Dear Ann Landers: The letter from the woman with the fugitive ex-husband struck a familiar note with me. I, too, was divorced after a crazy and abusive marriage. After four years, my ex-husband still has not adjusted to our parting. In fact, I believe his obsession with getting the family back together is more intense than ever. He writes letters, calls and sends gifts. I have seen him sleeping in his car outside of our home. He annoys my friends with frequent telephone calls and turns up at family gatherings uninvited. He also has come dangerously close to running me over with his car.
Yes, I have an order of protection, and I have had him arrested, but nothing changes. I have done everything possible to set and enforce boundaries, but I am losing the battle. No matter what he does or how many times he does it, the consequences are no greater than a slap on the wrist, and back he comes, making my life miserable. I cannot afford to go on like this financially or emotionally.
I have asked the court to allow me to move out of the area with the children and to have his visits supervised. My parents have offered to pay travel costs. I believe time and distance will give him a chance to get his life together. But no way will the court system consider this solution. They insist that I continue to co-parent with this nut. So on we go, dancing to the tune of his craziness.
I am a nervous wreck, and the children are exhausted. There are days when I think my ex will go berserk and kill us all. This is no life for me anymore. Do you see a way out of this, Ann?
-- M.A.D. (Mother Against Do-Nothings)
Dear M.A.D.: You are right to be concerned. Your ex-husband sounds mentally unstable and possibly dangerous.
There are several things you can do. First, you should file stalking charges against this man who sleeps outside your house and tries to run you down with his car. Then contact the local battered women's shelter and ask staffers to help you set up a personal safety plan. This could save your life. Finally, see an attorney about having the custody arrangement sharply modified. This man is clearly unbalanced, and I am not at all sure your children are safe with him.
If you do not know how to locate your local battered women's shelter, call the National Domestic Violence Hot Line at (800) 799-7233 or for the hearing-impaired, call TDD: (800) 787-3224. Get going, and good luck to you.
The hero cat
Dear Ann Landers: You recently printed a letter from a woman who was worried that her pet cat might survive her and her husband. You told her, "Cats are not famous for their loyalty." I am sure you have never owned a cat.
Several years ago, I rescued an old cat, cold and hungry, that had been hanging around my alley. "Blackie" decided he absolutely adored me and has been my friend ever since. One day, I broke up a fight between two large dogs. As I separated the animals, one of the dogs bit my leg. I screamed. Suddenly, Blackie scaled the fence and jumped on the back of the dog, digging his claws into the dog's fur. I pulled the cat out of harm's way.
Ann, you are mistaken about cats' lack of loyalty. My cat was willing to die for me.
-- Charles in Dallas
Dear Charles: Thanks for the testimonial. Blackie sounds like a real cool cat. I hope you gave him extra treats for his act of heroism.
Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.