You know, I consider myself to be a reasonable person. Someone who strives towards consensus, negotiates fairly, attempts to put personal issues aside in order to work to a common goal. I’m not a pushover though by any means. A director at work told me yesterday that she would rather have me as a union rep to deal with not only because I’m fairly affable (ie: not an asshole) but because I’m clear and decisive about the union position and I “don’t take any shit”. I like to think that my approach is positive and open in that I hope to reach a mutually agreeable place, before my end game gets hard line.
Although I haven’t written much about this here, one of the complexities of my new relationship involves the fact that Brian lives in a shared (separate suited) house with his ex in order to facilitate co-parenting their daughter. In itself, this does not bother me in the slightest – believing as I do that if the parties can work it out, it is the best answer for the child to have both parents close at hand. It’s the responsible thing, and whatever jealousy I might feel over the closeness of the previous partner is a fleeting thing easily replaced with a rationalization of why the situation is as it is. No problem.
Well, no problem except for that the whole seven months of my relationship with Brian has pretty much happened in the shadow of his ex and some control and emotional angst issues that are residual from their romantic relationship. And yes, they were separated for quite some time before I met Brian – so I’m not exactly “the other woman” though I know his ex characterizes me that way. As much as I had hoped to meet her in the beginning in order to facilitate comfort with meeting her daughter, this has not happened. Nor have I been allowed to come to the house where Brian lives (she is not comfortable with the slight chance we might meet). And scheduling is pretty much on her terms, just as it was when her and Brian were both single.
And you know, even these things I could deal with, give it time, be patient…. Except for the ultimatums, the guilt trips and the continual changing of “rules” when it comes to Brian and how he interacts with his daughter. Up until now, I have watched him comply with pretty much every request his ex has made (except of course the request for him to break up with me) in order to keep the peace in the household. And each time, without fail, his compliance is deemed not enough (which of course is couched in terms of their daughter’s stability and health). And as much as I can admit my bias – watching it from my perspective is a maddening and heartbreaking thing – because I know that what Brian wants most is a harmonious situation for his daughter and no matter how hard he tries, it is being denied.
Any issues with jealousy have given way to a fierce protectiveness of my partner – who I’m sure is not perfect in his situation with his ex – but at the same time deserves to move on with his life with me and not be penalized for it. For the longest time I have tried to stay out of it, keep my opinions to myself and let them work out their own course of action, but increasingly I am gunning for a formal separation of households despite my philosophical and ideological support of alternative family models. As progressive as we all might be, there seems to be a fundamental breakdown in allowing all parties to have their needs met here – and that includes Brian’s daughter. The longer she is kept from me, and I am kept from the house, the weirder it’s got to be for her in becoming a party to the relationship her father has with me.
A few weeks ago it seemed that things could be worked out, that the intense upset and demands were perhaps at an ebb – but I’m afraid that probably is not the case anymore and rather than rest on my patient negotiator’s background, I’m exhausted by the erratic emotionalism I’m witnessing. I’m not even party to most of it and it’s wearing me out!
Again, it’s up to them what happens and I’m not telling anyone what they should do in a situation as layered and as challenging as this – separations are never easy no matter how rational everyone appears at first blush – but something has got to give and that something is not going to be the amazing relationship I am creating with Brian.
How’s that for hard line end stages?