The following article is by Micksbabe, whose name you may recognize from comments here and the Shrink4Men Facebook page.
It seems that most men and women who come to Shrink4Men are in the throes of leaving (or contemplating leaving) an abusive woman. I have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with this situation from a third party perspective.
When I met my husband ten years ago, he was separated from his Borderline Personality Disordered (BPD) ex and going through a divorce. So I witnessed everything, virtually from the beginning. Hindsight being 20/20, there were so many things that I/we/he should have done differently.
His situation was not unlike most of yours. He had two children with his BPD ex. The fighting became untenable, he moved out, she filed for divorce, and they BOTH began dating other people.
When I met my husband, he told me that he and his ex had an amicable split and that they had agreed to remain civil, “for the kids’ sake.” That makes me laugh now. Not a funny “ha-ha” kind of laugh, but rather a sarcastic, “What a load of crap that is,” kind of laugh.
Make no mistake — a high-conflict, abusive personality disordered individual is often not capable of caring about another human being – not even her own children. Her children, by virtue of sharing some of her DNA, have a slightly higher status than other mortals. But children, as far as an abusive woman is concerned, are vessels to be used by the owner as a tool, a weapon and, as they get older, a soldier in her war. The moment her soldiers rebel or cease to be useful to her, she will turn her wrath against them, as well.
My husband was naïve back then, not to mention shell-shocked, drained and suffering from some form of Stockholm Syndrome. He really did want to have a civil relationship for his kids’ sake. But he was in deep denial about his BPD ex.
I began noticing some chinks in the armor early on, when my husband would receive hysterical, screaming phone calls late at night from his BPD ex. He would fight back, argue and call her names, JUST AS IF THEY WERE STILL MARRIED. And in so doing, she won.
The high-conflict woman loves fighting more than anything in the world.
I remember once, early on, she had my then four year old step-daughter call my husband, crying and begging him to, “Please come home, Daddy!!!!” And my husband’s crazy ex could be heard screaming in the background with crashing noises for added effect.
I am embarrassed to say that my husband left me and went “home” to make sure “the kids” were okay.
There were many, many more “tricks” that he fell for, repeatedly, “for the kids’ sake,” that involved him coming to their rescue due to a crisis that the BPD ex had created for that very purpose. It’s really a miracle that he and I remained together.
I think the single event that saved our relationship was when my husband got transferred across the country with his job. It was hard on him. He felt (and still feels) tremendous guilt over leaving them. But ultimately, it was this geographical boundary that gave him the ability to gain some clarity and come out of the fog.
The midnight rescue calls ceased. But she did not go away, by any means. Ten years later, he still has to enforce and reinforce boundaries to protect our marriage, and himself, and ultimately, his children, from his BPD ex. We will, I am certain, have to continue enforcing boundaries for as long as she (and he) is alive.
She refuses to accept his “abandonment” of her. She will never “move on.”
If I had to do it all over again, I would learn and memorize the rules below:
1. Rip off the Band-Aid. The abusive BPD and other high-conflict types thrive in the gray areas. You might see it as weaning her off, or letting her down gently, or “remaining civil for the kids’ sake.” However, the BPD only sees this as your continued commitment to her. At some point, you’re either going to have to stay with her for eternity or leave.
When you do decide to leave, then really leave. File for divorce, get your name off of anything shared, take what you want to keep and know that anything of personal value that you leave behind will either be destroyed or sold in a garage sale. This includes pets.
2. Acceptance. Accept that your ex is incredibly damaged and destructive and is highly unlikely to change. Accept that the mother of your children will harm her own children to get to you, and that there is NOTHING you can do to prevent or stop this from happening.
Bargaining, giving in to her demands, and taking her bait only makes matters worse. Once she realizes what “works” against you, she will amp up her tactics and ultimately, shoots the hostages anyway.
3. You cannot control her. Give up this notion. You have none. You never did. You never will.
4. Boundaries. Establish firm boundaries and never make exceptions. A good friend of mine uses the analogy of the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park as an example.
The raptors, despite getting repeatedly shocked, continued to poke and poke and poke at the railings until they finally found a weak spot and then they attacked. This is what the BPD does. If you EVER allow her a weak spot, you will have to start over at ground zero and re-establish every boundary all over again.
5. Limit communications. If you have children with an abusive high-conflict woman and you are forced to continue communications with her, then limit it as much as possible. Never allow her to believe that your communications with her equate to an intimate exclusive bond.
E-mail is better because you have all communications in writing, preferably in a joint e-mail account you share with your new wife, so your crazy ex knows you share all information. This will help to remove any “specialness” she may misinterpret from your continued forced communication.
Keep all communications business-like and do not respond to anything not pertaining specifically to your children. Let her phone calls go into voice mail. If it is an emergency, then call back. If it is not, no return call is necessary.
6. Counseling. Find a good counselor who specializes in personality disorders and take yourself, your new spouse and your children to see them.
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
Want to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.
Wow… good article and very familiar to me, as I married a man with a psycho ex. She finally quit bugging us when I sent her a very sternly worded letter that let her know I knew what she was all about. My husband’s kids are now extremely alienated, but at least she leaves us alone. We haven’t heard from ex in five years and it’s been relatively blissful.
knothead, curious as to how old your step-kids are? How old were they when they refused visitation with their Dad?
