Summary: I still love my children's father. We had a lot of problems in the four years we were together, but the last year or so I truly thought everything was getting better and we were happy. Then he suddenly broke up with me. And last night, he pocket-dialed me from a new girlfriend's house where I got to hear all the gushy giggly happy voices that used to be mine, as well as some x-rated stuff I am now trying to burn out of my memory. How am I supposed to cope with this? The only way I've ever gotten over an ex is to go no-contact, and rid my home/environment/live of everything that could possibly remind me of them; but, we have two small children together. I am going to have to look at his face three times a week for the next eighteen years, let alone the daily reminder of the children themselves, and I don't know how I'm going to cope. I'm in a horrible mental place right now and have no resources. Please help me.
posted by celtalitha to human relations (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Longer version: My children's father is 28, I'm 30. He has a history of abuse and drug use, which I didn't know about when I met him, and our first couple years together were very rough. However, we went to a couple counselors and he went to a psychiatrist, and as of early last year, he had finally got on a collection of meds (mood stabilizers and antidepressants) that seemed to be working well for him; we were communicating better, our sex life was better, and I had genuine hope for our relationship and our little growing family. He bought me an engagement ring. He was a deeply involved and loving father who put our kids to bed every night, bathed them, cooked dinner several nights a week and was at my side being wonderfully encouraging and loving throughout my labor and birth of my son last fall.
Around the beginning of this year things took a massive down turn. Stress from his work, stress from a new baby, and financial problems had both of us at our worst; I was exhausted, irritable and demanding, and he started to withdraw again into computer games and secretly spending too much money on junk food and various odds and ends we couldn't afford with our strained budget. At one point he decided he "didn't need" one of his meds and quit taking it without telling me... when I found out (because he was suddenly angry and losing his temper constantly and I confronted him on it) we had a large argument, in which I told him if he couldn't keep his temper in check and resolve his issues on his own, either by taking his meds responsibly or coming up with better coping mechanisms and sticking to them, he needed to take his drama elsewhere. He packed up an overnight bag and went to his mom's house.
He ended up staying there for a week. My two year old, who was a complete Daddy's girl, had 3 hour hysterical sobbing fits every night at bedtime shrieking for dada; he didn't answer his phone and didn't check in. At the end of the week, he messaged me and said he wanted to come home. I said I wanted him to, but we needed to talk first. He then lashed out passive-aggressively and said he didn't want to come home after all. He moved all his stuff out of the house to live with his mother. At one point, in May, we tried to get back together; we started going to an excellent therapist together, who challenged both of us (him on his lying, issue avoidance, and temper, me on my judgmental attitude and unwillingness to back down from an argument without reaching a complete conclusion). We went to the therapist twice, spent a wonderful intimate weekend together during which we both seemed more comfortable and open with each other than we ever had before - and then two days later, out of the blue and without warning, he announced he was done. He didn't want to go to counseling, he didn't want to talk to me, he didn't want a relationship whatsoever. He was over it. My bewildered pleas of "what the heck was last weekend? what about what we just said in counseling?!" were met with stonewalling "I don't want to talk to you" and "stop violating my boundaries of not wanting to talk to you." Ultimately he framed me as the crazy psycho ex girlfriend who won't let it go, and I was left completely stunned, unemployed in (what used to be) our mutual apartment, broke and alone with two children aged two and under. Every weekend he would take my daughter for one day - the baby he refused to see because he was still breastfeeding and he said it was "too nerve wracking" for him to visit him at my home or pick him up for just a few hours. I still have no idea what caused him to suddenly change his mind and do a 180. Perhaps he was torn between making it work and giving up, and suddenly decided that he didn't really want it. I don't know.
Now. Fast forward a few months. I found a job, we went to court, he has a child support order that he resents bitterly because he thinks it too high and likes to say thinks like how I hate his guts, and am a bitter and mean hearted person who only wants to bleed him dry from spite, etc etc. Every time he says something like this it completely knocks me breathless because if there's one thing he never was, it was cruel - his temper was more along the lines of being sulky and petulant and irritable; and ever since he left, while yes - I am obviously bitter and furious and brokenhearted - I have done my God-honest best to be the "bigger person" and stay a good parent and be civil with him for the kids even when I feel like screaming and crying. I truly still love him, and I truly can't understand how after four years of my being a completely devoted, involved, affectionate girlfriend who would do anything for him and has always held myself to the highest of ethical standards, he can possibly accuse me of being a bad person. I feel like it must just be him trying to justify his decision for himself so that he feels ok with leaving... but either way, it's insanely hurtful, on top of the leaving itself. Anyway.
Last night he butt-dialed (?) me apparently from a new girlfriend's house. He had told me he wasn't seeing anyone, a couple months ago when we talked about it, and that he had no intent to. I'm not sure I believed it, but the denial was a slight comfort. Now that I know without a doubt that he's dating - and sleeping with this girl - I truly feel like I'm losing my mind. I spend most of the night sobbing and dry-heaving and reeling, and yes, sending the crazy-ex-girlfriend stream of embarrassing text messages. In the cold light of morning-after-meltdown, I have a throbbing headache and feel completely numb, and my kids are with him for the weekend (the baby will be gone overnight for the first time EVER), and I am in absolutely no mental state to be sitting alone in a house - the one friend I talked to said "get some wine and watch movies" but I don't feel like any movie is appealing right now and I'm afraid wine might cause me to do something ridiculous again. So I'm turning to you guys. What do you do when you still love someone, but you need to get yourself out of it, and you can't go 100% "no contact" because they are STUCK IN YOUR LIFE pretty much forever by virtue of your mutual offspring? What are some strategies I can use to get myself through the day, to keep myself from breaking down in tears at work (my job is stressful and high pressure, no downtime) and to deal with constantly being pulled in a million directions and exhausted? What can I tell myself about the future besides "I am going to have to think about this person every day for years and years, and somehow come to terms with the fact that I will never have the happy little family life I got so attached to this past year or so"? Right now I seriously feel like burning everything in my apartment, because we picked out all the furniture and decor at thrift shops and craigslist and goodwill last summer and decorated together and it all reminds me of him. I don't want to spend the next 6 months crying like I have the last 6. I tried online dating for a couple months, and made it as far as kissing one guy before I wanted to puke because I still missed my ex. I gave up. I'm not ready. Obviously, he is. Help me out guys.
Oh, and I know I should probably go to therapy, but until the support order starts actually coming through I'm really broke, and my insurance coverage doesn't start until November. So if anyone knows any low-cost or single-mom options in Phoenix, Arizona, that would be great as well.