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Some time ago Bethany shared with us the term the military uses for assessing the potential risk of a particular situation–operational risk assessment.  It got me to thinking about how much I’ve learned post-separation.  It got me to thinking about how I’ve been able to read the signs and pull my troops out of hostile territory.

About four or five weeks after R left I began helping a neighbor in his gun shop.  I attended a gun auction and ran background checks and watched the store when he had to attend gun shows and auctions out of the area.  It was a lot of fun.

It did bother me that he harshly scolded someone else’s child at the auction.  I thought it odd that he talked constantly about his ex-wife, seven years after their divorce.  It was a little offensive that he regularly compared me to her even though it was always meant to be a compliment to me.  He fluctuated between coddling his fifteen year old son and alienating him with his cut downs and controlling behavior.  Though the boy didn’t live with him he still insisted upon a strict and rigid code of behavior and demonstrated respect for himself as the father.  Yet, at the same time he expected the neighborhood kids to all give D extra or make concessions for him because he’d had a major surgery as an infant.

Still, he seemed nice enough.  Until…..

I was preparing to lock up the shop.  I was behind the counter, closing out the till, when he came in from a trip out of town.  He was smiling, so I thought he must have made some good deals at the show.  He kept coming toward me.  As he approached me he reached his arms out and puckered up his lips.  I took his hands in mine and raised my right knee to crotch level.  I smiled and asked questions about the trip, but my body language was saying, “Buddy, come one step closer, and this knee is going between your legs….HARD.”

I could tell he wasn’t happy with my response, and I felt that it was important to back away a bit.  He texted me throughout the day, complimenting me on my salsa and my cookies and just keeping me informed of his every move.  I didn’t respond to most of them, not wanting to lead him on yet not wanting to lose my opportunity to re-enter the work force either.  I walked a fine line.

One evening I texted him and asked him if the offer still stood to serve R the restraining order and divorce papers. I’d just found out that R had petitioned the court to overturn his conviction; he was coming to town.  The shop owner was immediately intensely angry.  He said that all he’d ever shown me was respect and yet I ignored his texts throughout the day.  But now, when I needed him, I knew how to text him.  He had quite a few other choice words to say to me, too.  I told him that I didn’t feel he had always respected me and certainly wasn’t at the moment, but that I understood and to please forget I’d even asked.  I tried to diffuse his anger and stated that I wanted to be friends.  He didn’t stop though.  He texted and texted and texted one accusation after another all evening long.  I told him that I was putting my children to bed and heading there soon myself, yet he continued.  He wanted to call, so we could “talk about this.”   I refused to answer.

I took off the pistol grips he’d put on my gun without asking me and returned them, along with the shop keys.  I smiled and spoke nicely to the other men in the shop as I discreetly laid those items on the counter around the corner out of their sight.  I noticed that he was wearing a beer T-shirt.  We haven’t spoken since.  I’ve smiled when I’ve passed him on the road, but he refuses to return a polite gesture.

I mulled over the experience in my mind.  He moved really fast, just like my husband had.  He talked incessantly about his ex, just like my husband had.  He compared me to her, just like my husband had.  He fluctuated between dictatorship and age inappropriate babying of his son, just like my husband had.  He was harder on everyone else’s children, just like my husband was.  He demanded my constant attention, just like my husband had.  He took liberties with my property, just like my husband did.  He was even wearing a party T-shirt, just like my husband did the first time he met my family.

Whew!  I was proud of myself for adequately performing a little operational risk assessment before shots were actually fired.

To Be Continued…….

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