In the last couple of months, life has been progressing well, a fact which has shoved the turmoil of the year's first few months into the background. I've always been aware of what's behind me, but it has rarely caught up and overtaken me in recent days. That happened yesterday and I was reminded just how fragile my situation remains.
First of all, what is the fucking deal with every book I read having infidelity as a major theme? I'm not seeking these things out, I promise you. Don't you authors have some other soul-crushing plot turn you could mine? Thanks, I'd appreciate it.
My latest not only features an obscene betrayal, but also kept secrets, secrets on both sides which erect an inpenetrable wall between the married couple at the center of the book. Riding home on the train, I hit the section with the cheating and that dormant anger rose up in me to the point where I was shaking and had to resist the urge to rifle my paperback the length of the car. What is wrong with people? Cowardice, avoidance, the inability to share their concerns with those closest. How the fuck can one live their life that way?
It was eerie, the thought process of this fictional character, albiet one whose trials and actions are all too common in real life. It was as if the passage was designed solely to tilt me. Unhappiness, bolstered by silence, leading to treachery, a breaking of all trust. And for what? Nothing more than physical relief, a temporary mirage of feeling, of imaginary emotion.
I lived that hurt. And I re-lived it yesterday for tortuous minutes, the images--both sweeping and pedestrian--flooding back. And while I've been able to accept what happened, I still don't understand it. Not for a moment. It's a helpless feeling.
What took center stage in my over-active brain yesterday were a number of things X said to me in those early days, declarations that have proved to be laughably false. I'm not talking about her deception, but rather her reasoning, her views of her future. Those pictures she painted have proven to be the opposite of the life she currently lives, proclamations of independance and freedom, dreams which crashed--if they ever existed at all--on the rocky reality of single parenthood.
What angers me about all this is the disregard for AJ. Let me say up front that I don't think her actions are malicious. They are naive and selfish, however. In her rush to build her new life, which revolves almost solely around the Doouchebag Poet, she has made our son an accomplice in her neediness. This freedom she claimed to aspire to has been replaced by a wholesale dependance on her boyfriend, her boyfriend's family, with whom she spends nearly all her time, both when she is caring for AJ and not.
I called her last night, needing information. Her cell went directly to voice mail and after a couple attempts there, I called her home phone. She answered. At least I thought it was her and began to talk when the female voice interrupted. "This is (?)," she said. "I'm (the Douchebag Poet)'s sister. I'm baby sitting."
I fumed. Silently. My son, my son whose life is in upheaval, whose insecurity is palpable, is alone with this stranger, someone I don't know, someone whose only connection is that she's a sibling to an adulterer who willingly busted up a family. The very idea sets me on an edge so thin that I can hardly focus my vision. And there's more.
One of the legally-binding agreements in our child custody mediation is something called "Right of First Refusal," which means that should one parent need a babysitter, they will first ask the other parent if they are available. I was available last night. I was not asked. I was given another in a long line of bullshit excuses as to why.
Here's what I think. X felt guilty that she spent one of her custody nights away from AJ. And that's precisely the sort of feeling, that shame, she a) always kept from me and b) most definitely doesn't want me to know about now. Let's forget for the moment that every single one of these "withholding of the truth" moments has eventually come to light. I ALWAYS find out. Instead, let's examine how this behavior remains the primary m.o. in the way she deals with people, not just me, but others. She will NEVER admit to something she feels casts her in a bad light. If confronted with her shame, she will close up and defend, illogically, threateningly.
I've tried to explain to her, without a modicum of success, how her actions affect our son, how we both need to be vigilant about regarding him before making decisions. I'm certain she sees my advice as spite, that my actions are motivated by a desire to place a wedge between her and the Douchebag. I think the technical term for that is projecting. She's so familiar with her own lack of integrity that she sees the same in the actions of others.
So how do I convince her I could give a fuck about her and the Douchebag? I care only about my son, about the confusion she unhesitatingly subjects him to by trying to plug him into this "new family" of hers. (And really, how must they see her? "Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister...This is my girlfriend X. She's married. She cheated on her husband with me.") Half the time, she's free to do what she wants, unburdened by having to care for AJ. Yet, that's not enough. She pulls him along wherever SHE wants to go, not seeing the possible ramifications, not even pausing to think about them.
It's funny, I was in a very 'blah' mood yesterday. Though I'd just spent two days with AJ, I was missing him more fiercely than usual. Intuition, I suppose. A Daddy's instinct to protect that fragile life. Next time, I'll be more proactive when that feeling hits.
I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes with AJ. But I've tried not to repeat them and I've certainly avoided making them an endless pattern. I keep telling myself that X will have a lightbulb moment. In fact, I thought she had one a few weeks back after a custody mediation session where the lawyer not only agreed with some of my more graver concerns, but amplified them. Sadly, these truths have not taken root. My remedies are few, my influence almost nil. It's a frustrating place to be. I was wrong. So many issues are NOT behind me. They surround me. I wish I wasn't the only one who realizes that.