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Justice.

March 12, 2014

“You ever feel like you still need……I don’t know…not revenge exactly……..justice, maybe?”

Liz and I were walking together. She’s been thinking about her ex a lot lately. She just moved into a new place. The first time in over 40 years that she’s lived alone. All her belongings in one place. After two years of separation she went to the house she designed and built with her ex to get some forgotten boxes. Now, she’s going through what I did when I excavated the storage unit. It was like unpacking ghosts. Liz is fighting her ghosts now.

“Yes!” She confessed. “All the time. For the lies, for the lost time, for leaving me.”

I’ve been feeling something similar.

~~~~~~~~~

A few months ago my daughter posted on facebook that she had a nice, long talk with her dad.

The next time I had her on the phone I asked, “How is he?”

“He’s seems really good,” she said. “We mostly talk about nerdy stuff like super heroes and movies. He’s seems different. I think the divorce really changed him. I think it was the kick in the pants he needed.”

“Well, you know that’s kind of every wife’s worst fear, that their husband will change after it’s too late,” I confessed. “But I’m happy for him. I hope he has changed.”

She talked about him with a level of calmness and acceptance I haven’t heard from her in a while. Lori was pretty pissed at him during the divorce. But maybe he really has changed. I hope so for his sake. He was a bitter, angry man.

My son’s been having panic attacks. My daughter has them too. Being a navy wife, she has access to the best health care available. She’s had physicals, tests and seen a counselor. Knowing what panic attacks are like, she’s been pressuring me to make sure Shawn sees a doctor. The last one he had was bad. He blacked out. It’s getting dangerous. He doesn’t have health insurance and I can’t really afford to pay full price for a doctor’s visit. So, it was with my daughter’s analysis of her father in mind that I asked her if she would talk to her dad about Shawn. Maybe if she talked to him about how scary panic attacks can be, she could convince him to help Shawn and pay for a doctor’s visit. She agreed to give it a try. She was going to call Shawn, then her father.

About an hour later she left a voice mail on my phone, in tears. The conversation had not gone well. I called back to find out what happened. As soon as Lori suggested he pay for a doctor’s visit, he lost it. He got angry with her for suggesting he give Shawn money. He said he didn’t trust Shawn or me. He was angry for not knowing about Shawn’s panic attacks earlier, though he’s been aware of them for over a year. Lori tried to tell him it was difficult for Shawn or I to talk to him because he becomes critical and accusational. She tried to tell him how scary panic attacks are. She suggested that he could do more than just give Shawn money, that he could give him emotional support, just be there for him. He got defensive. He didn’t see why it was his problem.  She ended up yelling at him on the phone, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

So, we were both wrong. He hasn’t changed. I’m not happy Lori had this awful exchange with him. I shouldn’t have put her in that position. I feel stupid for not seeing it coming. I feel guilty for asking her to talk to him. Yet, a part of me is also……vindicated maybe?……that now she understands what Shawn and I have been through and why we refuse to talk to him.

I told her to text him and tell him that there had been a misunderstanding. That I was going to handle it and that we didn’t need his help at all. She did. He responded, “Please explain.” I don’t think she’s talked to him since.

I was thinking about this when I was walking with Liz. I don’t want to be angry with him. I don’t want to see him or get revenge. I don’t want him to be unhappy. I wish he had a better relationship with Shawn. I wish he was more willing to help him and see him the way I see him. He still sees both of us and money-grabbing opportunists who only wanted money from him. “Nothing but a burden.” That was what we were to him. I haven’t spoken to him in months and when I did it was the briefest of exchanges. We’ve had no relationship of any kind for two years. But he still thinks of me as an untrustworthy burden. I don’t get it. I guess that’s how he’ll always see me. That’s why I left. I knew there was no amount of achievement or contribution or support I could provide that would ever be good enough for him.

“You know, mom” Lori said, “he talks to me about his suits and his new car and his watch and he can’t even pay for his son to see a doctor.” I didn’t have any explanation.

“Sometimes it takes a while to learn a lesson,” I started to say.

“He won’t ever learn,” she answered.

“No, not him. Us. It took us a long time and a lot of repeated behavior but I think we’ve finally learned our lesson. We can’t go to him for anything ever again.” I admitted. She agreed.

Despite our complete separation, we have two children together. So, every once in blue moon, I experience these pockets of interaction and it throws me for a loop and knocks me off my center.

It was weeks later when I asked Liz that question. I find myself wondering if Lori, Shawn and I are the only ones who know what he’s really like and how he treats his children. I find myself wanting some kind of pay back, some kind of fairness……justice is the only word I can think of. Like I somehow want him to be held accountable, to be found guilty. I want him to admit it, somehow. I want to see him on a stand with a judge banging a gavel. I want his righteousness disproved.

It’s a dangerous thing to want because I’m never, ever going to get it. There will never be justice.

Unless happiness is justice? I have a good job and my own place. I have friends and a hot lover. I’m respected at work. I have fun and most of the time, I’m pretty happy. I don’t have anyone putting me down and questioning my worth. AND……I have a great relationship with my two, amazing children. I’m so proud of them and they’re a part of my life and they know every day how much I love them and accept them just the way they are.

Shawn came over to my apartment the other morning I made brunch for him and listened to him talk about his recent climbing trip. He told me about a long talk he had with his sister. The relationship I have with my kids is the result of the over 20 years of cultivating. Of love and teaching and forgiveness and acceptance.

I guess Justice can go fuck itself.

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From → Rantings

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