How can I get my abusive ex-husband out of my life?
Q . My first marriage was very abusive. My then-husband taught my son from age two, to call me bad names. He beat and strangled me, locked my son, at 6, in the bathroom and terrorized him.
We divorced 23 years ago when my daughter was age four and said, “Daddy doesn’t love you.”
I was very afraid of him because of his “connections.” Because of the court case that ensued when he strangled me, I had full custody, but I never denied him access to his kids.
He paid little child support, though he was making $120,000 while I was making $14,000. But he did spend money spoiling the children. I remarried 10 years ago. My ex still comes to my family functions with his new wife, and my kids see nothing wrong with that.
When I asked him nicely in writing if he could stop showing up, my son said it was inappropriate. He said his doctor also felt it was inappropriate.
I’m at a loss to see why my son feels this way. Is my letter inappropriate?
A. Thank you for sending me a copy of the letter you sent your ex after he attended your aunt’s funeral.
You included a very personal past exchange: “We forgave each other in our kitchen in 1993 where . . . I apologized for not making you feel loved and you apologized for not making me feel safe.”
It mentioned your adult children’s personal feelings — your son being “overwhelmed” by trying to comfort you when his father’s around; and included your sad revelation that you get only hostility from your daughter.
Many people would empathize with you over your past, as I do.
Having bravely escaped the severe abuse in your marriage 23 years ago, it’s naturally disturbing to you that your ex periodically shows up at your family events — marriages, funerals, weddings, showers, stags, etc. However, whether it’s because of his past “spoiling” of your children, or his maintaining a good relationship with him even when apart, they are okay with him being involved in their lives, and have made that clear to you.
Your choice now is to decide whether your feelings about the past take precedence, or you want to try and develop a healthier relationship with these children, who are now in their mid-to-late 20s.
For that to happen, you’d likely need to accept your ex’s occasional appearances, or just avoid him on those occasions and possibly leave early yourself.
Getting counselling about this could help you understand that his children’s needs for a father still count, despite your own discomfort around a man who abused you.
Deal with your decision about how to go forward from this incident of the group email, privately. And consider counselling.
Grieving is a personal passage
Q. I’m 54, recently widowed, my husband was 77. I was his third wife; we had seven wonderful years together.
He suddenly developed a devastating illness, just months before he died. I was his caregiver, along with visiting nursing help, until the end.
His longtime friends knew both his previous wives. Some of them almost dismiss my grief because we weren’t together long. They say they’re “sorry” but ask no questions about how I’m doing.
I went to an event today for the first time in a month and I felt people were judging me. How do I handle this?
A. Carry on as you feel is right for you, which is how he would’ve expected you to do. Thank anyone who expresses condolence and simply say you miss him deeply.
Grieving is a personal passage. Sometimes grief counselling is needed to brush away all other concerns but how to adjust to your loss.