Take today, for example. I was working at a fundraiser for the charity I work for. It involved cheap access for community members to a service that The Oldest could use right now. I said I'd pay for it. He said he'd be there. Reiterated yesterday that he'd be there. Messaged me this morning that he'd be there. So I paid for him to have a spot in the queue, and took slight advantage of my staff position to do so.
An hour passed. Then two. Then I checked my messages - 'I don't think it's going to happen today. Sorry.'
I could have screamed. Or yelled. Or punched something. Only I was at work, with people who were enjoying the event. With colleagues who couldn't really understand that this is just one more stab in the death by a thousand cuts. With My Man who did show up, as he always does.
So I sloughed it off, or, more accurately, stuffed it down.
Until I started driving home, thinking about it, stirring up what had festered all afternoon - why do I believe? Why did I actually think he'd be there this time? Why don't I matter enough for him to show up? WHO THE HELL DOES HE THINK HE IS? WHY THE HELL DOES HE REPEATEDLY GET TO WALK ALL OVER ME?
Only, I know that every judgmental, harsh thing I think about The Oldest in those moments, he already believes. If I actually allowed myself to yell out all the years of hurt and disappointment and frustration it wouldn't even come close to what he already believes to be true about himself.
And knowing that cools the rage every time. My job is to love him. To remind him what's right, yes, but to love him. Until one day I hope he can love himself.