I know what you’re thinking: “This chick never wanted kids and she hates her boyfriend’s ex-wife. What an awful person. I’m not going to read this crap!” Give me a chance though, I have some very good reasons. I’ve also tried really really hard not to hate her but she actively makes it difficult. Some background:
My boyfriend’s former marriage
My boyfriend had been separated for over a year at the time that we met. The marriage had been over for much longer than that, for both of them. They had actually stayed together for a while after Sebastian’s then-wife had told him that she didn’t want to be with him anymore. She told him this on their 20th anniversary, they had married really young. Their divorce was supposed to be finalized in the spring but because of some legal hang-ups (the judge didn’t like the custody agreement) it wasn’t officially over until just a couple weeks before our first date that September. His ex-wife has tried to imply that I was the reason that they split up, because we started dating so close to their divorce being finalized. This ignores several facts including: a.) she told him she didn’t want to be married to him anymore b.) they had lived separately for over a year and c.) the divorce was finalized over six months later than it was supposed to be.
The ex is not someone you can reason with. What she says is based on her mood. Her mood is often bad.
My boyfriend and his ex-wife were mutually abusive to each other. They had a very abusive relationship for the entirety of their marriage. My boyfriend sought help and therapy for a number of things, including substance abuse. He is open and honest about the things he did and the mistakes he made. My boyfriend’s ex maintains that he was abusive to her but she was never abusive to him – in spite of the fact that she was physically violent with him and hit him.
She is also abusive to their children, both of whom live with her. The younger one was not given a choice of where to live and the older one chose to live with the younger one. By his own omission so that he could distract their mother and protect his sister from the abuse. The ex has severe mental illness which she is not getting treatment for. Her personality is radically different sometimes in the span of a half hour. She can be yelling and screaming one moment and an hour later act like absolutely nothing happened and never acknowledge it again. She criticizes the appearance of both her children. The eleven year old girl spent a half hour telling me about how her mother says she needs to lose weight. It seems the eleven year old has always been underweight for her height but now is in a normal weight range. This bothers the little girl as well as her mother. She is by no means overweight. Actually she has a BMI of 18 which is still underweight for her height! The mother has also shoved the fifteen year old into the wall and assaulted him when she felt his appearance did not reflect well on her.
Both of the children are in therapy, but a lot of damage has already been done. The older child has low self-esteem and it sounds like the younger one will have an eating disorder if she doesn’t already.
As far as boyfriend goes, my first observations of his ex-wife were the numerous calls she would make to him where she screamed so loudly that I could hear it even when the phone was not on speaker; told him he was worthless and a lying piece of shit, told him that he was a worthless father who didn’t love his children (all in front of his children), told him that he is not capable of loving anyone but himself, and the list could go on and on but you get the idea. Many boundaries were set in those first few months after she and the children had moved away – including blocking her on social media and having a scheduled phone time to talk about the children to minimize the verbal abuse. Sebastian’s ex-wife told his daughter that he had “abandoned” them and that she needed to be prepared for her father to abandon her just like he had done to her mother. Sebastian pays child support and beyond that pays for half of their extra-curricular activities, clothing, and other things that come up. Only the child support is required by the divorce papers, but he wants his kids to get what they want and need and makes sure that they do. I really respect that about him.
The ex also has lost it with me. Sebastian requested that I speak to her because she was concerned about a new person being around the kids when they visited for holidays. That seemed very reasonable. I read a lot online about how important that relationship between a parent and a new adult the other parent is dating is. When I talked to her, she was rude and stand-offish in the beginning. She told me about how horrible Sebastian is and how he was fooling me. When I told her that I wanted to keep the conversation to the children, she told me that she had “heard bad things about my reputation” and that she didn’t feel her children were safe. She refused to elaborate on what she meant about my reputation (I am a respected person in my field, I do volunteer work and practice my religion weekly. I have never even gotten a speeding ticket!) Finally I ended the conversation when it was clear that nothing was going to be accomplished. She of course called Sebastian after that and screamed at him for about an hour. I was so shaken up by the entire experience that I told Sebastian I would not have any contact with her again. She now claims that none of that ever happened.
Many years of therapy have taught me that we allow people to treat us badly. Just as I would not allow any other person in my life to scream at me, berate me, disrespect me, call me names, etc, I won’t allow her to just because she is the mother of his children. Nothing about her interactions with Sebastian in the last year lead me to believe that she has changed in any way. The only difference is that she has less chance to yell at him and verbally abuse him because he limits their contact.
You might ask why Sebastian hasn’t tried to get custody of the children, given her documented erratic and abusive behavior. His feeling is that it would be more harmful to take the children from their mother. I don’t know if I agree, but they are his children and it is his choice. Since I have never been in that position, I don’t presume to know how I would react. I do sometimes give him my opinion on things about the children, generally only when asked, and try to respect the fact that I am not a co-parent, nor do I want to be. I am an adult in their lives, and I just try to show them that not all adults are abusive. It’s very sad, but one of the children told their dad that they didn’t know what people in love looked like until they saw us together. They didn’t know that people were really ever nice to each other. That hurt my heart, but I am glad that they have a chance to see a loving, healthy relationship between two people that love each other and actively work to keep the relationship positive.
I know it’s wrong to hate
I struggle with how negatively I feel about her. It’s so difficult to watch people I love and care about be treated so horribly. I know that the children do love their mother, regardless of how dysfunctional and damaging she is and I don’t begrudge them that. My mother was not always a loving, positive presence in my life but I always loved her. My religious beliefs urge that people be treated with respect and positivity. Hating doesn’t fall in line with my beliefs. I’m trying not to hate her. I know that she didn’t become this way overnight, or out of malice. She was probably abused herself, as a child. I know that Sebastian was abusive to her and she can’t see past that or forgive him, even when he has so obviously changed. I hope that working through my feelings on this blog can help me let go of some of my negativity toward her.