So sorry to hear about your experiences.
Get a therapist for yourself. This is key to getting out of your own way.
Take time for yourself - yoga or something that will force your mind to be in the moment. For me it was diving back into fencing (plus competitive volleyball). I was a fencer for many years, fenced at ND. Besides the benefits for my health, it was a way to spend time with my children, as I became their coach. Then coached by eldest throughout HS (the other 2 found other things), and I am proud to say she is on the ND team. I decided against snow sports. Even though I have taught snowboarding, I gave it up because I am the sole breadwinner, and I've had a few spills. Maybe I am being paranoid, but that's just me.
Even though most of us are under quarantine from work, this might be a good time to look at maybe having a side hustle, or work that could provide more flexibility. I am a recruiter, and can point you to some resources for you to research.
If you don't already, eat better. I have always been a pretty clean eater, but have finally decided to go plant based. Stress is a factor in heart disease, we've all been stressed out, and you're most likely undergoing a huge amount of stress.
I'm gonna taking my own advice - yoga starts this weekend, going back to see my therapist next week.
My email is below if you want to chat about this, or anything.
From what you are describing, it sounds like she is self medicating, quite honestly — bipolar disorder, clinical depression, a reaction to miscarriage and birth and so on.
For her sake, and that of your child, make sure she gets treatment for her possible underlying mental health issues as well as the addiction issues. Your daughter needs a mum who is functioning, regardless of your marital situation.
Good luck. I really do wish all of you the best. You are just at the beginning of this journey, and you all deserve peace and happiness.
Don't let my question detract from the excellent, heartfelt advice offered below, but it sounds like your wife may actually have a psychological medical problem antecedent to her addiction: both miscarriage and childbirth can do very odd things to a woman's brain chemistry.
That's not to say that you don't need to use the judicial system to protect your child, yourself, and your savings in the circumstances. But it might be the case that the woman you love is still "in there," to speak, and might come back if you can get her the help she needs. And no, nothing about that would be easy, even if it's possible.
Just something to consider.
You are correct. It really does sound a lot like she’s self-medicating an underlying mental illness/trauma reaction.
She lost her older brother in a motorcycle accident almost 15 years ago and turned to pills at the time. She stopped all that with the pregnancy and birth of her first child. It’s something I’ve considered I just don’t know how you separate the two. I have no doubt she has some mental health issues that need to be worked through, but I don’t know how you can do that while smoking meth. Myself and her parents in the past tried to get her to go to counseling but she always refused. I truly hope the old her is somewhere inside because I’d love for her to be there for both of our daughters, but she needs to be sober, happy, and healthy.
I’m so sorry for all of you that this is happening. Keep your daughter safe, look after yourself, and hope that she seeks the help she needs, sooner rather than later. Mental health issues, trauma, addiction, shame - they are all so hard to face.
Good luck. Sincerely.
There are no shortcuts, no easy answers. You just keep trudging. Then, one day, you'll realize you left it behind a long time ago and just didn't realize it.
My (now) ex-wife wasn't as far off the deep end as yours currently is, but it wasn't great. Hopefully she gets help, she clearly needs it.
Just one thing: take care of yourself. You need to be in counseling, too. If you're not healthy, you're not going to be able to effectively parent as well as you're capable. There are times when you're going to feel like there's no way to climb out, and that's when the process of changing your thinking with professional help pays off. Trust me, I have been there, brother.
I'll be thinking about you. Stay strong and take care of that little girl.
First ex-wife of mine had what I believe is borderline personality disorder (never officially diagnosed). Pathological liar and manipulative. So much financial swindling by her was behind my back. Add to it a child together and it was a long and painful process.
Having grown up in a very trusting 2-parent home, the shock of this is something that I will never fully get over. But as others said, find the therapy help for you now. Protect yourself legally and financially. Your mind as you said is flipped around and a mess. Mental health help is essential and don't be afraid to get to take it. Despite movements to destigmatize it as a "weakness," you might feel resistance to seeking it. Mental health counseling may take multiple generations to be generally acceptable. The clearer your head the better you'll be able to process the legal, financial, and child matters. It is going to be difficult but in your post, it is clear you have the sense, tools, and will to see through this for you and your daughter.
