I am not panicking. See
February 11, 2004
I am not panicking. See how calmly I’m sitting here, not panicking? I’m typing. I’m writing coherent sentences. Certainly not panicking.
My lawyer’s office called yesterday. It seems my ex has scheduled a meeting – a review with the county’s child support office. I don’t know why. I’m not afraid of money issues.
But I have to see him. March 26 I’ll be in the same room as him.
What’s that term psychologists use? Compartmentalizing? There are pictures in my head, representing the eras of my knowledge of my ex. When we met and dated. When we fell in love and married. The children being born and changing both of us – forever, I thought.
Then there’s the era of the end. The marriage splintering around us. The unbelievable cruelty of divorce. I still can’t look at that unblinkingly.
Then he was gone. Just gone. Slowly we all came to understand that the phone ringing wasn’t him. The doorbell wasn’t him. He was out of our lives.
Now if I think of him, it’s the early years I think of. There are many good moments to recall. He’s a memory, harmless and misty. Sometimes I blurt out a sweet story from our early days to people who know what the end was like, and there’s an awkward silence. But the early picture is good. And the later picture is shoved out of my mind.
Every so often, though, it hits me that he still exists. He lives, out there somewhere, and I don’t know where or what his life is like. What clothes he wears. If he’s flossing his teeth. Who he rooted for in the Super Bowl. But even though I don’t know anything about his life, he’s out there, living. It’s jarring; to admit the reality of him into the peace I’ve grown into since the divorce.
The last time I saw him it was an accidental encounter, and it was horrible. He was so angry and I argued with his anger weakly, my words dissipating into thin air between my mouth and his ears. It was like a dream, where you scream and nothing comes out. I felt like my lungs would collapse from the useless effort of trying to make myself be heard.
He exists, and he hates me.
If I can sit in the same room as him and not shake with that knowledge, if I can refuse to argue with his logic, if I can respond to his anger coolly, I suppose I can do this.
He may have gone on with living but so did I, after all.