E’s response, or lack thereof, to what had happened with Youngest Daughter was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of my perception of him. Until that point, I’d still sort of hoped he was a decent person who was acting out of character (an otherwise good man who was a bit of a liar and had a serious shag-anything-that-moved character flaw). Now I began to realise that perhaps he just wasn’t a very nice person at all.
As February drew to a close and I began the usual beginning of month series of texts and emails to E – asking why the money he’d agreed to pay every month wasn’t in my account (almost every month I have to ask him for the money he has agreed to pay, he always pays it in the end, but I always have to go through the anxiety of checking my bank account and seeing that the money hasn’t been paid as agreed), I finally began to question who he really was.
I’d emailed him a couple of times after what had happened asking if he wanted to be involved in the process of helping Youngest Daughter with her treatment and he had completely ignored me. In the end, I just had to accept that he just wasn’t interested in helping with her. I didn’t tell Youngest Daughter about this, but I stopped insulting her intelligence by insisting that her Dad did care for her really but was just rubbish at showing it (we’d had more arguments about this than anything else over the last year or so – she would declare that her Dad didn’t love her, and I would try to reassure her that of course he did, and she’d then shout at me, telling me I didn’t understand and angrily stamp out of the room). I decided that I simply wasn’t prepared to be his advocate anymore. I wasn’t about to start bad mouthing him to the kids, but I was absolutely damned if I was going to keep defending him. He was making his bed, and he could lie in it.
I think the email that best summed up his priorities, and his attitude, was the one he sent a few days into March, in response to my end of February emails about why he hadn’t paid me any money yet. He apologised for being “totally silent” but then tried to excuse this by explaining that, in addition to work being busy, P had “ended up in surgery” (“for what?”, mused Oldest Daughter when I told her, “inserting a soul and a sense of decency?”). E then lamented at length about how he’d had to drive her to and from hospital *in the snow* which had made life difficult for him.
I stared at his email, almost unable to comprehend what I was reading. This was an email from a father whose daughter had taken an overdose less than two weeks ago. This was a man who hadn’t even asked his daughter how she was since it had happened, and yet he was expecting me to sympathise with him about how difficult he was finding things, because the new wife he’d lied about had had to have surgery. What on earth was he expecting? Sympathy? Understanding? An “Oh! That explains it! That’s absolutely fine! In that case it’s completely understandable that you’ve shown no interest at all in your incredibly vulnerable, fragile and deeply hurting daughter and haven’t transferred the funds that allow me to pay the mortgage on the house I live in with your children…”?
I kept my reply short and to the point, explaining that I’d also had to go to a couple of hospital appointments (ten miles way) over the last week or so with Youngest Daughter, but we’d had to get taxis to her appointments – also disrupted by the snow – because, unlike him and P, we had no car.
It was after receiving this email that the penny finally dropped and I sent my last ever text to E. I suddenly realised that, when I’d sent angry or emotional texts, I was trying to appeal to a person that I thought I knew, but who didn’t exist, and probably never had existed. I realised that it was pointless trying to appeal to the better nature of someone who just didn’t have one. I then blocked him and deleted his contact details. He could still contact me by email and he could still leave me voicemail messages, but I wanted to cut him out of my life as much as possible.
It had taken over a year, in fact, if I date it from my discovery of his first affair, it had taken just over ten years, but I’d finally given up on him. Even though I’d never wanted him back and I certainly didn’t love him anymore, I think until now I’d been stubbornly clinging on to a belief I’d had for 25 years – the belief that he was a decent man who, despite being an idiot sometimes, was honourable and principled. It had taken me an embarrasingly long time, but I finally saw that E simply wasn’t the person I’d thought he was.