The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Ran across something the other day. Something I wasn't very surprised to see. Probably should have backed up and run across it a few more times, too. But I didn't.

Instead, I sat down and thought about it. Likely more than was merited. Hey, I'm like that sometimes. Self-examination is rarely a bad thing. And while it's not way in the back of the vault, I found myself doing a little Flashback! on Wednesday. (Is that premature flashbackulation?) Since sharing my memories is what Flashback Friday! is all about, here I am, singing a sad song and pouring out my heart, again. Consider yourselves warned.

For twenty years, I lived with a man who (very frequently) actively refused to help himself, or to help me, in much of anything I did for the two of us, or our family. When I'd ask for help with any particular task, his response was to ask what I was doing that prevented me from doing it myself.

When I'd ask him to get the kids dressed so I'd have time to pack lunches, he'd remind me that he didn't know what matched, adding that he didn't want to learn, either.

When my paternal grandmother died only six months after my maternal grandmother died, he added to my load by refusing to emotionally support me. Apparently, I'd exhausted his resources the FIRST time; it was simply too tedious for him to have to have to deal with me needing his shoulder to cry on again.

When I would come home with a carful of kids I'd just picked up from daycare and immediately start cooking dinner and going over homework, he'd have already been home an hour. Relaxing, in a quiet, empty house. And still needing just a little more time 'him' time before he could find it in him to step away from the computer and lend any kind of hand with our always hectic nightly family routine.

When I overlooked his addiction (an addiction he'd had long before I met him, though he now claims that it was his way to medicate himself against the evil that is me) and tried, time and time again, to get him help or to try to help him myself (even when his sister suggested an intervention), I was met with sulking and furious resistance and often promises that were never kept.

I put up with it for much longer than I should have. I rode it out, counting my blessings, trying to make the best of it. I did all of this because I loved this man. I made a life with this man. I had my children with this man. I did it because I felt he needed me, and that maybe I made his life better.

The lessons he taught me were to be self-sufficient, to never expect or require appreciation, and to understand that any time I absolutely needed his help with anything, there would always, always be a price tag on it.

It's all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, you you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.

Not exactly, but, you get the point. I tried to make it work. And I helped him immensely to get to where he is professionally, often putting myself second or third or fourth to what he wanted or needed. It became second nature, something I did almost instinctively. There was simply no other way to make my marriage work.

When he was gone (working out of town), I missed him terribly, but I went about the business of living. Working full-time and taking care of babies and keeping house and making sure the bills got paid and keeping in touch with my family and his family and managing things. I had to. I wasn't given a choice.

His tutelage was not wasted, however. I became quite competent at getting things done. In fact, I exceled in a great number of areas. I lost a lot of "me" in the process, but sometimes you pay a price. Sometimes, in a relationship, you make sacrifices when you care about someone. You make them willingly, because you know that together you are better for it.

I didn't realize, though, that becoming self-sufficient, becoming competent at doing the things that needed to be done to keep his home and his family going, things he chose not to do, that were simply too bothersome for him to trouble with, would earn me a badge.

"Controlling".

Never once, in the twenty years we were together did he tell me he thought I was "controlling". He told me he was proud of me… once or twice. Told me I was a good mother fairly often. Told me I was his best friend many times. Told me I was a good cook every once in a while. But never once did he advise me I was "controlling".

In fact, I should add that my sister used to joke that everything I did had be "run by congress for approval". I wasn't allowed to have the final say on anything (things as minor as the menu for the week), without talking to him first. And if it was anything that would inconvenience him in the slightest, or cause him any discomfort at all, it got vetoed. "No change orders" was his clever little refrain, whenever I'd suggest something new, or try to revise a previously agreed upon plan or procedure. "No change orders" was, apparently, the way he felt a family with three kids could and should be run. And for years, I did my best to let him live in that little fantasy world, too.

When things between us had deteriorated to the point where we clearly couldn't stay together, and even his pleading couldn't make me stay, he tried to accept the reality. He now says (to anyone who will listen...those who were not around back then and do not know better) that he was relieved when I left, happy for the first time in years, and that he finally realized how miserable I had made him for so long.