My best contribution to you is that for you to know you are not alone. Many of us on NDN were brought up to value what we believe is the "wonderful" 2-parent family, nice suburban house, etc. and often encounter families like in our social circles or demographics. This will be much different for you, as it has been for many of the contributing single parents here, but you will overcome.
Sorry for disorder of the post below, it's a copy and paste from a post of his a long time ago. It got me through the worst time in my life...
I know what you are going through.
I went through a painful divorce and have been through difficult financial
times as well.
There are a few things you can do to keep your head above water.
The advice to trust in God is the ultimate best advice.
Do not rail against the wind and beat yourself up.
Losing a job strikes at the very sense of self-worth of a man: we are
supposed to be the rock, the providers. When that is taken away, we
question our very worth and our identity is also under attack.
Know that you are not what you possess, but are a vessel of God's grace.
Do not turn away from His grace and love now. But how will it be made
manifest to you when everything around you is crumbling? It will be
discerned by a very finely tuned ear - an ear that is sensitive to the strands
of love offered by others and by the love of your children.
Do not shut out your children or hibernate in a spiritual fetal position:
when you are at your most vulnerable to pain, you are also at your most
vulnerable to love. Sounds like a child, doesn't it?
Ecclesiastes says, "Vanity of vanities: all is vanity." It does not mean that
everything we do is dust in the wind. It means, I believe, that material
things are not what we should be working to acquire, but that we should be
ultimately trying to do the will of God and not pursue only our own interests.
In the case of where you are right now, it means that you need to find a
new job, yes, but you also must listen to a voice inside of you to help put
you back on a path of spiritual happiness. It may mean that you need to
go through a period of self healing and redefining who you are. You are
not your job. You are not your status of husband. You are you, and "you"
is deeper than the accoutrements of culture, clothes, car and where you
live. You will come out of this with a much deeper sense of well being and
find that when others lose their jobs and their spouse and other things,
you will be able to help them because you have been taken down to your
very foundations, and were able to rebuild because your foundation was not
built upon sand: it was built upon the rock-solid understanding that you are
deeper than the deepest ocean and vaster than the very universe. Your soul is eternal, immutable, and part of God Himself. You are indestructible at the
core and the core is Love. In short, be not afraid.
But God moves in strange ways. Some think He does not exist because He
doesn't show up in Times Square and strike murderers down with lightning
God is the ultimate "behind the scenes" guy. He helps us through the acts of
others and by the hands of those who are open to His suggestions.
A kindness done to you is a reflection of Him.
Stay upright and true to your heart and whatever you do, be there for your
children, but do not break down in front of them. They need you to be
strong for them.
If your soon to be ex badmouths you in front of them, do not respond in
kind. You want them to have a good relationship with her and never say
anything bad about her in front of them, or in a manner that it could get
back to them.
Your children are not your therapist, so do not share things that would
trouble them with them.
In times of chaos, many adults tend to forget that others depend upon them
and they tend to just take care of themselves. Often, they don't do a very
good job of it, allowing their personal hygiene to slide as their self-respect
Suicide is not an option. It's a selfish act from which your children would
never recover. You might feel like Hamlet, and that oblivion is seductive, but
you have a purpose here, and it's not your time to go. This job loss is just
that, and the breakup in your marriage leaves you doubly vulnerable.
Your soul is wounded, but it is still YOUR soul, and you have a lot of living to
There are a lot of employers out there looking for someone like you -
someone who shows up every day and who gives his all when he is at work.
You may have to take something below your station, but you will come out
I came out of a divorce, the court granting my daughter to my ex, who took
her to Argentina and my company going Ch 7, with me having to declare a personal 7 and losing everything.
But, the bastards didn't get my soul, and I'm remarried, my daughter and
son both live in the state, and God is still there, being the smartest damn
guy around and who is preparing a place for all of us on the other side.
I asked Jesus for help during bad times and found that there were people
around who responded.
Help does not necessarily arrive financially, but your pain will yield to
understanding and acceptance and healing if you take good care of yourself,
do not sink into depression, and get out of the house and take matters into
your own hands and make things happen.
And, no matter what, talk to your children every day and do not say or do
anything stupid that would hurt your ex or anyone else.
In short, be a man, be honorable, and walk with your head up and know that
God loves you.
