Dear Chump Lady,
Will you please help me figure out how to talk to my mother? I need some guidance. My mom continues to have contact with my STBX even though I have shared with her that it is important to me that she cut off ties with him or at least only contact him as it relates to keeping in touch with my 3 step-daughters. (They were my step-daughters for 7 years. Ever since I asked for a divorce, my STBX has denied me contact with them and has forbidden them to reach out to me).
This is not new behavior for my mother. My mother has also been overly kind and generous to my younger sister’s cheater/sex addict ex-husband, and my mother rents a home (at a discounted rate) to my older sister’s ex-husband who is an alcoholic. (Nope, no drama in my family…) So, I guess it’s clear where my chumpiness comes from.
I know I’ve made it confusing for her because when Dday happened in May 2011 and I got sucked up into the sex-addict-recovery-and-reconciliation-industry, I asked many of my friends and family to continue to stay connected with him to provide the support he would need for us both to have a chance of recovering our marriage. My mother also spent many years involved in Al-Anon and AA as my father founded a rehabilitation center for alcoholics and drug abusers back in the late 1960s and still running today. My mom followed the accepted AA doctrine and asked me many times to try to “separate the person from the disease of addiction”. While I can understand this concept when it comes to the chemical reaction and dependency of alcohol and drugs, somehow I could never make it work out in my head that my husband, when I was no longer providing the ego kibbles at the rate he required, turned to prostitutes in massage parlors. His kibble jackpot looked like this: He would go to a seedy massage parlor and ask for “just” a massage, once he flipped over on his back and had a big woody, the “massage therapist” would “massage” that as well. Because he didn’t order any special services (or pay for it) he worked that out in his mind that they just did it for him because he was so good looking, because they “wanted it” or “him”.
This activity started one year after we were married and continued for four years, completely unbeknownst to me, until I opened a credit card statement and saw the charges. Sometimes three different places in one day. I knew we had problems. I knew my husband had “rage issues” and I had been asking him for at least two years to seek out help to address and deal with whatever it was that was going on with him. But I had no idea he was lying to me everyday, squandering thousands of dollars, and risking our marriage and our future.
I believe my STBX is an NPD. But, like so many that I’ve read about here, he’s good. He is verrrrrryyyyy, very good with all of his masks. A true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (A month ago he was given an award from a prominent organization for “Man of the Year”). It was only when I absolutely turned down the sound of his words, and just/only “listened” to his actions, did I finally see the truth. This man meant me harm. Or, probably more accurately, this man was in pursuit of Ego Kibble and he didn’t care how much he had to hurt me to get it.
It was not until I found your blog that I finally found validation! To have what I was really feeling expressed and detailed so eloquently. I have since been firmly rooted in the truth that I have found here, which is 1) that My STBX is an NPD, and 2) that he abused me for 6 years before I finally got tired of bailing the water and got out of the boat. What he did was the same to me as throwing me down a flight of stairs, repeatedly, Absolutely!
So my question is this: Knowing all that my mom knows about how he lied to me, betrayed me, is maliciously cutting off the relationship I had/have with the girls, mistreating and neglecting the girls while he spends excessively on himself, HOW can she reach out to him with kind words and HOW do I communicate to her how hurtful this is to me? Or, do I just need to practice more “detachment”? Ugh.
I appreciate any thoughts you might have.
Wow. I don’t really know how to communicate with a fuckwit who runs the Wayward Home for Shitty Husbands. My nicest interpretation of your mother’s behavior is that she’s some uber chump who believes she can love all the hurt away. You and your sisters are so strong, and these poor cheating, addicted, alcoholic ex-husbands need someone to kiss their boo-boos. She sees potential where you and your sisters see abusive addicts. Her savior schtick is narcissistic, of course. Everyone else has failed at their rehabilitation, but she can be the anchor they need! A friendly friend when no one else will listen… or rent them a room.
Maybe she tells herself it’s for a nobler purpose — to keep the doors of communication open with her step-granddaughters. But come on, there are other ways to do that (social media, Gran, get on Facebook) than to make you eat the big shit sandwich of contact with Mr. Happy Endings, there.
