Sunday, June 6, 2010

School of Hard Knocks- Letter to My Friend

I just wrote this letter to an acquaintance, and thought I'd share parts of it with you (some minor edits for privacy's sake). It's neat to see how my perspective has changed over the last 9 months of being single (and the last 15 of being on my own). I've bolded some "life lessons" I've learned from all this. What do you think?

The single mom thing does get tiresome, but these days I'm realizing how much easier my life is! I think the last six weeks are the first time I actually had fun just living since I got married.

It's a long sob story, so I'll try not to bore you with every little detail, but basically I married the guy I was dating when you and I met. He changed instantly- even at our reception his dad tried to get him to dance with me, kiss me, etc but he would have none of it. He got what he wanted, and didn't have to work anymore. He knew with my religious conviction (and, at the time, low self esteem) I wouldn't leave. And he was right.

He turned out to be one of those guys who is used to mom/auntie/girlfriend taking care of him. He got kicked out of the AF, had a couple jobs, but eventually quit and wouldn't work. I put up with it for a long time (we'll do anything for someone we think loves us, won't we?) but once I began to resolve some issues from childhood, I become stronger and more confident, and also angry at having to work my primary job as well as two side businesses to pay his bills. I make good money. I really shouldn't have had to work so hard! After enough of my complaining that he needed to get a job he gave me an ultimatum: accept him as he is or leave. Well, he didn't actually plan on me leaving, but I did.

I was really hurt for awhile after all this, because after leaving I saw a side of him I never saw before. It scared me, and also strengthened my resolve to press for the divorce last year. He's very unstable, I'm glad we got out when we did. One thing that has helped me recover is now (almost a year after I left) most of our friends (who supported him, not me) are now seeing how erratic his behavior has become, because it's spilled over into his public life. It's a shame, but you can't fix people. They have to fix themselves.

The weird part is, most of my hurt and pain was not from having left him or missing him (I don't) but somewhat selfish pain of realizing all that time I thought we were in love and he was just looking for a meal ticket. And for most of my friends kicking me to the curb and supporting him (he's a well-known minister). And for not leaving that first year, when he first started getting abusive toward me (I almost did, but our counsel convinced me to stay- ugh).

The other weird thing is all this helped me realize that I have (inside) my own ability to be happy, no matter the situation. I'm not dependent on another person to make me happy. Not that I don't want to eventually find someone special, but I'm not sure you can ever know if someone is perfect for you. Some people are more compatible, which makes it easier to have a good relationship, but you just can't know if someone will go crazy 10 years from now.

This month and last were a lot of fun, and I'm amazed at how much easier it is to just have me and the boy to take care of. We've done a lot of "fun things" and also just sitting around watching movies- something I NEVER had time for before because I was too busy finding more ways to make money. I'm actually enjoying stuff rather than stressing about how much it costs (or how much I could have made if I had been out hustling instead of spending time with the boy).

I'm also enjoying being in charge of my life- though that comes at a bit of a cost: I can't blame anyone else anymore. I'm studying people (and couples especially) and I'm noticing good people attract good people. Folks with problems attract folks with problems. People who look (like I did), for someone to make their life complete and/or make them happy and/or take care of them, tend to end up with guys who promise all that in order to manipulate, use, and/or abuse them. People who are confident and maintain respectful boundaries run the risk of not having someone by their side all the time, but on the other hand are in charge of their lives and able to attract good people into their lives.

I guess that's why I say "I hope you find what you are looking for." I wonder if what you really need isn't where you moved to, but inside *you.*


Gavin Bollard said...

I hate the "D" word so much. It seems so wrong to think that what "God has joined" people can divide.

Unfortunately that's a child's point of view and the reality of it is that there are sociopathic people out there who take advantage of others. They hurt, abuse and break.

People seem to get the idea that abuse must be physical but it's the emotional and intellectual abuse that takes the greatest toll on people. Bringing harm to one's partner's self esteem is about the worst thing that anyone can do.

I'm glad that you're feeling better. Congratulations for recognising your situation and taking steps to correct it. God will not punish you for taking steps to protect his creation and I can tell from the happiness in your letter that you feel that you've made the right decision.

Certainly your blog has seemed brighter lately.

SavedAspie said...

Thanks Gavin, I'm certainly doing better. I'm beginning to realize that the Lord has been carrying me all this time. It really helps to be thankful for where I am rather than upset that I'm not where I want to be. One day I'll get there.