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R called R. Jr’s phone a little after 9 Friday morning. Since Jr. was in the bathroom he didn’t answer. So, R called E’s phone. E answered and looked a little dumbfounded. He said that he didn’t know, he didn’t know, and then offered to give the phone to me.

I don’t remember the last time I had a complete conversation with R. He took the phone from D last month and said that he didn’t want visitation to be a punishment. That being after he harshly told her she couldn’t come home as she begged and pleaded with him and promised to come back the next morning. But, he and I didn’t really discuss anything. I agreed with him and assured him it was not a big deal for me to come pick her up.  That was it.

Then, there was the time last summer when he stood in the middle of the street flailing his arms and yelling at me.

I think it was September 2011 when we had our last actual conversation that lasted more than two minutes.

It was weird. I thought I might feel a pulling of my heart strings. I’m horribly lonely. I’m depressed. I hate my “new free life,” which is neither new nor free. After all, he is the father of my children. I slept beside the man for over sixteen years. I went through hell with him.  For him.

However, I felt nothing but my skin crawl.

The sound of his gritty voice made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I wandered from room to room, thinking that the reception wasn’t good, trying to find a place where his words would come through clearly. It took a few minutes of wandering for me to realize that the reception was fine. He was stuttering and stammering. I was instantly disgusted and realized he was just holding the floor while he conjured up his next lie.

He droned on and on about how broke he is and how his new boss won’t work with him at all on taking time off to come see the kids.  That was the deal when he transferred, but the guy won’t hold up to the agreement.  “It’s just a nightmare.”  It’s awful.  They yank him around.  He is still living with his friends.  And, “with all of this going on, it’s just tough.”  Poor guy.  He just can’t afford to drive down twice a month.

He let me know that he plans to just come down the second weekend of each month.  That’s nice to know.  I appreciate that he shared his plans with me, so that the kids and I aren’t holding our breaths the fourth week of every month, not knowing if he’ll show or not.   I told him that once school is out he can have the kids as early as he wants on whatever days he wants.

Then came the clincher though.  “In A FEW MONTHS, ONCE THIS IS ALL SETTLED, WE CAN COME UP WITH SOMETHING ELSE.”  What the hell?  In a few months?  Once this is all settled?  WE SETTLED LAST SEPTEMBER!!!  WE WENT BACK TO COURT FOUR DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS BECAUSE HE CHANGED HIS MIND AND DECIDED HE WANTED MORE STUFF!!!  Now, he’s letting me know that it will be a few more months before he actually settles?!  Why spend thousands of dollars on attorneys if we’re going to just come up with some other agreement once we’re done anyway?  Why not just sign the papers and agree to times that work for both of us?  Why the ongoing battle now?

Of course, he was already in town at 9 in the morning on Friday, so I can only assume he came down on Thursday to see his attorney.   I told him that I have to test the kids every Friday in order to keep on top of the charter school’s demands and that the kids have to keep a log of what they do during the school day.  I can’t let them out of school on Fridays.  However, he can have them ALL day long on Saturday.  That is not a problem at all.  I can pick them up however late he’d like to keep them.

Stutter.  Stutter.  “Just plan on always getting them at 1 on Saturday if that’s okay.  I can’t keep them longer than that on Saturday.  I have to open the store at 6 on Sunday.  They just yank me around on my hours.  I have to be there at 6, and it’s a five hour drive.  I can’t get it below five hours.  And, unfortunately, I’m still living with A and L, so I don’t want to come in late and wake them up.  Hopefully some day I’ll have a different living situation, and it won’t matter.  I can come and go without worrying about other people.  But, it takes me five hours to get back, and I don’t get out of here until 2 by the time I say goodbye and stuff, so I don’t get back until 8.  So, I need you to pick the kids up at 1.”

Hmmm….math is not my best subject.  But, let’s see…..five hour drive, leave at 2, gets back up there at 8.  ?????   Am I missing something?   So, I need to pick the kids up by 1 because it takes him an hour to kiss his mommy goodbye?  (Sorry, now I’m just being catty.)

I must admit, even after living with that monster for sixteen years and struggling to be free of him for the last 19 months, I’m still shocked.  He actually had the gall to think I would bring the kids over at 9 in the morning on a school day because he was in town?  He sees nothing wrong with the children skipping school to spend time with him since he can’t take the weekend to visit them?

His excuse for not staying the weekend is that the kids told him they want to go to church with me, and he’s respecting that.  Well, that’s sweet and all, but why not take Sunday off anyway so that he can visit with the kids all day Saturday and then travel back Sunday morning?  Perhaps that would mean that he couldn’t plot with his attorney on Thursdays!  With his new boss being a nightmare, he probably doesn’t dare ask for Thursday through Sunday off.   Of course, his evil scheming and his $12 an hour job take precedence over visiting his children, so the children should sacrifice, once again, so he doesn’t have to!

He spiraled through excuse making and stuttering and complaining about how victimized he is by his boss and how considerate he desires to be and how broke he is.  It was all gruesomely familiar.  I instantly felt extremely sorry for my children that, even at his best, they are still subjected to his voice for 22 hours once a month plus phone calls.

Okay, reality check.  Perhaps this new free life is a little newer and freer than I think.  While I am still paying the consequences of his decisions, paying his debt, dealing with our children’s character issues and pain because of his actions, still aching for the divorce to be final, AT LEAST I DON’T HAVE TO HEAR HIS VOICE EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE!  Hallelujah!

I’ll praise God for the small things.  Tonight I praise Him for the silence of my house.  I praise Him because the only sounds I hear right now are my children helping each other through a video game, R’s dog getting into the garbage, and the whirring of the washing machine.  No grittiness.  No stuttering.  No lying.  Just beautiful, honest silence with only the backdrop of the sounds of life.

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