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(Santa Fe NM)
Me 22 years ago when he was having an affair and verbally abusing
I just got off the phone with my 27 year old daughter. I also have a 25 year old son. I am 63 years old with a Master's Degree in Education and Psychology and I have had a lot of therapy. My heart-breaking dilemma is why my children's father is still angry at me (divorced) after 22 years.
He continues to say horrible things about me to my kids to the point that my daughter gets hysterical. I have been divorced from him for 22 years and I live in NM and he is in Ga where my Children live.
I have no anger towards him and it kills me that he is abusing the children now that they are adults and it still affects them so much.
With all of my education, knowledge, life experience and therapy, I do not understand why a man would hold on to that kind of anger and still abuse the children when they beg him to stop. Why would he still have so much anger towards me? I divorced him but he was the one that was having an affair with a 21 year old and had had many others and I just said enough and filed for divorce.
I have tried to have a decent relationship with him to no avail so I just moved away when my kids were grown to not be subjected to his attacks and abuse. I have had no contact with him in 8 years but he stills takes his anger out on my kids which is yes called abuse.
He is a very wealthy man and has not remarried.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Jane, and thanks for telling your story here. Your situation is unfortunately not all that uncommon. People can sometimes hold onto feelings for/against an ex spouse for a lifetime. What I want you to focus on is that his anger has nothing to do with you. It's all about him. Keep that focus in your mind, and that may help you.
Regarding your adult son and daughter, I think this is where I can help you the most. They are not children, and have not been for several years. They have a relationship with their father, and that's the way it's always going to be. I strongly encourage you allow them to have their relationship with him, and let go of your need/desire to protect them--as hard as that is.
The most important thing I can say to you Jane, is to trust your son and daughter to handle themselves, and their relationship with their father. You are hurting yourself and not doing them any favors by trying (albeit unconsciously) to protect them. That's their job. They could choose to never see their father again, or to limit their time with him. They could tell him that if he insists on talking negatively about you they will not see him. All of that is up to them. They are not victims, and have not been since they became adults.
And you are not a victim either. Shift your focus to your own life, and the things that give you joy and meaning. Trust your son and daughter and believe in them. They will handle their relationship with their father in the way that they choose.
I encourage you to tell them, every time they tell you about their father's bad behavior, that you trust them to handle that in the way that is best for them. You divorced him, but they didn't. They need to feel that you trust them and believe in them. That will help all three of you more than anything.
I know letting go can be very challenging, but it is essential to an emotionally healthy life. The following pages might help with that:
quotes on relationships
letting go of a relationship
I trust that you will let your son and daughter go emotionally, Jane. They are adults, and need you to love them as adults. It might help you with this process to no longer refer to them as "children" or "kids" again, as a matter of respect for them as young adults, and as a part of your own letting go process. It is no longer your job to protect them.
You will handle this in the best way for yourself and your son and daughter, Jane. Believe in yourself and your good heart and mind.
My very best to you,
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