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The E-Mail

July 14, 2015

Lori forwarded to me Mr. K’s response to her e-mail. She was angry. She titled the forwarded message, “Read at your own risk. Call me later.”

I read it at my desk at work. I found myself saying out loud, “Oh my God,” as I poured over each long paragraph.

I felt a tremendous sadness for anyone who would write a message like the one I was reading. And to his own daughter.

He began by saying that he had always been the odd man out in our family. The brunt of our jokes. That it was him against us. Us, being his wife that he met at 19, the daughter that he met as a baby and adopted as a toddler, and his only son. He claimed that we never accepted him. That he had been miserable during the entire 20 years of our marriage and that he had no choice but to bear it because he took vows and he was obligated.

He extolled the virtues of his continuous sacrifices for us, his little enemies, and claimed that in return all we saw him as, was an ATM. “Everyone was stealing from me,” he said. Stealing from him, I thought. His wife, his children…..we stole from him?

He said that he only stayed married to me because of our children and that once Shawn had graduated high school he had “had enough.” Paradoxically, he said that when I left him, “It broke his heart.”

He criticized my parenting, saying it left him no choice but to be harsh and cold. He was forced to be the bad guy. He admitted that yes, he was angry all the time but because of the abuse and isolation that was inflicted upon him. It was not his choice. He repeated this idea that his entire experience with his family: me, Lori and Shawn was not his choice at all. Life seemed to be something that happened to him. He was a victim. He was obligated. He sacrificed. He was righteous and good, where I was selfish, mean, irresponsible….a thief, even.

He told Lori that she had only heard one side of the divorce story and that she would never get to hear the truth because he couldn’t trust her with it. He hinted that there were things that I had done that Lori didn’t know anything about, that he could never tell her. That she would never hear from me. I don’t know what these terrible things are. I think I must have murdered someone and he had to bury the bodies. There’s no other explanation for the virulence of his unstated evidence against me.

He addressed that terrible conversation he had had with Lori, when she had asked him to help Shawn. He told her she had disrespected him. He reiterated that Shawn and I could not be trusted with money and that it was clearly out of his hands to help his son. He told Lori that the ball was now in her court. That if she wanted a relationship with him, she would have to earn his trust back. That she owed him an apology. This did not go over well with Lori.

There were long, repetitive paragraphs full of criticism of Shawn followed by extensive justifications and proof that Mr. K had been generous and righteous in his support of Shawn. He had been reasonable and good but had been burned by Shawn’s irresponsibility time and time again. And he would be damned if he was going to be made a fool of again, to have his heart broken again!

He repeated that he had done his best to counteract my horrible parenting and that it left him no choice at all but to be mean and harsh…..left out in the cold by his family, excluded from our “little reindeer games.” His words. (Lori joked with me later that if the three of us managed to have a reunion she would start a facebook page and call it Reindeer Games.)

He explained that the reason I had a good relationship with my children was because of his sacrifices. I “got to be the good guy,” and he was left with no choice but to have a bad relationship with his children. Of course, the fact that the kids and I spent about 90% of our time with each other, without him, is of course not a valid counterpoint to this assertion.

And, of course he blamed me, well Shawn and I for losing the business he had purchased, the reason we moved back to Lafayette to begin with. “I wasn’t strong enough to run my business and take your mother’s and Shawn’s abuses at the same time.” Of course I was out of his life only a few months after we moved to Lafayette but it does not surprise me at all that he blames me for losing the company. I knew it the minute I found out. I told Liz and my brother as soon as I learned the circumstances. “He blames me for losing the company. I know it.” They thought I was crazy. It made no logical sense. I had nothing to do with the company. In fact, Mr. K told me that protecting the company is what motivated him to file for divorce right after I left. But I knew better and his words confirmed it. It was all my fault in his eyes.

He told Lori, that her relationship with Shawn and I was in direct conflict with her relationship with him. It was a zero-sum game. To have one did not allow for the other. So in a sense, he gave Lori a choice: She could have a relationship with her mother and little brother or with him. He told her that if she didn’t respect him (his super-favorite word) maybe it was best if they didn’t have a relationship.

“You really have no idea who I am,” he wrote at the end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was an incredible read. Lori was angry. She decided not to respond at all. “To let the words lie,” as her husband advised her.

For me, it was a terribly sad thing to read. How could he reduce all that we were to each other….. some 25 years of knowing each other to such a morose exhibit of negativity and despair-laden victim-hood?

I wanted to have a trophy made for him. A medal. An award. He is so desperately waiting for the “You’re right, she is wrong, you are good, she is bad,” verdict handed to him for all the world to see.

His e-mail took me back to the days of our divorce process. His exchanges were the same. Maybe not quite that bad but laden with anger and blame. “I want nothing more than to be above your contempt,” I had once written him. I never will be.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the days that followed, his words haunted me. It was like someone was telling me the sky had never been blue. It had been red all the time. And I’m looking up at it thinking but I can see that it’s blue. I know it’s blue. Am I crazy? Has it been red this whole time? 

Much of my memories of life with Mr. K was him, at his computer, his laptop an appendage, never out of his reach. He was often the odd man out. The tense, angry, unreachable one. But what I remember is trying to get him to come with us, be with us, participate, laugh, be silly, lighten up, play. And sometimes he did. There were fun times. We laughed. But my attempts were usually met with anger and resentment.

What this e-mail shows me now, is that Mr. K was and is simply and unhappy person. An angry person who does not know how to forgive, to heal, to change or to allow happiness in his life. He is a man full of blame. Blaming everyone else for who he is right now. And a man who is so entrenched in the identity of a victim, a righteous, abused victim that he can’t even see that he is still hurting his family. That his victim-hood is an aggression and he has attacked the daughter he claims to love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lori, Shawn and I have hashed over this odd communication from him. Lori and I agree that only a year ago, it might have put us both in a tailspin of anger and hurt. The most we feel now, is sadness.

In the four years that I’ve been away from Mr. K, I never once regretted our life together. I couldn’t characterize all that we were, good, bad and ugly as a mistake. I know what my memories are. I know what my truth is. But now, having read the words he chose to describe his life with us, for the first time, I actually feel regret.

I think I made a big mistake. I think I was afraid. I didn’t believe that I could make it on my own. I was 19 with a child. Mr. K showered me with kindness and nurturing from the time we met. I knew he was a good person. I knew he wouldn’t be like my teenage boyfriend. But I ignored so many red flags because I didn’t believe in my own abilities. I was so young. I would’ve figured it out. Lori and I would have made it.

I shouldn’t have married him.

It’s a terrible conclusion to come to but I should have never allowed myself to settle for someone who was so incapable of being happy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is my blog, so clearly this is one-sided. I can make myself look however I want to.

Mr. K was a miserable, angry jerk. But I wasn’t perfect. I fucked up our marriage with him. I made a lot of mistakes and I behaved very foolishly, very often. It is not easy living with a messy, left-brained, inconsistent, flighty, artist-wanna-be depressive. I’m a pretty ridiculous person. Of course I was a ridiculous person at 19. And a happy person. I thought my ability to be happy and my love for him would be enough.

But we were just not right for each other.

And as happy as I am now, that fact is a sad truth that I will have to struggle to come to terms with.

 

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