I’m writing this post in answer to Bekkie’s advice to me about my relationship with Chef. You can read her advice here — Habits by Bekkie.
One of the harder things for me to deal with lately is just exactly what to do with Chef. I’ve been given a lot of advice about walking away and letting him take care of himself. On the surface, that is exactly what I should do. But, if you’ve ever known me, you’ll probably agree — I rarely do what the world thinks I should. I don’t know that this is a good quality in me, but it is what it is. I march to the rhythm of my own beat. And the rhythm right now is Coolio‘s Gangster Paradise. Exactly. A cool beat but has nothing to do with nothing. For the most part, right now, I’m winging it.
If you go by what the top psycho-analysts say these days, I’m a classic co-dependent enabler. But if you take the Bible and overlay what I’m doing when it comes to Chef with Jesus’s own teachings, things get complicated. I am not depending on Chef; he’s depending on me, but only a very little bit. I’m taking care of some very basic needs of his, and that is all. As far as enabling, I disagree with this too. I’ve made it so hard for him to get near Bernice, he’s actually lost a huge segment of tweaking friends. They hate me.
I’ve never really understood why people get confused by the Bible. To me, Jesus pretty much narrowed down what we all should be doing here on earth with one little rule – Treat others the way you would want them to treat you. Such a simple statement, and yet, to me, it is immensely profound. You simply could not sin if you followed this rule to the letter.
You wouldn’t kill anyone…you wouldn’t want them to kill you.
You wouldn’t lie to anyone… you wouldn’t want them to lie to you.
You wouldn’t cheat with another person’s spouse…you wouldn’t want them to cheat with yours.
The list goes on and on, but the answer is always the same. Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.
Chef messed up his life and his marriage in a rather spectacular way. He never has been one to loiter in the middle of any situations, happy to be average. He goes straight for the top.
I’ve read a lot of stories written by men and women about their specific break-ups, and I’m going to have to say that short of the ones that end in someone being murdered, our
break-up was in the top 10% of the most horrible, mind-boggling, yet humorous fiasco’s I’ve ever read about.
Very few men in their right minds have the balls to cheat with a friend of their children’s AND move them into their home within 24 hours of moving the wife out AND let the little tramp wear the wife’s clothes AND give the new woman heirlooms that have been in the wife’s family for generations AND give them jewelry that they had previously gifted to their wife (re-gifting!!) AND tell the most grievous lies about their wife to gain sympathy to anyone and everyone who would listen AND ……the list goes on and on. It was so “in your face” disrespectful, I spent about a year wandering around in the shock of disbelief. Who was this person??? As it turned out, Chef is a whole different kind of human when he’s with Bernice (his name for meth). Bernice is a bitch, and she cost old Chef almost every single thing he had worked so hard for.
Luckily, my dark sense of humor really kicked in once the first layers of healing began to take root. I mean, if I’m going to have my heart broken, at least it wasn’t lukewarm and boring. This has been some incredible ride, and in my twisted way, I like that. I can accept it. But though I’m no longer wandering in a daze of sadness and pain, the damage is obviously there right under the surface, and I feel a cocoon of numbness around my heart, guarding it.
I’ve asked myself throughout Chef’s breakup with his girlfriend, Tanya (not her real name, but we have to start calling her something), his ensuing jealous fits over the guy I briefly was dating, his loss of his home, his friends, his dealers, and finally his homelessness and ill-health, what is the appropriate level of help I should lend?
Please don’t think I believe I owe him any help at all. I don’t feel obligated like that. But I do feel obligated as a child of God to give the man my coat when he asks for my shirt. I feel like the level of mercy I show him will cover a multitude of my own sins. Frankly, I need all the mercy I can get. Who doesn’t?
What would I hope he would do for me if I had been the one to lose control of a drug habit?
Would I hope he gave me a place to rest my head? Would I hope that he could look at me and not just see the bad I had done, but also remember the good, too?
Would I hope he gave me something to eat when I was hungry?
By the world’s wisdom, I’m enabling him. Or, I’m “conveying” a message that he can do what he wants to me and I’ll allow it. I’ve been told I am struggling with low self-esteem and think I deserve to be treated this way.
Um. No. I promise you, that isn’t it. I’m positive I deserved to be treated better than I have been by my husband.
No. What I’m trying to do is to balance what is good for me with what my conscience will allow, and while it is a tightrope-like balance I’m trying to achieve here, I’m pretty satisfied with how things are at the moment.
My conscience feels pretty clean, so I think I’m on the right track. He’s employed now, and will soon be able to support himself. I am glad that I could help a little with that. I don’t think he should have to “pay” for what he did to me for the rest of his life, and for me, that is a big sign that the forgiveness I feel is real.
I’m not mad at Chef anymore, but I don’t trust him either. He’s gotten my forgiveness, but trust isn’t included with that. I don’t share most of my thoughts with him like I used to, and I don’t seek to know his either. We are living under one roof at the moment, but we might as well be living a million miles away from each other. When I feel angry at him, I get in my car and go away. I don’t feel like it is necessary to maintain the peace no matter what. Where I once prized peace above all else, now I strive for complete honesty…even if it is bone-crushing. Honestly, I don’t know if I want him back. I don’t know if I ever want to be married again.. to him or to anyone. I know I’m not in love anymore, but I do know that I still love him. Good days have me relaxing around him a little; bad days, the fortresses are impenetrable. Rarely can he say or do something that makes me cry. That in itself is very telling.
Chef and I may one day be able to find our way back into a relationship. At one time, we had a very good, hardly, stable relationship. Chances are, though, we may not. Doors that Chef had been able to open in my heart are firmly shut again, and though I know Jesus has plans for my healing, those haven’t happened yet, and I’m in no hurry to leave this secure numbness behind these high walls around my heart.
I can tell Chef is dealing with a lot of loss in his life, and I would only be guessing about whether or not he misses me, and how I used to be so in love with him. But that doesn’t really matter right now. What matters is helping him get his feet planted underneath him and helping him forgive himself and forge ahead with his life. We are all learning some harsh lessons, but we’ll also be wiser in the end.
Don’t worry, little Bekkie. I have already been doing exactly what you suggested, and I’m at the 70% mark when it comes to Dad. But remember, baby, relationships with people that you have a crush on, or a best friend from childhood, can’t be compared with a marital bond that has spanned two decades. It is called a bond for a reason, and they don’t break easily or painlessly. But they do indeed loosen as time goes on, and I’m getting stronger and more independent each and every day. I won’t forget what I’ve learned throughout this mess, but don’t forget that we have a greater purpose here on earth than having happy times with good friends. Sometimes the Lord has those toxic people around us for a reason…for a little while anyways.
I love you. You are a sweet child, and I’m super honored God gave you to me. He must really, really love me!!