He doesn’t remember him.
When he walked in the door, there was no “Daddy!” No running to him. No recognition. Just a shyness.
“Who’s this, Sami?” I asked. ”Who’s this man?”
Periodically throughout the night, my ex tried to get Sami to call him by his name.
“You used to call me ‘Daddy,’” I heard him say once.
I spent most of my time upstairs. I couldn’t bear to look at my ex. They were having a good time downstairs playing, but I suspect it is only because Sami was sure I was in the house. He asked about me about five times before he was content to play down there with my ex for extended periods.
Also, Sami would be this playful with any man. He loves guys.
I don’t know how to feel. At first, there was a mean part of me that derived no small pleasure from the fact that Sami did not remember him. Not for Sami’s sake but because it must have hurt my ex terribly. I wish I was a big expansive Buddha right now, but I’m not.
Partly I gloat because he was so cocky. When we talked in September, I suggested that Sami might not remember him anymore.
“Of course he will,” he said dismissively.
T reminded me in a comment of a very important saying: “Would you rather be happy, or would you rather be right?”
Knowing that I was right, the initial euphoria has gone and I just feel this weird sadness, an emptiness. It’s almost pre-verbal. As if I am feeling something connected to my own father disappearing and reappearing sporadically. It’s hard to let myself feel more than a little bit of this pain at a time. It feels like it will overwhelm me totally if I go into it. My ex’s father was also an absentee father. The horrific nature of history repeating itself feels like too much to bear.
After a few hours, Sami was ready for “that man” to leave. ”Put your coat on and go in your home now,” he said to my ex.
“Do you want to see me again?” he asked Sami.
Right before he left, my ex apologized to me for the way he was on the phone on Friday. I nodded. I still could not look at him, could not meet his gaze. This is an old pattern, where he is very scary and verbally abusive to me, then apologizes, but continues to repeat the behavior.
“I’m glad you’re over me. I’m glad we’re over each other, I mean,” he added hastily.
Again I looked down at the floor. I thought that was a weird thing to say. He was referring to when we talked on Friday and he was bringing up some admittedly not great things I did when we first broke up. I’m not proud of calling him at odd hours. I was having a hard time letting go, it would be fair to say.
“That was ten months ago,” I said at the time. ”I’m SO over it now.”
Am I over it?
Am I over him?
I am not sure. On one hand, my trust in him as a person, as a father — I’m not even talking about our relationship here — has been shattered. Seeing him tonight for the first time since our divorce six months ago brought up a lot of painful and confusing feelings that it had been easy to avoid, since I was not interacting with him at all. Tonight I found myself remembering how amazing we were together physically. I miss being with someone who knew my body for a decade, who knew every nook and cranny of me, knew exactly how to please me, and wanted to please me. I despair of ever finding someone who is that in tune with me again sexually. I know it’s possible, and it will happen with the right person at the right time. But tonight I am missing what we had in that department. I know that’s pretty damn nuts.
(Maybe I need to be back in therapy!)
I was so glad to have Sami back to myself after he left. We snuggled and I read him Shel Silverstein poems and while my voice was silly as I read, my heart ached for both of us. And yes, maybe even a little for my ex.
“I had fun with that man,” Sami informed me, shortly before he went to bed.
“What was that man’s name, honey?” I prompted him.
He couldn’t recall.
As I write, I think what a golden opportunity the return of the ex is. I clearly have a lot more work to do on healing after my divorce and now I can see that, where it was buried before. If he does stick around, and it’s not clear he will, I may have a chance to work through some of that. And if he leaves again, I know I still need to see and acknowledge that there are some wounds that need to be exposed to the light in order to heal.
As for Sami - I wonder if my ex will stick around long enough this time to rebuild a relationship from scratch with him. I wonder if there is healing for him, too, if he can do that and come to terms with the pain of his own father wounds. But I know that I have to let go of expectations and drop the reins I have been white-knuckling.
Sami is oblivious right now to all these childhood wounds, to all these adult dramas. He was just playing with a nice man, who gave him a brand-new forklift for his birthday.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.