Do Jerks Get Second Chances?

I’ve been thinking a lot about second chances lately.

Today was a very difficult day. My oldest child, Big Brother, was evaluated for special needs and found to have not one, but two severe delays. The good news is he will qualify for free preschool and transportation, and they have a lot more to offer him at the new, district-run preschool than his home, church basement preschool. Early intervention is the key to success, they say, and I believe it.

But I was devastated. My kid has always been a big challenge, but I kept telling myself that hewould outgrow it, or it’s not that bad, or sometimes he does what he’s supposed to. But the early childhood experts who evaluated him today were serious and firm: Big Bro has serious emotional/social delays and needs special help. And that is heartbreaking for a mom to hear.

I did the only thing I could think to do: I called my ex and co-parent, Zach. He came over and I cried on his shoulder. We discussed the diagnosis and treatment plan. And that’s when Big Brother lost it. I want daddy to stay! I want to go to daddy’s house! He threw fits and punched his little brother in the eye. He was more dangerous and uncontrollable than I’ve ever seen him. He’d had a long day of tests and treats (bribes) and visits. I, on the brink already from his diagnosis, didn’t feel safe being on my own with two rowdy boys. I asked Zach to stay.

He sighed.

He checked his phone.

Please. Just five minutes. Stay, I said.

Fine, he muttered, but I have plans and I’m already late.

On his way out I gently asked, can’t we put the children first? Sometimes we will need to put them ahead of plans.

His reply: I always wanted to put them first, you’re the one who chose this.

And there it is: tossed back in my face. My single parenting, this divorce, our struggles: my fault.

Yes, I played a part. I managed, I controlled, I denied, and I enabled. I did what I had to do to survive.

I gave him a second chance, a third chance… I lost count. Maybe eight chances? Nine? I honestly can’t remember how many times I found drugs or suspected drug use. It was so painful.

And still, I wonder, did I try hard enough? Is this my fault? If I’d been more patient, more loving, kinder, something… Could I have avoided the pain of this divorce?

Tonight I got an email from Mr. Outdoorsy Tech, the second of its kind this week. (this is the boyfriend who dumped me two weeks ago. See here and here.) Please take me back, he says. I will change. I will be different. I won’t walk out on you again. I promise to give you space. I promise to be a better boyfriend.


I’ve heard a lot of them over the years.

But do boyfriends really change?

I know my husband didn’t.

He is different now, since I kicked him out of our home 17 months ago and stopped enabling him. He is better. Still moderately drinking, he says, but his drug tests are coming back clean.

I feel for Mr. Outdoorsy Tech. I really liked him. I hoped that it might work out. But I’m not sure jerks get second chances with me, not anymore.

I don’t know what to do about this guy who wants to be my boyfriend again, so I’m going to use a few tools that I’ve picked up in the last year or so through therapy and Al-Anon.

I’m going to detach.

I’m going to wait.

I’m going to feel my feelings.

I’m going to pray.

I’m going to sit on it and turn it over to God.

I’m going to do nothing.

I’m not going to reply. Or call him after a few drinks.

I’m going to do nothing.

I’m going to focus on myself, as I’m the only person I have control over, anyhow.

I’m not doing nothing out of spite for Mr. Outdoorsy Tech. I’m doing nothing out of love for me.

If Mr. Outdoorsy Tech and I are meant to be, it will happen.

If he’s really going to be a better boyfriend, either to me or someone else, he can figure out how to be a better boyfriend.

On his own.

I don’t need to help him with that. I’ve got my own life, family, recovery and feelings to manage.


7 thoughts on “Do Jerks Get Second Chances?

  1. Wow, I could have written part of this, except I’m only separated from my addict husband, going on 7 months. I gave him countless chances and now I have to make a decision on finalizing a divorce or continue to “do nothing.” He has thrown it in my face so many times that this is my choice. My decision. He wants to restore our marriage. He wants to come home. He promises things are different and will never go back to how they were. How do I believe him? When all he did was lie for so many years.
    Lately I’ve been stuck pondering how one person’s decisions and actions can have such an impact on someone else’s life. I never wanted this. I never wanted it for me or our children. 😦

  2. My dear WriterlyOne….how I LOVE YOU!!!! Yes, use your Al Anon tools….I continue to attend meetings (not weekly like I needed to), but on a regular basis because they help with guiding me with “How to proceed……” in all areas of my life. Right now, you have been given very upsetting news about your son…I am a first grade teacher and I have several students with delays (social and emotional) and dear friends with children who have delays….and you are so right….early intervention is the key!

    My children are grown, and I still “react” like a mom protecting her cub when their “life plan” goes a different way, and not the way I would have liked it to. And, guess what? I still have feelings of guilt because I divorced their dad when they were young and think…..what if I gave him another chance….what if I took him back after his pleading….which the children heard…..Maybe my two grown sons would be doing better now….blah…blah….blah. Well, my children have come to realize (now that they are grown), that I had no choice, they love him, but realize he is “limited”. And, they’ve also come to realize what a strong mom they have and that’s a great life lesson for boys.

