Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Looking For A Happy Ending

Posted by Joanne of Insane Mom.

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal mind, anonymously or otherwise, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement.

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So, help a girl out, will ya?

I don’t know how to explain my situation without giving you half my life story…I apologize in advance for the length of this post. And, I really hope I don’t bore you to death.

I am an (almost) thirty year old single mom. I have three beautiful, amazing, intelligent and challenging kids.

I have been dating someone since June of last year. He’s incredible. I care about him like you wouldn’t believe. He cares about me that much, too. It’s awesome. And it’s not.

He is a 32 year old single guy who has never been married and has no kids. You could say he is picky or you could say he is smart. He’s been waiting for a girl who can make him “all the way” happy. I don’t think he expected it to be someone like me. You know - the separated, three kids kinda thing. Part of his life’s dream has been to meet that girl that makes him feel good, marry her and have a family. I crossed marriage and kids off my to-do list years ago.

In itself this is not a huge issue. I could get married again (after I get a divorce, I suppose). I could (with a little bit of surgery) even have more kids. The issue is that blending our lives together is altogether challenging. It’s not working. We know it’s not working. But, we can’t seem to let go either.

A relationship between him and my kids just does not come naturally – for him or for them. My kids are 11, 9 and 6. They think he’s cool and he does cool stuff, but mostly he’s just the guy mom spends her time with when she’s not hanging out with us. For him, the chaos of my life is just too much. It’s one thing to get accustomed to life with kids over time, gradually – have a baby, adjust; have another baby, adjust and so on… But to walk into an established family with three strong-willed (loud) kids and try to become part of that is not so easy. It’s culture shock. And, it’s not getting any easier. We both feel it should be by now.

We have tried to end our relationship several times. But, instantly we both regret it…and neither of us have the willpower to go through with it. It’s like quitting smoking or sticking to a diet…the temptation is just too great. When we break up, we both feel lost. For the day or two that we actually stay broken up, we still talk constantly and we end up convincing ourselves that we should keep trying. Or, if we don’t talk I go crazy wondering what he’s doing and whether he’s really over me this time. He does the same thing. So, we get back together, more out of desperation than logic. We are both logical thinkers most of the time, but when it comes to this relationship we’re definitely not.

Ok, here’s where I get into my life story. I just want everyone to understand where I’m coming from. I had my first child a week after my 18th birthday. My husband and I got married when I was just 20 and baby number two came along shortly after. Baby number three came when I was 23. I was married with three kids at age 23. Wow. Can you believe that?

Anyway, my husband was not very nice. He was the first boy with whom I had a ‘real’ relationship and things were bad from the start. I was young and I thought if I tried hard enough, I could make him happy. In my mind, his happiness meant success and his unhappiness meant failure.

We struggled financially. We were both in our early twenties working minimum wage jobs trying to pay the bills. I thought if I could make more money I could make him happy. So, I went back to college while working full time at McDonalds and raising my two year old son and infant daughter.

I thought if I could get a better job and make more money for him to spend, he would be happy with me. I thought he would respect me. I thought he would stop hurting me. When I graduated from college I got a great job right away. I thought this was the answer to my prayers. But instead of getting better, things got worse. He was a dangerous man, my husband. I knew this but I ignored it. Foolishly, I thought if I could just do better, if I could be a better wife and a better mother, things would be better. Two years ago, things got so bad that my then seven-year-old daughter had to flee to our neighbour’s house to call the police. I’m so ashamed of that. The police came and took him away and my kids and I picked up the pieces. We’re better for it now. That much I know.

The brief summary of my married life above is because I want you to understand my full dilemma now. I am with someone who cares about me. He is gentle and sweet. And, even though I know in my heart that it can’t work, the thought of walking away from that is unthinkable. I’m so afraid that I will never find that again.

