It’s funny how the same old thing continues to surprise me. It’s nothing new. It happened just like it always does, and yet, I am shocked. It seems so unexpected.
Today was a bit more difficult post-surgery. I think the demerol and morphine and steroids have all worn off and I am finally feeling the effects of the swelling and the stents in my nose. Ouch.
Two days ago, when I was claiming that the surgery was a piece of cake, I scheduled my plumber to visit the house to look at a running toilet. Although the toilet was the LAST thing on my mind when I woke up this morning in pain, life goes on, and the toilet must be dealt with.
It turns out that BOTH of my toilets needed to be dealt with. They are original to my house, which is about the same age as I am. Since I just had my nose plumbing worked on, I really can’t complain that the house needed it too. The plumber has actually warned me of this day several times, but each time, I begged him to PUH-LEASE just change out the old toilet guts ONE MORE TIME.
Today in my weakened, hydrocodone-state, I agreed to finally fix the problems instead of putting band-aids on them. I am now the proud owner of two brand new, water-conserving toilets. Yay??? Last year I bought myself an awesome flat-screen television for Christmas. I worship it daily. I guess this year, I can worship the porcelain god. Bring on the tequila!
Anyway, after the plumber left, I retired to the couch praying for the meds to bring on sleep or sweet death. My son emerged from his room and handed me his cellphone pointing to the caller ID. “Dad.”
I haven’t spoken to my ex in quite some time. Sure, there was that little email dispute about court, but no actual words spoken by mouths and heard by ears. Surprisingly, he was able to tell just from my “hello” that I wasn’t well. Possibly due to the stents, swelling, and massive amount of mucus in my nose. Still, I was surprised by the fact that the first words out of his mouth (“You sick?”) weren’t cold or venomous. They were words spoken by a man who I vaguely remember knowing.
I should have known what was coming, but I didn’t.
He talked about my surgery, our oldest son’s selection for the high school soccer team, and our youngest son’s basketball coach. He sounded nervous. It felt strange. I could sense that he wanted to ask something, but he kept changing his mind and bringing up neutral topics. He had texted earlier about his “time” with the boys for Christmas, so I thought that he was going to ask me for more time with the boys for Christmas.
Well, I was right about one thing. He wanted to ask me for something, but it wasn’t time.
He suddenly announced, “Hey, I finally got that loan.” Then he nervously went on to say that it wasn’t as much as he hoped for. As he rambled, I searched my mind to remember what he was talking about. Stupid meds! I can’t think. Then he asked, “How much do I owe you again for all of that?” I remembered.
Some time ago (and many times before), The Ex has talked about getting a loan from a bank to pay me for this, that, or the other. The most recent promise was for a loan to pay his portion of the boys’ medical expenses and re-pay the money that he borrowed to move into his townhouse. He called in October or November, I can’t remember which, and asked me to send him the documentation of the medical expenses so that he could provide it to the bank. He said that he told them that he needed a loan to pay off medical bills, and they asked him to provide the bills. I reminded him that I sent him an entire package of the medical bills via certified mail, but he laughed that he had “moved since then,” so I sent him copies. And never heard from him again.
Until today. Suddenly, after all of this time, a bank is willing to loan him the money. He said that he only found out 30 minutes before he called me, but now it’s 5:00pm and they are closed so it won’t fund until after the holiday.
I didn’t even have time to process what he was telling me or complete the question in my head, “Why is he telling me this?” when he busted out with his usual, “So can you hook me up until then? I just need about $500 to do some shopping. I have some little stuff for the boys, but nothing good. I mean, like one thing for them to share is all I really have. I could add that to what I already owe you and pay you the full amount when the funds hit next week.”
It’s like deja vu. I’ve heard that same exact request to hook him up or help him out so many times before. I have heard the story about the loan before. Many, many times.
