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I was raised to be a Jedi Master. If you listen to my parents, I mastered it. I am Darth Vader, baby, able to make anyone, anywhere in any situation treat me like shit, just by sitting there minding my own business. Beat that!

My Ex continued the training, telling me for years that if he cheated on me with anyone who walked by in a skirt and sexually harassed my married friends, it was all my fault. I forced him into it by not being as sexually available and open as online porn. Ask yourself: what kind of pathetic excuse is it to say no to your husband when he approaches you after you’re asleep, near midnight, when for him to make time for this so-crucial-to-him activity any earlier would have meant interrupting his daily five hours of MASH re-runs? I was asking for it.

He is still the same person, behaving the same way, but thank the gods it’s (mostly) not my problem anymore; and so are my parents, hence all of the delicate barriers I’ve erected around my life to minimize my contact with them and their rationalizations and justifications.

But you know, in a way I wasn’t able to articulate well at the time, the Trader did it too. Oh, he did. He denied it (of course!) because he said they were compliments.

Like this:

“It’s so peaceful being around you. I feel so relaxed. Thanks to you, I can actually read again!”

(repeat many times until I become uncomfortable.)

Maeve: That’s sweet, hon, but I don’t want the responsibility for this. Your stress levels should be your job, not mine. What happens in a few years when all this wears off and I don’t relax you anymore? Is it my fault then if you can’t read again?

Trader: I’m not giving you the responsibility, I’m giving you the credit! Take a compliment!

He meant it too, and no matter how many times I tried to explain it to him, he insisted that this was a compliment and I should be happy with it. It’s hard to complain when someone tries to compliment you but it never sat well with me. I felt, much of the time, as if I were one of the many pharmaceuticals he used to manage his mood: uppers included tobacco and caffeine and downers included a whole slew of over-the-counter medications he’d take to fall asleep at night. It wasn’t unusual for him to take his nightly doses, decide he was too sleepy too fast, then take a piece of tobacco to perk up before bed.

I did point out how mindbogglingly insane all this was, only to hear that his sleep doctor thought his nightly medications were just fine, which didn’t answer the point at all but he (surprise!) couldn’t be made to hear it. But as occasionally irritating as the “compliments” could be, much worse was the pretense at flexibility.

He wanted me to tell him when things were bothering me so he could fix them. Or so he said. But then I’d try, and he would change the subject. If I was really upset, he’d deflect me and ask for reassurance. He’d claim to have heard and understood me, and then say he couldn’t change. He’d tell me he could change, and then not do it. And when later on the issue reared its head again, he’d say I should have said more, or more clearly, or earlier, or louder, forgetting all the times I’d brought it up. The only way to get his attention was to give him an ultimatum. And I’d picture myself, a decade on, saying, “If you don’t take the garbage out this week, that’s it, we’re through!” as the only way of getting heard by him on even the littlest things and how exhausting that would be.

But again, his behaviour wasn’t his fault. Oh no.

It was all due to how well I’d told him about what was bothering me.

Not that he ever seemed to put even five seconds thought into not doing things that would bother me to begin with.

Like making fun of me in public, or making declarative statements when he claimed he meant to ask me a question, or showing up really late without letting me know, or promising to tell his ex about me so I could meet Trader-Tot then chickening out three times, or not changing his relationship status on FB after breaking up with his last girlfriend until he and I had been going out for a couple of months, or starting endless email fights by making deliberately provocative statements to get a rise out of me.

If you can believe it, this is the man who would claim to want a boring, drama-free relationship, and who had no clue about why his ex-girlfriends & ex-wife used to get so angry at him and yell at him so much. Sadly I think his desire for a drama-free relationship is genuine but until he realizes that his behaviour is the exact opposite, he’s not going to get one. If you don’t get drama-free with the Queen of Conflict Avoidance (that would be me) … it’s not happening.

I got sucked in because he kept telling me that he wanted boring, drama-free, and was flexible, and all the rest of it, and I was distracted by and believed what he said over what his actions showed. But only for a little while.

Hopefully I’ll manage not to find myself there again.

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So he admitted to not asking me for the day, and just “assumed” I agreed because he “mentioned” it as a possibility back in August and I didn’t object. Apparently in the mind of the Ex, the separation agreement is a “framework” and not binding. Or at least, not on him.

