For anyone willing to read this much already, I would like to share something else.
Yesterday, by way of text, we had a long discussion. I certainly don't think texting is the ideal venue for a serious discussion, but if he doesn't have to see the pain in my face and is willing to actually converse, I'll take what I can get.
I am posting this to get feedback on how we communicate. (2x4s are OK - I'm not foolish enough to believe this is good communication!)
Here's how it went...
Me: This is really close the the most awful thing you've ever done to your children. _____ has never ever done anything to you but serve you and work for you. I can't even believe you would consider not going to his _______ tournament his senior year. I can't even fathom it.
HIM: We'll discuss later trying to work.
ME: Well I certainly don't want to bother you with something as unimportant as this
HIM: How many times did you not go to their tournaments because you didn't feel wanted?
ME: I gave up going so that you could have that time as a special thing for you and them. And any time I did not feel wanted, it was that I didn't feel wanted by you.
HIM: Always my fault
HIM: That's not a reason to not support your kids and I was planning on going and was talking to ____ last night about it so I don't know what ______ is talking about. I guess he doesn't want us to go.
ME: Well, you told each of them only last night that you would not be going - so I think it is a little rediculous to say that you can't imagine how they would think that you are not going. They both have told me that you also told them weeeks ago you would not be going because of how they were acting bad. So, I guess it was good responsibility on their part to try to get another ride since their dad said he would not take them. I am trying to figure out how this particular incident is not your fault.
HIM: I never said that last night. When do they become accountable for their actions? I actually said that 3-4 weeks ago wshen they hadn't trained in 3 weeks and gained their weight back - not taking a national tournament serious and still haven't in my opinion, so I was angry at that time trying to get them to wake up - but as usual, it all falls back on me.
ME: Yes, I think it is wrong to tell your kids "hope you can find somebody to drive you to the _____ tournament" as a threat because you don't think they're taking their training serious enough. Why do you think that it is necessary to hold them to the same standard that you say you held yourself to? Are you intentionally trying to make them feel bad about themselves? And, by the way, why is your 'not feeling wanted' so much more horrible than when I haven't felt wanted? Why is it that the would is out to get YOU, but the rest of us - our feelings don't matter as much as yours do.
HIM: Please! It doesn't matter what I say - you have some comeback that has no concern for my feelings.
ME: Okay, you're right. You have no accountability here - none of this was brought on by you. It was all in our imagination. We are so sorry that you are hurt by this. We are so sorry that your are hurt that you told your kids you were not taking them to a national tournament.
HIM: Forget it. Y'all decide if you want me to go or not since you and _____ can talk to each other. As he said, I don't listen to him but you do and at the tournament he hardly talks to me unless he wants money for food. I feel and you make me feel like I am a bad father so I'm used to people putting me down and not agreeing with me. I know this won't make sense to you, but I don't know how to argue or discuss anything with you. You always take the opposite side.
(I thought that is what an arguement was)
ME: If only you thought it was important enough to see somebody to get some help with our communicating - if only.
HIM: My feelings are not important because I have been way down the list for 20 years. Noone has ever helped.
(This is where I became enraged)
ME: It is so amazing that you can even begin to say that to me. You withdrew from me, and after that you started going to other women. I have always been here - always - searching for ways to make things better. I cannot do it alone. It feels to me like you would rather hold on to the pain thatn to try to get the help that is needed to be happy. It feels like we are just not worth the effort to you.
HIM: Thanks for the forgiveness - that you always have to bring that up and throw it in my face.
ME: Forgiveness for something and being assisted in healing from it are two separate things. If you are going to accuse me of being the one to put you last all these years, after what you have put me through, do not expect me not to remind you of your part in this. I don't have any reason to put your hurts up against my hurts and see who hurts the worst. But I will tell you this, the next time you want to put me down because nobody wants you, you think how you would feel if I had done what you have. Think how you would feel then.
HIM: I do everyday.
ME: Really? You really "get it"? If that is true, how can you continue to put your hurts above mine?
HIM: I don't!!!!!!
ME: Well then, what has this whole text exchange been about?
HIM: I guess I'm not suppose to hurt and I guess it has been about what a slime I am!
ME: Always, always, always about how YOU are mistreated and misunderstood and hurt. Always. What about the hurt that ______ and ______ feel that you told them you were not going to their tournament? What about their hurt? Does that matter at all to you? Or are we just going to focus on how this hurts you? And if you are hurting so badly, why is it that you are not willing to do what it takes to try to overcome the hurt and mend fences with you family? I have screwed up, and I am more than wiling to get help. But I can't do it alone.
HIM: They have not shown any or expressed any hurt or seem to care.
ME: They don't always show their feelings. You of all people should understand this. And - the $64million question would be, what about my pain? Is there no evidence of that?
HIM: Fine. What do you want. (I think we texted on top of each other here) Everyday, every time I look at you!!!!!!!!!
ME: Wow - such a gracious invitation. What I want is for the leaders of this family - that would be you and I - to step up - even if it is out of our comfort zone, and do what it takes to give this family some relief from the hurt and the chaos. I guess you are in a mess. Because if you see pain in my face every time you look at me - and this is the reason you don't look at me - what you need to know is that a big part of my pain is because you don't look at me and you don't see me. So I really don't know what will come of this, because I hurt when you don't look at me and you say you don't look at me because of my pain. Seems like there is no way out, doesn't it? And I feel this is your excuse to just say, there's nothing that can get better, so just forget it. That's what I feel like you're doing to me. That's the importance I believe I hold for you - that you feel if its going to be a lot of trouble - just forget it.
HIM: I'm not doing that, that's the meaning you are placing on it.
ME: Yes it is. You are right. And the fact that it is the meaning it has for me should be more important than whether or not my perception is accurate. It is how I feel. And you have spoken about how your hurts are not valued, and yet you have no value for my feelings - just because its simply my perception. My perception is all I have because you don't offer me any other way to look at it.
I know how dysfunctional this is. When I make a comment to him in person, via email, or via text - such as the one I made at this first of this exchange, his usual response is not to respond. So when he does respond, all of the things I have wanted to talk about for months just comes pouring out of me. And it is almost always exaggerated to some extent.
I truly believe that we have what it takes to mend. I guess that is why I am holding on. But I know we are past being able to do it ourselves.
If you are still reading - bless your heart!
And thank you!