I realize I’ve blurred the issue here. My dilemma is in finding the strength to let go of something that really I want to hang onto. I love this man. But I know he is not right for me, he is not right for my life and I am not right for his. I want to know how long it will take to get over him. I want to know that I won’t always feel like I’m crumbling inside. I am a logical person. I know I will get over the end of this relationship once we decide to end it. But it’s so much easier to say than do.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a difficult decision, for sure. But you sound like a strong woman, strong enough to realize what's really important.

Anonymous said...

If your children haven't bonded with him, there's your answer.

I can only imagine how hard it is for you to raise them on your own. But it sounds like as much as this man may love you, he's not able to love your family too. And that's what I'd want were I in your position.

Anonymous said...

You are a package deal and your kids need you to be there 1000%. It may be it is just too soon for them and that is understandable. I feel for you. Be strong and you will get through this.

Anonymous said...

You said it yourself. He is not right for you. In your situation, YOU is a plural term. Your kids must be a major consideration in choosing a life partner. And it's not just them --- it's him. He isn't going to sign-on for step-dad chaos duty and it would end up with resentment toward the children and you, simply because you have them. This is not a a disagreement in which side of the bed to sleep on, it's a lifestyle incompatibility. I'm not saying it will be easy to let go - but honestly why can't you just date him and be happy with that for now? You're not legally divorced and can't marry anyway. Are your kids gone every other weekend with their dad? Have a blast, you are young. Keep your social life separate from your kids and know its limitations. One day you will find someone who fits into the life that you already have - and chances are he will find someone without 3 kids. Til then? If you can handle it, just have fun.

braiding mommy said...

Wow. What a difficult situation. I relate in some way - I too am a single mother, though I am 24 and have only have one child - I experienced some of the difficulty of "single mom dating" and heartbreak that comes with it. I dealt with the aftermath of someone I cared deeply about telling me that he really loved me... but the kid-thing just wasn't working for him. It's really tough. It's just such a difficult situation all around.

I'm young, but I've still seen things I thought were impossible happen in my own life - and what it took for them to happen was my willingness to let go and embrace the unknown. When you've been single for a while, it's easier to say that you are ok with it. Once someone comes in that makes you feel good and loved, its so difficult to give that up, even when it is so obviously wrong.

I would say cut the cord comepletely, greve the loss of the relationship appropriately, and re-adjust back into life, single life. It's really hard, but harder for new opportunities to come in when you are holding on to something else.

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like you've made your decision, and what you need is agreement that it's okay to walk away from a good thing when it's not really 100% good, and assurance that you'll still be loved by your friends and family when you create a new hole in your life.

No? Maybe?

Because it is okay to walk away when things aren't all bad, just like it was okay to walk away when things were really bad, before. They don't have to be that bad for you to end it.

And everyone who knows you and understands you will continue to love you and support you through anything. And if they don't... screw 'em.

KAT said...

I think Anonymous is right that you know what you need to do and are just looking for the strength to do it.

I don't have any children, but was once in a situation where I fell head over heels in love with a man who was not right for my life. It was such a difficult thing to come to terms with and it took more than a year for me to be over him. I got through it with the support of my friends... and plenty of chocolate!

The bright side is that giving up that relationship eventually led to meeting the man of my dreams. I'm so much happier than I would have been if I had stayed with someone who wasn't right for me.

Good luck!

Vani said...

Wow! What a difficult situation to be in- you've found a perfect match for you but it's not a great match for your kids. Of course, kids come first. Always. I wish there was some way it could be worked out so that you both are happy together and your kids are a major part of that equation!

C. said...

Great advice so far! Don't know if you need my two cents, but here goes...

It takes A LOT for a man to step in to a ready made family and 1.) not be intimidated (by all of it, the noise, the confusion and all the other joys kids provide) : ) and 2.) Make such a huge commitment, not only to you but to them as well. It takes a man who is TOTALLY in it...no question.

