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Adult Children dealing with DEPRESSED Ex.

Started by lokin4answer, December 26, 2015, 04:18:41 am

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Merry After Christmas:  Agree with the day after being a very special day.  I wrote you a couple years ago after leaving my life behind and moving into my mothers house.  Fast forward:  I am still living in, what is now, my house which I inherited after my mom passed in 2014.  My divorce was finalized a year and a half ago, and my ex has plunged into a deep, dark depression.  Our three AC live within a mile of him, but are having less and less contact with him, as he is isolating everyone around him.

I have slowly reestablished a relationship with my two AD's and AS, by making contact via texting, emails and cards.  I babysit my grandsons, and occasionally am allowed to have them at my house to spend a few hours if my new love is not here.  My AC keep me at arms length, never asking me how or what I am doing.  Everything is generic.  They obviously don't approve of my new life and new love, and it does cause conflict with my new relationship.  I am grateful for every minute of involvement I have in their lives.

So here is my question:  My ex is suffering from depression, which he was dealing with before the divorce, but now has plummeted deeper into this terrible illness.  I shoulder a lot of guilt for leaving him, and the consequences of how it has affected my family.  I would like to help him, or at least talk with him, but he is very angry.  I texted him a Christmas greeting wishing him a peaceful day, and his response was, "there is no peace in this world, maybe the next, we can only hope".  Is there anything I can do to help him, or help my AC dealing with him?  Should I even contact him?  I have asked my AC how he is doing, but they are very hesitant to say too much to me.  I see the hurt in their faces if the subject is broached.  So I am very careful when and what I ask. 

My AC will never accept my new life so long as their father is unhappy!
S. W.


Hi, I'm glad to hear things are slowly improving w/AC. It's great that you get to see your GC!

Regarding your ex, is there an agency that could be contacted on his behalf? It may not be appropriate for you to be heavily involved in his intervention/treatment/recovery, but maybe if an alarm is sounded a social worker or therapist would contact him and the decision to get help (or turn it down) would be his. IMO, how he handles life's lemons really is on him, as cold as that sounds.

"We can't control anyone else, just our reactions to them" (says the brilliant Luise, in words to that effect!)
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


L., been there...wearing Tee-shirt! I left my children's dad after two decades of trying. He went down hill and it was hard to hold my own and get that it wasn't my fault. Much less that I mattered. It was long ago...but I remember! And one son never forgave me.

I, too, loved again and more wisely...with years of growing up behind me.

We either matter or we don't. I was raised that my job was to get that others matter and there's no question that they do. But part of that belief system was I didn't. It came down through a long line of women in my family and our culture at the time supported it. We were to die having not mattered and be commended for it.

I don't think so! Sending hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Green Thumb

I offer you some things I have learned in the last few years. Children do not like their parents being divorced, it makes their lives more messy. They have two parents to visit on holidays, etc.  And if one or both parents are angry at each other and involve the AC in that anger, then it makes the AC lives really chaotic and crazy.  I am also divorced and my ex does his best to manipulate the AC to not like me, he is allowed to say hateful things about me, and he plays the pity card to them. They should pity him cause mom dumped him and got remarried and he was alone for so long and mom took half his 401K and left him "penniless" and he doesn't have a good job now, yada yada yada. I also have a couple of mean adult children who are narcissists or worse and feel they are entitled to use people and be ugly if they so choose. They are toxic and best to protect myself from them.

If this is your situation, that your adult children feel they have a right to be mean to you, be hateful, ostracize you, make fun of you, etc., then the problem is beyond just your ex and his depression.  It is their toxic behavior that will probably never change. So perhaps looking at this separate from your ex, and see if your AC are nice or mean people in general. I always recommend Life Code by Dr Phil to help see the "truth" of people's behavior.

It sounds like your ex has figured out a way to manipulate everyone and make the AC dance to his tune. He gets a lot of mileage from creating a pity party and making you the bad guy. Yes, I hear he is depressed but he is also spreading his misery to everyone -- this sounds manipulative to me. The AC do not like to be triangulated also -- this means do not ask them how their dad is, they don't want to have us asking. Probably is some guilt and manipulation from him that they do not want to convey to you, that they have internalized, or he is still bashing you and they can't deal with it. I know you mean well. It is triangulation when we put them in the middle by saying ugly things about their other parent or by asking questions about their other parent's lives.

Also, our AC do not want to be our friends, our best friends, generally speaking. They see their parents as parents not friends, as separate not tied together forever. We baby boomer generation parents tend to want our children to be our friends and our social life forever. We forget that we were not so tied to our parents as we got older, as we started to create our own families. Also, Dr. Joshua Coleman says previous generations of parents expected their kids to earn the parents love. Current young people generations think the parents have to earn the kids love. So it has flipped, no longer do they give the parent undying devotion and attention just because of the parents role as parent, unless they get something from it and feel they are treated well by the parent. Does this make sense?

