "proper" alcoholic and therefore stop drinking on a(until now) permanent basis, though I was more sober than not within that year.

In other words, consequences are, by and large, good things - but they may not have the desired effect straight away, and the self-pity they engender may even make things worse to start with. Again, you know all this on one level - but I'm telling you anyway so you don't think too ill or too despairingly of her if the same is true of your wife.

You are, of course, doing her a favour too in keeping her away from the kids (though she will not see this until she sobers up) - it's that old saying of "when you're in a hole, stop digging!" Meeting the kids when drunk will almost certainly only make the comeback longer and more painful when it does happen.

Grandhighpoohba Mon 27-Jul-09 17:27:38

YANBU. Absolutely not.
My DsS's mother is also a drunk, is dishonest and has no sense of her children's needs. She now has very limited contact, but thats because a) the DsS's are older (18 and 14) and choose not to see her and b) she doesn't even bother to get in touch with them unless she wants something. We told the kids when they were a bit younger that they had permission to hang up the phone on her if she was drunk, and not feel guilty. sad

But I sympathise absolutely. Its a horrible dillema to want your kids to see their mother, but also to need to protect them from her. We eventually moved away with the kids to escape the nonsense. I recon you impose your own rules about contact (I would go with phone only, and only if she speaks to you first and you think she is sober enough) Its unlikely she would bother to go as far as to Court, even if she threatens it, as drinking will be her priority, not Court dates and lawyers appointments. She must also know that she will not win, particularly as the children were removed from her care. Court will be a humiliating experience for her.
Could you get back in touch with Social Services? They may be able to offer advice, and/or be able to help block contact.

Looking back on it, it wasn't until my DH stood up to her and said she couldn't see them that she stopped interfering with our lives. Didn't stop her drinking tho sad

I know how hard this all is, but you are doing the best by your kids. Good luck.

Snorbs Mon 27-Jul-09 21:51:37

I might try Social Services again for a bit of advice as I did have a good relationship with the social worker.

Bah. I used to go to Al-Anon regularly but it's not really possible now. One motto from there that really resonated with me was Nothing changes if nothing changes. I think it's time to make some changes and see where they lead...

Snorbs Mon 27-Jul-09 23:51:19

By the way - thanks for all the advice. I'm taking the DCs away on holiday next week and I'm going to use the time when they're in bed to have a good think about where to go from here. If nothing else, I want to make sure that we're not still in the same position this time next year.

Longtalljosie Tue 28-Jul-09 08:48:47

Good luck Snorbs

Grandhighpoohba Wed 29-Jul-09 23:54:08

Enjoy the holiday, you have all earned it!

curiositykilled Thu 30-Jul-09 00:04:22

snorbs - what do the children think about it all? You could try mediation - less expensive way of testing if your plans are reasonable.

Snorbs Thu 30-Jul-09 09:31:01

Good question about my DC's opinions. They do miss her, understandably. Regardless of how shoddily she treats them she is still their mother. They understand why they don't see her when she's drinking. But they don't understand why (as it seems to them) she chooses to drink rather than to turn up and see them.

Fundamentally, I know they do want to see their mum more often if she didn't drink (which, if it ever happened, would be something I'd fully support). I don't think they have a clear idea of how they'd like things to be if she continues to cycle between drunk and sober in the way she has for the last few years. Which is fair enough because it's exactly that question that I struggle with, too...

Incidentally I did raise the option of mediation but I haven't heard back yet.

curiositykilled Thu 30-Jul-09 10:52:50

Snorbs - you're halfway there then if they understand why they don't see her when she drinks and that you want her to see them. I'd have a think about how you'd like to proceed then talk to the children and explain what you were thinking and why and what your ultimate aim is. I think open communication with the children and honesty and realism are important and that it's important you try and find a bright side or an excuse to talk about because then the children are less likely to think she's choosing drink because they lack something or that they can't talk to you about your ex - the reality is that she's choosing the drink because she is a weak person.

My ex has a drink problem but fortunately it is not anywhere near as bad as your ex's, his main problem is he's just lazy, selfish and uncommitted (and has had a terrible family background and the wrong kind of support and encouragement). We have found a way of accommodating this and making the best of it and now everything is good for him and our children.

We had a poor relationship, he drank and cheated, kept control of the money, disappeared for days on benders and abused me. Our second child was the result of a rape which, I think shocked him into leaving (although he didn't know I was pregnant when he went) - that and the main other girl he had on the go had a car to drive him to the pub, a good job to buy him beer and no kids to distract her.

He decided that he was going to pre-empt my rage by attacking me every way he could - he admitted this in mediation last year. I was just hurt and afraid and still loved him and had no wish to fight.

When he discovered I was pregnant he tried to force me to have an abortion (marched me down to the GP and insisted on coming in to to the appointment and asking for an abortion) but I wouldn't. This changed my mind about him - should have happened long before but he was so manipulative. I was happy my son would have a playmate, he just wanted his mistake to go away.

Many things followed: He spread lies, went out of his way to get his friends, family and girlfriend to intimidate me, stopped seeing his son and then took me to family court for access saying I had stopped contact. At this point our daughter had been born. The first date for family court was supposed to be the day after she was born but this was put back!

He registered her birth (she has his name) with me but then said he didn't want access to her because it was "physically impossible" for her to be his child. I think this was because he had been telling his girlfriend and family that we were not together, just sharing a house for the sake of our son, blah blah blah for a while before we split up and didn't want the lies exposed.

