Sunday, January 20, 2013
For a good long portion of my life I thought what I wanted was for someone to take care of me. To make up for the care I felt I didn't get as a child. I thought I wanted to get married and be a homemaker and mother and have a husband to watch over me and help me. I really believed that would fill the void, fix the problem, make me better.
As it turns out, that is not what I needed at all. I needed to learn to take care of myself. Only I can know exactly what I need at any given time, and only I can provide it. My upbringing didn't break my spirit and make me fragile. It didn't make me 'need' a man to be complete. It taught me to stand strong and take care of myself. The hardship forged me into steel, it made me invincible.
When I tried to take that strong self and put it in a submissive/co-dependent wife character, I ended up in the 'mother' role. Instead of being cared for I became the Matriarch. And of course my husband responded by rebelling against my authority and being the 'child' in the relationship. It was destined to fail from the beginning because I was not being myself. I was not being strong and independent. I was trying to be what I thought a wife was supposed to be without having a good role model to follow.
I, myself, destroyed that relationship from the beginning by changing, allowing myself to be changed and expecting him to follow suit.
It has taken years for me to see my role in the breakdown of that marriage. To see that his faults may have been big and his betrayals bigger but I was the one that set us up for failure. I let the idea of marriage change me. I let my true self be stuffed down so I could play wife.
Then our son was born. A switch was flipped in my mind and soul. All of a sudden I saw that I had been 'parenting' my husband out of a need to be a mother. I also saw that was holding him back and ruining his chances at being a real man. I knew that my son needed it more and I had to stop. So i did.
And that was the beginning of the end. He had become accustomed to the roles we played and was not ready to change. He rebelled even more intensely, attention seeking behavior, acting out. All the things a teenage boy would do if his mother started ignoring him.
It was horrible for me, I was hurt and trying focus on raising a baby, but I never thought about how it must have hurt him.
Yes, our relationship was dysfunctional and wrong in so many ways but it was what he was used to for 10 years and I all of a sudden took it away. I didn't have the energy to 'raise' him anymore, to focus all my attention on his behavior when I had a baby to care for. Despite how awful his reactions were, how childish, how hurtful...I am partially responsible for it. I expected him to have the same reaction to having a child that I did, to automatically grow up and accept that the baby comes first. I was greatly disappointed, but not everyone can make such a big step so suddenly. My expectations were unrealistic in this case because I had not allowed him to grow up for the entirety of our relationship by being the 'adult' the whole time. I had helped to stunt his emotional growth.
When I held that little (ha! 9lbs is not little!) cherub in my arms I knew what I was put on this earth to do and it was not to be a wife. I was born to love and care for this special little human. To guide and teach him. I quit my job because there was no way I could hand him over to a daycare and go on about my business. That forced my husband into the 'adult' role and he didn't like it. I tried to be the dutiful housewife, I kept the house spotless, planted a garden, raised our child, cooked every meal from scratch and put every bit of my energy into it. I expected him to respond in kind but it just drove him further into rebellion.
We fought. A lot. He drank. A lot. I withdrew. A lot. But our son never witnessed any of it and never suffered. I protected him like a true mama bear and kept his love for his daddy safe.
It will be five years since we separated this year. It has been the best thing that could have happened for all of us. I have spent the last four years getting to know myself, who I am and what I want. Our son is an amazing, well-adjusted kid that has two parents that love him very much. His dad is still readjusting and learning to do everything for himself for the first time, but he loves his boy and is there for him.
I have been in a long distance relationship with an amazing man for two years now. I occasionally struggle with the urge to be a 'wife' but then I remind myself that I am not suited for that kind of role, it brings out the worst in me.
I am a terrific mother and one hell of a girlfriend, that's good enough for me.
This man encourages me to make my own decisions, do things for myself, be strong and independent and enjoy my life. He is a strong, independent man that takes care of all of his stuff himself. He doesn't 'need' me. He wants me. He has taught me how to feel the same about him. I honestly don't 'need' him for anything, but I love him and want to spend time with him. He is a good role model for my boy and they enjoy their time together. I am a better person because of him.
We have to learn what we really need instead of what we think we need or are told we need. Many of you are probably the best wives and husbands that have ever existed. That is just not my starring role in this life. Mine is more like a one-woman show with a few guest appearances.
Truth is, I never much liked sharing the stage anyway.