Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Don't you want to find something worth saving?

Each year I come up with a slogan for how I feel things will or should go in my life.  For 2012 I picked "everyone who sucks can go to hell" and I worked on pushing people who were not good for me out of my life.  In 2013 I said "this is the year we wipe the slate clean" and I worked every day to heal my heart and not hold things that have happened to me in my past against anyone else.  It's now 2014 and I've decided on "this is the year we start living the dream".  Here I am married to a handsome, successful man, I have an amazing daughter, I'm planning baby #2, and hopefully either this summer or next summer I'll be able to buy us a condo to call a home.  So why am I so fucking miserable?  I think we need to sit down and talk about this, just like I do to so many miserable people who come across me and ask for my advice.  I'm a happy person, always.  My whole life fell apart around me and somehow to everyone's surprise, I walked around with a smile on my face.  So here we go.  And dear self, cry all you want.  You need to hear this speech because you've gotten lost in your checklist again and you're missing the point once again.
Happiness is a choice and it lives exclusively inside of you.  Nobody is responsible for making you happy.  No person, thing, action, or string of words will make you a happy person.  Happiness has to do with your level of expectations for yourself, your life, and the people around you.  The more you expect and the more you feel entitled to, the less you will be grateful for and the less happiness you will have in your life.  In other words, you are robbing yourself of happiness by acting like an entitled bitch.  Yep.  I know, it's not fair, it's not what you thought, you didn't sign up for this, blah blah blah.  It doesn't matter what you want, what you expected, or what you thought should happen. It just doesn't matter. I think we need to do a quick rewind and count our blessings and try to move forward with some humility.  Since when do you ever care about being right or bruised pride?  This is just getting stupid, plus you frown so much that all I ever see is your mother's ugly chin and neck in the mirror whenever I see you.  Remember looking up at that unhappy face as a child?  Remember that stern tone of voice?  Well now your child is seeing the same thing.  Great job, mom!  Did that hit home? Good, now let's move on.
I've been in counseling for years.  Years.  Yes, I dealt with my mommy issues and how to be a mother and a woman at once, but mostly I dealt with my own shortcomings with men.  I didn't know how to pick them.  I didn't know what the red flags were, when to walk away, or why I always picked projects that I wanted to love and fix.  Why did I need the gratification of "fixing" anyone?  Fortunately I felt that I eventually began to get better.  I spent my time fixing myself and raising my daughter.  I was looking for another complete person to share my life with.  I think where I got lost is that I started thinking I was looking for my equal.  I feel like this is the source of most of my unhappiness these days.  I felt like if I was able to handle what I do, then I should be with someone else who can do the same.  I felt like my intelligence, multitasking, memory, and ability to think on my feet should be equalled.  I'm starting to realize this way of thinking is beyond unfair.  There's only one me in the world and it's like that for a reason.  Yes, I married an adult who is educated, has a career, and can take care of himself.  But fuck, he's not me.  In fact, he's nothing like me.  Nothing.  I have degrees in English and his in History.  I am a technical editor and he's an assistant principal.  I speak in logic and he uses his heart.
I've been making this terrible mistake of seeing and pointing out everything different about us. When you start out pointing out differences, nothing good can come of it.  Negative begets negative, period.  And I should know better.  It's not that I don't know the man who has all of my same interests, tastes, and can match me on quick wit and make me laugh.  It's my ex husband.  My daughter's father.  I've known him for 11 years and our relationship has moved through more phases than I care to remember.  While we don't act like exes, we do act like friends.  I've known my husband a year.  We are still getting to know each other when you think about it. There's nothing wrong with that.  You can't compare the two and I have no outward desire to.  But I can't deny that there are times when everyone is hanging out laughing and talking that my ex and I will be making jokes and talking and being assholes and laughing our asses off and my husband will feel left out or uncomfortable.  It's happened and I feel like shit about it.  My logical brain could not figure out the answer to this dilemma.  How do you fix that situation?  How do you carefully and calmly explain and make anyone understand a situation that rarely happens and can't be defined in contract terms?  You don't.  So I did the only thing I could in that moment: I cried.
I did something I should've done a long, long time ago and didn't.  I sat on our bed with my husband and I told him the story of me and my ex.  Not the story where I'm reflective and intelligent and I smile and am grateful that he's still part of our daughter's life.  No.  I cried for the first time in front of my husband and I told him the story that only exists in the archives of this blog.  The one where he broke my heart.  Where he was my best friend in the whole world and he knew me better than anyone.  I trusted him with my heart, every feeling, my entire being and in the end, he decided that he didn't like who I was and couldn't stand me. He told me he hated me and the sound of my voice made him sick to his stomach, as did my very presence.  He killed me.  He put himself in the same category as my mother without realizing it.  One of the few people in this world who knows me to the core and rejected me because of it.  He sat very quietly and listened to me and didn't interrupt me for two hours of words I hadn't planned and tears I couldn't stop.
