It’s day 28 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month for men and boys, the invisible victims of domestic violence. Like many men featured in the In His Own Words series, Jimbeaux fell in love with and married a woman with Borderline Personality disorder.
She abused him and their son. She made false allegations. She tried to alienate their son from him. When the son was finally able to tell the judge that he wanted to live with his father and his reasons for doing so, BPD mom rejected the boy in retaliation and embarked upon a costly legal campaign undoubtedly fueled by borderline rage.
While Jimbeaux and his son were able to get away from their abuser, they paid a price. Jimbeaux is in debt thanks to a corrupt family court system that enabled and empowered a malicious, abusive woman bent on destruction. His son suffers the scars of having a BPD mom, as do most children left in the sole care of a BPD parent for any significant period of time.
Just Another BPD Mom
I have been following the In His Own Series and have also experienced similar problems and situations with my ex. A few years back, I learned about a mental disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder. My ex could have been the poster child for BPD.
It was frightening, confusing, and eventually devastating to my life. I, too, lost almost everything… the house I paid for, custody of our son, friendships, my church fellowship, and so much of my income that I literally went tens of thousands of dollars in debt just to keep up with child support – while working full time, making good money, and living very frugally. In all the years my ex had custody, I remained calm (for the most part) and reasonable in discussions with her, even when she acted erratically and treated me with cruelty and disdain.
She cancelled doctor’s appointments for our son (including mental health counseling when he was angry, depressed, acting out, and failing school), threatened to have me thrown in jail, falsely accused me of physical abuse, and called friends and family in an attempt to convince them that I was pure evil.
In her heart, she believed it – she truly believed that I made the devil look good in comparison. That’s all part of the disorder (black and white thinking, or “splitting” someone). Fortunately, most of my friends and family knew me well enough to completely dismiss her accusations.
Throughout this ordeal, I made our son a priority. I never missed a school event, sports practice, or ballgame. For years I went to his school once a week and read books to his class and ate lunch with him (until he reached high school, at which time he was embarrassed to be seen with me, as is typical for kids that age). I had extended weekends with him (Thursday after school until Monday morning) every other weekend, and only missed one weekend in 15 years.
I was a stabilizing influence for our son, as was (and is) my current wife, whom I met seven years after the divorce. My son felt more comfortable at our house than at my ex’s, and frequently said so. When things deteriorated at her house, including emotional and physical abuse, our son signed an election form indicating he wanted to live with us. This was after the police had to be called to her house on several occasions.
My ex and I had been to court numerous times, almost once a year, as I was forced to enlist the court’s aid in protecting my paternal rights and to enforce the various stipulations in our divorce papers. When our son told his mom he’d signed the form, her response was, “I’m not going to fight your dad over this. Go ahead and move out soon. I’ll see you a couple of times a year at holidays. I’m moving away.” Despite that declaration, she did fight me in court, saying such ludicrous things that the judge didn’t hesitate to transfer custody to me (after having a private chat with our then 15-year old son).
Once our son moved in, he immediately distanced himself from his mom. In the past 16 months, he’s spent two nights with her – and those didn’t go well. He immediately began to improve, getting good grades and slowly letting go of his anger issues, his belief that he was a “fuck-up”, and his depression lifted.
He sees his mom occasionally, usually just for dinner, and even then many times things don’t go well, as she attempts to lay a guilt complex on him or she begins to bad-mouth me. He won’t tolerate either of those things and does not back down from her. He knows that I will always be there for him, he knows how much I love him, and he respects me as much as any 17-year old can respect his father.
On the other hand, between the child support debt and the seemingly endless litigation, I’m horrendously in debt – well over $50k – and my financial future looks bleak. I have no retirement, no savings, and will soon be 55. I have no regrets about the course of action I had to take, but like many of the other men featured in the In His Own Words series, I now recognize that I ignored all the red flags I saw in our relationship, and I know that had I not married her, my life would be (financially at least) much better.
Getting involved with her was the worst decision I ever made, and the second worse decision was not spending every dime to get full custody of him from the beginning. He’s been damaged, I’ve been damaged, and even my current wife is suffering because of my bad decisions. I have many regrets I’m haunted by, but I take much solace in knowing that I showed my true character by fighting for our son and by doing everything I knew to do to be the best father I could be. It’s a privilege to be his father – even though he drives me effing crazy with his 17-year old self-absorption and his habits around the house.
In His Own Words is an effort to help raise awareness about the invisible victims of domestic violence, men. If you would like to submit your story, please follow the guidelines at the end of this article.
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.
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Enjoy your life with your son. I’m so glad to hear of another person who got out alive. It ain’t easy, some days, but it sure as hell is better than before.
Best Days Ahead says
I’m glad you won in the end. There is nothing more disheartening than to watch alienation happen and have no support in the legal system. It’s even worse when your own family barely cares, and the ‘in-law’ BPD family circles the wagons to ‘raise’ your children for you.