My husband’s daughters are now 20 and 17. I have only met them once, back in 2003 when they were 11 and 9. Their older brother, from Ex’s first marriage, also attended. We had a good visit, but not long afterwards, the younger daughter started refusing to talk on the phone with my husband. She had “headaches” or was in the bathtub. The following year, the ex tried to force us all to spend Christmas together at my father-in-law’s house. Ex had remarried and had a baby with her current (3rd) husband. I refused to attend the gathering, but my husband went and had a miserable time. The younger daughter (then 10) was still refusing to speak to my husband and not long after that visitation, the older one (then 13) followed suit and stopped talking.
Then in 2006, the ex sent photocopied letters supposedly written by the girls that demanded he give them up for adoption to her current husband, with whom she has since had another child for a total of 5 from three different men. She also sent a hateful letter of her own, several boxes of my husband’s stuff that she had held onto for years, adoption paperwork to be signed, and curiously enough, a children’s book my husband used to read to his daughters about forgiveness.
That was the last communication my husband had with his kids.
That’s really heartbreaking. In the Book,”Divorce Poison,” Dr. Warshak states that in cases of severe PAS, it is sometimes the kind thing (for your children) to back away from the fight, in hopes of rekindling a relationship with them as adults. I hope that your husband is able to someday explain his side of things to his daughters.
Yep, I’ve read “Divorce Poison”. I also just read a great book about PAS called “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind” by Amy J.L. Baker. Both books are very helpful.
My husband has stopped trying to communicate with the kids. He did have a relationship with their older brother for awhile, but it soon became clear the young man was just using him for money.
It’s sad for us that the kids are alienated, but I think in the long run, it’ll be much sadder for them. They are missing out on a wonderful father… one that most daughters would cherish. That’s probably why their mother cut him out of their lives.
Hi, I’m new here and I am not married to my man but we live together and he’s been “trying” to get divorced from his crazy ex in the two years that I’ve known him and when we met, he told me that their papers were all set, just needed to be filed. I’m basically in this same situation. The only good thing is that he has been deployed, and since he’s been gone 1. I haven’t had to deal with her 3-plus times a day and 2. he is starting to realize the terrible situation he’s in. I still see moments of doubt, where he MAY actually think that he can deal with her as if she were “normal” however, which is concerning. She nearly managed to break us up before he left and my greatest fear is that she will accomplish that once he returns. He is a wonderfully kind, honest good man, a keeper by all standards. However, the abuse that I have had to endure may just be a deal breaker. I can’t tell him what to do, all I can do is continue to send him links to this site and hope he reads them. He is a very involved father, and will never turn down an opportunity to see his children, even if that is her calling him with an “emergency” or something she needs him to drop everything for and come running, and he does. He will never NOT do that because he sees that as not being there for his kids. I welcome any thoughts/comments/advise. I’m new here, this is my first comment.
Print out and send this article (or cut and paste the link to him if he has internet access) to your SO. Hell, print out every article on this website and send it to him. He needs to end this so that YOUR abuse stops.
Thank you Micksbabe, I have done exactly that. More important than stopping the abuse against me, is the inevitable affect she is having on the kids. Yes, I need not be abused either but I am free to leave, the kids are not. I’m not an expert but I don’t think she’s a BPD, more likely a NPD, though I do see some qualities in her that could be not only NPD but really all of the cluster B’s. She just has more of the NPD traits.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Welcome to Shrink4Men. I’m glad you’re here.
Is your boyfriend deployed in a war zone? If so, it’s interesting that’s where he needed to go to get perspective on his crazy ex.
Oftentimes, and hopefully Micksbabe will add to this, women like your bf’s ex dogmatically believe they’re a two-fer re: the children. Meaning that they believe that any relationship the father has with the children must also include them.
This is ridiculous. Even in intact marriages it’s healthy and important for each parent to have their own independent relationships with the kids.
Women like your bf’s ex believe that they and the children are a package deal — especially after divorce / separation. They listen in on phone calls or force fathers to go through them, kind of like the fairy tale “The Billy Goat’s Gruff.” Dad has to pay a toll to the troll who lives under the bridge to get to his kids.
These women will forcibly insert themselves into the father-child relationships and, if dad doesn’t do everything mom wants, she will then disrupt or try to damage the relationship. This is mostly about maintaining control over your bf and maintaining a connection with your bf.
In addition to the reading suggestions MB makes, I’d also encourage your bf to start reading about parallel parenting. You can’t co-parent with women like MB’s ex and your bf’s ex. I’m currently working on a parallel parenting article, which will be published next week.
