Last weekend I took the boys to the Big City. MonoBoy was registered to participate in a competitive basketball camp, and LoverBoy… Well, I bribed him to go on the makeshift family weekend with tickets to a Major League Soccer Game. And I invited his girlfriend to spend a day by the pool with us so that he wouldn’t pout the entire time. Let’s just pretend we’re a happy, normal family. For one weekend. Is that too much to ask?
Almost. It was a packed weekend. We had some fun in the sun, got some back-to-school shopping finished, and of course, the main events – basketball and soccer. Whew, exhausting.
I’m even MORE exhausted as a result of a startling phone call I received at 2:00am Saturday night. There I was, happily slumbering, dreaming of my acceptance speech for my Great Mother Award for planning such a whirlwind of a weekend in lieu of a real vacation, when RRRIIIINNNNGGGG…RRRRIIIINNNNGGGG.
Holy Batman, Robin, what the heck is that? I fell out of the bed and lunged for the phone on the dresser. I was so completely jarred that I didn’t even look at caller ID. Did it really matter after all? If someone was calling at this hour, it wasn’t to sell me a magazine subscription. And since I haven’t had a date in two years, it was safe to rule out a booty call. Someone was either in the hospital or in jail.
When I heard his voice, I immediately settled on JAIL. “Hey, what are you doin? Hiccup.”
I’m sleeping. Just like everyone else in the hotel. And probably most of the people I know.
“What? You’re ashleep at thish hour?”
After his awkward attempt at jovial (drunken) banter, I asked, “So are you going to tell me why you’re calling?”
[I'm going to pause right here and advise you to take a seat. Prepare yourself. Unlike me, who was completely unprepared and standing in the hallway of a hotel when I nearly FELL over upon hearing his response. Okay, so are you ready?]
“I was calling to find out how this is going to work. Do I have to take you on a date or can I just move my s#%t back in?”
Drunken man who sounds familiar, but surely has a gun to his head or a wrong number, say what?
I swear to you that’s what he said. Only with more slurs. Seriously, I couldn’t make it up if I tried. And I certainly didn’t expect it. You know, on account of the fact that he HATES me.
Apparently, he and the girlfriend had a fight sometime earlier in the week and he had been looking for a dwelling of his own. My guess is that the prospects were bleak, so he decided that living with his sworn enemy was his best option. For whom? Well, him obviously. Isn’t it always all about him?
My mind was scrambling as he rambled on. How do I get out of this conversation with the least amount of collateral damage? I knew that the slur indicated that I was a mere insignificant comment away from the disappearance of dear Dr. Jekyll and the sudden appearance of the evil Mr. Hyde. Turns out, I didn’t even have to say a word. He gradually morphed as he talked about the struggles of blending a family and how much time and effort his wasted on somebody else’s kids. He became more hostile as he lamented about the current state of his relationship with his own children. Without saying a word, I suddenly became the target of his anger. It’s my fault that his kids have turned against him. Oh, hello sir, I wondered how long it would take for you to develop the drug to release your evil side.
To say that the conversation took a turn for the worse is infinitely more than an understatement, but the good news is that it gave me my out. I was already the bad guy, so I didn’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. So I told him that I was too tired at this wee hour of the morning to endure a bashing session dedicated to me. He tried to object that it wasn’t a bashing session, but he only wanted me to admit my wrongdoings. How I had wronged him by carrying out my personal vendetta by using the kids. He might have said other things, but it was hard to hear him over the dial tone. Oops.
He called back, but c’mon now, did he really expect me to answer? Well, yes, obviously he did, as evidenced by the flurry of angry texts that followed, demanding that I own up to my evil deeds so that we could put it behind us, since he knew that I still loved him. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid, dude.
The last text at nearly 3:00am declared, “Forget I asked. I don’t need you, Ms. High and Mighty!”
Now I’m not going to lie. I was awake for each of those texts, even though I chose not to respond. And I didn’t sleep well after that. I wasn’t so much bothered by what he said about me being a vindictive b#%&h. (No guarantees it won’t haunt me in the future.) I was really just tossing and turning and trying to analyze my emotions. Or lack thereof.
Oh sure, I experienced a certain level of panic. That emotion was there. All contact with him seems to require some mental maneuvering, which brings a certain amount of fear and anxiety. I just didn’t feel anything warm and fuzzy or nostalgic in reaction to his declaration of love. This, I realized, was a HUGE change. Once upon a time, not so long ago, I would have believed him when he said that we shared something. I would have argued with him when he said that he was willing to give up sex because he knows how much I hate it. With you, dude, I only detest sex with you. And well, quite possibly other drunken, abusive men. When he talked about the ways that I turned his boys against him, I would have cited all of the examples that I was his biggest cheerleader with the boys. Instead, I got off the phone.
As I stared at the ceiling, I understood what a monumental change this is for me. Before, I would have felt a sense of obligation in response to his statement that I am the only person that really knows him and loves him. I now realize that, although the first part of the statement might be true (I do know him), the latter part about loving him surely isn’t. Not any more. Yes, there was a long period of time, like 16 years or so, that I loved him more than anything. I would have done anything for him and quite often did. I stood by as he made one stupid choice after another. I clung to those promises and false words of hope that we were something special.
We’re not special. In fact, we are practically cliché. He is the alcoholic and I am, or was once, his ever faithful enabler. He doesn’t love me. He simply needs me to save him. He sees a possible bottom approaching, and despite his OBVIOUS hatred of me, he’s willing to ask me to be his safety net.