A few weeks ago my son came home from his dad’s house and he was really upset. I decided it was worth a conversation, so the next time I saw his dad I brought it up. My ex-husband completely blew me off and said, “You are just jealous of ___________(his new wife)”. Initially, I felt my blood pressure and anger rise….. I felt like the little cartoon characters back in the good old days that get so mad they have steam coming out of their ears.
Even though I felt like this little guy, I took a deep breath and chose to act instead of react. Now let me tell you, It was not easy to keep my cool, in years past I would have come out swinging, but I don’t want to be that Norma anymore.
It took an immense amount if energy, but I took in a deep breath, smiled at him and said,” I am not jealous of your new wife.” To which he replied, “I know you, I was married to you for 19 years.”
Not only did he never answer my question about our son, but rudely said, “Look at you, you aren’t looking healthy these days.”
I continued to hold on for dear life to the person that I want to be. Leaving the conversation with any shame, and yelling at him was not being true to me. I looked him in the eyes and I said, “Cruelty is NEVER okay!”
Comparison reared It’s ugly head
I won’t lie, after he left I cried. I have gained weight and I am not what I would like to be. Comparison is something that I really try to avoid because I think it is very unhealthy to stack what I have and what I am up against someone else. It is degrading to everyone involved.
On this day….I fell into the trap and made a list in my head. I thought about our education levels….Well, I smash her on that one….one point for Norma. This thought inflated me for a brief moment, before being smashed by the next thought. Being thin….not doing very well there, she takes a point.
Being married to an addict….ha! She can have that one.
The list went on for a few minutes longer before I realized what I was doing. STOP! I told myself. This is not helping anything! The truth is that I have many amazing qualities and I have areas where I am falling short. His new wife, although I don’t know her well….I’m sure she has amazing qualities and areas where she falls short. We are both worth so much and plotting against her won’t ever make me feel better and it for sure doesn’t make me a better person.
Using cruelty to manipulate
He used something that was very common to me during our marriage. When ever I would ask him a question that he didn’t want to answer he would insult me, or belittle me. For so many years it worked beauifully. I would start to feel so bad about myself that I would shut up. I would become lost in my own thinging and negative self talk that I would disappear. Exactly what he wanted. He used cruelty to manipulate the situation and to get the attention off of himself. I have thought alot about what he said in that moment. He said that he knew me.
If he knew me
The sad truth is there is no way that he could have known me because I didn’t know me. When I was married to him I was a master cameleon, always shifting and changing. I was trying to become what he wanted me to be so he would love me and approve of me. No matter how much weight I lost, no matter how good of a parent I was, no matter how smart I was, or how much money I made, it was never enough for him. He would belittle and insult me in areas where I was weak. He would tell others lies about who I was so that he had an excuse to be living the life he was living.
Living with a beast
After all, if he was living with a beast, then not only would his friends condone his bad behavior, but they would encourage it. If he manipulated them to beleive that I was controlling and that I always complain, they understand why he needs to get away from me to go golfing or take a weekend trip to Vegas. If they take the time to get to know me and I am nice and kind….all the sudden they feel guilt at his beahvior and quit condoning it. So his friends never made an effort to know who I was. I am sure he has told stories about who I am, and I am okay with them thinking what they need to think.
Hard lessons that free the soul
On my journey I have learned many things, but one of my favorite mantras is this.
Just because someone says it doesn’t mean it is true!
I have to use it all the time as I navigate life. I have learned that people will beleive what ever they want to beleive to justify their own behavior. No amount of convincing will change what they think. I have to choose daily to free myself from what they think. Once my counselor said, “Norma, what other people think about you is none of your business.” At first I was mad….of course it is my business.
My mind was closed and I thought that I had to defend myself. The truth is that I don’t have to defend anything because what they think doesn’t matter. They never took the time or energy to hear my side of what happened. What I think matters, and today, I am okay with me.
What you think about you is what matters? Are you okay with you?