Last fall, he told me that he needed me to hook him up with some money to pay off a loan because the bank required him to pay it off before they would give him another loan. Do what? Once before that he was going to get a loan to pay me the $8,000 in child support (at the time), but could I help him out and loan him $3,000 until then and he would pay it back all at once.
Then there were all of the times that he asked me to co-sign on loans and then he would give me the proceeds of the loan. Meaning that I would basically be taking out a loan to pay myself.
I think he comes up with these ideas to “hook” me. If I think there is something in it for me, like a loan paying me back next week, then I will surely bite. “After all,” he says, “it’s not like I won’t pay you back. You’ll get the money next week from the loan. You won’t even miss it.”
Despite the fact that I’ve heard it all before, I was speechless. My mind raced as fast as it could on the meds, but my words stumbled about. I told him that the plumber had just left the house and just like in August, it was an expensive visit. I reminded him about the money that I loaned him in August to move into the townhouse and how he promised he would pay me back because he knew that I had a plumbing bill that needed paid, but he never did. He reminded me that the loan would fund next week and I would have my money back.
I said that I had just had surgery and had taken meds and shouldn’t drive. He told me that I could let our oldest son drive me to the bank.
I said that I wasn’t feeling well enough to leave the house and it would have to wait until the morning. (Yes, I was trying to buy myself time.) He said that he needed it tonight because he didn’t want the stores to sell out of all of the good stuff. Then he quickly launched into how it’s for the boys.
My trigger. He knows that.
He said that he hoped I realized how hard he was trying to make things right. That’s why he wants this loan. He would rather go into debt than not “make things straight” with me. He said that he’s doing all that he can. He never goes anywhere or does anything.
Yeah, uh-huh. Except when you drove to Dallas for a Cowboys’ game.
“That was a free trip. You know I get free stuff sometimes.”
Uh-huh. And you took her kids and not your kids with you.
“Well I wanted to take my kids. I tried to take them.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire. Yep, this was what I needed to be strong. To say no.
Of course, he doesn’t take that answer very well. He continues to call and call, and when I won’t answer, he calls my son’s phone again and asks for me. As I heard my son coming my way with the phone, I jumped out of my bed and rushed into my bathroom. I made it in time and heard him tell his dad that I was in the bathroom and he would tell me that he called. Whew.
When I emerged from the bathroom, however, my son said, “So what are you guys fighting about? Why aren’t you answering his calls?”
We aren’t fighting. I just don’t feel well, so I’m not in the mood to talk to him right now.
“No, something’s going on. What’s going on? Does he want something? Does he want money again? If this is about Christmas, tell him that I don’t want anything.”
Please be a dear and go to your room and return to the age of 15 instead of 30.
Seriously, my son is older and wiser than I am. I turn into a bumbling teenager when my ex comes around and my son turns into the adult. I am tormented by guilt and the need to enable (my drug) and my son becomes stoic.
And yet, behind his brave face, I know there’s hurt. Hurt from the speculation of broken promises, so I know that there will be real hurt when it becomes a reality on Christmas morning. The thought of that hurt for this brave soul and his brother is unbearable for me. It leads me to consider buying them the promised gift and wrapping it from their father.
The wise person in my other ear reminds me that I have already exceeded my Christmas budget and that I just added new toilets to the tally. Reminds me that he is full of broken promises and never does anything to help me. But my guilt complex pleads on…you should be grateful for what you have. You should be willing to help those in need, especially when it affects your children. They don’t deserve to be disappointed. And think about how he must feel not to be able to buy them a gift. You know that he must be hurting. You have the power to alleviate his current fear and prevent your kids from another disappointment.
Then my angelic friend arrived to join forces with the other wise person in my other ear and talk me off the ledge. I did not do this to him. He did. I am in a better position in life because I made a plan and stuck to it. I work my butt off. I have a great Christmas planned for the boys and that is the only Christmas that I am responsible for. I will regret enabling him, especially when he is once again cold and venomous because he doesn’t think he needs me for anything.
So now I am left here with only my shock. And swollen nose.