Sad for my boyfriend
I can't seem to add to my original post under this forum section, so I've made a separate post.
At the moment I'm struggling to arrange my thoughts clearly, so please bear with me.
I have mentioned in a comment on someone else's post that things have improved quite a bit, especially on the boyfriend's part. He's stuck with 2 kids that his wife basically had on her death bed with a severe, life limiting illness, convincing him that she was going to be the outlier to all stats, since she had some menial job in a hospital and was almost a physician (spoiler alert- she wasn't). She carked it a good few years ago, well before I came onto the scene. The kids have now got diagnosed with ASD and ADHD, and there's a genetic risk of the older one developing schizophrenia, all that from the maternal side. He's almost a teenager and throughout life mentioned and then denied voices instructing him to hurt others, some occasional paranoia about ridiculous things etc. This is the space to be watched, unfortunately.
Anyway, since I got involved and directed them to the right professionals, diagnoses and meds came along, and they're responding very well, letting their kindness and intelligence shine through. We get along a lot better, and I do enjoy their company a lot more. They're also in the gifted range of IQ, like their father, and I love learning science facts from them, talking about relationships etc. This is not to say that everything is hunky dory now, they'll still need a lot of professional help (occupational therapy, psychologist etc.), but it's a great start. And the biggest bonus is that they've always accepted me from the beginning, even though I've got a lot firmer boundaries then their father. They keep saying how much they would rather live with me than their dad (who makes them go to school and has limits on screen time, gasp!), and I jokingly say that they know me well enough now to realise that with me they'll have broccoli for dinner and there'd be no space for nuggets in my fridge, ever. In that area all is going well.
One thing that's shifted for me, in a good way, is that I got validation for my suspicions about their BM being an extremely selfish and manipulative, cruel person. And I am just figuring out how to deal with it. Full details in another post in this section of the forum, but basic, I made all these conclusions independently, and everyone in my boyfriend's circles and the boyfriend himself have been limiting their comments about her around me, I assume to be respectful, which is how it should be. I should also say that my natural/default position is to not blame the woman when I first learn about a relationship breakdown, until I'm shown otherwise, so it was unusual for me to get this strong bad feeling about the BM, who had a pretty sad life story with her illness etc.
Any statements made around me about her were mostly factual/neutral, with a couple of very basic nice things said about her. And it drove me nuts, feeling this chasm between my perception of her (an awful, possibly abusive and entitled leech with a reasonable outward image) and the impression I got from others that she was seemingly an ok person. Which could also be just that people don't speak ill of the dead, or that she's been long gone and everyone thought it not worth talking about old bad deeds, or any number of things, now that I think of it.
Anyway, I ran into a woman from by boyfriend's social circle a little while ago, who's known him for close to two decades. She's known for having no filter, so to speak - not an ill-meaning person, but she'll say whatever is on her mind, good or bad. Somehow it came out of the conversation that she asked whether BF talks much about the late BM, and I said that he does to a respectful degree, and I get an impression he puts her on a bit of pedestal. She was surprised and said that he has no reason to put her on a pedestal, since she was always known to put him down, make fun at his expense (in a clever way, where people would laugh, but it would then leave a bitter taste in one's mouth) and was generally high-strung and anxious. And apparently that was obvious to everyone who knew them.
The conversation ended at that, but she said she's happy to talk again. I was fully aware to not overshare with this woman because of her lack of filter and was very vague and generic myself, in case you're about to warn me.
This conversation, even though it lasted a few minutes, seems to have had a huge effect on me. I suppose I feel like my gut feeling was right (it usually is), and that I wasn't just misdirecting my anger about the kids' problems at the absent person who isn't here to defend herself. At the same time, I also feel that my occasional irritation with the boyfriend is now directed at the rightful target. And I'm more aware that he's the kind of person who put up with any kind of treatment to be loved. Well, he's grown a lot better boundaries since he first met her, but I feel that little wounded boy is still somewhere in him. I got annoyed with him a couple of times (poor parenting related), and I could see the immediate fawning response in him, even though I'm not particularly scary, I don't raise my voice (although I'm sure you can hear irradiation in my voice and I'm very clear about what I find unacceptable and how I expect it fixed), and that made think about all the crap he had put up with in his marriage.
He's very willing to talk to a psychologist in the near future (his own idea, unprompted by me), since he's never really shared any of his grief or difficulties, and I was the first one who got a bit of a glimpse into all of this. He knows that I'm not his therapist and that there'll be plenty of stuff I'm not an appropriate person to share with, so I'm not worried about this. But part of me also feels like I need to very gently start bringing up the idea that perhaps he was mistreated/used/abused/controlled in that relationship. I feel like it won't be completely novel to him, but I also worry that he might clam up and get defensive , although I have no evidence of ever presenting like that. Is it my place to bring it up? Should I leave it to therapist (god know when that will be though)? Any other thoughts?