My ex-wife was certifiable. I am astonished that her parents (a medical
doctor and a psychotherapist) were in denial for so many years before
they passed away as not to find her the help she needed. I prayed to the
Holy Spirit for our daughter that she be spared damage from her mother,
and I did everything I could to remain involved and responsible in our
daughter's life while she was a young girl and as a young adult so that
she had a fighting chance of growing up healthy. Eventually, as a mature
adult, my daughter had to get a restraining order against her mother, and
my SIL has declared that the woman never be permitted to be near my granddaughters.
care plan. Take advantage of the behavioral health benefits. At the start of the quarantine my wife and I began couples therapy targeting a couple issues that always seem to cause issues. While we are great communicators, it was something we just couldn't tackle on our own. As we've been doing this the last few months, working on some of my issues have taken me down some dark holes...our therapist has said I don't have depression but that I'm depressed (there's a different apparently) and I'm working through those issues.
My point with sharing this is that it's very hard to make a call to a friend or family member to help you with what you may be going through mentally. We do zoom calls with our therapist who is located a couple hours away in our state and I've reached out to him individually a couple times and it's really helped me get through some down times.
If that is something you would be interested in, I would be happy to refer him to you to do virtual visits. Just reply that you're interested and I'll link my email for you to connect.
I'm working 3 jobs so I can squirrel away some money for Little Contrarian's college. I don't have much free time, but you gotta do what it takes.
Best wishes to you and your family.
and very brave for the ability to share.
I know what you are going through. I’ve never shared here but my wife had a significant break with some of the same complications. It came completely out of left field and I was shattered.
With grace and patience (and to not elongate my story), she bounced back with the help of counseling and treatment from good doctors. We later found out she had withheld childhood trauma her entire life (her dad suffered from being an alcoholic Vietnam vet). The brain is an awful self defeating weapon when the wiring is not firing correctly.
Hang in there. I have my email attached if you would like some offline conversing.
Sounds like you are doing the right things, and others have shared additional ideas. My only advice is to be mindful of your capacity--your emotions, time, energy, mental capacity. Keep focusing on what you can control or influence and leave the rest (e.g. her parents, signs missed, future relationship with her, etc.) for down the road when you have capacity.
Others have more significant advice for you. If you want to talk about what I brought up, add me to the list of people here for you.
God bless you and your family.
sharing your struggle.
following the unexpected death of my first wife. It seemed overwhelming. I’ve been there, I made it and so will you.
You are right to focus on your daughter. She may not realize it now, but what you are doing to care for her will pay huge dividends in the years ahead. She will be much better for it and one day realize the sacrifices you are making now. Keep it up.
Find some time to take care of yourself too. You can’t be a good single parent if you don’t take care of yourself physically, socially and spiritually.
I wish you good fortune, and am here to tell you there are better days ahead.
I have a coworker who has gone through something similar. His wife's mental faculties changed significantly after the birth of their son, and her immediate family sided with and enabled her for an extended period of time. My coworker has gone through a long very battle, but he finally has priority custody of the boy. There's a lot of good advice in this thread. Hang in there. Best of luck.
To answer your question, you already answered it yourself:
"knowing my little girl is safe makes it all worth it"
As long as that continues to be your focus, you will be fine. Your heart will hurt and your ex will likely do things that infuriate you. But focusing on your daughter will give you a source of energy and will guide you. It's not easy, but you will get through.
They haven’t necessarily turned against you (although I admit I don’t know all the details). They likely believe they are doing everything they can to help and support their daughter. Instead, they’re likely enabling her whereas you’ve drawn a hard line and set firm boundaries and expectations. That’s good. Keep doing that.
You said your wife is probably an addict. That sucks. She’s not likely to commit to any kind rehab (outpatient or inpatient) unless she either feels like it was her decision to do so or she hits rock bottom. Often, and unfortunately, both of those scenarios happen simultaneously. She’s not likely to get there as long as she’s got loved ones who are willing to enable her and reluctant to set firm boundaries and expectations.
Email me if you would like the contact information for an intervention specialist (he’s also a recovering addict). He can call her parents and let her know the reality of what their daughter is doing and how they should deal with it. Meth is bad shit. Worse than alcohol or even cocaine. If she’s hooked on meth, she needs to get to rehab ASAP so that they can help her with medical treatment first and psych treatment in the long-term to work on recovery.
Please feel to email me if you wish.
