Learning to accept the things I cannot change will be a lifelong journey. I’m getting there one step at a time.
Learning to accept the things I cannot change will be a lifelong journey. I’m getting there one step at a time.
I am a member of a few forums and discussion boards. On one of them a woman posted for support on making a decision about her current boyfriend. She described him and his behavior in such a way that I wanted to personally rescue her from this mooching loser. At one point she said that he “provides no support and rarely cares about my needs.” The only positive I heard her say was that she knows he will always love her.
That got me thinking… I asked her if she really meant “love,” though, or “need?” The behavior she described – not going to work, smoking a lot of pot to the detriment of her health (she has asthma), cheating, not pitching in around the house, and ignoring her expressed needs – were not loving at all. When she left for a few days, he was full of promises and apologies and declarations of undying love. But real love cares about your needs and provide you with support. Someone who is mooching just needs you around. It might feel good at first, especially when you confuse it with love, but it gets old pretty quickly.
I have been guilty of confusing feeling NEEDED with being LOVED. That’s a trap. Those two things are not the same. I poured everything I had into my husband and then some because he “needed me to.” I let his neediness feed my ego. I don’t know another way to put it… It felt great being able to give him support, love,and understanding, to rub his feet, and do his laundry. To try to “help” him, finance his dreams, give him a “leg up.” It made me feel successful, generous, kind, smart, and loved.
I was all of those things except loved by him. Being taken advantage of didn’t make any of those things more or less true. It just made me drained. Because I gave and gave and gave and got nothing in return except his “love.” A “love” that lied, cheated, did drugs, ran up my bills, and contributed nothing except his ability to cook and wash the dishes. Hey, that’s more than some people get from their partners, right? I convinced myself to settle because he “loved me so much.”
Bullshit! He just needed me. He wanted my money, my house, my foot rubs, my stability, my kindness, and to show me off on his arm. He wanted a narcissistic supply, which I stupidly continued providing to him. Even as I pulled away, demanded more, “forced” him into therapy (he only went to prolong his free ride, lying the entire time), got upset, and threatened to kick him out, he kept getting what he wanted… My attention, my emotional involvement, and more time to drive my car around and sleep in my bed.
Yeah… Exhausting to say the least. When you give everything and don’t get anything in return it makes you tired in a way you can’t describe if you haven’t been there. Parasites eventually sap all of your energy.
Again, that’s not love. Feeling wanted or needed can certainly give off a little high. It doesn’t last, though. And it certainly is not the same as being loved. In the future I don’t just want to be needed or wanted. I want to be loved. Cared for. Put first. Acknowledged. Supported. Treated with respect. Gifted with honesty. Noticed. Appreciated. Trusted. I want tenderness. An equal partner. Someone who will put as much effort into the relationship as I do.
Today could be the day.
The one where I walk to the mailbox
And find my parole ticket.
It could be the day when I open that little door
To the biggest gift I can imagine.
Today could be the day that begins the rest of my life.
The day that I breathe the first breath of freedom
Since the stale cigarette smell that you carried into my world.
It could be the day that you’re erased
Like the glaring error that you were,
The dirty smudge on the white paper of my future,
So crisp and clean before you darkened it.
Maybe today I’ll rip open the envelope
Containing something more precious than gold.
The envelope will be discarded in the trash,
Where you belong,
But its contents will be the most important
Document I’ve ever held in my hands.
Today could be the day
That you’re finally out of my life completely.
In every way.
I don’t have your name.
You are no longer leeching off of me,
Living in my house,
Driving my car,
Using my credit cards,
Or telling me lies.
But this invisible legal bond
Keeps you on the edges of my life.
I want you gone.
Today could be that day.
But it is not.
I don’t have a lot of time tonight because I have a long day tomorrow. However, I wanted to briefly (very briefly) post about my vacation last week.
I just want to say… taking a vacation on my own was wonderful. It was so great to just do what I wanted, when I wanted, and how I wanted. I have always had someone else to cater to, someone else’s idea of a “good time” to consider, and/or some worry that what I wanted to do or eat or whatever wasn’t going to make the other person happy. Only focusing on making myself happy was almost life-changing it was so peaceful and relaxing and empowering.
Some of what I did for me, in no particular order: Visited Harry Potter World, twice. 🙂 Took a trolley around America’s oldest city. Read by the pool. Walked almost everywhere I could. Hit the outlet mall and went shopping. Watched a movie, The Heat, and laughed my ass off. Rode amazing coasters using the single riders line, which was awesome and even landed me in the front row once. Strolled around EPCOT and visited all of the countries and their shops, taverns, and shows. Listened to an Irish duo play music that put a huge smile on my face… for hours. Tried new beer. Went on a winery tour. Ate fantastic food. Sang along at an outstanding concert for a country star who I admire, against a beautiful backdrop. Watched fireworks. Bought candy. Grinned and giggled like a little kid.
