So yesterday, D’s parents wanted to celebrate his son’s birthday out at a restaurant before they went on vacation. I’m not so sure his parents personally ever invite me to these things as much as D just “tells” them that he’s bringing me along. And of course, the ex is invited. I’m not all that great under these types of circumstances. His parents tend to treat me like the “other woman,” as if I stole their innocent son away from his loving wife. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The ex left D for another man, divorced him, got engaged to this new guy, threatened to move the kids to another state, and then suddenly broke up with the new guy after realizing it was just a crush, and had the nerve to ask D to get back together (I met D six months after his divorce; six months into our relationship, when she said she wanted him back, I said, “go back to her” and meant it, but he had no intentions of ever doing that.) Still, D’s parents invite her over for Christmas dinner (and not me) and sit him at the table beside her as if everything is just the way it used to be.
Anyway, so I go to say hello to D’s dad out in front of the restaurant, and go up to kiss him on the cheek, and he’s looking stone cold straight ahead. By that point I had entered his personal space and couldn’t back out, so I said to him, in a kind of funny way, “I’m trying to kiss you.” He awkwardly leans down and gives me his cheek and after a quick tap, I went inside, mortified.
That shook me up a little, and yet, there was no recovery in sight. At the table, I end up sitting next to D, but across the table from his ex, who, I have to say, was being friendly enough, complimenting me on my hair, etc. But really, just chattering on about superficial things like money, clothes, make-up and so on. She’s a vibrant, dramatic Italian girl, very beautiful, but, a little shallow, and I have to say it, stupid for not being so grateful for D when she had him. So, she starts chattering on about D coming over and eating leftovers out of her fridge, and asking him to take pictures of her and their son, calling him by little affectionate terms like “Hey D-boy, would you pass me the salt?” At one point she mentions a couple instances when D got sick in the past, (“Did he tell you about the time when he broke out into hives from eating lobster?” and then there was, “D doesn’t like spicy food, in fact, he’ll never eat garlic, and I put garlic on everything…” I actually felt like saying, “D actually loves food with garlic on it, as long as he doesn’t know it’s there.” But I kept my mouth shut.)
One hour later it was over, everyone said their goodbyes and we left, heading over my brother and sister-in-law’s house for yet another birthday party. But by this point, I felt completely beat up. I felt uncomfortable, awkward, unwanted, and alien. All my old insecurities came out (I don’t belong here, these people don’t like me, the ex is so much more beautiful than me, I’m a failure). I wanted to bury my head in the sand and hide. I wanted to run away. I certainly didn’t want to stay a second longer than I had to.
I was pissed off that D was over his ex’s eating leftovers. Where were his boundaries? I don’t go over my ex’s house and go scavenging through his fridge. OK, so it’s still D’s house where she’s living (they haven’t been able to sell it yet), but still…
Then, I thought I might be overreacting. Not looking at the bigger picture and being grateful. Most of our life together runs smoothly and no relationship can be perfect, right? The trouble is, when you remarry, or date a divorced man with kids, part of the package is having to deal with his parents AND his ex wife. As much as I would love it to be “just us,” that will never happen. I’m in a relationship with her as well. And every kid party or family gathering, I have to deal with her whether I like it or not.
The issue of discomfort here is coming from my own level of immaturity. The kid in me is saying, “No! No! No! I don’t want to ever eat my veggies or tie my shoes or put on that party dress! I want to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. Period! Now leave me alone.” The adult in me, however, has to have compassion and has to be able to compromise and weigh the scales and enter into a few awkward situations for the sake of her partner. A healthy relationship takes having to bite the bullet sometimes. It’s very important to D that I accompany him to these family events. He feels as though it is support for him and acceptance of his family (despite that they don’t accept me 100%). And here’s the important thing: none of my core values are being jeopardized or relinquished in this situation. I am still intact. My values are still able to come first. The problem isn’t really occurring between D and I either (although he really needs to stay out of his ex’s fridge!). So….as much as I am bitching here about having to put up with tips from the ex on what D does and doesn’t eat, and socially awkward moments between his parents and I, I DO see the bigger picture. I don’t like it, but I am willing to let it drop.
And on that note, here’s my unsolicited advice: write down an example of how you have compromised in a situation and done something you really didn’t want to do. Did you go to a party with a friend when you really didn’t want to? Did you get drunk with your PoA even though you hate to drink and it makes you feel like crap? Did you have sex with your PoA even though you swore you wouldn’t? Examine if that “thing” you did went against your CORE VALUES or not. If it did, that’s a pretty good indicator that it was the wrong kind of compromise. If it didn’t go against your core values and YOU stayed intact, how did it make you feel? Awkward? Uncomfortable? Bitter? Angry? Do you think the “child” in you is overreacting and that maybe, like me, you simply need to tell yourself “grow up!”? Just because something feels awkward or uncomfortable doesn’t mean the entire relationship is “wrong” or bad. But knowing your values will help you recognize the difference.