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The Ex is a Creep, But You Share a Child - Relationship Advice

Updated on August 6, 2010

Dear Veronica,

I have a question for you. How does a person deal with an ex that she is connected to by a child? This person is a toxic individual and constantly insinuiating himself into my life and making things so unbearable I just want to choke him. However, prison is not an option. LOL!

He is relatively okay with the boy. But he has MAJOR control issues and it seems like he's bent on keeping me aliented and unhappy. He is in a relationship now for 5 years with the same woman he's been living with. But the dude is predatory, controlling, and uses the child as a pawn to torture me. He drives by my house all the time just to check and see if anybody is here, and keeps constant tabs on what I'm doing by having people "watch" me, even though he will never admit it. VERY UNHEALTHY behavior, but I am stuck! My son was the result of this union and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. But it just seems as though my life and my daily activities are public info, while his "is none of my business". Which it isn't, and I don't really give a flying fuck what he does, as long my son's welfare and best interests are at heart. But this is really hard for me. He wants total control over me, a double standard since he says his life is none of my business. I want my life to be none of his business too.  I'VE HAD ENOUGH !!!!

WHEW !!!!! I feel better now ! :)
 it sucks to go through this but I have done much work on myself to set boundaries and enforce them. It's just difficult to keep up with somebody who changes the rules constantly and doesn't bother to say anything. Mental tightrope walking !
Can you give me some advice?
 - Caring Carrie

Dear Caring Carrie,

Thanks for writing. I want to start off by celebrating you.

You state clearly how much you love your son, and that he is worth any trouble you're going through. Yay for you, that's a clear and healthy priority. You made a joke! That's awesome! Often the strongest people are the ones that can keep their sense of humor no matter what's happening to them. This speaks volumes to your character.

You seem to make an effort to try to understand things from all sides, not just yours. That shows balance. But in a very empowered way, you make it clear that you are not going to be a doormat and you want to be respected. Good for you. No one else will respect you until you respect yourself. You've paved the way for a wonderful future.

Now let's break it down and discuss what you can do about this assclown.

You're right - he sounds troubled, and unhealthy, and self centered. You acknowledge that he seems to be good with your son. I hope that's the case. I think I have a hard time believing that a psycho can compartmentalize their psychosis. You are very clear that your son is the priority, as it should be. Just make sure you keep that dialogue going with him. Really listen to the things he says about his time with his father. Look for inconsistencies and confusions, listen for signs that your son subconsciously shares that reflect too much conversation about you has occurred.

It would be a perfect world if you could be 100% honest about everything with your son. But as you know, you can't. I don't know his age, but he really may be too young to understand that although his father may love him very much, his father has issues and problems that are not acceptable. It would be unfair to put your son in a position of having to keep secrets if he isn't old enough to understand the boundaries, and the reasons. It might be best not to share certain things with him, rather than to share them and then say, "Now don't tell your father."

I'm framing out some of my thoughts that I hope will be helpful tips for you:

1 - There is a finite amount of time where you have to be tip toeing. Go ahead and do the math. What it is, 6 years? 10 years? Start the countdown. When your son is 18, this part of the situation is over. You'll no longer have to abide by visitation. You'll be able to level with your son as an adult. You'll be free to move and take your son with you. Even if you don't, just knowing you can is a freeing feeling.

2 - Keep a journal. Keep 2 if you want. You said about how you felt better just getting it out. Never underestimate the power of Words. Articulating your feelings, expressing them clearly, and getting them out of your head for a moment is unbelievably liberating. Write down the things he does that piss you off, or scare you. Write about things that happened years ago. Get as much of it down as you can.

In addition to the therapeutic aspect of journalling, you can create a document proving his harassment. There are now laws on the books about stalking. Your crazy ex may meet the legal definition of stalking. And maybe he doesn't, I don't know. But being prepared to build a case is just plain smart. You can keep a second journal for this if that's easier. Dates, times, locations, exact quotes. Snap a photo when you see him drive past your house. If someone tells you he asked about you, write that down too. Document everything, even if it feels insignificant. It may go to pattern. If your son shares something that raises a flag or makes you feel suspicious jot it down in this document.

3 - As you said, it felt good to get this out. In addition to journalling I'd encourage you to find a counselor. This is a type of abuse you're enduring. This has to be difficult and pressing. Don't deny yourself some support. It is not a sign of weakness. A therapist may be best able to offer you some coping skills and insights as to how you can best protect yourself. Additionally, a trained therapist may be able to help you to identify just how dangerous this asswipe really is.

Even speaking openly and frankly with friends or family that you're sure you can trust will be a great help. If you aren't already, try opening up to people about this. Since you did come across very strong in your email, I'm worried that you are one of those that keeps it all inside, and doesn't want to burden people with your problems. The truth is good friends don't see it as a burden if you share. They simply see it as friendship. It will help you and feel good, plus it's smart to alert people around you that may not know what's going on. In case they see something that otherwise wouldn't grab their attention, they will now have the tools to be able to assess what's going on around them in a better way.

4 - You mentioned that the husband has moved on so to speak, and has a new girlfriend. Does she know he cruises your house? Is she meek and cowering or is she the type that will get mad at him if she knew?

It would be great if you could safely find a secret way to let her know how often he demonstrates his obsession with your life. If there's an in-law you still speak with, or if there's any kind of friend in common, maybe you could use that avenue. Obviously it's not smart to ask your son. As we discussed earlier, putting him in that position of keeping secrets and knowing what to say or what not to say is unfair. But maybe there are other ways you can clue in the girlfriend. She may put her foot down with her man and tell him to knock it off. Think about it.

5 - I'll leave you with one last tip. Don't underestimate this. I don't want to scare you but you hear about these things. That psycho mentality of if I can't have her no one can. For this finite amount of time that we've talked about, before your son turns 18, you have to deal with him. Do everything you can to protect yourself. Take a self defense class. Carry mace. Invest in a decent alarm system in the house. Get a big dog. Lock your doors and your car. Look over your shoulder. Try not to go anywhere alone that you don't have to. If you have a house look into having a roommate or renting out a room to someone you know. The more people you can really trust in the house, the better. If it's an option, you may want to consider living with your parents or other family. Leave lights on, and close curtains. Leave TV's or radios playing. Don't shop in the same place on the same day every week. Try to mix up your schedule as much as you can. Take different routes to work or errands. Do not post whereabout and details of your day of Facebook or Twitter. 

Don't wave this off and say oh it will not come to that. There's a finite amount of time you have to deal with him. Do it as smartly as you can. (I love the word smartly.) There is a difference between being paranoid and being wise, and proactive, and safe. 

And trust your instincts. If you feel like something is wrong, act on it. Better safe than sorry. You can't take the law into your own hands, so be sure to involve the police. If you have a feeling and decide not to let him have your son for one of his visitations, go to the police station. Bring the journal documenting as far back as you can all the possible stalking. Tell them how you feel and ask them what you can do. Make sure you have a lawyer that knows the situation too. I'd rather here you made a big deal out of nothing and had to apologize, then to hear they found your car but no trace of you. 'Know what I mean jelly bean? Trust your guts, and use your brains.

Best of luck to you!


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    Margie 7 years ago

    Great advice Veronica! Better safe than sorry! And I think putting a time frame on the situation is great for peace of mind. It takes away from the stress to always remind yourself there will be an end to it. Good luck to this woman!