Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My ex is a drunk. We were together twenty years, sharing a home, a
law practice, and a son. Three years ago she went bonkers and told
me how unhappy she had been for years, and how she needed to “find
herself.” She moved out, and left me to single parent our son through
his last year of high school. It was depressing, scary, and deeply
wounding. I have been in counseling to deal with my personal issues
and have made a lot of progress. My son is doing fine, and deals with
his mom only under carefully controlled conditions. But the people we
used to know as friends, as well as every attorney, judge, and legal
assistant in town love to tell me about how she is “hitting the bottle,”
“hitting the skids.” “failing her clients,” “showing up drunk at
hearings,” etc etc etc. They seem to think I will revel in her failings.
But all it does it make me feel bad that she’s in such sorry shape.
Tired of Hearing It All
If what they’re saying is true she’s in sorry shape because she’s making bad
sorry choices. You feel her pain (on her behalf or your son’s). I’m sorry. Many
people have a horrible need to share gossip; that’s why they come running. They
may also assume you’ll be happy at her fall and think it makes you feel better to
hear. Plainly said: those people are vindictive idiots when it’s not their life that’s
being dissected. If it gets more personal (unless they’re still trapped in the anger
stage of a divorce), they get more sensitive.
When they start talking, say, I prefer not to hear about her. Or, Perhaps you
know attorneys who are in AA; see if they’re willing to contact her. Remember the
general rules are for people in a tailspin: people don’t change until they’re ready;
people don’t change until they hit rock bottom. There are exceptions, but listen
up: she is not your problem to fix. All you can do is to stop the toxicity from
getting into your ears, and protect your son from the gossip or her disturbing role
modeling and influence.