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.