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.