My Ex: Seeing the Truth

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, where I wrote about falling into an old familiar trap with my ex husband. If you didn’t read it, go ahead and have a gander. I’ll wait here until you’re done.

Okay. All caught up? Good. Let’s continue.

* * * * *

I realized this week  that I care way too much about my ex husband’s opinion of me, particularly when it comes to my mothering. Logically I know that I am a good mother. Not perfect, of course, no one is…but I do my best. And dammit, I do a pretty freaking good job. But for whatever reason, I am still seeking that approval and validation from him….approval and validation that I’m not likely to ever get. That’s just not something that he’s going to give me. He’s way too powerful when he withholds that; and he’s just smart enough to know it.

Last week my ex demonstrated his gross lack of respect for me as a parent and a human being. It actually hurt my feelings to know that he thinks so little me. That he was willing to be so blatantly manipulative toward me…right in front of our daughters. And yes, I know that I shouldn’t let it hurt me…but I do. Still. It’s just how I’m wired.

This week he showed me again that he is willing to manipulate me for his own gain. The manipulation was small, the potential gain was even smaller, but this small gesture showed me how he is choosing to operate (and perhaps how he has been operating all along). He chose to try and manipulate rather than just go the route of honesty and vulnerability. Again…another power play. Trusting him to be anything more than the person who fathered my children is a mistake that I can’t keep making. As much as I hate to admit it, friendship just really isn’t possible with him. For my own protection.

On the one hand, I tell myself that these are his choices; choices that I can’t control. On the other I realize that I’m not innocent in all of this, either, however.  Because here is the thing: I allow him to make me feel “less than” as both a parent and a human being. He gets away with treating me poorly because I silently give him permission to do it. Repeatedly. This has been our pattern for years now. Maybe since the very beginning.

I know what needs to be done. I must refuse to be a victim when it comes to this man. Sure, he’s the one who disrespects, manipulates and mistreats me; but he is only doing what has consistently worked for him throughout the course of our relationship. It takes two people to have a relationship like this; he gets away with only what I allow.  Right now I feel powerless; he knows this and preys upon that feeling in me, actually making it worse. It’s a vicious cycle that results in him being the winner each and every time.

I know that this needs to change. It scares me to think about, because I know that trying to adjust boundaries at this point our relationship is going to cause a whole heap of problems. But it needs to be done. Not just for me and my own sense of well-being, but to demonstrate to my daughters what it means to be a strong, confident woman. I’ve got a lot riding on this.

There is much to be done.

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chodron

9 Responses

  1. It is scary to adjust boundaries that will cause further problems before they become smooth again. But in the end, it will be worth it, for your mental being and your relationship, ultimately, with your ex too, I give you, and every single parent out there so much credit and respect for what you do and how well you raise your children, despite it all.

    • Thanks. 🙂

      I realize at this point that I need to do this for my own well-being. One of the reasons I ended my marriage was because of his control issues; it just doesn’t seem right to allow this to continue being an issue now that we’re no longer together.

  2. Oh girl, I’m thinking of you through this. Remember, he’s also manipulating because he’s scared. He is not perfect either and he knows this. It is actually stronger to recognize and accept your imperfections than to deny them and pretend to be perfect. His act will break him while yours will bend.

    You are a strong, confident woman and if anything, this reminds you that you do have control over the “contract” you signed with him a long time ago. You can tear it up and be who you wish to be in this relationship with him.

    You got this!

    • Thank you, T.

      I agree with you completely — his choices lately reflect his own current state of mine. He’s afraid, I know this. (I’m going to be blogging more about this in the next little while….processing a lot!)

      I know that what I really need to do is to show him some compassion and understanding (while still maintaining and protecting my own boundaries) but right now I’m at the “screw you” phase of processing this. It’s also very difficult to show compassion to someone who can’t even admit where he’s at, mentally and emotionally. If he could just come out and say, “hey, I’m sorry, I’m feeling a little bit freaked out” it would be easier to be kind and gentle. But his stubbornness makes it tougher for me.

      And yes….I know…two wrongs don’t make a right. 😉

      Thanks for your input, it’s greatly appreciated, as always. xo

      • Girl, I am terrible about cutting someone some slack when they won’t admit they’re scared. Easier said than done.

        Just doesn’t hurt to remember that when you’re processing it…. away from his harmful behavior.


  3. Oh wow, I needed to read this. Sounds so familiar. My ex and your ex could be brothers. Its a long, hard, road to travel, but we do teach people how to treat us and until we respect ourselves enough to demand to be treated otherwise ‘they’ will always remain in the power seat and we struggle with our self worth. I wish you strength and hope you know that you are so much more than he allows you to be. Including a wonderful person and an amazing mom. Make today the day you take back your power to be who you know yourself to be. His approval isn’t worth it.

    • Thank you for your support. I know that the key here is to respect myself enough to demand the same from him. I fall far too easily into the trap of allowing him to treat me in the same way I did when we were married. And as his ex, I need to remember that I don’t need to put up with that kind of treatment anymore.

  4. My ex and I haven’t spoken in over a year. I cut off all communication with him, even though we have 2 daughters, after a contentious law suit where he attempted to prevent me from moving to join my new husband. My marriage means more to me than continuing to deal with him and I want all of my energy focused in a positive direction. But even with all of that I would never speak out publically against him though because that’s in the best interests of our daughters.

    • It’s tough keeping the best interests of our children in mind when dealing with our exes. That’s what motivates me to continue to try and build a positive relationship with him — those two girls that we share. My ex isn’t a bad person; in fact, he’s a very good father. He’s just flawed, like the rest of us, and it is those flaws get in the way of us having a positive, productive relationship sometimes.

      Good for you for doing what’s best for your girls. 🙂

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