This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, where I wrote about falling into an old familiar trap with my ex husband. If you didn’t read it, go ahead and have a gander. I’ll wait here until you’re done.
Okay. All caught up? Good. Let’s continue.
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I realized this week that I care way too much about my ex husband’s opinion of me, particularly when it comes to my mothering. Logically I know that I am a good mother. Not perfect, of course, no one is…but I do my best. And dammit, I do a pretty freaking good job. But for whatever reason, I am still seeking that approval and validation from him….approval and validation that I’m not likely to ever get. That’s just not something that he’s going to give me. He’s way too powerful when he withholds that; and he’s just smart enough to know it.
Last week my ex demonstrated his gross lack of respect for me as a parent and a human being. It actually hurt my feelings to know that he thinks so little me. That he was willing to be so blatantly manipulative toward me…right in front of our daughters. And yes, I know that I shouldn’t let it hurt me…but I do. Still. It’s just how I’m wired.
This week he showed me again that he is willing to manipulate me for his own gain. The manipulation was small, the potential gain was even smaller, but this small gesture showed me how he is choosing to operate (and perhaps how he has been operating all along). He chose to try and manipulate rather than just go the route of honesty and vulnerability. Again…another power play. Trusting him to be anything more than the person who fathered my children is a mistake that I can’t keep making. As much as I hate to admit it, friendship just really isn’t possible with him. For my own protection.
On the one hand, I tell myself that these are his choices; choices that I can’t control. On the other I realize that I’m not innocent in all of this, either, however. Because here is the thing: I allow him to make me feel “less than” as both a parent and a human being. He gets away with treating me poorly because I silently give him permission to do it. Repeatedly. This has been our pattern for years now. Maybe since the very beginning.
I know what needs to be done. I must refuse to be a victim when it comes to this man. Sure, he’s the one who disrespects, manipulates and mistreats me; but he is only doing what has consistently worked for him throughout the course of our relationship. It takes two people to have a relationship like this; he gets away with only what I allow. Right now I feel powerless; he knows this and preys upon that feeling in me, actually making it worse. It’s a vicious cycle that results in him being the winner each and every time.
I know that this needs to change. It scares me to think about, because I know that trying to adjust boundaries at this point our relationship is going to cause a whole heap of problems. But it needs to be done. Not just for me and my own sense of well-being, but to demonstrate to my daughters what it means to be a strong, confident woman. I’ve got a lot riding on this.
There is much to be done.
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chodron