Hi Dr. T, Thank you, I’m glad I’m here too! Yes he is deployed to a war zone. Ironic, isn’t it? His ex, while she doesn’t seem to want him back, still needs to be the center of attention. She’s not happy unless she’s completely in charge of not only what goes on at her home, but also what goes on in my home (they all moved in with me which presents it’s own issues). Each and every time she gets caught in a lie (which is quite often) or she doesn’t get what she is demanding, she threatens to change their parenting plan. They have a legal separation that was filed just before he deployed. I’m not sure how that works, but I know it inlcluded a parenting plan. She creates all kinds of conflict and then says that due to all the conflict she just can’t do “shared” anymore. This is further complicated by the fact that she’s also a licensed guardian ad litem. She’s seen every trick in the book and probably has a few of her own yet to be seen. Most of the time, the reasons that she manufactures for why she will keep his son from him are blamed on me. It’s a lot of stress on me, I would never come between a father and his child. So, I have stopped all forms of contact with her, which has now blown up into an even bigger problem because now, according to her, since I’m not “civil” the kids just can’t come over. It’s not that i’m not civil, I just don’t interact with her in any way, because that way I am assured that she can’t say that I said something or did something that I didn’t do, when we all know we don’t interact. It’s unfortunate that it had to turn out this way.
I have done some reading into parallel parenting, and I did send some information to my bf about it. I’m not sure he understands that they can still share custody and equal time, without co-parenting. It’s all or nothing with her and I think at times, he believes her and also is terrified she will succeed in keeping him from his son. She has already told me that he abused her during their marriage, which I found rather funny. I told him about it. Now she claims she never said that and that I am such a liar that the kids can’t come over. It’s a lose-lose I’m afraid. She will find a way to drag me into ANY problem she may be having at any given time. It’s quite facinating to watch on one level. Anyway, sorry for the ramble. I do really appreciate being here!
Simply put, he needs to get his divorce finalized and get a solid parenting plan in place. Legally there are actually more protections for males who are military than there are for your average dad who’s fighting to see his kids.
If he’s at Ft. Lewis I could recommend a great attorney that we used to secure custody of my husband’s kid.
Its not up to the mother to determine what she wants in the parenting plan. As long as she doesn’t have a legal obligation to provide the kids to him, she’ll be able to play these games. If she ever makes up reasons to deny visitation with a parenting plan in place, he will be able to take her to court for contempt. Eventually she will get charged with contempt and pay a fine and perhaps even face jail time. But you can’t file contempt until she’s making a “willful disregard” of the parenting plan. Until he gets the custody worked out on paper, he actually really is at her mercy because he’s gone and she’s got the kids.
Hi minicoopsmom, thank you. They do have a parenting plan on paper, filed with the court in their “legal separation” but I really don’t know how binding that is. I completely agree with you, and I have explained this to him, and I know he already knows this. He has been through a very painful, ugly divorce and custody battle before so he’s no stranger to it. Frankly I think he’s just exhausted. He has tried and tried to get the divorce filed. He’s still thousands of dollars in debt from his last divorce and is reluctant to hire another attorney. I think he’s going to need one. I’m very frustrated and as the time comes closer for his deployment to end, as much as I am so looking forward to his return, I am also terrified having to endure his ex again. I have promised him that I am standing by him while he is deployed, and I am keeping that promise. I love him dearly. Just trying to educate myself and become as prepared as possible for when he gets back!
What if the widespread destruction and high social costs that are attributable to these kinds of women were instead caused by some virus or spreadable disease? I think it would be all over the news, the public would be put on high alert and given instructions on how to avoid becoming infected and the medical community would be mandated to develop a vaccine or anti-venom to help prevent the spread of of such a horrible disease… eradication would surely be the goal. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine nor apparently a cure for this epidemic. These women need to be easily identifiable by men at risk. A permanent tattoo on their forehead perhaps?
Tattoo on the forehead would be AWESOME. What should it be? A skull and crossbones? Mushroom cloud?
HPD – Mushroom Cloud
BPD – Bio Hazard Symbol
NPD – Radiation Symbol
APD – Skull and Crossbones
They should also wear Hazmat labels so we know how dangerous they might be.
HPD should be a naked lady – like those mud flaps on 18-wheelers
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Funny, but since it’s unlikely to happen and would probably violate civil liberties, instead we should focus on having healthy self-respect, boundaries and recognizing the warning signs.
“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” – Katharine Hepburn
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Kate the Great. She’s very quotable.
Ron On Drums says
Love it 🙂
I am not sure how to ask this without it sounding like I am being accusatory, but I assure everyone I am not, just curious. So here goes.
Why after just getting out of Crazyville and being on your own for a time would you want to start dating instead of working on the divorce?
I ask because I have read so many posts at the Shrink4Men forum where guys are already in a new relationship while still working on the divorce. And this article seems to advocate the same thing. I found that my Crazy Ex thought it punishment to try and isolate me once we separated and because I wasn’t dating she became very over-confident that I was under her control which made it a little easier to move the divorce forward and also gave me the boundaries I needed to regain my own sanity.
So you can see why I would be curious why the seeming hurry to date and find a new woman when you might still be healing.
Just my 2 cents, so take it for what it’s worth.
Healing before you jump into another relationship would definitely be optimal. For both sides. I definitely wouldn’t advocate for: 1) dating a man who is going through a divorce from a crazy ex; or 2) dating a woman when you are going through a divorce with a crazy ex. But sometimes it just happens, as in my case.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Agreed. The ideal scenario is to finish up the divorce and take some time to get your bearings and heal, but life doesn’t always work that way.
Many HCPs drag out the divorce process for as long as they can. Some of my clients have divorces that are on year 3, which is a disgrace and failure of the judicial system and victory for negative advocate, avaricious attorneys.
