Poor Joyless Man

Many years ago my ex husband and I saw the film American Beauty. In the movie we meet the protagonist Lester, a married man with a teenage daughter. We watch as his marriage (and life) derail in bizarre circumstances. I can still remember the scene where Lester laments to his wife Carolyn : “How did you become so…. joyless?”. If there was one word to describe my marriage or my ex husband, that will be it… joyless.

Two weeks ago my ex and I came into another awful confrontation. He had expected me to pay him over the occupational rent (money paid by the buyer to the seller for occupying a property while it is still registered in the seller’s name) for the house that was sold in the Eastern Cape. He thought that it was his right, in lieu of the maintenance he paid us (?).  Stupidity prevented me from disputing such ludicrous proposal when it was made, but I figured out how unfair it was a few hours later. The money from the sale of the house was supposed to be my divorce settlement and my ex has washed his hands clean from every expense that related to finalizing the sale of the house. Out of my pocket I paid for the auction which turned out to be an absolute flop, and from the proceeds of the sale I paid the real estate agent commission the rates and taxes, the costs for cleaning the pool and a final municipal bill that amounted to over R 8000.  Whenever anyone asked him something about the house in Gonubie he referred them to me, saying that the house now belongs to me. So I do not understand under which pretext does he want to claim the amount of occupational rent ( R 9000 for two months). When I stated my case in these words my ex went ballistic and called me names, and threatened -as usual- to withdraw Robert’s support.

Obviously he was still resentful even days later because he indicated that he wanted to be out of my medical aid. He still asked me though for prices of discounted flights to Canada, which I get as a benefit of my job.  I have to say here that I have come to a point in my life where I am no longer resentful of my ex. I can write horror stories of his maltreatment of me, his emotional abuse, his selfishness and stinginess.  When he flies at me with unfounded accusations, throwing at me what ” I did to him” I want him at the other end of the world. Perhaps this is one reason why I want to facilitate for him getting a ticket to Canada. It is the perverse wish that something will happen to keep him there, and out of my hair for good.  But all this notwithstanding, sometimes I still feel sorry for the man, and his damaged personality. He is a person incapable of feeling love, not the way I feel it anyway.

My ambiguous feelings towards the man came full circle yesterday. I phoned him to ask him again whether he was sure he wanted me to take him off his medical aid. I found a confused and agonized person. His plans of spending Christmas with his family were derailed by his mother’s frosty reception. His “relationship” isn’t what he expected. He paid me a backhanded compliment by saying that I was intelligent in comparison and although I seemed to do everything wrong I was a hundred times better than other woman (this type of compliment is typical to him so I cannot take offense). He even said that he is starting to realize that he was probably better off married to me, and all he wanted now was to see Robert grow.

Now I am not going to make too much of what he said.  He will soon revert to his old self again, and once he is strong he will believe again all the lies he tells himself. Still I found myself once more in my familiar role as psychoanalyst and adviser. I offered some tepid advice, and tried to avoid to many ” I told you so”s.  I am certain though that the man will never change. Sometimes his conscience catches up with him, it is usually when someone else offers him the type of coldness and cruelty he dispenses to others. But then he runs away from the truth again, mixing up with people who would tell him how great he is and convince him he is not a horrible person person after all. His mother by her very existence uncomfortably gives him a mirror of the very characteristics he hates about himself; he is too weak to change, and too proud to accept them. Instead he escapes into self delusion, with whoever wants to live the lie with him.  I feel sorry for his wasted joyless life, at the same time I am grateful that I was given the chance to escape it. I only hope those misery genes will not get passed on to our son.

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