Fantasy’s over

This weekend was hard for me.  Aside from having a lovely day Friday, strolling around a golf course on the bay with D, watching the PWGA,  and a rather nice night Friday, at an awards dinner for attorneys, Saturday and Sunday seemed burdened with chores, screaming kids and neglect. His kids won’t eat…Our kids don’t listen…There’s no control…The house is a wreck…Bills needed to get paid…I’m not getting enough alone time…I’m not getting enough D time….our relationship is not the same…we see each other daily, but there’s less quality….I’m simply not happy…blah, blah, blah…

Those were my complains on Monday, and I burst into tears confessing them. I said I felt like the fantasy was over and now the drudgery of real living is upon me and I don’t like it. I said all my control is gone. All the boundaries I set up, all the expectations, are gone. When we were just dating, I rarely had to deal with his kids, especially on a disciplinary level. When we were just dating I ran this house and everything in it and things were in the places I liked them to be. When we were just dating I only really dealt with and partook in the happy, peaceful side of the relationship. When we were just dating, I could run away to my home and recharge, regain my spirit that I would inevitably lose if I spent too much time together.

Oh, I have been so sad.

And he wasn’t too happy hearing all this.

And on top of it, he was angry that I have been “constantly bringing up” his daughter’s eating habits. She eats no fruits, no vegetables, and will only eat cheese sandwiches, Mac & cheese, bread and now corn on the cob. At a BBQ last week she ate a potato chip sandwich and then had cake for dessert. At regular dinner times I have to always make either pasta or rice. And then to have her try something new, he’ll put one green bean on her plate. She will sit for an hour and literally only lick it or chew a piece then spit it out, saying “I can’t!”

It’s very hard for me to see this and say or do nothing. I come from a big Italian family whose mother was a phenomenal cook. The whole family sat around the table, where every meal had the four food groups. There’s was salad or steamed broccoli or cucumber and tomato salads or something GREEN with every meal. She never used butter, only olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground spices from her garden. Everything was made from scratch, and although you didn’t have to eat everything on your plate, you had actually try new stuff and you ALWAYS had to eat most of your veggies to earn your dessert.

Yesterday his daughter had a Tablespoon’s worth of corn on the cob and to reward her he gave her three cookies. I could feel myself growing angry and disgusted. And last night, I mentioned that this was part of the problem. How can you eat so well and not impose the same good diet on your kids? How can you allow them to eat so much junk when they eat so little healthy foods? How can your daughter have such a small amount of corn and still be rewarded with such a large amount of crap? 

I blew my cover. I knew I wasn’t supposed to say anything like that to the man I love and respect. And yet, I couldn’t hold back anymore. And so, he got angry with me and pretty much said, “I’m a great dad. I am doing the best I can. SHe’s an extremely picky eater and I am trying. And you have no right judging me or telling me what to do about it. And I don’t want this to be a constant point of contention.” Those were not his exact words, but close enough. Basically, I just heard “Change your nature because I don’t like this side of you. It’s ugly and it better go away.”

My response? I told him I am judging him (and he’s judging me. We all judge each other every second of the day. He judged me in the beginning and concluded that I would make a worthy girlfriend, and I judged him too and decided he’d make a worthy boyfriend), but I am trying my hardest not to disrespect him. I told him he’s a wonderful dad in so many ways, but I don’t feel as though he does too well when it comes to nutrition and food. And as much as he tries to be perfect in every aspect of his life, he can’t,  and this is one of those times. And so, out of frustration to change and control the situation, I try to tell him that she “should be doing this,” or that she “should be doing that.” I also, rather inappropriately slip in passive aggressive comments like, in my jokey voice, “Pancakes again? Did you know pancakes have almost no nutritional value?”

I am a nightmare.

