Reading your comments after a day at work and a school orchestra performance, I feel like I need to clarify two things. Just for the sake of being on the same page.
#1. It IS written in our divorce agreement that the FX is responsible for half of the upkeep of the house. His name is on the mortgage, his credit is on the line, and he signed off on this without a blink in his frantic attempt to become a free man. The problem is the way it's written. When we sell the house, before we split any profits, he has to do two things. First, he has to reimburse me for half of any work I've put into the house that I've paid for. Second, he has to reimburse me for half of all the mortgage payments I've made since he moved out last June. On paper, and in a better economy, you could say he got screwed, although I would dispute that mightily. (I had plenty of opportunity to screw him and I chose to take the high road. Some days I wonder why.) In reality, and in the financial world we live in, this is going to work for him, because it removes any motivation he may or may not have to sell the house at the largest possible profit. Why bother if the lion's share of that profit will go to me? And if, god forbid, we have to sell the house at a loss, in a perverse way he comes out ahead. Knowing him as I do, in this instance he thinks he's got me backed into a corner. Pity he's never given my brain half the respect it deserves. That may possibly come back to take a chunk out of his posterior at some later date. It all depends on how he handles it. Because, really...I'm not half as stupid as I look.
#2. I don't depend on him for anything. Period. I wouldn't ask him for help if my head was on fire and there was a water shortage. I have no false illusions of him rescuing me, or even attempting to look like a nice guy anymore. We've moved past his guilt and solidly into the "The money I'm paying you is now interfering with my new social life" phase. He still continues to try with his children, and I have to be grateful for that. That may be all he's capable of, but it will be enough for me. I may be furious and he may be self-absorbed, but at the end of the day it's still about the kids. And they seem damn well adjusted. So somehow, we're both doing something right. That has to be enough. It just has to.
Oh, wait. Three things. That wasn't a picture my basement yesterday. That was a google pic. My basement is far worse.
Alright, back to the story.
So I was already pissed going into last weekend, which was too bad, because it was a loaded weekend. Last Saturday would have been our 22nd wedding anniversary. (No presents, please. Just boycott independent films for a year as a personal favor to me.) And then Sunday was his birthday. And his damn birthday opened yet another can of stinking worms.
Long story short: Last year, during that awful pre-moving out stage, the kids all forgot his birthday. This isn't really anything against him - they're just clueless. I didn't really give a shit that they forgot it and just let it go. This, evidently, hurt his feelings and he asked me if we could please, in the future, remind the kids about upcoming "special days". He then demonstrated his superiority over me by having them make me breakfast for Mother's Day, and going to the supermarket himself and buying me a pair of black velour sleep pants in size 3X and then having the kids present them to me - with the 2/$10 price tag still attached. Oh, man, don't you just live for moments like that? I could fit my whole body in one leg, price tag and all. Brings a sentimental tear to my eye, even now.
Even so, I've been making sure the kids knew about his upcoming birthday. Several weeks ago, I called him to discuss Sasquatch and asked him to make sure to talk to the kids about what they were going to do for his birthday. The kids were wanting to do something on his exact birthday, but I was a little leery of encouraging that, worrying that he might be planning something a little more adult in nature. He said he wasn't even sure he was going to be in town for his birthday and that he and the kids would work it out that weekend.
When the kids got home from their weekend the subject had never come up, and as far as I was concerned, I was done. I'd done more than my fair share on this already and I figured the rest was up to him. His birthday fell on my weekend with the kids, but I had already told them that whatever they wanted to do with him was absolutely fine with me. But there were issues. Gumby had a two day academic field trip. And one of his best friends was having his all day birthday party/sleepover the actual day of the FX's birthday. Gumby asked my opinion, and I said he should call his dad because I still didn't know if he was even going to be around. Or available. I said if you all want to, why can't you celebrate dad's birthday next week when you're already with him for the whole weekend?
So Gumby called him and the FX said that was just fine and they left it like that. But. Surfer Dude was mad because even though he had also been invited to this birthday party, he said he'd rather spend the day with his dad on his birthday. I said if he felt that way he should call his dad and let him know that. I've got to tell you, that wasn't easy to say, but I felt it was the fair thing to do. Because I had no idea what his birthday plans were. Maybe he'd be sad that he wasn't with his kids. Maybe the party would be the new girlfriend and a can of whipped cream. Maybe he really was going out of town. Who the hell knew? But SD had that stubborn little look on his face and I had to encourage him to follow through.
That was really stupid on my part.
I watched from the next room as the FX shot him down. Surfer Dude's shoulders slumped and his voice lowered on the phone. When he finished he came up to me with abnormally bright eyes and a really defiant look on his face and said, "Dad thinks it would be better if we all celebrated his birthday at the same time next weekend." And then he stomped up to his room and slammed the door.
All righty then.
Now I'm the first to admit that this is a classic case of Damned if you do, Damned if you don't. Maybe the FX was trying to be considerate. Maybe he was trying to make all the boys happy. Maybe he was trying to be a 2009 Flexible Dad. Or maybe he was just clearing the evening to get laid. With a clear conscience. But I knew how bad SD wanted to go to the other birthday party. I knew what he had just tried to do. And I knew what his father had - for whatever reason - denied him. My blood, already sitting at a rolling boil, became just a little more heated.
And that's basically where I've sat. Magma. Mt. St. RC. Oh, I've let it out in various ways. I had a long playground chat with one of my dear friends who happens to be male. And divorced. And a mutual friend of both myself and the FX if truth be told, although I've honestly always thought of him more as my friend and he doesn't deny this. (Here's balls for you. When he was leaving me, the FX brought this guy's name up and suggested we get together. The two of you seem, he explained, to understand each other really well.) Well, that playground chat - with someone I trust implicitly - coincided almost exactly with my hitting the absolute end of my rope and I completely and totally blew. For a solid ninety minutes I blew, and if there was a secret or skeleton, no matter how despicable or humiliating, in the FX's closet, I threw it on the table. My mouth was possessed by a demon and I wouldn't have stopped it if I could have. I was enraged. By the end, I was exhausted. And it felt good. There's nothing like trashing an ex to give you a sense of well-being and renewed vigor. It's like a day spa without the calming music and 200 calorie meals.
And that brings us to today. Wait. Let's go back to last night. Sasquatch and I had a knock-down drag out fight over personal responsibility. In typical form he tried to turn it around and make it my fault. I went ballistic. This is his father's trick and I've had enough of it. He continued to dodge, divert and deflect and I marvelled at the cruelty of the genetic pool. We did not end on good terms, he and I.
Then this morning at work I got a call from the FX who had gotten roped into Sasquatch's web. Hook, line and sinker. I won't bore you with the story because this damn post is too long already, but bottom line is that Sasquatch is using the FX's own tricks against him, and what's worse, the FX is so a) self-absorbed, b) oblivious, c) shockingly without any self-awareness, that he doesn't even see that he's doing it. I made sure to point it out, just for the greater good. And then I said this,
"The thing is, he's gotten your ability to take a tiny kernel of truth and bury it in a huge mound of bullshit. He can twist the facts all day long. This way he can delude himself that he's telling the truth and then he can deflect all the responsibility onto someone else. And in the process, he can completely kid himself about the fact that he's a bald faced liar."
He did not like hearing that. I, on the other hand, rather enjoyed saying it. And in spite of the fact that we sat within three feet of each other at Gumby's orchestra performance tonight...
I don't feel mad at all at the moment. And it's a good thing, because if I can read the man at all - and read between the lines of what he's unable to communicate - I think I get to meet the girlfriend at Surfer Dude's soccer game on Saturday.
This could be really good. Don't you think?