The Mercury News

Ex does not want to make up

- ADB ACy Amy Dickinson Contact Amy Dickinson via email at askamy@ amydickins­

DEAR AMY >> Over a decade ago, I escaped an extremely emotionall­y and sometimes physically abusive partner and proceeded to raise kind, compassion­ate and successful children on my own.

Now in adulthood, all but one has establishe­d a relationsh­ip with this pretty much absent parent, who now wants to stage a get-together that includes my new spouse and myself.

I use the word “stage,” as my ex has continued to demonstrat­e manipulati­ve behavior that has hurt me and my children.

They have succeeded in creating quite a wedge between me and my middle child. They love to create scenarios where they are in control, and they know me well enough to push my buttons.

While I have the strength not to show anything but a pleasant reaction, it hurts to be near them.

I do not want to go to this get-together but feel pressured. My children see it as a step forward for all of us to heal and be a big and happy family.

I have done my best not to disparage my ex. If I don’t go, the ex will use my refusal to make me look bad. If I do go, I will endure my past trauma being stirred up again, while my ex gets to look good. What should I do?

— Been There, Not Doing That

DEAR KEEN THERE >> One benefit of a breakup is being spared “get-togethers” with the ex.

Many exes can manage happy, peaceful and inclusive family events, but for others (such as yourself), breakup is a liberation from having to be in your ex’s presence.

You should encourage your children to maintain whatever relationsh­ip they want to have with their other parent, but you should also explain to them that being someone’s child is vastly different from being someone’s ex. Your kids might find an understand­able equivalent if you asked them if they would enjoy bringing their most painful breakup partner to a fun dinner with you and your spouse, all in the name of celebratin­g a happy reconcilia­tion.

Your children need to understand that the way things are now (both of their parents in your separate spheres) is as close as you are ever going to get to being that “big happy family,” and that as far as you are concerned, that’s a pretty good result.

DEAR AMY >> I can completely relate to “Not Savvy.”

I too once had regular interactio­n with a person I did not like, but I couldn’t determine why I felt that way.

One day he said, “You don’t like me, do you?”

I paused and plunged in with, “Yes, you are right, and I am sorry. I can’t figure out why I feel this way. It makes no sense, you are great, yet I can’t get past my feelings.”

It turned out to be beneficial for both of us, as we now “knew” each other and didn’t have to pretend. In fact, this mutual honesty made us more comfortabl­e. — Tam

DEARTAM>> You showed a very “savvy” side.

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