Sunday, June 10, 2007

burning bridges...

I didn't see my ex-husband on this last trip to Florida. You'd think: So? doesn't ex-husband imply past tense? Who cares? And yes, ex does imply past tense. But relationships are often more complicated than they appear. Ours has been fraught with a number of complicated inconsistencies, and the sum total of our own past tenses did not add up to the thirteen-year-marriage we barely survived, nor the friendship we have since tried to maintain.

When we met, we both expressed the thought that we had known each other before... in another lifetime. I believed it... lock, stock and barrel, and actually, nothing there has changed. It's just one of many reasons I stayed married for so long after common sense said: BIG mistake. There were other reasons: my inability to set boundaries contributed heavily to the mess we were making. I avoided conflict in a number of ways: giving into or avoiding confrontation on his views of politics, art, religion, clutter, spending money... his jealousy of my kids and the time I spent with them was countered by spending more time with him and less with them. It wasn't enough. Eventually I just spent more time at work, where I (the real, the free, the unique I) was appreciated. I was a coward.

I was also afraid of burning bridges. Somewhere in my past it had been stamped into my consciousness "Do NOT burn your bridges."

We had planned to get together at some point, but not much was working out. To be honest, I didn't much care. He had arrived in Hendersonville (unexpectedly) my first night at Kanuga and that had creeped me out. It felt like stalking, and I had no internal resources for handling stalking. The more I thought about it, the more I freaked, so I didn't think about it... until he pressed for a time to see me again.

I emailed him. Email is a cowardly way to carry on a relationship, even one that doesn't exactly exist. It's not pleasant to know that about myself again but there it is.

In the email I told him his surprise appearance at Kanuga had felt like stalking, and that subsequent remarks about my son had ticked me off. I was angry with him, that part was clear, but the rest was a mess. He emailed back, angry now, himself. Wished me a happy life (I could read the gritted teeth between the lines) and... of course I caved. I agreed to see him, but he insisted on a phone conversation. I couldn't bear a phone conversation, so we never did get together.

(to be continued...)

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