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Old 02-17-2008, 11:34 PM   #1
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Weird - why does this bother me?
I'm wondering why it still feels like a personal insult when folks who knew my ex and I together can mention to me "Gee, I always liked Ex"...

My youngest D and I were visiting my Mom yesterday at the home when my aunt and grandmother came in to visit. Conversation took many turns, and eventually my aunt mentioned to me "Gee, I always liked Bobby..." Having no intention of going into a list of reasons why she shouldn't with my daughter there, I just looked askance. And again she said "I did, I liked him..." I changed the subject but it bothered me.

My aunt knew exactly the emotional pain he put me through. My aunt/Nanas house was my Friday night refuge - all the cousins would gather there for dinner. My cousin D and I would commiserate - she about her alkie hubby, me about my druggie hubby. I'd get comments such as "I don't know why you stay...." and eventually, I left.

My sister still allows him in her house as he is her husband's best friend. Her kids "hang out" with him when he's there (which is almost always).

My Dad still regales me with tales of what Bobby did for him this week - or with tales of how Bobby screwed him or lied or whatever, but no matter, it doesn't bother any of them to tell me how they maintain relationships with him in whatever way.

I usually either just change the subject or simply say "I'd rather talk of something else..." but a big part of me wants to scream at them "He was an A$$hole to me, he hurt me mentally, financially and emotionally and took pleasure in it - how could you find him in any way likeable still or again?"

It's a personal affront. He HURT me badly. Yes, I am over it, living a good life, happy I left... but you have to bring it up to me like I'm supposed to say "Yeah, he's great!"? No, he isn't. He may be a fun "helpful" person to be around in small doses... but he is a fun helpful person who would tell his daughter that he hoped she and her newborn son died in a fire. He's the fun helpful person who didn't think twice about inventing lies so convoluted and perverse that even now if I tell them people look at me and say "huh?" He kept dossiers on UFO sightings he invented to scare his kids. I mean, real bound notebooks with pictures and offical looking covers. In a locked box. And no, he doesn't really believe in them. He wrote "love notes" from a drug dealer of his and stuck them in his pants pockets in the laundry to try to make me jealous. He stole our food money for drugs. He called me fat, lazy, ugly, stupid, not worth anyone's love... and then called his daughters the same. He threw food at the walls when angry. He lied, lied lied lied lied so many times my world and my mind reeled. He sucked the life out of me.

Everybody KNOWS these things. Now, he is "fun Bob" and I'm supposed to nod my head and agree? Are most people THAT compartmentalized that they can see someone as a fun companion without registering that this person is a real jerk to someone else?

When I talk about my close-knit family, this is what I mean. Once you join the family, you never leave. Not even if it's at the emotional expense of one of the family members. We're all supposed to suck it up and pretend everything and everyone is all pretty and clean, and if we hold a grudge, we're the ones in the wrong for pointing out the white elephant.

Grrrr. OK, vent over. I'm done. "Good ol' Bob" will always be around and no-one will ever feel bad about pointing out just how great he is and i'll get over it because I really do have a wonderful life and people are clueless and self-centered. But still, grrrr.
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:39 PM   #2
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
Would it really be so bad to say, ""He was an A$$hole to me, he hurt me mentally, financially and emotionally and took pleasure in it - how could you find him in any way likeable still or again?"

At least maybe they'd shut up about him when you're around. On the other hand, they might think you're just not over it. But, really, who gives a flying ef what they think?

Oh, for the reason it bothers you. It would bother me because I would feel that they KNEW he did all those things to me, and they didn't care enough about me to cut all ties with him.

