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When Your Ex is Doing Better than You and You’re Trying Be Cool

May 15, 2017

My son Shawn and his dad (my ex), Mr. K have had a pretty rocky relationship. We always disagreed about how to raise him. I think it’s one of the reasons we divorced. The divorce was hard on Shawn and he’s struggled with needing to be on good terms with his dad for several years.

So, when he told me recently that Mr. K was flying him out to Atlanta for a father-son week, I was happy for him.

I talked to him today about the trip. They had a great time. They went kart-racing and fixed cars and went bar hopping. Shawn met Mr. K’s new girlfriend and said she was an accomplished professional with an expensive condo and a cool, nice person. “She didn’t try to hard to get me to like her,” he said making comparisons to Mr. Canada who didn’t make a good first impression on him.

I was genuinely happy for him. I knew he needed this to happen. And it sounded like Mr. K was finally happy, too.

I listened to him on the phone going on about his great weekend, trying to hold it together. I could feel my mood teetering from ok to not so good. I had been feeling pretty discouraged the past few days and leaning towards a nice little depressive episode.

Then he told me this: He said one night he was out on the balcony of Mr. K’s apartment, smoking a cigarette. One of Mr. K’s friends found him and began lecturing about how he shouldn’t smoke and he should quit. Mr. K came out and said, “No. No parenting this weekend. This weekend is just for fun.”

“He said that?” I asked Shawn.

“Yeah,” he replied. “He never once tried to be all passive aggressive or anything.”

“Wow.” I said. “I think I’m going to cry.”

When I got off the phone, I got into the shower and did just that.

Why was I so sad? I tried so hard for so long to get Mr. K to see that he was too harsh, too strict and too serious all the time. I did everything I could to encourage him to cut the kids more slack. To see them as human beings. To lighten up. To laugh.

Those last few weeks and months that we were together had been brutal. The man I left was certainly not the man who proclaimed a fun-only weekend. Maybe I was sad that he could get to that place without me. Maybe he needed to rid himself of me to be happy. Maybe I was the one who was holding him back. Maybe he was right about me.

I stood in the shower and let the hot water pour over my body. My daughter’s shower. An air mattress in the next room where I’ve been sleeping for about 2 months now. A table set up in the garage where I retreat to job search and be by myself. I had no money and thousands of dollars of debt. A car that needed repairs and no job. I felt like a loser.

He was fine. He was making good money, a new girlfriend, living in a big city, having a great time with our son.

I felt the weight of his past judgements on me. I was flighty. I didn’t make enough money. I made stupid mistakes. I was a failure. I wondered if he had been right all along. I wondered if I had made a big mistake, leaving everything and coming to Oregon.

I pulled myself together and tried to stop crying. I didn’t want Lori to see me like that. It was mother’s day too. I went for a walk and explored under an old wooden train trellis, finding a security breach in the back fence of the public works yard.

That evening, I talked to Mr. Canada and confessed my feelings to him.

He was kind and complimentary. He told me what I needed to hear. He thinks I’m great.

But so did Mr. K when I first met him.

This July will be 5 years since we divorced. I guess that’s not enough time to be completely healed. Because today I feel like I found out that he won. I know I’m not supposed to think like that. It’s not a competition blaa blaa blaa….but that’s how I feel right now. He won. And he was right. Without me, he flourished. I’m still just the idiot flying by the seat of my pants, winging it and somehow hoping that something will magically change along the way.

 

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From → Rantings

One Comment
  1. Just remember, it was just one week. He could not sustain the charade if your son actually lived near him. He would return to his past ways. Anyone can fake it for one week. After all, he was on his best behavior.

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