Dawn De Beer says
Dear Jimbeaux,God Bless you for being there for your son.You said you should have spent every dime trying sooner to get custody of your son.Please don’t worry about that, you did the right thing in the end.Money is always such a factor.This type of woman is encouraged and energized by the evil within them.Please be assured that as long as you and your son and new wife cover yourselves with the goodness that overcomes evil(it is promised in the bible by our Lord himself)all three of you will be fine.
Why is the weak judges,weak lawyers and weak system still such a mess.Do these weak people not keep up with what is going on ,,is it because they are themselves evil?or are they just there to get paid.May they be looked at very carefully by all honest good people,,with the disdain that they deserve.I ask that some of them be guided to read what is being said about them and that they have many sleepness nights untill their conscience almost destroys them.. then maybe the time will come when they will have the courage of a decent human being to see how horrendous and life threatening their weak descions have been.Lets all pray that this will happen before too many more childrens lives are messed up.
Sorry to keep preaching but it does say in the bible that who so ever destroys a child’s innocence will have a millstone wrapped around their neck and they will fall to the bottom of the ocean,,there to remain for eternity.
Dawn: After my most recent encounter with a NPD (ex-bf), it occurred to me that they are exactly like an evil entity; they derive their strength from ‘suctioning’ (vampiring) the energy from others. Even if that means starting a fight just to get their ‘jollies’ from the adrenaline rush.
I also liken it to having the stomach flu. They feel like crud, then they ‘puke’ all their hatefulness and vile disdain for those they claim to ‘love’. After puking they feel fine and wonder why everyone is acting so weird, cowering on the corner.
Hang in there Jim! I feel your pain and want to assure you that you did the BEST thing. This story could have been written by my partner! His ex is the same woman described here – our struggle to have Joint Custody of his now 8yo was $60,000. For JOINT, for a Father, who was always involved. We should never have had to fight for that – but the court saw almighty “mother” and made us fight. We had nothing to defend ourselves from, he just wanted to continue to be the Dad he had been while married and he wanted out of an abusive marriage. So, she lied, cheated, stole, whatever to make him fight. THANKFULLY, we got Joint Custody. Now, even after 4 YEARS, the “mother” is still an insane and sick person putting the child in terrible positions. We have worked with Dr. Tara through an online Session and we just stay strong and continue to use the theory of our home and lives being the Fortress of Reason. Our only solace is that SOME DAY the poor kid will see how his mother is and be strong enough to fight to get away from her on his own accord. We do nothing to influence him she is simple a non-entitiy in our world. Email is the only communication as she had to be blocked from phone and text due to her ranting and harassment. She now has a special number to call the child on our days – one we had to set up just for her so we could not be bombarded with her calling 19 times in a half hour over and over when we are eating dinner and she decides she NEEDS to talk to HER SON!. The entitlement is crazy. It is sick and sad and the abuse she still tries to impose on my Fiance is ridiculous! He has had to learn to ignore her except for emergencies. Otherwise, it is a battle of words that only wastes time and let’s face it, “You can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being!” . We cannot negotiate anything or give in to any request she has, or the wrath is fierce when it is not all her way and more, more, more. I have learned that her opinion means nothing – if a street person saw me and said, “You are nothing, my child will never even care about you!” I would pity their mental illness. That is how I have to react to this crazy woman on a consistent basis to keep my sanity.
For the child, we cannot influence him expect with our living well and POSITIVELY. It is all we have to combat her crazy on our days. The happy family we have with him and my child in our home 15 days a month is our example of how love and life and a household should be. And with us, he thrives, we see it in school success on our days and in so many other ways with his emotional well-being, social skills and general behaviors. But nobody cares to remove her influence or even enforce that she gets help for the damage we have to undo week after week. It kills me to see the little boy struggle like he does from the evilness his own “mother” imposes through her deception, manipulation and greed. The parental alienation tactics are so clear and yet there is no recourse. Her own attorney once defended is as she was stressed! _ LOL As I that is an excuse to mentally abuse a CHILD. The court has failed us terribly. Even with a Parent Coordinator (another foolish concept with $$$$ lost), two therapist and reams of documented issues, NOBODY will impose that the woman needs help, even though they all will say she needs it. She breaks rules that she chose to spend thousands paying an attorney to implement. Crazy things like we are in contempt if we are 10 minutes late at a drop off. Because ONE TIME, his Father was 9 minutes late dropping him and she freaked out. After two years of his custody, in bad weather, on a Friday during rush hour. NINE MINUTES and she started a war with her attorney making it look like we are derelict and don’t drop him on time. Nobody cared about the few times she was HOURS late or didn’t even choose to return him for our vacation days! Nope, she is the Almighty MOTHER! The same “Mother” who would pay an attorney thousands to go to court over every little thing and then say she has no money and makes bitter comments to the child about his home with his Father and I.