I went through a nasty divorce and my wife decided to marry a guy from Argentina and wanted to take both children to live with her in Buenos Aires. I fought her for custody, and strangely, after having to take both children down to LA for a psychiatric evaluation of my son, daughter, me and the wife, the court split the children up, giving custody of my daughter to my wife and my son to me. My daughter, Laura, decided to come back and live here after three years. She ended up learning to speak Spanish with an Argentine accent.
I would take her to work with me and the ladies at the local Bank of America loved to hear her speak Spanish. They would say, "She speaks like they do on the Argentine tv shows on Unavision!"
I can call you after we exchange emails. I can offer an ear, and sometimes, that's the best thing friends can do: listen.
There are several different aspects to going through a divorce, and the intensity of each can depend on who wants and/or needs the divorce. In my opinion, it's tougher on the person not wanting it.
This is all personal opinion, and not legal advise, based on my own experience and having attended law school.
1. Financial - If you are in a community property state, a family attorney is essential, depending on the length of the marriage.
2. Custody of children if they are under 18. This can get nasty, because the court can declare how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay each month.
3. Spousal Support - This can also get nasty, especially if the spouse seeking support did not work. In California, the party paying support, which can last up to half the length of the marriage until the party receiving support remarries. Or, if the marriage lasted a long time (20 years?), spousal support can (at least it did) last forever (until the party receiving support remarries or goes to the big marital bed in the sky).
4. Emotional Burden - This is a big part of divorce and not something covered by your family law attorney. It's a real gut punch for the party not seeking the divorce, or for the party needing, but not necessarily wanting, the divorce.
5. Physical Burden - Becoming a single parent or even a single person without children all of a sudden coming home to an empty residence takes not only an emotional toll, but a physical one as well. Having to cook for children or yourself (cooking for one sucks), having to babysit children when you are not used to it, not having someone to talk to and the resultant emotional and physical depression that take up residence in your body and your soul can be the hardest part of divorce.
As the only radio talk show psychologist, David Viscott, that I ever respected once said, "People don't split apart: they rip apart." That is so true, at least for the party being left behind. The other party takes part of the other person with them, whether the party being deprived of part of themselves wants to have it taken from them. This is harder the longer the marriage lasted, in my opinion.
- Mike Kovacevich
ND Class of 1970
realize that. I’m so happy you got her back. Hang in there, it’s got to get easier.
Ive been through something remarkably similar. It's rough, but it sounds like you've got your priorities straight. Fire off an email if you feel the need.
You need to stop the drinking though. If there's one thing that's going to get in the way of your custody, it's booze. I can read it in your writing. This is one alcoholic just talking to another. You can't bullshit me and more than just a few other guys I know in this place.
I've drunkenly tried to appear sober when writing something too.
This place can be more than cathartic. It can genuinely help. Hell, the backroom is the first place I admitted I needed help before I went and got it. The support I got from strangers was uplifting enough to power me through. I'm sure it can with you too. You help those girls by helping yourself.
The crazy thing is I’ve had maybe 6 beers in the last 12 months. I basically stopped drinking when our daughter was born. I found being hungover on Saturdays wasn’t a very fun or rewarding experience for either of us. In the past I really only had the weekends with her as I was working 60+ hours a week supporting what I now know to be my wife’s drug habit. I had quit smoking because of COVID but unfortunately have picked up that again when she’s sleeping.
I'm not unique here. There are 4000 other folks who'd love to help.
You got dealt a shitty hand and making the best of it for them means sacrificing parts of yourself. It sucks, it's not fair, but it is what it is. I promise you this.... it's worth it in the end. My 7 and almost 11 year old can attest to the fact they are grateful I fought.
I've got some unsolicited advice for you to take or leave:
1. Document everything as best you can.
2. When you feel that it's too hard (and likely you will), ask God for help getting through the day, hour, or even minute. I see from your profile that you consider yourself lost in the wilderness. I have been there too. What I found is that in going through life's most difficult hardships I discovered the reality of God in my own life and that he loves and cares for me more than I can comprehend. Getting through those things was the foundation for my current happiness, and I have a stronger relationship with and faith in God than my peers who haven't been tried by fire.
3. Your kids are lucky to have you. Keep loving them with all your heart.
4. Consider finding a professional to talk to yourself. Some guidance navigating through your own emotions could be extremely useful. Or consider attending an Al-Anon meeting.
