Monday, December 23, 2013

Taking the high road versus Martyrdom

I have absolutely zero interest in becoming a martyr.  I wish to be a bold, brave, empowered woman who models strength, integrity and joy to my daughter.  I want to take the high road every single time, but I also want to offer compassion to myself.  I am worthy of the things that I offer to others, and I'm not willing to take hits repeatedly in return for compassion.

So, how does one do that?  How does one balance?

Right now, my stomach churns when I think about what impact Bryan's irresponsibility is going to have on my life.  I hope I'm wrong, but I believe that he's down to his last pennies, and that I am going to be financially on my own, with no child support.  Given my own (hopefully very temporary) unemployment, this is slightly dire: I don't have the resources to make it on my own just now.

I have parents with money.  I will have to tuck my tail and beg if it comes to that, and they will help me.  They have made it clear that they understand where I'm coming from, and they see me working my tail off, and they see how many employers I'm talking to, and what the response has been, and they are confident in my ability to create my life, and they're clear that they'll help me if I need to bridge the gap.

But I am prideful, and I don't want help to bridge the gap.  I want to do it on my own.  I want to be wildly successful in every part of life.

I might as well wish for wings, because I will likely need some financial help before this is all over.  If Bryan can't make ends meet, well, it is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it.  I can "insist" or I could lawyer up, but the truth is that he's a train wreck, and what I would gain from that particular song and dance is unknown to me.  Not money, I'm pretty sure of that.

So here I am, angry and frustrated that the capable, college educated man who fathered my daughter, the one who had a successful life filled with career, friends, family, interests, fitness....that man has imploded, and I am often left to pick up the pieces.  Me, the ex-wife!  The one who has declared "you've got to be kidding!" and walked falls to me to decide pieces of his fate.

I'd like off this particular crazy-train, but I think I'm going to be on it for a while.

Katherine wants a father who is active in her life.  She needs to know that all of her needs are met, that she is loved, that she was born into love.  She needs to feel stability in her home - and she has two homes.  She has seen anger and frustration, and she doesn't deserve to live with that kind of unkind noise in her life, especially not between her two parents.  Every single day, I struggle to be the kind of mother who is worthy of her.

So I try to honor her father.

I made sure he had groceries when she came over.  I signed his name to the gifts that I picked out for her, to put under the tree.  I helped her to pick out a gift for him (and paid for it).  I secretly gave him money to buy gifts for me from her, so that she didn't have to worry about not having anything for mom (she takes joy in giving, too).  I made sure my parents made him feel welcome at the school pageant, reminding my father to skip the sarcastic remarks about weight, unemployment, etc.  He is spending the night in my guest room on Christmas Eve, and he'll be at my Christmas party, with my friends, eating my food and enjoying my hospitality.

The goal, of course, is twofold: 1) to give Katherine the childhood she deserves, to the best of my ability; and 2) to be a kind and compassionate.  I care about kindness, deeply.  I care about behaving with integrity, and putting the best of myself into the world, even on the hard days.  Especially on the hard days.

But I'm at the edge where the couple of people I've opened up to have told me that I'm about to cross the line into martyrdom.  What to think of that?

I want Katherine to be free to love her dad.  She only has, and will only ever have, one father.  His DNA swims in her blood, alongside mine, and I picked him for her.  I want her to believe in fairy tales for as long as possible.  That is my gift to her - she is only ten, and she deserves that!

I can't remember when I last felt romantic love for Bryan, but I have tried to love him as a family member - a distant cousin, or perhaps an uncle in Katherine's life.  I have tried to reduce my expectations - the ones that were so thoroughly destroyed in our marriage - and to let them just be together.  I have stopped expecting him to parent the way I think parents should (bedtime, discipline, homework, healthy food, activities, learning, playing) and allow him to parent the way he can (TV and junk food).  I have tried to appreciate him for who he is - funny and smart - and not worry about how he was as a partner, now that he is no longer my partner.

But his implosion leaves me flabbergasted and uncertain.  Where do I draw the lines?

I will not let him live in my house.  It IS my house, not his, and it's not my fault that he spent the money from it already, because I did pay him for it.

But aside from that boundary, I just don't know.  I want to be strong, to move forward, to be compassionate, to take care of myself and Katherine, regardless of what he does.  I want to honor him as a person who is going through difficulty, without taking on his mistakes as my own.  I want to encourage his relationship with his daughter, without owning that relationship.

It's Christmas.  I need to reply to several requests for interviews.  My daughter has a playdate over.  The oven is filled with baking, with more on the counter, and I'm going to have to go back out to buy more flour.  My sister in law is in the hospital and about to have a life-threatening (to her) delivery of a premature baby girl, and my brother and parents are freaking out (which is reasonable, actually).  My bank account is low.  I'm hosting Christmas Eve for friends - maybe 20 of us - which is a joy, but so much work.  I'm hosting Christmas for family - 11 of us - which is a joy but so much work.  I didn't get to go for a run today because my day was taken up from top to bottom by all of this, including a hospital visit.

Bryan was supposed to have Katherine all day but forgot, and said "no."  I was too frustrated to argue, especially after the college tuition talk (previous post) left me feeling drained.

My spiritual reserves are low.  My house needs a deep cleaning.  I don't have a pretty dress to wear to Christmas because I couldn't afford a new one and all of my old ones were too big and were given away.  My ex is imploding.  I'm feeling like all of this is too much.

What to do?  Curl up in a fetal position and cry a while?

Or put on the Wonder Woman costume again and go to Christmas Eve service at church in that?!

I'm not going to be a martyr.  I'm going to be kind and compassionate, to self as well as others.  I'm going to do my best.

I'm just not sure HOW yet.


How do you take the high road without giving yourself up, during divorce, family craziness, parenting, or the other big stuff?  Any advice for me?

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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