The bitter ex is a detached, troubled shadow of their former self. In case after case, regardless of gender or the circumstances surrounding a divorce, if an ex turns bitter, the same vindictive and destructive behavior will result. They cease to have an identity of their own, instead becoming a cartoon character, a walking cliche.
To identify this behavior as belonging to someone in their right mind is to justify it as acceptable. The bitter ex is acting in a highly emotionally-charged state – that is, they’re bordering perilously on psychosis and cannot accept any responsibility for the divorce, which is the cornerstone of their disorder:
By way of example, here are excerpts from actual court papers and several years of hate (e-)mail from bitter ex-es, in no particular order and from no particular individual:
“I will always be respectful to you and will demand that our kids respect you. Nothing in that area will ever change.” ~one month after separation.
“I sent you an email in which I asked a number of questions that I hoped you would consider in your relationship to [bitter ex] and to your children. I think you owe me a carefully thought-out answer to each question that I raised.” ~email from the bitter ex’s parent (apparently the in-laws ‘deserve’ to be involved) in the wake of said separation.
“Please try to control your rage around the children.” ~squeezed into the body of an otherwise procedural email written by a bitter ex on which the attorneys were copied.
“People who marry janitors can work full time. People who marry college grads can [stay home and] help their spouses become Vice Presidents some day.” ~attempt to engage in justification for why $5,400/month isn’t enough to live on and why the bitter ex shouldn’t have to work.
“Do you know the neighborhood kids names? Have you baked them cookies?” ~intended as an example of how uninvolved ex spouse is in comparison to the bitter ex
“I am constantly harassed by you.” ~this statement is the mantra of a bitter ex – a mission statement of sorts, and is included in almost every court document.
“Any harassing text/email messages are sent directly to my lawyer.” ~often the response (for justification) when confronted with inconsistencies in behavior, lies or lack of cooperation with court-orders. Asking them to take responsibility for their words and actions is ‘harassment’.
“You are to stay curbside for pickups and drop-offs. At no time are you allowed to come onto the property…there are items missing from the house and I can not but wonder who has taken them. These rules are set up for my safety due to your propensity to violence toward me” ~one of many invented ‘crimes’ inserted into a coordination email for the benefit of the court mediator evaluating custody. The bitter ex enjoys painting a colorful picture of dealing with invented violent and abusive behavior for the benefit of the court in an effort to sway judgments in their favor. The truth is rarely dramatic enough.
“I am in no way bitter, vindictive or whatever other words you want to throw my way. I have such peace and joy.” ~at the bottom of a 3-page ranting email.
“I have never sent hateful emails, text messages and other inappropriate communication…”
“Do you realize what they call after school care at our school – I know you do?! They call it “jail”…because they are sent out on the hot playground for several hours with little access to shade, and water and no access to food at all. There is one minimum wage aid on the playground and the kids are basically baby sat…just because you want a divorce doesn’t mean that the children need to suffer.” ~explanation of the conditions at a several-thousand-dollar-per-year private school after-school care program; the children in this scenario do not, in fact, attend school in the slums of India.
“Ask them what they want: ‘hey, do you want to go to after school care or do you want to go where [parent] has fresh cookies waiting, a hot homemade meal and [parent] helps you with your homework.'” ~hmmm….when you put it that way….apparently stating that anything short of freshly baked cookies and having a parent ‘help’ (i.e. ‘do’) their homework for them every day after school is “torture”.
“I’m not letting no Mexican doctor touch my child.” ~in response to a suggestion by ex spouse that one of the kids be seen at the local (award winning) children’s hospital after being diagnosed as ‘borderline suicidal’ by the bitter ex (ironically this diagnosis came shortly after bitter ex was asked to stick to court orders they didn’t like). Bitter ex later rescinded this diagnosis, simply stating that they ‘never said that – you overreacted’.
“I spend over 4 hours every night with the children studying all of their subjects with them. The children each have never gone below a 3.57 grade point average per semester…the children are bright and have flourished with my coaching and guidance. I have immersed myself in the quality and content of their education.” ~code for “I do their homework for them which makes me a better parent than you.”
“Our counselor came to the professional determination that you were either bi-polar, had a brain tumor or you are on drugs.” ~a bitter ex’s invented reasoning for why anyone would ever want to leave them.
“This weekend was again an opportunity for [ex spouse] to mentally torture [their] children.” ~email from a bitter ex to a court-appointed child custody mediator
“The community is very concerned about [ex spouse]. They observe [their] bizarre behavior…” ~email from bitter ex to mediator, apparently demonstrating that they have polled the entire ‘community’.
“Please refrain from drinking alcohol or abusing any drugs during your time with the children.” ~the last of four ‘requests’ in an email from a bitter ex (mediator cc’d), oddly out of context and inaccurate but well-placed at the end of the email for maximum impact.
“Please be careful when you have the kids that you are on top of making sure they hang out with the right crowd.”
“I am the responsible and stable adult here.”
“You have tortured [insert child’s name here] again today. This is what I clearly call an atrocity!” ~actually, ‘atrocity’ is usually reserved for describing events like genocide. In this context ‘atrocity’ refers to after-school care.
