Told my non-PD boyfriend I can't cope with his toxic ex

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BohemianRambler

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Told my non-PD boyfriend I can't cope with his toxic ex
« on: April 04, 2021, 06:03:13 PM »
Hi

Just saying hi, I think I probably fit in the coparenting and new relationships thread, but just wanted to say hi.

I am 7 months into a loving, available, safe appropriate relationship with a lovely man.  This is a big step for us both as we've both been badly hurt before.  Ten years or so ago I escaped from  a relationship with, I think, a narc (definitely PD) and it took a lot of work, and help to put my life back together.  I have cPTSD, dating was a big deal, and it is by his safe, consistent actions that I've had the courage to show up.  We really love each other, I was so happy and so was he.

He has a little child, with a PD high conflict ex (he doesn't perhaps grasp she's PD, but I'd put her in the cluster B area, I'm guessing, and going on instinct and what I know and have seen, but that's my assessment).  Short version: she's uncontained, a relentless bully and rager, and pretty scary, and highly skilled at manipulation.  She can then be quite skilled at being nice, good cop bad cop.

It has become apparent since a month or two ago, when I met the child (gently, and carefully done, all very adult and appropriate) that mother has an issue, that she's a little more than a tricky ex wife.  She has waged a campaign (and it really is a campaign) to get me gone, using the child as a pawn to 'get revenge' - he's the target, I'm the dupe.  Again my assessment.

This has been through fabrication that the child 'hates' me, a litany of my faults (she's never met me!!), her 'female intuition' that I am 'no good for him' escalating right through to withholding access, turning up unannounced, demanding to meet me, calling me every single name under the sun, endless bombing of his phone with whatsapps, and on and on and on.  There's a whole catalogue of this stuff.  I've worked in DV and I have NEVER seen the like, the verbal and emotional abuse is the worst I have ever seen.

It reached a peak a few weeks ago when she kept this up all Friday and Sat, said the kid refused to come Saturday because she 'hated me', rang him to have an indepth discussion of all the ways the kid hates me (they don't, there's no reason a child would be feeling hate), and then when child asked to come on Sunday instead, arrived early, let herself into the house, demanded to meet me (I refused, she's nobody to me, I hid in the bathroom!!) and it's gone KABOOM!

He now has endless screeds of texts, really threatening and very obsessively focused on me, utter obsession with our sex life, why I must be dumped, why I'm loathsome, threats to 'get me back' for 'crossing her' by refusing to meet her, telling him I must have 'something to hide' and on and and on and on.  This is clearly nonsense, and a triangulation / divide and conquer par excellence.

The problem is he is so pistol whipped, spun around, terrified, traumatised I seem to be dealing with a person with stockholm syndrome!  I am heartbroken because he promised me I'd never have to meet her, promised he'd never let her cross the threshold with me in the house (she let herself in!) and promised me he'd never tell her anything about me, and yet in trying to 'reason' with her, every little crumb of info she has about me he inadvertently gave to her and she has used, twisted, embellished, reversed, distorted, smeared, insulted it all etc you know the drill ... I even had to endure the indignity of him taking a call from her where she discussed at length, without drawing breath, all the reasons I'm awful for him, with me overhearing his half of the convo.  I get that he's not doing any of this with malice, but I have tried to say STOP ENGAGING WITH HER to no avail.  I went home and she's kept up this assault on him - because I said no to her - for an entire week, even all through the night.  As I write this, I can't actually believe it really happened, but it did.

It's plain to me he is still being very abused, he can't see what we're up against here, and that he's trauma bonded or enmeshed with this extremely dangerous person.  I laid out my reasons for staying out of the fray, told him I loved him and was here for him, but I simply cannot be involved in such a toxic situation, it won't help, and I can't be in a relationship with someone when even the front door doesn't keep the madness out, and he hasn't got my back.  I can't save him, much as I can see how he and his child are suffering.

