Vince's Vetoed Heart
Titled as such because to his father, Vince's pain is not real.
I'm writing this while Vince is curled up on the couch, finally asleep after spending yet another hour crying over his confusion regarding why Daddy doesn't live with him anymore.
I'm going to attempt really, really hard not to derail this entry into an all-out assault on the SOB responsible for those tears, but I'm not making any guarantees. The point of me writing this isn't to denigrate John; Vincent's tears pass judgement over his selfishness well enough. I'm writing because I know there are women (and men) who, like me, have been thrust into a position to explain the unexplainable... to soothe the broken hearts of their children when there are no words that could possibly begin to do so.
For well over a year I've been asking John to come up with some sort of solution to this problem. In typical John fashion, he simply ignored Vincent's emotional state and brushed his fears and insecurities aside. When I would raise the red flag, he would angrily shoot me down and tell me I was either "feeding into" Vince's upset or making a big deal out of nothing. Again, this is par for the course with John. Ignore, deflect, and disavow. If there isn't a real problem, there isn't a real consequence to his selfishness. And if there isn't a real consequence to his selfishness, there's no reason for him to feel any sort of remorse or guilt for causing so much pain in his own son.
So I started taking videos. Not all the time, but moments where it's obvious Vince needs help working through his emotions. He couldn't keep ignoring Vincent's tears when he could plainly see them on the screen. He couldn't keep writing off Vincent's confusion when he could hear the questions through the speakers. And he certainly couldn't keep pushing off the conversation I'd been telling him needed to happen for more than a year that dealt precisely with how we'd need to handle things moving forward.
So sit down we finally did and what a pointless conversation that turned out to be. Again he tried to deflect or blame me for Vincent's emotional meltdown. God forbid he recognize what utter devastation this divorce has brought into Vince's heart! And I get that it's a self-defense mechanism whereby John doesn't feel the weight of his guilt, but he's yet again putting his own feelings above that of his child and it was driving me insane.
Instead of recognizing the source of my anger being a mother fighting for her son, he again dismissed things and treated me as though I was only "being mean" because of how our relationship ended.
MY. GOD. IN. HEAVEN. How You look upon John and want his soul is beyond me. He is revolting. His arrogance would be impressive if it weren't so utterly execrable.
So I explained, very clearly, that I was angry because he had caused Vincent such pain. As a mother, I wanted to tear his heart out for hurting Vincent and light him on fire for continuing to ignore how upset he'd become! I despise him on a personal level, but I at least tried to have some respect for him as a father. Apparently that was a fool's errand because here he was STILL putting himself above Vincent's very clear and (now) well-documented needs.
Lord, forgive me, but I cannot make peace with such a worthless excuse for a man. I don't think I will ever be able to forgive myself for trapping my poor children with him as their father.
Did anything come of this discussion? No. Of course not. But no one can say I didn't try for Vincent's sake. And I'll keep trying. I'll keep plugging along because he needs at least one of us to recognize and validate the pain he carries. He needs one of us to be the adult. And God knows John's way too keen playing Peter Pan to take on that responsibility.
Candy-Apple Divorce Advice
Whew. Just found this in my drafts folder. I'd forgotten all about it! Oddly enough, another person recently lamented the same problem, so I think it's due to be published.
A week or so ago, a friend of mine messaged me about a concerning trend she regarding the spate of divorces we were experiencing amongst our group of friends (of which mine is included). She vocalized my sentiments which was a complete surprise! I thought I was taking particular issue with the trend on account of my personal situation.
She said, "I think some well-meaning ladies are a bit too eager to encourage others to leave their husbands or file for divorce... it makes me nervous how readily it is recommended."
See, our group of friends were venting about marital issues and instead of encouraging one another to seek counseling or calm reflection away from the immediate anger of a situation, the rallying cry was "Leave him, you'll be better / safer / happier without him."
It's not like these women were complaining of being beaten with 2x4s every night or of being emotionally manipulated to the point of mental breakdown. It's not even as though the complaints ranged from neglect of children or blowing off financial responsibilities. So why, then, would we be encouraging separation?
Divorce and separation should not be so cavalierly recommended as an option. This coming from a woman who is currently awaiting her own annulment decree, remember. But living in this throwaway culture of ME ME ME, it begins to make sense why the common response seems to be a thoughtless "Leave him, you'll be better off alone."
Because when you're not attached, you have no responsibility to another person. And if children are involved, you can have a built-in excuse to shirk responsibility to them as well. Take my ex, for example. He liked the idea of being a dad (and having little mini-Johns to idolize him), but when he found out there was more to it than that, he recoiled. When we discussed the terms of childcare upon separation, I didn't even have to fight him for custody. He handed it over willingly because it was what he wanted all along - the freedom to be a part-time parent. He loves them, sure, but on his time and terms.
On weekends he doesn't have the kids, they don't hear from him. No "Hey, how are the kids doing?" and no calls at bedtime to see how their day went. Even in the midst of poor Nate being incredibly ill, there were crickets abounding. The truth of the matter is that John cares; I know he does. But he cares on the clock. Once he's "off the clock," the kids are no longer his to worry about.
That problem of selfishness (because make no mistake... that's selfishness) pervades our culture. It's why children are seen as obstacles to happiness rather than joys in and of themselves. Hence abortion, hence massive debt, hence euthanasia. Anything or anyone standing in the way of YOUR personal happiness is nothing more than a string needing to be snipped.
And therein lies the breakdown of society. We're so focused on doing what we want when we want to that the consequences are ignored entirely. "I want to have sex free from consequence" and boom, abortion. "I want the same fancy car my neighbor has!" and boom, credit card debt. "I want to go on a trip to find myself" and boom, more debt. "I want to be able to go out and see my friends whenever I want without feeling guilty that my spouse is home with the kids alone" and boom, divorce.
Obviously this is an oversimplification of problems that have a myriad of causes, but "Me" Culture is a driving force behind this spate of careless advice. "You do you" or "It's okay to put yourself first" is offered like some sort of psychological manna from heaven when really, when put into context, it actually means "It's okay to ignore your responsibilities and ignore the pain you're causing other people for no purpose other than your own temporary gain."
It's just sad that this is the sort of advice that's just being handed out like candy by people who simply don't have the experience or the wisdom to know better. I will always be an advocate for marriage and spousal unity, but it seems my voice (and those like it) are getting increasingly swallowed up by the throngs calling for pity-parties and irresponsibility.
I think that's why it was especially good to hear from this particular friend. It's also why I'm posting about it (finally... months later). It let me know that while my voice is tiny, it's not alone. That really does make all the difference. <3
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