“Your bizarre drug induced-like behavior in public (now documented), your numerous traffic tickets, your use of prescription painkillers, your threats to kidnap the kids (now documented), your anger management issues (now documented)….is very disconcerting.” ~guess who was copied on this email? That’s right! The court-ordered child custody mediator!
“You scare the children, you scare me, you scare our community.”
“It is crazy that you walk around with 2 different phones at all times…only people with shady jobs do such a thing.” ~or…people that are unable to use their work phone for personal reasons?
“In your letter to the counsel you suggested that I was “angry, emotionally labile, and my feelings about [ex spouse] may be communicated to others including the children.”…However I have NEVER communicated this anger to the children or thru the children. I am the mature adult in this situation….At no time have I attempted to undermine [the other parent’s] authority” ~open letter to mediator, from bitter ex, upon learning that despite reams of emails full of ‘proof’ and ‘numerous witnesses that will testify what a horrible parent [ex spouse] is’, mediator’s recommendation was for 50/50 custody and psychological counseling for the bitter ex.
“I am obligated to share with you the very troubling events that have occurred since our last meeting…June 9, 2008 Our [child] is taken out for dinner against [child’s] adamant request to go straight home after [child’s] game.” ~one of several ‘troubling events’ relayed to the child mediator as ‘evidence’ of what a bad parent ex spouse is.
“Well, I can no longer get my nails done each week, and I’ve had to give up playing tennis at the club.” ~bitter ex’s response when asked in court about the financial impact of the separation and support orders.
“I see [ex spouse] at church and he is always very unkempt.” ~a reason – given by one of the bitter ex’s puppets (a.k.a. friends) on the stand – as to why ex spouse is a bad parent and should lose custody of the kids.
“The children tell me that [ex spouse] is an emotional wreck. “[Ex spouse] cries every 10 minutes” ~email from bitter ex to child mediator regarding ex spouse’s emotional condition. Contextually it may be important to note that this email was written approximately three days after ex spouse’s father had passed away (I don’t know – that might account for the crying…).
“The community that experiences you will gladly testify in court that you are vacant, text all the time, have rage at me and the children. The community believes that you continually exhibit signs of someone who is taking drugs or who is bi-polar.” ~the community = the 3 or 4 gullible friends (puppets) bitter ex has managed to convince and manipulate.
“You are a huge disappointment to everyone.” ~consensus (real or imagined) is an important mechanism for justification.
“They are frightened of you. I am frightened of you. You are ruining our children’s lives.” ~in response to ex spouse’s confirmation that they will be sticking to the court-ordered custody schedule (which was the original request of the bitter ex…until it no longer worked for them).
“I have documented dozens of infractions.” ~email to mediator listing all of bitter ex’s perceived injustices, whether real or imagined, and referring to them as “in violation of the court order” or “in contempt of court”. Perry Mason lives!
“[Ex spouse] has degraded into a person that has no morals, no integrity and no mental stability. The children need to be protected from this very unstable person. I on the other hand continue to provide stability and love to our children. I encourage them to love their [parent] and to call and give them hugs when they are with them.” ~bitter ex in an email to mediator. In other words, I’m not a raving lunatic – I just sound like one.
“[Ex spouse] has purchased a gym membership for [the kids]. On numerous occasions, [ex spouse] has dropped them off at the gym. The kids are now being exposed to numerous older teenage boys that could potentially have extremely negative influences on them. [Ex spouse] is exposing our children to older boys who may have drug, criminal or sexual deviant issues.” ~email to mediator condemning the fact that the two teenaged kids asked to play pick-up basketball with friends at a local gym and did not particularly want the ex spouse sitting around supervising them.
And then there is my favorite, the ultimate bitter ex statement…one that can unequivocally be called funny (hilarious, even) without conveying insensitivity:
“My children do not eat institutional lunches.” ~in response to an inquiry from ex spouse to bitter ex about signing the kids up for hot lunch at school for convenience purposes.
There are reams of emails and text messages, all of which illustrate (better than any visual observation could) the slowly devolving mental capacity of the bitter ex. If it didn’t involve actual kids and actual people, it might be kind of funny. Unfortunately, these are real comments from very troubled and destructive parent(s) that have served to direct the state-of-mind of real kids and their relationship with the other parent(s). They are representative of the sub-set of divorcing and divorced individuals that cannot cope with the pain of divorce (or that started the process with an underlying personality disorder, which is more than likely the case).
To wield one’s power (in a parental role) in such a way that it disturbs the evolution of a loving relationship between kids and the other parent is the ultimate in selfish behavior during a divorce. The craving to be the favored parent – the ‘better’ parent – in order to soothe the hurt and pain is commonplace – I’m sure some can probably even empathize with this coping mechanism. Unfortunately, the aftermath is confusion and divided loyalties on the part of the kids.
Blaming a divorce and all that follows on just one spouse equates to denial. Denial is a powerful tool for justification. Justification creates an opportunity for end-justifies-the-means tactics which poison the well and turn an already traumatic event (divorce) into a protracted, raw and gut-wrenching mutli-year (and maybe lifetime) saga. Healing cannot take place, because one spouse cannot move on.
Moving on involves accepting your part in the ending of your marriage, bitter ex. This applies regardless of the circumstances surrounding the divorce.