I told him that while I appreciated the misunderstanding, (!!!) if he had asked me I would have agreed only if we had a plan to make up the time. So I asked him to make up the time, either by ceding a day or bringing her back early twice. Bringing her back early twice is a lot less than 24 hours, but hell, if we both goofed a compromise is reasonable. Right?

Right?

Nope. In the mind of the Ex, the only reasonable thing is for me to forget all about it, not ask for anything, not be upset, and for us to carry on. He’s said his proposal is for us to do nothing, and has since refused to discuss the matter.

Not surprising. That’s what he did when he moved to Bob, and it’s what he did this summer when I moved to Beyond Bob, and it’s what he does every time I bring up something that reflects badly on him and ask him to do something about it. It’s still irritating though.

I hate him. Does it show? Please don’t tell me I shouldn’t. I know it’s corrosive and hurts me more than it hurts him, and I’ll get there, but right now in the thick of it, I just hate him.

So here are his two options:

1. Make nice, admit he did something wrong, agree to a compromise and lose something under 12 hours for a “blunder” on his part that gave him a day. Build a better and more trusting co-parenting relationship with the mother of his child, which will benefit PP as well.

2. Refuse to admit he did anything wrong, refuse to compromise or negotiate. In which case, given that I regularly give him about a week more each year than he’s entitled to in the SA, all I have to do is refuse to go above and beyond my commitments and he loses a week in 2011. I’ll hate him more, we’ll have a worse relationship, PP will lose out.

Seriously.

He can admit he’s wrong and gain 12 hours over the year.

Or he can refuse to admit he’s wrong and lose A WEEK.

He can admit he’s wrong and have me learn to trust him, just a smidge.

Or he can refuse to admit he’s wrong and have me hate him more and trust him less.

I haven’t put it this baldly, but I have communicated to him that he’ll lose the day eventually one way or the other and that this will only decrease communication and increase hostility.

Of course, he has chosen to refuse to admit that he did anything wrong.

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your fucking face.

If that’s not a definition of a flaming narcissist, I don’t know what is.

Now I need to find a way to drain all the toxic emotional crap this has left me with. Gah. Only 11 years to go.

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I can’t claim to be writing weekly updates at this point, so …

New house, new town, weekends, PP, new job, etc., all fabulous. Having a great time. Feeling like a camper sending a postcard home in bullet point format. Need to live with it.

Ex being a dickhead. Not responding to emails, just like last year. Has been given a deadline of this Wednesday, and informed that if he doesn’t get back to me to arrange a new schedule that the old one will still hold, and he won’t get any extra time with Frances. What the hell is wrong with this person?

No, don’t bother trying to answer.

Things with the Trader going swimmingly. I think the un-break-up had a real impact. A lot of the minor and not-so-minor things that had been wrecking our relationship aren’t resurfacing. This is very good. Also, I am much too busy during the day now to get involved in protracted email disputes. Whatever the cause, I’ll take it.

Work largely good. I get to bitch now about the government workers and all their freaking red tape, and there is something very freeing about it. Omigod! The bureaucracy! It drives me cuts! It should be henceforth called the Bureaucrazy!

Seriously, government officials telling us to get a new venue for upcoming public meetings but be sure to provide at least two weeks’ notice–with less than two weeks until the meetings. Anyway. Flux, chaos, unpredictability, lots of work, all that jazz.

But today’s particular bitching session brought to you by the Letter B, for Boss.

This week PP is in day camp. She is getting and from camp by  bus. The bus leaves at 8:25 and returns at 4:35 and I have to be there to sign her in and out. The bus stop is 3 minutes from the office, so I am there 8:30-4:30. I have sent around an email to the entire office letting them know my hours for this week so they know to get me things well before 4:30.

Boss gets in at 10:15 am. We have deadlines at noon and three so I am swamped from this point onwards, trying to get things arranged in time for the governmental bureaucrazy and their demands for time travel. At 4:27, my computer turned off and my bag on my shoulder, he calls and asks me to print out a contract we were working on last week.

This contract is well outside my job description but it’s very important so I volunteered to do what I could for it last week while he was away on business. It is saved to the network.

“Oh no,” I say. “I have to go pick up PP at the bus stop. But it’s saved in the admin folder, it’s not hard to find.”

“I need a printout,” he says.

“I’m sorry, but I have to go,” I say. Thinking: there are ten other people in this office PLUS YOU who could send this thing to the freaking printer. I am NOT leaving my daughter in the rain to get you a printout!

