Most days I feel at relative peace about the
bum rap I got dynamic between my ex and me. I have reframed negatives into positives.
For instance: having Luca just every other weekend works for everyone. Luca is a high-octane teenage boy who likes the bells-and-whistles stuff. His father is a high-octane man who likes the bells-and-whistles stuff. There’s symmetry there. And, at the risk of sounding retro and sexist, I do think that teenage boys need to be with their dads.
Another upside to Luca spending most of his time with Prince: he fights with his dad a lot, and not much with me. I like that. I like the fact that they fight a lot (not healthy, but true) and I like the fact that Luca and I don’t spend enough time together to have that many fights.
The fury I felt after being strong-armed into giving Prince all major decisions for Luca has subsided. I am palpably happier, and lighter-in-my-steppier, now that I’m no longer attempting to co-parent with Attila the Hun.
Now, I rarely sweat the small stuff. A few weeks ago, I arranged a haircut for Luca. Prince sent me explicit instructions, complete with photos of approved coifs, for the hair stylist to follow. Not so long ago that kind of control-freak move would have sent my blood pressure soaring. But this time, I stayed calm and carried on.
Finally, there’s this: I don’t get child support, even for Franny. This used to infuriate me. But when I put the scary part (financial insecurity) on the shelf, I feel relief. Because I don’t have to beg Prince for the check every month. Now that he doesn’t pay me child support, he has way, way less leverage with which to torture me. I like that.
Even with my higher-planed, evolved mindset, I still find myself occasionally wanting to drop Prince in a vat of hot lava.
Today was one of those occasionsallys.
Prince made all of the kids’ summer plans. In return, I asked for one thing. I asked to send Franny to visit my sister’s family (aka The Unimportant Relatives) for five days in June. I asked, very politely, in an Our Family Wizard e-mail.
The reply that I got? NO. NO, because he might want to take her somewhere those five days and he’s not ready to commit. NO, because I should schedule Franny’s trip to see my family during the other weeks that she’s in town. NO, because he is a VIP around whom other people have to cartwheel and I’m not.
He didn’t actually say that last part, but that’s what he meant.
I immediately wrote back something snarky, but deleted it. Then I wrote back, trying to appeal to reason and reciprocity, until I remembered who I was dealing with, so I deleted that.
I sat in my chair at work, heart pounding, homicidal thoughts racing around in my head like bumper cars, unable to focus except when I had to hospitalize a girl who threatened to drink hair spray.
Finally, I sent my friend Miranda a Facebook message explaining Prince’s latest maneuver. Miranda also has a VIP ex and she has been known to talk me down off a ledge. She is kind of like having a Divorce Anonymous sponsor. So when she advised me to “back off from OFW,” for a day, I complied.
I went home, put Franny to bed, and drank a glass of wine. And I realized that Prince wasn’t making me feel crazy; my struggle to accept reality was.
I was expecting parity where none exists. I had forgotten that my ex is someone who will never be capable of reciprocity. I had forgotten that he will never think to himself: I got everything I wanted post-divorce so I’ll throw Pauline a bone with this trip thing.
And when I remembered what I’d forgotten, peace started to seep slowly back into my psyche. The trip issue would resolve eventually, I told myself, and wasn’t worth having an aneurysm. I felt so much saner shifting my focus from what I couldn’t control — Prince — to what I could control — my thoughts.
But is it so terrible if I still, occasionally, think about dropping him in a vat of hot lava?