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Comparing: Past to Present.

May 5, 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about comparisons. The way I compare myself, my relationships, my parenting, my family, to others.

Most people that know me would probably say they believe I am a confident person. I don’t take shit from anybody, I don’t mind confrontation if it’s regarding something I feel strongly about, and I’m never afraid to speak my opinion.

I am, however, afraid of acceptance, or lack thereof.

I always have been. I’m not going to get all freudian on everyone, but there are definitely reasons I think that stem from my childhood that I am so overly self conscious. I’m not blaming anyone. I grew up ridiculously unsheltered. I by no means had a rough childhood. And yet, we all have our self-made scars. Some people are more reflective and sensitive than others, such as I.

So while no one beat me, abused me, or neglected me, and I don’t blame anyone for my problems, is it ok to say that experiences I had from childhood still shaped the insecurities I live with today? Or does that sound like I’m looking for sympathy? Because I’m not. If nothing else, I find it interesting. No one’s parents are perfect, we are all going to have some things, good or bad in ourselves, that reflect the way we were raised.

In this instance I refer to my own mother’s insecurities. She was the oldest, and the plainest of three sisters. She made attempts to make herself attractive, that went largely unnoticed by the male population, as opposed to her sisters. And at some point she just quit trying, long before I was old enough to notice any change.

She was a single parent when she had me, father unknown. She got pregnant while traveling to Europe, came home, and out came Yours Truly. That’s another post for another day.

I have seen pictures of my mother when I was a baby and a toddler. Her hair was done, she had on matching clothes. I suppose she may have had makeup on as well. But somewhere, eventually, that all went by the wayside. As well as cleaning our house, cooking dinner, and other things that people/women/mothers generally do.

As I am now older and have been though my own self esteem roller coasters what I believe is this: For the majority of her life, my mother was depressed. She didn’t lie in bed all day, or mope around, or cry constantly; my mother worked everyday and my dad (she married when I was two and he legally adopted me) was actually the one who picked me up from daycare and watched me until she got home. But I can only attribute someone’s complete and utter lack of regard for their own appearance, the shape of their home, and the appearance of their only child to something being off-kilter. My mother had no self esteem at all, and transferred that, however unmeaningfully, to me.

And so I grew up always seeking someone’s approval. I strived to be popular, well liked, and accepted throughout my adolescence. Sometimes at the expense of myself. I was always that girl hanging on the outskirts. Instead of trying to find a group of friends that I fit into comfortably, I had to be liked by the “popular crowd”. I was, at times, a scapegoat, trying so hard to be accepted. That’s the thing about being accepted though, when others see you trying so hard, you are automatically outcasted. Confidence, in my older, wiser, opinion, is what truly makes someone popular, well liked, the sort of person others are drawn to. And confidence was something I lacked.

It took moving away, having a child, and finding true friends – my soul mates if you will – to develop true security in who I am. My friends now, on the occasions we discuss our childhoods, wonder at the statements I make similar to those in this post. They see not a trace of those insecurities. I suppose I hide them well. But they are still there, lurking within me. My very closest friend, T, needs only to make one comment about something I wore, the way my hair looked, a decision I made, and it sticks with me. Once she criticized me about not having aerosol hairspray, and you can bet I’ve stocked it ever since. I may not tell her, but I’m always looking for her assurance that I’ve done okay.

Back to comparisons. It’s an ongoing frustration of CK’s that I constantly compare our relationships to others. I attribute that to having been in very few relationships. One in high school with Todd, my marriage with Cameron, one with the Baby Daddy, and then CK.

I continually compare our relationship to my friends’, to what I see on television, to what I read in books. I think five years is too long, that we’re at a point now that he will never see the point of getting married and wonder if that’s even what I want anymore. I feel that he should be closer with my son after three years. I think he should do more around the house. I think he should get a new job because he’s been working nights for three years and if he didn’t, we’d have more time together. I get uncomfortable when we both have friends over, his and mine, and feel like couples shouldn’t have friends over separately. I feel like people see us an unnatural couple, that they judge us because we don’t have a lot of opportunities to be out together unless people come to us. I wonder why he doesn’t call when I’m out with my friends, the way my girlfriend’s boyfriends do.

Yesterday though, I started thinking.

What if I’m just happy the way things are? What if I didn’t have any conventions to go by, or pre-concieved notions of how things should be? Would I still be so critical? I’m used to him working nights. He has to sleep with the television on and I need complete darkness and silence. With a new job he’d probably have to get up earlier than I do, hence waking me up earlier in the morning than I need to be, which would probably annoy the hell out of me.

What’s wrong with having separate friends if it doesn’t bother anyone else? I like his friends, he likes mine. Unfortunately, our house is kind of the “go to” house. If we both happen to have our friends over and don’t hang out together is that so bad? Does anyone else care? And if they don’t, why do I?

When he’s out with his friends I never call him. I know where he’s at, why do I need to talk to him? My one girlfriend has a very possessive boyfriend who wants to check in every hour to see when she’ll be home. Do I want that instead? If I don’t call him, why do I expect him to call me? I rarely stay away from home overnight, but when he does, he always calls or texts by the end of the night to let me know if he’s coming home or where he’s staying.

As for the five years and the relationship with my son: I think these are things that regardless of anyone’s influence I would still feel uneasy about. I don’t think people should rush into marriage. However, I think there’s an ideal time between rushing and prolonging that most couples should either bite the bullet or go their separate ways. Maybe our relationship has been more complicated, with children involved, and CK being very standoffish as it is. But we aren’t 21 anymore. At some point there has to be a natural progression. If it doesn’t happen in the next year I’m not sure I can really stick around.

CK’s relationship with my son. Always a tough one. He’s a good example of a real man, a good guy, who’s not good at expressing himself, to me, to Blake, Caden, Cavin or anyone else for that matter. He has no siblings, no cousins, no nieces or nephews, in otherwords, no experience with children whatsoever. In some ways I blame myself for waiting much too long to introduce Haley to his life. I feel like I almost made it a choice, as opposed to a given, to be involved with Haley. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I know it isn’t easy to step into anyone’s life as a father figure. He steps up when it comes to the big stuff, but severely lacks when it comes to everyday interaction. I compare CK to my gfriend’s boyfriends in the past, who have always managed to develop a relationship with Blake over the years. Then again, there’s no pressure on them, no expectations. Maybe it’s my lack of expectations that has caused the detachment. I’ve been so used to taking on everything by myself, that I didn’t really have an expectation for what he should do. I left it up to him, and I guess he had no clue either. Maybe instead of trying to guess what to do and where the boundaries are, he found it easier to stand by the wayside.
In the past year CK’s very best friend started dating a girl with a four year old sister whom she’s raised. So she is almost like a single mother. And CK’s best friend has had no problem warming up to that child. Which leaves me to wonder – what is wrong with us? CK? I cannot believe he doesn’t have the ability to love a child. I have hoped that seeing his confirmed bachelor best friend, in a similar situation, might eventually spark some sort of obligation on his part. That even if being a step dad was never his ideal, having that in common with his best friend, would make it that much easier.

Some of this is what couple’s constantly copromise on. But some of it are deal breakers. Where do I stand? Do I walk over the line to see if the grass is greener? If I could somehow let go of all my insecurities, and my fears that others are judging us, and that we’re not living up to someone else’s standards, would I be happy? Or would I discover it’s not as much other’s ideas I take issue with, but actually my own

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