Dear Chump Lady,
It’s been 9 months since I came home from work and my fiancé of 4 years said, “I’m not happy and this just isn’t working out. I’m leaving you.” Mind you, we had been college sweethearts, together exclusively for 8 years, moved cross-country over 2,000 miles together TWICE, were engaged for 4 years, and the kicker- I was 16 weeks pregnant when he said he was leaving me!
We found out at 5 weeks and told our family and friends at 6 weeks pregnant. When we found out we were pregnant, we were also 3 weeks away from putting the down payment on our wedding venue, and had already lived together for 7 years. We were a “team” and inseparable from the first day we met so although baby was a “surprise,” we definitely had been planning, talking about, and were excited to have a family, or at least he was great at faking it.
At first, I just thought he was having a quarter-life crisis. I mean, the year we got pregnant, he graduated police academy and his schedule changed to evenings. I have a successful sales career, so I worked 7-4:30pm M-F, and then he would work 2-10pm on rotating days so we weren’t seeing each other as much. Then all of the stress from his job was making him an angry and distant. On top of it, when he would describe things from work, he would constantly be condescending like “you don’t understand how dangerous it is”, “every person is suspicious — you can’t trust anyone”, and “why are you whining about your day? Did you have to deal with three dead bodies today?”
And yet, he LOVED his job. So much power and authority (at 6’5″ 300 lbs, he was a blue chip football player in high school and got a full ride at college but never made it to the NFL which disappointed his dad. Then his dad HATED that he wanted to be a police officer and I swear he chose the career partly to spite his dad). So when he said he wasn’t happy and wanted to leave, I was smoking the hopium. We were a family and were having a baby so I wanted to fight for us. I just thought the stress and change was too overwhelming.
However, a week after he said he was “unhappy,” I found the sext messages between him and a police coworker. Really special things like “I can’t wait for you to be inside of me” and “I want to lick you from your chest to your c*ck”. I confronted the douchebag and he denied everything over and over. But I was mighty and said, “Well, you’re a liar and now have 3 days to move F*ck out”. I was devastated but I had another human being to worry about.
Then for about a week he tried to tell me I should get an abortion or put the baby up for adoption. His reasoning? “It would be hard enough to take care of a baby together, let alone apart” and “you won’t be able to make it as a single mom. It will be too much for you.” Who was this horrible person?!? Certainly not the man I loved and cared about for 8 years. Needless to say, I told him to f*ck off, we’d be just fine. At that point, I lost any and all feelings and respect for him. Cheating on his pregnant fiancée and trying to get me to kill our sweet baby?!? I literally was so sick about his behavior, words, and actions, I was vomiting for days.
So all within 2 weeks of D-Day, I was making the game plans to finish my pregnancy while working and also finding a new job back home (4 states away) where my family was. I wanted to just move home immediately, but my insurance was incredible and I knew I didn’t want a gap in my résumé. I was pregnant and alone with nothing but one semi-close friend nearby and phone calls to my whole support system back home. I lost 30 lbs while pregnant and was being monitored heavily due to the distress he put my body through.
The coward didn’t call, or text, or anything after he moved out. I tried a couple of times to let him know about doctor appointments but he wouldn’t respond, so I just went no contact by about 4 weeks after D-Day. I did call him couple days after she was born out of pure obligatory reasons and he pretended he cared about me on the phone. He tried to feed me bullshit like “I’m so glad you called because it was killing me not knowing how you were doing” and “sorry I was such a pussy and didn’t reach out.” I got a good chuckle out of those blatant lies. He didn’t even ask what his daughter’s name was or for a picture and been off the grid again since the end of February when she was born.
My daughter is an amazing baby and more of a blessing than I could have ever imagined. In the last 9 months, I have lost my fiancé but gained a beautiful baby, moved home with my fantastic family and friends, started a new job that pays 25% more than my last position, with a title promotion, and I know I AM MIGHTY! [#winning lol]…However, my mom made a comment last weekend that “he got off easy” because I just stopped all communication. That I let him just ride off into the sunset with the OW without any consequences.
