All I could think of was avoidance. I will go to a movie, find a friend to hang with, or go shopping with no money. Anything had to be better than going home. I was spent. I am not a fan of fairs. The proximity to weirdos, the con artistry, and the craziness of the pricing is not my idea of a good time. But the experience was terrible. I was not prepared for the tears, the anger, the frustration of a little girl. I told him, “Next year, go without me. Oktoberfest? Go without me. I can’t do this again. ” But he felt the same. He wanted to crawl in a hole as much as I did. The emotional demands and battles are the reason I always said I wanted boys. I always pictured myself giving birth to 2 boys. That was my dream, knowing that girls are emotional and manipulative nightmares. But here I am, muddling my way through this step-parent territory, with a female preteen.
The next day, I sat at work and dreaded going home. I could not handle round 2 of that emotional roller coaster, not without a decent break. I told him, “I’m going to a movie after work.” He was not angry, and he seemed to understand. It was very overwhelming to me, the thought of going home and biting my tongue yet again. Anything had to be better than watching a child manipulate her father and a situation, and feel powerless to intervene. What I would have said at the fair would not have been received well. I have given up financial freedom, time freedom, and emotional freedom for this relationship and this child. Would she ever understand and appreciate any of it? Does he grasp the stress it brings me? Will he ever stop making excuses for her and put his foot down?
The more I thought of getting away to a movie—an escape-- the more I remembered how spent he was as well. He was almost as frustrated as I had been. But it’s his child, not mine. He helped create the problem, so it’s his to fix. I am not the one who gave her so much control. I’m not the one who actively brought her into this world, knowing she could inherit her mom’s emotional instabilities. My heart ached as I sat at my desk, pondering my evening. Do I face the inevitible drama filled night, or go to a movie and leave him to deal with it?
What message am I sending if I run every time it gets hard? The truth is, I’m in this with him. My heart is not detaching or running—my mind is trying to find a quiet place for a while. But will he assume I’m detaching when I do this? I think he will, or it will make him wonder where my heart is at. Then came his text, “I hope you don’t lose faith in us.”
After deliberation, I realized that I am sending the wrong message by running away. If I am in this until the finish, then I need to buck up and face even the shitty nights. I called off my night of leisure. I knew he needed one as much as I. And even though she is his child, and he helped create the mess, if I’m really committed to him, then I’m committed to THEM.
The evening was actually very good. Rules were set and enforced. I hemmed jeans, repaired stuffed animals, and let her give me a makeover. It was a good night, and I was thankful I had not missed it.