DH got a call on his cell phone from EFIL yesterday while he was at work. He let it go to voice mail. This is what his Dear-Old-Dad had to say:
Hey DH, it's dad. Uh just calling to say hi...see how everything is going. Um I was hoping you were going to respond to my email but, hey, you know, that's completely up to you. Uh I'm just going to say that I hope everything is going okay for you. I hope that Jonsi is okay. I hope that DS and DD are [unintelligible]. Um I also want to say that, DH, I'm sorry you feel that way about everything. Um the best I can do is just thank you. Uh seriously. That's it, that's all I've got to say. I love you. And I'll talk to you later. Bye.
I picked DH up from work yesterday and he let me listen to the voice mail. We talked about it the whole way home and then shared it with my mother while having dinner at her house. I think we were all surprised by it, but it was a sort of dull, been-there-done-that sort of surprise. Like, it never ceases to amaze me that EFIL could be so dense and pathetic; that he could really be that lazy and indifferent. Yet, every time he responds in such a listless, lackluster way to DH's emotional and heartfelt efforts to communicate, I'm still just that little bit shocked.
How, Dear Reader? How is it possible that EFIL could read my husband's letter and respond this way? How can he continue to pretend that all is well, that DH's feelings don't matter, and that it's acceptable to disregard our needs and disrespect our boundaries?
I listened to his voice mail more than fifteen times because I find it important to transcribe every word, every sigh, every pause, every intake of breath. I was struck by the thought that this guy really believes that just mentioning my name in a message to DH should be proof enough that he cares about me. This guy actually thinks that using the names of our children will convince DH that DH is the mean one, that he's the bad guy. Worst of all, there is no real apology in EFIL's message, no moment of humble acceptance of responsibility. Like, seriously dude, go eat a slice of some humble fucking pie.
I keep seeing the phrase, "I'll talk to you later" or "I'll see you later" in these messages from the dark side. We heard it twice in Toast's birthday message to DH. I can't help but feel that these people really think DH is going to take the bait. They really think that their weak and pitiful messages to him are going to entice him back into their arms. I know that those phrases tend to be overused, that people often use them even when they have no intention of talking with or seeing a person again any time soon. But in cases such as these, I think they are being used deliberately. I think EFIL left his voice mail yesterday believing that all his "thank yous" and "I'm so sorrys" are all it will take to make a difference.
And what does he mean when he says, "Thank you?" DH and I both agree that it shows nothing but demeaning disregard of the letter that DH sent him. Apparently, the use of gratuitous phrases like "thank you" can be manipulated the same way that apologies can. A real thank you would act much the same way as a real apology. It would look something like this: "DH, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with me, because now I know that I must accept responsibility for the damage I have caused. I want to thank you because now I know that, in order to have a happy and healthy relationship with you, there are boundaries I must respect. I want to thank you by showing you that I can and will work with you to make the changes required for our relationship to bloom, instead of wither and die, as it has been doing all your life." Etc. Etc. A genuine "thank you" would have been as meaningful and as necessary as a genuine "sorry."
DH got neither of those. Instead, he got a non-apology, which placed the blame entirely on DH and his "bad feelings," and a non-thank you. Honestly, Dear Reader, I hadn't known a false thank you could exist under such constraints, but apparently I was wrong. I knew of the sarcastic ones: Wow, thanks for sitting on my sandwich today, sis. But I had not been previously aware that a "thank you" could sound so genuine and yet be so degrading. If he was more honest, EFIL would have just said this:
I'm just going to say thank you for sending that letter to me, even though I don't really mean it. In reality, your letter means nothing to me and I'm going to pretend that you didn't say any of those things since you're just an insignificant person and, as such, don't deserve my time, respect, or love. I'm just going to say "thank you" so that I can feign interest in what you have to say, when really, I just don't care. I've got better things to do with my time than read your letter or respond to it. So, the best I can do is pretend to be appreciative that you took the time to write and send that letter. The best I can do is leave you voice mails and pretend like I give a shit about your FOC. The best I can do is sit here on my high horse and continue to think that I am right about everything. The best I can do is make blanket, worthless statements like 'I hope everything is okay' because I'm not willing to talk about the details of things that aren't okay. The best I can do is ignore your letter because you wouldn't go out of your way to send it to me in an email in order to make responding easier for me. The best I can do is make fake apologies and continue to blame you for abandoning your family, because I'm not willing to see that it might have been US who abandoned YOU. The best I can do is refuse to hear you out. The best I can do is wait for you to give up on your truth-campaign. The best I can do is whatever I've already done for you, because I'm not willing to entertain the thought that it wasn't enough.
You want to know how we are, EFIL? The truth is that life is just peachy without you around. There's no familial drama, no backstabbing, no guilt-tripping, no manipulation. There's no one around who will lie to us, cheat us, or steal away our precious time. There's no bullshit, no mockery, no narcissism or triangulation. Things are okay without you around EFIL. Because as long as you are who you are, it's healthier for us if you stay on your side of the line and we stay on ours. So long as you continue to make blanket statements about how everything should be "okay" in spite of what you have done, then you can stay on your side and we'll stay on ours. So long as you continue to bury the truth with all the shit you can shovel, then you can keep on burying it on your side of the line.
The truth is that life's just peachy without you around.
Life's just peachy.
**Credit to Upsi, where I linked to her poem, "Triangles."