“Well then I guess it’ll have to wait a week,” he says.

SERIOUSLY.

I will let this one sit but if it happens again, watch out Beyond Bob, there will be a fireworks show.

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So the Ex replied to my last email politely denying his requests to spend all his time with PP by charging that I don’t put her first and am not taking her feelings seriously.

I have tried now twice to draft a reply and no matter how much time I give myself, it still always comes out as me screaming via email and cataloguing every parenting sin he’s committed in the last six years. Seriously. I’m not taking her feelings seriously or putting her first?

When is it I get to tear off his skin in one-inch strips and braid them into a bathroom rug?

I know it doesn’t matter what he says, he’s not getting his way. I know it doesn’t matter what he says in these emails. I know I have all the evidence on my side for his priorities and choices for the last three-four years. I know all of this. It doesn’t matter. I can’t respond without counter-attacking. Not yet. And I have to respond somehow, I’m moving in a few days.

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So, the Ex got his office relocated to Bob for a year, so now of course he’d love to spend more time with PP–in fact, he wants to spend ALL his time with PP, and doesn’t see why I shouldn’t just not see her at all.

Seriously. He wants more than half the week–plus extra considerations for extra-curricular stuff. Now that it’s easy and convenient for him to do so.

It is taking every ounce of self-restraint I possess not to pound his head in via email.

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1. Working tons of overtime. I know that sounds like bragging or the Pain Olympics but it’s not meant to be. I am just … workings tons of overtime. Deadlines, colleagues on vacation with projects on deadline, people away sick, persnickety clients in distant countries who want things Just So but don’t really understand what they’re asking for …. On the plus side, I will have a nice bank of overtime to draw from for my July days off with PP.

On the downside … I need to pack.

2. PP! Is adorable! In so many scrumptious ways. We borrowed the Trader’s fishing net and went frog hunting in the pond and she had so much fun, and I had so much fun with her, and she adored the little frogs and spoke softly to them and petted them nicely. Other people would come by and admire the frogs we caught, and one woman was very happy seeing her learn to love nature. It’s the kind of spot that collects people like that.

I’m going to miss it. I cried the other week when I was running through it and realized how much exactly I am going to miss it.

3. I’m moving in 12 days. Holy crap.

4. I actually have to consult my dayplanner to write this post because I’m so lost on what was done when by whom.

Oh! Right!

5. The Ex, curse his shrivelled heart.

He’s decided that Thurs-Sat is just fine after all, but only because he’s secured an office for 10 months in Bob. If he were still working in the City, it would be totally impractical to commute a bit more to spend time with his daughter.

This is the same man who moved to Bob last year, to spend an extra 90 minutes every day commuting to and from work so he could have regular sex with his girlfriend. Now doesn’t want to commute a few more minutes each week to spend an extra 12 hours with his daughter. Except that it’s all worked out just because someone gave him a temporary office nearby.

I swear to god.

Anyway. All’s well that ends well, but up to Saturday evening, Dear Readers, I was plenty anxious that it would not end well.

6. Speaking of anxiety…

So you know my opinions about the Trader’s stress and anxiety levels.

Yes? Yes.

Ever since I’ve started packing to move to Beyond Bob, the Trader gets sick every weekend. “Sick,” I should say. He’s “sick.” He has a sore throat and a headache and he’s tired and he’s just going to lie down while I pack for a while if that’s ok? Every weekend. Every weekend he is, of course, NOT sick–just fine in a few hours or by the next day. Nothing ever comes of it. Yet every weekend he takes his symptoms, such as they are, just as seriously as he did the last weekend.

Needless to say I have been skeptical of the “sick,” and it had become a joke.

“Gosh, I’m not feeling well honey. I’m tired, my throat’s sore, I think I’m coming down with something. Do you think it’s safe for me to come over? I don’t want to make you sick.”

“Of COURSE you’re sick. I’m packing!”

This is not the sympathy he’s aiming for.

Friday, though.

FRIDAY.

Friday he was DYING, Dear Readers. In an agony! Stumbling home from work! (After spending the day on a yacht. No, really.) Exhausted! Frail! Slow! Burning up! He had heat stroke, he’s sure of it, and he almost went to the hospital!

Next day: DYING! Exhausted! Throat so so sore! Oh my gosh, not heat stroke! Strep! Must be strep! Oh the agony!

