Thanks for answering my nosy questions so thoroughly! I've learned a lot about you, as the thread intended I suppose.
I'm sorry dealing with XH is so horrid and that the courts seem to be catering to him. Your XH sounds a lot like my Dad actually. He was abusive, abused alcohol and drugs, and was sporadically in our lives. I remember many instances of him having a plan to pick us up for an afternoon, and then calling to ask my "permission" to go to a friends party that "came up" instead of spending the day with us. So little seven year old me would say "Ok" because what else was I going to say? But inside of course I felt rejected.
I just saw this wonderful movie called "boy" which is a story of two little boys in NZ with a Dad like that and their different and evolving perspectives on him.
It's hard to say what to do in your position...I'm really glad your kids have your DH in their lives. My Mom never had healthy relationships with males and I had to work some of that out as a teenager - I definitely craved male attention of any variety.
As an adult, my Dad and I have a cordial but pretty distant relationship. He went on to have another family and a daughter when I was 16 who he has a better relationship with. As he got older he got his violent tendencies in check - thank God. He STILL makes promises he doesn't keep all the time (usually about sending gifts to the grandkids) but I am so much better at not expecting anything and also not putting myself out for him or trying to make the relationship have more substance than it does. When I go back East to visit I don't make a huge effort to get together with him, for example. And if I do make a plan, I always put an end-time on it so I don't get sucked in and he doesn't get too drunk. He still drinks a lot. I've struggled over the years with it but also am glad I never shut him out of my life completely because I've learned a lot from having to create my own personal boundaries with him. I bet with yours and your DH's support your kids will find their own way with it eventually, though it must hurt a lot to see them affected by it now. I would say I *do* love him and feel connection to him...he is part of me. I also know he loves me - though he is very, very limited in his abilities.
It is interesting you have anxiety disorder - your "voice" and humor come through in your writing in a way that suggests a vivid inner life. It reminds me of another friend of mine who is very introverted and secretly the funniest person in the world! My DP has severe anxiety disorder as well and my DD has tendencies toward it too - she had panic attacks throughout the year she was 7 which didn't let up until moving to Hawaii. It was terrible, she really thought she was dying at times..sweet little girl. My sister has them too. I feel like I know a lot about it just from having so many people close to me who have it, though it can be very different for different folks. Thank goodness DP has not had a serious flare-up in a while even with the stress of a new baby etc.
Also, I have a driving phobia - just learned two years ago (finally) and I still really don't like to drive at night or long distances though I am glad I did learn. I have a hard time being a passenger too as my Dad took us on some really scary drunk driving trips as a kid, and always sped and took crazy risks. My Mom is a bad driver too and had horrible road rage issues. Add to all that I grew up in Massachusetts, land of the A-hole driver, and voila. My sister doesn't drive either.
Have you ever tried supplements for anxiety? My sister had luck with 5-HTP which is an amino acid and a seratonin precursor.
I think I may write a novel too when I'm done raising kids and have time.