I operate at pretty high and pretty low levels. I can explain things to a child (hard to do this honestly, and simply, and kindly) but I can't talk to some adults, even as I can understand their language. Well, that makes me sound like a weirdo. I talk to adults all the time, but I find it hard to move from our professional jargon and court language to, you know, real discussion. Well, except when I do. Some people put me at ease, so maybe this is all in my head.
Left the ex's house in tears a few days ago. Had no problems looking at pathetic as I felt. No posturing. I've bared my teeth enough. She knows. She ought to know. But she has recently been under institutional pressure and there are bigger things than our disagreements. And so I'm kind.
We have a discussion, earlier. She wants to use the formula. I ask her if, in our political and personal opinions, an economic formula has ever been able to quantify human need or moral desert. She tells me that it's supposed to incorporate all the things--time with kids, income, and so on--and I ask her what she'll think if it says she deserves less than she demands.
I tell her as I've told her before that I just want to hear what she wants from me. If she out-earns me, fine, but if I don't have a house yet or a bigger place where I can keep the kids, then she'll of course shoulder more of the burden.
I tell her that if the formula doesn't fit, then legal authorities will tell us to change our lives to fit the formula. I echo what our pro-marriage counselor told me with a sense of black humor: if I don't make enough according to the formula, I'll be told to get a job. And that means how much more time with the kids? Oh. Formula don't care about that. Economic formulae are like that. Inhuman. I'd rather a woman scream demands at me.
We didn't get too far. She said she'd had trouble with voicing her demands. Counselor in me and the ex-husband in me bump shoulders, each wanting to cut that apart. They both show discretion; I say nothing. I'm still furious she could never tell me what she wanted. I'm still furious that she's powerful and acts like a victim. Acts like I treated her like her... family treats itself. What kind of monster was I that she's still scared of herself?
Doesn't matter anymore. I don't say anything. And the formula, and the fact that she's never asked me to come back once, the fact that all she had for me in weeks was bile and now she's being just reasonable enough, just kind enough. I feel rejected. It's a laugh, because I walked away. But I still feel there was something mutual. I diagnosed the relationship with cancer, but we both smoked. Maybe that makes sense.
But I weep, weep for the time with my boys coming to an end, weep for the fact that even if some part of her wants me she'll never say. I'd tell her I miss her if it wouldn't fuck her up. Maybe she's protecting me? Doubtful. You don't change the locks and claim the joint accounts on a man you want to protect. No, she's treated me as a contaminant. Now, though, things are slightly better. And I've felt the loneliest I've felt in a long time--lonely in solitude is better than loneliness in marriage, but it's still shitty.
So we talk for another thirty minutes on the front lawn. No missteps. I'm just more and more emotional.
I drive home and wipe the tears from my eyes. Buy a couple of large beers. Buy a pack of cigarettes; I've been sucking down cloves since I went into flight. Make some joke to the overly helpful clerk. Turns out to be a good guy. Does he see the reddened eyes and the irritated lids? I could be drunk for all he knows, or even worse--a man who's recently wept. But I act normal, for me anyway. Good guy. He bums me a clove, explains his taste for the menthol sort. I give it another try, see his point. Discuss pastimes. He helps a couple of other customers. Gives me some advice on upgrading my computer, something which has gone by the wayside since my checking account became a legal defense fund. But who knows? He knows a guy who's good at cheap assembly. It's a round conversation with professional, getting-to-know-you, and bullshit components. I feel less like a social cripple. When I leave, I laugh at the randomness of my life. This is, after all, something I wanted--spontaneity.
When I return home, the entire house is asleep. I slept a few hours in order to see my children, but my roommates had stayed up the previous night, following a birthday party that had fallen to insane levels of drama. Something else I handled with aplomb. I mingle well, and dealt with everything from inappropriate sexual suggestion on the part of very important people's new partners about whom everyone had a weird feeling to near fights to guilt to longing to old shit to new shit... It was exciting, in its way. But now the house is asleep... I read some, drink a pint, and sleep. Something I'm learning to do more often--force myself to tend to myself, even when I don't want to.