Bad mouthing my ex-husband to blow off steam has come back to haunt me:
During my first divorce I never hesitated when it came to bad mouthing my soon to be ex. After all, he had hurt me with his affair, the violence and the threat to kill me and our five year old daughter, Amy, which lead to a protective order being filed. The trash talking became a habit that lasted two decades.
Unfortunately, one little set of ears heard everything I said. Amy often joined in on these rants, talking about her dad. It wasn’t surprising since she heard bad things about him everyday and had witnessed his negative behavior.
I should’ve gotten a clue about the damage I was doing. Amy was a very angry child after the divorce so I started taking her to a therapist. After a few sessions of play therapy the therapist said, “Amy is the most adult child I’ve ever met.”
By this time I had remarried, which Amy was against from day one. Her step dad tried to win her over but Amy is her mother’s child…stubborn beyond belief. Every Father’s Day she became sullen, with anger boiling just below the surface…with her step dad hoping she would finally accept him as a father figure.
It didn’t take long for Amy’s bad mouthing of her real dad to include her step dad. I didn’t try to stop it, letting it become a way for us to blow off steam as angry daughter/step daughter, scorned ex-wife/unhappy wife. The past and present lived with us in a ripple of negativity.
After years of ups and downs, in the seventh grade, I enrolled Amy in an online high school. I think it was a relief for her not to worry about trying to make friends and being bullied which hadn’t helped her self esteem any. The negative effect of online school was the isolation that let to a lack of socialization. So when Amy got her first job it was awkward for her and she didn’t get along with her co-workers. By the time she got her second job she came out of her shell and did well for a couple of years, which helped her feel better about herself.
Several years ago Amy got mixed up with the wrong kind of friends. She started experimenting with drugs, and eventually she started shooting up meth. That led to her losing her job because of excess absences. Unlike most people she stopped the meth on her own six months later and got another job. Around that time, I was watching TV one day and saw a discussion about children with low self esteem. One part of what was said surprised me: “Parents who bad mouth the other parent in front of their children, cause them to grow up with low self esteem because half of them came from the bad parent they are always hearing negative talk about.”
Yep…I got a clue. It’s my fault Amy has such low self esteem, along with not liking herself enough to get involved with meth. Later I told her about the TV show. She listened but didn’t say much. Months later I overheard her bickering with her friend. The friend had said something bad about Amy’s dad. My daughter told her, “Shut up. He’s my dad and I’m part of him. If someone says he’s a bad person then it makes me feel like one too.”
So, to those parents out there who are still raising your kids, stop and think before you let those ugly words about your ex fly out of your mouth…no matter how mad they make you. Trust me, regret is a horrible thing. I can never undo the damage I did and my heart will never stop hurting.
More from Divorced Moms:
- The Most Important Question: What Do Your Kids Need To Know?
- Adult Kids Of Divorce Who Hold A Grudge
- Is Telling The Truth Parental Alienation?
- Raising A Daughter With High Self-Esteem After Divorce