Lying is an interesting human concept. On Tuesday, Match spent so much of his day having that word hurled at him. Liar is an undesirable adjective. A thing we are told not to be. Yet, of all the the undesirable things Match is, “liar” is never one I would label him with. The issues between Match and his Ex peak and then plateau. Except for a few cyclical issues they can’t seem to agree to ground rules on. Yet, the issues and the way they manifest make your mouth dry, your heart heavy and unease settle into your bones. This happens to all co-parents, but the regularly and consistency of the instances led him to file for a modification in court. I’m on board with new ground rules and some third party observations by people who are relatively neutral.
There is more to all of it. Her repetitive declaration that Match is a liar. I have been trying to discern what is bubbling beneath the surface. I have been trying to find the real word she’s looking for. I don’t think there interactions will ever change, but I would like to make my peace with it. To name it more accurately.
We often get hung up on the “truth.” This idea that an event can become a cookie-cutter-factoid when it comes to humans and their relationships. Is there anything more subjective and personal than truth? It is tied so closely to who is telling a story and what role you played in it. My facts may be ones you dismiss. There are things unsaid and unheard that lie beneath the obvious. Your evidence may be something I never knew about. My filter of human experience takes things that happen and sifts the information differently. This entire world is filled with people who hold onto a diverse array of factoids and feelings. Factoids and feelings that either align or grate with yours.
Lying has never been an act that bothers me. It however is an attribute that bothers Match’s Ex. It is word she holds like a shield. You can’t get past it. You can’t counter it. You can’t fill in the gaps to her assertions. She is resolute. She expects the accusation to sting. Perhaps to undermine what statement you will utter next.
Yet, when she says those things to Match and I, it lands with a dull thud. We look at it puzzled. We lived it, too. She is leaving half the story and half the accountability off the table. Her truth is absent our truth. Yet, she tells it with certainty. Makes statements with staunch righteousness.
Resolute is a thing that fascinates me. I don’t feel like I am wired with that. I struggle with routine and consistency. I see more solutions than problems. I see obstacles as challenges. I tend to bend and twist instead of standing firm because I know that nothing is permanent, that life will never be fair, but that in the end things will work out in their own way. I can only do one right thing at a time. Sometimes I wish I didn’t bend as much. I sometimes wish I would decline more. I would give people less benefit and more doubt. Yet, it just isn’t a thing that is really inside me. My compassion just always pulls me towards the fire even if I know I might be burned.
Sometimes there are untruths, miscommunications, and flat out fibs when you converse with another human being. Your Ex, your current romantic relationship, your kids, your coworker, you boss, etc. There are times we say things to each other that are not what we mean or what we know to have happened. I see these acts as divinely human. While not the best attribute of humanity, it was a piece put in our fabric. I find the actual lie far less interesting than the reasoning behind it. I have always have been more focused on discerning the intent behind the act. The lies that are made to hurt or manipulate are really all the cause concern. The ones people spew to spread pain. The fabrications with an agenda.
One time, looking at my Ex’s email, there was a message from someone naked. Another woman. I asked about it. He told me that’s what happens when you visit a porn site. You end up with all this spam. Which can be true and I, at the time, hadn’t delved into pornography and knew little about the whole thing. I still probably am rather uneducated about the whole culture as a whole, but I realize now he had gone a little further than that semi-innocent explanation. That spam emails don’t have some of the details this one did. One of the many lies he told me. I trusted him to give me TRUTH. I expected him to tell me if he was less than monogamous. He didn’t even give me the choice to forgive him. In the end, I care that his untruth was meant to keep me kept. To convince me I was mistaken and my instincts poor. That my inklings weren’t to be trusted. I care about the carefully crafted manipulations that created a well of doubt in myself. Not about the lie itself. I care that it was crafted to keep me. And that truth– that he will lead me to places– is one that molds how I operate in my dealing with him always. Whether that’s a healthy mechanism or a one that doesn’t serve our newer post-divorce relationship is something I struggle with.
