I met my ex-husband at 30 – established mid-career, I owned a condo.
Within week one of dating, he’d revealed being dumped by a woman, then trying to take his own life by crashing his car.
My fixer/helper reflexes kicked in strongly. I’d "rescue" this poor man.
He moved in that same week.
He picked me up from work every night, and would immediately report what had gone wrong with his day.
Every night he drank heavily (a magnum of wine or half a 40-oz. bottle of whisky). I'm not a drinker so wasn't sure if this was normal.
Within a month, he accused me of cheating if I even looked at a man passing by the car window. He excused his jealousy as loving me so much. I believed it.
We soon married. He first physically abused me on our wedding night. But I related it to the day’s stress and ignored it. He was also very drunk.
Within a year, we had our daughter. He wasn’t happy with my post-baby shape.
His control escalated into threats of violence against himself and me. He’d hunt me down for my “wifely duties.” Our second daughter was born the next year.
I slept with our children in one room. He slept on the couch, in the basement, or on the floor, after drinking heavily every night.
His physical threats became actions by the time our oldest daughter was two. I ran away with our children, and never looked back.
It took two years of legal wrangling to finalize our divorce. I thought we’d reached a workable arrangement.
Now, eight years later, I’ve learned that he’s been putting our children in harm's way when they visit him. They often don't want to go, but under our divorce settlement they must go.
Recently, one of his relatives locked his mother out of their (shared) apartment, where she’d brought my children for a visit.
They returned to me with stories of bizarre behaviour by their father's relatives.
Getting a divorce from a controlling, paranoid, abusive person doesn't mean that the relationship’s over.
Think long and hard about committing to a future with someone you have to appease every day, or to whom you have to justify everything.
I Thought the Flags Were Pink
I’ve published this woman’s cautionary tale because I hear so often from women, and men too, who’ve entered into unhealthy relationships because they believed they could change or “rescue” someone.
Pink flags are early warning signs. Waiting for red flags to alarm you, can delay the damage too long.
Manipulative, controlling, jealous people are adept at making their partners doubt themselves, become insecure, and try even harder to mollify the other.
But those efforts just dig you deeper into demeaning and potentially dangerous dynamics.
When children are part of the picture, it can seem hopeless.
This woman finally walked away. But she and her daughters are still exposed to the harmful emotional downfall.
My response to her: It’s good of you to share your story to warn others.
But it’s made clear that your children need help from the court system, and from counselling, which I’m hoping you already know.
They should not be forced to visit a parent where his and others’ behaviour is bizarre. Get legal advice about allowing supervised visits only, in a safe place.
And take them to a therapist, soon, to talk about their feelings and any fears they have due to this situation.
I want a boyfriend but no one likes me enough. My mom says I'm old enough for one.
I got asked out but the boy (my crush) chickened out!
I know I'm pretty, smart, polite, and likeable, but how do I get a boyfriend?
Make sure you become a friend, first.
Your mom is talking about your chronological age. But it’s your emotional age and understanding that counts here.
One date wouldn’t mean a relationship’s started. But a friendship can take you there over time.
Be open and friendly with boys whom you like. Start a conversation about some of the things you have in common – school, a sport, and music whatever.
Be comfortable hanging out with a guy as a friend, without expecting or pushing for more.
Do NOT look or act desperate for a boyfriend, and do NOT raise the subject.
You’ll both know if and when you’re feeling like boyfriend and girlfriend.
Tip of the day:
Beware your “rescuer” reflex in a potential relationship with someone who’s leaning on you – you may become a victim instead.