A lot of guys describe their marriages to these women as jail sentences. Once they finally muster the courage to leave and reclaim their lives, they want their new life to start NOW. Like that line from “When Harry Met Sally” which goes something like “When you finally realize who it is you want to spend the rest of your life with you want your life to start now.”
Also, I can understand not wanting to put one’s life on hold for 3 years while Crazy plays out her last death rattle/relinquishes her death grip.
It’s true it incenses Crazy when they see you’re moving on with another woman, but that will happen even after the divorce is finalized in many cases.
I think another factor as to how quickly a person gets involved with someone else can be related to how old the person is as well as how long the (bad) relationship has been going on and how long it has been dying. If someone is 60 years old and has been married for 30 years, unhappily, and if the last 15 of those years have been years of increasing distance, then it’s like some of the separation and ending of the relationship has been going on for a long time, so there may not be the same need for a couple of years to get over the relationship. Also, as a person gets older, time becomes more precious. Two years or four years to wait, when you are 60 and are looking at a more limited amount of time in front of you, is very different than it might be for someone who is 28.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Great point, moundbuilder.
Many of my clients haven’t had sex with their spouses in years. Their marriages have basically been over for years — just going through the motions — kind of like zombies.
Hello Dr. T.,
Good points I had not considered. I was thinking in terms of how many guys I had read that seemed like they had just separated for a few months and suddenly they had been dating and were now in a permanent relationship with another woman. This could be a situation like Moundbuilder describes where the guy has been in a “Zombie State” for quite some time.
I guess my thought was that regardless of whether it has been 5, 10, 15 years of “Zombie Time” or even 3 years of “Crazy Divorce”, it would seem to be a good idea for a guy to take time alone (separated) for a while to undo habits and mannerisms learned from “Crazyville” before jumping into something serious with another woman.
I can understand the desire for wanting your life to “start now” and I also can understand being older with a precious number of years left, but I guess I worry more about bringing forward any things about me that were created by the “crazy witch”. If I found a stable normal lady who was wonderful I wouldn’t want to have any of the bad habits, traits, or reflex reactions I was trained to perform by the “crazy witch” such that I reacted that way with this new lady.
It just seemed better to me to take the time to rid yourself of these things and restore the normal, original YOU before looking to share yourself with another woman. It wouldn’t seem fair to make this new woman have to deal with all the crap the “Crazy Witch” did to you.
And I am under no illusions that you can rid yourself of everything, but at least a majority of what you have left over from the “Crazy Witch”. And obviously any new woman will have to find out about the “Crazy Witch” because with kids or other arrangements the “Crazy Witch” will definitely be around. But this would seem to me to be another very good reason to rebuild and restore the original YOU so that you are prepared for dealing with the “Crazy Witch” in the future and still have a normal, stable relationship with the new woman.
And on a parting note, Sex, what is this sex thing of which you speak? 😉
Again, it is just my 2 cents and I may have not done a great job of communicating my meaning, so take it for what it’s worth.
I agree that we do need to take some time to heal and get to remember who we are. That is a difficult and sometimes lengthy process…but, oh, so worth it!!
On the other hand, I’ve been ‘out’ for more than 6 years. I had moved out for over 5 before starting a new relationship. The divorce had been final for more than a year.
Only recently (within the past few weeks), I lashed out at someone for making an innocent comment. I just sort of ‘snapped’ – and only afterwards realized that the person’s comment created a ‘trauma response’ because it meant something to me directly related to an abusive and very hurtful incident from my AXH.
I thought I had dealt with that issue and moved on. But I have learned that apparently, I haven’t moved on as much as I thought. Now I’m in a position of needing to “damage control.” If I had only been able to think through it first…
Lesson Learned: Take time for yourself, but not so much time that you become desperate and lonely, and will (once again) take whoever lowers their own standards enough to want you (that sick voice we all-too-often tell ourselves), just to have those ‘old feelings’ again.
Lesson #2: Recovery is a lifelong process; without continuation of that process and diligence, we can revert back to our ‘old ways’- which can damage a relationship, no matter how long you wait to start up with someone new. I’m again going to counseling and hope to find some interim means of recovering in between sessions.
I had let it lapse, thinking I had ‘recovered.’ Guess what? There’s no such thing, not really. Unlike earning a degree, you don’t get a piece of paper handed to you and then it’s over. I knew this once, but must have forgotten and only this rude awakening of late has shaken me to take action. I showed someone an ugly side of myself that I thought I had jettisoned.
My 2 cents’ worth,
Good points all around TheGirlInside. I like your lessons and agree with them.
My point isn’t that we should wait only until we are bright, shiny, new with everything fixed. I am sure there will be things I carry for the rest of my life thanks to my “Crazy Witch”.
I am a firm believer that what makes us all is not how we are in terms of the person that we start out as, but rather who we are after that person is changed, molded, built, and restored based on the experiences of our lives.
My concern was simply that it seemed like many guys would leave Crazyville, get lonely which is to be expected, and then jump into a new relationship without considering the major issues still hanging around from Crazyville.
I can sure understand the loneliness aspect because even though it was Crazyville you at least had some interaction with another person and now suddenly as a man you are alone in a new home since the kids always seem to stay with Mom thanks to the silly court system we have now.
