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Your Turn: “How Can I MOA?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’m an educated 40-year-old woman who runs marathons, teaches high school, has two amazing kids and has recently divorced. I began a relationship with a man who is not educated, who is a blue-collar carpenter, and who was fun and free-spirited. A year into our relationship, I knew something was off (missed dates, low on finances, roommate at 42 years old) but NEVER did I believe it was a problem with alcohol. I fell hook, line and sinker for this man (who, by the way, has never been married and has no children).

I didn’t want to expose my kids to him too much as their father and I agreed to keep our love interests low-key concerning the kids, so I respected that agreement. Soon after we started dating, my boyfriend became demanding and started sharing concerns over my ex-husband coming by to my house to visit the kids, he had issues with some of my clothes, he would get angry and start arguments without provocation, and he would make plans and then renege or not follow through. With time I saw more and more drinking take place. Was I too stupid to miss that massive red flag to begin with? Seems we see what we want to see.

I’m still somehow connected to this man – he has made me a shadow of my former self with respect to self-esteem. I somehow feel that if this alcoholic does not validate me that I’m worthless. He will tell me I’m the one with issues, will turn the tables constantly, and uses emotional callousness to make me feel shitty. Help me find my old self, escape his grasp and be done once and for all. — Hook, Line, and Sinker

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{ 70 comments… add one }

  • avatar GertietheDino June 25, 2012, 9:05 am

    1. Cut him out of your life – restraining order if necessary
    2. Therapy

  • avatar Tanya June 25, 2012, 9:15 am

    Don’t let him get the best of you. Your children deserve better. Think of your children and stay AWAY!

  • avatar ReginaRey June 25, 2012, 9:18 am

    Counseling, therapy, life coaching. Take your pick, but one of them is non-negotiable.

    You got divorced. It took a huge toll on your self-worth, your self-esteem, EVERYTHING. You rebounded with a man who made you feel relevant again. His interest in you alone was probably enough to make you feel desirable and sexy and fun and whatever else. I think there distinction to be made here is that there were MANY men who could have made you feel desirable and wanted and relevant again after your divorce. You just happened to find it with THIS particular man. What keeps you attached to him isn’t really anything about *him,* I think (and clearly there are a LOT of things wrong with him, as far as you’re concerned). I think you’re attached because you don’t want to lose (again) that feeling of being wanted and desirable and relevant to a man. You’re scared to go it on your own, again. You’re afraid of loneliness and rejection and whatever else, all over again.

    It’s normal, but it’s also not healthy. Unfortunately, the only person who can healthily make you feel relevant and desirable again isn’t a man…it’s you. And the way to get back to feeling confident and secure and hopeful and whatever else you feel you’re lacking is by going to therapy. You need to work through what happened during your relationship and divorce. You need to come to a place of peace and understanding before you can ever embark upon a new relationship. It’s easy to look for validation in other people. It’s incredibly hard to do it within yourself. But if you do, you’ll never end up in the same kind of unhealthy place you are now. Do the work. It will pay off, I promise.

    • JK JK June 25, 2012, 9:27 am

      Yes, that 1st paragraph listing all the guy´s defects really did not leave me expecting the next paragraph.

  • avatar Amy June 25, 2012, 9:23 am

    I’m really sorry for your situation. I was married to an alcoholic – and what you’re saying is very familiar. And I don’t think you were a fool to miss big warning flags…they can be very charming and the little mean things creep up day by day – so you don’t realize how things are changing until you are in really deep. Do you have some good girlfriends? You’ve been through a lot lately – some good girlfriends can really help you start feeling like your old self. But yes – you have to cut ties with this guy. And you have to be strong enough to do it – because if it’s anything like my experience – they will keep coming around and around and around until you make it stop. Then to get back to your old self – start doing the things your old self enjoyed… reading, cooking, gardening, plays, etc. – and don’t let him scare you away from other men, there are a lot of good ones out there. Hang in there!!!

