Rock….meet hard place. I should have been more prepared but I had no idea how to even prepare. Samantha, my step-daughter(the one I’ve raised since she was five), and I haven’t spoken much about the divorce or about my relationship with The Tour Guide because I knew she was uncomfortable with it and had indicated she didn’t wish to speak about it.
The last time we spoke about it was a year or so ago. When I came back from a trip to visit The Tour Guide I went to see her to tell her that we were engaged. I would prefer she heard these things directly from me than from someone else. She reacted surprisingly well to the news given her reaction to our relationship up to that point. When I told her we were engaged her immediate response was, “I guess I’d better get to know him.” Given that I thought maybe we were past the animosity about it. I still didn’t discuss it with her in great detail because, after all, I’m sure it’s still awkward for her and she really doesn’t want to hear about it. I go to visit her and the children about once a month and we keep the conversation to the kids and local happenings. She never asks me how I’m doing or what’s going on with me so I’ve taken that as a sign she doesn’t want to know and I don’t talk about it. That’s not meant as a slight toward me or her. It’s just that it’s awkward for her and I know it so I don’t push the issue.
When The Tour Guide was here in September I called her to ask if she and her husband would like to go out to dinner with us. I figured that a neutral public place would be best because if at any point she became uncomfortable she could excuse herself and leave without feeling locked in. “Let me get back to you on that,” she said. I never heard back from her and decided to leave well enough alone. I haven’t brought it up since.
With The Tour Guide arriving for good and wedding plans in place it was time, once again, to make the trek to her house to tell her myself rather than her hearing rumors about it. The Sunday before he arrived I went to her house. I don’t really know how to approach it with her so I play with the children for a while and then while they’re in another room playing I broach the subject.
Suffice it to say the conversation didn’t go very well. It was long and at every turn she had all the answers for why I had to have been having an internet affair and how it was really all my fault that I was abused. He only did what I allowed him to do. I went along with things, never saying I didn’t like it, and then was resentful. She knows so very much for someone who doesn’t want to talk about it all. The thing is I can see where she gets the whole internet affair from. As inaccurate as it is, I get it. I’m not really even offended by the accusation.
Still I felt just as low, just as dirty, the shame of having been abused washed over me anew. There it was. It was all my fault. I should have left sooner. I shouldn’t have put up with it. I should have tried harder or I shouldn’t have tried at all. If I was going to stay and try to work it out, why didn’t I try harder? Why did I go through counselling when I already had my mind made up?
“I didn’t come here to argue. I came here to tell you something important and I’ve done that. I love you and I will always love you. I hope that we can find some way to work through this and at least be friends. I think it’s best if I leave now.”
It’s taken me nearly three weeks to even get to the point that I can write this. I’ve cycled through all the emotions I went through when I left my marriage. I’ve beaten myself up, I’ve gotten angry, I’ve felt sad and I’ve grieved. Mostly now I realize that I feel powerless. Just as powerless to stand up for myself with her as I did her dad. Powerless because I made a choice not to tell her all the things that led me to this point. Powerless because she didn’t ask for any of this, it isn’t her fault, and I can’t change the fact that she’s been hurt by it. I can’t make it better. The only thing I know to do is allow her to cycle through her own emotions. Maybe we can be friends and maybe we can’t. It will be up to her.
And I didn’t even address the subject of why I’m not going to church. I can only imagine what kind of response that will draw. I likely won’t discuss this with her, at least for some time. Sometimes I’m torn between coming out of the closet on it and remaining deep in the back. Secrets have a way of biting me in the butt. Just look at the mess keeping my private marital secrets has made.
In the end I did send her an invitation with a handwritten note from me reminding her that I love her and I always will and that I’d love for her to be there, but if she doesn’t come I will completely understand and my feelings will not be hurt.
It’s taken me about this long to remind myself of all the reasons I’ve done what I’ve done to and come out of the funk that all this crazy baggage puts me in sometimes – giving myself permission all over again. I’m reminding myself that although I felt powerless in that moment and for a couple of weeks after knowledge is power. She probably feels pretty powerless, herself. I have knowledge she will never have. Now I’m trying to put myself in her shoes and look at this from her eyes. I will admit this is a struggle.