I have been where you are (minus a child), and it's hard...very, very hard. I married a man who, at 30, had never been married and didn't have kids and never, ever saw his life taking a turn like this...but yet, he was in it, even his family was in it, 100%, from the get go. He jumped in feet first and only occasionally looked back (he is human, after all).

There are a lot of nice guys out there and there are a lot of guys you'll meet who could have truly been a wonderful match for you (I met a couple like that), had times been different, but the person you need is the person who will take it all on...the craziness and the uncertainty, all of it, because this is your life. I'm sure I don't need to tell you but even in situations like that, things can still be difficult.

I know it's not easy. Please know I'll be thinking of you.

Jo said...

Wow - amazing advice - from everyone. And, you are all right. My kids definitely come first and I know that any long term partner I have has to be "in it", just like c. said. It is very, very hard and right now I'm basically doing exactly what anonymous 4:49 am said and enjoying my social life with him, when the kids are gone - and we have such a great time together. This past summer we did spend a lot of time together as a "family". We took the kids camping every weekend, spent time with his nephews, and really did become a tight knit group. But, still, it's so hard because I see his doubts about whether or not it can work in the long term and I have my own, separate set of doubts. I don't want him to 'settle' for me. I'm not putting myself down - but you can see what I mean. There's no reason he shouldn't be able to experience all the wonderful things I've already had the chance to go through - childbirth, etc. Yet, he loves me and he's afraid that he'll regret it forever if he walks away. So I feel like I have to do it for him. It's so, so hard. But, it's only a matter of time before one of us is going to have to take that final step. Lately, I feel like I'm just bracing myself for the day - just like quitting smoking or resolving to do something else. It may feel awful at the time, but it's for the best. In the meantime, I'm going to procrastinate a little while longer and enjoy every blissful second of being loved so sweetly for the first time in my life. Sighhhhh....

Anonymous said...

Keep procrastinating. I also felt that way about someone that I loved desperately - I convinced myself that it wouldn't last; that our lifestyles were incompatible. This was a gut-level feeling, but I decided to stick it out and enjoy it while it lasted. 12 years later, we're happily married.

ewe are here said...

From your follow up comment, it sounds like you're trying to be 'noble' about it and let him go because you think that's what he needs. You might be right; but have you considered that you might be wrong?

Perhaps the two of you should find a good family counselor and really try to nail down both your feelings, together, and see where you stand. The answers might surprise both of you.

GOod luck.

macboudica said...

Some great advice here, but I just wanted to add something after reading your response comment--you talk about not wanting him to have to settle...what about you settling for a guy who isn't 100% into your life (and therefore you)? After all you have been through, it is nice to find someone sweet, but that isn't always enough. You need someone sweet and who loves the whole package--you, your kids, the chaos--no questions asked. I think that if you can see his doubts now as you say, then maybe if both of you stick out this relationship there may always be some regret/resentment on his part--he will always be thinking of the other side of the fence.

Anonymous said...

here is some advice from someone who went ahead and got married anyway. my husband sounds quite a bit like your boyfriend. i have four kids from a previous marriage. he had none. we're both mid-thirties.

if you go through with it, make sure you are ready for lots of couple and family therapy. for a long time. if it's worth it, then go ahead. if not, make a fresh start, read up and figure out what your co-dependencies are and try again in a few years.

i honestly can't tell you if i wish we would have not married. it changes every few weeks.

Jo said...

You guys are awesome. And, the basement rocks. Anonymous 9:51pm - thank you. I don't know if it's worth it and I think that uncertainty is enough to say that, for now, we both probably should just take some time and some space. I expect, if we do that, we will both move on to new and better things in our lives, which is tough to think about but necessary. The hardest thing now is just preparing to take that step. Things are actually good right now...but this is the cycle of our relationship. We've ended things before - when it ends next time, I want it to stick, because I do know it's for the best...I gotta be ready to handle it. I need a backbone and some willpower. Wish me luck!