  • fast eddie fast eddie June 25, 2012, 9:28 am

    Alcoholism is a disease and it can be overcome, BUT the individual must WANT to make a change. From the tone of the letter he is in denial about it and unwilling to confront his addiction. In the long run you might be able to help him IF he wants help. In the meantime your children and yourself that are the first priority. You’ve already confronted him and hit a stone wall. In the short run your attraction to him is your own addiction to him making it difficult. Al-Anon is an organization that helps those in your situation. Google it to find a chapter in your area.

  • FireStar FireStar June 25, 2012, 9:39 am

    Moving on is really a question of making the decision – which it seems like you have already – putting that decision into action – telling him – and staying strong in light of the decision you made. So you are at the stage of telling him. Honey – you don’t owe him a damn thing. You certainly don’t owe him the opportunity to try and turn the tables on you or the chance to take another hit at your self-esteem. Addiction is a different kind of beast – and you don’t have to weather it anymore. Send him a Dear John email or letter. Say your piece – do not give him an opportunity to respond. If he writes back – just delete it. What he gets from you is silence on the matter. Any persistent contact on his part should be met with a conversation from your local police officer or on a lawyer’s letterhead. He has done enough damage already – hasn’t he? So how about you take back some of that control that you gave to him and you be the captain of your own ship for a while. Your pride will thank you for it. Quite frankly sweetie – you have bigger fish to fry that an ex boyfriend. You have two kids to focus on that need your attention and a little introspection in your future to figure out why you missed the red flags and what you can do in the future to make sure you don’t miss them again. Good luck! I’m sure as accomplished as you are, you can succeed at this – just put your kids first and your self-respect second and you’ll get through this.

    • JK JK June 25, 2012, 9:43 am

      You are fast becoming one of my favourite commenters, Fire Star. You always seem to say just what needs to be said. :)

      • FireStar FireStar June 25, 2012, 9:48 am

        Awwww!

      • Moneypenny Moneypenny June 25, 2012, 12:21 pm

        I agree! Very well said, FireStar!

    • katie katie June 25, 2012, 9:48 am

      My thoughts exactly… I mean, how do you MOA? … You just, do. You do it. It’s a decision.

      I know life is a little more complicated, but really… Just do it!

  • avatar oldie June 25, 2012, 9:47 am

    The way to MOA is to just do it. You are stuck in place, because you are afraid of the temporary aloneness that will follow the breakup. Counseling is a necessity. Plan to combat the sense of aloneness in advance by reconnecting with friends, developing more shared activities with your kids, returning to or finding a hobby or group to immerse yourself in, sign up for an interesting course. Things can’t get better until you leave this guy.

  • theattack theattack June 25, 2012, 10:07 am

    It is so easy for a person to become fixated on needing one person’s approval. Even people with high self esteem can get wrapped up in someone else’s borderline emotional manipulation. I’ve found that relationships (or partial-relationships) are especially prone to this when one person starts to slide downhill or lose interest, and the other is still attracted to them for some reason. For people like myself, and I believe you, LW, it almost becomes a game of having approval. We just have to win that approval for the sake of being winners and seamlessly proving that we are awesome. I want you to know that it’s totally normal, but you’re definitely right that it’s not healthy.

    I think the only way to stop this cycle is 100% distance from this guy. You conveniently skirted around the issue of breaking up with him, but you HAVE to do it, and you have to do it now before he completely destroys your self-esteem. Here’s my plan for you:
    - Break up, and give him all of his stuff back. Do not keep anything in your house that reminds you of him.
    - Immerse yourself in what you enjoy doing, or in a new hobby. Since this is the summer, it’s a perfect time for a teacher to really dive into something. Repaint your bedroom and create a new vibe in your place to cleanse it of him. Learn how to start canning vegetables. Challenge yourself to read ten books before school starts again. Pick a few things and do them! This will distract you, and it will help your self-image.

    You need to stop finding your self-worth in things that you do and people that you meet, but the things to do are healthier than relying on other people, so let’s try to make that transition for now and focus on what you love to do, and what you love about yourself.

