Sunday, September 28, 2014
There Is Nothing Like Nothing
Sitting on my bed with my electronics to comfort me, I strain to hear the voices. The Gamer is helping Mr. K set up a movie he wants to download from Amazon Prime. I’m getting ready to have feelings about that, because I already begged my him for a mom-son date, and he turned me down. He was nice about it, but it was very clear. He’s a teenager, and teenagers get to tell their parents they’d rather not hang out with them, even (and maybe especially) if their home life is painful, awkward madness. I get it. I encourage it, in fact. I applaud him implicitly.
If he ends up sitting down to watch the movie, there are two ways I can take it. One is that he genuinely wants to spend time with Mr. K. And that’s . . . okay. The other is that he doesn’t want to, but he doesn’t want to hurt his dad’s feelings. And that’s . . . not okay. He should not have to adjust his behavior to accommodate a whiny, self-pitying, passive-aggressive drunk. He’s a perceptive kid. We used to call him “sensitive,” but that has a pejorative connotation. I prefer “perceptive.” “Intuitive” is another good word. Judging by the long silences that punctuate his end of the conversation, I conclude that he is at least two clicks shy of thrilled at the moment, and I feel my face clench into the scowl I wear whenever I get wind of his dad’s attempts at provoking him with guilt.
From another room, I can’t tell for sure whether Mr. K. has been drinking, though he probably has. He’s been drinking steadily (or unsteadily, see what I did there?) every night since he slipped a week ago Sunday, heralding two weeks’ home from rehab. Two weeks of neither calling his sponsor nor going to meetings. But it’s not my job to know about any of this. In fact, it’s my job to make a concerted effort NOT to know, not to care, not to measure, not to assess, not to hypothesize, not to conclude,
He comes to my doorway, and I see that it’s incontrovertible. If not drunk, then certainly he’s been drinking, he holds himself very carefully, very straight and still. He makes an effort to speak distinctly, but the words come out thick and dull, as though the effort it took not to slur them took their meaning away. “Where are the savings bonds?” he asks, following up on an idea he had about how to pay down his personal debt with community funds. An idea that I will report with dispatch to my new attorney. Upon filing for divorce, something called a “quadro,” or Qualified Domestic Relations Order, goes into effect. The one-line story on that is “Don’t fucking move money around until the judge says you can, motherfucker.” So, no, I found the precious savings bonds and squirreled them away. Not turning them over until I have to, or until I remember where I hid them. Oopsie.
The scene is fraught with awkwardness, him standing in the doorway, casting about the room, slowly, not sure what he’s looking for, or even what he’s seeing.
Mr. K.: I'd just like to know one thing.
Me: What's that?
Mr. K: Why do you hate me so much?
Me: I don't hate you. I nothing you.
Mr. K: I'd rather you hated me.
Me: I feel sorry for you, how's that. Best I can do under the circumstances.
Long, slow, painful silence. He looks at me imploringly. I look back at him, impassive, measured.
Don’t drink and go to meetings. Keep it simple, stupid. Keep coming back. It works if you work it. One day at a time, first things first, easy does it. I know it all, from years of Ala-Teen, then Al-Anon, always the loved one, the daughter, the sister, wringing my hands from the sidelines, watching the drunk try to get sober much as the mother watches the child learn to ride the bike without training wheels.
But I’ve never done this with a spouse. A former spouse. I guess they say “a loved one,” but he’s not loved, at least by me. I have anger and resentment and horror and fear. I even have pity sometimes, which I know he senses. And loathes. He’s the only one who’s allowed to do that.
No. If I’m not going to love him, then he’ll settle for hate. Hate he can understand; pity makes his skin crawl. But what I really have for him is nothing. And as far as he’s concerned, nothing is the worst. Nothing is the vacuum that remains after all that other nonsense finally subsides. Nothing is the final blow, the realization that he is all alone with his disease, his addiction, his ultimate lover. And maybe nothing will be what propels him either up or down the ladder of his recovery. But it’s not my job, it’s not my call, it’s nothing to do with me.
Posted by Mina Klonopina at 9:48 AM