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I was going to post this in lone parents, but perhaps I need some wider straight talking to...(14 Posts)
I guess I am asking what other people do as coping mechanisms.
My marriage thankfully ended 7 months ago, because my stbxh is a mess. He has a drink problem, associated depression, big mood swings. Since the marriage ended he has lost really well paying jobs twice because of his erratic behaviour, and is living with his parents. He initially moved 150 miles away from us, and left us without a penny or any support (I was a sahm). I have managed to apply for state support and moved 180 miles the other way to live near my family for emotional and physical support, and some financial backup. My x has not had a parental role with our young children in that time and has not wanted to. He has seen them once in over 4 months now. (He could afford petrol until he was fired again last week). He calls the children daily (when he is not busy) on my suggestion, but they seem to be there to entertain him and conversation is limited. Now that his work life collapsed again, he has suddenly started inundating me with emails (these periods go in fits and starts, but in 7 months, I have had over 200 emails, many texts, had to turn whatsapp off on my phone, he calls children daily) and he out of the blue told his 3 & 5 year old on the phone yesterday he was coming to see them the next day afternoon, not having said a word to me and not having wanted to see them for 9 weeks. I felt terrible having to say no, but we are not even at home...
I feel really unsettled and stressed because of his mood swings, and I guess am being badly triggered by his behaviour (as during our marriage I coped very badly with that, he was habitually absent, drunk or suicidal for many years and as a result I was not able to set any boundaries down I was too scared he would either drink or top himself). I am frustrated because I am scared about the effect he is having/will have on the children if he can't start being more stable around them. I am upset because I want a clean divorce (he won't sign the papers) and I really need to move on with my life. And I can't work out whether I am still enabling him through guilt and shame feelings, or he just doesn't listen to any boundaries I set down anyway.
His best friend and parents are all really worried about his behaviour too, so I don't think I am overreacting. But I just don't see how I can move on from this situation, it is a nightmare rollercoaster. It affects my calm around the children which upsets me so much, it affects my ability to move on as I end up so anxious. I have already had a year of therapy to try and detach and it did a lot of good.
Any advice or straight talking that I need to hear? This morning I just can't see the wood for the trees. Half the time I feel like I am crazy and I have invented all of this. (I was told often by him in my marriage that I was mentally ill and abusive towards him, he also moved us annually and isolated me from my friends and family because he told me they had caused his and 'my' mental issues). My therapist told me I was there was nothing wrong with me, other than being stuck in a situation I couldn't get out of by myself.
"I am upset because I want a clean divorce (he won't sign the papers) and I really need to move on with my life. "
This is the part to focus on. Drop all communications beyond 'talk to my solicitors', then talk to your solicitor, show them this avalanche of harrassment, explain his unstable/erratic behaviour, and get them to do everything they possibly can to limit his activities and get the papers signed.
Your children should not be exposed to him while he is behaving this way. Phone-calls and visits have to be agreed formally.... no more informal chats etc. You've made good progress in detaching and this is the next step. Good luck
I agree with cogito,
Change phone numbers or block him, block email addresses also, let him take you to court for access or whatever it takes to set the boundaries in stone, ask your solicitor if there is a way of getting him to submit to some sort of psychiatric testing. Log everything you have and give it to the solicitor, detach and ignore is the way to go, its hard very hard I know, but for your mental health it has to be done.
Another poster here saying legal advice! Then you can get support and make arrangements through solicitors.
He sounds unbalanced (and manipulative?) and keeping your distance will only benefit you.