This alone time forces you to face the things that the Crazy Witch trained you to do in terms of reactions and habits. I can surely understand many guys not wanting to deal with these things or to admit there is anything to deal with here.
And then for guys there is the whole Sex aspect since as Dr. T. pointed out it may have been years since a guy has been close like that even though he was married.
So I understand the things that would pull a guy to a new relationship, I just felt that it should be brought up that at least some time needs to pass and that we should try and deal with many of the major issues we are given by our Crazy Witches.
This doesn’t mean we wait until everything is “recovered” or that there is even any specific time period someone should wait, only that certain things must be faced and dealt with before someone can hope to have a new healthy relationship. Otherwise it would be far too easy to end up with a woman very much like the Crazy Witch you just left.
My further detailed 2 cents, I can still be even more wrong. 😉
Cousin Dave says
Woody, one of the things is that when you are in a relationship like this, or have just come out of one, you don’t really realize how messed up you are. In my own case, I came out of my marriage to a BPD thinking that my only problem was that I had developed a bad attitude towards women in general. I knew that was irrational and wrong, but it wasn’t until I started to look into that and peel back the onion that I realized how screwed up I was.
I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m not sure I can ever trust anyone enough to let them get that close again. Social relationships are OK but I can’t even contemplate any thing approaching intimacy at this point. Im old enough to qualify foe senior citizen discounts so being older doesn’t necessarily enforce a sense of urgency in reconnecting. The damage and destruction these people leave behind run deep
alreadylost, I can also see your point. I can see why you might feel that it would be difficult to trust anyone again. It’s pretty hard to trust again when someone has treated you so terribly.
I am in a similar situation alreadylost. It’s been almost fifteen years now since my crazy ex-wife,family, counselors, police, courts, etc. emotionally and psychologically broke me. She “moved on” immediately and lived happily ever after. As for me, I’m treading water just hoping to limp along until I die, wondering what all my good and honourable efforts in life were all for. They only served to benefit bad people. If only I knew then, what I know now, but that was the manner in which I was brought up.
I would have thought the same way. Why run out and get in another relationship – seems you haven’t finished up with this one, but… I have been with my partner for almost 3 years. He has been split from his crazy ex for a total of 9 years. She left him. They split up when their daughter was 6 months old. You would think crazy ex would be over it by now right? Nope, not at all!!! Despite the fact that she has had many relationships, one producing another child, she is not over it, not in any way, shape or form. These crazies truly believe they own these men! Once mine, always mine. It doesnt matter how long you wait – when you meet someone new, introduce them to your children, share a household – crazy will flip out and the new partner will be the newest Victim!
Dr Tara Palmatier says
This seems to be a very common experience, wreckerswife. Even if this type of person moves on to other partners, new children, etc., it’s as if they expect, nay, demand that their exes remain frozen in amber and on constant stand-by if they want attention, money, etc.
The fact that IT’S OVER doesn’t ever seem to register. I’ve often joked that there should be something akin to the witness relocation program for men and women with exes like your husband’s ex.
By the way, tanks for registering with S4M and joining the conversation, wreckerswife.
My daughter couldn’t be away from her mother over night without crying and fit-throwing because her mother still allowed her to sleep with her in bed until a year or so ago. So overnight visits were extremely difficult. Tried taking her to a therapist but her mother never took that advice and eventually just “couldn’t make” the appointments. I try to call, my daughter is “too busy” to talk whether it is eating, bathing or with friends. My daughter has not called me or come to visit for months. I only hear from that side when her mother wants something, like more money from me. My daughter has always been allowed to chose between visits with my family or other more “fun” things. I have never had her for a single holiday or birthday unless I “attended” her mother’s functions. Ironically her mother likes to tell everyone that I am a “deadbeat” father as I’ve been told even though child support is paid ahead and I used to pay for things above and beyond directly for her mother unrelated to my daughter.
Asking a high conflict person to take their child (or themselves) to be voluntarily evaluated by a health care professional is like suggesting to Hitler that he is Jewish.
“mental health” care professional, that is
There’s a support group for women in my situation? Can I sign up, like, yesterday?
Not that Dr. T isn’t awesome (she rocks and I can’t recommend her enough), but it would be beyond awesome to have a safe place to vent, amongst other women who’ve been there and are there.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Because group member’s privacy is important to the CrazyBusters (including me), to date, there’s been an informal vetting process. Until now, members were invited to join from other groups to which the ladies belong. The group is currently discussing how to handle requests to join. MB, any thoughts?
I completely understand why you’d want to have a vetting process. We actually talked back in April, Dr. T, so I’ll just email you, and include copies of the docs I sent you then with my contact information, situation, etc. Hopefully that will be a good start toward proving I’m really who I say I am. 🙂
Yes, what is this group and how can I join, MB? My BF’s ex is a real gem. Classic “Divorce Poison”. Started alienating the oldest. Sends the most horrific text messages calling him a “sperm donor” and telling him to just “leave us alone” then rants on and on about how he never calls the kids. Well, they have no home phone so he has to call her cell! Then she sends text messages saying she misses him!!! She is extremely upset that I am involved at all. But, hello, we live together and have been together for almost a year and a half. In that time, she has introduced the kids to 4 boyfriends (that we know of) and added her oldest to the new boyfriends facebook (every time). She tells anyone that will listen lies upon lies. She tells my BF that the kids don’t like me because I’m mean or some other BS. It’s very sickening. We DO have a joint email account and informed her of this then she FREAKED out. It was none of MY business to get involved as far as HER kids were concerned. But, hey, add boyfriend of the month to your daughter’s facebook? That’s OK! Gah.