  • avatar Anna June 25, 2012, 10:22 am

    It really concerns me that you are allowing this man to make you feel worthless. In reality, he is the one who is looking pretty worthless! It sounds like deep down you do realize your true worth: you acknowledge your education, athletic prowess, successful career, and your awesome kids. The fact that you are still able to recognize those good traits means you still do know who you are, but this man has diminished your self-esteem so much that you feel a disconnect between this wonderful person you describe yourself as and the person you actually feel like every day. You know that he is the problem, so in order to solve the problem he must go. There’s no “how to” manual for this. Tell him you’ve had enough of his emotional abuse and he is not to contact you anymore.

    Trust me, I know how scary it is to be alone. I was really scared when my relationship ended because I had never lived alone or spent my life alone. I had to take it one day at a time. It got easier every day, and now I’m actually finding myself excited about the future I’m building for myself. Now consider the fact that you don’t even have to do it completely alone; you will always have your kids and you’ve already built a great life for yourself. All you need to do is let go of the negative feelings this man has ignited within you and get back to living your life. It may help to talk to a therapist in order to get past those issues.

  • Budj Budj June 25, 2012, 10:25 am

    Stop looking for validation from others. It’s a dangerous thing to let your self-esteem be dependant on someone else’s opinion.

    • iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson June 25, 2012, 10:33 am

      Ah I love this comment!! I want to write it on my bathroom mirror in lipstick.

      • avatar MissDre June 25, 2012, 11:37 am

        Me too!

        • iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson June 25, 2012, 11:44 am

          MissDre I’ve been thinking about you lately! How is everything going?

    • avatar ktfran June 25, 2012, 10:50 am

      Seriously. It’s a slipperly slope and can happen to anyone – whether you have high or low self esteem. It can also take a long while to pull yourself back up. Therapy helps because if you pick someone good and who listens, you can usually get to the why so you won’t let it happen again.

      Also, losing yourself is one of the worst feelings in the world.

    • Moneypenny Moneypenny June 25, 2012, 12:28 pm

      Yes! This. I was thinking the same thing. I’ve done exactly this same thing before, and learned the lesson, although it’s such an easy place to slip back into. It is far more empowering to be in control of your own self esteem and not look for it from others.

  • avatar Bossy Italian Wife June 25, 2012, 10:55 am

    Get yourself a good therapist, and tell this guy to take a hike. If he won’t’ listen, threaten him with a restraining order.

    And don’t be too hard on yourself, to be honest; alcoholics can be charming people–as can any addicts, really. So take it as a lesson learned, and tell this guy that he just isn’t for you and you don’t like his behavior.

    It’ll be hard–break ups are hard. But don’t make this guy your drug (like alcohol is his drug).

  • call-me-hobo call-me-hobo June 25, 2012, 11:02 am

    Here is a thought. If you don’t MOA- this man will eventually meet your children. Do you want ANYONE treating your children the way this man treats you? Do you want this man slowly picking apart your kids’ self esteem, like he has been doing to you?

    If you don’t want it for your kids, chances are it’s not good for you. So buck up, and leave this guy in the dust.

  • avatar Megan June 25, 2012, 11:06 am

    Having been in your shoes at one time in my life I have this advice to give:
    Get out and never look back.
    You are responsible for your own destiny and right now you are destined to shrink away a little more every day. If you miss the old you, take some time and find her. This man has issues that are not yours to fix. You have a responsibility to you children to set a good example. Be the person you want them to be when they grow up. Not the woman who lets a man slowly ruin her confidence and her outlook on life. You have a responsibility to yourself. You only have one life and right now it sounds like you have put far too much time and energy into this part of it. It’s time to move on. I’m not going to feed you some bullshit about if it was meant to be maybe he’ll change and come back to you a better man. He won’t. He will only change for himself and it sounds like he is quite content with who he is. Move forward with your life. You’ll meet someone who deserves you and who you can be proud to eventually introduce into the lives of your children. I did.

    Good luck!

