I am divorced. I have been divorced for almost seven years. My ex-husband and I share two children; only one is still a minor. I am remarried. My ex lives with his girlfriend, and they have been in a relationship for a few years, as well. She is divorced and has children. My new husband is divorced, and has children. Neither of our ex-spouses lives in the same state in which we currently reside.
That is the background.
Here is the problem: Our ex-spouses seem hell-bent on harassing us.
It started out simple enough. My new husband, I’ll call him “S,” went through a highly contested divorce with “T,” dealing mainly with financial issues, but a few visitation issues, as well. She wanted the children 100% of the time, and demanded that S fly in to see his children, stay at a hotel, pick the children up after school, spend a couple of hours with them – perhaps have dinner together at a restaurant, and then bring them home. No overnights. No visits to S’s home in another state. Period. End of story.
So, after that failed spectacularly, she started making other demands. When those also failed, she decided to control other aspects of S’s life – most prominently, his new relationship with yours truly. It was subtle at first. She would put my name into Google, and try to find dirt on me. It took a while. The only thing she ever came up with was some type of public notice stating that my storage unit was on the chopping block for non-payment. She then began sending emails and text messages regarding my “inability to pay my debts.” I was appalled! I contacted the storage company immediately, and inquired as to what was happening with my storage unit, and they assured me that everything was fine, it was paid in full, and I was not being evicted.
I attempted to explain this to S’s ex, that it was a misunderstanding, and that she should be careful about spreading those types of rumors. Oh, I also told her to stop harassing me, and never contact me directly again. Yea. Because it was going to be that easy. Not so much.
During this period, my ex-husband, apparently felt he was losing control over my life, and the children, and began his own harassment. I won’t go into the various issues, but suffice it to say – he was attempting to initiate trouble between my husband and me. To make matters even worse, over the past three years, our exes have formed an unholy “friendship” by which they information share. Disgusting, huh?
My ex initiated a change in custody, which settled out of court, but not before he insisted that we undergo psychological examinations. For those unaware, the parties sign confidentiality agreements regarding the information contained in the reports. So, imagine my surprise when T began spouting off very specific language from my psych eval. Hmmm, let’s think for a minute…who would have a copy of that report…oh, yes – my ex! Of course, not being the brightest bulb in the pack, T decided not only to include that information in an email to me, she also copied correspondence between herself and my ex-husband’s girlfriend.
Fast forward – I am now cleaning up a mess that my ex and his girlfriend thought would be most hilarious. Without going into great detail, it involved ordering items be sent to my home, and being billed for them. I have spent much time on the phone over the past few months getting it all straightened out. So far, everything they have done can be corrected; but what happens when it is no longer an easy fix? I marvel at the complete immaturity of people in their forties…boggles the mind.
So why do they do it? I mean, after years of being divorced, everyone moving on, why do ex-spouses continue to insert themselves into their former spouses lives? According to Mark Goulston, a California psychiatrist , "You're obviously dealing with an obsessive person who can't let go. When that overtakes them because they're rather immature, immature meaning they can't let it rise and fall, they act on it." It seems to have become an epidemic. Ex-spouses long for greener pastures. They look over the fence, dream of what their lives will be, and then demand it be so. When that does not happen, they cannot deal with it, and strike out. The epidemic is the theme in society lately of “no responsibility for one’s own actions,” followed by “I can do whatever I want, and I will just find someone else to blame for my actions.” My ex-husband is the king of deflection. If he does something, he spends a copious amount of time trying to find a way for it to be my fault. What if, instead of trying to cover his arse after-the-fact, he decided not to harass me in the first place? Wow! Perhaps we could spend our time working together for the good of the children, without the constant contention between us. What. A. Thought.
And what recourse does the victim of this type of harassment have to stop the harassers? Depending on the severity of the harassment, it can include obtaining a harassment restraining order. Just make sure there is evidence with which to build a strong case. The harasser, however, may be able to escape an otherwise clear-cut case of harassment by having someone else actually initiate the harassment, thereby creating ‘plausible deniability.’
And that is where I am at now. After enduring about 30 minutes of being berated by a judge, who seemed more interested in our modification case that is not even in her jurisdiction, who never once asked my ex why his girlfriend was harassing me, my case was dismissed. No restraining order. My ex not only blatantly lied under oath, and made unsubstantiated false allegations against me, he refused to take responsibility for his actions. And the judge, well she just validated his actions, and gave him the green light to find another person to act as his patsy. It’s all very JFK/Lee Harvey Oswald….
So what now? Barring a wave of social reform holding people accountable (or judges), I will endeavor to write, and hope for change. We will continue to ignore our ex-spouses as best we can, and document, document, document. Everything. No matter how small or seemingly irrelevant. And I hope that one day they will discover some other hobby. Please…let that be soon…