The Bare Minimum

Last week as I relished a much-needed break from being used, taken advantage of, I was able to feel a smidge of compassion for the BF(boys’ father).  Mercy and compassion are large parts of my spiritual striving and development.  They evade me utterly though, when in the midst of abuse which persists, and from which I cannot extricate or separate myself.  I read stories of people who forgive murderers, rapists, and molesters, once they are behind bars.  I get how it is possible to forgive and even empathize with the recovering, dead, or incarcerated– after the harmful behavior has been contained.  

I think back to our final Christmas with BF’s sisters.  Nobody spoke to us or acknowledged our baby of one year.  It was intense, like Amish shunning.  My husband would not agree to leave early.  He was unwilling to confront or challenge his sisters.   On the car ride home, crying, I declared that I would not submit our child to another family arrangement like that.  He later confronted his sisters and one responded that: “Your baby is not even one, and will not remember.”  Therefore admitting to the cold stonewalling of us and justifying how it was not harmful to the baby, yet.  The other sister stopped speaking to him, altogether.  All-because he attempted to have a boundary and a standard for himself.  How dare he–and of course this was my fault, my irreverent influence. 

The sisters eagerly embraced him when he crawled back to them three years later, at the onset of our divorce.  They welcomed him back to his place of compliance and submission in exchange for access to their children (his nieces and nephews) and their resource$.  

He is terrified of being on the other side of them.  I watched in pain as they excluded him from birthdays, graduations, and bat mitzvahs and consistently treated him as extra. But he was grateful to not be permanently banished as his father and other sister had been.  I observe and understand, even relate to that pain and fear.  

I had believed that he had wanted something better for himself and our children- until it became that clear he did not.  He wanted only to be like them…to also be in charge.  As if that is the only way to be in relationship. The controller(s) and the controlled.

I hope he will recover and experience wholesome and lasting peace and connection.    I cringe as he continues to paw at people of means, people who he is impressed by or whom he perceives as useful.  His struggle is saddening—but not nearly as much as what he chooses to do to our little family.  I recognize his pain and fear as tied directly to the controlling and mean behaviors—but I can find no compassion or mercy for him while he is actively involved in things which compromise us all.  He doesn’t recognize his behavior as harmful or problematic.  He has learned what he has lived and is unwilling to challenge or change that.

When he requested my help a few weeks ago, I reminded him, in detail, how he made life terribly difficult for us for so long and on purpose and that the urge to repay him is immense.  He responded right back with an irritated and entitled “So are you going to help me or not?”  

I hated myself for wasting words and energy and not saying NO, right off the bat – putting an immediate end to the exchange.  I suppose I hoped he would acknowledge some things so that I could say yes to him.  Foolish me.  The truth is– I want to work with him.  I have not found it possible to be in healthy partnership with someone who does not actively work for the best of our family.  I am officially, yes- it is official- healthy enough to no longer participate in my own abuse.

I am disrupting if not breaking this cycle. I wish BF wanted the same for himself and our children. I have not yet given up all hope for this. I just do not see his life working for him. Tonight, Favorite is throwing a belated birthday dinner for our older son with all the people and foods he loves. I really would do anything for BF to be at the table with US.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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