I began to talk about love.  What real love meant to me and why I have so much to give.  After everything my ex did to me, I still love him.  I struggle with that all the time--whether it's appropriate and what to do with it.  Most people think I'm crazy for stubbornly standing behind him in his life now.  I will do everything I can to help him be a good father.  I'm excited for him to marry his girlfriend, who my daughter loves very much.  I want him to have a job that he can be successful in and drive a cool car and smile every day.  Why? Because one day over 10 years ago I told him that I loved him and that, my friends, was not a joke.  Love doesn't require a ring or a marriage license.  When I told him I would always be there for him, I meant it.  Granted, some of his choices meant that our relationship would no longer be a romantic one and I'm ok with that.  I don't miss the marriage with him, but the thought of losing my friend nearly killed me.  Over the past few years, we have been able to slowly build a friendship that now includes my new husband and his future wife.  
Is this the sort of thing you tell your husband? I don't know.  It's sure as hell the kind of thing you should tell someone who wants to spend their life with you.  If you want to be with me, you need to understand my heart, no matter what it holds.  After I had finished talking, my husband said very softly that what I just described was the very pure unconditional love that very few people ever get to experience in their lifetime.  He also said he was lucky that he had a chance to receive that from me in our marriage.  You know, I can yell and scream that my husband doesn't have my taste in cars, food, clothes, or any other material thing.  I can be frustrated because he doesn't think quick on his feet, can't alway articulate himself when he's put on the spot, or doesn't know how to handle helping me with my daughter, but there's something very important that he does understand.  My heart.  He understands that I love my friends like family.  He understands that I look at my nieces and nephew (and his step daughter from his last marriage) as my own kids, with no exceptions.  He can see me love my daughter's father and his girlfriend because they quite simply love my child and take care of her.  He has run into countless ex boyfriends and listens to me sing their praises and remain friends with them to encourage them in their lives and new relationships because I saw something in them once that was worth my time.  And he doesn't berate me for it.  Instead, he stands in awe that I really have that much love to give and knows that loving someone doesn't take the love away from anyone else, including himself and our marriage.
And I'm sitting here unhappy because of what again? It's disgusting.  I'm unhappy because he's not me.  Is that what I'm up against here?  I should be rejoicing that he's him.  A man who can love another person's child as his own, including my daughter and his ex's daughter, even after the marriage is long over.  A man who can get to know and accept my ex and his whole family--an involvement that will also impact our future kids.  Because who is better to serve as a babysitter than a family that I already love and trust to take care of my children that is eagerly anticipating the next baby?  Can you tell me one other man on this planet that would effortlessly walk into that situation?  Because it has been effortless in my observation.  My husband has his shortcomings.  He's always late, has no money management skills, zero listening skills, and asks me the same questions repeatedly.  He's so nice that he apologizes for teasing you, which is comical on its own.  But these things should not make me so upset or annoyed that I don't want to have sex with my smokin hot husband. Come on, now.  If I was able to overlook all of the shortcoming of my ex and love him completely, then certainly I can manage to do the same with my husband and leave off the disappointment.
So here we are.  The problem is me and my perspective.  I'm willing to stop expecting him to be my equal and instead just be himself.  I will be grateful that the man cleans the house constantly without me having to ask him (omg yes he does, gasp!), checks on my constantly and tries to take care of me because he loves me, love my daughter and insane family with all of their issues, and doesn't try to change me.  He's not my equal, he's my partner.  Are you listening? Partner does not equal the same person.  It means someone who has their own strengths and compliments you.  Apparently I thought that finding a man I wanted to marry gave me just cause to be a demanding asshole.  I have no idea why.  My expectations should not have changed.
I usually write a blog at the beginning of each year about what I want to work on for myself.  I think this year the answer is pretty clear: I need to work on being grateful, happy, and loving more completely.  This year I'm planning on having a baby and I know that things will get hard in my life again, but that it will also become much more joyful.  I need to banish the insecurities and fear in my heart over my body changing, that my moodiness will make my husband dislike me, and that the fact my ex and his gf will be involved will threaten me in any way.  I know that one good decision brings nothing but good decisions.  I know that doing the right things is always the right thing, even if it hurts your heart.  The fact that my daughter's father has thanked me for being me and giving our daughter such a loving, peaceful, harmonious extended family has proved that to me.  You can never love too many people, you can never have too many people love your children, and there is enough time in your life to reach your hand out to grab anyone who needs help.