Let’s dissect what it means to be at ease. What is comfort?
1. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint: room for four people to travel in comfort.
• (comforts) things that contribute to physical ease and well-being: the low upholstered chair was one of the room’s few comforts.
• prosperity and the pleasant lifestyle secured by it: my father left us enough to live in comfort.
2. the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress: a few words of comfort | they should take comfort that help is available.
• [ in sing. ] a person or thing that helps to alleviate a difficult situation: his friendship was a great comfort.
I generally agree with these definitions, I’d also like to remind you that when we talk about comfort and what brings us a sense of security and love, we should also mention the things that discomfort us. The things that make us uncomfortable, but ultimately bring us to a state of mental, physical and financial freedom. If we refuse to move out of our comfort zone, we may never achieve a true escape from our distress. I’ll do this in two parts because the two most toxic people in my life have very different relationships with me, but very very similar methods. I was made aware of the extent of the harm they were causing as my journey into motherhood progressed and I became more indignant.
Within the last month my son has been sick on and off. First, it was a cold then he got over it for about a week and it came back hitting even harder. On the tail end of the cold, he ended up getting croup and an ear infection then a mild allergic reaction to shrimp. I got sick for a second time and fortunately did not have any further complications that prolonged the cycle. It is quite difficult to manage our lives while sick. The logistics of daily life and motivation are completely different. I have the additional burden of giving medicine 2-3 times a day, wrestling him to put saline drops in his tiny congested nose and quarantining the best that I can, living in a multi-family home. Throughout this time, I kept Buddha’s (extended) family updated.
Coincidentally, his father’s birthday had just passed and we recently FaceTimed, as a courtesy, I sent him a message when at 3AM Buddha woke up with a 102 degree F fever. I relayed to him information until the next day with no response. So, in between there I sent a meme as a joke that read “every time a man does a woman wrong. God pushes his hairline back an inch.” So, the following day after Buddha’s fever has broken and we were riding the wave of croup, he texts me with (in silver):
After I asked him those last two questions, he responded with ‘My bad that’s Kool but don’t talk about my hair line” & It occurred to me he didn’t have the decency to ask about his son’s condition. This is after he blocked me off another video calling app once I started sending him receipts of expenses related to our son. A few days passed after this occurrence and he started hassling me about visits when he knows I live more than 150 miles away, have no transportation and he has given me $40 directly since Christmas. This was probably the string of messages that, both made me run up a wall and gave me a sense of peace:
He both acknowledged that I am poor and our son is a recipient of Medicaid while also telling me to go get some steak at a restaurant where the average plate is $20+. Those two things do not go hand in hand in any stretch of the imagination. I’m almost positive most tax paying citizens would agree they are a little put off by a social welfare recipient able to dine at a fine dining establishment. Do you or do you not have the income able to support yourself and your family? Right? He also has no financial responsibilities to me under our custody order besides Medicaid because once you open a child support case the obligor (noncustodial parent) is obligated to pay the state for the benefits that the obligee/custodial parent is using for their child.
This put me through a bit of grief on one end, I have a pretty big load to bear as an outcome of putting up with him for so long. The other end, he’s going to eat steaks while I’m scraping up what I can for my son and me to be able to eat on the budget that my Food Stamps allotted me. No, I never have money left over and the last week of the month is a struggle.
BUT, all of this, gave me peace in knowing that I did the right thing by turning my back on him.
In conflation with some pretty big blessings (transportation, a job with career possibilities on the horizon, our health being restored, etc.) I can finally see that Buddha’s dad prioritizes giving me grief over care taking or even contributing for his son. We went through fields and forests of metaphorical thorns and poison to finally get to a place, where I can (and, hopefully, continue to) ignore his provocations. His comfort lies somewhere between understanding his obligations as a father and being a single male living a lifestyle with no physical reminder of his offspring . He chose to continue on a path that he set on years before I came back into his life and his sacrifices to remain on that path only intensified with the birth of our son.
The comfort that he finds in his lifestyle makes it easy to use me as the scapegoat and ultimately evades accountability and responsibility for his own actions.
I find comfort in knowing I don’t have to maintain the cycle of abuse that allows someone to manipulate me, in order for them to stay afloat.
I find comfort in knowing I don’t have to put up with abuse that ranges from trivial texts to being lambasted with degradations to legal threats to theft.
I can finally find comfort in myself and the hundreds of ways I’ve changed my life to adapt to this little life the universe bestowed upon me.
I can find comfort in not being the victim.
I can find comfort that my son will never have to grow up thinking women should be treated as inferior beings while they uphold the family financially and mentally.
I can find comfort in breaking the cycle from abusive men and abusive parenting.
I have finally distanced myself far enough to find comfort in the belief that what I’ve gone through isn’t something I have to continue to go through.
I have found comfort and support from victims of domestic abuse that make me feel valid and whole and empowered.
I have found comfort in understanding that I don’t have to live in other people’s distorted versions of reality.