Dear Girlfriend 911,
I was with my boyfriend, Matthew, for seven years. We built a house together, I ran the office side of his business and I had a child by him. We never married. He didn't want to get married until "we learned to communicate." After five years of therapy, I realized I was not the problem, and that I could communicate just fine. I finally decided to leave the relationship because I couldn't stand feeling like the only one working at it. Because we were not married, I had no claim to the house or the business. I left with nothing.
I have our daughter, Jodi, during the week and he gets her weekends. Matthew still wanted to be friends and hang out with Jodi together. He recently invited me camping! Talk about confusing! He was giving me the best hugs ever during this whole moving out and transitioning time. That's when I read your book, Girlfriend 911, and wrote the Goodbye Letter. What power I felt! How much sense does your advice make! Everything I have done wrong was slapping me in the face! Thanks for that eye opener!
Anyway, we still have to communicate because of our daughter. I told him in the letter that we can only talk about her, period. When he was ending his nightly phone call with her tonight, he asked to talk to me. He asked me how to cook quinoa! It was definitely not about parenting! Where do I proceed from here? Where do I draw the line of communication and not seem like a bitch? He is a great father and I would hate to lose that connection for my daughter. Help!!!!!
PS: I forgot to add that he hasn't responded to my letter yet. It's been 4 days so far.
I'm so glad you read my book at the perfect time and that it has been so helpful for you. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
I understand what you're saying when you realized after five years of therapy that you could communicate just fine and Matthew was the problem, but I hope now that you can clearly see in fact you were the problem. Not because you couldn't communicate, but whatever you were saying was falling on deaf ears, and unfortunately you accepted that. Clearly, you didn't
have a high standard for yourself and a strict boundary for your man. As you did accept the crumbs he was giving you and you didn't think you deserved more, that is the energy you put out there, and therefore what came back to you was a big fat NOTHING.
But this is all about to change because by writing Matthew the Goodbye Letter you've finally taken your power back and put yourself in the driver's seat. Well done!! So now moving forward, here is my advice: If you told him in the Goodbye Letter that the only communication you feel comfortable having with him is about your daughter, then you absolutely need to stick to that. No exceptions. At least at the beginning, a very strict boundary is so important in establishing what you will and won't accept, and showing him when you say something, you mean it. He's obviously testing you by asking you an insane question like,"how to cook quinoa?" So this is a perfect time to prove to him that your words match your actions. You never have to come across as a bitch, there is always a nice way of saying these things. For example, "As I explained in my letter, I don't want to answer that question as it has nothing to do with parenting Jodi, and at this point I don't think it's healthy for me to have any kind of relationship/communication with you that extends beyond our daughter."
Remember, it's going to take him a while and some practice to get used to "New Ann," but he'll have so much respect for you when he realizes there is a new sheriff in town and everything is going to change. Also, be aware that the more you behave as "New Ann" and stick to your new high standards and boundaries, the more frustrated Matthew is going to get. He's going to be desperate to get back to how things used to be, when you made life so easy for him and everything he wanted he got (which is why I suspect he hasn't responded to your letter, and might not). He has no interest in having things change, so he'll just ignore your letter, and instead try every trick in the book to coax you back to "Old Ann" because that's comfortable for him, so don't fall for it! Although he liked how easy things were with "Old Ann" because he had all the power, he didn't like it enough to want to marry you, or give you anything when you split up. So, let's see what he does with "New Ann."
Definitely no camping trips, no amazing bear hugs and absolutely no talk about anything other than your daughter! Remember: Stay true to yourself and what it is you want in your life and don't accept anything less. If you accept and stick to that advice, you can never go wrong.
Best of luck. I know you're going to see some huge positive changes in your life, if you haven't already, doing it the Girlfriend 911 way!
- Girlfriend 911