He tells these gullible new friends of his that the only reason he wanted to stay together was for the children. And that once I'd left, and he was free from the agony that is me, he was finally able to kick his drug habit.

It's strange to me. Perhaps I'm insane. Yet, I seem to recall that at the time, he told me he was kicking the weed because he didn't want to live his life under that shadow any more and he wanted me to come back. He knew I wouldn't if he was still using. I'd enabled him long enough.

I'd told him the only thing I HADN'T tried to help him quit was leaving him. While it was the proverbial 'last resort', I hoped it WOULD be the catalyst for his healing. Now, somehow, all this has transmuted into something he could only do for himself after my onerous influence was gone.

Honestly, I don't want the credit for helping him break the cycle of dependency that held him for over thirty years. I'm happy that he was finally able to pry that monkey from his back by whatever means. But, it's so unnecessary, and so wrong, for him to make me the cause of his addiction.

My recollection of this time seems to be different from his, though. While I'm sure keeping the family intact was important to him, I know...and I believe HE knows...that he loved me deeply and didn't want me to leave because of ME. Because having me in his life was a good thing. But that's certainly not the story he's telling now.

Little seeds of doubt started working their way through my subconscious Wednesday, when I came across strange and different accounts of this period in our lives.

Maybe I'd misremembered, in some way, the way things had actually been. So, I went back to email. I save the stuff religiously. In fact, anyone around here who has ever sent me email, should be warned that I've probably still got it. I never throw that stuff away. (Heh, now my email correspondence will dry up even more...)

Periodically, I go back and reread stuff. Kind of like looking at old snapshots. Like snapshots, they are moments in time and they remind me where I've been and how far I've come. It's simultaneously empowering and nostalgic.

Anyway, I went back to email that he had sent me months after we'd split. Here is what I found. (Let me first note that had a precedent not been set here, I'd have been hesitant to have included these personal emails on my blog. However, carefully selected and edited passages from my private email to my ex has somehow found its way onto the Internet at his behest, so, it seems that he has no compunction with this behavior that others might find inappropriate.)

November 10, 2004 (a couple weeks after our separation)

Hi, Tam -

You make my day when you reply like that. I can't wait to spend more time with you. I know this is all tough but I miss you. I hope someday to show you I'm the guy that you wanted all along. I think Friday will be best for lunch. I hope spend sme "buddy" time wth you this weekend as well. Soon let's take some quality time and just talk. I don't want to keep wedging myself under your need to be independent but your so good to see.

I bought a used file cabinet and Friday I should get my bed. I always look forward to seeing you.

Baron


December 1, 2004 (approximately one month after we separated)

Hi Tam,

Your stopping by was great and I hope you do it again. Surprise me. Hopefully tonight maybe more and at least the lovey dovey stuff. I'm sorry I said what I did when you were honest with me. I understand that you feel you need your space and checking in stops that fee space you want. I need to learn how to deal with it. After being together so long my heart wants to be where you are (sigh). Can I do anything else?

Love,

Baron



December 15, 2004 (approximately six weeks after separation)

Sweet Tam,

Despite all the rough times and the self doubt, I want you to know you always curl my toes when we get fleshy together and even when I think about it.

If nothing else, I count myself lucky to be your bud in this way. Maybe someday I can learn to be a little more independent and let you stretch your wings.

I hope you find yourself. If I can be in the mix that would be nice. I do care about you with or without me. Your a great person.

Love,

Baron


December 20, 2004 (approximately two months after separation)

Hi Love,

Sunday sounds very good. I look forward to it. Saturday is good to pick up Christmas stuff and the girls and we'll settle up on monies. Tell me what I need to get ready for you.

I deeply regret that I made you upset tonight. I guess I could have used more tact but sometimes our frame of minds don't sync like they should. Let's continue to get along. Your a nice person and I want to be able to be buds. We'll punch through this short rough time. You're a great person. I enjoy your company.

Take care sweetums.

