Monday, April 27, 2015

Learning Curve

So yesterday we went to visit the ex-dad again. He's been sounding wasted on the phone lately, and telling stories (lies), and not wanting to talk to the kids as much but wanting to tell me all kinds of stuff I don't care about. I was increasingly depressed last week as the time came closer to visit. Telling myself I'm doing this for the kids just doesn't cut it any more. It's expensive to visit, it's hard on me to spend that much time in the car with the kids alone (particularly with the Princess' recent penchant for loud, incessant whining - ugh!), and I really don't want to see him. I just don't.

But the kids do, of course. So we went anyway. I planned to spend the night with a friend on the way and break up the trip, but I took the wrong extension of the turnpike and wound up having to just head on over from where I ended up. Depression always interferes with my cognitive abilities. So we paid for a motel room and headed over to the prison early. Turns out I forgot the kids' IDs as well. I nearly had a panic attack, but they made a one-time exception for us with the understanding that they will never do it again.

He looks awful. He also told me right away that he's getting Vicodin from another inmate; why he told me, I have no idea. I didn't ask. I can't tell if he's just trying to rub my face in it, bragging that prison can't keep him clean, or if he thinks in some irrational way that I'm going to approve of it. Or maybe he just wanted to tell somebody and didn't have anyone else to tell. But something snapped inside me, silently. I went from wishing he could be a better person to just wishing he would die already. I hate him. I'm sick of seeing him, sick of hearing his voice, sick of the way his very existence sucks the life out of me.

He had a photo voucher and wanted a family portrait taken. He never wanted one before, but he does now. He wanted me in it. I wish I'd said no, but I didn't want to make a scene in front of the kids. That was the wrong decision. I want to spit on that picture, shred it, burn it, stomp the ashes into the dirt. We are not a family. We never were. I don't even recognize him any more, visually or psychologically. He neither looks nor acts like the same person. Who is this creepy junkie, and why am I visiting him?  

The kids didn't know any of this, but after talking to one of my co-workers today who had some good advice, I decided I should tell the boys that he isn't staying clean. They have so much hope riding on his getting well in prison, and it isn't going to happen. So I did. I feel a bit better now, and they took it much better than I expected, but I'm not sure what goes on in their minds that they don't say. Still, it's better for them to know now than to have their hopes build up and then collapse when he gets out.

From now on, I refuse to stress about writing to him, getting photos to him, talking to him. He can talk to the kids. I don't want to talk to him. I'm not spending money and time that I can't afford on photo books. I'm not worrying about keeping him updated on every little thing in their lives; they can do that. It's ridiculous that I should let visiting him ruin an entire week or so of my life, especially now that I have a life. And most of all? No more hugs when we say goodbye. I'm done with that.