Just Who Is In Charge Here?

Jenny got off the phone, raked her fingers through her hair (just like I do when I’m stressed) and she gasped, “Why do I have to be so nice?  Why can’t I tell him that he uses the voice?”

And the cycle continues…

Mark asked her if he used the voice with her; she denied it because her knee-jerk is to be nice and compliant; and he thinks I’m feeding him crap about the kids and their reactions to his visits.

And then it hit me.

I AM IN CHARGE. I am the grown up here.  Such that I am.

I am the protector of my kids.  I am the protector of me.  I will NOT put them on the front lines anymore.  It is enough for them to say they are uncomfortable.  It is enough to say they don’t want to be with him. (I should clarify that Will said the most recent visit was better, but that he hates that his dad isn’t trying with Jenny.  And I started to tell him that he doesn’t need to worry about his sister’s relationship with their dad, just his own.  And then I thought, do I want my son to NOT be compassionate?  Do I want him to put his needs before all others?  I want him to advocate for himself and others.  That’s not impossible with most, only with narcissists.)

And between yesterday’s bleak cloud-filled morning, and this morning’s cloud-filled, but ultimately sunny skies, here’s what has transpired to give me some clarity and a few new portholes.

  • We went to a matinee – “How To Train Your Dragon”. (I even sprang for the 3D glasses.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I bought popcorn, too.)  It provided the escape we needed.  Will was inspired by the kid who stuck to his guns even when everybody else thought he was a lunatic.  Jenny loved the action and the message of hope and possibility.  I felt like while it might be possible to train a dragon, I still can’t train a narcissistic ex-husband or wasband, as I fondly refer to him.
  • I realized that Jenny has learned – from me – to be unfailingly nice, at the expense of sticking up for her own desires and feelings.  I need to model niceness without doormat-ness – in a nice way.
  • I broke my favorite earring that I’ve warn since 1983.  It was my only accessory that made me slightly less conventional.  (Stop laughing.  I realize that in this day and age, when there are a kgillion ways to show the world that we stand out, I’ve only had the guts to demonstrate that with a third piercing.)  Breaking this earring made me say, “That’s it!  I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”  (Isn’t Faye Dunaway gorgeous?)
  • I realized that even though I had the guts to drop the f-bomb, I still need to grow a spine.  I need to back it up with something.  There’s no point in delivering that message, only to roll over and continue to be the doormat.  I’m showing my kids how to be doormats with colorful language.  Nice.
  • And then I woke to check all the great stuff and sites that I read every morning for inspiration, and there was this great piece by Julie Rhodes.  I read it to the kids and they both started clapping.
  • And in my inbox I found supportive notes from so many friends and family members – portholes all of you.  Thank you so much for the kind words.

And then I had another thought…  somewhere, deep in my filing cabinet, there was a lost folder with a note that said something like, “You don’t have to work to get people to love you.”  And then I ran to my bathroom cabinet where I found a water-damaged, purple post-it-note that said, “I think people only love me when I do something for them.”

It’s possible that people might actually love me for who I am, not what I do for them, or how I make their life easier, or how accommodating I can be.  And if they don’t love me, then, well….  then, they don’t love me.  I can’t do a damn thing about that.  And do I want them to love me only because I have finally convinced them of my fabulousness?

Hell no.

And that’s what I want to model for my kids.  They are fabulous.  They don’t need to convince anyone of that in order to be loved.  They are going to run into people who may not be smart enough to see their unique qualities.  That is the other person’s loss.  Will and Jenny won’t suffer because they aren’t loved by everyone.  They will suffer if they keep seeking love from those who aren’t capable of giving them love.

I am done being the doormat.  (She says, nicely.)

This is requiring more intestinal fortitude than I realized.  Hell, I can kill the big spiders, I can slay (okay, not really slay, but stand up to) a wasband.

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  1. Wahoo! She’s back!

  2. okay… another lesson…

    the portholes come quickly, if you keep your eyes open.

    don’t despair… they are out there.

    and if all else fails, send out the SOS’s to friends and family. ;)

  3. Amen, sistah-girl. Amen!

    You made it thru. The next time you’re in the sh*ts, just remember that it WILL pass, and you will come out on the other side with incredible power and insight.

    I’m just delighted to know you!

    Hug the kids and pet the critter for me. :)

  4. Donna,

    And I am so fortunate to know you.

    Why does it seem the journey is easier for others? Or… maybe it’s because others are not sharing every stickin’ detail of the trip. And they have money for therapists, so they don’t need the online therapy that I seek.

    Thanks, dear, for continuing to read along and offer up your keys. I’m still thinking about the Scott Peck book. Call me a chicken.

  5. You probably don’t realize it, but you are brilliant. Some of your words blow me away , such as “they will suffer if they keep seeking love from those who aren’t capable of giving them love.” I think you could easily be a psychologist. Seriously. And of course you are so right with your observations, in my humble opinion.

  6. Phyllis,

    In my humble opinion, I’m simply sharing my experiences from a lifetime of seeking love where none is available.

    Experience is the story. Sometimes I get lucky finding the words.

    And thanks, too, for the compliment. I’ll take it. :)

  7. Your words are magic, lyrical, insightful, empowering, thoughtful, tingling, powerful, consequential, potent, do you want me to stop? I can go on…

    (From the other room, husband is listening/seeing a video of Brittney Spears (?) Womanizer… how weird is that…?)

  8. Annie,

    I can always count on you… and often for a laugh.

    Right now I’m partly laughing at your complimentary description of my writing, and mostly at the thought of your 50-ish husband ogling Britney Spears.

  9. Sick isn’t it?

  10. Annie,

    I have a feeling women think that a 50-ish guy obsessing over (I was going to write something not at all flattering here) Britney Spears borders on sick. But I’m not sure many men would agree with that sentiment.

    Would love to hear comments from men and women on this one. ;)

  11. I’m sick of men. I might turn into a lesbian. just kidding.

  12. If you are serious…. and ever get to the point where you decide you want to drink coffee, give me a call.

    just kidding.

    actually, I like men too much (not in a Marilyn Monroe kind of way) to be sick of ’em. This life would be pretty boring without the fun the chaos and the confusion that men bring to the party.

    maybe we’re just sick of the kind of men we’ve known. I have faith that there’s a lot of great ones out there. I even know a few.

  13. You crack me up. I am serious. You do.

  14. Phyllis,

    That’s what friends are for.

    Do you drink wine?

  15. No I don’t drink wine. But I love margaritas. Especially with Mexican food. I also love milkshakes. And Diet Pepsi. But I am convinced that diet drinks are not good for the body. They’re junk. But I love them. But not as much as margaritas and milkshakes. Everyone in my family loves wine. Including my future wasband. Maybe that is why I don’t like it. He drinks coffee and wine, so I don’t. I am a brat sometimes. (Not really, but that WAS a bratty thing to say!) Oh well, I’ll be nicer next time. Hah Hah

  16. Phyllis,

    I firmly believe nice is over-rated. That’s part of why we are in this mess. Check out this post by Kelly Diels, http://www.kellydiels.com/2010/04/15/nice-girls-nice-guys-finish-middle-class/ .

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