I am working with Dr. T to establish a new forum with the bandwidth to facilitate new members from this forum, specifically for women who are in a relationship with a man who has a high conflict ex. More to come on that. Those interested in joining, please contact Dr. T.
Please let me know how I can join the new forum. I need to start educating myself. Happy to go through whatever vetting process was mentioned. Thanks!
Sounds just like my husband’s ex-girlfriend. She has taught their daughter that it’s ok to say “I love you” to the men she dates for a month or two (and there have been too many to count over the years) but yet he gets told he’s just not the kind of dad she’d like to have and he gets ignored all the time. She also shares too much information with her like she is (an adult) her best friend. Mom plays victim and dad’s always the bad guy. In reality, he should’ve gone for custody years ago due to her mental health/histrionic tendencies. Unfortunately, it cost a lot of time and money to prove a mother unfit in court. -The courts yet to recognize this as child abuse.
The court system is really a joke. The mom can do anything she wants and there are no repercussions. None. She did the classic moves like get in his face for months upon months until he snapped. His dad was dying in the hospital and she was nude sexting some young guy. She was openly having cyber-affairs. Once he snapped (and she made sure he did), she used it as an excuse to call the police and take control over the separation agreement. Hard to change once it’s been signed (even under duress). She kicked him out so she could be free to be the alcoholic man-eater she always wanted to be. But somehow I’m the bad person in all of this? Yeah, going back to court to prove any of this will be a joke. A bad, expensive joke. The oldest is already exercising her “right” as a 10 year old to not see her dad. Or maybe the mom is just saying that? We heard ex’s mom bad-mouthing IN FRONT of the kids saying that my bf (their dad) doesn’t want to see them anymore or have anything to do with them!!!! Could not be farther from the truth. The ex gets mad at my BF for this????? Tell her mom to shut the heck up!!!! Gah. I’m rambling. Lucky thing I have my appointment tomorrow.
Would be interested in joining the support group.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Am working on a way to bring in new members. This may take a few days to work out. Your patience is appreciated. Anyone interested, please email and I’ll send updates, etc., as soon as possible.
Suppose I should have had a plan in place beforehand. Will be working on it this weekend.
Thanks for opening up the group. Obviously quite a bit of interest! (:
I am interested too!
I am intrested too!!!!
Was a group ever started? -Where do we go to join?
Ron On Drums says
GREAT article Dr T. It makes me SO VERY thankful that I didn’t marry my psycho ex gf. OMG this would have been my life.
You dodged a bullet!
You and I can start a “Near Miss Club.” I asked my exgf to marry me and she declined.
Ron On Drums says
“The Near Miss club. I love it. Sounds like a plan. 🙂
Cousin Dave says
My close call was really close… I married my BPD but we didn’t have any children.
5 years ago, my husband’s 18 y/o daughter and 19 y/o son, peeled out of the driveway after she called her father a few explitives when their father tried again to set a boundary with them regarding not bringing their mother to our home. We haven’t heard from his children since. Setting boundaries with these types of women is absolutely essential to maintaining your sanity and a home free from drama but sadly doesn’t solve the PAS, it only fuels it. The children have taken up their mother’s smear campaign efforts and we no longer attend family functions to avoid family members criticisms and opinions. The children have used facebook to bully my now 18 y/o son yet remain completely ignorant to their own behavious as adults which have been extremely hurtful and absolutely uncalled for. Somehow, everything we have done was wrong and we are considered to be horrible people and parents. It has been a test of both of our patience and resolve living with these lies but I would re-live it all over again, to be with my husband. He is worth it.
When we met over 10 yrs ago, his ex had just left him for another man and abandonned their children. The children were incredibly angry at their mother and didn’t want to have anything to do with her. My husband proceeded to survive. He raised his children as a single father without any financial assistance from her, actually we’ve since found out that she continued to take the child tax credit and other monies mysteriously vanished. It was only when we starting dating that she suddently became interested in the children and him again. She dragged her feet on the divorce and only conceeded to signing the divorce papers the day before the court date. We waited 6 months before introducing the kids to each other and dated for 3 years before getting married.
Things changed when we got engaged and quickly deteriorated after we got married. The children were suddenly interested in spending more and more time with their mother. She was working her way back into their lives. 6 months after our marriage, the ex came into our home at her daughter’s secret request when we weren’t home and when we came home after work that day, we noticed things had been moved. We changed the lock on the door and then all hell broke loose. HCP do not like it when boundaries are reinforced. There is no way to survive these types of women without drama. The children now hate their father and somehow we are blamed for everything.
We have learned so much about these types of people over the years from talking with psychologists, behaviour modification specialists, reading lots of books, and websites like this one. Our hearts and strength goes out to every person who has the unfortunate experience of running into these types of individuals and sadly, having children with them. No one wins. We have given up hope that one day, his children will clue in and focus now on the joy my son (my husbands step-son) brings both of us.