Last edited by lizzie; 02-17-2008 at 11:55 PM..
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Old 02-18-2008, 06:15 AM   #3
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
Makes me think of how my ex-mother-in-law still bad mouths me to my kids and we've been divorced ten years. People say stuff without thinking how it effects anyone other than themselves.
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:25 AM   #4
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
Why does it bother you? It would bother ANYONE! Those are cruel comments, although it doesn't sound as if they're intended that way. As you said, your family must value what they see as "sticking together" over loyalty to members of their family of origin. Anyone would want to scream back what you mentioned, but you're smart not to....if only because it would give them more reason to bring him up. Just keep responding the way you do and continue to change the subject. Hopefully, eventually they'll lose interest.
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Old 02-18-2008, 08:19 AM   #5
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
Good morning Willow,

My grandmother was the same about my ex. She saw such a wonderful man in him. I used to tease her that he is available for her. (naughty me!).

I think they like their version of who "he" is than the reality of what he is capable of doing. There are many people who do not want to accept or see the flaws of a person they so admire. Your father does not want to believe that Bobby who was so kind and helpful to him could actually do serious damage to you.

Look on the news, look at family of murders. How many times have you seen weeping family and friends say, it's not in him/her to kill people. I have never seen this side of this person.

People are saying the samething about my mother. Her persona to the general public including close family and friends are that she is a very nice, sweet, funny, wonderful lady. Very few people have witnessed the hell I've gone through and none of them are family members. Even my therapist is struggling with my reality of my mother.

It happens. In my job, I have learned fast not to ever minimize people's perception of others. Most of the time, they are correct.

Just be true to yourself, only you know the truth and it wouldn't matter if they ever really understand your pain. They don't want to, it messes up their reality.
Well behaved women seldom make history.
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Old 02-18-2008, 08:36 AM   #6
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
Nah, you are rigth 2nd, they are not intended as cruel. The family values togetherness so much that we are just all supposed to stay together forever no matter what.

The cousin I commiserated with? She left her alkie husband but never divorced him. He lived with her mother down the street instead. That mother, by the way, had left HER husband, but never divorced either. Same with one of my male cousins from that family. The one cousin that did get a divorce because his wife was screwing his boss? Oh, they all called her a "putana" (bad word!!!) at dinner... but she is still very much part of the family 20 years later.

I'm betting my aunt had absolutely no clue that it felt like a betrayal to me, and was following party line... and with this aunt - she is a reasonable and usually kind person - I no doubt would have responded the way I wanted, if not for my daughter right there, and my mother, who needs positive emotions around her. I may end up writing her an email and explaining how I feel... but Aunty is 68, is it worth causing her any anxiousness? This is my mother's sister - the family is just plain messed up from long ago. Grampy was in jail for molesting young neighborhood girls, but Nana never left and everyone just [retended it didn't happen when he got out. He may have done it to his own daughters - Mom never talked about it but it's always been obvious *something* happened in her childhood. But Gramps got buried with lots and lots of black-clad mourning women tearing at the casket...

My sister on the other hand, made a decision long ago not to disrupt her own marriage on my account. As she had reason to suck up to her husband (her "mid-life crisis mistakes" as she called her affairs) she chose to not draw a line with him with my ex in her house. My feelings were expendable, and though I somewhat don't blame her, my feelings for her have changed greatly. We are not close anymore. SO that adds to the downward cycle - I don't go over there, her kids don't see me much. My Ex goes over there all the time, is "helpful" to his friend (he is puppy-dog-like in his wagging his tail, willing to fetch you the newspaper kind of way until you try to take his bone, then he'll bite your hand off without blinking...) and so has become more a part of that family than I am, and certainly not my new husband.

My Dad? Oy. My Dad is so lonely. He's a good guy, he thinks the absolute best of everyone and is so ingrained in the "Christian" mindset that someone could probably shoot him and Dad would shake his hand after and say "nice shot". Dad lives next to my sister and so sees Bobby all the time just because he's always over. Puppy dog Bobby who loves to do things for people because the narcissist in him loves the praise will offer to do all sorts of things for him. I don't blame him for accepting getting his computer fixed, etc.

