Yes, stranger things could happen…I’m sure…but this was a pretty surprising “huh???” moment…
The ex was talking to the kids at bedtime, on speaker, as usual, them half listening, him trying to engage and not really succeeding. It’s sad really. I try not to listen or be in the room when they are ‘talking’ to him…this time, I was there. Since it was on speaker, he asked if we could talk for a quick bit after he finished with the kids. I said sure. I completely expected the conversation to revolve around the counselor’s appointment…
I actually expected some version of his paramour’s take on the comments I made to come out of his mouth, as has been the typical when he talks to me a few days after an encounter.
So I called him back when the kids were finished…
ME: Hey! So, what do you need?
EX: (long pause) Well, thanks for calling me back, I have a question for you. I probably shouldn’t be asking you this. You probably won’t answer it anyway. I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t even be bothering you with this. (and more general stumbling over himself to “NOT” ask some question…)
ME: Well, why don’t you just ask the question and leave it up to me to decide if I want to answer or not. I can choose for myself.
…(pause)…while I wait all the possible things running through my head…
– something about the marital house and his possible intention of moving in and bringing his girlfriend??
– something about the kids — visitation changes, schedules, advice, etc.??
– something about his family that he needs my help with (since I’m the one with that history in his life)??
– something about the relationship with the girlfriend that he needs help with??
EX: So…what is it about me and my history that makes me so broken?
(ahem) … (W. T. F.?????) … (hold on, did I hear that correctly) … (wait, don’t say anything) … (brain, process please?!) … (think about this) … (W. T. F.????) … (ummm)
EX: See, I shouldn’t even be asking you this. You can’t tell me this. I need to find the answer to this question somewhere else. I’m sorry I asked. Thanks for calling me back. I really appreciate it.
ME: Well…um…if you have any OTHER questions you want to ask me, I may be able to answer THOSE, but no, you’re right, I can’t answer that question for you.
EX: (more stumbling over himself)
ME: I’m happy to try and help if there is something I can do for you; if you have OTHER questions. (Like, what am I doing to contribute to the break in my relationship with our daughter, or what is one action I could take that would improve the relationship with the kids, or ANYTHING else that would be pertinent to the only thing I have need to discuss with you anymore – our connection with regard to the kids)
I can only assume he was drinking and feeling more lax about his decision making skills and suffering from inhibitions reduced. Maybe there was some discord in his love life. Maybe he and the paramour had a falling out…and I’m the only other person in his life that “KNOWS him” so he turns here?
I don’t know.
But I can’t help.
He’s right. He needs to seek the answer to that question. Individually. Not with my help. Not with a paramour whispering in his ear. Probably with a professional.
Maybe it is HIM who needs to be in counseling to help his relationship with his daughter, not HER!
I wish I could say I wasn’t sad. Or dwelling. But they would both be false statements.
I tried throughout much of our marriage to help him deal with his issues of emotional dishonesty with himself and others. His tendencies to withdraw and remain “unattached” in many regards. His “fake it till you make it” approach that never left the “fake it” stages.
I get it. He was protecting himself. It stems from his dysfunctional childhood. His parents sucked. I know all parents have a level of ‘suck’, but they REALLY sucked. They were unavailable and allowed environments that were unhealthy for the children. He and his sister had to protect themselves and there was always a huge element of denial and guilt induced by the adults.
His denial and self preservation continued on in to his adult life UNRESOLVED!!
But it isn’t my job anymore to try and help guide him.
It literally sucks the life out of me. I have no more left for him. And I have been left an empty shell towards his needs.
Yet I still feel empathy. And my “fix it” nature wants to be the savior.
He had no other questions. The conversation ended abruptly with another apology for having bothered me and thanks for returning the call.
Since then, we’ve acted like nothing happened.
My brain has a hard time forgetting. But I’m getting better at ignoring and making my filter work overtime so my mouth doesn’t overflow.
Yes, stranger things can happen, I know, but for this week, that was a big one.