I have found that we women have so many questions. Over the years, I have accumulated much knowledge, both from my training and from my clients, and I am a big believer in connecting you with helpful stuff! So, ask away. And we can all learn from each other. Take what you like, and leave the rest.
Disclaimer: Yes. Anything that has to do with a therapist has to have a disclaimer. (The professional license people have many important rules.) Therefore, it is imperative for me to mention a few things:
1. This is not meant to be therapy or meant to replace any mental health services, it is simply advice.
2. It is certainly not meant for emergencies, dial 911 for emergencies.
3. If you share with me any abuse of minors or a threat to someone else (as well as yourself) I have to report it. So, please let’s just keep the questions to life situations that are answerable in a simple question/answer forum.
4. The questions will be posted so don’t reveal any names you aren’t comfortable with. I recommend using a first name or a nickname.
5. Lastly, we need to keep things short and sweet for our busy readers. Therefore, the editors over here may see fit to cut and paste a bit. Hope that doesn’t offend.
(And, not all questions will be posted. However, I will try to answer all of them.)
Erring on the side of what is best for the kids is the right road, Megan. You are really caring for your daughter by thinking about this.
Exes that do not play by the “rules” are usually deeply hurt beings; they are usually resentful and extremely narcissistic. They lack insight into themselves and are unable or unwilling to calm their powerful negative feelings. These people are susceptible to a huge number of triggers that set them off. Trying not to step on the triggers can be overwhelming and impossible. If they are alcoholics or addicts of any sort, this makes it really difficult.
How you can NOT be a doormat?
Being a doormat means going against your wishes and not setting boundaries about important issues because you are feeling powerless, and you are avoiding conflict. For many Give Away Girls, avoiding conflict can seem easier than facing the fears of what will happen when you set healthy limits. Avoiding conflict at all costs can be very damaging to you and your children, too.
But, I don’t know what to say…
Try something like this: “Look, I am uncomfortable with you having a key to the house and walking around the upstairs without my permission. I would like to request (the request thing is good) that you not use the keys anymore and stay downstairs.” Or, “I am sure you don’t realize how harshly you are sounding. You need to know that it is not okay for you to talk to me in that manner. Please stop.” Write it down first. Practice it in a mirror. Then, try it.
I recommend you let the unimportant things fall off. Does it really matter if your husband doesn’t bring your daughter’s dirty clothes back like he is supposed to on Sunday? No. But it does matter that he is calling you names in front of your daughter or still using the key to your house and coming upstairs without announcing himself. In that situation, you need to say something.
I wouldn’t start with a huge, difficult boundary first. I would start small. You may find your pushback feels uncomfortable. Your ex might meet it with resistance and hostility. Then again, it could go really well. As time goes by, you will feel so much better about yourself and be clearer in the world. Not everyone is ready to start TODAY with this hard stuff. But start thinking about it. And if you do decide to move forward and set a healthy boundary, please celebrate, because that is a big deal.
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