Your children are young, you sound like you have managed to start to set up a new life for yourselves in a short time. I think if sort out contact matters legally from the beginning, it could save you years of struggle with this man.
i think it is pointless calling a 3 and five year old if there is little or no face to face contact on a regular basis. of course conversation is limited they are three and five !
get the divorce done - have him talk to you via solicitor. use the legal system to ge things formalised.
is the MH recorded and reported somewhere ? dyu have copies of medical reports?
if so his erratic behaviour coupled with reports = he ses the children on regular basis in a contact centre for now.
you cant make him be stable - maybe he will never be sable given his history. stop thinking you can in some way!
but you can provide the stability and be firm about boundaries and settng up eg contact centre contact or supervised contact (family or friend?) for now.
ps how to cope -
tell yourself you are no responsible for him
you cannot make him stable
likelihood is he will never be stable
he can prove stability by for example commiting to regular contact centre contatc over a long period of time (but may still then have blips)
that your job is to help your dc grow up knowing that dad is not a stable fixture in their lives (until prove otherwise) but may flit in and out and not have this rule their lives, rather it is ok and you accept this is the way it is but make sure you provide stability and keep distanc from him .
an formalise things let solicitor deal with legal stuff that is why you pay solicitor.
Thank you so much for responding to this. I am so frustrated at myself for not being able to see the situation clearly for what it is, but at least I did manage to get strong enough to leave it (that took me 6 years), and am definitely out for good now. I need to work harder on detaching and getting things formalised.
Daffy, don't beat yourself up. You're in the middle of all of this and perspective is a bit of a pipe dream right now.
Everyone here is trying to help but we all know that you need to have information so that you make decisions you feel comfortable with.
Keep posting, these lovely ladies will give you some perspective and support because, unfortunately, they've been through similar stuff
On the upside, that means you get the benefit of their experience to use yourself
Take care of yourself and your DC's first and foremost, you're on the right road and MN will help as much as possible.
Why I think I needed to hear your words on perspective this morning. It is so hard trying to marry feelings with my experiences, it is like my mind is playing tricks on me.
I was talking to his mum yesterday when she called to say hello to the children, and I asked how he was doing, because he has asked to take the children at some point and I am worried about recent mood swings. When I told her he had called the children drunk really early one evening recently, she just simply said that didn't sound like him. I feel like I am insane. I know from living with him that he will go to great lengths to hide his drinking, and that he can drink a large amount before it is noticable. His psychiatrist for his depression even wanted him to do a detox programme for goodness sake, and he had liver function tests show damage. So why can't I believe me and my experiences. I read through what I posted above, and I don't think I am a hysterical person, but I feel like it.
I feel like because I am so used to being constantly dragged under by someone else's insane behaviour and moods, that I have forgotten I can swim and in fact stand because the water under me is so shallow (but I was told it was deep).
I guess it is a symptom of such low self esteem too, that I still feel like I need someone else to validate my feelings. At least I can think clearly most of the time now, but the slips back are so intense. I think another poster said somewhere yesterday, that she felt she needed to hear her dP say sorry for his behaviour, it is an insane, compulsive feeling.
It helps to just write down some of these feelings too, they are so much more manageable then.
C'est I have GP and psychiatrists reports from a few years ago, and since then his MH will have been reported as he was treated, so his current GP and his psychiatrist will have notes. And absolutely agree about supervised contact, the divorce petition stipulates he can only have the children at his parents' house, as I just don't trust him not to drink or ignore them.
I am going to have a real hard think about my boundaries and work out what I need to set down, and will have a chat to my lawyer about setting contact out legally. Thanks.
Can I suggest not checking up on him with his mother? It's a rare mum that wants to acknowledge there's anything at all wrong with their DS. In the split, no matter how badly behaved he has been, fundamentally she's on his side and not yours. When talking to you, whatever she privately believes, black will become white as she keeps up the pretence. So if you're unsure about your own assessment of the situation, she is precisely the wrong person to use as your sounding post.
Choose who you talk to very carefully. Select those that know the truth and support your view. When dealing with damaged, manipulative people who have systematically gone out of their way to smash our confidence we all need others to validate our opinion and correct the balance.... because the person themselves will never admit fault. Doesn't mean you have low self-esteem, necessarily.
Hugs to you. You are not insane and you need to protect your children from the impact of his drinking, which you are doing. My ex has pretty much disengaged now from his parental role which bothered me but now I think it is for the best as he is pretty ineffective and likely to drink again. My exMIL is in denial about his behaviour too. She still maintains he is a good father! The mind boggles.
I have sent you a amp, btw.
Cognito you are totally right. I don't know what I was hoping to achieve, and it did not help me at all. It is so good to hear all of this.
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