My therapist helped me understand more about my frigging compulsion to “make things right” (codependency) during our session yesterday. It feels wonderful to know that I am on the path out of codependency, but sometimes my path doubles back and forms a loop that I must travel a second time. That’s okay. I’m learning.
A day or two ago, I wrote a post called In the Way. It described how I hoped that by talking to Will and setting up a midweek visitation, our son’s would be able to visit their friends (during dad’s time) on the weekends and feel less guilt about doing so. Honestly, looking back, I think I hoped to smooth some of Will’s ruffled feathers by showing my willingness to work toward equitable visitations.
So, what was I trying to do? I was trying to make my sons and Will feel better. It didn’t matter that I don’t WANT to have midweek visitation because my weeknight schedule is already jacked up (until the end of this semester). It was more important to me to make two people (Marc and Will specifically) feel better after the actions I took a month ago. (And why, I ask you, am I feeling guilty for leaving the man who did not keep his hands off of me because he was pissed?! – That sounds like a separate post.)
In effect, when I spoke to Will about Marc’s wishes, I opened myself up to Will’s habitual attacks. I truly thought that Will would say, “That sounds good – how about Wednesdays?” or something similar. I didn’t expect a 20 minute argument against an extra hour or two with the boys.
And why didn’t I expect an argument? Because I was doing a good thing, a self-sacrificing thing that may (or may not!) benefit our boys and I expected Will to see that and maybe not be so mad at me.
And then, I wrapped myself up in knots wondering why Will behaved as HE did, assigning motives I cannot know to Will, and berating him for his decision.
In short, I created a situation in which I had no business and then amplified the negative result it in my own mind to punish myself.
My therapist presented an alternative solution, one that actually makes sense and would have cut out all the drama. She said that Marc’s feelings of guilt were HIS to deal with. It sounded harsh to me at first…didn’t I CAUSE Marc’s bad feelings? Wasn’t I responsible for this whole mess anyway? Shouldn’t I do everything I could to FIX IT for Marc?
Well, no, no, and no.
- Marc’s bad feelings are a result of a conflict between spending time with his dad and spending time with his friends. Do you see my name in that statement? No. I’m not involved in Marc’s bad feelings. When he told me he felt like he had to choose, I could have said, “Well, maybe a weeknight visitation with your dad would help. Talk to him and let me know what you decide and I’ll work with you.”
- I am not responsible for “this whole mess”. Will and I are separated because of his act of violence.
- I cannot fix anything for Marc. When I decided to insert myself into the conflict, I took away Marc’s power to solve his problem on his own. I so wanted to eliminate Marc’s bad feelings! I don’t want my child to feel bad, ever. But if Marc is to grow into a fine man, he’s going to have to learn to deal with his unpleasant feelings on his own. I mean, will I be there when he has a conflict with his co-worker? His boss? His girlfriend? Nope. He’s gotta learn to deal.
So, my assignment for this week is detachment. Specifically when it comes to allowing the ones I love to own their own problems. I’m here for them if they need suggestions or if I can do something that will help them sleep easier at night so long as I am a component of their own solution and not attempting to fix it for them.