This “parent” CHOOSES to live in a crappy one bedroom apartment and share a room with her son because if she used her portion from the marital home to buy a house, she could not be the victim. Who even gets $120,000 in a divorce after being married only 6 YEARS? That alone is NUTS to me. But their home gained value and my partner paid double mortgage payment to build the equity. He did this by working two jobs and 80 hour weeks during his marriage. That, of course, screwed him, because the court now EXPECT that he continue to work those hours for that yearly salary. They don’t care that part of the reason he wanted out was how she would never work and he was tired of paying for a grown woman to expect her way paid when the child started school. She is allowed to work for minimum wage – even with her college degree – because she stayed at home. She works minimally and that is acceptable? But he has to work two jobs and a lot of overtime. We have the child 15 overnights and still pay $600 a month is support! I have my child Joint Custody and my ex pays nothing but his half of aftercare. We both support her with clothing, meals, etc in our own homes. AS IT SHOULD BE. When will the Court System wake up? I am not saying this worked for everyone, but if you have one school age child, get you’re a$$ to WORK! It makes me crazy to see so many men treated unfairly.
In our case, even with 1,000 rules imposed, the “mother” still wants to waste money and time to fight in court. We gave info months in advance that we wanted to get a passport. The coordinator said OK. She fought our passport request, then even after a JUDGE said ok. She claimed we should not be allowed to travel internationally because “Mexico” is overwhelmed with druglords. (We were going to a resort in Cozumel). The judge again enforced that we were granted our passport. However, they now did impose more craziness for our travel that we have to give 30 days advance notice (versus the pre-existing 14). Now, god forbid we travel and the airline changes the flight number or time in that 30 days. Which they often do when pre-booked a month in advance. When we send the updated emails with new info, we are threatened and called liars and verbally abused for withholding info! We literally give the name or the place we stay, what kind of place it is (residence, rental, etc),the dates, the destinations, mode of travel, times of departure. We then get emails saying we did not give our estimated arrival times are she threatens us with Contempt! This same woman took the child to Canada, giving us just 11 days notice and didn’t bother to get the paperwork for international travel so she had an issue at the border that WE HAD TO RECTIFY at 10pm at night. But, no rules apply to her! We have even sent info on a doctor appointment right up the street, with the dates and times, doctors name and office address, she screams, “CONTEMPT” because she is to be given all info and we did not give a phone number! Yes, it is that ridiculous.
We just have learned to do our best and ignore it. But after 4 YEARS, it is soooo old. The good news is that the poor kid is seeing it and starting to push back to her all on his own. He sees love and strength and normalcy with us and appreciates that. We treat him a person and not as pawn. If we tell him news or info of something happening, he will even roll his eyes and say, “Oh, Mommy will blame that all on you.”. Sad, but he knows her game by now and he knows we do not tolerate it. This is our biggest victory and one we hope to just continue – Sometimes, the truth will set you free. Just counting days (Years) until he can speak to the court himself. It makes me so sick the years he is having the stress of her mental illness when he could simply have two happy homes. And everytime our home gets happy – with any success, we get a new car or take the kids on a trip, her crazy meter goes “BEEP” and off to the races with nuttiness due to her jealousy and feeling she is losing control. Her bitterness drives the whole crazy bus and again we armor ourselves with reason and Ignore, Ignore, Ignore.
The craziest part is that I am divorced amicably and my ex and I send emails with info and the emails back simply say “Thanks!”. We filed our own divorce, wrote up our own custody agreement and never wasted a penny for a lawyer. The amount of time and money and grief I see in most cases are because the laws allow the “mother” to run the show. If JOINT Custody was the standard, the court would lose so much. If a DAD wants to be a DAD, why would you NIT want that for your child? I am not in the business of trying to make my child love me and only me or steal the precious bond she should be entitled to with BOTH parents. To me, that is what being a parent is about – making sure your CHILD gets what THEY ARE ENTITLED TO! The drama and BS we live with due to this one person is terrible and so unfair, especially to a child. I keep all of you in the same struggle in my heart and thoughts! If we keep being vocal through the proper channels, not play the child as a pawn, just do the right things, accept no crap, enforce consequences and STAY POSITIVE we will all have hope and happiness on our paths at least some of the time! Be well!
Stay strong, gothickiss, and know that your struggle is bringing us closer to achieving a just system for future cases. Unfortunately, the only way the system will change is when sufficient numbers of women such as yourself are victimized as a side effect of the courts’ bias towards mothers. The suffering of men and children isn’t enough.
As a mother to a wonderful 10 year old daughter, all I can say that anyone who is inflicted with PD should never be made a parent. I grew up with a PD mom and it was hell for me. The verbal and the physical abuse landed me in the hospital and eventually a series of therapy to get myself fix. I even had to plot and scheme in order to get away and I literally hijacked my own child to getaway. It has been 5 months now since, I left my country and now residing in Ireland. I have to do a no contact and a lot of work to “un-washed” my own child. They were taking care of her while I was working full-time. They (as in Mom + Dad + Brother) had totally brain-washed my child to hate me, and more so, when my hubby passed away suddenly back in 2011. It is bloody ridiculous to have to hijack my own child to get away from toxic family but it had to be done.