Red Responds: In the Middle of His Custody Battle

Dear Red,

I am so overwhelmed that I am not sure where to start…

To make a long story short, I met a man last May (2005) and gradually fell in love with him. We broke up briefly (after I blurted out “I love you” in the wake of an accident and he decided to pursue something with someone else, as he said he loved me but wasn’t in love with me); however, after I was gone, he realized he was in love with me. On April 1 he asked to move in and by May 1 he was living with me…. We were on cloud nine.

Then it started… His ex-wife told his son about us cohabitating before we could and she has systematically tried to cut my boyfriend out of his son’s life ever since. She uses her son to send messages like, “My mommy says I can’t stay the night anymore unless you get married.” My boyfriend and his son used to have the entire 2nd & 4th weekends together when he lived in his apartment. He was not allowed to bring his son to our home for nearly 2 months and now he no longer is allowed to see his son after school. Needless to say I am now where I never imagined — in the middle of a heated custody battle…

To make matters more complicated…. I am having a financially difficult time and though I make more than I ever did, I am so unhappy and unfulfilled in my career. I have also finally located my birth mother but am afraid to make first contact…. I don’t think I could take the rejection right now. A former flame who moved to another state keeps contacting me and telling me he realizes now that he loves me and should have never moved away. And I am dreaming nightly of my departed father… is he trying to tell me something?

Bleary eyed in Los Angeles

Dear Bleary-Eyed,

Wow. You sure do have a lot on your plate! I’m not sure where to start, there’s so much going on around you. So, I’m just going to start with you.

First of all, you are taking on too much responsibility in every direction. You need to step back, and start taking care of yourself and your needs.

The mental and physical bodies are connected, and your emotional pain is affecting your physical being. While there is no quick fix for either area of hurt, the time to start working on these issues is RIGHT NOW; or, flat out — things are going to get worse. You are killing yourself, and for what?

A great deal of your emotional stress is not only coming from the situations in which you are involved, but also because you are taking responsibility for these situations. That burns a lot of energy, and food brings temporary comfort and escape, but creates more stress at the same time. It’s a vicious cycle, and a hard one to stop.

The first thing I’d like to see you do is find a doctor who can work with you on your emotional issues as well as your physical; for the two things are so intertwined. Yes, it will be an additional expense, and I know that you think you really don’t have “time” for it, but you need to make the time. Your health and your emotional well-being are both in jeopardy, and you need some help in both arenas to get things straightened out.

I know you are not happy in the work arena, but much of that is because you are not happy with yourself. Unfortunately, because of your current financial issues and state of being, the best thing you can do is endure your job until you get back into control of your life, and back to being okay with yourself.

Likewise, now is not the time to buy a home, or go into any joint financial venture with your boyfriend. He’s not able to hold up his end of shared responsibility in financial issues, which is adding to your current financial spiral. This is something you can take control of right now as well, before it gets any worse. With everything that’s going on, the finances are presenting as an area that can do the most damage to your relationship, and if the relationship were to fail, you would be left in a very bad position.

I agree that your boyfriend needs to change attorneys. The one he has doesn’t seem to be doing much. But, his choice of attorney is his choice. Either way, it is HIS custody issue, not yours, and HIS financial responsibility, not yours. I also see that this isn’t the only area in which you are taking financial responsibility. I know your man is going through rough times of his own, but it’s time for him to start being a man and taking care of things. It’s noble that you love him enough to want to help, but exactly what is he doing to return the favor? What is he doing that is helping you? Uh-uh. No. Time to have that dreaded talk about how things need to change in the relationship. And I’m not talking about wedding plans. There will be time for that later. You’ve got to clean up the present before you commit to a future. If you don’t work on that now, things aren’t going to change for the better. What you’ve been living with is just a preview of what will come, only then, you’ll be legally responsible.

Eventually the courts will intervene, and your boyfriend’s ex wife will be forced to uphold the original agreement.

There is an honesty about the love between you and your boyfriend. The relationship can survive all of this, but there are changes that need to be made if you want back that happiness you two had originally shared. It’s a bumpy road to get back there, but until there is more of a balanced partnership between the two of you, I want to caution you to proceed carefully. When you give all that you can, you run the risk of being left with nothing when the well runs dry. Time for you to start looking out for yourself, rather than just the future of this relationship.

Your ex boyfriend is your ex. Leave it there. You’ve got enough going on without complicating the issue.

Your father is trying to guide you. I suggest you pay attention to those dreams, retain as much detail as you can, and have them interpreted.

When you are ready, you will contact your birth mother. While I don’t see her rejecting you, I also don’t see her becoming an active part of your life.

It’s bittersweet on both sides.

Brightest Blessings,
Ext. 9226

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