Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ex-Wife Love

On a weekly basis I deal with a woman that I would never interact with if we did not share children. That is the truth. We are nothing alike. As a human beings we fundamentally are different people. Sometimes I struggle to see any good in her at all. Sometimes I think in a different world I could have helped her more. And sometimes still I think that if my fiance loved her once, even if it was in the way teens love each other, than deep down there is or was something so much better and brighter than what I see.

We would never have met if not for my fiance and the fact he made babies with her. I am nearly certain of that. I grew up in southeastern New York and she grew up in northwestern Connecticut. Her annual vacation is to the same beach her mother has been taking her to since she was a small child and I like to travel the world (and the independence and creativity of taking care of trips myself- I pay for my trips with everything from crafts on etsy to credit card rewards points). I have a career as a schoolteacher, she has a part-time job as a waitress. I went to college after high school and have three college degrees, she takes junior college classes here and there to fill up her empty days. She is largely unfilled and my cup runneth over.

I am certain that if we did cross paths, we would only have been friends if I got to know her well enough to feel sorry for her and try to help her. This in and of itself is another one of these fundamental differences between us. She is selfish and I am selfless. She is materialistic and I would rather go for a hike or drive than shop. She is a hater and I am happy; among everything else, she is full of hurt and that is why she is full of hate. I have love brimming out of me while she doesn't even love herself.

On paper, laying it out like that, I seem like I am exaggerating, even putting down. I am not. These are truths. We are nothing alike. Fundamentally when you break down my work ethic and morals, then do the same for her we are opposites. However, I love to help people. I can imagine if we had a mutual friend or if I had lived in the town she waitresses at and enjoyed the place enough to get to know her but the chances I would ever know her as well as I do now if not for this scenario are probably one in a million. In those scenarios and in the real world I have tried to help her.

It was not always like that. When I first came along she was always trying to make my fiance jealous, to break us up, to convince the kids there was something wrong with me. Over time, however, I realized that those are teen tactics, things my students do to each other, because inside she is still the 17 year old who got pregnant from her boyfriend of four months. She is in this sad state of arrested development. And I pity that. When we first met I immediately noticed old scars from cutting on her wrist. I pity that too. When she is angry and lashes out and name-calls the kids or my fiance or me. I pity that as well. I carry so much pity I have reached out to her through the kids, her family, even directly to her. It does not change. We are nothing alike.

One of my greatest daily struggles is the idea that over the last two years I have forgiven her repeatedly without a request for forgiveness. (I once actually told her this in a text message conversation where I had tried to reach out and start fresh. I told her that I forgave her for everything she has done, whether she is apologetic or not, because I wanted to move on.  Her reaction? The next time she had the kids she snidely brought it up to our oldest daughter and said "Who does she think she is? I did not apologize because I am not sorry." and continued to attempt to badmouth me for wanting to just give her a clean slate and fresh start.) And this helps me personally. It helps my own good vibes, my own psychological health. I take care of me by moving on. And while I do not agree with nearly anything this woman does as a mother or how she in general treats other people, I know that I will have her in my life for a very very very long time.

Love is the only answer. I believe that if you can find something worth loving in someone who causes you turmoil, someone you have no choice but to deal with, than you will become much healthier in your own thoughts and your own dealings with that person. I love her because she created my children. I love her because I would not be a mother with out her. And whether or not she treats me with the same respect, well that is between her and whomever she believes is going to give her final judgement.

I can not control another human, I can not help another human who does not want to be helped. I can only take care of myself and my family and this is the easiest way to do so. So my advice to you, new stepmoms or stepdads? LEARN TO LET IT GO. Once you let go of the rage, of the anger, of the jealousy,  of the insecurity, of the feelings that are the makings of everything that a stepfamily comes from initially, you will be so much better and brighter.

Shine on.



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