I was married for 7 years and turns out had a sham marriage and was chumped throughout and left for younger OW. I divorced him a year ago and I’ve been rebuilding a life with my 8-year-old son ever since. The road has not been easy, but it was addition by subtraction and my life is peaceful for the most part.
We have a custody agreement in place and he pays child support on time. He also picks up our son for parenting time when it’s his weekend. I’ve taken your advice and many others from CN to gray rock, use a coparenting app, treat this situation as me being a silent business partner, using BIFF communication, and not chasing/organizing time as that is his responsibility and documenting it appropriately.
I have told my son the age appropriate truth about why I divorced his father — facts with no editorializations. When my son has asked me if I would love his father again, I would tell him I don’t love him anymore because he lied and broke the rules about being married. I also had to deal with the fallout from my son of telling him by myself that we were divorcing (lots of tears — it was heartbreaking).
As it’s a process, I am working through with the resentment of having to take on the full parenting role while he gets to play Disneyland dad every other weekend and live a carefree life and pretend to be a great dad to the public while he destroyed a family. But I am also trying to reframe this knowing that I am there with my son for the big moments and the little moments and being the sane parent for him.
Whenever my son talks about his father to me or the weekend he spent with his dad — I use the “cool, wow, bummer” response and move on to a different topic or sometimes I will “sigh” or roll my eyes or make a face from what my son has pointed out to me and he will get frustrated or ask me why I do that when he talks to me about his father. When I do this, I try to do this out of sight. It’s no dig against my son at all, but I get a visceral reaction which I am trying work on — I think I may need to work on my poker face. I will try to play it off and change the subject, but I don’t have anything nice to say or have a conversation about his father, so I say nothing or change the subject. Quite honestly every time he brings up his father — I want to sing “The Vermin Man” song about him (it starts at 00:50 mark).
I also have family members (who know firsthand the situation) who tell me I need to bite the bullet and be the one present for custody exchanges and talk with FW when he comes for our son to “keep the peace.” If I do answer the door, my son is already ready to go right out the door and I open it up just enough for my son to go through after saying my goodbyes beforehand. I also have had people ask me if there would be any point in the future that we would be civil enough to get to the point of possibly being at an event together if our son wants it.
Am am I being petty or bitter because I don’t want to discuss the FW or be in his presence? Does it make me seem like I still am not over what he did to us? The gaslighting, cheating, abandonment, stalking, harassment and the lies don’t exactly whip me into a positive verbal frenzy.
I know I need to play the long game on this one, but I already feel like I am being civil by saying what I need to say to FW when necessary, and not being in his presence or talking about him in front of our child (I was called a coward for choosing not to engage).
Thank you for all of your help CL!
These people who are sniping from the sidelines about your parenting need to STFU.
You just divorced him a year ago, after eight straight years of “gaslighting, cheating, abandonment, stalking, harassment and lies.”
It’s like being run over by a bus and being asked, “Why aren’t you a triathlete? Surely your bones must’ve set by now.”
You’re doing all the sane parent things. First off, you’re the show-up parent to his every-other-weekend Disney Dad schtick. That’s HUGE. Second, you’re doing your very best to deflect, not editorialize, or slop your enormous grief on to your son. Also HUGE. Third, you’re abiding by the court order. You give him his time, you aren’t triangulating your kid, being unavailable, or otherwise screwing with your FW ex. That makes you a solid citizen. Gold star.
The grace with which you do hostage drop-offs? None of the Peanut Gallery’s fucking concern.
I also have family members (who know firsthand the situation) who tell me I need to bite the bullet and be the one present for custody exchanges and talk with FW when he comes for our son to “keep the peace.”
Does the court order insist that you personally hand off your child and not Aunt Linda? Can a third grader not walk to a car unassisted? Is there some bylaw that says you need to make chitchat?
No? Then you are keeping the peace. You’re following the court order. That’s ENOUGH. You know what’s keeping the peace? Not gouging his eyeballs out with a hot poker. You should be commended for your restraint.
There may come a day when you can run the Fuckwit Triathlon, and withstand his presence. But you aren’t there yet. You may never be there. And that’s okay. It says nothing about your future Meh either.
I don’t care if my cheating ex lives or dies or has tuna casserole for dinner. Meh. But I wouldn’t want to be trapped in an elevator with him either. Any conversation would begin and end with “You’re a terrible person.”
Oh that’s so churlish of you, Tracy.
Really? Because is he is — point of fact — a terrible person. And the people who insist that you be friendly with your abusers (your ex was a serial cheater who abandoned you with a child, and then forced you to divorce HIM) don’t seem to believe terrible people exist.
I mean, bully for them. If they’ve gone through life unscarred. If they’ve never been terrified by someone, or stalked, or bullied, or betrayed. If that’s the case, then they have zero business telling you how to navigate contact with a Terrible Person.
But if they ever have crossed paths with a Terrible Person — let’s say Ivan in the 5th grade used to stick their head in the toilet every day for a year — would THEY want to spend time with Ivan?
He’s changed a lot. He sells cryptocurrency now. A family man.
NO. It would probably give them chills to think about seeing Ivan.
Now imagine breeding with Ivan, and investing years of your life with Ivan. Only to learn he is an Ivan.
Try this mental empathy exercise on them.
I also have had people ask me if there would be any point in the future that we would be civil enough to get to the point of possibly being at an event together if our son wants it.
YOU ARE BEING CIVIL.
WTF is “civil enough”? The whole set up of this question implies you’re failing at civility.
There is no way to co-parent with a fuckwit and not have to be at events together. There are sports banquets, choral concerts, games — and later in life, weddings. But you don’t have to go as a couple with your ex, okay? Because you ARE NOT A COUPLE. You can politely sit across the room. You can endure his presence because you’re there for your son. Because that’s who you are — the SHOW UP PARENT. And Uncle Daddy is a tourist.
if our son wants it.
When my son was 8, he wanted to climb a tree into his bedroom and not use the front door. He wanted potato chips for dinner, and to liberate the worms in our garden by letting them live in the bathtub.
He was not someone I trusted with major decisions.
YOU are the parent. You matter. Whoever is asking this question is trying to bludgeon you into some slap-happy narrative of Conscious Uncoupling For The Children.
That’s not possible. As painful as it is, that your son or your extended family, want a happy family narrative, that everyone still loves one another and wishes each other the best — that’s not possible. NOT because you’re Uncivil, but because he is an abuser.
Period. Full stop.
Because he’s a person who defrauded you, risked your health, betrayed you and terrorized you. Your reaction to that abuse, is to avoid him, because that’s a natural, normal, healthy reaction.
It’s heartbreaking for everyone — especially YOU — that this is the situation you find yourself in. But it’s the reality. And grown-ups deal in reality.
No potato chips for dinner. No small talk with fuckwits.
Keep rocking your new life.