Locked into a dynamic defined by opposing camps of “Disappointer” and “Disappointed”, there’s not much room for anyone to find new ground. Trying to get something that has never been attainable from someone who was never equipped to give it in the first place is like being on a merry-go-round and expecting to end up someplace different.
About six months after Pete moved out, I stepped off that merry go round.
I had become a whiny, sad and resentful person in my marriage, and I showed every sign of continuing in that vein in my relationship with Pete for the rest of our lives. However, the longer he was gone, the easier it was to perceive choices–about my expectations and my attitude.
Simply, and not maliciously, I decided to pretend Pete didn’t exist. Sure, Theo would spend time with him at the allotted intervals, and we would see each other. But beyond that, I understood that I needed to not think of him as a resource–to me or to Theo. No guilt, no blame, no nothing. Just Pete free to be Pete and me responsible for whatever I deemed necessary for our son.
Was it fair? No. But I could not make things fair. And I could not afford to suffer any longer over how things weren’t working out the way I thought they should. The only thing I had control of was my thinking. I knew for sure that focusing on what was unfair was not contributing to my peace or wellbeing.
So: I asked for nothing. I wanted nothing. I expected nothing. It was a complete system reboot.
Remarkably quickly, Pete started showing up in ways he never had in our marriage. He became genuinely, enthusiastically helpful. And I became genuinely, enthusiastically appreciative. When you expect nothing, anything you receive is a gift.
For the first time in my son’s life, I didn’t feel alone in raising him. Had things suddenly become fair or equal? No. However, it felt like Pete and I had built a bridge on air–in which there could be gratitude and grace anyway. I had to let go of the idea that only fairness would make me happy to see how much suffering this idea had caused me.