5. If I may be so bold, if you can get to a place where you can honestly pray for your wife, it will help you and her. Addiction is heartbreaking for everyone touched by it, but there is a way out of that for her if she can find her way to being open to it. But you literally can't do anything to help her be open to it.
God bless you. My apologies if this is unartfully stated. I'm on my way out the door but was moved by what you wrote.
You are taking the right steps, and I know right now this feels very chaotic. It is the first few hundred yards of a marathon, and eventually you may find more peace and rhythm in your life than you’ve ever experienced before. I could write advice for hours, but I think RedIrish and TjMcFly hit the key points. I would only add that your own self care is the most important thing you can do for your daughter: prayer, support meetings, remaining sober, etc.
As for your wife, I know your heart is breaking. The person you fell in love with is still in there, but only she can decide to get help. Recovery only happens when the addict is choosing it for themselves. It is so hard to accept that, and to watch. She is in pain, and I know you are too. Take care of you and your daughter, and pray for your wife to make the decision to seek help.
I’ve been documenting the hell outta everything. Apparently at the hearing to decide if the order continues you can only present 12 pieces of evidence. I feel like I could have a million. I made an appoint to start counseling and am doing that in a couple of weeks and reached out to the local Nar-ANON group and plan on attending this weekend. I just feel like I have a million things I need to do and don’t know where the time will come from. I just have to be happy and healthy for our daughter. One of the multitude of bad things is that my wife is not allowing me any contact with our older step-daughter. She says I’m abandoning her like her biological father did. I’ve been the only source of stability in her life the last couple of years and just hope she’s doing well at my in-laws house. As long as they are enablers though I don’t see this ending well.
You're feeling overwhelmed right now, which is about right, but you will continue to get a better handle on things. To continue to make good decisions, you will need to commit to taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Consider making counseling and/or Nar-ANON a top priority. Get to those sessions or meetings no matter what. Try not to let being tired, overwhelmed, or busy stop you. When you're in a good place mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, you'll have more energy and make better decisions. That will save you time in the long run in addition to giving you inner peace.
There are plenty of mediocre counselors, and plenty of good ones that aren't a good fit. Don't be afraid to look for a new one if you don't like the chemistry or aren't getting what you need out of it. Finding the right fit can make all the difference. Same goes for group meetings.
Your wife is speaking from a place of hurt and fear about your step-daughter, so try not to put too much stock in what she says right now even though it feels like it cuts you to the bone.
Go easy on yourself for not noticing an addiction problem before. Addicts go to extraordinary lengths to conceal their addictions. It's common for spouses to be caught by surprise.
I feel like I'm just barking advice at you, which is not my intention. You're going to have to find your own way with things. And I haven't been through precisely what you're going through, but I know a lot about living with overwhelming pain, dealing with addiction, and overcoming despair. If I stumble across saying one thing helpful to someone else dealing with similar issues, it is incredibly meaningful to me.
This may not be your cup of tea, and I respect that if it's the case, but I want to leave you with this from Thomas Merton: "Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in a complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair."
Your own mental well-being and your daughter’s. Might be worthwhile considering seeking some treatment of your own, if you haven’t already (although consult your attorney first). You are both victims of the disease of addiction. It’s insidious.
I hope this cataclysmic period is short for you. It certainly does put my petty problems in their right place. Best of luck.
I’ve never been in your situation and I’m not trying to suggest a solution, but you’re clearly doing Gods work and that I said a prayer for you. Just continue to put your daughters needs first and I’m sure you’ll continue down the right path and find a way.
It just helps to get it out and “talk” with normal people. I have found that while she was out supposedly visiting friends and instead doing drugs I always stayed at home and took care of our girls. I’ve already in the past 5 days probably talked to my friends and family more than I had in the previous year. It’s amazing how you get so isolated dealing with someone like this. I might have a Master’s degree and several other undergraduate degrees but I should probably have a doctorate in ignoring signs and rationalizing behaviors.
She found out her fiance had a drug problem the morning he left the house instead of driving her to the hospital...and then showed up at the hospital later and tried to steal their son from the nursery.
Don't beat yourself up for not noticing the signs.
and who you believe loves you. I'd rather trust and get burned than live my life as a cynic -- and I say this as someone with experience.
Document everything; do not speak ill of her to anyone; and assume anything you say to her, either in writing or by telephone, will be shown to or played to a court.
Hang in there.