The grey, frigid February days that framed the preparation and mailing of divorce documents and a week of the flu, had shrouded me in despair. Yes, on the eleventh, I signed the final order and following two stressful hours of navigating DMV legalities, I finally drove to the post office and mailed the documents Certified Return Receipt. On the drive home, I felt an emotional fog lifting and this is when I decided it was time to take a temporary leave of this place, my usual response to face-off anxiety. When circumstances punctuate my fears into a paralyzing level of anxiety, my response is to get up and move my body from where I am ruminating, out into the fresh air, if only to walk the dog. A weekend out of town, even better, and a vacation with people I care about, rejuvenating. Staying home, while checking the mailbox daily for a green postcard, would be akin to waiting for paint to dry before hanging new pictures on the walls.
I had been leaning toward doubt that Richard would receive the baton to complete the final leg of the task, signing and carrying it to the courthouse. Honestly, I questioned whether he was even looking for it. My doubts were confirmed nine days later when, upon returning from a weekend in NY with my mother-in-law, the mailbox had not produced a postcard.
On the due date, which was clearly stated in mediation, I felt seized to initiate communication and push this labor into action. Old habits cease to expire. In the marital years, if I didn’t announce Friday date night plans, he ceded his attention to the TV. When the kids were young, he insisted that I provide him with daily reminders of their activities as though I were his royal secretary; “Why should I keep a calendar when you do?,” was a frequent statement. Even though I abhor text messaging, it is Richard’s only reliable mode of exchange. I typed that I had not received the Return Receipt post card, nor heard from him in any regard to the final order, and that it was due at the courthouse on this day. His response; “I didn’t get anything”.
“I’m sure delivery attempts were made and a note was left taped to your house or in your mailbox, by the mail carrier.”
“I was waiting for your copy to be sent to me.”
Of-course you were! WAITING for ME to do! And i did. If it’s due the twentieth and you don’t have it, what, if anything, are you thinking? Excuses.
“This does not excuse you for not following through nor disqualify responsibility”
“I didn’t do this on purpose.”
AGHHH. The self-protective reactions devoid of empathy, reflect similar reactions in me. It fits right in with his general ghosting modus; ignore it until it goes away. This is relational ruination.
“It’s hard not to believe that, on a subconscious level, ignoring the date is intentional.”
His response; “Nope, not true.”
Just like that, abrupt and unemotional. I had long given up on waiting for apology, empathy, and resolution in our conflicts. Acknowledgement of what I am attempting to communicate is lost to a frozen lake too dense for a heartbeat. His self-advocacy invalidates my value in our exchanges. I am not human. I am not worthy. I am unseen. I cannot un-feel the years of disrepaired disengagement while empathy-empty responses punctuate it.
“Feels so because your responses don’t include an apology, empathy or resolution.”
“I was just in panic mode to go get a copy, and see what I need to do next. Not wanting to offend you in any way. Sorry just darted off to post office.”
Richard’s final remark in SF Pro typeface; “I just don’t know what to say.”
The whirling force of the vortex that eddies our relational chasm entices me to leap into the torrid current. This is where I disengage.