And so much more. I didn’t have a single argument, didn’t worry once what someone else thought of my plans, and felt deep contentment. I checked in with friends and family, but enjoyed my own company and my personal time more than I can express.
I have only had one other vacation as peaceful and restful – and that was the cruise with my Mom, my step dad (the one where they got engaged, actually), and his family. That was another trip I took where I just owned what made me happy, even if it was reading 5 books in one week. I guess there’s really something to this taking care of yourself thing. 😉
A year ago today I had a significant moment. I blogged about it (of course) here. It wasn’t incredibly dramatic, but it was the beginning of the end… The moment when my heart finally started moving on from my abusive relationship. It was a turning point, a reclaiming of me. That day was one of the first times I stopped reacting and engaging with Chris when he lied. I started to, but then stopped myself. Instead of yelling or carrying on or crying, I calmly told him that his continued lying was unacceptable and that we would not be sharing a room that evening or anytime in the foreseeable future, until I felt safe with him again.
Over the next few days, I took care of myself. I had a massage. I got a tattoo and a nose ring. I stopped fighting against the truth that he is a liar. That’s what he does, and it is what he is. I wanted the lies to go away, but began to realize that they wouldn’t as long as he was still in my life. So I started moving on by myself, emotionally. I planned things just for me, I went to therapy, I went shopping with friends, and I started realizing that I’m worth it. I contemplated my life and what I wanted, and I started making choices with those things in mind.
During that time he threw temper tantrums. There’s no other word to describe it. He whined about me to everyone he could, including his therapist. He made me into “the bad guy.” He didn’t like that I wasn’t engaging anymore, that I wasn’t rewarding his bad behavior with my attention. He actually threw a fit that I’d gotten a tattoo and piercing, even though I had discussed both with him for weeks beforehand, because I didn’t get exactly what I originally was considering. He couldn’t stand that I’d DARED to make a decision about myself and my body without his say, without him being there. Which is hilarious considering all he did with his body without my knowledge while we were together. Things that could and did affect me, unlike my choice to put something sparkly on my nose and some pretty ink on my shoulder.
Although the thing we called a marriage continued to drag on for a few months after that point, when I look back and try to pinpoint the moment where I started to really change, this day a year ago would be it. That is when I finally accepted that I have no control over him or his decisions and started making healthy ones for myself instead. One year ago I chose not to live the way I had been living. He made the opposite decision – to remain in his negative behaviors and patterns, to continue lying, to keep making excuses for himself, and to keep blaming others. I simply began to realize that those were his decisions to make, and that it would be his loss when I kept moving forward and walked right out of his life. Or rather, no longer chose to have him in mine.
Today I still don’t have the piece of paper I’m craving that officially severs our legal bonds. I was really, really hoping to by this point. I tried to remain realistic about how long the process would take. My lawyer said it should be 2-4 weeks from the date Chris signed the papers until the date a judge made the final decree. I mentioned here that my county only has one judge and he only handles divorce cases on Friday. So I always kept the one month figure in my head as the most likely scenario.
Unlike how long he took to sign everything for the deposition, when it came time to sign the divorce papers I kept texting him daily until he did it. I got the letter from my lawyer at the very beginning of June (around the 4th or 5th) that it was done and in the hands of the courts. I was ecstatic because I’ve been planning a vacation in early July for months. I thought that because it was submitted to the court before the first Friday in June that my odds were good to be divorced before I left. The 4 week mark (the longest estimate my lawyer gave me) would be the end of June, hopefully putting that decree in my hands at the beginning of July.
Last week I got a letter from my lawyer. I nearly stopped breathing. I thought it was THE letter. I thought that the final dissolution of the marriage would come from the courts and the county, but I was hopeful nonetheless. Instead it was a letter from my lawyer saying that their part in the process was finished, so they would be filing my case away shortly. Hoping that meant they knew something I didn’t, I sat back and waited for the letter from the county. Now, several days later (and the last one before I leave on vacation), I still don’t have it.
I have to admit that I’m pretty disappointed. Not that it matters… not that it makes a big difference… But I really, really wanted to be completely and totally done with him in every way before I left for my vacation. I wanted this to be my first “official” vacation as a single woman once again (actually, my first vacation as a single woman, period, because I haven’t been single for more than a month or two since age 15). Sadly, it doesn’t look like I’ll have that piece of paper in my hand.
That doesn’t mean that my divorce from him isn’t completely final in my heart, though. If there’s anything this last year has taught me it’s how to accept the things that I can’t control. I’ve had many, many opportunities to do that, and I’m starting to get good at it. Or at least passable. I certainly can’t control the pace of the court system. I can, however, choose to be happy and satisfied despite my disappointment. I can choose to still consider this vacation a milestone. And I can look back with satisfaction at the journey that this last year of my life has taken me on because I’ve been true to myself. I’m mastering change, not letting it master me.