I have sat on my hands for two weeks now, as this has all triggered my own cPTSD, she's dangerous, that's plain, there's something about me (I can see right through her, and am everythign she's not being my guess) that has caused an escalation in her, and also because HE has triggered me because when under pressure he did not have my back, he folded like a cheap suit, so upsetting.  All this was purportedly 'about me' when it's plain as day I'm just the trojan horse here, or the rope in their tug of war and I'm going to get very badly hurt.  I'm still highly adrenalised two weeks later!  Horrible!

I have other friends who are in this boat but they and their new partners are solid as a rock, there is no triangulation as they won't allow it, there are boundaries, really strict boundaries on communication and handover, they are a united front.

I've told him all this, that I need us to be a united front, I don't blame him for her, but I can't possibly be safe in a relationship no matter how much I love him with this hand grenade liable to go off at any minute.  Plus her current fixation is ME, that doesn't feel safe, it's frankly nuts and weird.

I know I've done the right thing, and I'm hoping he might come through for me (and himself and his child!) but I know I can't fix this, nor is it my job to.  I know from my own ongoing trauma recovery, this is HARD work, you've got to really want to do it.  He's so afraid of her retaliation, that's she'll take the child (he does in fact have a court order) my current position is I'm going to get very very very badly hurt here if I do not protect myself.  So I have exited stage left with regret, and told him I can't stay as things are. 

Must confess it's killing me, I love this dude, I really do and I know he loves me, but someone has got to refuse to step into this trauma vortex, and that person it appears is me!

Just reaching out to others, as I'm so sad, but I know I've done the right thing.  He says I don't understand what she's like, you have to do what she says, or it'll get worse for him.  I lovingly told him I understood but this is not of my making.  I'm here if needs me but I can't stay in this.  I'm making him sound more of an idiot than he actually is, he's a lovely person, and he's really been on his own with this for a long time, and all told, has coped admirably.  However, when he says 'I can handle her' and I say 'you can't sleep for anxiety' he says, 'that's true' and then his head seems back in the sand again.  It's heartbreaking.

Is there any hope or am I best off cutting my losses?  He's reaching out to me now, wants to meet and talk and I've politely declined as I've said all I need to say, very carefully and precisely in a letter, and I think I deserve a response to that and also because I want to steady myself, feel strong and not triggered myself.  It sounds harsh, but it's not my job to make him feel more comfortable with this bonkers situation that's extremely damaging.  I know several couples who have been here and survived, but I also know I can't save him, he's got to want to do it.  I feel really stuck but trying to be brave, and telling myself I am in fact doing right by him right now, even if he doesn't agree, because I've said 'I will not live in insanity and chaos'.  I mean it, I won't, nobody should have to live like that, me, him or a little child.

Being a clear sighted grown up really sucks!

Thanks

BR

« Last Edit: April 04, 2021, 06:06:37 PM by BohemianRambler »

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Bloomie

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Re: Told my non-PD boyfriend I can't cope with his toxic ex
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2021, 02:36:38 PM »
Hi and welcome. My heart does break for you and this dear man and his child. What a terrible situation for you all.

I am really glad you have joined the community for support and insights.

Knowing only a tiny snap shot of the turn of events I can't help but think you are being so very wise to keep strong lines clear about what is yours to do and what is his to do here.

A high conflict ex being able to let herself into his home at will... that is a physical boundary issue very easy to secure - and it wasn't - and might be an indicator of the level of work this man needs to tend to to secure his living environment and his relationships from this kind of intrusion and disruption.

That is a starting gate action to take - change the locks. Not to mention the rest of the issues at hand that have not been dealt with it seems.

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It sounds harsh, but it's not my job to make him feel more comfortable with this bonkers situation that's extremely damaging.

Nope, not harsh. What love actually looks like. Love calls out the best in one another and you are calling out the best in this man by refusing to accommodate and engage with this "trauma vortex".

And.. yet it really hurts and I am so sorry!

