One of my ex-husband’s favorite past times was to take me driving in the country. He preferred me in the passenger seat assuming the role of his helpmate, (God forbid I should take a turn at the wheel) and we’d seek out lakes where we could rent a boat for the day or little barbecue joints where the food was finger-lickin’ good. He liked the feeling of traveling through wide open spaces, imagining that he was the first man to discover these spots, despite the fact that he could clearly see the fast food wrappers and rumpled beer cans dotting the landscape beside the clumsily paved back roads. Oblivious to the obvious, he convinced himself that he was a true explorer, a man to be reckoned with and so too, he saw our marriage and my will as virgin territory over which he had absolute dominion. I knowingly let him take the wheel and I’ll be the first one to admit it. But while I blithely focused on the road ahead, blinders and rose colored glasses securely in place, I began to realize that I’d lost my sense of direction while succumbing to the mind-numbing bliss of letting him take control. And even as he began to veer seriously off course I said nothing. My bad.
When I finally awoke from my emotional coma, I realized it was time to wrest control of the vehicle before we crashed and burned. More than anything he wanted absolute power over our lives. But once he had the power he had no idea what to do with it so he just kept barreling ahead as if the mere fact that he was moving meant everything was OK. Unfortunately we weren’t even in the vicinity of OK. As far as I could see, I had no choice but to relegate him to second chair and he didn’t like this position one bit. I do have to give him credit though. He was a fantastic back seat driver. And from this new vantage point he continued to bark directions, as if he was still driving the bus, putting the pedal to the metal and doing a fine job. It was so annoying! He wanted me to drive just the way he had, because he knew with unyielding certainty just how to get us back on track after he was the one who’d gotten us so turned around in the first place. It was unbearable to watch, let alone listen to and before long; I had no choice but to tell him that it was time to exit the vehicle.
If I ever get hitched again, I’ll be sure to administer a driving test to the guy who claims he can take me on the ride of my life, before I tie the knot, because I’d like all of the thrills and none of the chills next time around. For now, I’m happy to cruise down the highway of life on my own with nobody in the backseat telling me how it ought to be and where I went wrong. In hindsight, it if I had to do it all over again with my ex, which thankfully I won’t, I would not only tell him to climb in the back seat, I’d go one step further and lock him in the trunk. But knowing him, he’d find a way to voice his opinions even from there.