The CSA would not do a DNA test because he had not disputed paternity with them, he would not do a DNA test privately even if I paid for one and the court would not do a DNA test because the access case only had my son's name on it. I was fuming and insisted I would not allow access to my son unless he saw his daughter too, that he had no reason to believe that she was not his and that I had had no opportunity to have concieved her with anyone else because of the nature of our relationship.

Eventually the family court did a DNA test. This and the way he behaved in family court made him look a fool. The process was worrying though as the magistrate only tells you his feelings at the end. We had a series of contact arrangements, starting with supervised contact as he was under investigation by the police at the time, and although he managed to regularly come to the contact centre as soon as we moved forward into less supervised contact he just couldn't keep up with it. He always had some excuse about work not letting have time off.

My point was that since he only worked casually and changed his job every few weeks he should be working his job around the pre-existing contact arrangement.

Anyway, he eventually used the court to get me to let him have overnight stays which I was not happy about but then was unreliable over them - cancelling at the last minute, bringing them home befor they were due and then eventually refusing to have them overnight any more. My little boy had started potty training by this point and all the stress over this caused him to start having accidents and made him too afraid to try.

This was the final straw for me. I said 'either you stick to what you had arranged through the court or we will have to go to mediation (he had avoided this like the plague) to make a new arrangement before you can see them as I don't wish to be bullied into doing what you want when this is not necessarily best for the children.'

This was what finally sorted things out. When we went to mediation I held firm that he had let the children down too many times and he had to let me decide what was best for them. He finally accepted that the problem was that he didn't want the responsibility of being a father figure and could only cope with an informal arrangement.

This bout of mediation co-incided with me getting engaged and I explained to him that if he could only manage informal contact (like a grandparent) and my husband would be living with us it would be inevitable that the children would see him as the father figure and not their biological dad. I re-assured him that I would encourage a bond and love between the children and their father but realistically because they were so young (1 and 3) they would see my husband as their father if this is what he chose.

He apparently didn't hear all this and only heard "you can see the children as little or as much as you want" and chose not to meet me regularly to discuss how contact was going because he didn't think it was important. I had asked for this specifically because I was aware that he probably wouldn't have heard the implications of a more 'relaxed' arrangement and wanted to hammer the message home - I really didn't want to hoodwink him!

Anyway, things are fine now. The children live with my husband and I and see their dad for a couple of hours when he calls and asks. If we are busy then our family life takes priority and their dad has accepted his feelings and that this arrangement is really what he wants.

I have always spoken to the children about all the things. Even the bad things - obviously not in too much detail, and tried to always find something good to put with the bad. I kept my ex's pictures on the wall and talked about them every day when he was not seeing the children. It was easier because my children were very small but the line I have chosen is that they are lucky because they have two daddies, and to help them identify that adults have different types and levels of skill and sometimes can't/won't manage to do things that they should do.

I say that their sean daddy is very good at playing with them and having fun but that he can't manage to look after them for very long and that Mummy is very good at looking after them but is not very good at playing and having fun (which is true) and that their Neil daddy plays with them and looks after them nicely and we all love them very much. Then we talk about all the other people that love them and all the people that they love.

I'm sure they'll feel sad about their dad as they grow older and they would like to spend more time with him than they do but I have decided to leave this to their dad. I think you can't really go wrong with the truth and this is just the truth - sean can't manage to fulfill his responsibility but he is doing what he can. My son still remembers being let down so he understands better, I think everything will be fine as long as we all keep talking to each other and recognise the realities of what we can provide.

curiositykilled Thu 30-Jul-09 11:10:55

I guess my point is that the most important thing to help your children and her to get on well, is to get something set that she can actually provide. If that is nothing so be it and if that is regular contact, great. Things will change over the years anyway. She might sort herself out, she might not. The children don't have to suffer any more than is necessary and all you can do is work with what you've got.

curiositykilled Thu 30-Jul-09 12:08:53

Oh and importantly my relationship with my ex has improved vastly because I respect him so much for being able to recognise his limitations and provide something stable. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to get over your pride and admit something like he has and I respect and am thankful that he is trusting my husband to compensate for his shortcomings as he really has only my word that he is suitable. This all benefits the children HUGELY.

motheroftwoboys Thu 30-Jul-09 12:23:43

dont' know how old your children are but I really think it is important to try and make them understand that alcoholism is a disease and their mum is really ill. I know most people don't understand this. Later stage alcoholics are compelled physically and mentally to drink. They are not just choosing to do so. My DH is a recovering alcoholic (dry 3 years now) and our DSs are now 18 and 17. We went through about 6 years of absolute hell and they saw things that they never should BUT after various detoxes, a long rehab and a lot of AA he is now fine and we are very proud of him. It can happen but it is very, very hard. Good luck to you. I don't know if you have ever read them but I always recommed the series of books by Toby Rice Drews called Getting Them Sober - they were a Godsend to me. One thing I found really scary is that some of the alcohol services had counsellors working with them who truly didn't seem to understand the issues and most alcies could twist anyone round their little fingers. In our experience the only people that can help alcoholics are recovering alcoholics hence the best rehabs are those staffed by them. They know all the tricks they can pull!

beanieb Thu 30-Jul-09 12:25:12

YABU for wishing she would get lost, would be more reasonable to wish she would get 'better' and would be able to be a part of your children's lives.

Having said that, I lived with an alcoholic so I sympathise and can understand why her pissing off for good would seem like a much better solution for all ..

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