  • avatar Leah June 25, 2012, 11:25 am

    This man sounds like he’s emotionally abusive. A big aspect of abusive relationships is that the abuser makes the victim feel worthless and like they need the abuser in order to function. That way, they maintain the power in the relationship and ensure that their victim doesn’t leave. The fact that he’s attempting to control aspects of your life when he isn’t around, such as your clothing or who you spend time with, is a major tip off as well.

    You should get to a therapist pronto. Leaving an abuser is not easy, for anyone. There have been several great threads on DW on this subject that I suggest you look up to start. The goal should be to work up the courage to leave him. Nothing short of that will allow you to rebuild who you were before this relationship and keep your children safe. You say that this man doesn’t have much contact with your kids, which is great, but he’s turning their mother into someone who can’t take care of herself and that will have an effect on them!

    And for starters, you need to stop beating yourself up. You were not “stupid” to let this man into your life. Abusive people are experts at finding people who are vulnerable and exploiting that vulnerability for their own gain. You are also not stupid or weak if it takes you some time to extricate yourself from this relationship. You are in a fragile place emotionally, and it may take some time to regain enough strength to take such a difficult step, especially since your boyfriend will probably not make it easy and will use every emotionally manipulative weapon in his arsenal to try to get you to stay. A therapist can help with that, and you should consider confiding in a close girlfriend or family member as well for added support.

    • avatar SweetPeaG June 25, 2012, 11:45 am

      “And for starters, you need to stop beating yourself up. You were not “stupid” to let this man into your life. Abusive people are experts at finding people who are vulnerable and exploiting that vulnerability for their own gain”

      I just wanted to second that!

      • avatar rangerchic June 25, 2012, 11:58 am

        And I want to third that!!! This is so true. LW please do get therapy or counseling and focus your extra time and attention on your children and your self esteem. Go out get a new hair cut/color and new clothes for a temporary boost. DON’T look for validation from him – just from yourself. Good luck :)

    • Jessibel5 Jessibel5 June 25, 2012, 5:52 pm

      THIS! I was hoping someone would mention emotional abuse before I finished reading the comments, because he’s most definitely gaslighting her. Leah, this response was great!

  • Leroy Leroy June 25, 2012, 11:50 am

    She obviously needs to move on, but something tells me that these two are pushing each others buttons – i.e. it’s not just him doing this to her.

    This is another one of those weird letters where the LW tries to garner sympathy by casting her antagonist as socially inferior. I don’t see the relevance of his status here, except that it offends the LW to be manipulated by someone who she believes is beneath her.

    • FireStar FireStar June 25, 2012, 11:57 am

      I agree the blue-collar, not educated description wasn’t necessary to the story. That has nothing to do with his alcoholism or his deprecating behaviour.

    • dandywarhol dandywarhol June 25, 2012, 12:16 pm

      Yeah i agree, that didn’t sit well with me either. Just because he is blue-collar doesn’t mean he is more likely to be abusive or whatever she is implying.

    • avatar oldie June 25, 2012, 12:19 pm

      It was background. I think in part it was a way of saying they really have very little in common. Perhaps it is also part of her seeing him as a loser, but that seems to come from the irregular work, still living with a roomie, nevery married, heavy drinking. Perhaps also a way of saying she doesn’t really have that great an understanding of non-college, skilled tradesmen and put some of what she viewed as odd behavior down to that, rather than alcoholism. Beyond that, it explains some of his antagonism and desire to belittle her. He is defensive, both because he is less educated and because he is an alcoholic.

    • Lili Lili June 25, 2012, 12:20 pm

      Thats a really astute observation! One I missed entirely but now has me hitting cancel on my comment because I need to re-think my response now…

    • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 25, 2012, 2:20 pm

      Yeah, I let this go initially, but the whole letter was so holier than thou…

      “(who, by the way, has never been married and has no children).”

