August 6, 2016

The rescuer

We just got home a few hours ago. It always seems like the drive home takes way longer than the drive up - partly because there's no more excitement and anticipation of fun to come like we had on the way north. But also, we make more stops, we slow down considerably, hoping to make the vacation last as long as possible and delay the inevitable return to our reality.

Don't get me wrong, I love our reality - but it was just so nice to spend time with everyone. Talking a lot with my mom was really refreshing, and spending time with my dad was a lot of fun. I ate better than I usually do there but still differently than I do when I am at home with complete control over my eating, but I didn't sweat it. I didn't let food decisions guide my days. We are home now and back in our routines - in the morning, I will weigh myself for one small measure of how I did, and then head to the grocery store with plans for how to get back into my groove. I'm feeling better prepared for post-trip recovery, compared to past vacations - ready to get back into good decisions, instead of letting out-of-the-ordinary decisions continue until I've regained every lost pound of the year, plus more.

One of the first few days we were there, we all went over to my sister and her husband's house for a cookout. It was a nice family day - both my parents at the same house, even, which almost never happens. And then, my phone went off.

The comments on Instagram really mirrored my own experience with it: initial comforting and mild concern that grew into anger and frustration. Important news? Yes. But why share it with me? And why right that moment?

Immediately, I rushed out the front door to sit alone and talk to him, figure out details. He sounded shaken, and I cried, offering whatever help he needed to get through this and get healthy. But the more he messaged me about it, the more I felt the compassion draining out of me. It started with this first definite, certain message. Then more messages - "well, I may not actually..." - and then "my buddy who's a doctor says..." All the usual nonsense. Finally, I told him to just see a real doctor and update me when he has actual information. Phone off and away - this is my time with my family, the ones who love me and care about me.

It's hard to figure out appropriate boundaries with him, trying to be a good co-parent and an amicable ex-wife while maintaining that we aren't spouses anymore and we aren't really even friends. I'm open to working together if he'd like to participate in raising our child. But friendship ... I don't know, now or ever in the future. The history doesn't matter - he hurt me more than anyone has ever hurt me before, and I don't want to be close to people who treat me like that. I can't forget the incredibly painful things that happened, what was said, what was done.

It's just hard, plain and simple. There's no one answer, and there's no one who can step-by-step guide me through it. Every relationship is unique, and this is just one of our challenges.

He knows I'm emotional, and he knows I'll react that way. He loves attention, and he loves being the focus of someone's concern. It's controlling, in a way. He got to dominate the evening without having to even be there - he got to take a day of my vacation and shift my focus onto him and away from relaxing and enjoying my family.

I don't want to care like I do, and I don't know how to stop. My nature is to care. I love being a mother, and I love being the daughter, sibling, friend who helps in tough situations. I think that is a lot of why Matt and I got along so well for so long - he loves being rescued, and I'm a rescuer.

But even I have limits.

The conversation that night ended once he said this to me:

Excuse me, but speak for your damn self.

No, I didn't get thin this year. I don't weigh what I did when the baby was born, much less what I did before. My weight loss this past year was small - I'm still almost a hundred pounds heavier than when we first met.

But that's not the only measure of a year's success.

This year, I survived. I loved my son and cared for him completely on my own. I found extra jobs to make ends meet, and he never went without food, diapers, shelter, or love for a single day. He had a perfect little Christmas and a lovely birthday and now we are here, basking in contentment post-vacation up north.

This year, I found out how strong I am. I reflected on my marriage and saw what I contributed to its failure, and I've worked hard to ensure it doesn't happen again. I'm still not ready to open my heart and my life up to love again, but I know with confidence that someday I will. A year ago, I wasn't so sure. A year ago, I felt broken beyond repair.

And, in a way, it feels nice for him to react like this. I'm the one with expenses, I'm the one with responsibilities, I'm really the only parent - and yet, I'm the one with her stuff together. I don't need to be rescued - I've actually, honestly, truly got this.

He doesn't want me, he wants help ... the help I'd always given so freely in our relationship. He wants everything to be taken care of, without taking any personal responsibility for it. And I'm sorry, but I'm not sorry. I'm not doing that anymore.


Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

The give and take was way off balance in your relationship and he's *still* trying to take from you! That makes me angry for you!

Vickie said...

Very glad you had a good time. Very glad you are learning to make better choices when there. Glad you are able to get back in the swing of things when you return to your own life. Those are all big steps. Be proud.

A tiny word about your ex. I learned when I was very little not to believe a word that my dad said.

Whether it was a big thing or a tiny thing, important or not, if it came out of his mouth, I assumed it was a lie.

If my brother or my mother or another family had a belief that originated from my dad, I assumed that was probably a lie too.

Ironic that you posted this because for years my mother has believed and repeated that my paternal grandmother had breast cancer. I have filled it out on medical forms.

Two days ago I discovered that was not true. She had a biopsy many years ago, but she did not have cancer. So I now know that I should have questioned my mother further on WHY she thought my grandmother had cancer. (This was years after my parents divorced.)

I wonder how many other things I think are the truth, that are actually not.

It is important that you learn not to believe. And it is important that you not react or be triggered. And it is important if your son has contact, which is a big IF for you to consider, that he does not believe anything either.

At the time I decided to marry, I broke off all contact with my dad. There was no way I wanted my kids or my husband to have to deal with his nonsense. It is exhausting to deal with someone who lies, exaggerates, and is totally undependable. Narrcists are raised, they are not born that way. I did not want my kids to think lying was a way of life. The best way to deal with a narrcist is a firm boundary of NO.

My brother and my mother (his ex) still REALLY have not taken to heart that he lies. The extent to which he lies. His second wife did not understand either.

Read definitions of narcissism and see if it all sounds very familiar.

Joan said...

Could he possibly have some form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder? He reminds me of my ex-husband, who does...

hi_missy said...

You are spectacular - reading about you getting to know yourself again this year has been amazing. I am so glad you are starting to realize how strong you are, and how empowering it is to read your story.

Amy said...

Good for you! I think to say an entire year of your life is lost, is truly such a sad reflection. He does need help, and I'm so glad you recognize that that is not the case for you.

When I broke up with my boyfriend of four years that was very emotionally abusive, it really did take me a year to find and rebuild myself. The soul searching that came out of that year was truly amazing and I pride myself in what I accomplished within it! It was a very hard and painful year of my life, but each day the light came in a little more and I uncovered a layer of myself every day, and by the end of it, I finally knew who I was again. It's a shame he might not be working on that for himself, but it's so clear you're working so hard for you and your son and you've made leaps and bounds of progress within that year!

Denise said...

That guy can suck a bag of dicks.

Mrs. O said...

I think it's beautiful how you're finding your inner strength again! The fact that you KNOW the past year wasn't a loss for you says so much about how you've taken everything that's happened to you this past year and decided to see the positives and grown from there. You can't change anyone else and you shouldn't change the person you are because of them, but the beauty of all of this is that you can teach your gorgeous son by YOUR example and you are a shining example of what a wonderful, loving, nurturing and stable person looks like!