The ex zone
Some people cannot quite dig why I seem ok with seeing my ex several times a week. In the past, there would be the occasional lunch or dinner with the children, and sometimes with his father, perhaps once or twice a month. I am perfectly all right with these meetings. In fact, I believed that agreeing to go to these functions is setting a good example to the children: that whatever may have happened in the past, their mother and father are able to be civil to one another with their interest in mind. No one has to be fighting, or badmouthing, or going on an emo trip all the time. I do not feel threatened, too, that I may be misinterpreted as being open for reconciliation – Hell No. I took a long time deciding to end it, and once I did, there was no turning back. I would much rather die.
These days, however, my ex husband (our marriage had been declared null and void in January this year) JT is a constant presence in my and my kids’ lives, not only during the weekends but during weekdays as well, and sometimes more than once a day. He is in enforced transition, career wise, and he has been grappling with this shock. He moves in the IT/BPO sector and, until the end of last month, was easily making ten times my salary at my newspaper. No kidding! He is thus accustomed to many things many of us only see as a luxury.
To me this means only one thing: that his financial support, which covers a little over 30 percent of my total expenses, is in jeopardy. I am hard pressed to look for ways to augment this as he takes his time dealing with his crisis. This was why I had a difficult time deciding to get myself a new phone even though I was sourcing it from an “extraordinary” windfall.
But back to the ex. He usually asks if any of the children are home, in the morning. Since it is finals season, the college-age ones are usually still home, or are staying in. He joins us for lunch at my house and tries to make small talk with me or the kids. He also updates us of his efforts to land a new gig even as he also dissects why what happened to him did in fact happen. He tries to watch the programs that we enjoy and feels comfortable enough to say he likes this show – but not that one.
Sometimes he stays until I have to go out for work and I am able to hitch a ride – last Monday up to the North Avenue Station of the MRT, and yesterday out to McArthur Highway. The other week, he accompanied me to the bank to settle a tuition payment for Josh – I said I was wiping out my savings already, and that’s not even the last I have to pay.
It might then seem awkward that we should be alone together in his six-month-old Mazda that still smells brand new. I don’t feel any differently, though. I can easily talk about the kids and his prospects, even our life as a family before the separation, our common friends. What I cannot remember, however hard I try, is how was between the two of us. It was as if all that happened in a previous life.
Oh, he will never be a stranger. He can always think of us as family -- I think of him like a brother or a distant cousin with whom I share history. I worry about his extreme hypertension and wish he would start better habits. I hope he finds some nice, decent girl who would whip him into shape and inspire him to be the best he can be. (Certainly I failed there.) I wish he would be able to build a better relationship with each of our children – and it’s not about seeing a movie together but the kid being able to tell him what’s on his or her mind. I wish he would take charge of all aspects of his life and be somebody the kids would look up to and emulate. “That’s My Dad!”
I sometimes wonder what goes on in his mind when he goes to our townhouse and sees that we are doing pretty well on our own, that I am doing pretty well on my own. I can imagine he is saddened that all this had to happen. I am sad, too, because a failed marriage is one's failure, period. But I deserve more. Everybody does.
And now, I have never been better.
There is nothing we can do about what already happened. The only option is to embrace what is yet to come with our best artillery: lessons from our past failures.