It is often said that the people you struggle most with, quite often become your best teachers, and It’s true, but what is equally true is that it’s also code for:
‘You miserable bastard you nearly destroyed me, but I’m stronger now!’
That in many ways describes my earliest relationship with The Diva’s dad. That said, there is another side, one which truly only began to develop in the last few years.
I could not accept what had occurred, I could not accept the lies, the crazy behaviour and of course – the rejection. On and on the list went, every year growing longer, bringing with it bitterness and anger. I fought with him, I fought with his family, I fought with myself. One day I woke up and I realised I was sick of it all!
I was tired of being angry.
Another hugely irritating life lesson kept whispering to me:
What you Resist, Persists
‘Oh Blackbeards Balls! Bugger off!’
But the whispers were right.
I didn’t want to give him a chance, I didn’t want to know his heart, I didn’t want to even acknowledge he had one!
Now under normal circumstances I’d suck it up and play nice because my child needed and deserved a father. With him it was a problem because he’s so unreliable and off-the-charts that I couldn’t find enough good in him to warrant allowing the relationship between them to develop.
Round and round it went – right up until the time she slept over at his place for the first time.
I was sick with worry. Her dad although more than capable of caring for her under normal circumstances, would not be if he got wasted.
She had asked for her dad, I had stalled, procrastinated and then finally gave in.
She went, she returned, she was happy! Not only that but she was calm and content – more than I’d ever seen her before.
The Diva – so named for her dramatic and demanding nature – was at peace. She had finally got what she was needing and wanting. At that point I had no choice, I had to find a way to ensure that she could develop a relationship with him.
I knew the starting point was me. If this was going to work I had to be willing to not only forgive him, but I had to actively accept that even he had goodness. Without that I knew that whatever developed between them would be marred by my hatred and anxiety and quite frankly would ensure the relationship had zero chance of succeeding.
From the moment I was willing to forgive and release my anger things began to change. He could feel my resentment subsiding and began to respond accordingly. As I relaxed, so did he and lo and behold we slowly and often painfully began to create an unspoken peace treaty.
Not only did our relationship improve, but my relationship with his family did too. Anger is a wonderful payoff when you’re feeling hurt, but thats only because we don’t bother to read the smallprint. Anger will fill you with lovely manic energy and at the same time rob you of the most important energy of all – love.
Love is not a naffy, warm and fuzzy emotion – it is an active gift which should be given freely. It is made up of things like forgiveness, mercy, grace and loyalty to name a few.
As I removed my claws from his throat I began to see his heart. As I began to understand that he wasn’t a malicious beast but rather a slightly weird one I began to realise that there was in fact a way to get this to work.
I realised that you can’t change someone, not without their agreement. I had to begin to work with what he had, I had to learn to work withing the boundaries of his strengths and accept his weaknesses with good grace.
So where are we now?
The Dodgy barman has become my friend and my brother all rolled into one. I consider him our greatest protector. God help anyone who attempts to harm us, and believe me I`ve had reason to test that theory (another long story). He now has a wonderful girlfriend who I really enjoy and who is absolutely fantastic with our daughter. His parents and sister and extended family love and cherish us and we adore them right back.
Nowadays I know for sure that if things are tough I can talk to them and they`ll move heaven and earth to help us.
Love doesn`t just happen, except in the movies of course. I`ve learnt that love is a choice, and in relationships it`s a choice that quite often has to made over and over again, often as in my case, with the same person.
`Dad` will always be a rather off-the-wall individual. He will always say and do things that are hellishly inappropriate and he`ll always be a bit wild – he`ll also always be a Dodgy Barmen, but at least now I can say that he`s OUR Dodgy Barman, and that`s as it should be.