    I suffer from anxiety…..I guess that comes with the territory of living with an addict. My second husband continues to beg, plead, etc. for my “return”. I know for me, I can never ever live in a state of anxiety because of worrying about someone else’s behavior. And that’s what would happen if I ever went back to him…..I would always be waiting for the “inevitable” shoe to drop.

    You are so smart… don’t have to make any major decisions about your last boyfriend right now….do nothing…..focus on you and your children and DO NOT call, text, or whatever after a few glasses of wine…..I’ve done that too.

  3. I am so sorry that you got another message that “it’s all your fault.” I wish that you had a co-parent who would be able to say, “This is a difficult situation. Let’s do what’s best for Big Brother, within the realm of what is possible given our own needs.” You deserve that. Anything less is less than you deserve. As for Mr. O-T, when I read “I’m going to *do nothing*,” I just felt this huge sigh of relief. For you, but also for me. It’s okay to be a place of stillness. It’s okay to let relationships unfold in their own time, and not to always be managing them (or in my case, trying to protect myself from or dismantle potential threats).

    And I’m sorry to hear about Big Brother’s diagnoses. This is definitely something to grieve. It’s also a path toward healing, for him and you, to start with more (disheartening, admittedly) knowledge about where you are. It takes a loving parent to have taken him to all those tests, soothed him afterward, and arranged a plan for care that’s tailored to your particular child. It takes a loving parent not to see a problem and find someone to blame, or try to wish it away.

  4. I like the do nothings!!! I think that’s where I am now. I don’t know if he’s going to get it together now that he’s moved out, or if it will end with the big D. I can agree that him throwing it in my face that it’s all my fault and I made this choice and blah, blah, blah is getting REAL OLD, REAL FAST!! Is it wrong that I put it back on him? I feel guilty for tearing his a** apart, but sometimes it just comes out! How is it MY fault that you drank every day and forgot we existed? And all this pain you feel now, although it is all at once, is what I’ve been agonized with for YEARS(roughly about 6 years of the 8 year relationship)!! And he tried to throw our marriage vows in my face and said I broke them. I calmly looked right in his eyes and answered that it also said in those vows, something along the lines of “”I promise to make you happy”. He didn’t like that much. Oh well. I have to do nothing, let go and let God.
    I hope that things get better for Big Brother! One day at a time!! If Mr. Outdoorsy Tech really wants to work it out, he will prove it by action! No need to settle for someone who does not treat you well. 🙂

  5. Hey girl,
    Just wondering how you and Big Brother are doing. I know you are going through a lot right now. Me too. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you and was hoping you were doing ok. Stay strong.

  6. Yes. We all get multiple chances because we are human and we all err but when do the we get to move on? Good for you that you are moving forward! I have tried but it didn’t happen when I asked him to move out 3 years ago because the daily marijuana use (growing and distribution) and weekend coke use turned into a daily bath salt use (according to him – it was legal, he was using it merely for weightloss). I tried to hold it all together. He used it against me telling me he would turn everyone against me and in the end would take the kids too and he has practically succeeded and may still. (Yes, when it was too much for me, I found myself in a dark place.) We were granted joint custody, because I had hidden everything so well and for so long I had no proof. He found a girl a month after separation and suddenlythe two of them were able to take care of two young kids (and suing me for full custody.) Where was this person who left me in the hospital just hours after my daughter was born because he needed something stronger than the marijuana that he was sneaking out to smoke every 20 minutes or so? The ultimate betrayal was that our marriage counselor said that I was the one that initated violence in an evaluation, not that I was merely defending myself against the violence of someone on mind-altering substances. (This was after he was arrested for felony drug possession and distribution – my fault because I was abusive in the marriage that he had to use drugs. According to him, the divorce was so difficult he was left with no other choice but to sell drugs, meanwhile he was making almost 200,000 a year before getting fired for not showing up to work – and not paying a dime in child support or medical expenses.) If I sound hurt, I am. 3 years, enough money (mine mainly because he was unemployed) spent on evaluations, lawyers, experts, etc. to put my children through college or buy a house – even in CA. Untold numbers of police interventions (I have restraining orders against him but he continues to call them to report me for abuse, even at 4 am when I have my kids and they come.) Several Child and Family Services investigations – all reported against me and cleared but the last one charged him with abuse. His continued stalking, multiple arrests for violence and violating the restraining order, positive tests for bath salts and meth, his numerous motions and filings in family court – I saw the judge at a restaurant and she said hello and knew my name. I am publicly being blamed as some she-bitch who is a father hater and out to get him because he has no custody. No mention of his drug arrests and drug abuse other than he graduated from drug court (thank you SF.) Abandoned by friends- no one in our white, suburban, middle-calls neighborhood wants to get involved. Not their problem My family of origin is 1,000s of miles away. The court insists that dad deserves to have visits (although the kids now have a restraining order against him because he kept violating his visitation orders). I am trying but how much more? How much longer do I need to pay for a mistake that I made? How many second chances does he get and when do I finally get mine?

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