WTF Wednesday: My ex tried to kill himself and I am SO MAD!

single mom advice


Dear Emma,

My ex recently tried to kill himself, and I don’t know what to do.

He had not called my kids in a week — he was to pick them up for their annual 4th of July weekend. No texts, no calls, no answer on his cell. I became nervous and called the police to check in on him. The sergeant got on the phone and informed me my ex had attempted suicide the night before my call — put gas on in his apartment and slit his wrists (thank God the neighbors called when they smelled gas).

He was in the psych ward for two weeks and now in a rehab program for alcohol abuse and depression. Now I have my kids full time. Since he is not working now, all child support stopped, and I am terrified of what the future may hold. I had finally given my kids stability, good schools, and I have a good full-time job after being a full-time stay-at-home mom during my marriage. I feel really alone now — alone with no breaks and in a financial paycheck-to-paycheck status because my ex was selfish and irresponsible. Thank you for listening. I have to vent to someone, and I have no real friends as I live in the burbs and everyone is are married and do ‘couple’ things. I’ve been dating someone for a year, but that is ending as he refuses to introduce me to his kids. 

I’m scared, lonely, broke and exhausted! 

— Courtney

Hi Courtney,

Man, what a mess. I am so sorry.

Lots of single moms find themselves in crisis of some sort or another, and many of us have found we must parent alone — logistically, financially, and emotionally. Here is my advice:

Focus on what you can control: your home, your income and career, your social and romantic lives, the quality of time with your kids and your own emotional well being. You cannot control your ex. And once he gets out of the rehab program, you must take steps to manage that relationship differently, because he is unstable.

Buy yourself breaks from the kids. Sitters, send them to camp, relatives, whatever. Just get a break! No guilt allowed!

Earn big. Just earn a lot of money. You already proved you are capable and hardworking —  so few SAHMs make it back like that. Just take child support out of the equation, and kick ass. Especially when your ex gets back on his feet, and starts paying support again, remember: He can stop paying at any time! DO NOT DEPEND ON THAT MONEY.

Get angry. This sucks and it isn’t fair. Go there, don’t hold back. You are entitled to rage.

Forgive him. He’s sick, yes perhaps selfish, and can’t deal. You can deal. So deal. Show your kids what it means to be compassionate and loving. And forgiving.

Find friends. You need support. This might mean moving to a different community. Elbow your way into the married-couples community, get some gay male friends, hang out with young, single people. NOT EVERYONE is married in your community! You need friends, support, a different man to date. By prioritizing relationships in your own life shows kids the value of friendship, love and relationship.

Hang in there. You have far more strength than you realize.



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2 thoughts on “WTF Wednesday: My ex tried to kill himself and I am SO MAD!

  1. I have been through a very similar experience and can say, a year and a half later, that it will get better. My ex-husband was heavily into drugs and alcohol, but still had some time for physical custody. I was advised by my lawyer that there was nothing I could do to stop him seeing them until he “really” messed up. Attempted suicide, felony drug charges, and an involuntary psych stay were the best thing that could have happened for me to protect my kids. I was able to get sole physical custody (get this through a parenting plan modification and go through the courts!!)), so they did not have to be around that or exposed to more than they already had. The financial piece is stressful, but in the end, it is just money. The health, well-being, and safety of your children are a bigger priority. I won’t sugar-coat it and say it’s been easy or a wonderful life lesson. It sucks. I have been angry, depressed, worried, anxious, flighty … you name it, I’ve been on that emotional roller coaster. Friends and family have been great, but cannot truly relate or understand. Getting yourself worked up over what may or may not happen won’t help you or your kids. Take things as they come; one day (or one moment) at a time. My kids now see their father at supervised visits. They know the difference between use and abuse. They know that I want them to have a relationship with their dad, but everyone needs to be healthy and safe.

  2. Wow. I understand that she would feel anxious and scared, but angry! First off, she referenced their kids as her kids. Selfishness comes to mind on her part, not his.
    Second the father of her children tried to kill himself and all your worried about is money, being angry and accusing him of being selfish!
    This is obviously a really hurt person. No one tries to take their own life out of selfishness. They do it out of hopelessness and desperation.
    No one actually wants kill themselves. They often justify it by telling themselves that the people in their lives will be better off without them.
    Imagine the impact on her kids if he managed to kill himself? They’d be devastated.
    I feel like the advice her should be get support, get out there, focus on the things you can control and lastly have some compassion for the father of your children. Understand that it’s not personal against you and stop acting like it is.
    My two cents!!

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