anonymous Asks ...
Should I give my ex another chance. He was a really nice guy who got abusive to me and my children after he got addicted to crack. I left him three years ago. Now he is back in my life and he has been clean for 18 months. He says he is sorry for what he did and I believe that this is true. If it where just me I would give him another chance but what I want to ask about is will it be damaging to my 13 year old son and 11 year old daughter if this person who has hit them before gets back involved in our lives again. Will they understand that it was the drugs that made him like that or is that asking them to understand to much?
Loren Gelberg-Goff Says ...
First let me say that I give you a lot of credit for having had the courage to separate from this person in the past when he was abusive and addicted. You are saying that he is already back in your life, and it's a question of whether or not to get more involved with him going forward. I am pleased to know that he is clean now, and has been for over a year. There are a few questions that beg answers: 1. Has he been in therapy and is he still in therapy? 2. Have you and your children received any therapy to deal with what has occurred in your lives so that the trauma of past events is truly addressed? Are you and your boyfriend willing to be in couples counseling so that old patterns in your relationship do not reappear?
I am a believer in second chances as long as certain guidelines and boundaries are addressed and enforced. It's wonderful to be drug-free, but it is also imperative that both the addict and the people in his life learn new coping skills and strategies so that the reason for turning to drugs as the escape is no longer the coping mechanism of choice.
You are teaching your children about love, relationships, self-esteem, self-respect and communication. We do not have to reject someone because they have or have had a drug problem, BUT we must insure that we are always first and foremost treating ourselves with the love, respect and compassion that we all deserve. Being addicted to anything is a symptom of disrespect for oneself. When that person treats the people in his life with disrespect/disdain, disregard, etc. then strong boundaries must be enforced... not out of anger, but out of love and respect... I would absolutely want to know HOW your boyfriend has changed (other than not using drugs) and what he has learned and how he has grown.
It is incumbent upon your boyfriend to earn back the trust of you and your children that he lost as a result of his abusive behavior. Drugs may be an explanation, but they are not an excuse. He must take ownership of his past behavior, and not simply apologize, but demonstrate through action and communication that he is in fact different and is wiling to do what is needed to regain your children's trust. This is about his desired outcome... and if it's to be in a loving and healthy relationship with you and your children, then he has to decide what it is he's willing to do to help create that relationship.
All relationships take work and conscious, loving attention. Everyone enters into relationships with history and beliefs. This is a golden opportunity for you, your boyfriend and your children to explore what relationships are, what roles everyone plays and how each of you feel in the relationship. The goal is to create a warm, loving safe and respectful environment. This can be done if you are all willing to work together and you and your boyfriend choose to be in your relationship differently than you both were in the past.
I realize that there is a lot of territory to cover before you commit your heart and soul to this relationship, Please take your time, and move forward slowly... not so much cautiously, as mindfully and consciously so as to make sure you are handling life issues that arise (and they always do) in a respectful and compassionate way~ for you, yourself and your children. Please contact me if you have any additional questions or concerns...