Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Psycho Ex

Don't worry. This post isn't what you think. It isn't a brutal bagging on my ex-husband. That would be unfair, tacky, and wrong. So let's get the straight right now. I do not believe in ex-bashing. Especially in a public forum and NEVER in front of your children. Maybe in private with your best girlfriend and couple of Margaritas. In fact, that situation might just be necessary for your mental health. But that's about the only time it's appropriate.

One thing I've noticed that all divorced people have in common is the Psycho Ex. I have a friend whose ex accused her of being a lesbian in an attempt to get custody. There's a lady I know whose ex was a doctor, but when she left, he quit and went to work part time at a liquor store just so he wouldn't have to pay any support. I know of a woman whose ex injured himself and then accused her of physical abuse when all the while he was stalking her. A friend of a friend had to get a restraining order against her ex, not for abuse but because when he would drop off the kids, he would come into the house and not leave. He'd just sit on the couch like he still lived there.

The Psycho ex syndrome goes both ways. I've heard of plenty of single moms with full custody who act like they own their children. They won't share doctor, school, sports information with the Dad. Then complain that he doesn't show up to events he didn't even know were taking place. I know of ex-wives who obsess over knowing who their ex is dating and then make a point of befriending that woman just so she can sabotage the relationship.

Once, when I was still married, we went to dinner with a friend of ours and his new wife. It was awkward because we had been friends with the ex-wife. It was also awkward because the new wife spent the entire dinner telling stories of "psycho" stuff the ex wife had allegedly done. And I spent the entire dinner trying hard not to say, "Well, you were the secretary that her husband was sleeping with for years and eventually left her for. That tends to make a woman mad, if not a little crazy."

It's clear that psycho ex-spouses come in all forms. You've got your stalkers, your drama queens, your guilt-trippers, your child-owners, your control freaks, your deadbeats, your mid-life crisis clowns, and your everyday wackjobs. This roaring mom isn't even going to breach the subject of the seriously deranged and dangerous. Except to say that if you are in a relationship with one of those, get out now. And get help. Don't wait and let someone read in your diary that if something ever happens to you, they should suspect your ex.

Still, I wonder...if every divorced person has a psycho ex, does that mean that I am a psycho ex, as well? I've never heard anyone say, "My ex is a perfectly wonderful human being and the most accommodating, generous, beautiful ex-spouse in the world." If you are divorced, do you sometimes wonder what story others are getting about your ex's psycho ex?

I commend myself that I have never even come close to committing the above referenced scenarios. But I know for a fact that I've done some things that my ex would probably consider to be crazy. I'm pretty sure he blames the 18 year old's tattoo on me since I am her only tattooed parent. Her nose piercing was probably my fault too, for being so lenient with the tattoo situation. Telling the kids they needed to talk their dad into getting a puppy so they could have pets at both houses was probably a little bit conniving, as well. But, hey, I've always admitted that I'm just one estrogen charged bad hair day away from the nut house. In fact, when I look around at the inundation of Lego's and soccer balls and music books and rescued kittens and more children in my house than I can legally claim even when mine are at their dad's that week, I'm pretty sure I'm already living in one.

So I guess the point is, single parents, if you are going to be psycho, do it in a way that ends in puppies and diamond studs (even if the studs are stuck in your 18 yr old's nose). At the very least, do it in a way that will eventually bring laughter, and I don't mean the evil scientist laughter. Not only will it make for less awkward dinner parties, but it might just make post-divorce life a more joyous place to live.

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