      Right… as if FAILING at a marriage with kids is such a triumph! Really… Everybody should aspire to do that!! Oh, and for all her brilliant education and career, she’s the one acting like the uneducated fool here. Hey, HE’S not the one dating the abusive alcoholic, and for that even I have to give him credit…

  • dandywarhol dandywarhol June 25, 2012, 12:14 pm

    LW, please don’t think you’re a fool for falling for this man. Abusers have to reel you in somehow, so they are usually charming and sweet to you in the beginning. Almost anyone is vulnerable to them. But the good thing is that now you know what is going on. I have been there, and although it seems impossible to get out of his grip, it IS possible. I would recommend you to do some research into abusive relationships and relationships with alcoholics. It might shed some light on what’s been happening. It helped me to know I wasn’t alone. I would also highly, highly recommend therapy of some sort. You might have developed PTSD and not even know it. Your therapist can help talk you through why you are so fixated on this man. I really wish you the best of luck. And always remember, if this man does these terrible things to you, imagine what he could do to your kids.

  • AKchic_ AKchic_ June 25, 2012, 12:21 pm

    You’re dating an abuser. Plain and simple. You want to cut the ties, then fucking do it. You may be keeping him away from your kids, but the damage he’s doing is still manifesting itself 24/7. Show yourself some respect and just as important – show your KIDS some respect and drop this loser like the dirty toilet paper he is.

    Trust me when I say that there are guys out there that will RESPECT a divorced woman with kids, and will respect the child/father bond and not guilt-trip you into cutting all ties with your ex-husband.

    If you can afford it, get into counseling to figure out WHY you’d stick with a guy who’s obviously not a full grown up and who makes you feel like crap. Being in your 40s is no excuse for accepting whatever comes sniffing around.

    • call-me-hobo call-me-hobo June 25, 2012, 12:24 pm

      Oh man, AK- I thought you were buried in a snow drift. We’ve missed you!

      • AKchic_ AKchic_ June 25, 2012, 1:34 pm

        Not buried in snow. It’s all melted here in town (except for the mountains). It’s just real busy at work and 70+ degrees on sunny days so I’m not on the site as much.

    • avatar lets_be_honest June 25, 2012, 12:53 pm

      Oh how I’ve missed your insight. Great comment. Welcome back!

  • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 25, 2012, 12:55 pm

    You just do it, seriously. You read your letter to yourself daily and then you just do it… And for the love of God, women everywhere NEED TO STOP BEING THE DESPERATE SEX!!! Looking to an alcoholic for validation? Who comes next, a drug addict? And if that falls apart, I suppose, there’s always the toothless meth-head down on skid row. Seriously, just stop. You just stop!

    You have kids, LW… And, you know, many of us don’t have kids. Many of us, sadly, won’t have kids. MANY OF US CAN’T EVER HAVE KIDS and it totally pisses us off to see so many of you carrying on like vapid man crazed idiots as you seemingly do everything you can to fuck up your children’s lives… And yes, staying with a controlling, abusive alcoholic who is deliberately trying to destroy the healthy, stable relationship you have with your ex WILL fuck up your children’s lives! Big time!

    Be a WOMAN for God’s sake. Far too many of you insist on acting like silly little girls… And hey,. silly little girls in their teens may have plenty of excuses for their mistakes… Grown-ass fortysomething women? Eh, no so much.

    • avatar ele4phant June 25, 2012, 1:40 pm

      BGM, we’ve had this conversation, but STOP CALLING WOMEN THE DESPERATE SEX. WE’RE NOT A HOMOGENOUS GROUP.

      Thank you.

      • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 25, 2012, 1:49 pm

        Curiously, I only dreamed up that phrase AFTER reading so many such letters here at DW. PS — It seems obvious to me that I am not claiming ALL women are the desperate sex, but rather simply stating that if they are — they must immediately stop being so at once.

        • avatar rachel June 25, 2012, 2:13 pm

          It is true. Guys can do it too, I’m sure, but so often we see women who will accept any kind of behavior from a significant other, because they are too afraid to be alone, or that they won’t find someone else to love them. As if being “loved” is somehow better than being treated right.

          • avatar ktfran June 25, 2012, 3:39 pm

            Agreed. I have friends and family members who instill in their daughters that getting married should be the end game. That you need a man. And this is what happens . . . women cling to unhealthy relationships because, well, at least they have a man. Instead, shouldn’t these people teach girls to be self sufficient and independent and to be happy with themselves?