Love,

Baron


January 10, 2005 (approximately 2 1/2 months after separation)

Hey Tam,

>Forgot to mention to you that [Kid 1] has started, today, her bi-weekly >"I >don't want to go to Dad's" thing. During the course of the discussion about how she needs to give you more of a chance, despite the years of

problems and mistakes she feels you have made and that she doesn't want to wait around until you figure out how to fix them, she mentioned that she wished I would find someone else soon. I told her that I hadn't started looking, but should.


Thanks for your support here. For now (and since the split), the warmest person I've known is you and I haven't sought out that warmth again. After I hurt you so bad it
would crush me to even began to put anyone in a position where I would act like I care for them on such a thin pretense.

Love

Baron


February 8, 2005 (over three months after separation)

Tammy,

Thank you very much. I think the world of you and regret fighting. You are special. Know that I never want to hurt you.

I wish we could have been more for each other in the end. I blame myself for being a pot head way too late in our relationship. had I stopped sooner and been less lethargic, I think things may have been some what different, but you know what they say about hind sight.

It's ok to want to know about each others lives. Friends (and more) should be open and honest.

Love,

Baron


March 27, 2005 (approximately five months after separation)

Hi Tam,

Ok, I'm intriqued. What must you have you answered to get your score For Dr. Phil that I didn't? Do you poise yourself different when you talk to others? Do you sit unique? How do you sleep? Curious minds (me),want to know. I at least must be as secure as you. argh.

Ok, ok good night, take care. Despite contentions, you're a sweet person. Talking to you is so much fun sometimes.

Love,

Baron


April 4, 2005 (just over five months after separation)

Hi Tam,

If Wednesday is ok with you, it's ok with me. I have to go to [My sister]'s on Tuesday to get her mail and feed her cat. When I come home I will lay out [Kid 3]'s clothes. I look forward to seeing both you guys.

It was nice talking to you earlier. What we have is special in it's own way.

Love,

Baron


April 6, 2005 (a couple days after that)

Hi Tam,

Sure, lunch is fine as far as I know. I will update you tomorrow after I
check my schedule. Why didn't you ask when we were together this early evening?

Buds for life,

Love,

Baron


That last was his response to my invitation to the infamous lunch when I told him I wanted to embark on a relationship with the man he'd most rather I hadn't.

I've omitted many, many more "suggestive" notes, because that isn't the point.

The point is that as much as he may now be declaring to the world that he was always miserable while living with me, the truth is very different. The actuality is, even after obtaining the freedom he so relishes now, he was making it very clear that he loved me and thought I was a good person, and gave no hint, even after the divorce papers were signed in January of 2005, that he had ever considered our marriage to be him "staying together solely for the sake of the kids".

Further, at this time he knew I was still good friends with Highlander. And while he now claims that Highlander writing unflattering things about him on one of his blogs had so incensed him that he could never, ever forgive him for it, or me for associating with him… well, this didn't seem to be such an issue at the time of those emails I've reproduced here, either.

It was only after that lunch that suddenly, and apparently retroactively, I became the object of his decades long oppression.

Meeting me that day, I know he thought I was planning to talk to him about a reconciliation. That I didn't, and that I told him, instead, that I was planning to start a serious relationship with someone else, is when things turned nasty between us. He simply couldn't handle the fact that I'd moved on, that our romantic relationship was really over, and that, the actuality was, 'being buds' was all that he and I could be, from that point on.

It's important to me to make this clear: I know that nothing I did prevented me and my ex husband from continuing to be friends after our separation and divorce. No turn I took set us on the road to this mutual hostility and antipathy. We had had no trouble, obviously, being friends prior to that day. The only thing that changed was that I was beginning a relationship with someone else. Someone who had defended me and supported me when my ex had deeply hurt me (and to whom my ex had first made untoward and wholly inappropriate accusations), by saying things on his blog that my ex found insulting (due not to a lack of accuracy, but to the colorful verbage used).