However, when Dad complains to me about Bobby leaving his computer in pieces on the floor, I don't hesitate to laugh and tell him that he should know better than to let Bobby "fix" anything. When Dad tells me that Bobby said something mean, shrug and tell him that he knows Bob is like that... and I did ask him to stop mentioning him to me once. But it didn't work - Dad just wants conversation... he's so lonely. Oh well.

But Lizzie, yes, sometimes I think I will just respond the way I said and you suggest, especially to my sister. The main issue all these years later IS that he took pleasure in his cruelty. I suppose all else could be forgiven as symptoms of his drug addiction... but the pleasure was evil, and evil can't go away, it's still under the surface, waiting to bite the next hand that feeds it.
Somewhere on a desert highway, she rides a Harley Davidson, Her long blonde hair flying in the wind.
She's been runnin' half her life, the chrome and steel she rides, colliding with the very air she breathes... - Neil
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Old 02-18-2008, 10:07 AM   #7
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
I am sure it must hurt to feel that family and friends don’t care about your feelings but I don’t think that is really what is happening here. It’s just not all about you. Like is not the same as respect or love. It is just like. I like many people who I would NEVER want to be married to and like many I do not respect.

Don’t read so much into it. They are just trying to be nice is all. My mother is that way. She says things like that about everyone. She even insists she liked my ex on some levels. She says ugly people are attractive. Thats just her. She’s kind. That is NOT a character flaw.

It’s been years and you are over him and happily married right? Why is it necessary that everyone still trash this man. That seems very unhealthy to me. They are not saying you should have remained married to him are they? As kind as my mother tries to be she would never think or suggest that. If they are suggesting that then it is a whole other story.

I don’t know why you feel it’s a personal insult but my guess is that is is something within you. Our exs are part of our lives and the lives of our kids and our family and friends. We cannot erase the past. It is always there. It’s part of who we are and it is not just about you. It is about everyone who has this person touch their lives. My ex also is “ an A$$hole to me, he hurt me mentally, financially and emotionally and took pleasure in it” I don’t hate him and allow him in my home occasionally. You see, I took control of that relationship and it worked. It sounds as if you have never really done that.
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." (Buckminster Fuller)

Last edited by BriarRose; 02-18-2008 at 09:22 PM..
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Old 02-18-2008, 11:22 AM   #8
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
Willow, I understand completely. Very good friends, who know what went through, tell me "how much fun" he is. And I guess he is.... if you're not me! I have no idea how someone who treated me so badly can be so nice and fun to the rest of the world! Guess it was the chemistry between "us." Or maybe I was just the nearest, closest thing to lash out at?
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Old 02-18-2008, 12:49 PM   #9
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
that must suck willow.

it's a tad childish, but why not try the "whatever" response?

Dad: "Bobby fixed my sink! He's so clever and kind"

willow: "whatever"

repeat as necessary.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:05 PM   #10
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Re: Weird - why does this bother me?
I can see that it would be hurtful to hear those comments, absolutely.

However, I think there is a distinction to make. Nobody is ever 100% great or 100% horrible. Your ex showed a side to these other people that they liked. He showed a side to you that is so devastating that anything positive you may ever have felt for him was completely destroyed. Their view and your view are different, and it really doesn't have anything to do with you.

I can understand that you may feel that "out of respect" for you, they should refrain from praising your ex. I think it would be wonderful if your family could honor you in that way. That allows them to care for you while not having to give up their views of him. However, that is an emotionally mature thing to do and beyond them [it seems].

Choices and feelings are easier for us when they are black or white. Like or not. Yes or no. The great challenge is in that gray area of my view and experience vs your view and experience. I don't think it is reasonable to expect anybody else to have the same view that you do. It is not that they think any less of you, but that they have NO WAY of knowing what it was really like to be in your shoes. That is no judgment against you in any way but simply the reality.

I think it is good to steer the conversation to other topics or to even acknowledge that their view is not consistent with your view. You don't force them to take your view any more than they force you to take theirs.

I know it hurts and I'm sorry for you.... perhaps there is a way for you to know that it is just their viewpoint and does not negate in any way your own experience?
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