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I’m Under a Spell

May 12, 2012

As the date of the finalization of my divorce approaches, I find myself feeling things I didn’t expect to, feeling emotions very different than the ones that caused me to flee, different than the anger and bitterness that has often invaded my mind as the process of negotiation progressed and the e-mails flew between my husband and I over the past six months. I’m feeling regret and confusion and loss. I want to see my husband again. My ex-husband, that is. I need to get used to calling him that. I want to talk to him, to see him, to be friendly with him. I miss him. I want a relationship with him. I kinda want to date him. I think I have a crush on him.

When I express this to my friends and family who have witnessed the process we’ve been through they are skeptical if not moved by the sentimentality of a soon-to-be-ex-wife who confesses still loving her soon-to-be-ex-husband. I can see the “awww, that’s cute” in their faces or hear it in their voices. Some say maybe it’s possible to date your ex. Others have different reactions. Disbelief. Anger, even. They remind me of the things said and done and wonder how I could have such feelings after the sum total of my experiences with this man.

I can’t explain why I feel this way and I don’t completly trust it. But it is very strong. I can’t stop thinking about him. I wake up and fall asleep thinking about him. I wonder how he is, what he’s doing. I wonder how he feels about me and what he hopes our relationship might be once this is all over. Does he hope we can be friendly and say hi to each other in public without the weirdness that exists now? Or does he wish he didn’t ever have to see me again?

When I left our apartment that day I was moved by strong feelings of exhaustion and despair, knowing that things were never going to change, that I wasn’t going to change him, that nothing I did was ever going to be enough to satisfy him, to please him, to gain his respect. Nothing has happened to change those conclusions. In the ensuing months, there have been terse, rambling e-mails, dripping with disdain and a dramatic sense of martyrdom. How can I still be in love with someone who has treated me so? In one of my responses to a long thread of settlement negotiation e-mails I wrote to him, “I want to finally be out of your life and above your contempt, if that’s possible.” I remember the emotion I felt when I wrote that. So, how can I be filled with these feelings of love and longing for him now? It doesn’t make any sense. I must be under a spell. I have to break it for my own good.

Though I’ve had confused feelings throughout this process, I think I can trace this current infatuation and its fantasy of reconnection to a conversation I had recently with a friend of his……used to be a friend of ours. It was with Gina, the wife of my (ex)husband’s best friend since grade school. The four of us had been friends for years, but he has always been closer to them. He lived at their house for months when he first bought the company that brought us back to Lafayette. He used to tell me that he confided in Gina and sought her business advice in the first weeks and months of owning his own company. What I found out later was that he was confiding in her about our failing marriage as well. She did her best to guide him and later us but it wasn’t enough. In the end we never fully followed her advice or implemented plans and changes that we agreed to. Things fell apart too quickly. I had once joked with Gina that if we divorced I knew that my (ex)husband would get custody of them. When we did separate I remained true to that jokingly-made promise. I didn’t call either of them, though there were many times when I really wanted to. I let him have them as a support group without the complication of my involvement. This meant letting go of caring about what they thought of me and wondering what he was telling them. I had to convince myself that it didn’t matter and for a while I did convince myself. I didn’t care.

Then my son, who also has a close relationship with the couple, told me that Gina called him and wanted to talk to him about a job opportunity. I thought it was great and assumed it was with my (ex)husband’s knowledge, permission or encouragement. He called me after the meeting to tell me what she said. Now, my son is not the most accurate source of information. He has an interesting relationship with the truth as I know all to well but some of the things that he told me Gina said, really upset me. The biggest button pusher was the phrase, “You know, if your mom would’ve just stuck it out a little longer, things might have turned out okay.” Wow. This threw me for a loop for so many reasons. Like it was just that simple. I quit and didn’t stick it out. My mind instantly started wondering what in the world my (ex)husband was telling them about how things ended. Then there’s the context of the statement. This was said as part of an overall lecture about life and planning for the future. Gina was using my (ex)husband as an example of how our son should plan out his future. “Your father has a plan. Look at how he’s living. He barely has anything in the apartment.” This too pushed some buttons. I’m living in the apartment equivelant of Motel 6. Yes, I did take a lot of stuff out of our apartment but only with permission and at the insistance of my (ex)husband.

