I want to tell my kids my side of the story, but I have a very strict policy where I don't gossip. And I don't talk bad about people. I especially don't talk bad about anyone's mother. I try and be as accommodating as possible because life is freaking difficult. Sometimes people need their reputation protected in order to grow, so I try and do as Benjamin Franklin and "Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody." But as of now, my kids are convinced that I abused my ex-wife and made her mentally ill, that I manipulated the court system to win custody of them, and they think I'm still actively trying to control her. And that's ridiculous because I never want to control anyone! Like one of my core beliefs is respecting human freedoms. I really tried to love and support their mom and you cannot love someone and control them at the same time, that's totally against my code of ethics. And it breaks my heart, because I work really hard to be a good dad. My teenagers who I adore really seem to despise me lately and seem to be biding their time to just leave for college.
So here on the internet, I'm breaking my rules. She knows I don't trash talk so she feels confident that I will never disclose the following:
She was my best friend at one point in high school and when she said she loved me, I decided that I was going to fix her. All by myself. And it was a mistake. She cheated on me constantly. I had to get DNA tests to prove my kids were mine. She is diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder. I lived in fear for my life a lot of the time. The first year we were married, I was working overtime, and she thought I was sleeping with my boss. I was not. When I didn't admit it, she cut her arms open and painted "Betrayal of love" in her own blood on the walls. That was one of SEVERAL 72 hour holds. The final straw was after she threatened me with a kitchen knife, I said "Go ahead. Do whatever crazy shit you're gonna do and get it over with!" She put the knife to her own throat and said she'd tell the police I cut her throat. I escaped through the kitchen window and came back with an escort to get my stuff. It was six years of that kind of behavior with her promising to change and then blowing off therapy or refusing meds. So enough was enough.
It's been 12 years since the divorce. The court decided she was not mentally stable enough to have the kids live with her unsupervised so I have full custody and she has supervised weekends with them at her mother's house. She chooses to live in the next county, so that I can't "control her" And I never say a bad word about her. I tell the kids I have no bad feelings towards their mom and hope she has a happy life. But when they come back from weekends with her, they really don't like me. Then they tell their uncle, who employs them part-time, that my ex says I cheated on her, abandoned her, mentally abused her. She also lied about me physically abusing her. Told them I knew how to hit her without leaving marks because of my military training(WTF?)
My kids believe all that about me. And I want them to know my side of the story. But, don't know how to do that without speaking bad about their mom. I want to fix the relationship with my kids before they leave the house for college and just never speak to me again because of lies told about me.
How would you suggest I talk with them about this? Thank you.