Sunday: Coughing! Choking! DYING! Did I tell you how tired I was on Friday and how I stumbled to the boat? I am going to the walk-in. I’m sure it’s strep.

(It’s not strep, honey. If it were strep you’d feel like you were swallowing knives and you wouldn’t be able to speak.)

I’ve had strep throat. This is strep throat! Oh the pain! Almost as bad as the heat stroke on Friday!

(You didn’t have heat stroke. You like heat. You go running when it’s 35C, remember?)

Umm, yes, but I was a lifeguard and I know it was heatstroke and I know how sick I was and am and I’m going to the doctor!

(OK. Let me know when you’re done and what the doctor says. In the meantime, I’m packing. Of course.)

Umm, the doctor said it’s not strep. (Uh huh.) And it might have been heat exhaustion on Friday but not heat stroke. (Uh huh.) And I don’t have a fever and my throat’s a bit red but not too bad… (Uh huh.) So do you mind if I come over? (Honey. YOU’RE NOT SICK. Of course you can come over.)

~~~

So as some of you know, the anxiety/stress thing has been occupying me for a while now. Not just because he clearly suffers–I mean, my god, the way the man was speaking you’d think he had pneumonia, and at the worst it was a cold–but because it affects his behaviour towards me sometimes, and that’s not cool. Not wanting to tell his ex about me because SHE’LL DRAG ME THROUGH THE COURTS AND TRY TO TAKE MY SON AWAY FROM ME! And when it came about, she pouted, and that was it. That’s not the only example but it’s the most dramatic and the one I can remember discussing here, so it’s the one you get. Anxiety: bad for him, bad for us.

So I googled General Anxiety Disorder and had it up on the computer for when he got here on Sunday and we talked about it. I’m not trying to diagnose him but at the very least there’s enough overlap that I’m sure that whatever helps people w/ GAD would help him too. So his job is to read about it and think about it and then we’ll talk about it again. I’m still not sure I’m not overstepping or being intrusive but the subtle and tactful approach has not been working. He doesn’t retain subtle or tactful. One needs a blunt object. Or maybe a sharp one.

It’s like something happens and his mind gets fixated on the worst-case scenario to the point of acting or thinking as if it’s the ONLY scenario, and thus must come true, and then he goes charging off trying to “fix” it by arranging things and telling people what to do, which makes it worse. And if it were just work, or his friendships, I might keep on with the gentle hinting–but it’s us too and it is a strain.

Trader: I have a lot of backpacks. I collect backpacks the way women collect purses.

Maeve: Huh.

Trader: Well … not the way YOU collect purses, since you don’t do that, but the way other women collect purses.

Maeve: Oh. (Thinking, wow, that’s a lot of backpacks. Where does he keep them all?)

Trader: Uh oh. Oh no. That’s going to be a source of conflict, isn’t it? We’re going to fight about that.

Maeve: Umm…

Or how if I don’t write him back within say 30 minutes he’ll assume I’m angry at him. Or how he’s been prepping me since our first date about how his parents are guaranteed to hate me, because no one is good enough for their son. Or how his ex taking her time asking for a travel slip means she is planning to whisk him away to India and he’ll never see Trader-Tot again. Or how he gets “sick” every weekend for a month or two. Or how, when I don’t sleep well, he’s sending me emails every hour asking if I’m feeling ok … which is sweet, but for the love of god, it’s just sleep. Or how, when my asthma’s not well controlled, he’s scouring the internet for hepa filter reviews and worrying about where we’ll keep the tropical plants after we live together. Or how just about any problem no matter how insignificant in my life bothers him way more than it bothers me. Which is sweet, but mind-boggling. Or how I stepped up my asthma meds (see above) and one potential side-effect is easier bruising so as a result I have a whopper of a bruise on my arm and he doesn’t want my colleagues to see it because they’re sure to think he’s beating me.

I love Captain Stressball but there have got to be better ways of dealing with this. I’m just not sure how far to prod. The man is totally convinced that all of his fears are completely rational, and when they don’t come to pass it was just a lucky break. I don’t think he’ll ever see it on his own.

On the plus side, he was very receptive and sees my point and is willing to read and think and talk about it. Unlike a few certain exes I could mention.

7. I’m a good boss, eh? I can delegate and supervise and everything. This is a complete shock to me, since I’d never done it before and am such an introvert. But it makes me very very happy.

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