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Custody Battles With Ex Just Never End

by Anonymous

I got involved with, had a child with, married then divorced a man who belittled me and made me feel like I was crazy most of the time. I was far from home, and I guess he thought he saw an emotionally vulnerable target because he immediately started tearing down everything about my life, background, etc.

I wasn't mature enough and didn't have the self esteem to realize how abusive it was, tried to leave the relationship many times but couldn't summon the will. His anger and disapproval frightened me. After the relationship was over, I stayed stuck still, in the frightened "don't want to piss him off" mode for years. I did everything possible to placate him, make special events for him and my daughter and do all I could to facilitate that relationship.

I guess as long as I was still "serving" him, it would be kind of okay but I had no life and no future. A year ago, I put my foot down and realized that ongoing emotional contact with him was destroying my life and future and that it explained my sense of worthlessness. I realized that he had made me emotionally ill to a degree that I was not able to recover from it and feel I would ever have a life. (He always liked me best depressed and broke.)

I cut him off emotionally, but never cut off his daughter from him, and since then my life has been a living hell. He has kept me in court for four months over anything he can possibly think of (but mostly because he doesn't want her to go to a school near where we live but one near him way the hell away from us), lies endlessly about me and what I have done over the years, has driven me to being broke from legal fees, and every day there is another incident. Back when I was doing everything he wanted I was a "good mother" then according to him.

Today he showed up at the school he doesn't want her to go to and is discouraging her from trying in, to intimidate me. It was not his visitation day and, if asked, he would say he was there to see the teacher but he emailed and told me he was going to pick her up (I didn't see it until later.) This was a clear violation of our agreement.

I was a wreck because I ran into him there and didn't know what he was doing, we just got out of court and my daughter was upset and I am thinking will this man ever leave me alone? He acts like it is dedication to our daughter, but the real reason is he is pissed off that I want NOTHING to do with him anymore. No more niceties, no more special concern. Done.

Don't I have a right to leave the past behind? Now I am ordered into co-parenting therapy with him from the court and I am about to be sick that I have to be that close to him. The joke is he is a con man and hopefully the therapist will see through it. He gets a huge kick out of being in court with me for six hours and he will get off on my being forced to be in the same room with him for "therapy." (This is a man who discourages young girls--even his daughter--from thinking about careers--he thinks they should just be wives and mothers. I told him you didn't need a degree for that.)

This is a man who told me to let HIM respond to the waitress in a restaurant. This is a man who thinks the Holocaust was exaggerated and I am thinking God help me will I have ever any peace from this freak. I sometimes can't work I am so distraught and I am sick thinking of all he is doing is trying to discourage his daughter from succeeding and trying got make my life hell, just because he can't get over that I didn't want him in my life.

I am strong but I am fading and I am losing my will here. I am so distracted I can hardly work or do it well. I am always waiting for the next shoe to drop. (Oh he even gets his child support to me by coming to my home in the early morning and taping it to my car instead of mailing--if you knew him, that is his way of saying I am still around, see?)

I am paying for her school myself. I would see a therapist but I am so broke from legal fees and I am about at the end of my rope. If any of you people pray out there, please pray for me, if you don't, any advice would be helpful. I am sickened by him and feel physically ill being around him after all he has done. God, someone, help.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I can tell that you're very frustrated and angry, and you have good reason to be.

I have worked with many people in your situation, and I know how helpless it can feel. Being forced into a relationship with someone you don't want to be around is just downright hard. No two ways about it.

Obviously, there is nothing I or anyone can do to fix your situation for you. I want to help you with what you're doing inside your own mind and emotions.

The worst mindset for you to adopt is the "helpless victim." I will offer you an alternative.

Here is what I suggest:

1) Make up your mind that you are going to use this situation to get stronger and smarter. Turn this "dirt" into "gold." Believe it or not, there is a gift in every challenge that life brings.

2) Journal daily from your anger, so that you are expressing it and releasing it, not just letting it build up. Follow the guidelines on this page to help with that.

3) Begin shifting your focus away from your ex to the goodness in yourself and the world around you. As bad as your situation is, you still have some things going for you. Focus on those and appreciate them, no matter how small they may seem.

Have you ever heard the quote, "The best revenge is a happy life?" That's what I'm suggesting. Make up your mind that you are going to come out on top of this, not because you necessarily "defeat" him, but because you find a way to be happy and have a good life.

Believe in yourself. You can do this. You can take this and any situation in your life and make it work for you instead of against you.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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