Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a few words about the ex

I hardly ever write about him, which is strange, because I share space with him. We're not together in the conjugal sense, but we are, because what one of us does affects the other, affects our child, colours the days at home. We're both home during the day. He works in the home office, I'm in my room with pen and ink, in front of the computer, gardening, being silly with E, whatever. I'm here because we agreed that it's best for E to have the consistency of her familiar home, because she thrives when she gets our attention, and because it's good for me. I can do the stuff I love - write, garden, cook good food, be with her - and not have to worry about how I'm going to survive.

It could have been very different. It will likely be very different in a year or so. I'm not so interested in holding onto the house - it's more work and money than I can afford with my ECE supply teacher and tutoring income. I'd rather be in smaller space with less responsibility. I'd like to somehow throw a garden in there, but the imagination can only go so far.

Lately I've felt crowded. I feel like I've been pushed to the side because someone else's agenda matters more. This was the way of the last ten years, so nothing's really changed except my perspective. When I told him that she deserves equal access to both of us, I meant it. She doesn't get that. Most of her waking hours are spent with me. We shift to accommodate his project, his unpaid working life, his needs. And because he feels he needs that extra time to devote to his invention, I spend a good portion of each day, each evening, my weekends with her, caring for her, caring for the house, making supper, putting her to bed, whatever. I don't resent the time I spend with her. What I resent is the obvious imbalance, the lack of attention paid to what we both agreed was of paramount importance.

He thinks that equal access is spending an hour with her before she goes to bed. He thinks that I am overloading myself when I take on activities which bring me out of the house. My goodness, I'm singing in a choir, taking guitar lessons, volunteering at the local community centre. I am part of a coven that meets once or twice a month, depending on the season or our schedules. I'm overloading myself. I may not have as much time for laundry, or making dinner, and he may just have to put her to bed once in a while.

I'm really not lacking for space and time. But I resent being told that I'm overloaded when, really, the true cost of my extracurriculars is that he has less time to spend doing his own thing. I'm correcting an imbalance that's existed for a long time.

Enter H. H should remain nameless because she could be a character flitting through the canvas and disappearing. He declared to me more than a month ago that he's ready to start dating again. I shook my head in wonder. I'm still shaking my head.


He rationalizes that he wants to be with someone. And since that's what he wants, he's going to make it happen. So he joins some kind of online dating service and starts meeting women. And it's hit me over the last few days that he went on the same kind of search when he met me. He can rationalize a connection, he can make it happen because he's verbal, and smart, and treats people with consideration, especially when he's in dating mode. After years of being treated like shit, I fell for it. Who wouldn't?

But he holds people at arm's length emotionally. He keeps his own feelings, his true nature wrapped up tightly in an inaccessible corner of his being. That was good for me, because being with someone who was inaccessible meant that I didn't have to examine my own feelings or desires very closely. I was with someone, case closed, and I could move on. No worries about anything, because I could hold myself and everyone else at bay, could view the world through a telescope instead of sitting in the dirt and being part of it.

When you're gay, and you're too afraid to admit it, an emotionally sterile relationship is a fabulous thing to hide behind. Especially when you're with someone who so totally doesn't get that he's only accessed the surface of who you are.

He was so attached to me, at the end of everything, that a mere two months after we end a ten-year relationship, he's met someone he likes and he wants to start seeing her. That's great, if that's what he wants. But he and I are looking for different things now, and I'd rather (when I'm ready, which is not now) build a deep emotional connection with someone than date because I don't like to be alone.

Give me more alone, please. I haven't had enough of it over the past ten years.

My true worry is that his new relationship will be another thing that takes priority, that it will be leverage to keep me from accomplishing the goals I have set for myself, that Emily will suffer because he can't connect, even with her, in the end.

Now I have to change the subject:

A few minutes ago, he came into the dining room to find a stamp, because he's been making this card or something for H, and while he was rummaging around in the desk, I switched to Gmail for a quick read.

A few weeks ago I sent a poem out to the other women who were at the fen with me and then immediately regretted it. You know what it's like to look at something a week later and think to yourself "this is absolute crap!"

Well, Ferron didn't think it was crap. She liked it! I'm walking on air right now, and I can't sit still all because I have validation from someone else that I'm good at what I do.

If only I could have that confidence all the time.

Must go put this energy to good use. There's no sense in trying to write because I can't sit still. I have some weeds to pull.


Maria said...

I don't know. It sounds as if you have a lot of anger bubbling around the surface. Maybe a good split would be best for all of you? You and your daughter could find a smaller place and your ex could contribute what he is able. I don't see much change coming from him and maybe it would be best to just cut bait and move on so that you can begin to step away from your anger (hard to heal when he is sitting right next to you) and he can get this dating business attended to.

Having a stable life is all your daughter really needs and to feel love from her parents. Can't you achieve that being apart?

Camlin said...

You know, for the most part, it's okay. this morning I was particularly irritated because his behaviour over the past 48 is inconsistent with what he says is important to him.

If I move out, I need to find a job, which is okay, but that compromises Emily, who is only in school part time this year. When she's in grade 1, it will be a lot easier for me to find something during the day - I don't really want to go back to ECE, but doing volunteer work at the school might help me get an EA position in the system. Better pay, hours consistent with a school schedule.

If I was in torture, if I was living a hellish life, I'd be gone by now. I can deal with the discomfort by withdrawing into my own space, something I haven't had in a long time.

But I'm thinking in terms of a shorter time frame than he is. He thinks this might go on indefinitely. I give it a year before one of us moves out.

And although we don't see eye to eye on everything, we are friends. Sometimes (and this is horribly pathetic) he's the only person I have to talk to about things, simply because I am not out to everyone...yet.

Earth Muffin said...

Congrats on the positive feedback your poem received. It's nice to be recognized.

I can relate to the inequality. There are times I swear Mr. EM thinks things just happen around here as if by magic! And his little out-of-state road trips to see concerts have started to become a major inconvenience. I think it's part societal, even the most evolved couples I know deal with this. You guys no longer being a couple makes it that much more complicated. I hope you can find a balance. Sounds like you might need to talk it out, as uncomfortable as that may be.