But despite defending myself rather well, on the whole, I felt ashamed. Deeply ashamed. I know what I need to be (tolerant and accepting of his behavior and his daughter’s own progress with food), but I simply cannot be that kind of person. I am not a laid back, easy going, accepting, tolerant individual. When something doesn’t sit right with me, I REMOVE MYSELF from the problem. I quit my job. I leave my marriage. I run away. I am a rigid, controlling, orderly person who expects the world to run according to MY PERSONAL VALUES. I worked so hard for them, after all. And how else do you get rid of that yucky feeling inside? In the past, all my relationships have been so disposable. I would just threaten to leave so as to attempt to change the other’s behavior. But now what do I do with someone who doesn’t respond to threats and immature manipulation like that? What do I do now that I am SUPPOSED TO BE HEALTHY?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Last night, I just felt like shit. I felt like every part of me was ugly. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have many good qualities. I am flirty, fun, loving, deep, exciting, intelligent, versatile, colorful, creative, hard working, a good communicator, and a slew of other positive traits. But I am not easy going or accepting of things that don’t look and feel right to me. And so the whole picture of ME last night became tainted.

So, during this conversation, it’s not so much that I felt attacked (because D is very careful with his words and never flat out attacks), but I felt embarrassed and ashamed and tarnished. I felt unloved. And my ultimate response was, “Well, I can try to change my nature, but it probably won’t work, so if it really bothers you, you can always leave.”

Reverted back to my old way of handling stress because WHAT CAN I DO? I cannot run away. So, now what?

He said, “T, don’t throw that into conversation like that. I never want to take our relationship so lightly that breaking up would be a solution.”

“But I don’t know how to find a solution, D. It was always my way or the highway. I don’t know how to compromise. I feel so strange in this world of SHARING and ACCEPTING.  It feels odd and wrong to me. It feels uncomfortable and foreign. Like I’ve lost something, instead of gained. I feel crippled and helpless. Like I’m not up to the task of being in this relationship. I thought I was. But look at me.”

“I am looking at you, T. And I love you. I love you very much. ANd we’ll work something out.”

And that was that. I went back to reading To Kill a Mockingbird and slept 7 hours straight.

I have no happy ending to write about. No solution to post. No closure to this. I wish I could offer something up for you, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

11 thoughts on “Fantasy’s over

  1. I love yourself awareness in this, how you just want to run. I am sure this is how I would feel too.
    “But I don’t know how to find a solution, D. It was always my way or the highway. I don’t know how to compromise. I feel so strange in this world of SHARING and ACCEPTING. It feels odd and wrong to me. It feels uncomfortable and foreign. Like I’ve lost something, instead of gained. I feel crippled and helpless. Like I’m not up to the task of being in this relationship. I thought I was. But look at me.”

    just great. I’m not sure I know myself this well yet.


    1. Thanks, Winnie for your reply (and so good to hear from you again and glad to hear you’re doing well). You know what’s funny. I thought to myself this morning on the way to the gym, I have overcome HUGE obstacles, I have climbed mountains and brought myself from a weak, love sick, dependent individual to a powerful, independent, single woman who can take care of all aspects of her life. I have achieved what some women will never achieve. And yet, I feel like I can’t even share a dinnertime meal with my “new” family without it causing enormous stress. I am searching for a solution. ANd I hope I find one. Thanks!


  2. This is clearly the stuff to be expected and is seems quite normal after establishing an independent self…compromise just sucks trying to blend a new family…I remember someone telling me that it is like sticking everyone in a blender and pushing the “blend” button…usually turns out to be a bloody mess…so wanting to run away and regress to old, impulsive behaviors…well…you already see it very well…and deserve kudos for trying to sit and be curious in the “squeeze” of discomfort…gaining my codependent independence was hard won…taken me about 10 years and I still get caught ( without terrible consequence) up in my “love” fantasies….I am not ready to live with someone and fall back into my resentful ” caretaker” stance…in particular…my resentments emerge over the heartbreaks of betrayal I have experienced… I admire you courage and authenticity in forging ahead to share and resolve the inevitable boundary transgressions…I hate looking at my weaknesses and self-centeredness in that process too!…wishing you the best with admiration!