But, again, I want to emphasize that the incident between him and Highlander had occurred long prior to our lunch, and it certainly didn't seem to be an issue in his ongoing relationship with me. He had no reason to tell me the sweet things he did in the many messages above (as well as the many I've omitted) that came after that date, unless he truly felt them. Certainly, I believed he meant them at the time.

Perhaps, I was foolish for believing those things, yet I still do think (arrogant though it may sound) that he missed me and wanted to put our marriage back together. That by leaving him, I had finally forced him to confront just how much he had taken for granted, and never truly appreciated, when he had it.

I suppose it's easier for him to remember things the way he chooses to remember them. Everyone has a tendency to alter or embellish the past to make history more palatable. I'm no different in that regard, I suppose. I'm lucky enough to have the "photographs" that show me the way it really was. He, and his friends, can choose (and have chosen) to paint me the villain in our break up, and certainly, I initiated it, and I've never denied that.

After having dealt with the pain prior to my split, the uncertainty of life after I finally left him, followed by the active hostility after that fateful lunch date in April, I have accepted that he is who he is, just as I've accepted that I am who I am, and I'm okay with that. It's not the first time I've been cast in the black hat role. I imagine it won't be the last.

He and I, though, and our kids, we all know the truth. The TRUTH. Lying to others is one thing, and it's bad enough. Believing your own propaganda – self deception on this level - is something worse, something far less healthy.

The deliberate lies he tells are probably the hardest thing for me to work through. Especially lies about turning our children against him. Most of you know how hard I have worked to help him have a good relationship with our girls. It's been very recent that I've pretty much just thrown up my hands in this regard, and honestly, it's mostly out of exhaustion. After many, many attempts (which I may outline in another post at some point in the future) to help him right things he's done that have hurt our children, I've just given up. I NEVER want to see my daughters in pain (doing whatever I can, whenever I can to minimize it) and I've been the one who has, from the beginning, urged them to work on the damaged relationship with their father, even as they protested that he doesn't respect them and has inappropriate outbursts of temper, with which I myself am all too familiar.

I'm tired of fighting every second with him, trying to get him to do right by them when he refuses to understand, or even try to. Just as he used to refuse to learn what colors went together, so he wouldn't have to dress the kids, he now refuses to listen to anything I might have to say about how to parent better, despite the fact that I have 17 years of experience parenting his children, THESE children, and he pretty much started from scratch less than 24 months ago. No matter how hard I try to foster a better relationship between him and our daughters, he's always completely unappreciative of my efforts to help. Instead seeking advice from people who do not know the children or the history, and giving them only the bits and pieces of the situation that he's bothered to collect.

Worse, my older girls have started to feel that I'm being unsupportive of their very legitimate concerns as regards their father's fractured relationship with them. That I'm taking his side, when I try to remind them that he's their father and always will be, and someday they will want to have a better relationship with him, and that he needs more time. Always more time. Time that they don't want to give him. Time that he spent putting himself and his addictions first.

I'm not his wife anymore, but I AM their mother. I always will be. From that, I gain my greatest strength. From that, I chart my course… and while I do believe the girls would benefit from an improved relationship with their dad, I can't keep doing the heavy lifting for him, and it's not fair to expect them to do all the work, either.

I imagine that my refusal to live in his fantasy land has hurt his feelings in the last year. We've both done a good deal of that to each other, I suppose. I don't ask his permission to live my life anymore, and his daughters and I expect him to step up to the role of co-parent that he insisted he was able to handle nearly two years ago.

Sorry to bore you guys with this melodramatic bullshit, but I had to get it outside of me. My personal weblog is still where I come to do that.

Many of you suckers good friends have been there for me for years and are intimately familiar with this period of my life. The support of people like Highlander and Mike Norton and Nate and Mark and Tony and even Mr. Tice (if he's lurking out there somewhere), as well as my "real world" friends and family, got me through that time. Helped me realize that I'm not the bad guy (even though I look pretty fine in the black hat when I need to wear it) and that I did everything I could have done to make it work. All of you have earned a very special place in my heart for that, too.

