It’s Christmas Day. Many of my friends and all of the rest of my family will be waking to stuffed stockings and gifts wrapped elegantly and placed neatly under or around the Christmas tree. Later they will enjoy a feast. My day will roll very differently. There are hardly any presents under my tree. The stockings hang limp and lifeless by the fireplace. This year I am alone on Christmas Day.
As a single parent the holidays can be tough. For many single parents, with an alternating holiday rotation in the parenting plan, Christmas or the holidays, must be modified. In my situation, one of us has the kids on Christmas, the other gets them Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Others work it out so that one person has the kids on Christmas Eve, and the other has them on Christmas Day. This seemed to disruptive to me. I really don’t care to interact with any of my ex’s during the holidays, and though it was hard at first, I am glad it worked out this way for us. Read the rest of this entry
He wanted to meet up this weekend. It sounded like a good idea over the phone. The problem is it was a meet up. The problem is he lives 150 miles away. The problem is, while the designated meet up point was lovely, it required 40 minutes of drive time and gas expense for me. With three and a half weeks left in this month and, now, $200 left to feed my family of four, I just can’t spend money on that kind of thing.
And how does one explain this without coming off as some sort of destitute woman looking to find someone to financially bail her out, or worse some sort of trailer trash? No offense intended to those who are destitute and live in trailers. I’ve been there. I really have. What I’m talking about is an attitude that oozes “needy” or “rescue me” or “life’s unfair” or even worse, “why bother?”
So, I zipped an email to him stating a partial truth. Due to my daughter’s stage production in a nearby town, she would be needing the car. I would not be able to make it. I said all the right things about how I still wanted to meet up, and I left everything in his court.
Not like this is any big surprise. People go silent all the time. After all, he doesn’t know me. I’m merely a few profile pictures, some well-chosen words and a voice over the phone to him. That’s easily forgettable.
Not like I care. I really don’t.
I’m far more worried about how I’m going to feed my kids this month. There isn’t a food kitchen in town that will accept me due to my income, which is pretty decent for the area I live in…if I weren’t dealing with the financial fallout from a horrible marriage and the resulting bankruptcy and car repairs.
I have friends, though, and these friends know how to cook on a pittance. They are helping me with recipes that cost virtually nothing, but which will sustain us. I can hardly wait until this month is over and I can celebrate the fact that we survived. I’m looking forward to being able to post about how we made it through what seemed like impossible odds without over drawing the bank accounts.
You watch. You wait. I’ll win.
After all, everyone experiences hardship, right? So, the real issue is how we deal with it. Do we cave under pressure or do we conquer?
I fully intend to conquer. Caving, while tempting, is just no fun. Kicking a challenge? That pretty much rocks. Living to tell about it? Even better.
His byline read, “Who does this?” It was a valid question, after all. Who does this? Who displays a bunch of photos so anonymous strangers, trolls really, can view them and thus make a decision based on whether or not they will contact you? Who goes through this in hopes of finding a viable long-term relationship? The sad truth is, everybody’s doing it, or so it seems. Even more pathetic, I have jumped in this pond again.
I deleted Who-Does-This’s initial email to me. He didn’t say much other than hello or how are you; a simple cut-and-paste statement made by trolls when trolling. I discarded it without even checking out his profile. But he contacted me again. His second contact was no more brilliant than the first, but I looked at his profile this time. 54, okay, that was good since I’m looking for someone who has to be at least 45…if you could call what I’m doing, looking. I cruised through his images, impressively, he had many, and he was attractive. Then I noticed he lives about 90 minutes away in a city near me that I am not even remotely interested in visiting, let alone spend significant time in. Dealbreaker. That’s when I saw his byline. “Who Does This?” Maybe I should have been cynical, but it cracked me up.
I ventured a response, “I have the same question: Who does this? And why are we here? Are you really 54, because you look 45.”
And now he wants to chat. All will be well and good until I have to actually meet the dude. This will involve getting dressed up. Getting dressed up means I must wear shoes. Shit. Why didn’t I think this through a bit more thoroughly?
The days and nights are hard right now. No, I would not wish this particular man (the Non BF, now turned the Gone BF) back for anything. Things have transpired, text messages sent from a day’s drive away, that revealed that this man was many things, but never was he in love with me. He was far too immature for that. He was also unable to be honest, about where he was with things, about what was troubling him, about what he wanted or needed. He’s also unable to take responsibility for his part in this, it remains all my fault and he contends that “he never wanted this.” (And yet, he did nothing to prevent it from happening when he easily could have, instead running as far away as he could, not unlike a petulant adolescent.)
As usually, happens, I think, this ending became final, for me anyway, as the result of a small incident: a stupid text message. This man had lived with me for two years. In all that time, I had never been anything but crystal clear about what I would tolerate and what I would not, what I could pay for and could not. He knew that I believed we were working on something lasting. This was not a casual roommate or friends with benefits arrangement for me. He knew this. He also knew that the only reason I was cohabiting with him was the understanding that eventually there would be a public, legal, formal commitment. It turns out, The Gone BF, knew he wasn’t going to marry me, and I’m now beginning to suspect he knew this for quite some time, at least a year. Yet, all this while, he was perfectly content to live a charade of loving me and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me when he had no intention of doing that at all. So, the sad, depressing truth is that this man knowingly used me. The even sadder truth was that I truly cared about him, enjoyed our time together so much, that I unknowingly let him use me. I ignored the thousand of teeny tiny flags that should have indicated a disconnect somewhere. You know what they say about hindsight.
Two days ago, he texted me, angry that I had not given him any hangers, but instead had packed up his clothes in garbage bags without them. (He’d literally gone through every closet in the house, collecting all the white hangers for himself, so that each piece of his clothing hung exactly half an inch apart on white plastic hangers.) And now, the man who lived for a year for free while I paid for everything, is bitching at me because I kept the hangers. Hangers, I might add, that I purchased at the Goodwill when we moved in to this new place last summer. Again, his tone and message implied that this was all my fault. It suddenly became very clear to me how juvenile this man was, and also how very self-centered he was. While we were together, this was hard to detect because he really did a lot to help out…at first. In retrospect, though, he ended things without discussion the minute they no longer worked for him. It was a small, silly text message, but it was the moment I mentally disconnected. No, I truly never want to see this man again.
It doesn’t necessarily make things easier. I was living a fantasy that wasn’t ever what I believed it to be, but I enjoyed my fantasy, for the most part, and didn’t want it to end. Instead, it ended harshly and abruptly. Literally, one week all seemed great; the next he is gone and, after two years of unemployment, he has a job and is living in a city far away. There was no discussion, no haggling over stuff or money, and certainly no good-bye. The angry teenager just ran off.
So, I pass my days slugging through my obligations, trying to maintain composure. I’m experiencing now, for those first few agonizing times alone, all those things we did together, which I enjoyed so much: grocery shopping, meal preparation, morning cups of coffee, bike rides to a favorite lunch spot in a nearby town. I’m doing these things alone now. It’s painful, and my chest feels like it is going to be crushed with the weight of the loneliness. The reality is, that I will very likely be doing these things alone for a long time, possibly the rest of my life.
I miss what I thought we had.