First of all, I did make the trip to the mall the other day. And I’m feeling much better now. And…

Merry Christmas.

I am still struggling with this idea of how much to give while still maintaining my sanity and my “self.”

Yesterday provided me with a perfect opportunity to test it all out, but I’m not sure it was a successful experiment.

My ex had written me an email several weeks ago about his proposal for the division of Christmas break time with the kids, and he included a paragraph about his wishes to take them to Mass on Christmas Day. Not knowing the Mass schedule for sure at that point, he said if the latest Mass was at 11:00 a.m., he wanted to pick up the kids at 10:30, a half-hour earlier than the court-appointed time, and that he should have the schedule later that week.

I told him I agreed to his division of break time, but I didn’t mention Christmas morning, because it was my intention to say no, but I figured why argue about it unless it became a real issue? So I decided to wait and see what happened with the Mass schedule.

On Christmas Eve Night, he called the kids and told them he would be by at 10:30 today to pick them up for church. First I’d heard of it.

I emailed him back to say no, I wanted my full time with the kids this year. A half-hour on Christmas morning with my kids really becomes very important to me, with no family or real friends here of my own.

All hell broke loose.

He accused me of breaking my agreement and said any trust he was beginning to build back was lost. He wanted me to drop the kids off with their luggage at the church at 11:00 a.m., because he had to walk in the processional since he was doing the reading. It seemed like a really bad idea to me to drop the poor kids off, alone, at a crowded service on Christmas Day like vagabonds. I said no. He begged.

Now, at this point, you might be thinking that I am the biggest bitch around, to argue over 30 minutes – how stupid is that, right? Well, the thing is, I always end up giving in to avoid an argument. And I get screwed because there is never any reciprocation. It’s my 30 minutes, and I wanted it today.

I told him that I did not want to drop the children off in such a cruel way on Christmas, and that I would agree to his 10:30 request, provided he would return the favor next year, and bring me the kids by 10:30 also, so it seems fair to me.

He said no.

He had already made plans because of my “bullshit,” and his parents would be picking up the children for him at 11:00. I said fine. He said I broke my agreement and was trying to extort him for time he should already have.

His parents pulled in at 10:30. Yep, you read that right. They called from their cell in the car to say they were here, and I said the pick up time is at 11:00. They said they’d wait.

Grown-up bullies.

It was stressing me out in a huge way to see them just sitting out there, so I went out to the car and told them they were not going to intimidate me and bully me into handing the children over earlier, and to please leave my property and return at 11:00.

I got an eye-rolling and an “oh, Lisa…” that let me know what a lunatic they think I am.

I know I could have easily given the 30 minutes. I did it for him two years ago when we had the same situation. I give him extra time every time he asks, because I figure, “why not?” and I keep thinking maybe someday he will return the favor.

Not happening.

Every time I sacrifice something I really want in order to keep him happy, I am reliving the dynamics of our failed, miserable marriage. The only difference is that I don’t have to live with him anymore.

Am I supposed to give and give and give and always be the bigger person, or is it okay to insist with an emphatic “mine!” and say no once in awhile?

He has me so confused, I feel like I did something horribly wrong while my insides are cheering, “Good girl, Lisa! Way to go!” Don’t let them bully you!”

If it was really just about getting to Mass on time, I believe he would have accepted my offer to exchange the 30-minutes next year. I believe it’s a game of power for him. For me? I just want things to be fair. I’m a nut about fairness, even though I know life isn’t fair… it seems I’m always trying to find some sense of justice that makes me feel a little less resentful.

Who wins?

Not me, at least not for today. My stomach hurts and I have no appetite and I miss my kids. Maybe later I will consider this a small victory in my battle to find my backbone. Maybe I’ll discover I made a huge mistake by not giving in. But last night, I figured, well, what have I really got to lose if he hates me? He wasn’t all that nice even when we were married. I’m tired of being afraid.

I’m tired of giving in to avoid arguments. Hell, that’s why I became a Catholic. 🙂

What are the answers? Is there an ultimate truth in this? Is there a formula I can follow for future scenarios? How do “normal” people handle these insane situations?

2 Comments on “More on Giving

  1. I believe that if you keep giving in you’ll keep getting taken advantage of.I think you did the right thing. I quit asking my ex for help with anything a long time ago. I never got it and it only encouraged her to ask me for things. She seems to have quit asking me for things as of late. Maybe your ex will eventually pay you the same kindness.

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  2. Thanks, Delmer. Lots of people take my side in these sorts of stories, but I always wonder if it’s because of the way I tell it. Sometimes, I’d just like to post every email exchange and take a vote from an objective world. I wish I had my own personal judge to whisper a verdict in my ear every time I need to make a decision, so I can feel okay about my reaction.I don’t think other people go through such agony to try to do the right thing. I think I must be missing a gene somewhere… some communication link is wired wrong.I realize the only “right” answer for him is when I say yes. But what’s right for me? For the kids? This is what haunts me lately.

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