            And why is it that people congratulate father’s when all their daughters are finally married off?

            I think things are shifting, but in a lot of towns and small cities, it still remains much the same.

            • avatar lets_be_honest June 25, 2012, 3:43 pm

              yea, filing your first paragraph under Things I Will Never Comprehend.

            • katie katie June 25, 2012, 3:47 pm

              literally from my newsfeed this morning on facebook:

              Me: am i a loser?
              Mom:yes
              Dad well it depends
              Mom: i just think you need a boyfriend
              …… thanks rents

              from my best friend. i wanted to go all crazy and be like ….because having a man is the only way to determine you worth and your general not-loser-ness, but i just didnt say anything…

              its a true and very unfortunate point.

              • avatar rachel June 25, 2012, 3:49 pm

                ouch.

                • avatar ktfran June 25, 2012, 4:49 pm

                  I concur. Ouch! But I think katie’s right. In a lot of places or families, it’s the norm and the “natural” progression of things. It’s hard to see outside the box.

              • avatar lets_be_honest June 25, 2012, 3:50 pm

                Just curious, how old are the parents? I just can’t believe this is still something people believe.

                • katie katie June 25, 2012, 3:58 pm

                  ummm.. i honestly dont know. not very old, not terribly young, so i guess in the “normal” range to have a 22 year old daughter… so like 40s to 50s?

                  i dont honestly think that its something that they consciously believe, i think its more of just an ingrained thing in our society that we all just accept… like we have talked about before with having kids. so many of us just grew up know/expecting that we would just have them someday, and now bam we actually have a choice, its not just something to handed to us when we turn some magic number or something… so for them, of course, you grow up, having boyfriends, and get married. and then of course come the kids… its like the “natural” formula for life- i dont think they see it as “your only worth something if you have a man”, even though thats what they really are saying.

                  • avatar lets_be_honest June 25, 2012, 4:06 pm

                    Its funny, just last night I was sitting with my SO looking at my daughter playing with a group of friends, we start chatting about her future, and how she’ll be getting boy crushes any day. I said we’d be lucky if she was gay, instead of straight. Not terribly serious, but just that (like Christy pointed out) no accidental pregnancies, no dirtbag boyfriends (obviously girls can be dirtbags too), things like that. And then I realized how most parents just naturally imagine their kid’s wedding to someone of the opposite sex, grandkids that look just like them, etc. I wonder what the future holds a generation or two ahead of ours.

                    • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 25, 2012, 4:16 pm

                      Honestly, I don’t give us all that long on the planet… The world is dying on a purely environmental scale… Oh, and all of the mideast (nevermind Africa) is presently a hopeless unstable mess with nuclear weapons just lying about everywhere.

                      Oh, I don’t think the END is going to happen today, tomorrow, next year, or even in my lifetime… But I very much doubt that there won’t be some sort of hopeless stupid, totally preventable man-made apocalypse in the next hundred years….

                  • avatar ktfran June 25, 2012, 4:47 pm

                    I’m lucky, my parents are just happy that we’re happy. And if they think I should be getting married and having children, they don’t say anything to me.

                    Now, I have a few aunts and a couple uncles that think you’re nothing unless you get married. I need to add that there are a lot of women in my family – both sides.

                    My parents and aunts and uncles range from about 50 – 65.

        • avatar ele4phant June 25, 2012, 4:23 pm

          You do understand that DW is an advice column with a largely female readership, and therefore the letters that you read will be A) people with problems, and B) women, right? That does not mean they are an accurate representation of all women or all people with problems, but rather the very specific sub-group of women who read this website and have an issue large enough to compel them to write in.

          And I don’t disagree that more often is women than men in situations such as the one described in this particularly letter. However, excuse me for not correctly interpreting “women everywhere” as you intended to it to mean: “the subset of women who does this thing.”

          • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 25, 2012, 4:38 pm

            I never said it did accurately reflect all women or their problems… Look, the fact that this website caters to women with said problems really only proves my larger point…In that almost every woman who writes in here lately with a relationship problem would be well served to simply stop acting to desperate. Time any time again, they cling to the most pathetic of men. And they write in… from everywhere. Hence my wording.

        • theattack theattack June 26, 2012, 7:26 am

          But how many dudes read, let alone write in to advice columns like DW? You’re less likely to read male desperation, because men don’t usually talk about it as much.

          • Budj Budj June 26, 2012, 7:28 am

            Yep – I’d rather brutally over-analyze everything in my own head than ever admit (and ask for help for) my issues in a public forum.

            • katie katie June 26, 2012, 8:04 am

              thats a good call, budj. you know that asking for help is a sign of weakness… amiright?

              • Budj Budj June 26, 2012, 8:11 am

                haha – absolutely!

                I don’t know where I picked that up from, but I’ve just always worked through my own shit. I vaguely bounce ideas off of people to get a sense of my objectivity in the situation, but besides that….

                that’s not to say I always make the right choices…haha.

          • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 26, 2012, 1:04 pm

            Interesting theory, but I have to say that my many male acquaintances seem to have far less trouble ending relationships over even the most trivial of things…

  • avatar cdobbs June 25, 2012, 2:06 pm

    This man sounds like a toxic habit (like smoking)…you know it is bad for you…yet your body craves it and you somehow feel like you need it…even though it is slowly destroying you…sure while you are smoking it feels great…but later you think of all the ways it is bad for you…it makes you feel terrible…
    So just like smoking you must quit! Sure it will be hard and the first few months will be painful…but slowly you will heal and in time you will feel better than ever…ready for a fresh start…ready to breath the fresh, clean air of a health non-toxic relationship!
    You deserve it!

  • avatar convexed June 25, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Listen to that adele song ‘turning tables’. Keep the lines in yr head ‘its time to say goodbye to turning tables’ and ‘as hard as you try, no, I will never be knocked down’. Its possible to be wounded and still stay strong, and its possible to heal from this relationship and the damage its added on top of the life change that is divorce.

  • Caris Caris June 25, 2012, 4:04 pm

    You know he is bad for you. He treats you like crap. And he is an alcoholic.
    Tell him it’s over and then what you do is you stop contacting him. Erase his phone number from your phone, delete him from whatever social media that you have. Block his number so that he cannot contact you either.

    Remember you have children you have to take care of and they need their mom to be functional and not an emotional wreck. And the longer you stay with him, the more of a wreck you’ll become. You don’t need anyone’s validation to feel worthy, least of all a validation from an alcoholic.

  • avatar BettyBoop June 25, 2012, 6:28 pm

    If you aren’t willing or able to go to therapy, get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting. It’s tailor-made for those affected by alcoholism and can help you understand the cycle you’re trapped in with this man. Even if you don’t want to share, the stories of other people will show you so much.

  • avatar Laura Hope June 25, 2012, 8:43 pm

    It’s not easy being a single woman in today’s world. I feel for you. I am an extremely practical person and if I found myself suddenly single I’d take a practical approach to finding a viable partner (if that’s what you’re looking for). I’d look for someone at least 10 years older, divorced or widowed, not too good looking, nerdy is good and religious is very good.Someone who( on paper at least) would have potential for a serious relationship.A 42 year old blue collar uneducated man who’s never been married –not relationship material. Alcoholism aside, I would ask yourself why you put yourself in a position to get hurt.Factor in the alcoholism and yes, you need some self-introspection. Therapy sounds like a wonderful idea.

    • avatar AnotherWendy June 26, 2012, 12:56 pm

      When did “blue collar” become “not relationship material”? Blue collar refers to people in skilled or unskilled trades that focus on manual labor: like an auto-mechanic, a carpenter, a person performing work in a factory. It’s not a reflection on someone’s character or ability to be a good partner, it’s referencing how they earn a living.

    • avatar lets_be_honest June 26, 2012, 1:01 pm

      You always leave the strangest comments. I wish you would elaborate on why you chose the criteria you did.

