Monday, November 8, 2010

Gentlemen and Their Fathers: Gratitude Challenge

This piece of gratitude is hard for me to express. I don't want to sound like the "ex-wife," and I don't want to get anyone's hopes up for the future. It's easy to express gratitude for the semi-personal things. It becomes a much harder challenge to express gratitude for something that touched you so deeply, put some fears to rest, and reminded you what it really means to love and to live. Especially when the only way to explain why it means so much is to talk about some of the yucky stuff - stuff like divorce, the term "ex" in general. I've tried so hard to not discuss too much of what my life was like before I got divorced. It is in the past, I chose my marriage, and it had its purpose. It could have been something miraculous and good, could have been everything I ever wanted. And for a long time, I still had hopes for it, even though it wasn't miraculous OR good. I still thought it would work. And now I look back and I'm so grateful it didn't. It's a hard thing to admit. I am still very much a marriage advocate. I believe in marriages. I believe that any two people can make a marriage work, ANY two people. The clincher is that both people have to want it. Both people have to do what it takes. And sometimes it's not fun, and rarely is it easy, but I still believe that it's worth it.

But my marriage failed. As strong as my beliefs in marriage are, I cannot change another's. And as hard as it is to explain my marriage, I'm grateful that it taught me what is not okay, not good enough for me. After my ex left, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted out of life, what I wanted for myself and for my daughter. What would make me take down some barriers and let myself love again. And a lot of it was respect. I wanted someone who would treat me like I mattered, like I was special. And I've already expressed a little bit about it, but it goes further than that. Any project I had was my deal. Any issue B had was my deal. Diapers, midnight feedings and nightmares, cuts and bruises. Locking myself out of the car at Walmart,  needing groceries so I could cook dinner. Any project, or get together, or family occasion - it was my deal. My problem. And if things went wrong, man did I ever beat myself up about it. Dinner couldn't be late, the house needed to be spotless, and B had to be on best behavior, or I had failed. And I thought that was just how it was. That I wasn't doing enough. It's funny, but now, I look back at life and wonder what he really did all day. The first thing that came to mind was work, and then I remember that he didn't have a job for half of our marriage. What DID he do all day? And how was that okay with me? I mean, I still take full responsibility to have a clean house and a well mannered child and like the "domestic" part of being a wife (some day) and mother, but I didn't need to beat myself up about it. And just because that's my chosen "job" (some day) doesn't mean I couldn't use or have used some help. Or a kind word. Or any form of gratitude.  And my ex-father-in-law... well he made me fear the concept of fathers-in-law. He told me that the affair was all my fault. That if I had treated my ex better, then he never would have wanted to go elsewhere. That if I had just done more, been more, this whole thing never would have happened. He told me I was evil. Seriously, that was his word. Evil. I have not seen that man in 2 years, and would like to keep it that way. I cannot express how much what he said to me really hurt me. I had thought that this man was someone to be respected, to look up to. And for him, someone I admired (or at least thought I admired), to say I was evil and not good enough... yeah, it hurt. And it was no surprise that everything was "my deal" because that's exactly how my ex-father-in-law made me feel, too. I didn't need any help from him, it was all my deal. If I couldn't do it, then I shouldn't have signed up for it. What it all boils down to is that I was empty. And I thought that was just how it was. I was empty, life was empty, marriage was empty. 

And then life suddenly took a change for me, in the form of divorce, and I learned how much there really is to life. Or at least I thought I had learned it. But really I had no idea how much I was still missing. I had higher expectations, higher ambitions, and higher perspectives, so I thought I was set. And then I met Ranger. And he blew those expectations, ambitions, and perspectives right out of the air. My expectations were SO low. I wanted to be treated like I was human, but with Ranger, I'm treated like a queen. I wanted to be valued, but with Ranger, I'm treasured. I wanted to be respected, but with Ranger, I'm honored. I have never known such respect. If I had even thought I deserved such value with my ex, I would have been shot down; it was pride talking to think I deserved treated that way. I needed to work harder before I could be treasured. Or even valued. 

I thought Ranger was too good to be true. And then I met his dad. If Ranger turns out just like his dad (hopefully with a few less trials), that would be just fine. 

2 comments:

  1. This made me cry. You are such a neat person, Keira. Back to you wondering if you should keep your blog private. . .I can see posts like this one really touching people. You have such a great perspective. Oh, and I just remembered that I forgot to respond to you on Facebook. I would LOVE to see you (and meet Ranger if possible) over Thanksgiving.

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  2. Wow, to really understand a friend sometimes one must endure similar things. I just hope my outcome is a man like Ranger who will show me the same things. My ex- has become a friend but still with the hope he will really truly change and be the man God sees him as. So far that is not the case and He is preparing me to move on. You are such a wonderful person and don't you forget it.

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