To put someone on a pedestal:
To believe or behave as if someone or something is perfect, wonderful, or better than others, to the extent that one is unable to see its potential flaws or faults.
Once again, comments by bloggers have prompted a post.
In a comment by beleeme on my last post, she said, “I put my husband up on a pedestal. I thought he was the upstanding, level-headed, law-abiding, honest, smart, successful doctor/husband. Boy, was I wrong about some things. Dishonest and what a risk-taker. It all built up so much – mental breakdown – career trashed – lack of identity. I respect him now; it’s just different…”
The second conversation was with Don’t Lose Hope in comments we had about children knowing about their father’s sex addiction. She expressed her concern for her grown daughters’ being deeply traumatized by the knowledge of everything their father had done. In my comment I said, “I know that my husband’s sponsor told his adult daughter right away and she didn’t speak to him for years. Maybe not always, but it seems more difficult for daughters who put their Daddy up on a pedestal of what a great husband looks like.”
I have heard this before from betrayed wives and wives of sex addicts. The concept that we felt like we made a stellar choice in picking our husband just to find out we had been duped by a consummate liar and cheat. So many stories of choosing an honest, handsome, well-liked, successful, career-minded man, a pillar of the community. Or that our love story was special. We were the couple everyone talked about as being so perfect together. We were the example of the parents who got along, never divorced, solid and stable. Having that perfect husband, or being that perfect couple seems great until the reality sets in that there is no perfect person or perfect union. And that reality, can be like a freight train.
In my case, I knew my husband was flawed. I knew he suffered from the abuse of his parents. I knew he often lied to get himself out of tight situations. I know he normalized this behavior. It was his survival instinct. We have been together for 35 years. We don’t appear, from the outside, to have any serious issues. I would call us financially successful, and we worked as a team to get to that place. I never romanticized our love, or our relationship. I’m not that kind of girl. His parents were a problem from the beginning. They were almost a deal breaker. I nearly walked away, twice. I could say my concerns were because of them, but really, my issue was with the way Blue Eyes wasn’t stable around them and didn’t appear to have matured beyond his childhood wounds. I thought about this a lot. We were engaged for five years. I do love my husband though and I was willing to accept all of the challenges in order to build a life with him. I was convinced the longer he was with me, and with time, he would mature beyond those wounds. I was wrong. I don’t regret choosing Blue Eyes, but it has been much more difficult than I could have imagined.
So where does that pedestal come from anyway? I have read a lot about how a woman’s relationship with her father has bearing on the man she chooses to spend her life with. There’s the concept that we are looking for the love we didn’t receive as children, but we continue to choose men who don’t know how to love. Then there’s the theory that we are looking for the same kind of nurturing love we received from a really great father, who appeared to be the perfect husband to our mom, but it’s difficult to find anyone to live up to childhood fantasies. There’s the concept that we marry cheaters or addicts because our fathers were cheaters or addicts. And also the idea that we marry someone with the same emotional intelligence we have. Well, I’m exhausted just thinking about all this. I have two fathers, my birth father and my step father. My father was a cheater and a bully who left my mom when I was six, but he never abused me. He fought for his parental rights and picked my sister and I up religiously every other weekend and during his summertime and holidays, and for the most part, we had fun. As a matter of fact, although I don’t respect him for the choices he made to hurt my mom, I still love him for who he is. My step father was awesome as a dad. He was always there and nurturing with solid parenting boundaries and a loving heart. My sister and I are truly lucky to have him in our lives. Both dads were around, home for dinner, active with parenting, did stuff around the house like mowing the lawns, and changing their own car oil. I didn’t know any other kind of dad, or man.
Blue Eyes’ dad, on the other hand, was emotionally vacant, worked all the time, didn’t eat meals with his children, and didn’t spend much quality time with them. He never mowed a lawn. He didn’t even know how to use a barbecue when I met him. The bigger problem, however, was that his love was conditional. He expected his children to perform to a certain standard. Tenderness and affection were withheld. Punishment was swift and stern. Blue Eyes’ mom controlled everything in an obsessed and militant manner, and dad didn’t even try to make things better. There were so many days prior to our wedding day when I expressed to Blue Eyes that I wouldn’t marry a man like his father. There were days I screamed it, and days I just cried the words. I know he didn’t want to be like his father and he really wasn’t, at least not emotionally. Despite the abuse, Blue Eyes was a very gentle and affectionate person. There is no way I would have welcomed him into my life if he wasn’t. I had never been abused. I wouldn’t have put up with it.
The thing that I was, though, and that I have learned in therapy, is neglected. And neglect was what Blue Eyes was able to get away with. Not because I welcomed it, but because I didn’t even recognize it. As a child, regardless of how loved I was by my dads, so much of everyone’s attention was directed away from me from the moment my sister was born. She was a handful, a very needy baby and then the divorce six months later. And although I was happy my abusive dad wouldn’t be living with my mom anymore, I had no idea how the divorce would disrupt my life as a very loved, and for 5 1/2 years, only-child. Both parents re-married and had children. My Dad had a lot of children. My needs were set aside. I immediately became a caregiver. I was self sufficient. No one had to worry about me, and on many days of my childhood, I was my baby sister’s sole caregiver.
What Blue Eyes did get from his father, was a VERY STRONG work ethic. In his family, career and money mean everything. Blue Eyes feels like his worth is attached to his success as a businessman. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change this. For years and years I just let him go. He worked as much and as often as he wanted because I thought it would make him happy, and I handled everything else. Everything else. I had no requirements of him. We would plan for him to be home for dinner, but he rarely made it. He traveled a lot. He didn’t have to call home. Long distance phone calls and especially International phone calls were so expensive back then. By the time email and Skype came around, his patterns were set. Out of sight out of mind. Then when he had his acting out travel partner, it must have been mighty uncomfortable to contact me and he knew he didn’t have to. I would be there, at home, taking care of everything, no matter what.
So, I know for sure that I didn’t marry someone like my fathers, but I also wasn’t seeking anyone different from them either (I actually wasn’t seeking ANYONE, tbh). Not at all. Even though my Dad was a cheater, I had my step Dad, who wasn’t. I never even contemplated Blue Eyes as a cheater. He just didn’t have it in him. He was kind and sweet, not cruel. Neither of my Dads are addicts, and I had no idea Blue Eyes was a sex addict, so no, that’s not on me either. In the end, I felt loved and taken care of by two fathers. I have always known that I was innately more emotionally mature than Blue Eyes. I don’t believe in the concept that all of us marry someone at our own emotional maturity. I was about as emotionally mature as a 26-year-old can get when I married Blue Eyes. He, on the other hand, had a long way to go to meet me. I knew that, and was willing to help. Because… I’m a helper. It was all based on the fact, however, that he wouldn’t purposely hurt me. That was an unspoken given. I was choosing him. He wasn’t family. He wasn’t my job. He was my partner. I just didn’t know that he had no clue what being a partner really meant.
I know I have talked a lot on this blog about Blue Eyes putting me on a pedestal. My family as well. Believing that I am made of impenetrable stuff. Nothing can get me down. I can handle anything. This concept does not build me up. It actually hurts and depresses me. I want to be treated like everyone else. I want people to know I’m vulnerable. I don’t think anyone should be on a pedestal. It’s a very tenuous place to be.