Pro­vide care to ter­mi­nally ill, abu­sive ex?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Good Morning -

Dear Carolyn: My ex-hus­band and I have been di­vorced for about 10 years. Our kids are grown and in their 20s and 30s. My ex and I still live in the same town we raised our kids, but only one kid still lives here.

Our mar­riage had some happy times and I don’t wish my ex ill will at all. I make an ef­fort for mile­stone events for our chil­dren to be as smooth as pos­si­ble for the kids. But for the last five years of our mar­riage, my hus­band was an al­co­holic who ver­bally and emo­tion­ally abused me, so I do not wish to spend time with him alone.

He was re­cently given a di­ag­no­sis for a ter­mi­nal ill­ness re­lated to al­co­holism. Our kid who lives lo­cally asked me to help with his care, mostly driv­ing to ap­point­ments and vis­it­ing him and run­ning er­rands.

He will al­ways be my kids’ fa­ther and we shared some won­der­ful times to­gether. But I’m not sure I want to, or can, spend this much time with him one-onone. I’m try­ing to de­cide what to do and it feels like there are no good op­tions. - Ex

This weight is go­ing to fall hard on your kid who still lives in town, much harder than it will on the sib­lings just by ac­ci­dent of ge­og­ra­phy – so while I’m com­fort­able say­ing you have zero obli­ga­tion to help out your ex-abuser, I also think it’s worth sort­ing through the pos­si­bil­i­ties for help­ing out.

Find the ones that al­low you to as­sume parts of your child’s bur­den that don’t cost you your soul. Run­ning er­rands? You can do that. Not with your ex, but on your own with a list, sure.

Vis­it­ing him? Nope. Driv­ing him some­where? Maybe, maybe not, de­pend­ing – but can you ar­range rides? Taxi, Uber/Lyft?

Can you tap any pub­lic re­sources for peo­ple with health prob­lems? Can you get some­one to ride along with you as a buf­fer? Can you ar­range a swap with some­one who has a sim­i­lar toxic (ex-) rel­a­tive – kind of a “Strangers on a Train” ex­cept with car­pool­ing in­stead of mur­der?

Any­way. When some­one asks you for help, it is al­ways your pre­rog­a­tive to say no, es­pe­cially when say­ing yes would in­volve push­ing healthy bound­aries. But I don’t think it will be a source of re­gret if you at least stop to do some Venn-di­a­gram­ming of ways to help your kid that keep your health in­tact.

Re: Ex: There are sev­eral ad­di­tional op­tions: hire a care­giver to han­dle the doc­tor ap­point­ments and hos­pi­tal vis­its; hire a case man­ager to han­dle the med­i­cal care is­sues for the ex-spouse; ask the sib­lings of the lo­cal kid to help out when they come vis­it­ing or to chip in for the care­giver’s or the case man­ager’s cost; find and ob­tain the ser­vices of the lo­cal so­cial ser­vices agency to han­dle the ter­mi­nally ill dad (it’s funded by your tax money to your state and county); find and ob­tain sim­i­lar ser­vices of­fered by the clergy of the ex’s faith.

- SCW, from the com­ments Email Carolyn at [email protected]­post.com, fol­low her on Face­book at www.face­book.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her on­line at noon East­ern time each Fri­day at www.wash­ing­ton­post.com.

Carolyn Hax

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