“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
I’ve spent a lot of the last two years wondering how E would describe his behaviour or behave when confronted with it. I’ve seen (and quoted) emails he sent in which he presented himself as honourable and ‘decent’ and that twisted (or, in the case of my Mum’s cancer, simply lied about), events and facts to manipulate them to his advantage, but I’ve still never really been able to understand what his perspective was.
I think I’d just about given up ever understanding E’s version of events, when I was emailed his response to my solicitor’s letter about the money situation. This letter simultaneously expressed the worst of what I thought he might think, whilst exposing how wide the gulf between his understanding of events and my understanding of them is.
I don’t know what I was expecting him to say. I guess I knew, in my heart of hearts, that it would be painful to read what he would say about me. But I suppose I was still hoping that he had some shred of respect for me and the fact that we’d been together for 25 years, that we’d shared a life and produced four amazing children. But any hope of that was dashed within a few sentences.
Whilst a lot of what he said in the letter hurt me deeply, I can accept that we will both have a different take on what’s happened. I even accept that my view of events might be skewed, that maybe I am unwittingly distorting events. Obviously, I don’t think I am. I try to be as honest as possible, but we all have our blind spots. The fact is that ultimately, we can all only ever present things from our own point of view and no matter how hard I try, I can never be totally, objectively, fair about something so very personal. I also understand that E sees recent events very differently from me, and will present them as such, but it’s so hard to see yourself through the eyes of someone who holds you in such deep contempt.
For obvious legal reasons, apart from outlining a couple of examples, I’m not going to talk in detail about what his letter says, (impressively, it was five pages long, which is, I think the longest letter I’ve ever seen E write to or about me) but it was interesting (if painful) to see what his perspective is – the insight it gives to how he feels about things is grimly fascinating.
In an incredibly self-righteous letter, his first major point was, unsurprisingly, regarding the money. Apparently, in The World According To E, even though he didn’t pay me a penny in November and December, leaving me unable to buy food, or buy Christmas presents, he was still ‘making payments’ to me because he was paying the kids’ phone contracts and making the payments on a secured loan we have on the house (that has been paid from his account for the three years we’ve had it ). He also detailed all of the extras he’d paid for over the last couple of years, all of which I’ve acknowledged, and most of which I’ve mentioned here (in fact it’s quite possible he got his inventory from this blog – see below). For some reason he also feels that the debt he is in is my fault and ‘carried forward’ from his relationship with me (I wasn’t aware of agreeing to fund a Florida wedding with two wedding dresses for P with the brides’ close family in attendance, but maybe I missed something?).
It was also clear from his letter that he’s read this blog. He describes it first as: ‘online content about me that is far from pleasant‘ and suggests that ‘the posting of such material is not consistent with an ‘amicable solution’‘. He then says ‘a lot of negative comment and abuse of me has been posted in recent months’ claiming that ‘most of these have come from J’. He goes on to insist that such ‘public criticism needs to stop‘ before demanding that I password restrict my blog. I did wonder for a moment if he was reading the same blog and comments from me that I’m writing? Ok, so I might have suggested that he looked like the Man From Del Monte in his wedding suit, but you show me a middle aged man in a white suit that doesn’t look like The Man From Del Monte and I’ll down a tin of fruit segments in one. I might have taken the mickey, but I don’t think I’ve ever abused him in this blog or in any of the comments about it? Maybe he finds it unpleasant because, well, the truth about how he’s behaved and what he’s done is unpleasant? If so, I’m afraid I can’t help that.
His remarks re the blog reminded of the Carly Simon lyric ‘I bet you think this song is about you’. This blog isn’t about him, it’s about me, it’s about the kids, it’s about dealing with multiple infidelities and moving on after being desperately and deeply hurt. This blog has been vital for me in moving through the pain I’ve experienced, and sharing it has been about reaching out to others who have been through a similar thing. It’s helped me and I think it’s helped them. Someone really needs to tell E that not everything is about him – actually, maybe I just have?
Fortunately, there was one part of the letter that made me laugh out loud – on the very last page he says: “one thing I have not mentioned at all in the above detail is that I am now married”. Well, given that it took him nearly a year to ‘mention’ it to his kids (via Oldest Daughter), and that he still hasn’t fessed up in person to his parents or his sister, this was probably the least surprising, most honest, thing about the whole letter.
It was very, very, strange reading the letter. Not for the first time, I felt like I was being plunged into a parallel world, through the looking glass, where everything looks similar, but is, in fact, completely different. Like Humpty Dumpty, to whom words mean what he wants chooses them to mean, it seems that E’s version of reality, is unique. There are facts (I had no money from E for two months) and there is what E wants those facts to mean (E was very generously paying for other things for both of those months). I’m, not denying, nor was I hiding that he was paying those things, but in E’s World, those things signify very differently.
The worst thing about reading it was that I caught myself thinking ‘maybe it is my fault’, ‘maybe I am being unreasonable’, ‘maybe I have been unfair’. This was exactly how I used to feel when I thought E was having an affair. The speed with which I fell into that mindset was distressing. It took me a good few hours to remind myself that it is E who has refused to communicate with me, that E only gave me two months to agree to sell the house before withdrawing the money, that the money I’ve asked him to spend over the last two years has only ever been the money that a life with four children needs, that I’ve only ever ignored two of his emails whilst he’s ignored pretty much everything I’ve ever sent him, and that, no matter how his debts were accrued, he had had more than enough money to clear them by the end of 2017. The thing I realised last of all was that none of this is my fault.
I know it’s a game now. It’s a negotiation. Unpleasant things will be said about me, not all of which will be true and I have to try and stand my ground to get the best, fairest solution for the children and I. I just hope that the topsy-turvey world I’ve found myself in rights itself somehow.