Sunday, March 27, 2011

Today was a weird day

After church  I got a haircut and then took a nice, long bike ride (I'm really trying to get back in shape again since, after taking my new job, I really haven't ridden at all), and finally settled down on my couch to watch some TV.  I had just sat down when Madam X (my oh-so not creative moniker for the ex-wife) called me.  Now, she's not supposed to do that.  There is a no-contact order in place in our divorce.  Neither one of us is allowed to call or otherwise contact the other.

But she called me.  For the last six months or so (maybe more) she has suffered from some weird thing with her skin, where she gets these dry spots that itch and drive her crazy, but it has all gotten exponentially worse since the divorce.  She originally thought it was because the master bath at the house had a pretty nasty mold problem, but they cleaned that up (by completely renovating the room) and it's only gotten worse.  She called me crying asking if I would take her to the hospital.  She couldn't find her insurance card, and Bluto is out of town, so she called me. 

My brother thinks I should have just said, "go to hell," but I know the right thing to do, when someone calls you crying asking you for help, is to help.  So, I drove over, picked up her and the kids, dropped the kids off at a sitters, and then took her to urgent care.  Until the divorce is finalized she is still on my insurance, so I gave her my card, and helped her through it.  The diagnosis is "stress-induced hives."  Then I picked up the kids and took them all home.

So, this is weird.  OK, so it proves once again that all these things like court orders and legal documents are all at the sufferance of her convenience.  She wants them, as long as she doesn't need me.  Then they don't matter.  Just like how she tried to convince the lawyers and courts that the fact that I struggle with pornography meant it was unsafe for the kids to stay the night with me, yet when she needs a night to herself she would always (this is pre-divorce) have them stay with me. 

But there's more.  She divorced me.  It was her decision.  I have no control over it, but if it were all my choice, this is not what I would choose.  I didn't even know, really, that it was coming.  I found out about it when the policeman in my yard served me with papers.  She had time to prepare.  Yet she is the one suffering the most from it.  It's hard on me - all the time alone is the worst - but I'm doing OK.  She has lost a LOT of weight and is starting to look very unhealthy, and now every inch of exposed skin I could see is covered in hives.  The stress is physically effecting her.  All I've got is this vague sense of depersonalization to bother me - and my therapist (who in the other half of his job works with people with dissassociative identity disorder, so he would know) says there is nothing pathological going on with that. 

Why am I handling this so much better than she is?  This was her choice.  She forced this on me.  She removed me from my home and took my kids from me.  She has her boyfriend, who she left me for.  Why am I doing OK, and she is now physically sick from it?  I don't know. 

And why, of all people, did she call me?  OK, so she needed the insurance information, but, still.  OK, so Bluto was out of town, but she has plenty of other friends.  Our friend RS once said something to me that effected me to a massive degree.  He said that, from his perspective, one of my most characteristic personality traits is that I do the right thing with no thought to the consequences.  That I just do what I feel is right, regardless.  I guess, if RS is right (and I'm in no position to judge) then Madam X, after being married to me for 11.5 years, would know that. 

And, despite it all, it was the right thing to do to help.  She called me crying and when she asked me, "Can you take me?" it sounded like a scared little girl who didn't know what to do.  There's no way on earth I could have NOT helped, damn the consequences.  But that she would turn to me...  I don't know.  Some of my friends think that, eventually, she is going to be hit with an absolutely massive sense of regret because of all the amazing things she judged as worthless and just threw away.  Again, I am in no position to judge (although I'd like to think I'm a good guy, and that any girl would be lucky to have me), but she certainly seems to know I'm not going to turn her away when she needs help.  I'm still the one that will save her, no matter how much Bluto wants to play the knight in shining armor saving the damsel in distress.  That may be the role he wants to play, but when push comes to shove, she calls me.

That's interesting.  Back in September when she said I couldn't be Therese's friend anymore, she admitted to me that she was in love with Bluto (no, the irony and hypocrisy didn't escape me even then), but she would also say, in the heat of passion, that when it came to sexual attraction, I rated a LOT higher than he ever would.  That if things were decided strictly by hormones and gonads, I would win every time.  He's trying to take my place now.  Sounds like he just doesn't measure up.  Pun definitely intended.

So, what if she comes crawling back some day, asking me to take her back?  She's not there yet.  I have talked to her now three times since the divorce went down -- twice in mediation, and once today -- and all three times she has said something like, "You and I both know that this is for the best, and will make things better."  At this point is sounds like she's still trying to convince herself.  But what if that fails?  What if she comes asking me to take her back?

That's a really tough question to ask.  On one hand, as a Christian, I feel it is my duty before God Himself to do whatever I can to make it work with her.  On the other hand, she has made my life hell for a very long time.  The last 9 months especially, but it wasn't a party before that.  I don't WANT her back.  I don't WANT to be married to her.  She IS right, this WILL be better.  This IS for the best.  And I don't know of any standard, held by ANY Christian tradition, that would deny me the right to find someone else.  I married her because, when I had decided she wasn't the one for me and that I was going to leave her, she got pregnant on purpose (by her own admission).  I didn't want her then.  Then she lied and cheated and divorced me without any justification based on my actions.  I am free.

Free to decide for myself what is best.  I also don't think any standard held by any Christian tradition would deny me the right to try and make it work.  So, what do I use my freedom for, if, some day, this question is put before me?  I don't know.  And that, more than anything else in my life, bothers me.


  1. I have heard of that kind of 'can you help me?' thing happening fairly commonly between exes (heck, it's not terribly uncommon for exes to make booty calls to each other). Of course, it doesn't seem quite fair that she can break the court order as she pleases, but you certainly don't dare to (be careful that she can't use your response to her distress call against you. . .)

    At this point, as you say, you're not under any obligation one way or the other - either to walk away, or to take her back if she asks. Taking this post together with the following one, if you never had a valid marriage in the first place, your options are open, and if you never should have married each other in the first place, here's your chance to set that particular wrinkle in the space-time continuum right. On the other hand, even if you weren't validly married for those 11+ years, you're not exactly nothing to each other, either (having made two kids together being Exhibit A for that hypothesis). . .

    So I don't think there are any particular 'demands' on you, one way or the other, in terms of right-vs-wrong. . .

  2. Seconding what Craig mentions, you're not obligated any more than you would be if she was a completely new woman that you needed to decide, "stay with" or "not". By her actions (and your description of the non-marriage, now dissolved), she's a single woman, you're a single man- so if it should come up, evaluate your choices as an 11.5 year-old-older, mature adult. (then tell her buzz off. oops, that may have been mean, but still, I feel for ya).

    As to your question, "what do I use my freedom for?", you'll answer that when you need to. In the meantime, God knows what He wants you to learn, and why- if you can, anyway, trust in Him