After hearing all this, I was upset and I decided I wanted to talk to Gina and break my self-imposed silence with those who I considered friends of my (ex)husband’s. I called her place of work, just to get her phone number, planning to calm down a bit and plan out the conversation more before actually speaking to her. Before I knew it, someone was saying to me, “Hold on a second, I’ll see if she’s in,” and then I had her on the line. The conversation grew from a very awkward beginning which found me saying more than once, “Maybe this was a mistake.” We talked for a long time. Gina painted a picture of my (ex)husband as a sad, lonely, stressed man who is doing his best to get through each day and is spending, “many a lonely night alone in that apartment.” She confirmed that indeed he had said to her after I left, “If only Marie had stuck it out a little longer.”

That one phrase has been swimming in my head and has turned my understanding of what happened between us upside down, placing me under the spell I am in. It says to me that he didn’t want me to leave, that he didn’t want to end our marriage, that if he had had his way, I would have stayed and we would still be together. It says that he thought we might have worked it out. If he thought that then, how does he feel now? Is this really what he wants? My mind races through past e-mails and mixed messages. When I informed him that I was unfriending him on facebook because I couldn’t bare to see what he was doing etc….I wrote, “I guess it makes sense that you should be handling this better than I am. This is what you wanted.” He replied, “It doesn’t make me happy and it’s not what I wanted.” After a recent e-mail exchange he wrote, “Just because I don’t tell you how I feel about you doesn’t mean I don’t feel anything. I do feel many things.” These little morsels of compassion and feeling are needles in a haystack of animosity, contempt and coldness. What does it all mean? My crazy little head has taken these musings and turned them into an unrealistic fantasy of a changed man and a reunion of soul mates. It’s insane.

My daughter once said of him, “He uses compassion as a weapon.” Just when you think his contempt of you knows no bounds, he shows a rare glimpse of his love and caring for you. I know she’s right. He did a similar thing to me when during settlement negotiations he expressed a newly found, deep concern over the possibility that I might not have health insurance, saying that if something happened to me he wouldn’t be able to turn away. Whatever that means. When I assured him that he would face no financial liability if that happened, he reiterated that it was concern for me personally that was motivating him, not financial concerns.

I have to remind myself that this is a man who creates delusions and paints different pictures of who he is for different people. Maybe he did go to Gina and say sadly, “If only she had stuck it out, I might have been able to please her,” taking the blame off of himself. I’m sure he didn’t go around telling his friends, “Well, you know I criticized her all the time. I told her I resented it when I came home late at night and she was up painting. She had to beg me for money to buy groceries and medication and I made her feel like shit because she hadn’t found a job yet. Not to mention all the spending I did while I was telling her not to. So, yeah, the hypocrisy and toxic environment I created was too much for her and she finally had enough and left.” There are things his friends will never know. This same man who claimed he wished I had stuck around found a lawyer, had divorce papers written and had filed for divorce 17 days after I left the apartment. Without a word to me about it. No attempt at contact. No talking it over beforehand. Seventeen days. Doesn’t really seem like the actions of someone who really wished their wife would’ve stayed, does it?

So, why then did I just earlier today send him a message asking how his trip is going? Why am I hoping against hope that he will respond to that message positively, planting a seed of friendliness that will grow into a new relationship? Why do I miss his presence and his face and his smell? Why do I want to be in his company again? Why do I even care about him at all? I’m under a spell. It’s the only explanation I can come up with. It better be broken soon because there’s no way I’m going to survive in the same town as him if I don’t snap out of it!

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From → Rantings

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