Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Relationships are Two-Way Streets

6 Comments

I tried really hard to keep some relationships going after my divorce, and for a while it seemed possible.  Having raised Samantha I thought she’d want that, too.  It’s proven harder than I ever imagined.  I don’t think she’s getting pressure from Charles’ family not to keep a relationship with me. It’s become apparent that it’s more uncomfortable or awkward for her than it is worth it to keep it going. 

Her relationship with both of her parents has always been tenuous, at best.  They’re, frankly, exhausting.  They require a lot of her.  In order to maintain a relationship with her dad she has to be grateful enough for the life he gave up for her.  She, for lack of better terminology, has to kiss ass to keep it up.  The head games were not reserved just for me.  In order to maintain a relationship with her mother she has to be able to put up with late-night incoherent drug induced phone calls.  She has to make decisions about whether to commit her mother to drug treatment centers when she gets suicidal.  She has to forgive. A LOT.  Her mother has stolen her identity and nearly wrecked her credit.  At her wedding her mother stole about twenty-five hundred dollars worth of checks, cash and gift cards.  It’s really bad. But she somehow does it.

Maybe she’s got nothing left to give.  I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe she expected more from me so the disappointment is so great she can’t forgive.  I had hoped that time would heal the wound.  The strain in our relationship since my divorce from her dad has gone from distant to non-existent.  I feel like I’m pushing myself on her.  I don’t want to do anything but love her like I always have.  Sometimes loving a person requires knowing when to let go.  It’s not love if I only cause discomfort or pain. Relationships are two-way streets.  Traveling one-way feels forced. You can’t force love.   One-sided relationships are near impossible to keep up, at least when you come to the realization that that’s what you have. 

I was reminded by my iFriend, Harvey, that “Unfortunately, it appears that in situations like this one, as sometimes
happens in divorce, the friends and family who are not directly
involved reveal that you were only “valuable” to them in your capacity
as an extension of the other individual…” 
  I continue to be optimistic that time does heal wounds and that Samantha may eventually come around.  But I have to be prepared for the possibility that she may not.  Either way the fact that I chose to divorce her dad means our relationship will be different.

I’ll close with a link to Micheal Mock’s recent post at Mock Ramblings because we all need a reminder sometimes that Love is Actions.

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6 thoughts on “Relationships are Two-Way Streets

  1. D'Ma:My comments were engendered by my own experiences with a divorce. After 18 years of marriage to my first wife and after we had produced three wonderful kids, she decided that she needed to split. After about a year, I was given custody of the kids (a daughter and two sons) and they were then raised by me and my second (current) wife of now over 30 years. Now all grown (the youngest is 40), all three of them consider my present wife their "maternal parent" and the "real" grandmother to their kids, but never their "mother". Even though my first wife effectively abandoned them and had precious little contact over the years (she is now deceased), we always made sure that they were not allowed to close the doors on that unique relationship that exists only between you and the person that bore you. I credit their step-mother with the wisdom to have realized that she neither could nor should have tried to be their "mother". It was she who insisted that they visit with their mother, even when, as teenagers, they often resisted doing so.Apropos of our previous posts about former relatives by marriage and even "friends" deciding that your previous relationship did not actually cause them to see you as a person deserving of their love and respect, the reverse has been true with our kids and most of my former friends and acquaintences, who are now mostly eaqually friends to my current wife. If we learned anything at all from this experience, it is that a step-mother/father can be a loving parent to a child, but one should not attempt to supplant the birth parents, even when their own relationship with the child is "toxic". The best one can do is make it clear to the child in question that you care for them for themselves (not just because you are married to their remaining parent) and are willing to let them set the limits to any relationship. It sounds as if you have done everything possible to be a friend to your step daughter. If the relationship cannot survive the ending of your marriage to her father, she may not have been able to extend the same friendship to you.Harvey

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  2. I'm not sure I would frame the situation in terms of usefulness (or being "valuable"), either. Sometimes in a breakup, other connections get severed as well. My brother and several of my friends would have cheerfully remained friends (or at least friendly with) my Supposed Former Wife, but she – understandably – was not comfortable with that. One of my brother's friends broke up with his longtime girlfriend, and while several of us would have liked to remain friends with her, that fell into the category of painful reminders for her. My point being, mainly, that even if your relationship with Samantha doesn't survive the divorce, that doesn't mean that there was anything lacking in your relationship with her. In fact, it may be quite the opposite; if you were a stabilizing force in her life, then she might very well feel that you betrayed or abandoned her by choosing not to be part of that family any longer. (It's not impossible that she's somewhat jealous that you actually get to leave, depending on just how unpleasant her situation really is.)Still, there may not be anything you can do about it. Which is sad, but at that point letting it go is really the best course.

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  3. @Harvey and Michael Mock,I'm sure you're both right. Whatever her reasons for keeping her distance it's very sad and painful. That's not to say I don't think it's sad and painful for her as well. I appreciate your thoughts on the subject because when emotions get involved it's hard to remain objective.I have from the outset continually reminded myself that this is a difficult situation to say the least. I've never tried to supplant her mother. Even though their relationship isn't the most stable I've always realized that she had a mother and I wasn't her. I tried to engender a close, familial relationship but never did I think I should impose myself in that position.Maybe after more time has passed and raw feelings have healed a bit we'll be able to be friends. And, of course, there's a realization on my part that all of this comes as a result of choices I've made, so I have to live with the outcomes no matter how much I wish they were different. It doesn't make it hurt any less.I hope this didn't come across as me trashing her in any way. She does have an awful lot to deal with with her biological parents. I'm very proud of her for the way she handles so much of that in stride. She's a remarkable person.

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  4. I suspect you had a hand in the outcome of her being a "remarkable person." 🙂

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  5. Thanks, Zoe. I'd like to think at least a little of that came from me. 🙂

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  6. She won't forget you, and when she is strong enough to ask for help I am sure you'll be the first she goes to.

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