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STBXH, access, crying kids...advice please

(65 Posts)
Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 18:14:06

Sooooo...STBXH has a reasonable access schedule. EOW, evenings each week. Exactly, what he requested.
He is emotionally manipulative, gaslighting, finacially abusive but vvv charming to the point that my (former) solicitor told me how much pressure he is under...

He changes access as it suits him, but I darent change for any reason- I will be called inflexible, called repeatedly while I am on the road to collect kids, called names in front of them.

He goes abroad occasionally for work- he'll tell me a week in advance, although many countries need work visas applied for in advance.

Anyway. Today, he returned from a trip. Had arranged (with kids) to collect after school run. 10 minutes after due time, he telephones to say he's just woken up and will collect them later. For various reasons this doesnt suit and reeks of his attitude that he can do what he wants and we (kids and I) will rotate around that.

AIBU to have told children they cant go out with him this evening? We returned from evening activities to find him parked on driveway ('are you saying I cant park on my property?') and children are now all upset, some crying in bed?

BakerStreetSaxRift Fri 28-Feb-14 09:55:04

I can completely imagine the humming while you talk, how disrespectful, and oh my God that would have really bothered me. You did so well to handle it as you did. That really typifies his behaviour.

Yes to blinds on the door, and chain or additional lock on the door. For security...

HelenHen Fri 28-Feb-14 08:32:19

Aw so glad for you! Sounds like you're really taking control of the situation... Must be pretty empowering smile . What a petty man!

Redoubtable Fri 28-Feb-14 08:18:03

Tea I feel I have turned another corner. Really, I would not behave like this toward anyone, myself.

At this stage of my life, I do not accept anyone treating me like this (or even behaving like that in my company).
I have been putting up with it....for the DC? hmm thats not good on my part, and not good for them
to give him space to calm down (not my responsibility),
trying to be compassionate and see it from his side (placating a bully)

WHO hums while their co-parent tries to tell them something important about their children?

I feel like a complete muppet. I've been so busy trying to calm my anger with him, to ensure that the DC were sane and felt safe, that I had managed my grief well, aiming to be non-bitter.....
that (to him) I've continued to be a walkover.

grin seabright....I had thought of that!.And I feel blinds are necessary at the glass on my front door so that ''weird'' people not STBXH,oh no are not staring in at me.

Seabright Fri 28-Feb-14 00:32:52

You may not be able to change the locks, but what about adding one?

As a person living alone, with you children, it's not unreasonable that you might feel more secure with a chain on the door, is it? The police recommend them.

TeaMakesItAllPossible Thu 27-Feb-14 22:25:20

Yep, definitely a knob.

You did the right thing. Next time tell him you're going in and you'll speak after 5 mins. Then 10. If he rings constantly tell him you'll call the police! Timeout for knobbers.

Over time I have stopped trying to co-parent. I parent. He parents. And I only see him on parents evening, at events and on Christmas Day when David Attenborough provides the backdrop. He still sends co-parenting and information emails and text. I mostly don't respond. Drives him potty. I feel calm.

Yours is a right knob I have to say wink

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 21:34:04

arthritic and tea thank you.

He was at it again today. Of course he is annoyed that he didnt get his way yesterday so had to ramp it up today.

Access this afternoon....I went out to speak to him about something before DC came out. He continued to hum while I tried to speak to him; I told him I had something to tell him and he could knock once he had finished singing.
As soon as I shut the door, he knocked.

It is petty, petty stuff. But stops any form of co-parenting, co-operation, give-and-take that should happen between 2 adults who agree to disagree, and swallow their animosity in order to move forward.

TeaMakesItAllPossible Thu 27-Feb-14 16:48:41

I understand how you feel. It is a hard path to tread, it's lonely and it's hard to articulate the wearing nature of it to others. It is now very low grade and I'll be buggered if I've worked out how to avoid it when you have a DC.

You are doing very well though. Each day you're getting stronger.

My solicitor, and others I speak to now, was/are the same, he/they assumed I was dealing with a reasonable person.

My ex-knob is very clever, very manipulative, successful, good at behaving when others are around and it's hard to know how best to act. I'm convinced he never matured beyond the age of 6. He can't see he is any thing from anyone else's perspective. Everything is about his rights - not our DS or anyone else. He believes his actions are normal and everyone does them. My BFF is convinced he's a sociopath!

