I Stay For My Kids
The Fallacy of the Family
One of the biggest and most damaging lies I ever told myself was that I was staying with my children's biological father for their sake. I could twist that bullshit justification on its ear I was so good at it. And I think it’s time we talk about it.
I bet some of my excuses (which I had then dubbed reasons) may resonate with some of your out there, and I’m hoping by sharing them I save someone else from decades of self-inflicted pain and torture. I'd say things like,
"But they need a father...."
"I don't want them to have to suffer from a broken home...."
And the even more loathsome,
"It would hurt them too badly for me to end this marriage..."
Lies, bullshit, nonsense, poppycock and utter horseshit. Every word of it.
No matter how you slice it when it comes to staying in an unhappy relationship, you're not doing it "for the kids" you're doing it for yourself. Because you are afraid to be alone. Because you are trauma bonded. Because you are addicted to toxicity. Because you believe you won't be able to get any better. Because you believe yourself unworthy of love.
And this one is probably really going to trigger you, but it's a cold, hard fact, you stay because you are the problem.
Now before you come at me decrying victim blaming or shaming, I'm not talking to the women who stay in relationships because they are legitimately afraid for their lives, or the women who don't have the financial means or resources to walk out the door, or the women who have been too scared to get help for the first two things. I've been in that relationship, and I understand that terror all too well.
No, this isn’t for those women. I have something else for those women, and it’s a different take on this, but for today, we aren’t talking to those women. We are talking to the opposite of those women.
When I say "you are the problem" I mean the people who use staying for the kids as an excuse, a justification…a flat-out lie.
I am talking to the women (and men) I have seen stay in terrible relationships that are in the exact opposite of a domestic abusive situation, but still maintain staying in a different type of abusive situation. The storyline where there is lying, cheating, lack of love and all around general unhappiness. The type of situation where someone is physically, financially and emotionally capable of tossing the toxic relationship they have in the trash (where it belongs) but chooses not to. The person who lives under the guise of delusion and pretends all over the place that they have a happy, normal, nuclear family while the seedy underbelly of their lives means creating fake accounts to stalk their significant other on social media to see if they are cheating, or the person who does nothing but complain about how poorly they are treated without ever setting a boundary or saying they won't accept that behavior, but never doing anything to change that situation.
I’m talking about the person who plays pretend for the sake of appearances. And if you've made it this far, you have either known this person or you are this person. In either case, it's a hard truth to hear that you're the root cause of your problems, but you are.
And, since we are being honest, I'm going to lay down some other harsh truths from someone who told themselves this lie that you will find out if you continue clinging to this falsehood, and I hope you're sitting down for it.
3 Uncomfortable Truths of Your Ongoing Lie
1. You’re damaging your kids by staying. All you are teaching your children by staying in the situation that you are in is to accept less than they deserve. You are legitimately setting them up for one of two scenarios, the first where they will become the victim and the second where they will become the abusive personality. Neither is a good thing, and I highly doubt it's the future you have for your children.
2. Your home is already broken. Your children already know you are miserable. You could be an Academy Award winning actor, and your kids will still know you're miserable with mommy or daddy. This creates instability in them and a need to people please, be overly emotional and a feeling that they have to compensate for where the other partner falls short. If you want to get really down and dirty here, if you've ever used your kid to relay a message to your significant other, you're teetering on emotional incest. Another less than favorable outcome for your little ones, I would imagine, in your mind.
3. You're setting the stage for resentment. No matter how much you say you wouldn't want to split up your "family" because it would hurt the kids, the reality is that you don't really have a family, you have a farce. You don't have stability, you have instability masquerading as normalcy. And by telling lies to people you know by pretending everything is groovy, or saying, "Pose for this Instagram family photo," You're teaching your kids that playing pretend for the rest of their lives is "normal" and "acceptable". All things they will need to heal from because they will make the wrong choices in partners, or will be the wrong partner for someone else.
I know this, because I made these mistakes. I made these mistakes over and over again for 18 years living with a covert narcissist in a truly abusive relationship, where I didn't know what resources or help was available or what to get, and I did a lot of damage to myself and my children as a result of that. I am also living my truth of that abusive situation and am now estranged from my adult children as a result of "staying for the sake of the kids."
I also know this because I see and speak with so many women who haven't made these mistakes. Women who now have adult children that praise them for leaving when they did, and who are glad they left -- while still having a relationship with the other parent in some cases.
Staying somewhere you don't belong isn't a virtue. It won't win you a badge of honor at the karmatic Olympics and it won't change the other person. It takes far more courage to leave than it ever will to stay, and the other side of that is absolutely worth the pain of leaving to get there. For you and for your kids, I promise.
So if you’re the person who needs to read this, or if you know someone who does, I hope that you share it, because it could change the direction of someone’s life for the better, and stop cycles of generational trauma before they repeat themselves for decades more.
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