The Other Shoe

These thoughts have been circulating around my brain like flies on shit, and – like most things unpleasant – I chose to ignore them and/or pretend they aren’t there.

Those who know my back story will remember that I ended a rather toxic marriage and subsequently survived a very nasty custody battle started by my ex. I absolutely hate hate hate dealing with him on anything unpleasant or anything with even the remotest chance of disagreement. I literally get physically sick.

Above and beyond that – we mostly keep away from each other, other than periodic conversations that, for the purpose of efficiency, occur outside of texting because there’s just too much to cover.

Most of the time we get along just fine this way. So much so, that I tend to forget the damages he inflicted. Not to my detriment but rather to my inner peace and happiness. I’ve found my happy place and I don’t have to look back, nor do I want to. However, forgetting about the history usually leads to my letting my guard down. Comparatively, I used to do this during peaceful periods when we were married and then … WHAM! He’d go on the rampage again and attack me for some perceived wrong I’d committed.

I’d chronicle these days in my journals, once referring to him as Jekyll and Hyde. There was a line from a book I read that jumped right off the page. It was like the author, who was sharing her own story, had seen inside my front door. I don’t remember the title, or the author, or the exact quote… but it was something about walking through your house on any given day and suddenly he steps out of a doorway and sucker-punches you, and you never saw it coming. This epitomized the state of my daily life with him. I was always, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So we are more than 5 years apart now. Sometimes we can have a conversation and laugh about something. And that feels good, even though deep down I know it shouldn’t. Because soon enough, something happens and the tension is back and he’s on the attack. He’s so quick to attack. So quick to mistrust me, or accuse me. This is the hard part, the part where I see that the other shoe has dropped once again, and I let my guard down and allowed myself to get hit.

I get physically ill. My heart races, my nerve endings are on high alert, and my breathing comes faster. I imagine all the ways that I can defend my position. Thank God for Todd – he grounds me and reminds me that the fight is over, that our goal is to work together now. He’s incredibly sane about these matters, all things considered. Which is what makes me love him all the more – this boy I’ve loved so long, the boy who once drove loud fast cars, who wore an earring and held no loyalty to any high school clique, with the temper of teenaged angst just always simmering below the surface – now a mellowed out and responsible adult, with a cool head on his shoulders.

Without sharing details of a recent exchange, a request I made was met with essentially a how-dare-you attitude. The language and the manner in which it was used… those old familiar fight or flight feelings returned like lightning. I chose flight. How many years are left with this? I don’t want to deal with it. And that, folks, is why we have lawyers and judges and court orders and domestic relations.

Coincidentally, I got a letter yesterday from my lawyer, with a notice of the court’s intention to close the case due to inactivity for over two years. He requests me to advise him of my position. I am, by the way, ONE payment away from paying off all of my legal fees. One payment. One payment terminates my relationship with my lawyer, and with it – a nail closing that chapter in my life. Does anyone have any idea what that feels like? Nearly five years and thousands of dollars later and I still have primary custody of my kids, and I can’t get him to take them for more than a weekend over the summer.

Does anyone know what that feels like?

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