You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Dear Dr. Sherry,
I'm in a confusing relationship with my ex and his girlfriend. I have a 24-year old son from my ex whom I never married. I left him when my son was 3-years-old because of his inability to support us. He went on with his life and so did I. He has been in an eight-year relationship and conceived three children. I have only my son. The woman he is with now is coming to the same realization that I did three years into the relationship, and she has confided in me. I in turn lend a sympathetic ear and consoling shoulder and have even picked up a couple of their expenses in the process to help out. She has a newborn child that I have helped with some of the expenses for as well. Her son, 6, and daughter, 5, view me as their auntie – I’ve taken them to events that their parents could not afford to take them to as well as called them and seen them on a number of occasions where I was viewed as part of the family.
I know you’re thinking, where is your ex, their father and her man, in all of this? To a certain extent, he is the same person that I left 21 years ago. He has the same mindset, and is the same individual who doesn’t own up to his responsibilities. The girlfriend has on many occasions thrown him out but has always accepted him back. She has not vocalized why she accepts him back but I could assume she still loves him and also his health has been decreasing with time. I know that you’re going to ask me why is this any of my business. I have my own life, problems and responsibilities. Believe me, I would want nothing else but to block their issues out and to just take care of my own, however, the big “but” is the children and my son are affected if I do so and more likely than not, it won’t be in a positive way. I’m also wondering if the reason that I’m not able to make a clean break is because as much as I don’t want to admit it, the family he has with this woman should have been our family and that I still have feelings in that respect and feel the need to cling to that falsified notion even though he has not changed. I’m confused on where to draw the line without losing the relationships I developed with her kids and my son who is so entirely grateful for me being supportive of his siblings when his father is not.
Now, wait a minute. I was following your story and almost buying into your rationale until I realized your son is 24-years-old. If your son was 5 or 6, I could understand why you would want to spend time bonding with your ex husband's children. However, your son is old enough to be his children's father. This is BS, sis. The truth is that you are spending time with his children because you want to be in his life and theirs. It is quite obvious that you have unresolved issues with your ex- husband. You have found a way to stay in his life under the disguise of needing to” help out!” Really?! Being able to listen to the problems of his current girlfriend gives you the one up. It also validates your feelings and complaints about your ex husband. You seem to be passive aggressive about enjoying having them to depend on you. This also gives you hope that if he ever changes, he will be indebted to you and run back into your arms. Rather than continuing to take care of his responsibilities and stay in their business, maybe it is about time to be honest with yourself and ask yourself why do I give a crap? You should not use the children, especially your 24-year-old son, as an excuse. As women, it is difficult to let go when we truly love someone, regardless of whether the person we love is irresponsible, inconsiderate and unhealthy for us. These relationships are often toxic but for some reason women try to justify staying in them. You are no different in that you are craving the chaos and have become accustom to being in a toxic relationship. In order to free yourself, you must be honest with yourself. I would recommend that you seek individual therapy to help understand and process why you have not been able to walk away from all of this and move on with your life. You deserve more, but you must want more first. -- Dr. Sherry
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