In my situation, I got better at boundaries and space. But really my life saver was I was when he got a new wife - 3 months after the divorce - as his focus shifted. Rather sadly his new victim is lovely. hmm

Every now and again now, it's like I play the school fayre game ... bat the rat in a drainpipe. He tries bullying me. I deal with it. And carry on. I too am strong and dealing with it has helped my self esteem.

arthriticfingers Thu 27-Feb-14 15:43:16

Please don't think I ever saw or see even now anything as 'obvious'
I only wish ...
It never is when when you are in front of your abuser.
It wasn't that many years ago that I thought abuse was hitting sad
I don't think it is very helpful to see abuse as degrees of abuse - it is more like a continuum.
An abuser is always an abuser wherever they are at any one moment on that continuum - and abuse, almost without fail, escalates.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 15:27:36

Please dont think that I am rejecting the advice that all of you have offered.

I'm trying to explain how I rationalise it... if anything, poking holes in my argument will let the light in and help me see how much (I suspect) I am still allowing him to abuse us.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 15:25:20

arthritic thank you...I think we agree although I seem to be at cross purposes to you on posting.

I do see ex as abusive. I dont see him as in the moderate rather than severe range. Even that is too much for a relationship of any sort.

I did have my brain mucked with...there were incredible levels of lying, rejecting what he had told me previously (gaslighting), twisting my words and actions. Emotional, financial and sexual abuse.
I asked for help from my FOO, from his family, from couples counselling and mediation at a time when I was still learning about abuse.

Now I am wiser and stronger.

I agree that I am not out of the woods yet...I imagine to you it seems obvious that one would refuse access to the DC when he hasn't turned up at the appointed time and he goes on to behave as he did. It wasnt obvious to me yesterday.

It seems obvious to me now, that he should never have been allowed back into the house when he left. But it wasnt clear to me then.
It seems obvious to me now that I should never have gone to couples counselling with has given him lingo which he uses as a power-over mechanism.

You're correct in saying that it takes a very long time to get thoughts straight after this experience. Its an experience that is incomprehensible to anyone who has not been there; the comments of 'why do/did you allow it?' are constant.

Not going to couples counselling/mediation, or not allowing access to the DC would not have (in this culture/society) been seen as strength but as unreasonableness on my part.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 14:41:26

Oh, I wasn't saying he should be arrested. Just that it's easier when the behaviour is such that the police can arrest the abuser. That grey area is hard to deal with.

arthriticfingers Thu 27-Feb-14 14:37:19

I will try and put this down for you to think about and hope that it comes out right.
You appear to be so eager not to view yourself as a victim of abuse that you fail to see your ex as abusive (which is quite clearly the case)
This is illogical - but well documented as headf***.
Asking your abusive ex and his family for help was always going to be a non-starter and lead to more abuse.
Any reputable literature on abuse will say that couples-counselling and mediation are downright harmful in abusive relationships. (please check the links at the top of the EA board - Lundy is the best)
You got no joy from your solicitor - if he/she does not understand abuse then they cannot help. Look for one who understands and has dealt with abuse before. This is probably a priority.
WA and the Police were unhelpful - that is a great shame - but I would really urge you to try them again.
The 'sixofonehalfadozenoftheother' and its close relative 'whydidn'tyouleave' mentalities are ingrained.
F* all we can do about them and very little we can do about the pain they cause. sad
But there are people who understand. Maybe not many and not always there in friends and relations, but they are there.
Please don't throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
We all of us said 'but it wasn't that bad'. Unfortunately, we are not reliable - because our thoughts and feelings have been skewed and it takes a long time to get them straight again.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 13:40:29

He will never be arrested. I dont see myself as high-risk in need of secure accommodation. That would be drama-queening my situation.

But the ongoing, inappropriate behaviour of DC's father should not be minimised. I can empathise with mothers (fathers?) who move away and dont facilitate contact- if contact always provides a forum for the low-level type abuse that I experience.

There is room between reasonable/normal/appropriate behaviour (what that is, is subjective and open to interpretation) and what is illegal. He lives in that zone.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 13:33:41

Yes, be it actual physical violence, or emotional violence, there is not much support out there. Unless they can arrest them or put you in secure accommodation.
If there is contact, you have to deal with it.

And yes, you win and the children win because they have one parent who cares about them and is their rock.
He'll still be a twat in the end.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 13:26:32

lweji I appreciate your patience with me. I have a huge resistance to seeing myself as someone (victim?) of Domestic Violence.

I read enough on here to know that in many ways, its not bad. Its not what I want, its not acceptable to me, its not OK for my children to see. But its endurable.

