I took a long walk today, which isn’t that unusual. I followed the same route I took on the hottest day of the year. I almost passed out on that July day, but today things were fine. The wind was brisk, the air refreshing, and there wasn’t a thermometer reading three digits anywhere in sight.
I pondered my life choices as I walked. I have been waiting for several days for my attorney to draft the Court Order that will allow me to see my kids over the holidays. I haven’t seen all of my kids since July and only saw them once in the last three months despite the guaranteed joint-custody/visitation rights in the initial court order. I have been waiting and trying to be patient.
When I wait, I tend to work out more. There’s a reason I’m down nearly one hundred pounds this Christmas as I have been nervous. The thing is that sometimes my nerves make sense. It is hard to wait and it is hard to miss my kids. I often feel afraid to visit my kids as I remember things my partner has said and done over the years. Some of it wasn’t meant to be threatening, but it was frightening.
Let me give an example which has been bothering me. My former partner once told me that she highly admired the leadership style of Adolf Hitler. She actually put it in her ministerial psych exam paperwork and bragged that she wasn’t even questioned about it. Even now, it is uncomfortable sharing that idea even though I’m not the one who stated it. She claimed that it was because he was a highly motivational and effective leader, which he seemingly was given the way he reorganized his nation. The trouble is that I now wonder what effective leadership style movements someone like Hitler would use if his former partner came into town. Would it have been easier if their former partner just disappeared? It is something I think about whenever my kids have a school event. Would I come back alive this time if I went?
What’s even worse is that even as I feel frightened of the implications of adoration of someone like Hitler in a former partner, I also feel like everyone will judge me for overlooking what was, in hindsight, and enormously blaring red flag. Why didn’t I walk away that day? Why did I believe someone was loving who admired such a domineering and demented person? Why didn’t I think of that adoration of such a charismatic lunatic when everything I did was held up the ideal of what she thought was right and good?
Then the real question comes out. Could anyone love someone like me who put up with that kind of stuff? Who could love someone who not only loved such brutal efficiency but has been using it for a year and a half without any repercussions? What kind of person would love someone who put up with that kind of nonsense? What if they would only want to do so because they see an opportunity to take advantage of me? What if I escape the frying pan just to land in the fire?
All of this begs the question of “why bother?” According to Fitbit I walked over 15 miles today. I lift weights regularly and am slimming down. I put another three holes in my belt because the belt I bought that barely fit a year ago now needs to wrap around through several loops to the point where the end is approaching the small of my back. I put in the work in my long term recovery every single day, attend a fatherhood support group, and am incredibly active in my faith community. I have a lot going for me, but I wonder if I’m just putting a really nice exterior on a life that is scarred, wounded, and full of experiences that make me feel crazier than a bag full of feral cats.
What if I put in all this work and just end up dying alone? What if that’s the best option instead of inflicting myself on someone else again? I know it is the week before Christmas and I should be working on getting ready or mourning the fact my kids aren’t here, but I have to be honest and say that I’m not even sure they care about my anymore. Maybe that’s for the best. Maybe I’ll just spend the rest of my life walking here to there, lifting heavy objects, and doing my best to be of service to other people who can have the nice things like relationships that I may never have again. Maybe that should be what happens to the person who was too blinded by love to recognize the red flags in the first place.