    1. Geewizpat, thank you SOVERYMUCH for that thoughtful response. It really hit home. I too hate looking at my weaknesses and more than that, I hate being confronted with them. I know eventually things will get better. And let me just say that within a month, I am only this upset a few days. And yet this time, it seems to be lingering. A quick metaphor: I remember years ago in a Native American literature class reading about the Indians of Pennsylvania and upstate NY who lived in the deep woods. When English settlers arrived and pushed them Westward out into the open plains many died. The open sky scared them. They lost their sense of perspective. The flat, treeless land intimidated and unnerved them. They felt exposed, like they had no where to hide. They could no longer hunt, because their prey responded differently. And they lost their sense of direction because they lacked the density of the forest to determine space. I often think like this as negative as it seems. I feel like I’ve lost my forest and I’m in the clearing, yet I don’t know how to live without the trees. The object of the game however, it to adapt. Let’s see if I can! I’ve spent about 14 years alone or with an avoidant (which is pretty much being alone).


  3. Hi, T, thanks for posting this one. Because we all know that things come in waves, or rather we are waves, and sometimes we thing we’re doing really good. Then when those circumstances all come together in a way that challenges us again, we dont always respond to it from the healed part of us. I love that this is not just me. I am continually trying to be conscious to do all things (including responding to my feelings) in moderation. Balance. When something’s up, another goes down, or when everythings up thats when I’ve learned to be *really* cautious because oh heck if it all comes down at once. You are a very mature person and I continue to read back at your old posts (mostly because I am not as far in recovery as you are), and find new truths and realities in the ones I’ve read more than once. I hope that means I am growing. I hope you are doing better already, your partner is really great for you from what you’ve shared. He seems so understanding and good at not over-reacting to your expressed emotions.
    When I relapse or fall back into old ways of thinking or doing, I really try not to get so down on myself (or let those negative feelings stay with me very long!). I think I understand that guilt you express when I realize this is what I am doing (being really critical and harsh to myself). I know that means I need to love myself enough to just be humbled by it, and that not everything is carved in stone. And maybe, just maybe, I will not feel the same ten minutes, ten hours, or ten days later. And I just try to find that reason… You are doing so good!!


  4. All so true Pandar! And yes, balance is so important…and so DELICATE. it’s almost impossible to maintain and yet we constantly strive for it. Keep doing the great work towards recovery and you WILL change and become stronger. You only recognize this in hindsight. 🙂


  5. LJ, I know very little about you or your situation to be sure. What I wondered reading your post though was this:

    – She says they don’t talk about marriage in their relationship.

    – Yet they’re living together?

    – They’re blending kids together which puts strong pressure on them all (especially the kids who don’t get the “I’m in love” perks), without being interested in marriage.

    – Is this being presented to the kids as an open ended experiment?

    – How is this situation unequivocally better for the kid’s wellbeing?

    – Why are they living together when life and relationship was pretty darned good living apart? Aren’t they forcing marriage issues when for whatever reason they can’t actually talk about getting married?

    And yeah, I definitely understand the drive to live together! 🙂

    I’m not religious or a marriage-bigot, believe it or not. Marriage sends a message to everyone and it’s one you and D are avoiding for whatever reason, but you’re acting out marriage and creating the issues anyway.

    I don’t need or want a reply and have no context or real knowledge about you. So open question: could living together at this point be your addict running?


  6. Hi Veronica,

    And thanks so much for your response! I did think about that when I was in the thick of my discomfort (that by staying it’s my addict running the show). And who knows, maybe I should have remained single–I did love my single life. But more than anything I wanted to have a healthy relationship (which I had never had before) and I wanted to have it with this particular man and he wanted to have it with me. And I knew–as everyone must– that no relationship is perfect. We all must weigh the positive with the negative. And so I gave this whole moving in together serious thought for 2.5 years before doing it. ANd I came to the conclusion that my relationship with him was more important than my need to be alone–or my need to run away! And that I would try and adapt. And that is exactly what I am doing. It takes awhile, it’s not perfect, but it’s getting better and easier every day.

