[This story is a continuation from this afternoon’s drama: Texts From the Ex. What’s the Crisis?]
As we continued on our journey towards the weekend with the little dog’s fate hanging in the balance I tried to enter my ex-wife’s house with as little fanfare as possible. It’s hard to explain to your kids that you’d really rather NOT pick them up at their mom’s house after school. But it happens. And it’s really no big deal for them. And of course, their mom get’s a little bit more cuddle and hug time.
So I stayed in my son’s room, helping him pack up his computer. I was summoned to the “other room” so we could talk about the dog. So much for the sleeping idea.
I tried to listen. I really tried. As she was telling me about how hard it has been for her with the dog I really tried to join with her and empathize. But that’s not what she wanted. I’m not sure what her objective was, actually.
I said, “Yes, I’ve been giving it some thought and trying to get into the idea that the dog isn’t really mine or yours, the dog is like another child and we’re just doing the best we can to provide for his comfort.”
“Except you’re not doing it,” she said, putting my bridging efforts to an end.
“Not doing what? I asked.
“There’s some huge gap between you saying you’re doing everything you can and then doing nothing.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s all on me,” she said. “And you just magically think it’s all going to take care of itself. But you’re not doing your part. You’re not taking responsibility for your part.”
I felt my anger flaring. “What would you like me to do?”
“You’re not acknowledging how hard it is. You’re not doing anything. And it’s all on me to take care of it.”
I snapped. “One more fucking week.”
“You’re not taking responsi…”
“I can’t do anything about the dog for one more week. I don’t have any other options!”
“So you’re getting the house?” she said. There was something of disbelief in her voice. Or perhaps that was me. My own defensiveness.
There was this moment on Monday, before her torrent of texts began blowing up my phone.
Wait, what? There are so many things wrong with this out-of-left-field statement. She isn’t very good at containing what she’s really thinking.
She clarified that the kids had mentioned a house. She didn’t know that I wasn’t buying it. (Yeah, maybe she really has no clue what her AG maneuver cost me and is still costing me.)
And it was a day later when we got the plan together for her to take him on Friday, because, as I understood it, it was just too much for him. And obviously too much for her. When the house fell through on Thursday, I was sad but determined to go after the previous house, that I actually wanted even more.
So now we’d made it, the dog, my ex-wife, and me, through one week. And yet, somehow the crisis was hotter now and exploding again. Because I wasn’t doing enough. Because I didn’t have a solution right now. And because she was mad about a lot of stuff.
“Can we go outside?” she asked, wanting to diffuse the anger or shield our son from hearing what was going on. (He was in his room with his earbuds playing loud music.)
“No,” I said. “This is exactly what I was asking about. Shouldn’t we do this with our therapist? This is exactly why we got involved with her in the first place.”
“I’m not paying for that any more. I’m not scheduling that any more,”she said defiantly.
“Don’t you think it’s worth $35 dollars to talk about this *with* someone?”
“It’s $55 dollars and two hours of my time. And I’m not paying for it any more.”
“I think that’s exactly the place for this kind of discussion. That’s what I’ve been saying all week.”
“I’ve got to get back to work. I’m not scheduling anything. If you want to invite me to a meeting, I’ll consider it.” And she was gone.
I’m still trying to decipher the encoded message, beneath the anger. Money. Time. Lack of responsibility. Lack of belief that I was ever going to be able to afford a house.
Because… the alternative was what?
I walked away. I was angry. I had let my own rage flare, and I wasn’t all that proud of the exchange. However, I did not believe the crisis was a crisis. I believe the dog issue was a manufactured crisis of convenience. Just as we’re about to enter a new era, she’s gets a bee in her panties and has to come screaming in for justice. Justice for the dog. Justice for her wronged life and all the money I didn’t make that I still owe her because I was too nice to file a lawsuit against her to lower the un-attained amount of child support I’d agreed to. Even as I was forced to agree to accept less than 50/50 parenting.
I don’t have to respond to her crisis. I don’t have to engage in the drama. When she’s blowing up my phone I can ignore it. When she’s blowing up my phone during a work day I can allow her the revelation that an email might get a response. I can do my best to stay on the lighter side of the situation.
I’m hopeful that the house will come through next week. It’s all dependent on how they view my “dead beat dad” credit report. Yes, she’s *owed* a good bit of money. It’s not anything I’m proud of. It is my responsibility. But I don’t have any more things to sell, and just as I’m back to full employment, she’s going to start hitting the fk you panic and crisis button… Why? To stir up my world?
Is she attempting to lower the quality of my life to something more angry and dissatisfied? Is this her way of pulling me back into the morass of misery that we had become in our collapsing final year of marriage? Where I owed her a better life and I was not doing enough to get it back for her. I’m still not. That’s obvious.
She’s doing one thing for me quite nicely. She’s showing me the situation I could be in had we stayed married. She’s showing me who she is at the core. Perhaps in the same way she released us both from a sad marriage, she is now helping me to detach from any idea of compassion that I might still have for her situation. I’m getting there.
But it’s not really about her, is it?
She can no longer hurt me. The scrapes and bruises and huge credit liability and shame are mine. But the story and vitriol is all hers. And I won’t take that on.
She will survive one more week with the old shitting pup. I will survive another week in my mom’s house. And if luck and fortune smiles in my direction I will be moving in to a rental house in my old neighborhood, a half mile from the tennis club, in just over a week. I’ll keep you updated. (grin)
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff posts
- The Winter of My Discontent: Ex-Partners and Co-Parents
- Patience Please, I’m Doing The Best I Can
- This Is Going To Hurt – Divorce With Children
- What An Angry or Distant Divorced Parent Looks Like
- The Fk You That Keeps On Giving
- AG’s Office Round Two: Dead Beat Dad – 0, Bank $43,000
image: january jones, aka betty draper from mad men, promo shot – creative commons usage