Okay, so that’s my benign interpretation of mom’s interest in you and your sister’s exes. My gut reaction to your mom being friendly with a guy who rages and cheats on you — AFTER you’ve filed for divorce — is that she SUCKS. Epically. If it was a one off, I might be inclined to go with my first interpretation — but she’s done this to ALL THREE of YOU. You and your two sisters! It’s super creepy. Like she’s competing for those men’s attention from her daughters — which is incestuous and weird. I know that’s strong language — and I’m not a shrink, just a chump — but IMO your mom is crazy desperate for kibbles. So much so that she would betray you all to get attention from your exes.
When you are a mom, your number one instinct is to protect your babies. Anyone hurts your kid? You feel murderous towards them. We’re wired this way for the survival of the species, and so are other animals. Here, watch this Wild Kingdom clip of a momma cougar protecting her cubs from a grizzly bear.
See how that momma cougar risked her own life to save her cubs? See how she was not fucking around? She bit that grizzly bear’s head and chased him back into the woods, hissing all the way. Notice how she did NOT call the grizzly bear to ask about his day, or fluff the pillows in his cave, or share a tea cake with him. No. She fucking bit his face off.
THAT is what mothers do. When Bad Creatures threaten their offspring — mothers protect.
Mothers who do not protect or hiss or bite grizzly bears are bad mothers. They might be damaged mothers, too weak and ineffectual to save themselves let alone protect others. But that’s not your mom. No, your mom is FRIENDLY with the exes. Quote “overly kind and generous” unquote. So, she’s not damaged. Is she just lacking in empathy? If that were the case, then she’d be indifferent to your pain, but probably indifferent to the exes too. No, your mother takes it further — she’s offering succor and aid to the enemy. To someone who hurt her babies, and continues to hurt you. So IMO that means she’s just cruel.
Her actions have a very clear message — and it isn’t neutrality. Her actions say You Were Wrong About Him. It wasn’t that bad. Whatever he did, he’s still someone I value enough to have a relationship with. She’s not supporting you in your decision, and she’s subtly denying your reality. (What’s all the fuss about? Why can’t we all just be friends?)
That may be fine in a run of the mill romance gone wrong. But this is abuse and addiction. This man cheated on you. Another man cheated on your sister. Another one was enough of a chaotic alcoholic that your other sister left him. These are men who put you all through a world of hurt. It’s not even a close call!
Chumps are often sad and upset that the in-laws circle the wagons after a divorce. Family they had once been close to, now act like strangers. And the horrible thing there is — the chump did nothing wrong. So, you can see how blood is thicker than water even when your own kid is the grizzly. It hurts, but at some point — even if the in-laws acknowledge their kid is a creep, and they’re sorry, and they hope you’ll let them see the grandkids — you understand that no contact with your ex’s family is for the best. It’s often just too painful.
It’s baffling to me why your mother would want anything to do with your cheating ex. The step-granddaugher excuse is pretty thin soup — and even if she was very close to them, she should defer to YOU on how to finesse that relationship right now. Her behavior says I Know Best. Or, like yesterday’s post, it may be another way of saying “you’re not the boss of me.”
FLBright — you can’t control your mother or the company she keeps. You only get to control you. If you have a conversation with your mother I would say something to the effect of “If you choose to associate with my ex-husband, knowing full well how he abused me, I need to detach myself from this relationship.”
If she lays some line on you about “separating the person from the addiction” — I’d hit her with a big upper cut of the truth. Mr. Happy Endings isn’t doing jack shit about his “addiction.” And no one else in the world separates a person’s ideal self from their actions. Try it in front of a judge and see how far you get. “Your Honor, that guy who murdered that little old lady. It wasn’t me. That wasn’t my best self. I was having a very low blood sugar day. Yes, it happened, but that’s not who I really am.”
Your soon to be ex-husband is a man who lied to you, cheated on you, spent thousands of dollars of your marital assets on prostitutes, alienates his children, and rages. You’re not the crazy one for not wanting to be in contact with that person. Your mother is.