    You see, I truly believe that there are people out there with SERIOUS issues–they are being beaten, neglected, criticized, verbally abused, treated poorly (I was one of them). There are women out there in loveless marriages/relationships ( I was also one of them). So when I look at this relationship, with this man, and how good it is and how well I am treated, my complaining about food or petty things is not justifiable. In fact, it is my inner-child whining and being ungrateful. That’s what tell me it’s me and not him. That’s what tells me I am the one who needs to change and adapt in this situation.

    Lastly, I think it is more difficult for LAs to adapt to a healthy relationship because, let’s face it, we never had one! I have been a loner ALL MY LIFE. It is my refuge. So, a great internal change must occur in me for this to work. ANd I want it to.

    As for D and I not talking about marriage, I’m not sure I understand you. Do you feel as though that since we’re living together, we should be married? Both of us believe that if we ever got married it would be years from now. We also feel as though moving in together and trying to manage our lives and help our children get along and “blend” is more of a marriage than people who first get married. We are both committed to each other and that is what is important. And when two people share that same value, it works. If I believed strongly in marriage and he didn’t, then it might be a problem. But D and I are on the same page. 🙂


  7. Hey LJ,

    I feel so uncomfortable commenting on your living together situation anymore because again I don’t have any context and this is a public forum and I feel out of my depth. You’re seriously putting yourself out there for all of us and I find your experience as written enormously helpful and I respect that it’s an act of trust. I’ve never blended a family. I have been a step-child or child of a partner in an ever revolving set of partners. So as you can see I’m more about worrying for them than full of wisdom for you 🙂 You’ve got wisdom and your HP, I’ll leave it there. But thanks for being so generous listening to me ask the questions! I get a little nervous about this blended family dynamic, my own issues.

    I wanted to say this though, this part bothered me and I came back to comment: you’re not a nightmare. You rock. That young girl truly *needs* her nutrition and to learn to do things she doesn’t want to do, to put off reward for work appropriately. That’s basic stuff that as adults, especially as women, we know if she doesn’t learn it now it will haunt her.

    Her dad is totally wimping out on this one thing, and you’re pointing the situation out. That’s a favor to them both. He decided not to man up, frustrating but I’m going to guess he may not have the skills or a clue and would if he could. But the authority dynamic comes in right? And that’s a non-starter for the non-parent. He just doesn’t have the skill set on this one, and it’s a doozy of a failure but see, Mr. Almost Perfect really screws up too! Yay! D was a star in high school and doesn’t lie and you weren’t and have a past that isn’t all pretty but no need to put him on a pedestal. Here’s Exhibit A. His at times wimpy parenting, your at times wacky romantic past. Ah to be human, right? 🙂

    So you don’t want to make this a conflict between the two of you, smart. You are role modeling though without creating any conflict with D. If he sees you exerting that kind of much needed parent-not-a-friend authority, he’s absorbing. I have found in the long run it was always the real teacher, role modeling. And here’s the most important thing…she’ll watch you eat, she’ll listen to your disciplining your boys. She’s watching and learning. It’s something she can call on now and later. If you don’t see evidence of it now, I promise it’s happening anyway.

    Thanks again for opening yourself up to all of us.



    1. YOu’re so right, Veronica! She is learning now, whether she likes it or not– and picking up all kinds of crazy new things. In fact, since this date, she now eats bananas, papayas, meatballs, and broccoli. 🙂 And I’ve definitely learned through this life of mine that no one is perfect!

      As for trying to put these blogs into perspective, please remember that my whole world has changed since I wrote this. Although I suspect the issue will crop up time and again, we’re working on it. That’s the nice thing about being in a good relationship. I now have a partner that is willing to work with me on things. And believe me, this has been hard to handle. I am learning that I can say things that are not appropriate from time to time and that doesn’t mean he will reject me, or yell at me. It now means we need to try to compromise and adapt and work through something. He’s teaching me a lot. 🙂


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