Let’s just get to the point: I hate conflict. HATE conflict. I avoid it like people avoid the plague. It makes me uncomfortable and is sometimes downright terrifying for me. I have spent most of my 39 years (did I really just say my age?) hiding from it. I hate it so much that I have been known to hide my beliefs and feelings in order to stop it. This all came to a head last night when I avoided a situation that could have led to conflict.
I mentioned the situation to a very close friend and her response was “WHAT???!” My husband did not want to deal with the situation either, but it fell more on me than him and I had to own up. My fear of conflict is something I am not proud of at all. In fact, I made a decision last night that it was the most important thing for me to work on right now.
I spent the rest of the evening beating myself up mentally. I called my mom this morning and had a long talk with her about it. I spent this morning until just a little bit ago while I was doing dishes and listening to Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again”. That used to be my theme song when it came to my son’s father. He would cheat and leave and I would always take him back. Every. Damned. Time.
Then, I got pregnant and something finally snapped. Somehow, some way, I got the courage to finally say enough. I remember the conversation clearly. He said to me, “It’s not that I don’t love you and not that I don’t want to be with you, but a baby isn’t what I need right now.” I replied, “Do you think a baby at 19 is what I need right now? It’s time for me to grow up and take responsibility for my half of the action. You do what you need to do. If you need to leave the state, fine. Just know that if you leave this time, there is no coming back. You can still be a part of this baby’s life but you will either be here or you won’t. You won’t be here one weekend and not the next.” He chose to not be here at all. That’s okay. It was the best decision he ever made. For all of us. He had nothing to offer our child at that point in time. As far as I have heard, he still doesn’t.
Several years later, I was working a job that was sucking the life out of me and taking a toll on my son. As we left my parents’ house so I could drop him at daycare and head to work, he said to MY mom, “Bye, Mommy.” Somehow, some way, I got the courage and walked out of my job that day. My job as a mother was more important and there were other jobs out there.
It will be six years in October since my Grammy passed away. Watching her battle Alzheimer’s Disease was just too much for me to bear. I avoided a lot of situations because she had become mean and violent and I couldn’t deal with seeing her that way. On October 25, 2009, somehow, some way I got the strength to stay beside her as she left this world for the next.
My now husband and I have faced many struggles in our 17+ years together. Because of my past experience in relationships, I cowered and kowtowed. I was afraid of rejection and losing what I thought was the family I so desperately wanted. One day, somehow, some way, I got the courage to stand up and say things couldn’t keep going the direction they were. We separated for a bit, worked on ourselves, got married and keep making that conscious decision to love each other and make our marriage work.
This coming January will be two years since Grampy had a stroke. My dad brought him down here from the boonies of northern Wisconsin to recover. Since I was not working, I went to their house during the day to be with him. We went to doctor appointments together and somehow, some way I found the strength to stand up for him and make sure he got the care he needed and deserved.
All of these things came flooding into my head as I listened to that Dolly Parton song. As I was busy telling myself how weak I am and how ashamed I should be, that song reminded me of just how strong I have become. I still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but I have already come so far.
I am not sharing this story with you looking for sympathy. I am sharing this story because I know I am not the only one who struggles with this. I know I’m not the only one who hears that voice that says “You’re weak. You should be ashamed of yourself. Look at all these other brave women who are so much stronger than you!” If one person feels better knowing that they are not alone, then sharing this part of me will be worth it.
I saw a meme on Facebook this morning that said, “You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.” Yes, I most certainly am. Sometimes, it just takes a little Dolly Parton to remind me.