I am crazy empathetic and mostly I love it. Sometimes I hate it. Today I hate it. I am very close to my ex’s family. The parents, siblings, siblings’ spouses, and the nieces/nephew are mostly cool people. We all made a choice to stay family. Sure, the kids are their blood family, but the kids are my blood too sooo…it’s way more complicated than blood/not blood. The ex makes ZERO effort to make sure they see the kids, so we are the ones who get the kids to them. I really think of all of them as my family still. They also love my wife and really get along with her so we are one big happy family.
The parents are recently and mostly retired. They are hoping to start spending a few months in Florida every winter as that is where Dad feels happiest. It’s never been possible with work but now that he’s just consulting virtually, it is doable. And cue my house in Florida where the ex and Boy #1 live. It is my house. We also owned a house in GA that had a good bit of equity and part of how I saved myself financially and my military retirement from being split was to give him the house to sell. So he got GA house as his and the FL house is mine and he can live there, since I knew I was moving up north. The plan is to eventually spend winters in FL when we can, which is when everyone is out of school and at least in college. So we have awhile to wait.
This past weekend Dad went down there to visit the ex and Boy #1. The last time he saw them was in February 2019 before it all went to shit and everything we thought life was about changed. The two in FL tried to clean up the house because they are huge slobs who are pretty much impossible to live with unless you want to be constantly cleaning up after them. Which is no longer my problem, other than they are doing this in my house. They did a ton of cleaning from the pictures I saw. Today I Facetimed Mom because she loves trick or treating and she couldn’t make it out our way to come along with us as she was planning. I like her. She can be a lot, but I do like her. One of her children treats her very poorly and shuts her out sometimes so she couldn’t go out trick or treating with her other grandchildren. We got talking about the FL visit and she said he had a great time down there. I said something about cleaning and she made a face indicating that it was less than clean. Ugh. She said we’d talk about it later. Eventually I talked to Dad and he said “When everything settles down we will talk more about the house and what needs to be done.”
Great. So I am allowing someone who hurt me deeply to live in my house FOR FREE who I know doesn’t care to clean and now these parents are saying these kinds of things. I should be angry, right? I am. But my initial reaction was to feel bad for the ex. WTF. I don’t want to feel bad. You get a sweet deal on a house where you don’t have to move, you get to live there for free, and you still can’t manage to actually clean it up and take care of basic maintenance stuff because you are living there FOR FREE.
I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL BAD FOR SOMEONE WHO REFUSES TO GROW UP AND BE AN ADULT. Why does this even happen? It makes me feel so upset with myself for being human and treating someone who didn’t care enough to treat me like a human when it mattered the most. This person was content to trash and hurt me at every opportunity. This person told me my job sucked and not to talk about it anymore because it was so boring to listen to my stupid work stories. This person criticized everything about the way I looked, the way I thought, the way I tried to be, and shut me down every day. This person thought it was hysterical to sneak up on me to scare me and jump out at me from random doorways and corners because my fright was amusing.
I have PTSD. Loud noises and surprises like that frighten me to this day. It’s much worse because of that constant, intentional fright in my own home every single day. When I asked for it to stop, I was told I was too sensitive and couldn’t take a joke. I was told to lighten up.
There is so much more. There were years of gaslighting. Years of emotional abuse. Years of feeling like I should just be dead because my life was literally not worth living anymore. I was worthless and didn’t deserve better.
And my first reaction is to feel empathy for the shit human being who intentionally destroyed me. I can’t take that. I cannot accept that I am still a good person who won’t write off someone who was so hurtful for so long. I am in a much better place now. I am a much better parent to my children. They are doing so much better too. They know that dinner will be at a reasonable time and there’s a plan for dinner every night. There’s no more 10 pm dinners because I worked all day and the unemployed parent who was home was supposed to choose something and get to the store to buy the food to make that but didn’t feel like doing it until 6 pm.
I have talked about this in therapy before and that not everyone deserves empathy and understanding. Not everyone deserves for me to feel so deeply for them. This person does not deserve that at all. This person didn’t care about me at my worst, so why should they get the best? Why should they get anything more anyway?
Why isn’t my empathy easier to just turn off? Why can’t I just stop feeling bad for someone who would’ve shoved me in front of a moving car two years ago and not thought twice about it? Why should I feel bad for the person who made my PTSD so much worse by intentionally frightening me? I think I need to talk about this more in therapy. I think I need to make a mental boundary for myself because this isn’t where I want to spend my energy. There are so many deserving people who were there for me at my rock bottom. This person does not deserve my kindness. This person deserves my frustration and rage for not keeping the house clean and for not taking care of basic maintenance. I need to stop being so kind. I need to keep my energy for myself and the ones who love me unconditionally. The ones who would do anything for me, like my wife and kids. Like the parents who aren’t my blood parents but would go to the FL house and fix the mess their child made in it.
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