My ex-husband is mentally ill.
Not simply mentally ill. He is utterly disabled.
It is something that I had to deal with for many years, as he deteriorated, and became more volatile and violent. He was verbally and emotionally abusive to me and the kids, and sometimes physically abusive. When I took the kids and left, I had absolutely no idea he would continue to deteriorate to where he is now, and I would be here, six years later, about to say this:
My children’s father is now a ward of the state, and is currently at the state hospital in Blackfoot, Idaho.
It’s kind of bizarre.
It’s also heartbreaking, tragic, exhausting and emotional. Especially because I see my oldest child exhibiting many of the same red flags, and it hurts my heart. For a long time, I thought if I said the right things, did the right things, and walked on the right eggshells, that I could control, fix, or manage things. I was horribly wrong about that.
As it happens, Mrs. A also deals with her own demons, and this weekend I witnessed some of the emotional instability that she struggles with. I won’t get into details here, except to say that I took the brunt of it, with her venomous closing sentence to me being, “I’m happy that hurt you.”
I can’t be in that position. It’s taken years for me to be able to stop internalizing the irrational actions of my ex and my child. I took much of that on myself. And in the end I was angry and resentful and hurt and so, so weary.
So it seems I have a boundary. I won’t knowingly get close to someone who’s mental illness causes them to hurt me or those I love. I am not insensitive. I am not uncompassionate. I can be kind and friendly, but I will protect myself and my heart.
I’d really like to veto this whole situation. I can’t, and I won’t. But I am a mamma bear who is desperate not to see her people hurt. But this is the difference, to me, between a rule and a boundary. My boundary is for me. I’m unwilling to make a rule…for him. I have to step back and let Special Man manage his relationship with her. I don’t really like it, this watchful waiting. But I love him, and that won’t stop because he chooses to have a relationship with someone I am not comfortable being close with myself.
I can’t decide if this makes me a bad person or not, but in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I just can’t.
7 thoughts on “~Boundary~”
no. this does NOT make you a bad person.
as a matter of fact, i’m proud of you for acknowledging and embracing that boundary, instead of telling yourself you have to be, or making yourself be, close to a toxic person for someone else’s sake, no matter who that someone might be.
you have to take care of you first, to be able to continue caring for the others in your life properly.
Toxic is a strong word, and makes me feel rotten, though I suppose it’s subjective in a situation like this one. I have a little PTSD when it comes to mental illness, and my counselor says that’s ok. I’m just not sure I believe it, even as I am convinced that I have to protect myself.
Thanks for your words. I honestly get so much out of feedback like this.
It is not selfish or wrong to do what we know is right for us! You have done a lot to wrestle these demons and know your limits. Kudos (and a hug) to you for setting some boundaries.
I find myself wondering what these boundaries actually mean, and how it is going to affect my poly group and my relationship with my partner. Complicated stuff.
Thank you for the hug. I could use about a hundred more. 🙂
It doesn’t make you a bad person at all, and it’s my job to care for people like Mrs A and your ex-husband. Your boundary does actually help her as well, because it’s not healthy for either of you to engage in that kind of conflict. *hugs*
I’m struggling trying to figure out how to watch him be involved with her. How do I detach, knowing that there’s no way it won’t affect me and my relationship with him, eventually?
Ugh, yeah that’s hard. 😦 It’s true, you can’t completely detach from her. It’s not exactly the same, but I struggle a lot with watching one of my partners deal with some of his personal stressors. I want so badly to be able to just fix everything for him, but I can’t. I have to let him learn how to handle these things himself, and I just have to be patient and kind and loving. All I can do is keep being something good and revitalizing in his life.