By Liv Anne Lern
I’m a young single guy who started dating a girl who I thought was wonderful. Well, in the beginning, she was. She was nice to me, we had a lot of laughs, she liked to come along on the weekends to watch me play in my band, and things in general were going pretty good. I thought, at the time, we were in love. Our relationship became intimate, and although we didn’t, we practically lived together. I stayed at her apartment, or she stayed at mine, most every night.
Our relationship seemed to be working ok for about the first three years, but then things started to get crazy. She started to question me about everything, she wouldn’t believe anything that I would tell her, and she found ways to twist my words and blame me for things I hadn’t even done. This created a lot of stress between us, and we had several break-ups along the way, but somehow we always found a way to get back together.
About another year went by, when my girlfriend informed me that she was pregnant. Although we were both very young, (I was twenty and she was nineteen), and things had been a bit rocky at times, we welcomed the idea of this new child coming into our lives.
Well, to make a long story short, things from there went directly downhill. I tried to be very understanding while she was pregnant, as I know a woman’s hormones can change a lot of things. I worked very hard to make her happy, and tried to be the best boyfriend I could be, but unfortunately, she never snapped out of it, and we broke up about a year after she gave birth. My beautiful daughter is six years old now, and her mother has turned into this unhappy, crabby, controlling, unreasonable, and what reality television now-a-days so often refers to as a classic balls-to-the-wall B*$@#!!!
Liv, I’m writing to you because every day is such a challenge with this woman. We didn’t go to court, but I’m supposed to get my daughter every other weekend, and one day during the week. Just making that happen is a complete struggle. Anything this woman can do to “throw a wrench” in the plans, she will, just to spite me. God help me if I want to spend time with my little girl on an unscheduled day! I might as well forget it, as she’ll make my life, and my daughter’s…hell! It’s just insane. And of course my sweet peanut doesn’t understand what the big deal is. She’ll just keeps asking me things like “Why can’t I go with you Daddy?” It just kills me!
Please help me. I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve been feeling very depressed lately and I don’t know what to do. I don’t care to control this woman, but I feel I have no control. She dictates what happens at every turn. I have a lot of anger towards her, and I don’t want my daughter to see that. I have to do something, but I just don’t know what. Any advice you may have will be appreciated. Thank you!!
Dear Desperate Daddy,
I’m sorry to hear that you’re experiencing so much drama just in order to spend quality time with your daughter. This is one of those situations where you need to “try your hardest”, “do your best”, and “make every effort” for the sake of your daughter. Despite how unhappy and unreasonable this woman is, you need to stay strong for your “little peanut”. She needs to feel the love and strength from you, as she clearly is already noticing there’s something going on with mom.
Now, I don’t know you or your ex-girlfriend. I can only go by what you’ve told me. But just FYI, it sounds like maybe this woman could possibly have some postpartum symptoms. I know things were a bit rocky earlier in the relationship, but it doesn’t sound like it was this bad prior to the pregnancy. If this is the case, it’s still no excuse, but it would perhaps explain the described irrational behavior. In the end, there really wouldn’t be anything you could do directly to make it stop.
It’s not like you’re in a position to suggest that she see a doctor or get an anti-depressant!
So…what can you do? Let’s start with this:
- Do you have a friendly relationship with any of her relatives; like her mother, sister, or friends? If so, you could perhaps – on the sly – have a chat and explain that you’re CONCERNED about her. Don’t put her down, as remember, these people love her. They don’t want to hear what an awful person she is. Just explain your frustration, and ask for their help in rectifying the situation. If they agree that her behavior has been less than appealing, they may be able to speak with her, suggesting that she see a family physician or a therapist.
- Although they’re always expensive, you may need to consider consulting a lawyer. I’m assuming you tried to make this arrangement work without doing that, but if she continues to make visitation such a problem, you may need to look into this avenue.
- If you haven’t already, consider joining a single parents group. Sadly and unfortunately, some couples make the sharing of children in a divorce difficult, just to make it difficult. They “play” their children as if they were real estate, in some sort of sick game of Monopoly. They feel power or want to get revenge on their ex-partner, and will use the children, as they know that will work perfectly and to the very core. Joining a group of other single parents, who experience being a single parent, will give you a chance to verbalize your frustrations, discover how other couples make life work, and also get the support in the areas you need.
- If you don’t care to share your experience with others in a group, at least consider seeing a therapist. Having that one-on-one time to shed the anger, voice your concerns, or seek the right answers, will help keep you from doing something you’ll regret later. The last thing you want to do is to explode in front of your young daughter. She may only be six, but children are so impressionable. Talk to someone so you can get it off your chest.
- Eat Right and Exercise! This may sound silly, but this will make you feel good all the way around. Eating right will keep your body on an even keel, providing you with the nourishment you need to keep going when times get tough. The exercise will help you release a bunch of that built up anger and energy that even talking can’t help. These two habits will be a huge benefit. AND…they’ll get you in shape both in body and mind. A win-win!
- As difficult as this may be (because I’m sure at times you’ve felt on fire!!!), be as nice as you possibly can. Take very deep breaths and find it in you to step back. If your ex-girlfriend is experiencing some form of depression, and she does address it, she will be grateful for your kindnesses. Things will turn around much faster. Trust me on this one.
Whether it’s an office visit to a professional therapist or sipping a couple of beers with a friend, take time to blow off some steam. You can’t control anything your ex-girlfriend does, but you can control what you do and how you react to each encounter. Love your daughter enough to make every effort to make this work. She will thank you for the rest of her life!
Live and Learn
If you would like to ask Liv a question that may be addressed in a future column, send a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org.