Keeping my sense of humor during this time of transition in my life is a challenge. I used to think that nothing would dull my ability to laugh at life, whether it be sickness or trial, and for the most part that has been the truth. This has not been a time of wailing, depression, or extreme loneliness — those times came before. The challenge comes in maintaining the proper motivation for life, pushing through, staying strong, doing what needs to be done. Even more of a stretch is recognizing what this whole divorce situation is doing to my family, how they are handling it, and deciding how I should react.
That might be the most difficult challenge. Already aggressive and angry before my wife and I headed towards divorce, his anger was magnified by the announcement. It’s tough for him watching the house literally and figuratively being dismantled, prepared for sale and the finality of what certainly means an end to life as he knows it. I get it. I feel for him.
That said, I have to carry on, keep working on getting the house ready to sell, despite his protests and his lashing out. A week ago, last Saturday, I began preparing our living and dining rooms for painting, took down pictures and patched and taped the trim. The living room is where my son retreats when he gets tired of playing video games in his bedroom, even has taking to sleeping on the living room couch most nights (which I do not like). After working all day and evening last Saturday, I plopped on the couch and settled in to watch a movie, the second installment of the Rambo series. Just as Rambo started getting into it with the bad guys, a perturbed male voice announced behind me — CHANGE THE CHANNEL, I WANT TO WATCH THE FOOTBALL GAME. I was tired, drained, and not ready for the conflict that had just been thrust at me. On top of that, I can’t think of a time in recent history where my son has not done exactly the same thing to me. I rarely get to watch more than ten minutes of a movie before my son enters, demands the channel be changed, or snatches the TV remote to change the channel.
This time I refused. I told him no. When he started to fight me about it, I stood up. Immediately, I had a large 17 year old boy swinging at me and connecting. I yelled at him, told him to stop and think about what he was doing. When he started swinging at me again, I knocked him to the floor, slapped him on the arm, backed up and told him to leave me alone. He didn’t. He jumped up and tried to tackle me, then when he failed to do that ran out in bare feet and shorts to the garage, where he grabbed a hammer from my workbench. Stomping back across the garage, he announced to me that he was going to use the hammer to put holes in the walls inside the house. I stopped him. He swung the hammer at me halfheartedly, then threw it against the inside of the garage door. Retreating to my workbench, where my mountain bike was also parked, he stood on the carpet there, threatening to find a tool to use to wreck my bike.
He stood there for two hours, barefooted and in shorts. It was 7 degrees outside. I stood inside the house, asked him to come inside and talk about what was going on, told him I was sorry for what is going on, explained that nothing he could do would change the situation. Any damage he would do would only make the situation worse. My son pleaded with me, don’t sell the house. It has to be sold, I told him.
He’s angry. I get it. So am I, for that matter. He’s also trying to control, using the divorce as another excuse to be aggressive. I get that too.
At one point, I called 911 but hung up before they answered (it rang 3 times without an answer). I didn’t want to deal with a son who was frostbitten. I didn’t want to have to fight him, which he was challenging me to do. I didn’t want my mountain bike to be damaged, a prize to me in more ways than one. And I was too tired to deal with the situation for much longer. I feigned a call to his mother, who was out with friends. I called a friend, who at 11:30 PM had already gone to bed. My only real choice, besides asking the law to intercede, was to wait it out.
Eventually she came home, nearly two hours into the standoff, just as I had reached my breaking point and had started yelling at him to get inside the house. Hearing me yell, she immediately blamed me for the entire situation. He’s obviously distraught, she exclaimed, so leave him alone. I wasn’t going to leave until he did, even as they both berated me for loving my precious bicycle more than them. After another half hour of standoff, he agreed to leave my bicycle alone if we would leave him alone. We did. He came inside, instantly charged me as he came through the door, swinging at me again. I left, went upstairs, shut the bedroom door behind me and locked it. It was 12:30. The conflict had started nearly at 9 PM.
The next morning, when I came home from church, my wife insisted that I finish painting the downstairs rooms and hallway by the end of the day. She didn’t offer to help. It was all my fault. I was wrong for what had happened the night before, needed to be more sensitive to our son. While I agree with her that he is more sensitive right now, she did not agree with me when I said that he was also trying to take advantage of the situation. There needed to be a balance. Instead of backing him up, for a change she needs to support me and not instantly defend him.. for once. Just because we are getting a divorce does not mean that she does not need to support me.
And so it goes.
I can’t get out of the house fast enough. This needs to be over. That was my prayer at 12:30 last Saturday night (or early Sunday morning).
It does suck to be me, enough that it’s almost comical. The money that I was hoping to use to start the divorce moving was sucked into a car repair, to the tune of $1600 a week ago, with $160 added for a rental car. Yep. December 31, my VW decided to rebel. Maybe it’s angry with me, too? I only have to laugh.
I have finished painting downstairs, start painting the stairwell and upstairs hall today. New windows will be installed in the upstairs master bedroom this Wednesday. New carpet has already been installed, powder room tile regrouted, kitchen cabinets restored, trim replaced, doors rehung, outside of the house cleaned and repaired. I’m close, probably 2-3 weeks away from the house being ready to list.
I’m trying to be patient.