Monday, April 6, 2015

The Man Who Wasn't There and the Man Who Was

Hitherto I have resisted writing this entry.  I know that this story of managing the disorder cannot continue without an account of my third divorce--yes, third--and assuredly my final marriage.  But I wasn't certain how to proceed, for two reasons.  First, this entry cannot descend into a case of payback.  Second, there is my daughter Chloe, who is now three years old.  One of the truly damaging experiences of my childhood was listening to my mother assassinate the characters of numerous relatives, including my father.  I cannot let that happen to Chloe.  And so in telling this story I have decided to tell it, as much as possible, from the point of view of Katherine, her mother.

A couple of months into the divorce process (which from start to finish took seventeen months), I took a notebook, sat down with Katherine, asked her to explain her reasons for wanting to leave the marriage, and wrote down her response.  I didn't argue back.  I just needed to understand. Reduced to essentials, the story was simple:

Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish he'd go away.

That may sound harsh.  But imagine yourself being perfectly miserable, and moreover having an infant and being convinced that the other parent was incompetent and therefore that the infant was in danger.  If I myself believed my daughter were in danger, and the occasion demanded it, I would stop at nothing to protect her.  Just so with Katherine.  And over the months I have come to take comfort in the knowledge that Chloe's mother would indeed stop at nothing. Not all parents are like that, and it is possibly the worst failing a parent can have.

Katherine and I have since become allies of a kind, by which I mean that although our life objectives have now diverged, we have a common commitment to Chloe. She and I communicate almost daily about Chloe's welfare and we trade stories of her amazing development as a person.  Once a month we meet at a coffee house and spend about two hours discussing Chloe's welfare at length.  On one occasion our relationship was so tense that I figured the meeting would be little more than a two-hour tirade.  Instead it was one of the most productive we have had, and it was and is remarkable to see Katherine's laser-like focus on our daughter.

We trade agenda items prior to each meeting and the tone is businesslike  (Even in the throes of the divorce, we let our lawyers do all the hooking and jabbing and almost never spoke to one another about the divorce.)  A couple of months ago one agenda item was my intention to return to this blog and my recognition that, in order for this account to be of any real use, honesty required a discussion of the relationship between the divorce and my bipolar disorder.  Katherine did not object; she simply observed that the divorce was essentially a private matter.  I replied that our affidavits are now a matter of public record.  Any interested party has the right to request them and read them.  She acknowledged that this was the case.  So I will try to confine this entry to a discussion of the affidavits. (Even the quote above about "the man who wasn't there" simply puts in different words a statement that appeared in Katherine's affidavit.)
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.