I was having a bad week anyway. My dad wasn’t doing well but refused to go to the hospital. My uncle, who was in decline, was in his last hours and I sat with him, his wife, and my mother on what proved to be his last night on this earth. All in all, the week sucked already. Big time.
But then it got worse. There it was, a text:
“Hello, Roxanne. How have you been? Can you call me?”
My stomach plummeted.
It was a text from my ex, or maybe I’ll call him My Former Husband. It sounds classier, don’t you think? And maybe my “Ex” is too familiar and universal. I mean people use “Ex” to describe a relationship that lasted mere weeks. I put in decades with that man . . . But I digress . . .
Anywho, this much must be understood. I had not laid eyes on spoken to My Former Husband in almost 13 months. Over a year. Nor had I even exchanged texts with him. It was a glorious streak.
And for those of you who may wonder about the children, know this: The children have seen and spoken to him. The children are big ass young women and one big ass young man – with a job and an apartment and a roommate. We’re not entirely sure what he does. Something with numbers and computers . . . For folks who know Friends, he’s Chandler Bing.
The younger ones are still very much dependent on me, but not in order to see him. They are on their own with that — with my car. The last time I saw my former husband was at a graduation. Before that, a funeral. You see, absent a major event, we have no contact. As I said, it was glorious.
But it was over.
There it was, the drive-by sniper text. The kids are home on break, living with me. I know they are okay. So, I was annoyed that I had to deal with him and break my very important streak. And as I said, I was dealing with health and death issues already. I was not in the mood for his shenanigans.
When I initially saw the text, after I offered some expletives to my screen, I did the mature thing and DM-ed my Twitter friend. Who, by the way, felt my pain. We go way back.
We came up with what I thought was a brilliant response, “Is everything all right?” It forced him to give me a hint as to the reason for his call without my being confrontational. Usually he prefers to keep me in the dark, catch me off guard, it’s classic. Shout out to anybody who has someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in their lives. It’s a bitch.
Turns out it was a kid issue that wasn’t really an issue. But I had to talk to him in order to confirm that. I had to endure his faux Father Of The Year concern. Some troubled families have Disney Dad’s, dudes that come around for a good time. My kids have a Disaster Dad, he shows up when he smells (or manufactures) trouble so that he can swoop in, play the devoted, attentive father and save the day. And let everybody know it. The daily grind, hustle and taking care of business? Then he’s Ghost Dad. Which I prefer, actually.
But it’s a new world. I know the drill, his behaviors, and I have strategies, coping mechanisms, if you will, that allow all (well, most of) his bullshit to roll off me.
First, I invoked the power stance I learned from a very popular Ted Talk. He couldn’t see me, but I was Wonder Woman.
Next, I allowed myself a Tina Fey eye roll.
Third, I remained standing.
Fourth, I repeated the Tina Fey eye roll.
Fifth, I summoned, nay, I transformed myself into a woman who gave a shit about what he was talking about and who was not repulsed by the sound of his voice and his new found corporate speak. It was a Meryl Streep level acting performance. I may have missed my calling, folks.
And when it was over, I let it go. In years past it would have pissed the hell out of me for days that he made a point of telling me anecdotes about the kids he thought I didn’t know, that this sudden urgent concern never seems to appear when the kids need financial assistance — amounts as small as gas or toll money, and certainly not tuition payments. And I packed away my ire about his very recent and partially successful efforts at engineering the unavailability of the children to attend both my best friend’s family barbecue and my father’s bedside birthday celebration.
That guy . . .
But I listened. I danced with the devil on my Android phone. I engaged (or pretended to). And though half the voices in my head were calling bullshit and the other half were sobbing, bemoaning the end of my 13 month ex-free streak, I remained calm. I was an active participant in his performance art.
By the way, his “concern” was triggered by seeing one of those “This Is Not A Bill” statements which revealed the facility visited by one of the kids.
Where, pray tell, are all the privacy measures when an policy holder gets to see the type of treatment a covered adult receives? Talking to you, HIPAA.
The urgent “problem” was something I already knew and nothing for him to be concerned about. And perhaps something she had not wanted him to know. (No, it was not female problems.)
His performance as caring dad was a worthy effort. To those not familiar he would have sounded sincere. But when I told him she needed help with the co-pays his fatherly concern evaporated like a vape cloud in a teenager’s bedroom.
Anyway, I promised to let him know if I sensed any problem.
And the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role goes to …
That’s right, goddammit, ME!
Although sadly, the talk and text streak was back to day one.
Still, the not seeing him up close live and in person streak remains uninterrupted and continues…
I much prefer receiving the random text from my admirer, the last being:
Hot in the summer. Warm in the winter. Sounds a lot like you. No matter what the season is…..I’ll always think fondly of you. 🌹Have a great day.
And as I was writing this post I received this:
You are truly beautiful. Both inside and out. I just had to let you know so there could be no doubt.❤ Stay well my friend. I’m just a text away.
It’s going on 10 years that I have received texts like this from him. Not that I keep track of such things . . .
Just Me With . . . texts