I want to talk about the ex-wife. Off the record and certainly not for attribution. I’m supposed to like her. Well, maybe no one really expects me to like her, but I’m not supposed to be threatened by her. Threatened? Is that even the right word? Not quite – I’m not supposed to hate her. Hate, that is the right word. I’m not supposed to, but I do.
I never wanted an ex-wife. I never wanted an irresponsible, fun-loving, flighty, self-centered person who just adores her children, but simultaneously treats them as items of convenience - consumable goods put on this earth to feed her emotional needs.
I hate her because she’s fun. I’m not fun. I’m way too serious, too intense, too uptight. I keep being told she’s harmless, she’s not malicious. She’s fun. As if her blindness to the effect of her actions, her unwillingness to take responsibility for her life and the effect she has on others is somehow an excuse. I feel a boiling rage that really is too strong for the circumstance (remember, I am too intense). Letting your emotional preteen who has a hard time sleeping drink two cans of super-caffeinated pop at eight o’clock at night is apparently fun. Sending him home to our house, where he can’t fall asleep until four o’clock in the morning and rises fatigued, agitated and mighty surly when I wake him the next day is not fun. For me. It’s also really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But it infuriates me. My anger is disproportionate to the crime. There must be a cumulative effect. But even that doesn’t quite make sense. I don’t want to believe that I’m crazy, that my reaction is way out of line, so I won’t. At least for now, I am going to continue with the belief that I am right and she is wrong. Because I am writing this and it makes me feel better.
Parking her car every day in the reserved “Expectant Mother” space a few feet from the main entrance of the Mall when she worked at the kiosk. Not pregnant, youngest baby is seven. Argh! Seriously, can you hear me yell? I laugh, kind of piteously – aghast at first. Who would do that? I would not – I’m far too proper. The kids notice and ask her about it. She laughs it off and says it’s ok because she’s been pregnant and has children. I know, I know. What does it have to do with me? Why do I even care? But time and time again we drop the kids off to meet her and there her little white beat-up NOT PREGNANT car is . . . and has been all day long. Not in the back of the parking lot with other employees or on the far side to get in a walk, right in the "ladies first" front and center spot. And each time, I am appalled. This is not the kind of injustice that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. raised crowds to their feet over, but it is injustice! Isn’t it? I hear the pregnant, swollen-footed, aching-back shoppers cry out for me to be angry with her on their behalf.
Her daring parking must be part of what makes her fun. But why does it even matter to me? Why have I constructed this paradigm of comparison in my mind? And more importantly, why do I waste anytime residing there?
Before I answer that question, have a seat on the couch here with me and let me ask another one. How did her conscience allow her to keep getting food stamps, while she was in jail, for children of whom she no longer has custody? Perhaps it is the same principle as for late night caffeine and parking – worldly laws do not apply. I want to call and report her, oh how I do. But how does my conscience allow me to think vengeful thoughts toward the mother of children that I love? How does my conscience allow me to fight with my husband over things that an ex, who really is not my ex, does? She was out of his picture before I came along, but through the magic of my mind I keep photoshopping her right back in. My conscience is confused and it is not having fun.
My guiding aim through life has always been self-improvement. Learn and grow and be a better person. I’m a rotten person when it comes to her. A whiny, selfish bitter little brat. It’s ridiculous and would be almost comical if it weren’t so damaging. This is off-the-record and not for attribution and yet how satisfying to put down on paper the bad things she’s done. I can sink my teeth into these juicy morsels. Scintillating, powerful – isn’t she dreadful?! I think she ought to be, and yet the world seems to think she’s wonderful.
I’m all full of envy and jealously because I’ve tried so hard to live life right; to follow the rules, be responsible and think of others. Yet it turns out I’m caught short by this unexpected entity, a virus in my system. I do not look very pretty in the dark heart of my soul when I think on her. I persist because it’s delicious and powerful to be this angry, to be this resentful of someone who messed up the kind of life that I should have had. A wonderful husband and beautiful kids, a right proper family, and she bungled it. Threw it all away for a fling. Don't get me wrong - I don't want her life the way it is now, don't even want to be who she is in terms of personality, but it's tough to navigate through a life filled with the collateral damage of someone who doesn't seem at all concerned with minimizing the primary explosions, who seems to rather enjoy and thrive on them instead. And yet, when I turn my attention to the wonderful husband I have and the beautiful children of his that I get to share, I realize that she's kind of like a satellite to me and I can reclaim peace on my earth.