My thoughts turned to my ex-son-in-law while I was sitting with God this morning, and I found myself grieving again. In over ten years I grew to love him even if his parenting and attitudes drove me crazy. I remembered some of the work we’d done, some of the opportunities he’d had, his love of me, and cried. It’s so sad, he lost so much by not choosing to face himself.
My daughter told of their last encounter that left her shaken–over an air compressor that she wanted (she got her dad’s mechanical ability and loves to fix things but has to have the strength of the compressor). He threw a tantrum and tried to control her with fear and guilt as always, and she was second-guessing herself in guilt. She’s always too soft on him–in my opinion. (It’s a God-thing that she could leave.)
But from his comments I could tell that he is back to blaming everyone else, in typical narcissist style, hiding from his brokenness. He’s obviously heard, “You’ve sacrificed so much to keep your kids in their home,” and he replays it regularly. I’m not diminishing what he did for a year and a half–it was big and commendable to give her 2/3 thirds of his check so she could scrape to stay in their house. It was important to keep the kids’ lives as stable and normal as possible, the youngest was a year and a half when they separated. And the earlier a child is disrupted, the harder it is on them. Most people don’t know that.
But it sounds like he has made a new “persona” or public mask out of being the one who has sacrificed so much–the good guy–the hero–the one who was left–the martyr.
That is so sad to me. He is even further away from facing himself, the wreckage he caused by not being willing to face his faults and grow. She had done most of the emotional heavy-lifting, and he wanted her to do it all–which she couldn’t. You can’t do someone else’s work. She was so into making things perfect, I’m sure she would have if she could have. And he got angrier and angrier at not being him. She hid it as long as she could. Until she saw how it was affecting their three little boys. And she began to see she would die young if she stayed.
Sad, sad, sad. Mostly for him. He’s the one who loses the most.
There’s a saying in my field, “Nothing changes until it becomes real,” which just means that unless you face your part, your faults, your dark side, you won’t grow, your relationships won’t get better.
There is no one on this planet that isn’t broken, that doesn’t have faults. We are all mistake makers here, ALL of us. And to pretend that we aren’t, is just fooling ourselves and maybe our children (hopefully only for a time). Everyone around us knows our craziness long before we do. The smartest thing we can do for ourselves and those who love us is take off our masks, look in the mirror, and get honest. It’s painful, but so worth it, and a lot less pain for a lot of people in the long run.
God will help if you ask–He’s into honesty. I’ve always wondered why Jesus’ disciples started the good news about God with telling people they were sinners, which just means we are broken, separated from God, and can’t fix ourselves. I thought that would raise defenses; maybe it was a short-cut for honest, open hearts. If your defenses are so developed that you think you’re good, you don’t need God. You’re perfect–and hopeless.