Thank you mikesbabe for this article. And thank you Dr. T for your insightful articles. Knowing we are not alone and that there are others out there experiencing the same things we have, does help.
My beautiful husband in every way has a BPD ex. We have his two children 85% of the time. Text book “Psycho Ex Wife”. Cheated on him, then blamed him for it, rages, jeleous, she’s had 4 different homes in 1 year, 4 boyfriends, moved in with the latest after dating 5 months, junkfood and video games 24/7 for kids, no rules, bad mouths us to the kids and her family (her aunt and uncle live across the street from us, agh!) constantly changing the parenting agrement so that she has them less and less, yet obsessivly tries to be in charge, pops Clonipins when ever she has them because she cant handle the stess, constant revision of histoy or flat out lies, doesnt pay child support when due, breaks every agrement, threatens, harrasing phone calls, text, & emails which led us to stop all communication.
It just goes on and on. She had to be restrained from attacking me twice, in our drive way, in front of her children. Both kids adopted, daughter(6)is now in therapy becuase acts/talks like a 3 yr old, has anger issues and tries to takes it out on my daughter (5 1/2), Son(9)has autism yet mother refuses to let him attend a special needs school, insisting he needs to be “mainstreamed”, because if reflects badly on her to have a less than perfect son.
I have never had to deal with someone like this. Thank you soooo much for this website Dr Palmatier & micksbabe. This is where we were able to identify her as a BPD and find some answers/releif. We are both so grateful.
It makes almost four months since SD has “chosen” to visit. Just received paperwork from her BM requesting yet another increase for child support. This time we have no other choice but to retain an attorney. In the case of extreme PAS, we have no clue what effect a pre-teen who thinks mom’s a “hero” (who in reality has done absolutely nothing in her life but sleep most of the day who’s basically just co-parenting with the grandparents who live there and care for her)and to her dad’s just not a good dad “in her heart” because that is what she’s been taught. It’s heart-breaking to have to come to this. The other side of the coin, will the courts take in account all the mental instabilities of BM’s life or her suicide attempts in the past, track record w/men along with the Parental Alienation or will the courts remain with the one-siding thinking that the child should remain with BM “just because”?
Wow, concernedstep, it sounds so much like my story!!!! Except for the increase in child support part (she’s to lazy to file the paperwork). The ex is living with her mom, who does most of the “child-caring” if you could call it that. The ex sleeps most of the day and if she’s awake she is out the door to go get drunk or get laid. It amazes me that she has so many “men” given that she is just so rude!!!! It would make a little more sense to have so many men if she was attractive, but she’s not (morbidly obese with extremely poor personal hygiene). And no court in this country is going to take the kids away. They will just up her child support. Does not matter how many times we get the kids and they are stink and wearing dirty clothes. Does not matter that we drop them off and it’s just the grandma yelling from her room that it’s ok to just leave them in the living room. The ex is either passed out or out. The SD10 is usually in charge of SD5. Nobody really in charge of SD10. It’s very sad. I really enjoyed reading the articles on this website. Very helpful. Thank you!
The men part is right on – she does have enough “energy” for that but I can’t say anything about alcohol consumption when she is with them. Oh yes, BM is very concerned about the money, ALWAYS has her hair & nails done all the time and can afford fancy cell phones although she states she “can’t afford” stuff for SD. She also tries to get pg w/all the guys she dates like it’s her ticket for more. (SD was her third actual pregnancy that we know of but only child.) She is always asking for more money and also asks for us to pay for clothing, school supplies, extra curricular stuff (isn’t that what child support is intended for?!) IF ONLY she’d get a JOB to live the life she wants, she’s not a “princess” but does act like she is “entitled”. Can’t wait until that money well runs dry. Just waiting for the day that someone calls the disability office on her, where that well runs dry, too! Just so sad that SD is being alienated, being taught that her father is only there for monetary purposes and that none of the rest of us are important at all…
Love this. Thank you Mikesbabe for this article.
The advice in it is so fantastic. My bf is currently going through a divorce with a NBPD and we have experienced almost all of the same scenarios.
I found Shrink4men by pure luck when I was searching online “things to do when divorcing crazy wife”…lol. I wanted him to have some kind of list of things to do and what traps not to fall into because I saw her setting them time and time again for him to fall right into.
Up popped Shrink4men and it has changed our lives forever.
It has given him the strength to be more independent and he has stopped waiting for her to make decisions like she is a rational person. I’m so proud of him.
Articles like this one keep us both charged up and ready to defend ourselves against her games and to protect our kids and continues to give us priceless advice and support.
I would love to get involved with your support group online for crazybuster women.
Thank you thank you thank you.
How does a person co-parent with a CRAZY?? Here’s CRAZY’s latest shenanigans:
I call to tell CRAZY that I would like my son to stay with me th 4th through the 8th for my wedding. It’s kind of late notice, yes, but we finally have all the families’ arrivals confirmed. Crazy goes NUTS when she gets this news. She makes up a story about some plans she has for my son to be with his other sibling from her pre-ME marriage. She tells me that she told me a long time ago (she did not) and that she will not change her plans. Tough cookies!
I have been granted 57% of overnights per year. I have an attorney on retainer. Yet, there is nothing I can do to prevent this behavior. Can’t call the police. Can’t get an emergency hearing to Order her to allow me this time with my son. All I can do is play nice and hope she changes her mind.
