Monday, October 19, 2009

a dangerous place

Last week a student joked that I "hated" someone in the class and I, always the one to leap on a potential lesson, remarked that hating people takes a lot of energy - almost as much as loving someone, really - and I am essentially a lazy person who would rather not expend energy on negative feelings. So my relational experiences boil down to I like/love you or I don't think about you enough to care.

Cut to the end of last week when my best friend's husband, who has been afflicted with something like demonic possession dumb-ass syndrome a mid-life crisis, made more specific moves toward divorce (talking about splitting assets & dividing property). Yet the day after these announcements of finality, while a few friends & I (including bff) lounged in the yard in the late afternoon, he arrived to pick up one of his sons, jumping out of the car making little jokes about having to help a neighbor with her computer, acting all fun-loving about dropping off wine and a magazine. Insert uncomfortable silence and polite half-smiles because hello, asshole, you are leaving your wife without explanation; we could, perhaps, someday be cordial grown-ups sitting in the same vicinity but right now? We are not in jokey moods.

I did not look at him. I wasn't sure if I might weep, and it occurred to me that I refuse (now - I have previously written loving, pleading, hopeful e-mails and spoken kindly on the phone in vain attempts to show I will welcome him back; they went unnoticed, as far as I know) I refuse to exhibit any softness toward him now - because he has not acknowledged my questions & thoughts; because he is unnecessarily cold & cruel to my best friend; because he denies any of his actions might affect his sons; because he refuses to slow down and talk with a counselor; because he has said out loud that he is ready & willing to lose his closest friends. And all of this makes me think, considering my definition of hate, that I am there.

I think about this man constantly, my best friend's husband, my former good friend - we often joked that he & I were so alike, in crazy ways like spending money and having just one more cocktail and staying out another hour while Stu & Jen were the frugal, judicious, practical ones. I think about what's going on in his mind, how we can help (kidnapping?), what will we do without him in our lives. Because I loved him, and maybe because I'm starting to hate him.


Fantastic Forrest said...

Your post is aptly titled.

You know, the song tells us there's a thin line between the two.

I keep telling myself he will come to his senses. But I don't think I believe that as much any more. The kidnapping might be helpful, but so might an exorcism.

I think it's easier to hate someone you've loved. It's harder for me to get to hate since I haven't known him 1/1000th as well as you.

But I know and love that bff, and sure feel anger toward anyone who hurts those I love. I just keep telling myself that hatred is a destructive emotion that harms the person who harbours it. Somehow, I think we're better off sticking to your previously expressed 3 emotional choices - he gets the "I don't think about you enough to care" treatment.

Sam said...

I know exactly how you feel. "Friends" of ours are going through the same thing. I say friends loosely because how can you really be friends with someone who changes on a dime? In this case, as usual, man is so angry that she had the nerve to leave him, he immeadiately got himself a girl friend and sued for full custody of the kids. I am pretty sure he doesn't even know their birthdays. the rest of the supportive girls and I all maturely posted, "in ya face" on face book. Now I am the reactionary idiot! So I think, strong emotions all run form the same river.

Gretchen said...

Well, he must have been a pretty smart (or slimy) person to have been able to pull the wool over the eyes of your bff, you, and Stu. Because, clearly, anyone who acts like he truly loves, trusts, and enjoys a person, then is willing to quickly give it all up, is obviously unstable. Or unbalanced. Or very smarmy.

I had similar feelings for my ex-sister-in-law after we found out she was cheating on my brother. Now, 10 years later, I still want to hate her. But my mom has told it to me like this: it didn't happen to you, it happened to your brother. If HE can get over it, you need to try too. (small difference, I do know this guy is betraying your friendship as well, but the real break is happening with is wife.) I learned to just realize that she didn't deserve my time or thoughts or energy. My hatred for her was simply wasted because it was never actually verbalized by me nor did I ever confront her. Plus, what would she possibly be able to do to rectify the situation? Nothing.

I say, support your friend by listening and being a consistent constant presence. Don't join in on her rants - it won't help her and if they (for some insane reason) end up working things out, it will be an obstacle in your friendship.

Try to channel your hatred for this douchebag into love for your friend.

Sorry for the expletive. But it fits, no?

Stu said...

I am trying not to be angry, I'm mostly just hurt, confused, and missing his company.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I vacillate between a determination to not give him any power whatsoever over my mental state - because he doesn't deserve to ruin my days - and the desire to send him the email that's been brewing in me for days.

I think I went from being sad for my friend - the parts that really are theirs - to realizing that even if he did somehow come back, I wouldn't be okay with him.

I hate feeling that way, but things have happened over the past few months that would have to be repaired.

And in the end, even if he's struggling through a crisis of his own, it's of his own making and he is still responsible for his bad behavior.

Alison said...

Yeah, I think I'd hate him, too. Obviously he doesn't mind alienating himself from everyone who loved him as he pursues this selfish path, so he needs to reap what he's sowed.

On a completely different note, I have an award for you on my site.

Jen on the Edge said...

"So my relational experiences boil down to I like/love you or I don't think about you enough to care."

That sentence is so great. I'm glad I'm not alone in not investing the energy in thinking about some people.

It's so hard not to hate, but I can understand why you would.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I think it is true that you can only hate a person you once loved.

EatPlayLove said...

Ouch. What a sad story. I loathe grown men that have such an easy time acting like BOYS.

Anonymous said...

You have a knack for saying what I think Out Loud, and I love that about you.

Your friend is unfortunate to have said husband, but oh, so blessed to have you.


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