I'm standing in the kitchen, in a bathrobe, and suddenly realize I am leaning on the counter for support or I will fall, and that I have been staring at the same spot out the window for the past 5 minutes.
It's quiet today. My five year old is home, playing happily in the living room with makeup and toys and singing to herself. My husband is in his office working. I should be working. But I am not, because it is too quiet, and I feel it bubbling, about to boil over.
My husband, who is taking a break from his work, walks into the kitchen and finds me there, staring, still in my bathrobe at 12:30pm. I meet his eyes, waiting to see disgust or question or puzzlement. But my eyes are met with recognition, with sadness, with helplessness.
"What can I do for you?" he asks as he pulls me into his arms.
I look up at him and wish I had an answer. He has done everything he can, this wonderful man who adopted so much baggage by choosing me as his wife. He has held me and told me it will be ok. He paid for the lawyer that I could not afford on my own. He reassured me when I questioned myself. He believes in me, in my goodness, and knows that I tend to believe and stress over what others say about me.
"I wish I weren't like this. So weak and pathetic." As I speak, I remember back to all the hardships I have been through-my dad's surgery, my divorce and all leading up to it, my parents' divorce. I remember friends and even strangers commenting to me how strong I am. I realize now, as I stand here in my bathrobe, that I am ridiculously weak....not strong at all. Not even close. When the going gets tough...I can't function. If being strong means just continuing to be alive everyday, then sure, call me strong.
He kisses me softly, and releases me back to my leaning. I continue to stare out the window, unable to move, because moving would not only hurt, but it would interrupt the battle raging in my head. Am I asking for too much support? What do I actually need? Am I being money hungry? Did I do the right thing? I know I'm not a C word or a bitch, but am I wrong? Does he have a point? Should these rules apply to him? Should I have at least tried to work it out first?
I answer myself with common sense. My common sense is in control in all of my actions. I let the lawyer file the petition and send my ex the waiver. I cooperate with everything that I know is right. But my thoughts: they are at war.
The next morning, the texts and emails begin to flood in. He has been contacted by my lawyer, and he is freaking out, combative and irrational. I am awoken to emails from the lawyer saying that he has been calling, that he wants a transcript of our conversations, that he will be hiring his own lawyer, that he'll be seeking joint custody. My texts are a barrage of guilt and threats and It's Not Fair's.
I want to answer every text. I want to EXPLAIN why I had to resort to this. He thinks I am being greedy and immature. I want to tell him that I have spent the last 3 years waiting for him to contribute his financial half. That I cannot go by his promises anymore, only his actions. That if he had been paying his half of everything like he had promised before, things would be different now. That it's not fair to me to have to beg and plead for him to pay me for his children all the time.
But I don't. I refer him to my lawyer, and then I sit on my feelings and my answers. And this causes me great stress, and turmoil, and I end up back in my bathrobe...this time curled up in the fetal position on our outdoor couch, which I now feel guilty for having.
I wonder about my best friend, whom I have watched endure a similar situation for the past couple of years. I text her and ask, how in the hell did you do this? How do you not answer when your intentions and integrity are attacked? But I already know the answer, because I watched her put her head down and protect herself as best she could. But I'm even more in awe of it now that I am living it.
So I come here to write, in my bathrobe. I realize that most who will read this are friends or friends of friends and will get it. But I want my voice to be heard somewhere. So I release these answers to the universe and hope that maybe someday they will reach his head and his heart.
I AM NOT A BITCH. I am the mother of your three children, and they are my whole world and purpose for everything in life. EVERYTHING.
I AM NOT A C WORD.
I have paid for everything, you have paid for almost nothing, despite your promises to do so in the beginning.
I am not ok with splitting expenses because you promised to do the same thing last time, and you did not follow through. Actions speak louder.
You not having money is your own problem and your own foolish choices. You are insanely irresponsible with money. Cigarettes and happy hours and lunches and dinners out are your priority, not paying the bills for your kids. And you know it.
Having them 50/50 would mean you either pick them up from school on Wednesdays and Thursdays (and every other friday), or having them in daycare. How do you plan to pay for that, if you don't think you can afford child support???
And by the way, NO WAY IN HELL I'M LETTING YOU HAVE THEM 50% OF THE TIME. I spend enough time undoing your brainwashing and damage as it is.
Back to sitting on my hands and waiting for this nightmare to be over.