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Hello Captain!

I am in serious need of some guidance. I’ll do my best to keep the background info to being pertinent to the situation. Here it goes.

I have a wonderful four year old son with my terrible, emotionally-abusive ex. I left him when my son was a little over a year old and there has been many legal battles and serious ISSUES between he and I ever since. About 8 months ago he was caught physically abusing his stepson (which my son witnessed) and I was finally able to get a restraining order and complete physical custody. The incident left my son with emotional scars and a ton of guilt. He won’t tell when people are mean to him (i.e. kids throwing rocks at him at daycare and not telling the teacher) because of the guilt about his dad. He has a good therapist and has improved considerably since the incident but he is in a fragile place and needs security and to feel safe for the healing to continue.

My question is about how to handle my ex’s stepmother. She is an incredibly overbearing and demanding person who lives a few hours away from my family and calls my son every so often to chat. That’s ok with me, but she also wants to have him come and stay with her and my son’s paternal grandfather for a few days every so often. I let him go there once and for weeks afterward he was off, super crabby and the beyond normal clingy and had several nightmares. He told my fiancé that he had seen his dad but when we asked about it later he said he hadn’t. I would not put it past The Step-mom to let my ex come over to spend time with my son, even though it’s illegal.

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Dear Captain Awkward, 

Not wanting everyone all up in your business: a cultural history.

Seven weeks ago my husband of six years told me he wants a divorce.  There is no room for negotiation on his side.  We’ve been to a marriage counselor a few times since he told me, and have spent most of the sessions talking about how we’ll divide the assets, deal with the house, ect.  He’s not changing his mind ever.  I don’t want the divorce and don’t think our issues are anything that counseling could solve, but I obviously can’t make him stay married to me so we’re getting divorced.

I don’t know how to tell people.  

Captain-

I’ve been keeping a secret from everyone I know. My husband, my best friend, my family. I haven’t even written it down until now.

I want a divorce.

I met a great guy in high school, and we started seeing each other. Things got serious fast and we moved in together, and that was it. I’ve never dated anyone else. Hell, I haven’t ever been sexy in any capacity with anyone else. Kissing, heavy petting sex, you name it. We didn’t marry until about a year ago, but we’ve considered ourselves married for a long time. Until recently, we were trying to get me pregnant. I really care about him and love him and want good things for him. But I also want good things for myself, and more and more it looks like that’s not going to happen with us together. We’ve been over these things in the past, they’re still problems and they’re problems I can’t swallow anymore. I don’t know if I’ve changed or simply reached my limit, although I guess it doesn’t really matter.

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Graphic for The Brady Bunch.

I'm pretty sure the Bradys handled emotional crises by having Alice put Quaaludes in all of their food. Not recommended if you're trying to raise functional members of society.

Dear Captain Awkward,

 This is our family:

  • My partner, divorced & single dad for 7 years.
  • His daughter, 9 years old, who sees her mother only on the weekends.
  • My son, 7 years old, whose father lives on the other side of the planet (we’re fine with that!).
  • Then there’s our baby, two months old.
  •  Well, and me, the trying-not-to-be-evil stepmother. So you see, there’s a lot of potential for drama.

 I truly love my stepdaughter, and she likes me, too, and often confides in me or asks me for guidance or comfort. But most of the time, handling her is really exhausting. The divorce of her parents was a dirty mess and even now, their relationship is problematic at best but mostly an absolute disaster. So the girl bears the brunt of it and naturally, acts out since she knows no other way of coping. She shows early signs of self-harm (scratching, aggression, self-endangering behaviour) and gets sick a lot (psychosomatic illnesses).

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"Hi! It would be a terrible idea to get involved with me. Want to dance?"

I’ve got a post up at Feministe today about movie casting and stereotypes.  In retrospect I should have called it “Stop boring the shit out of me, Hollywood.”

Major Mishap is here once again to answer today’s question and take this letter writer to post-divorce friendship school, aka, don’t fuck that lady!

Dear Captain Awkward:

I’m recently divorced. (just over a year or so) My ex-wife was originally from out-of-state, we met on-line, she moved to my town to be with me, and we had a good near-decade run. At the end, she was pretty lonely, unsatisfied, and miserable.  I was never a “bad” husband. (no substance abuse, no infidelity, no physical/emotional abuse of any kind). I aint sayin’ I was good husband, I just wasn’t horrible. She was miserable and a saint to put up with me, totally justified in leaving, but this wasn’t one of those “put his clothes in a box, tape it shut, and light it on fire” kind of divorces. No kids, no money issues, no real animosity that couldn’t be suppressed.

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