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(Landenberg, PA, USA)
In Warsaw, Poland, on a project
I have been married for 23 years, and have known this man since I was 18. We dated for 8 years before we married, so I thought I knew him.
For many years things seemed good. 15 years ago I took a job that required me to travel 4 days a week. We, as a couple, made the decision that he would work from home (he already was self-employed with a business that was mostly run from the house) and I would "hit the road" and "make the bucks".
10 years ago we moved into a neighborhood with big houses, big yards, pools, the works. He was the only "stay at home dad" in a neighborhood of very successful men. On top of that, with the advent of the Internet, his business went south because he was unable (unwilling?) to keep up with technology to advance his business.
We are now in the middle of a very nasty divorce. Turns out he has been an alcoholic in a gin-induced stupor for most of the last 10 years. He engaged both of my daughters into his lies about his drinking - "don't tell your mother...she'll leave me". He would clean himself up (and the house) before I returned home every week. I never understood why my older daughter (5 when it began) never wanted to have friends over. Now I understand. She was made to be an adult, a mother to her younger sister, and protector from this man.
When I finally began to understand the truth, my daughters and I tried to get him to recognize he had a problem and do something about it. We pleaded, cajoled, yelled, threatened...all to no avail. We finally moved out, prompted by a fight that ensued between the Troll (as I now call him) and my older daughter. They both fell down a steep flight of stairs. I am lucky that neither were hurt. The police have been called on multiple occasions, when the physicality became extreme. He has since lost his drivers license for DUI (BAC .24) and still he professes he does not have a problem.
Of course, because of the DUI, he is in an alcohol treatment program, but that is not of his own free will (state ordered) and he still is lying to everyone that he is not drinking. HAH!!! The three of us easily recognize his aggressive behavior when he drinks, but to the rest of the family (his family), he is 'dad of the Year' and the victim. To him, I was a bad wife, his children are telling lies and we are not treating him fairly. He had to finally move out of the house because he needed to be on a bus-line to get to his $9/hr deli job (he has a college education). What a joke.
I call him "The Troll" because it took 2 people 4 days to clean an empty house - he had completely destroyed it in 6 months! There was even a dead bird in the house filled with maggots. Fortunately though, we have been able to move back into the house (once it was de-Trolled, of course). This house is where we three want to be and based on my travel schedule and my angel-neighbor (who takes care of my younger daughter during the week) is great, we have pets that we love, neighbors that love us, and a great support system, even if the house is too big for us. It is the only logical place for us. Add to that the decline of the housing market (we would take a bath on selling the house now), moving to a less expensive, smaller house is not an option.
Now, under state law, I am required to pay him spousal support of over $2600/month. With this kind of support payment, I am not able to pay all of the expenses required for the family. He is not responsible for any expenses for my older daughter, who is in college, so I am paying that in whole. I feel like a complete failure that I cannot support my girls, and that I have to tell them "no, we can't afford that". It's just not fair that he has put us in this situation, is not taking any responsibility for his children or for the problems that he has caused.
I am so angry over the whole thing I just want to make him pay for everything he's done. I want the world to know what kind of father he's been. I could care less about the husband I've lost. He was never the "love of my life", so I am not bitter about that. What I am bitter about is his impact and affect on our children. My older daughter is still trying to "fix" him, even though she knows that, as an alcoholic, she can't fix him. She is in counseling. My younger daughter has nothing good to say to him at all, and in fact is calling him by his first name, rather than Dad. She and I are so alike, and neither of us are proponents of counseling. We are both strong and independent. I know I will get through this without counseling, but I'm not a teenager. I think my younger daughter would benefit from talking with a professional, but I don't want to force her. I am walking a fine line with her, trying to help her to be a responsible adult, but at the same time keep a great relationship with her, because I'm all she has.
I want to take everything he loves from him. I want to make him pay for what he's done. I want to hurt him as bad as he has hurt us, mentally, spiritually and physically.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Carey, and thanks for writing your story on this site. It is very clear that you have reason to be angry. Any healthy person on your situation would be angry, as a natural emotional response. The important thing here is that you don't let your anger make things worse instead of better for you and your children.
Revenge always feels good in your mind, where the physical realities don't come into full play. And that's the place to keep your revenge. When you put it into action, you end up being part of the problem, and taking your entire situation from bad to worse.
You sound like a healthy, smart woman. Be aware that while anger is a legitimate emotion, it does not come from the smartest part of your brain--so you don't want it doing your thinking for you.
You mention that you feel bitter. Bitterness is like sourness--it means something has gone bad. Bitterness is anger gone bad. I encourage you to deal with your anger in healthy ways, so that it doesn't go bad and poison you and your children. You are so very important to them, and every moment you spend in bitterness and revenge-thinking is another moment that your children don't have their mom. It might feel like you're protecting them in your efforts to "get back" at your ex-husband, but you're actually just making yourself less available to them. They literally cannot get anything at all from you when you're preoccupied with your rage and anger.
I strongly encourage you to do the journaling processes on this page as a way of giving full expression to your anger in a healthy way. Again, you have every right and reason to be angry. When you journal from your anger, you are giving it a place to be, so that it doesn't rattle around in your head and take you away from more important things like attending to your needs and the needs of your children.
Shift your focus to the good, healthy fun life you want to create for you and your children. Focus on what you want and look forward to, rather than allowing yourself to be consumed by thoughts of anger and revenge toward your ex. He's already taken so much from you. Don't let him take even one more moment of your time and energy.
I wish you all the best in your journey of healing and recovery from your divorce process.
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