So last weekend I agreed to G's first supervised visit with I (G = almost-ex-husband; I = our 1 1/2 year old daughter). It was a surprisingly civil meet-up. More than civil, almost friendly even. To sum it up in one word: painful. Masochistic?
See, I am the one who has demanded supervised visits only due to something I recently discovered G to be involved in that will forever make me question him as a safe person for our children (or anyone's) to be around. Through his actions, he has crossed the unthinkably uncrossable line that no reasonable right-minded person crosses. But that is another story for another time.
When I first dictated my demands via e-mail G launched off with a weeks worth of predictable behavior. Empty (absurd) threats. Name calling. Blaming. What is different this time around is that I held my ground and remained firm. I told him I had every intention of doing exactly as I stated (hiring a lawyer, filing for divorce, demanding full custody with 3rd party supervised visits only or allowing him the option--as discussed with my lawyer-- to terminate his parental rights so that he may never be "required" to pay child support). The word, "required" is really a meaningless term for one who has previously gone to every effort to not pay his child support for his child from another relationship and also claims to be un-employed/self-employed.
So after a week of stupid e-mails he has more or less agreed to sign over his rights if he never has to pay child support. And I had better be sure it is never. Wouldn't want to screw a "nice guy" over "yet again."
So the formalities are in the works. Today I just handed over a check for a non-refundable retainer to a pricey (and hopefully worth it) family law attorney today. I will know more as the process unfolds. People have warned me, "Expect the worse," "it's gonna get worse before it can get better." I'm not sure-- this could all be easy or difficult. I think he sort of knows his hands are tied by the evidence against him and my seriousness this time around but on the other hand: G could change his mind and decide to be stick in the mud (to put it very nicely) about all of this at any moment, hence the need for the hefty contested divorce retainer rather than the smaller uncontested fee.
I hope my mom is okay with myself and her granddaughters living rent-free with her until I am at least 30.
So anyway, I was in the middle of describing the visit as masochistic. This visit has taught me that I need to be more firm about boundaries and maintaining them.
I had selected a meet up place approximately mid-way (but closer to me, hah). A busy shopping center that hosts an indoor playground. G thought it was a great idea. He even agreed to Saturday as opposed to Sunday per my request, even though he had to rearrange his schedule. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at how much he has accommodated me regarding this visit. I sort of have him by the balls here and he knows it. I'm not some sort of vengeful crazy lady here, but it is sort of a satisfying feeling after all of the crap he's put me through. I suppose he is just playing it up as part of his nice-guy manipulation, though.
So yeah, he was as nice as nice can be. Paid for the admission. Played with our daughter. Said, "wow, I'm worn out." After 2 hours of chasing her around. (Uh yeah. I do that all day. With a big belly holding an almost-ready-to-go baby.) He took her on the merry-go-round rides. He asked if I wanted to take her once around the ride. Then asked if we wanted to go have dinner. Asked me if I wanted dessert. Then paid for dinner. He strapped our daughter into her carseat, said his goodbyes, and folded up the stroller into my trunk. Then, as I stood many steps away from him as it was time to go, he looked me in the eyes and said, "Well, ok bye." "Bye" Then, he walked a few steps over to reach out to me and to give me a kiss on the cheek and a hug goodbye. I suppose none of this is really any surprise when I really think about it. My husband has been honing his manipulative skills for twice as long as I have even been alive.
The problem here is ME. Though I politely declined the offer to go on the carousel, I offered to take the pictures of he and our daughter on the carousel with my camera phone. I said, "ok, sure if you're hungry" when he asked us to dinner. "Ok, sure" I'll take a bite of your dessert. "What do I owe here for my half? No that's ok... well, ok, thank you." And then when he reached in for the hug, I hugged back. And I was the last one to let go.
After the goodbye I immediately got into my car and drove away, wiping the tears from my eyes as I drove, hoping he couldn't see as he got into his car and followed me out of the parking lot. I felt spooked the entire drive home. The goodbye had been like seeing a ghost. The ghost of a marriage past. The ghost of a family that though I forever wished for (and probably always will), never truly was. And with that man, never truly will be.