He's never going to change. So I have to.
Some things never change, even after leaving. He's one of those things.
"Conversations" in our marriage were one-sided and miserable. A topic would come up, I'd express the asked-for opinion, and then the interrogation would ensue. How could I think that? What were my sources? Why didn't I know more about that?
I'd feel ignorant, embarrassed, and by the end I'd be doubting my right to even have an opinion in the first place. Maybe I should leave having opinions up to smart people.
After a while I'd end these conversations by saying I'd had enough and walking out of the room.
"Why can't we just talk like a normal couple?" my ex would holler after me. "We should be able talk."
You don't want to talk, you want to bully, I'd think.
Yesterday marked six months and one week since I left.
I don't see him anymore except during drop-off transitions when he brings our son home to me. He tries to start something — every time he tries — but I have an out: citing all the research on co-parenting that says absolutely don't discuss things at transitions. When he forgets, I email him a few links.
But we do need to talk about our son. Specifically, I need to make sure my ex is changing my son's diaper, applying sunscreen and other seemingly obvious things he forgets to do. It took me one phone call with my ex to learn he can bully just as easily over the phone (I had to hang up on him to get him to stop). So now I email.
Last Friday during transition, my ex tried his usual routine: "We should talk about Will's development." I said absolutely we should, and that I'd send an email. The next day I sucked it up (because let's face it, I'd prefer to never have contact of any type with him ever again) and emailed like the good co-parent I am.
"What did you want to talk about?" I asked.
"We should be able to talk about our son," he said. I could hear the condescension in his voice as I read his words, so familiar are they. "I'm free on email all day," I reiterated. "Are you UNWILLING to talk about OUR son?" he demanded.
Oh my god, you are so f*cking predictable, I thought as I banged my head against the metaphorical wall. mMy heart started pounding, my head started hurting, and I got that weird shaky feeling that takes a day to go away. There was no point in emailing back.
I've been thinking about that exchange for the last few days and wondering if I can find humor in the fact that when he opens his mouth, he sounds like a broken record. I wonder if I can find satisfaction in the way I'm moving forward in my life while he's stuck repeating a conversation we had three years ago. I wonder if my exchanges with him will ever stop feeling bad.
There are some things that change immediately when you leave your abusive partner: where you live, where you grocery shop. There are some things that never change: how your partner treats you. But I hope there are some things that can change if given enough time — how you choose to feel when your partner treats you that way.
This article was originally published at Live It And Leave It. Reprinted with permission from the author.