Settle in and find community here as you work through this and process all you have experienced. I look forward to supporting you in your healing journey!



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BohemianRambler

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Re: Told my non-PD boyfriend I can't cope with his toxic ex
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2021, 04:14:02 AM »
Dear Bloomie

Thanks so much for your reply, means a lot.  My own trauma lady (I do somatic experiencing, you can imagine the level of 'Danger!  Danger! There's tigers in the bushes!' alarm bells going off in my own nervous system, one upside of PTSD is by God my instincts are pretty sharp!!) is telling me the same thing.

The reason I'm so sad is I think you are right, I told him I can't do this, because his own front door doesnt keep it out, there are literally no boundaries, not even that physical one.  I've tried so hard to put into words what the issue is, I've tried to say that it doesn't even look like he knows what he's dealing with here, and that he needs to fly one level up and watch her ACTIONS, these people are two a penny they all DO the same things, he just can't seem to hear me.

One example.  I went home on that Sunday.  She kept up the vitriol by Whatsapp all day Sunday, all day Monday, and overnight Monday into Tuesday - he said what she said about me and our relationship was so disgusting it didn't bear repeating.  I am talking literally HUNDREDS upon hundreds of texts.  When I spoke to him later (I'd sent my letter, told him if this was how it was going to be, with serious regret I couldn't be in this relationship) he said 'But she can be reasonable'!!!  The example he gave is that Tuesday afternoon she 'popped round' stayed in the car (she DOES know what boundaries are!!), and kiddo nipped in for a surprise, unplanned twenty minute visit.  He said 'I get to see my kid'.

My heart sank.  She knew I wouldn't be there, he'd literally woken up that morning to the most vile, vile abuse, and he seems GRATEFUL when it stops and she rewards him, like giving an abused dog a biscuit.  The alienation, and triangulation and divide and conquer seems so overt, it makes me feel a bit crazy that he can't see it.  I know I'd literally go mad with that level of scheming.  And these unannounced visits have been escalating (the nice ones and the nasty ones) since he's been involved with me.  However, the double bind of course is if he were to say 'could you please stop turning up unannounced, and stick to the court order' he'd get 'don't you want to see your child?'.

I just feel I'm in such an impossible situation, a crazy making situation, and what's worse, I could cope with her being extremely unsafe if we were a united front with rock solid boundaries (I'm not so naive, I know that with this current level of fixation on me (as the proxy, the stick to beat him with), these people can escalate very quickly, it's not safe).  However, the double whammy was in the face of it, HE didn't feel safe either.  'You are going to have to meet her, it's the only way to make it stop' just felt like such a betrayal, I know he didn't mean it like that, but I cannot live like that.

So I go around and around, trying to make it make sense, but keep coming back to what I've done, which is - lovingly - refuse to be tempted into this insanity, it's extremely damaging and it'll do no good, for me, him or the child.

He's reaching out to me now, but it's taken me two weeks to even soothe my nervous system down so I can sleep, but he's been incredibly defensive (again I understand why) but unless and until he can see this is not about ME, it's not about our relationship, it's not about anything other than one of her sick games, all designed to extract supply from him, punish him, and isolate him, and stay in total control, then I think I'm on a hiding to nothing.

I feel like a handgrenade went off.  I kept telling him, PLEASE DO NOT TELL HER ANYTHING ABOUT ME (I could see this coming) and yet in trying to 'defend me' and 'reason' with her, all the ammo she has, he gave it to her.  That's INSANE.

Anyway, thanks again, I'm heartbroken, it was such a risk to love again, I've worked so hard to live free of abuse, it did me so much harm, it's been a long, long road for me, and yet, here it is AGAIN in my life, it's so upsetting.

Thank you, I'll read around - doing it in small bite size chunks as I find it all a bit triggering.  The only thing I seem to know how to do at the moment is walk, I'm walking miles and miles and miles with my dog, seems to kinda help.

Love

BR