Be careful, people! Be very careful!!
What about a low conflict BPD spouse? In my case, now ex-spouse. This has a different dynamic than is being discussed.
Cousin Dave says
What sort of issues are you having? My BPD ex was very passive-aggressive. She seldom confronted me directly, but she did all kinds of stuff behind my back. And she lied constantly, about everything… and anytime she was trapped in a lie, she tried to get out of it by crying. Lyin’ and cryin’.
Extremely similar, though my ex didn’t directly lie as much as use innuendo and exageration such that she had a plausible defense. I didn’t know just how far she’d gone until after the divorce, but even before then when I’d confront her she’d do the crying thing. She wouldn’t talk to me about anything non-trivial.
The most galling thing was about five months before she asked for the divorce, we started counseling and I thought it was working. I’d done everything she asked and she was rsponding positively, at least to me. Then I learned that even while she was acting one way me, she was telling friends, relatives and clergy the opposite.
One problem is that to most people, she is this very charismatic, friendly, nice person (though I’ve since found out that those in my family that knew her well, didn’t trust her, though didn’t bother telling me until I asked them directly of their impressions of my ex.)
On the one hand, I’m quite glad my ex wasn’t high conflict like many here–I’m not psychologically equipped to deal with that–but on the other, I often wish she were higher conflict to the divorce recovery process wasn’t so damn hard emotionally. My best friend, marriage/divorce counselor and this site have to keep helping me place my ex’s behavior in context.
One thing my friend and counselor independently concluded is that my ex-wife can’t be emotionally honest because there’s nothing there–she lives life at a very superficial level. I’m looking for answers that even she can’t honestly give.
I should say that one nice thing about my ex-wife being low conflict is that our divorce had zero problems and went through quite fast. I probably gave her a little too much alimony and made a minor mistake in splitting our assets, but it adds up to a few thousand dollars and considering how much of my money she was burning through, that’s a bargain.
I wanted to chime in here since I also have 6 years of experience in dealing with this.
While I agree with much of what was said, I disagree on 2 points.
1) Signing every email with both the husband and wife’s name
I would not do that unless there were no kids, had little contact with the kids or had no desire to have custody of the kids. I never send an email with my name on it unless I have cc’d the mother on a communication with a 3rd party. Doing so would invite conflict in my book and could play into her hand with the “it’s the 2nd wife causing all the problems,” excuse.
2) Have firm boundaries
This topic merits an article in its own right. I think this goes to what your goals are, do you want custody or to modify custody? If you do, then you have to recognize that your boundaries can’t be as firm as one who doesn’t want or have custody.
The idea of firm boundaries makes sense, it’s supported in the psychological realm, but not in the legal arena. Having firm boundaries makes you appear rigid. Courts expect parents to be flexible.
I would note that we have legal custody (custody flipped 3 years ago and was challenged again this year, we prevailed) and we want to keep legal custody. The mother has limited time and is restricted in how often she contacts the kid. Again, we want to keep it that way. The mother is currently court order to get a full psychiatric exam. Why? Because we err on the side of looking reasonable. It’s hard, but it has paid off. Nothing makes my day better than her responding in a rage to a reasonable email … I say, “Thank you very much!” and file it away for the next appearance in court.
A couple other tips that I would add:
Don’t make friends with her enemies and don’t make enemies of her friends. People like this don’t have friends, they have alliances. Sometimes those alliances are put on the shelf for a while, but they will be reformed if they need to be.
The less she knows about you the better. The only thing that the mother can say about me are her own projections. She knows very little about me.
Praise your husband to the kids and in front of the kids. They hear bad things about their Dad all the time, they need to know that other people don’t view him that way. My favorite comment is “If I didn’t think your Dad was a spectacular person, I wouldn’t have married him.”
And, finally, form your own boundaries. From what I have observed overtime is that the women who marry these men typically are bad at setting boundaries for themselves. Don’t let your husband’s good intentions override your good sense and boundaries. You are his wife, she is not. If he is disrespecting your marriage in an effort to keep the peace, you might want to remind him of that.
I’m new to this site although I’ve been reading it for awhile. As a woman involved with a man whose X is a raging NPD, this site has been a life saver. Not only is his X crazy, her sister is in on it, too. They’ve both targeted me and done everything in their power to destroy me. The refusal to accept responsibility, the projecting, the drama, the manipulation, the gaslighting….it’s all there. And, like I said, it’s not just her. Her sister acts like she was married to him, too. These people are incredibly toxic!
I am very interested in joining a support group for women married to a man with a BPD ex.
I’m marrying my best friend and the love of my life in less than three weeks. We are currently under siege by his BPD ex and are determined to not let her ruin the happiest day of our lives. So much so that we are leaving the country and having our ceremony totally private. Their middle son is completely under her spell and is threatening to never come over again if the wedding happens. I’m being accused of everything from having a sexual relationship with their oldest son to attacking the children when my SO isn’t around. My SO is being accused of being a rapist and an abuser. Last week she jumped in my face when we were picking up his youngest and I’m still shocked she didn’t hit me.
I can get references from my therapist to show I am indeed who I say I am. Please, I need to talk to someone else that had found ways to cope with this.