November 15, 2004

Residual feelings

I sit here, my stomach churning, because my ex-wife is having some bad days. She helped a friend with a Habitat house on Saturday and couldn't walk Sunday. I went over and cut the grass for her.

Tonight, she called and asked me to take her to the emergency room. She was pouring boiling water into a measuring cup and poured some of it on her thumb. I stopped by the house and although her thumb was red, it wasn't all that bad. I told her to ice it and take some Tylenol.

She calls about 30 minutes ago from Wal-Mart. She went to grab a 24-pack of Coke, it slipped out of her hand and fell on the floor. Several cans burst and emptied out on the floor.

She says she's going to just get in her car and drive and not stop. I know this is not true, but it bothers me nonetheless. I feel crappy that this stuff is happening to her (a few others work-related things happened that I won't relate), but can do nothing about it. And that bothers me too.

I feel bad that this is happening to her, but I also feel angry. Just a few minutes of preparation could have avoided so much of this crap. If you're going to paint baseboards, sit on the floor, don't squat. If you're going to pour boiling water into a cup, wear an oven mitt. If you burn your thumb, pick up the 24-pack of Coke with both hands. God almighty, J, it's not freakin' rocket science!

This is the one thing that made me the most irritated during our marriage. My Dad pounded commen sense into me. And yes, I do mean pounded. If I fucked up because of not using commen sense, I got hit. If I wanted to avoid getting hit, I developed my commen-sense skills. The one thing my ex lacked was this ability, skill, trait, whatever you want to call it. I can't count the number of times we got into an argument because of it. She is not dumb at all, she just doesn't think things through then she ends up paying for it in the end.

The hard part, folks, is realizing that this is no longer something I can control. I can't be there like I was in the past to prevent this stuff from happening and I feel some guilt about it. I guess it's the way I'm wired. Things like this have always bothered me and I don't really know how to change. I guess I have to learn to feel sorry for people without taking on their burden and trying to solve it.

I guess it all boils down to this...I feel bad because the ex is going through a rough time, yet I'm angry because I know these situations can be avoided. I just don't know how to deal with both emotions at the same time.


I'll hit you if you write "commen" one more time. :P

In seriousness, though I've never been morried or divorced, I hear what you're saying. I don't have an advice, but I hope it gets better with time. That's what my mom would say. This too shall pass.

Posted at November 16, 2004 03:45 PM

DOH! Sorry, C, must have been too much emotion, not enough spellcheck. :-)

Posted at November 16, 2004 04:38 PM

You sound like the male version of myself. It was my mother that did the pounding since my dad (merchant marine captain) was usually sailing off to Asia.

I married (and divorced)the male version of your ex-wife. My problem is that I have two sons (3 and 6 years old) with him.

My guilt comes from feeling like I need to compensate for the failings of my boys' dad by making excuses for why he can't attend soccer games, taekwondo tournaments, school plays, or pick them up every other weekend. Example: my son just had a tournament last Saturday that the ex-husband was supposed to attend. The ex-husband calls me at 12:30 a.m. Saturday (actually an EMS guy called and left a message then he called back 5 minutes later). He advised me that he just got into a 3 car smash up and he was the only person not having to go to the hospital. I called him at 6:30 a.m. and asked him why he called me at that time of night/morning (he has a girlfriend). He says, "I was supposed to call you Friday night about whether or not I could make the tournament and remembered at that time. I wanted to let you know, unless you can drive me, I can't make it." I didn't drive him. I can't have the children falsely thinking we'll be getting back together. I can't be responsible for his screw ups. Its so hard to say no though. I've said yes so many times. So much so that his first reaction is to call the ex-wife instead of the girlfriend.

I hear you, feel you, and all I can say is it's a daily struggle. BUT... an adult has to be responsible if they're going to GROW UP and I can't save the world, even though I'd like to do it.

Thank God for my conservative leanings because I'm, for the sake of my kids, very particular about getting involved with the opposite sex. In fact, I haven't gotten involved at all. Nothing out there, in CALIFORNIA, worth my time.

Posted at November 17, 2004 01:59 PM

If I'm too personal here, slap me down some, ok?

BUT here's what I'm wondering - why is any of this your problem? I understand the desire to remain on good terms with one's ex - it's why I bite my tongue and/or extend myself in ways I'd not normally do with my ex.

But the big difference between our situation is that I do this for my kids. It's in their best interest to have a collegial relationship with their father (and besides, life's too short to not want to lend a helping hand when it's of value to do so.)

And there are things I *know* not to expect his support on, just in the same way he *knows* not to ask me for help in certain areas. It's up to each of us to build our own support structures independently of the other - and we've managed, with a few slipups, to do just that.

And if that's not possible and support's needed, then it should never, ever be *expected* or *assumed* as a first line of defense - if that makes sense.

Or - she's got to learn to stop leaning on you. And you might have to learn to stop letting her.

In other words (as mean as this may sound): not your problem, mon.

Posted at November 17, 2004 04:04 PM


I'm glad that the boundaries have been drawn in your situation. You are right, there are things that shouldn't be your problem. HOWEVER, (slap me down if I'm being to personal) if the ex- was able to have good boundary setting skills, and I was able to know (in foresight...not hindsight) when a boundary was being crossed, we'd probably still be married. Unfortunately, that was the case then and it's not the case now.

Being so recently divorced, old habits die hard. Some harder than for others. Over time, we all learn how to let go.

Posted at November 17, 2004 08:56 PM

I agree with Betsy: This is not your problem.

A man likes to solve problems for his woman. If a woman is feeling distressed, the man comes to her aid, helps her, makes her feel better. (That's why you feel compelled to help.)

But see, she's not your woman now.

She'll have to learn how to take care of herself. It's hard, but that's life.

Posted at November 23, 2004 01:08 PM