Posted by: shelliejelly | November 22, 2008

Intentional intentions

I know, somewhere deep inside, that O. didn’t mean to hurt me. On the days I am very honest, letting a little light into the depths, I can even shoulder some of the blame — very little, but still. Well, maybe I can shoulder some of the blame.

Since we’ve decided to divorce, O. has made attempts at being kind. He’s offered to do things for me, asks how I am in a voice that suggests he actually cares what I answer and generally just behaves as though I matter. But considering what has passed between us, not to mention what has passed between him and C., I can’t quite bring myself to be generous with my responses and reactions to him all the time.

Some days are better than others. I can ball the bitterness up and throw it away from myself, giving me some time and space to actually entertain the thought of being kind to O. On these days, I ask him how he is in a voice that suggests I actually care, offer him some of his daughter’s artwork, even though it was me who took the time to paint with her, and maybe even invite him to stay for dinner.

Other times, I store the venom in my cheeks and spit it out at him in short bursts. He’ll offer to download a movie for me, for example, and I not-so-subtly suggest that I don’t want him to do anything to my computer. Or he’ll bring me something small, like a burrito, and I’ll mumble my thanks while looking away instead of meeting his eyes, as though I’m thankful, but not really. My aim is straight at the heart — I want him to hurt. Period.

I am finding it very hard to find a balance or to choose one path or the other. I can’t seem to decide between a tenuous truce or outright indifference. Being pulled in these directions is only difficult for me, or, at the very least, more difficult for me. O. can feel dismayed at my ever-changing disposition, but he doesn’t have to feel the anger pool in his stomach, or the happiness and regret take center stage in his heart.

And, when I look at my daughter and think how I have to find a way to do what is best for her, I know the truce is more palatable, shows a strength of character I’d like to think I have. He is, after all, always going to be her dad — and I never want her to feel as though there is anything wrong with loving him.

But the trick is finding a way to take this anger and set it free, or at the least put it to use in a way that doesn’t require hurting someone else. The road to forgiveness, gosh, I’m not even sure where it is. But I do know I need to detour from this path I’m on, to turn around, take a hard right or something. Otherwise I risk flooring it off the edge of the canyon, free falling into a life marked only by how hard I’ve made it.

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