Your AC do not see our new partners as anything other than the man or woman mom or dad is married to/dating/whatever. I realize in some families this is different, and there is more respect and love. So I would say do not expect your AC to ever love your new partner, as long as the AC are polite and respectful. They already have a father and he's a handful.  You are their mother, BF is just an outsider. This is how THEY look at it. Just possibly how they see it so you will understand the situation better, not being critical of you at all.


Wow, GT! What a contribution to L.! Would you mind if I copied and pasted it into our 'Helpful Resources' category?
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Wow GT! Double Ditto! My situation exactly too! Great comment/advice.


After reading Green Thumbs post (above) again, I went ahead and re-posted it under 'Helpful Resources'. It needs to be there and not get lost in our data base. Thanks, G.T!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Green Thumb

Well thank you for the compliments and of course you have my permission to keep this post. I am so flattered... especially since this is just stuff I have learned on this hard, hard, hard journey of mine. This forum helps me tremendously.


Well, Green Thumb, there's your silver lining - having lived and learned from challenging experiences that you can share with others.  Unfortunately there is no shortcut to gaining wisdom other than to fully experience and hopefully learn from hard times.  When you live them and work through them, the lessons really stick!  The beauty of that is not only a new joy after letting go of the pain, but also being a model for others walking a similar journey. You have clearly gone through a hard journey with your AC and learned volumes from which we can benefit.  Thank you for sharing  :)

BTW, I agree with our AC not wanting to be our BFFs. I don't want to be their best friends, either. I just want to be their mom.  There is something unique about a parent - child relationship, even if that child is an adult.  I have enough friends. But I only have one mom, and my kids only have one mom (well, they each have birth moms but don't know them).


December 27, 2015, 09:23:30 pm #9 Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 12:44:28 pm by luise.volta
For me, it's not an either / or. Our Webmaster, Kirk, is my youngest son. He is definitely my dear, dear friend. That in no way interrupts or detracts from the fact that we go way, way back. I don't mother him...and...I am still his mother. We love to remember things that happened along the way. He has always thought he had the coolest mom on the block and so did his friends. I think he is an amazing man. He once depended on me. He is now 60, so that's a long way back. For many, many years we have both been independent. We respect each other deeply and don't get into each other's business unless asked. But..now, he comes up to my place twice a month and does the heavy cleaning for me. His wife would be happy to do that or he could easily hire someone but he just likes to help me personally. He's also my POA. As I move on into my 90s, I will become more dependent upon him. It's all good! I have attached a picture of us together...taken when I was 79.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama



December 28, 2015, 03:35:56 pm #11 Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 04:42:09 pm by luise.volta
Thank you all for responding and giving me advice and knowledge regarding your own experiences.

My AC are very responsible, educated and well liked.  We were a tight farm family but that started to disintegrate when the spouses entered the picture.  Especially my oldest AD's husband.  He is a smooth talking, back biting, unforgiving person.  I have always kept my opinion to myself when it comes to him, because I did not want to make my AD's life any harder.  They have two little boys and she once told me she will not leave because she couldn't stand another woman being part of their lives.   BUT, these little ones are already following by example.  She is the major caregiver so that is a plus.

My other AD's husband is pretty mellow, but has shouldered a lot of the fallout from me leaving and the horrific relationship my ex and other SIL have.   He talks to me, tells me what is going on regarding the farm, and ex.  I recently told him it's best I don't know about these incidents as there is nothing I can do about them, only harbor more guilt and a sour stomach.

My AS and his girlfriend have pretty much taken over the dairy farm, and are working their tails off.  The girlfriend is bitter because she feels I dumped my ex on them.  We have gotten closer these last few months, but I have to remember my boundaries with her, my AS and the farm.

My ex is truly depressed.  Maybe it is a way of garnering sympathy, but it's gone on way to long.  He needs an outside intervention, as his sisters and family have tried everything to break him out of it.  I do fear he may be suicidal, then lets talk about guilt...

I should count my lucky stars for the involvement I do have with my AC and GS's.  I work on being mindful and happy, but sometimes I feel really let down when they don't want to know a thing regarding my life.  The girlfriend told me I am living two lives...OUCH!  But when I thought about it, I guess I am.  They have completely negated my partner, and when I have mentioned his name, their expression goes sour. 

Well, again, thank you so much for all you insights.  As I write this I have the nightly news on and I have it pretty good when you see what is happening in the world.

S. W.


It sounds like you are feeling complete with this thread, so I will close it. Sending hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama