Last night we got The Apology. I am not sure if this is the second or third one.
The fact that my ex-husband has issues is not in dispute. The fact that I have issues is not, either. However, my issues and my ex-husband’s issues were not compatible. Well, that and the fact that his solution to his problems is to drown them in Jack Daniels. I tried that once (with vodka, not Jack) and discovered that my problems could swim – like flippin Michael Phelps. I also discovered self-medication with alcohol was idiocy and moved on to better coping mechanisms. This led to my further discovery that the overwhelming majority of those issues were over-dramatizations of past injuries and the best way to move on was to starve them by not feeding it drama in the present. Eventually, I got on with my life and left all that behind. But that was me.
I am not a psychologist, but I do have the equivalent of a minor in psych (from all those college classes taken in my 20s to try to figure out what the F was wrong with me) and common sense. So, a bit of arm chair psych is enough to deduce that “Jack” really needs help. He had a violent, hard upbringing that most of us would find disturbing at best. Add that to a natural Type A controlling personality, a fragile ego, a sensitive temperament (which was ridiculed and discouraged from a very young age), early drug use (which is now replaced by alcohol coupled with a disdain for the weak minded who cope with drugs) and a deep-seated anger because of all of the above and you have a pretty screwed up psyche.
However, his ego will not allow him to get help. Most of us know that when you have problems asking for help is the bravest thing you can do. He sees that as weakness. And he does not understand that he perpetuates the cycle of self-loathing with alcohol, pride, anger and ridicule. I understand he is not a bad guy. I know he wants to be a nice guy, even. But between his natural hard line personality and life circumstances, it is a perfect storm of nature and nurture working together against that. Any slight, whether real or perceived, is taken to heart, cataloged and enumerated to await tallying with future slights or disrespect.
So it boils down to the fact that he is just an ass. A sad ass who does not want to be an ass and can have bouts of selflessness, but an ass nonetheless. And without dealing with the issues that plague him, he will probably always be an ass.
He also loves Ezra. And I can’t help but wonder how that love coupled with the issues above will play out in the future. I suppose I am going to find out. But this love and his low self-esteem manifests itself in anger, jealousy and acting out. Wanna take a wild guess at whom this anger and jealousy is directed? You got it. I get the anger; Jay gets the jealousy.
The apology last night was heartfelt, I don’t doubt that. He was shaky and turned about three shades of crimson while he was speaking. He looked positively apoplectic. He said what we already knew. Things like if Greta’s dad had done the petty things he has done recently to upset me while I was pregnant with Ezra he would have reacted much more angrily than Jay did. He said he been a jerk and would use stronger language if Ezra were not present. He told us how he would handle the situation in the future. We murmured our appreciation and I lightened things up and changed the subject. He and Ezra left.
Jay and I didn’t discuss it. But I figured there would be more to come. And there was. A text message came within 30 minutes saying that he also wanted us to know that he has had a hard time accepting Jay as another father figure in Ezra’s life, but he had “found his big girl panties, put em on and got over it.” I texted back a nice, but pat, “I can understand that and we all want to do what is best for Ezra” text. I really didn’t know what else to say. God knows I did not want to get in to a discussion of the matter.
You see, we also got this apology sometime last September after Jay and I had moved in together. That apology (complete with professions of acting like a petty jackass) followed a full month’s barrage of fights, including cussing and screaming over the phone, and was accompanied by nasty emails and texts. There was another apology around October after Jack and his girlfriend broke up and he moved out of her place (a full two weeks after he moved in), but I think that the one in October was really a continuation of September’s. And those had the same basic premise and ideas as last night’s apology: his difficulty in accepting Jay in Ezra’s life and the fact that he had come to terms with it and moved on. He magnanimously included that it was his issue not ours.
Same song and dance, different beat.
The only thing missing, and probably only missing because we haven’t gotten to it yet, is the email that comes telling me that I did not properly appreciate such a heartfelt and difficult act of humility, confession and apology. So, he is an ass, apologizes for it and then comes back mad at me? “Where’s my praise for doing the right thing?” Well, I have a suggestion (one I believe I have made before): stop doing asshole things and you won’t have to apologize for them.
My question remains the same. If an apology is repeated over and over for the same repeated actions, does it really make a sound? At some point, at the very least, it falls on deaf ears.
I suppose this post is really my quest for acceptance of the situation. As Jay has so sagely pointed out more than once, “Don’t look at me, baby. I am not the one who married him.” Trust me, I know. And Jay, probably one of the most well-adjusted and copacetic people I have ever met, has also pointed out that Jack will be something we have to accept as an issue to deal with for the rest of our lives.
Looks like I owe Jay an apology of my own.