  • avatar GTR June 25, 2012, 11:40 pm

    “Help me find my old self, escape his grasp and be done once and for all.”

    No.

    It’s time for you to put on your Big Girl pants and deal with this yourself.

    It’s pretty clear that what you really want is for a big strong man to sweep in and fix all of your problems. Well, he ain’t comin’, sister. You’re a mature, fit, responsible woman and you are fully capable of dealing with this on your own.

    You know what needs to be done, but you feel vulnerable and scared by it. Confront that. Make a conscious decision to delete this unworthy man out of your life, then take steps to do that. I suspect he won’t put up much of a fight. Then get yourself to a therapist to go over and sort out all of the issues that made this guy seem like a good idea in the first place. He’s a symptom, not a cause.

  • avatar AnotherWendy June 26, 2012, 12:45 pm

    LW, you clearly know you have to end this so I’m wondering if where you’re stuck is that you are feeling so off-balance by this guy that you can’t determine the steps to actually take? If so, I would suggest these ones:
    1. Schedule appt. with therapist
    2. Avoid the guy as much as possible until you’re ready for the break up speech.
    3. Get anything of yours back from him that you are worried he may not return once you’ve had the break-up talk.
    4. See therapist and discuss best way to break up with a person with these issues, how to respond to different ways he may react to the news, how you are going to cope with him if he doesn’t go away quietly, and how you are going to be very strong in the wake of this.
    5. Determine when/where you are going to have break-up discussion and make sure your ex is available to have the kids that day and night (you don’t want them to witness the emotions you will be experiencing that day.)
    6. Meet and hold break-up discussion, using what you and therapist came up with as your plan to handle this.
    7. Stick to plan and avoid avoid avoid.
    8. Keep seeing therapist to get your strength back.

    I think what happened with you is you weren’t really divorce-recovered yet when you got into this relationship. So you didn’t see things you normally would have run from, and you let things slide you normally would have confronted and just overall weren’t getting into this relationship from a position of strength. That is very common soon after a divorce. And by soon I mean a year or two post-divorce.

    I knew there were the friend’s getting married years for much of your twenties, the friend’s having babies years for much of your thirties, and even anticipate there will be the friend’s dying years in my old age. But I never realized the 40′s are the friend’s getting divorced years! From what I see with all the divorces going on around me, plus my own, even reasonable and intelligent people seldom get into awesome relationships right after a divorce. They make some missteps and outright mistakes. And that happens whether you were the iniator of the divorce or the one pulled into a divorce you didn’t want. Recovering from a divorce is a whole grieving process. I wanted my divorce, no third parties involved on either side, never doubted my decision, amicable divorce and custody arrangement. And yet I grieved for quite awhile the loss of that young couple we started out as. In fact, 9 years later I can still get teary eyed thinking about what ended.

    When you’re grieving the end of one relationship, it’s not a good time to start another. Period. Applies to any age.

    Focus on your kids, building a strong co-parenting relationship with your ex (never let a man come between that!), your career, your hobbies, your friends, etc. Put dating on hold for now. And when you do eventually head back out into the dating world, you will make better decisions.

    And then sit back and enjoy the friend’s getting re-married years!

    Best wishes to you for a happy future!

  • avatar MiMi June 26, 2012, 6:17 pm

    Why not give Al-Anon a try? There will be people there who relate to what you’re saying and willing to share their own experiences and successes. We can all shout MOA and call a therapist, but support from people who understand exactly what you’re going through can be very helpful.

    In the meantime, remind yourself that this relationship doesn’t make you the woman you wanted to be, doesn’t bring out the best possible you, or open more doors to happy experiences for your and your children. That’s what a good relationship would give you, and this ain’t it, right?

  • avatar Dolly May 3, 2013, 11:17 pm

    If I were you I would start researching narcissism. With the little that you wrote, it sounds like you could be dealing with a malignant one. It takes a LOT to honestly be a malig. narc. Everyone has some narc tendencies, but healthy ones. A malignant narcissist will absolutely destroy you.

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