Dear Chump Lady,
I divorced my (abusive) ex-husband a year ago after 17 years of marriage and 4 children.
That wasn’t fun for him, so he decided to choose bars, cocaine parties and hookers over the whole marriage/family gig. He is now allowed 4 hours a month with the kids, which he rarely blesses us with (total blessing). So no-contact has been easy! I have delightfully nicknamed him Charlie, after Charlie Sheen of course.
I love my life, who I am and the decision I have made! I am no longer scared, worried about drunken rants, violent rages or erratic behavior at events. I am finally living the Dream…………..ish.
Charlie decided to purchase a large home, that quite resembles a funeral home, directly across from my neighborhood entrance/exit. THE ONLY neighborhood entrance/exit. (Well played, Charlie.) So for a year now, every day, several times a day, I drive by the Playboy Funeral Home that has purple pimped out Caddy’s, and random beat up white sedans with pink Hello Kitty Stickers on the windows parked in the driveway.
How do I get to “meh” with the current situation? I would love to sell my house and move on, but my oldest has two more years at the high school down the street, and I feel like moving would give Narcissist Charlie the kibbles he is so badly wanting.
Living the Dream-ish
Well, if you apply that logic — consider what not talking to him does. Does he get high off no contact? Who knows? Who cares? You’re NO. CONTACT.
This is like some philosophical test question — if a fuckwit falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?
How you proceed and where you move is up to YOU. Make your decisions entirely based on what’s good for you and your children — not on the imagined whims and reactions of a cokehead.
He likes you staying put? He’s got four hours of visitation a month. He likes you moving? He’s got four hours of visitation a month. Visitation he barely exercises.
Let Charlie become increasingly irrelevant to your lives, whether he lives next door or in Topeka, Kansas. He had 17 years of centrality in your life, now evict him from your head. His displeasure isn’t your problem any more. You’re liberated.
Listen, I don’t mean to underestimate how unnerving it would be to have an ex move near you. (Hollywood — here’s your next horror flick — “HE MOVED NEXT DOOR. I Thought We Were Divorced!”) But as shit sandwiches go, we chumps have endured a lot worse. You’ve managed (or he’s forfeited by the sheer magnitude of his fuckupedness) to be the sole custodian of the kids. That’s what matters. You being the sane — and majority stakeholder! — parent.
Can he try to provoke you by building a purple pleasure palace? Sure, but you don’t have to take the bait. Yawn at him. Drive by. Change the radio station. Sing in your car. Flick lint off your sweater. There he is at 14 Man-Child Dr. being Charlie. Sun sets in the west.
To me, the biggest mindfuck is directed at your children. He’s sending the message — I can’t be bothered to exercise the pitiful amount of visitation I have — but I’ll move down the street! Who needs to be a parent when you have the appearance of proximity? He could be goading them into a pick me dance — here I am busy partying! Watch me ignore you!
Which is frankly preferable to asking his children to join him. This is my other fear for you — the seductiveness of Permissive Party Parent and teenagers. Only you can judge what kind of boundaries your kids have with Charlie (hope they’ve had lots of therapy) — but that possibility alone would certainly make me consider moving.
Only you can judge this — Charlie as menace or Charlie as pathetic checked-out father. Only you can weigh what’s best for your kids. The oldest has to finish high school, but then what? There are three more kids behind him.
Do the right thing for you, whatever bolsters your sane parenting and improves your new life.
Charlie doesn’t like it? He can snort another line. He chose his path. You choose yours.