DEAR ABBY: I'm a divorcee who has reconnected with a childhood neighbor, "Levi." He was physically assaulted as a teenager and badly injured. He has made almost a complete recovery, but has a metal plate in his skull and a traumatic brain injury. We have always been friends, and after my divorce, he asked me out.
It felt strange, akin to dating my brother, but he was persistent. We had fun, enjoyed parties and hanging out, and I got pregnant. Immediately I began to resent Levi. Neither of us was capable of raising children. Our 5-year-old now lives in chaos.
I didn't know Levi as well as I thought. His TBI is a much bigger problem than I realized. He cannot control his temper. He's quick to yell at our son, "Jaden," and me, and puts me down in front of him. We have to move to a different area of the home to give Levi space.
He truly cannot help it, but it's hard to tolerate the tantrums. Jaden loves his father anyway and never holds a grudge. Levi frequently apologizes, but the behavior never stops. He has never been physically abusive, but he's walking a fine line with the verbal nastiness. I'm constantly a referee to prevent escalation.
I love both Levi and my son. We are not married. Should I continue trying to make it work? Or should I run for the hills with Jaden? It's loud and often contentious. -- SECOND-GUESSING MY LIFE
DEAR SECOND-GUESSING: Your love for Levi is beside the point. The longer Jaden is subjected to his father's irrational outbursts -- whether they are aimed at you or at him -- the more the boy will feel this is what a normal adult relationship is like. For your son's sake, you should separate. If Levi's abuse escalates from verbal to physical, THAT'S when you should "run for the hills."