I feel like Match’s Ex is hung up on this narrative that Match is a liar and insincere as some sort of mechanism. I’m not sure if my theory is as precise as I’d like it to be, but it holds some water. That belief that he is a liar and therefore a lesser person, well, gives her permission to act a certain way and dismiss him in another way. She has calculated and measured that his motivations as anger at her for his court action. That he doesn’t care about the requests he is making for changes to their parenting agreement. His Ex has decided based on her compilation of facts, tests, and observations that he is less than sincere. Therefore, when their beliefs on how to raise their daughter don’t mesh, his voice gets silenced. She dismisses him just like she filed to blatantly dismiss his modification.
I get it. I’m prone to it sometimes with my Ex as well. Yet, the scale to which she grades him is steep and based on her personal values. It is unforgiving. It is compiled based on fear, skepticism, and doubt. It is a bias that she can not see or cares to remove. Yet, I think she feels that I am the one who can not see his flaws and unworthiness. I get it. I just don’t think parenting is a bell curve. It isn’t a thing to be measured. There is enough success for all of us.
There isn’t a finish line. At the end, for all of us raising children in two households, there are just a few things that will matter. Despite the court orders, arguments, broken mutual agreements, all the heartache and mental second-guessing there is just a few things that really will matter in the end: Is you child loved and heard? Is your child safe in your care? Is your child being prepared to take care of their own self as an adult? Will they find their way in the world? The other parent doesn’t have to measure up to your version of “goodness.” That, honestly, is between them and the kid you share.
My Ex loves our daughter in his way. His way will never be my way. It does not reflect values I agree with. Yet, I let him. I work with how things are. When he’s healthy, he is a good Dad who teaches her how to ride a bike and takes her to the driving range. And then there are times he’s not well. Or his emotions, the ups and downs of his chemistry, lead the way. He will be upset with our daughter, her behavior will be my fault, and I take the brunt of it because he can’t hurt me like he can hurt her. I know they are just words. They don’t stick like they used to. He can say things like, “Your boyfriend won’t even marry you,” or “When is the last time she took a bath? She’s filthy,” and I acknowledge that’s his way. He is a jerk to me. Big time. However, I never doubt his opinion on how HE wants to parent. He is welcome to pick battles over vegetables, table manners and her dramatic emotions. The only condition I have in regards to my Ex– the one modification I strive to have– is that whatever situation our daughter is put in is one she can navigate herself out. Without an adult. There are times, without much warning, where he suddenly becomes someone who needs care instead of the caretaker. The rest, in the face of the fact she hasn’t ended up a news story, is the little stuff. She’s alive, loved and relatively whole.
I gain a lot of perspective from the problems that happen between Match and his Ex. I like his Ex on several levels. She can be good company when we avoid conflict ridden conversations. We like some similar things, but also have separate interests. In the years we have playing with friendship and redefining family there was some inroads taken. I think it is not a road I should keep on as we are. Unlike a friend or family, at the end of the day: she is resolute. Her thoughts are firm. Even though sometimes they are unfounded or incomplete. Yet, she believes. With rigor and passion. I think there is room for all of us and all our ways. Yet, when she has to choose… there is never any give for us. Shell never choose our things over hers. Not in ways that are meaningful. Not things that accommodate the other kids in the house. We aren’t entitled to it. Which is okay. We don’t have to have more. What actually “is” can work. We hit a wall. I think the universe needed me to know she isn’t someone who will add to my children’s life or mine in the current conditions. Her definition of what constitutes friendship or family is vastly different than mine. I don’t know if its intentional, but she loves with conditions and with priority. You have to meet a standard. You have to meet her definitions. You are constantly judged and yet accused of judging. It takes up a lot of space and its draining. Honestly, I don’t have room for things to be that way. I want better. And so I’ll work with what I have. I’ll do one right thing for my family–including Blue Eyes– as best I can at a time.
If this complex, ever changing journey of life has taught me: I never should be resolute in much of anything. The world is always showing me that there are things I never knew. That there is room for both stories and neither needs to be discredited or doubted. That small steps lead to big ones. The honest apologies, changing behavior and the taking accountability in how you live means more than any words you speak. We’ll keep trying to do better, but first we will weather the bad weather of some stronger ground rules. We will be steady in the whirlwind because this step is better than the constant back and forth. That this will be a brick in whatever new inroads we decide to lay. That if I want to firm anywhere in this story– it is here in this.