All of my new friends here (and elsewhere) who weren't there then, but are here now, (as the roller coaster of my life continues on its track) help, too. Thanks for the advice and the shoulders. I appreciate them deeply.

Highlander's constant reminders that I am special and wonderful are pretty helpful, too...;) Thanks! I love you, Sweetie.

And thanks to all of you out there for joining me in my Flashback Friday! reality check!



I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends

A chance to share old memories and play our songs again

When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name

No one recognized me, I didn't look the same

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3 Comments:

Blogger Highlander said...

As always, baby, clearly, everything bad that's happened to your relationship with your ex is now, and always has been, my fault. Certainly, he's done nothing whatsoever to contribute to the dissolution of his marriage, or the decay of any post-divorce friendship that might have existed between you and him.

No, no. Obviously, he is a completely innocent party in this and need not take responsibility for anything. It's all on me.

I remember this Peanuts cartoon I read when I was a kid. Lucy was going around getting all the other characters to sign a document absolving her of all blame for anything that might happen from that point on. Charlie Brown signed it for her, and then wistfully remarked as she walked away that "That must be a very comforting document to have."

How nice to know that I serve as your ex husband's Absolution of All Blame. Gosh. I feel so important.

8/12/2006 8:51 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

From a complete outsiders point of view (which means everything I say might be bullshit), it seems like he is trying to hurt you and manipulate you through your daughters.

Like a child who will take negative attention in lieu of no attention, he is positioning himself so that you have to jump in and mediate between him and his daughters. This is making him feel important.

He won't do anything to solve his problems with his kids as long as you are giving him the feedback he wants.

If I were you, I'd take a hands off attitude (easier said than done). Keep reminding the kids that even though their father loves them, it's the very behavior that they complain about that made all of you leave him.

Just my opinon, and probably just bullshit.

8/13/2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

H -

I'm not sure how he reconciles it all. He acknowledges that we were having problems years before you ever were around. And yet...

He's entitled to live his life. On his own terms. I wish he'd show me the same respect sometimes. Really, I do.

Julia -

Thanks for the support. You are not the only one (and I'm in that group, too) who sees that he is trying to hurt me. Plenty of bullshit in this situation, though. So, don't feel bad throwing a little more on the heap.

When he and I had lunch that day in April of 2005, I asked him if he'd like to meet Highlander (as H was likely to be involved in his children's lives and, being a parent, I'd want to meet the person he intended to bring into our children's lives). He stated, emphatically that he NEVER wanted to meet him. That he never wanted him on his property or in his house.

And that's how it went for eight months. Eight months of me parking the car in the street if H was with me. H waiting in the car, while I picked up kids or dropped off kids. Eight months of him refusing to set foot in my house in an effort to avoid meeting (or even seeing) H. He never once thought about what this was doing to his daughters, to his relationship with his daughters, to the respect they had for him. It was more about hurting me and hurting H (though that part wasn't working as well).

The immature games and hurtful actions he's undertaken in the last (nearly) two years have made such an impression on his daughters. And, I no longer try to explain them. I just can't. I've run out of plausible theories. They see it. They understand it. They're not stupid and he needs to think about that, and about them, and to stop putting himself first.

I've spent the better part of the last couple months telling him that I'm done trying to work with him and that he needs to work on his relationship with his kids. That, obviously, includes working on himself. He defiantly states that he doesn't need any counselling of any kind. That's his call, of course. But the children disagree. And, the positive impact it would have on their relationship, if they saw him trying this way, would be immense. He won't listen to me, though. Or to them.

While there has been some improvement, it has been limited. And, when the girls see him attempting to rewrite history that they lived, or to lie about things now, the respect that they have for him continues to deteriorate. Until he elects to be someone his daughters can be proud to have as their father, what minor improvements he has made aren't going to make the difference he believes they will.

We hope. It's all we can do. It's not in my control any more than it's in any control my daughters have. He doesn't seem to have any sense of urgency in correcting these things. He feels he has a lifetime, and he just doesn't. I feel sorry for him...and for my girls.

8/14/2006 10:13 AM  

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