Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where I went wrong

I think people who know me well will tell you that I obviously didn't have a fantastic set of role models for marriage. My mother and father divorced when I was 5 and my mother never remarried. She had a few boyfriends but gave that up entirely when I was about 9 or 10. My father remarried shortly after he and my mothers divorce was final (3 months? 2 maybe.) and he married his 5th wife. Granted he's been with her ever since but I think I can be the judge on this one and declare that whole union one giant FAIL.

So I really didn't know what I was getting into when I got married at 18. I was ready to feel grown up. I felt a lot of pressure to "do the right thing" and try to legitimize my daughter, even if Brian wasn't her father. I wanted The Family. I wanted to achieve the white picket fence.

I feel like I tried within my powers to make that happen. I cooked. I raised. I attempted to get pregnant. For 5 years. I gave birth to a second child. I led girl scouts, worked full time and took my daughter to weekly religious meetings. I kept the home fires burning when my husband was deployed and balanced the checkbook. I submitted to his will, as I had read I should, and allowed him freedom to explore who he was and what he wanted to do. He had hobbies and I encouraged him to be out in those. He had friends and I allowed myself to get wrapped up in his job, putting my career and my needs in second place. I believed I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I believed I was being a good wife.

I am not a housekeeper. I, for some reason, lack the ability to keep a house clean. I'm lazy. I don't like to waste energy doing the same task repeatedly. I don't mind clutter. My husband found a lot of fault in me for this. When I stayed home this was his chief complaint. He had not allowed me to stay home to raise the children. On the contrary, he had allowed me to stay home to keep the house clean. Spotless. Eat off the floor.

Except that was not something I was able to do. I was too busy hauling kids to appointments and taking them to gymnastics and swimming and napping and homework to worry about the floor. It was my failure. I kept the house CLEAN. I didn't keep it uncluttered and I didn't spend 8 hours a day cleaning it like he wanted. That was what truly drove him over the edge I think. Except it was a long time coming before that. When 4pm would hit every day I would run around the house trying to pick up, trying to start dinner, turning the TV off, setting off music and often mopping the floor since the scent of Pinesol seemed to sooth him. I would anxious and nervous because I knew he was going to come home and be mad. I knew he was going to berate me, yell at me, tell me I had failed yet again.

I'm still recovering from my marriage some days. It's a process. I'm learning to have an opinion. When Brian left I realized I didn't have a single hobby. There was NOTHING I enjoyed doing. I wanted to make a decision but found myself frozen since I hadn't made a decision on my own for longer than I cared to admit. Picking out my first piece of furniture after Brian left was daunting and I felt like crying more often than not. My self esteem was literally at the lowest it had ever been but I knew that I couldn't stay married anymore. I could not live that life anymore.

Recently, like Monday, Kylie and I were at therapy. Often her therapy involves her being mad at me, Micah, the world etc. Kylie is incredibly good at pulling out Woe Is Me items when she doesn't actually want to talk about what is bothering her. On this day though, she told the therapist that we were getting along. She liked me this week. It was nice. We talked a little about her spending the next weekend with her dad's girlfriend and that bridged to a discussion about her dad. Brian.

Kylie got upset and started crying. She was afraid to tell him about her green hair (i'm working on pictures still). She knew when he got home he wouldn't let her wear all black, as I have been doing. She was upset that he goes through her personal items and reads her emails. I tried to talk to her about different parenting styles and that her Dad and I were still trying to work on some items. Kylie was beginning to come to the edge of the freak out cliff and I was desperate to pull her back. Her Dad isn't a bad guy, he just does it different.

The therapist asked what his style was like exactly and without missing a beat she said "It's his way or no way." That pretty much summed it up. Except then she talked about feeling anxious when she knew his week was coming up for custody, nervous and scared. She was afraid he was going to yell at her, be mean to her and tell her she had failed at being the perfect daughter. Again.

This is where I went wrong. I let him treat me like this. He got used to it. He treats Kylie like this now because he's used to being so Alpha that nothing else makes sense. I stayed in a marriage for a long time and allowed myself to feel like I was less. Like my opinion didn't matter, that my will was only his will. That's not how it's supposed to be for her or for me.

I'm working on him, me and her. Because no one, especially my daughter, should feel like she's less than something because of another human being. Even if it is her dad.


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