Her comment is really bugging me because although my heart wanted to make him hurt as much as I did, I knew he never would. He is a selfish bastard and I didn’t see the point in trying to “make him see the error of his ways.” I did file for child support but I’m even considering rescinding it and just letting him sign over all rights so he can never go after custody. Everyone I know thinks he has a financial obligation to her. However, I’m torn because I although I need the financial help right now, in the long run, is it worth having to possibly send her with the douchebag in the future? I make good money but his help would make things better and allow us more independence from needing occasional family help. Thoughts?!? Did I let him off the hook too easy? Is the financial help worth the potential of him trying to get physical time with her down the road?
— Overcomer Mommy
Dear Overcomer Mommy,
First off, let me congratulate you for being MIGHTY. The fact that you left that asshole while pregnant AND moved four states away, and found a better paying job while on the verge of first-time motherhood speaks to your incredible grit. Fuck him for saying you couldn’t handle single motherhood. That’s projection. He can’t even handle a single phone call informing him he’s a father. You’ve navigated a nightmare with all the fortitude and resiliency of a field marshall. You’re going to be awesome at this parenthood gig.
Now to the support question — that’s a very personal decision. I think you could go either way and be okay. But if you want my honest opinion as someone who has spent many years with custody of a child and no support from a wing nut father that wasn’t pried by the state out of his cold, withholding hands — I say have him sign over his parental rights. God’s truth — I would rather have lost in the income, than had to share my child with that creep for the last 13 years.
That isn’t popular advice. I know people are going to say “Oh, but every child benefits from a relationship with both parents, even a fucked up parent.” To them I say — okay, you send your kid to a hoarder who doesn’t have a functional kitchen and doesn’t feed your kid. (And you don’t learn about this for years, because the kid has to keep his secrets.) You watch the hurt in your child eyes as dad cancels visits, and doesn’t show for major life events, or then does show like the proverbial turd in a punchbowl for events you weren’t expecting him at and harasses people.
Would I sign that away? HELL YES. Would my child be missing out? Well, today they have no relationship. His father hasn’t seen him in ages and occasionally texts. My son doesn’t want to see him.
Now some would argue, well, it’s good my son had that relationship with his father so he could decide for himself that dad is an asshole he shouldn’t have a relationship with. Otherwise he would miss the father he never had, and idolize him. I suppose that is a possibility. I’d still take it over what my child was put through and what I went through.
Now I’m projecting my experience on to you. I don’t know what degree of wing nut your ex is. He’s clearly a shitty person to do what he did. I have zero idea if deep in his callous-never calls-cheating-cop soul lurks the heart of a good father. You have to weigh the best interests of your child, your best interests, and his interest in being a father.
If he wanted visitation and to have a role in your daughter’s life, then HELL YEAH he should pay child support, court enforced. But from what you write, he doesn’t seem to want a relationship — so that puts me more firmly in the sign away his rights camp. Your daughter when older could always seek him out, but you wouldn’t be obliged to grant more visitation than you’re comfortable with. A relationship isn’t the same thing as shared custody. So, it’s not a zero sum solution.
One other observation — with disordered people (and I don’t know if your ex is disordered, mine was) a child is a fulcrum for manipulation. They will use your kid just to fuck with you and hurt you. Mine fought me in court for custody just to legally harass me. When he had his son? He dumped him off at friends FOR YEARS. He couldn’t have a relationship with me, but he could hurt me by proxy through our child. He could play his “you’re not the boss of me” game by not living up to his obligations of support and visitation. And the person he hurt the most was his child, not me. Again, to not put you in that position, I say get him to sign those rights away.
Look, you’ve already proven you’re mighty. You can live without child support. Yes, it will be hard. But co-parenting with a fucktard is harder.
Now to the question you didn’t ask me — work on your picker. This guy TOLD YOU WHO HE WAS. A long engagement that didn’t culminate in a wedding, that was hastened by a pregnancy, and then he abandons you. Shitty? Absolutely abhorrent. But when he said “I’m not happy and this isn’t working out” — BELIEVE HIM. Let that asshole GO.
I think you learned that lesson painfully, because you totally got your shit together quick and dumped him when you discovered the cheating. But sweetheart, I wish it never got to that point. His condescension, his foot dragging on your dreams, those were signs that this jerk needed to be dumped sooner. Learn from that — and you’re going to be even mightier still. All the best to you.