Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.
Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by MaryBeth Bonfiglio.
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Well okay, maybe a little. Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter. ps, I will see you in NJ & Philly in a couple weeks at my Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human! NYC sold for March 21st is sold out. 🙁
I met my current husband when my daughter was 14. We met online. His profile stated clearly that he wanted to meet someone without children. She was not a child anymore. She was a teenager and perfectly able to stay home alone on my date nights. He agreed to date me, and after the third date, we continued. Eight and a half years later, we are still together and married.
Should I have seen the early warning signs? Should I have noticed how she bristled in his presence, how he became awkward and uncomfortable in hers? Should I have paid more attention to that first major fight they got into about how much cheese she wanted to buy when we went on that first trip together to Santa Fe, the nausea that ensued for me, the migraine? My body was being very clear with me, but I ignored it.
She was 16 at the time, and I chalked it up to her never wanting to accept anyone else in my life. I never moved him into our house. To this day, we still live apart due to work circumstances. To this day, we live apart due to more than that when I’m truthful about it.
She’s 23 now, and things are worse than ever. She’s learned to stand up for herself. She notices the language of control. She hears the cadence of judgment. She will not abide with his way of being. Recently, her car broke down and she called to get my help with the situation. While I was speaking with her, he had a suggestion. She heard him in the background, and told me to tell him that this was between us. He would not be quiet. He persisted. So, I handed him the phone. It was the biggest mistake I could have made. He kept trying to tell her his suggestion, while she was trying to tell him that it was a bigger problem, but he wouldn’t listen to her. Then he said, “You never listen to me!” She hung up on him.
Emails have ensued between them. He feels he’s owed an apology. She has, but with an explanation for how she was feeling, which he did not accept. I think he needs to drop it, and move on, but that’s not his way.
I’ve seen him lose many friends over these eight and a half years over smaller infractions. And now he’s got my daughter in his cross-hairs. My inclination is to step in front of his aim this time. This is my daughter. Yes, she hung up. But it’s not black and white. This time, I cannot, and I will not take his side.
I keep asking myself if this is going to be the moment, or the situation that will wreck this relationship. I don’t know if I can continue to be with a person who has burned many bridges with friends, and is now ready to sever ties with my daughter over this incident. No, it wasn’t the first time they’ve had a fight, and it wouldn’t be the last, but the absolutism of this argument, has me feeling sad and sick. She could get over it and move on for the sake of the situation, he could not.
At the end of the day, she’s my kiddo, and I love her more than life itself. He’s my current guy in a long line of long term relationships. He’s someone whose crazy matched my own in many ways. We get each other and it’s comfortable. We also have this great set up where we live apart during the week so I get my alone time, something I cherish. But not being able to share my joys and sorrows about the life of my one and only child with my partner seems like a gulf I cannot bridge. What about holidays? What happens when she gets married or has a child? He can’t just break up with my kid!
The older I get, the more I realize that I can live the rest of my life on my own if I had to, something I don’t think I thought I could do eight years ago. It all seems to go back to that online post that I failed to pay attention to. Why do we so often fail to pay attention to the biggest signs even when they are spelled out so clearly? Is this the end?
Signed, Is This The End?