And my self-image is now built on now having broken.

I originally posted to ask AIBU to have denied him and DC to see each other yesterday.

I feel now, I made the right decision. I handled the DC's understandable upset and anger at me, and I did it well. I will handle it better next time, as I wont be afraid of their upset, I know now I can handle that. I know that they respect my saying 'no' to lots of other things - this is one more of those.

But for the past few years, I've put my hand out and asked for help from police, WA, solicitors, mediation, couples-counselling, his parents, him....none has been forthcoming. But I am still here, the DC are thriving, it will be ok in the end.

I am a very resolute and strong person now. He hates that. I win.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 13:18:21

Interesting Guardian article for you It refers to high risk cases, but the problem is the same.
I think you'd need to talk to other people, or build a proper legal case, rather than just talk to a police officer.

You could try NCDV for an injunction if it gets too much for you.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 13:11:46

arthritic no offence taken here, and I was not implying that you were trying to offend.
It's a more general comment to RL people that, while common perception would be that a marriage breakdown is a failure of both sides, this is not always the case.

In my case, neither in my marriage nor in the breakup have I done anything wrong. I set out to be dignified, and patient, believing that STBXH was experiencing extreme stress and that with time, he would become reasonable..... smile grin hmm hmm

Unfortunately, Reasonable is a country he had a temporary visa for while we dated, pre-marriage.

Lweji I have spoken to the police and they are not interested. At one point, I stated to the lady I spoke to, that short of him actually hitting me, they would not get involved. She agreed. Everything that he does/says can be manipulated and explained away as the reasonable actions of a man trying to ''communicate'' with his ExW and his 'D'C.

Very victim blaming.

But as I can recognise it for what it is, its a relief not to take on other peoples labels. They are wrong and I am right. It just takes a lot of strength to hold firm to that truth.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 09:58:38

And if they ask why you allow it, they are recognising that it is his doing. The rest is victim blaming.
"Did you mean to blame me, the victim?" could become the Relationships come back.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 09:57:06

I think with people who ask you how you allow it, you ask them what they would do and what should you do. And could they go and speak to him and set him straight.

There is not much you can do to people who are hellbent on harassing you, except collecting evidence and report it to the police.

You could ignore him, but that would only make him want to push further to annoy you.

arthriticfingers Thu 27-Feb-14 09:51:38

I am doing/have not done anything wrong
I was trying to say exactly this in my post - but something got lost in translation, for which I am sorry.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 09:48:53

Thanks for the support...I will be back, but have a client meeting now.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 09:48:14

Yes mummy.
He is an adult in age only, though. There is an aspect of him that is forever a tantruming toddler/moody teenager.

But he is a lot more dangerous than that caricature would allow; he is more intelligent, more focused, sulkier, and less reasonable. And most adults expect, as I did, that 'there's 2 sides to every story' or that he has 50% of right on his side.

It takes a wise one to see otherwise.

Which is not to suggest that I care what people think- I no longer do.

But in seeking support to deal with him, there is always an element of what am I doing wrong to allow this to happen.

I am doing/have not done anything wrong.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 09:44:08

lweji that is good advice. I need to set the walls further out, to allow some no-mans-land in between.

'Dealing with these people is a learning curve'....I could set this to music and sing it.
It is very easy for friends/family/sollicitors/strangers to say 'but why do you allow it'.
It is not a matter of allowing is a matter of constantly being surprised that this person (to whom I promised eternal love and trust) has no respect/knowledge of normal social reciprocation or boundaries.

mummytime Thu 27-Feb-14 09:42:45

Women's aid may be able to help you find a good solicitor used to abusive husbands. If not ask around (I know one in my book group and another from the school gate, and I'm not even thinking of divorce).

You did well yesterday by not waiting for him.

If he chooses to stand in the rain/snow or whatever - then let him, don't even mention it. He is an adult and its his choice. Whatever he does as long as it doesn't threaten you or the children, is his business.
Most people do know that some Exs can be idiots.

Even your DC will see through the Disney process eventually.

Redoubtable Thu 27-Feb-14 09:40:56

Thanks dili
I have come to realise that actually I am a very strong person; but sometimes that is a weakness too. I have put up with things that I should not have - thinking that it was for the children, so that they could keep a relationship with him.

BUT of course, that is forgetting that it is his responsibility to maintain a relationship with them; and some of that means that he must accept that the consequence of leaving them (as well as me) is that he has to be much more solicitous of their (and my) time.

He will never see that.

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