She sure didn't get it from me!
I'm both proud and disgusted with myself this afternoon.
My daughter, who is a couple months shy of seventeen, texted me this morning, letting me know that she ended her relationship with her boyfriend of over a year. They got together at the very beginning of December, 2021, so it's been a while. A while of this young man coming to my house after school every day, walking in and out as he pleased, eating my food, drinking my sodas, coming along with us whenever we tried to do a 'family' thing - (the daughter and I have had many a quarrel over his tag-along status over the last year) and he never, EVER paid for himself when we let him come out to eat with us. I do feel that he treated him well. He would mumble a 'thank you' to us every so often, but never once did he offer to pay his own way - or to at least leave the tip. We never asked him, or said anything about it. We included him regardless, for if we didn't, she wouldn't want to hang around with us.
My daughter admitted to losing her virginity to him last year. No, I'm not at all happy about it, but I'm glad she trusted me enough to tell me. I read her the riot act when I found out but then after much reflection, I suppose there is nothing much I could have done about it - if I were to lay down the law and forbid her from seeing him, she'd have rebelled and found a way. It would have put a major strain on the relationship I have with her, and I didn't want that. I want her to always be able to come to me and to talk to me. And, so, I bit my tongue until it bled and put her on birth control. It was also due to her irregular periods, so it's fair to say that was a dual purpose decision.
....and let's not forget the shit I did when I was just a little bit older than she is. Things I'll never, ever, EVER share with her. I'm too ashamed. At least this was with a boy she thought she loved, and loved her. I have absolutely no excuse for my poor behavior back in the late 90's.
Anyway - her text this morning came in around 9:30. She'd broken up with him before school started. She said how sad she was (and how sad he was, too), that it was a mutual decision, and it was the healthiest option. I asked what happened - and her response was, 'he's been mean to me lately, and every time I try to talk to him about it, he tells me I'm the problem.' I didn't even have to tell her that this was gaslighting - that was her next sentence. So, here I am, completely dumbfounded - prepared to have to talk to her about what a smart thing it was she did by cutting him loose - but here she was, explaining that she'd done it because she deserved better and that she needed to take the time to focus on herself and to work on herself.
She then went on to say that they'd been having problems for a while but the last straw was when he'd told her she needed to lose weight and that she didn't have his 'ideal body type.'
My blood was boiling as I heard this. My daughter is by no means skinny. She's had the same body type for the entire time the two of them were dating. Why is it a problem now? I didn't ask that question, though....I tucked this into the back of my brain for a time where she is less devastated. My response to her was that she'd done the right thing by ending it before they both invested more time into a relationship that was failing. That if things were this bad now, they'd only stand to get worse later. I was glad to see that she'd identified the red flags that were beginning to wave, and she'd sent him on his way. It hit me later that she likely meant she was going to include weight loss in her 'working on herself' mission - so I am going to remind her that she needs to do it correctly. She said she knew, but right now felt so sad, unable to eat and sleep. Which, of course, I understand.
I told her that a broken heart definitely messes with the appetite but she needed to make sure she took care of herself while she took the time to grieve the end of her relationship. It is my understanding that she still loves him and wants to be friends - even if that's not possible in the moment. They both need time and space to heal from this failed relationship, and we left off with her saying that he's a narcissist and she knows she did the right thing. My son (who NEVER liked the now ex-boyfriend - hated him with a passion, in fact) went to pick her up from school and was an AMAZING big brother to her, today. He took her to the gym and had a talk with her. She mentioned that he was being very, very nice to her, which I was glad to hear, considering he's probably screaming for joy on the inside. I sent him a text a little while ago letting him know how much I appreciated him.
I've had time to think about this conversation with her now that I'm home from work. I'm disgusted in myself for being unable to see these red flags back in the day, when I was seeing her Dad. Maybe I did see them - but chose not to pay attention to them. Whatever the reason, I chose to instead marry him and endure years of emotional, verbal and psychological abuse. I know that a lot of my behavior was a trauma response and she, thankfully, has not experienced trauma. Still, though. In hindsight, I did everything wrong. I gave more chances than was deserved. I apologized for things that I really didn't need to apologize for. I tried to people-please - not just my ex, but everyone around me. I didn't put myself first. I still struggle with doing that. I didn't love and respect myself. I never said, 'I deserve better.' And, sweet Jesus, I wish I'd had the sense to recognize narcissism when I was her age. That's so, VERY valuable.
So, I guess that's why I'm disgusted. Why am I proud?
I suppose it's mainly because I did something right with my daughter. I somehow raised her to be stronger than I was. I certainly was not this smart when I was her age. I didn't even know the definition of 'gaslighting' until a few years ago, and she described it to a T. We never really talked about red flags within a relationship...she learned to recognize them on her own. Maybe it has to do with her Dad - he's not nice to his wives at all. She recognizes that, at least, and she knows exactly what she doesn't want in a relationship. The way she talked about her 'ex' today reminded me a lot of how her Dad was with me, and is with his current wife, who is pretty much fed up with him, too.
I just know she's going to be okay. This kid is amazing. I should say I'm proud of her more than I am of myself, because honestly, she didn't get this from me. She didn't get it from her father, either. We've never had this conversation before, so she is pretty much self-taught. She is not going to allow any boy to keep her down - even if he knocks her down in the first place. Although she is devastated right now and has been sobbing for hours, she'll get up and then, she will heal. Of this, I'm sure.
Right now, though, I know she is not okay, and we are dealing with a broken heart.
Send help. And lots and lots of coffee.
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