My ex’s cousin called me last night as I was leaving work. I haven’t talked to her as much lately, because she’s been spending a lot of time in Boston to be near her kids.
She told me that my ex-husband called her sister in Florida on Easter, and wanted to know how he could get closer to my son. Also, called his sister, asking the same thing.
This is interesting, because neither of these women EVER talks to my son. The cousin has never met my son. My ex’s sister, who lives 35 miles away, has not talked to my son in 10 years. Just a lack of interest. So why he would think either of these people could offer any useful advise I don’t know. But then, I know my ex. He is doing it to build sympathy for himself, with the few people who will talk to him. It is not a case of wanting to know, really. Because he knows. I told him.
I told him that my son said his father should write him a letter. I explained to him, clearly, that he has to remember and acknowledge that he was brutal to my son. He was extremely emotionally abusive, and became physically abusive as well, though it was kept secret from me until my son came to live with me. But it was one reason my son walked from his father and never went back.
I told my ex that his son needs to see him go out on a limb for him. To write him a letter, that he can read over and over, that he can hold on to. Address the issues. Become vulnerable, to take a chance. I told him it may not work, but it may. If he doesn’t try, there is no chance. If he tries there is some chance that they will reconcile. My ex wants to find some for sure way that my son will respond positively to him. He doesn’t understand that it will take a long time for my son, even if he writes the letter.
I don’t know why he refuses to write to my son. Well, that’s not true. Because when words are written, they are recorded. They make him accountable. Another reason is because I’m the one who told him that’s what to do, a message I was relaying from my son. As with most people who are abusive, he doesn’t trust the people who he most should. He trusts his alcoholic cousin or his very aloof sister, more than me, who would love nothing more than for the two of them to reconcile, at least to a level where they would talk.
If the situation were reversed, I would have written a letter every day. I would have filled the mailbox til the post office asked me to stop. I would have taken that doorway, and run through it toward my son.
But my ex, instead, is simply trying to manipulate the emotions of anyone he can into feeling sorry for him. “Oh the poor man, he’s all alone. His ex-wife must be influencing his son not to talk to him.” Because he still thinks we are competing for my son’s affection. Even though he himself used to complain that I was absolutely non-competitive (he was a nationally ranked swimmer at one time, and was raised on competition, not only in sports but among his two siblings, who competed for their parents love.) I know my son loves me, and I would love if my son could love his father, and have a real father in his life. But with my ex, it’s all about manipulation. It’s not about the real business of healing and rebuilding his relationship with my son.
I have told my son that I’d really be happy if we were all at least speaking to each other before we all moved. He has promised me that he is going to tell his father that he’s moving before he goes. That’s something. That’s my son, once again, going out on a limb for his father, and speaks to the fact that my son still loves his father, even though he can’t bring himself to talk to him right now. That the abuse, and the chaos his father brings to his life is still hurtful, is still there. My son lived for his father as a child. He did everything and far more than his father ever asked him to, but he could never please him. He could never meet a constantly moving bar that had to be met for his father to love him. His father has done nothing to alleviate that pain.
I couldn’t meet the bar either. At some point, I realized that that moving bar was just a tool of manipulation, to feed his ego. My son knows it too. My son has found his way. I believe that the last 8 years of living with unconditional love, and none of the chaos, have allowed him to find himself.
I have been wondering, since last night, if I should call my ex and talk to him again about writing his son. But….no. His ego would be boosted to know people have talked to me concerned for him. And would do nothing to resolve their relationship, because as long as his ego is being fed, there will be no movement toward reconciliation. As long as he is the center of attention of his cousins, his sister, and me, he will have enough ego boost, that just complaining that he is so sad that my son won’t talk to him is all he will do. He won’t make a move toward him.
I know the man well, after 40 years.
I used to think when my son was small, that a 2 parent family is infinitely better than a single parent. And of course, that’s true if both parents are normal loving people. But if one is dysfunctional, and abusive, and so damaged, it is far better for a child to have one parent that can love him unconditionally than stay in the middle of the chaos a sociopathic, narcissistic, abusive alcoholic can cause.
I hope my ex can see the light some day. But my hope for him is slight. He has lost everything, his marriage, his son, his house, his business, his yacht, and lives in a 500 sq foot rented cottage with no heat now. You’d think at some point he’d rethink the way he lives his life, and maybe do a little soul searching. If it hasn’t happened with all that loss…I can’t imagine what, if anything, could change him.
I’m so grateful that I got out when I did. And got my son out. Just so grateful.
Love and light.