What it Means to Be a Dad

On the rare occasions my son speaks with his father on Skype or Facetime, I often contemplate his distant role in my child’s life, and what it really takes to be a proper dad.

I have a very loose relationship with the father. I allow him as much (or in this case as little) contact as he wants with his son. He initiates the contact when he has time, and when he is not travelling somewhere. When he makes an appearance, it is always via a video call once every five, six o sometimes eight weeks, depending on whether the father has something to say, or whether he wants to find out how the child is doing at school or on a holiday.

The last time the two met in person was on my initiative, when we were ready to move out of New York in August 2015. I have so far failed to get the father to visit again or meet us in South Africa, even though there is a pressing need for his presence to sign the forms for our son’s South African passport. It is always too expensive, or there is no time. I try to process, and get over,  my resentment at how little my ex contributes, and how much he complicates our life by the mere fact of his legal status and existence as a father. It hurts my pride that I have to pursue this futile effort of demanding his cooperation on some issues, passport approval and travel permissions for instance, when in fact he bring next to nothing to our lives.

I know my son enjoys the long or short conversations he has with with his father. The man is technically savvy, and a bit of a nerd when it comes to subjects that interest my son. Yesterday evening they spoke about aircrafts, airlines, international aviation and travel. They shared information about YouTube videos they both follow, and opinions on recent air travel trends. My son is quite knowledgeable in these things. The problem that I see, though, is that my ex teaches my son certain attitudes. They spoke, for example, about germs and how they spread during air travel. According to my ex the worst places to carry germs are the tray tables, the magazines, the safety cards, the carpets and the top of the headrest where people usually grab a hold to get into their seats. This information might be of some importance, but I fear that it will make my son into the kind of germophobe my ex is. I have nothing against people who are aware of the possibility of contagion. I always carry a hand-sanitizer in my backpack, although I rarely use it. I do, however, look askance at people who make a show out of opening and closing bathroom doors with pinky fingers or using a paper towel. The action itself is not a problem, it is the attitude that underlies it that bothers me. And this is one of many things that eventually eroded any pretense of companionship I shared with my ex.

For me what is most important in a dad is to show moral leadership. My ex shows nothing of that. He is a man with an attitude and a grudge against the world. He is critical of people of certain body types, grooming, intelligence and sexual orientation. He does not come outright against them, but he has this poisonous attitude of one-upmanship. This poor parenting style is quite different from what I experienced as a child. My father is an old man now, and he is quite set in his opinions, attitudes and mind. He is quite inflexible on some moral arguments to the point of rigidity and sometimes extremism. He has always been, however, a principled man, who can show deep compassion. His love to us, his children, is the one constant that always shines through. He can argue with us for hours over petty things, and a minute later offer some huge amount of material or physical sacrifice if he felt we needed help. I could never expect any of my son’s needs to trump his father’s sense of entitlement or comfort.

My son loves his father. He said that to me, with a bit of an accusing tone, “I will always love him, no matter how he is”, and my heart ached for my little boy. I know that he enjoys what little the father offers. But I truly wish I could have brought a better father in his life.

Son, I wish you had a good man for a father. Someone who can teach you to accept and love people, the way they are, without judging them. Someone who could love you in the same way without judgment and accept whatever choices you make in life, and whatever path you follow. A man who would teach you how to respect women, protect their rights and treat them as peers and equals. I would not trust your father to teach you these things correctly.

I am also sad that I could not offer you someone to step-in as a father figure. Good men are hard to find, and when I did find one, he was already taken.

Anything But This….

I would never get involved with a married man. This is a rule I am unlikely to break because of my experience as a divorced woman. The script will be familiar only with different actors.

During the final stages of my ailing marriage, my ex husband found someone new. I strongly suspected this, but never worried about validating my suspicions or confronting him. I was loyal, and accepted the emotional wasteland of my marriage, after I was given the opportunity to give complete and unconditional love to the small human being my husband and I created together. I believed that he would soon rally back and we will be able to build something out of our flawed partnership for the sake of our child.

In this naive conviction, I was shocked then crushed when the husband chose the other woman and sent me away with my babe in arms. The world as I knew it ended. But then I awakened, and after experiencing the crushing loneliness, only possible within a relationship, I found out that now I was merely alone with my little baby. Soon I was aware that I was no longer standing under the looming shadow of my husband’s perpetual discontent. I began to see opportunities I never noticed before, I prospered in a new job and lived in new places.  While I regained my freedom and happiness, the other woman ended up with everything I lost; the tyrant husband, the shadow of discontent, and the unhappiness, followed closely by another divorce.

I am not crazy. I never want to become that other woman.

A Letter from my Old Self

A few days ago was the fifth anniversary of my divorce. I remembered it briefly in the midst of a busy day. I neither celebrate nor regret it, I just remember it as a landmark of my freedom and living my life the way that I want. In the past five years I have learned that I am better off without my ex, and if I was not totally convinced five years ago my subsequent dealing with him has made a complete believer out of me. It seems like the older the man gets the more alien he becomes to me and the less wisdom and sensitivity he gives to the psychological and emotional development of our son.

When I first thought of breaking up with my ex, my son Robert was not there. He was perhaps a mere thought in my mind that I was scared to articulate. After all I was 35, and my marriage was not working. I was still in love with my husband then, but the feelings were taking serious strain. On August 18th, 2005, I drove from East London to Cape Town, leaving him behind. I took my time there, to heal, to digest what happened.

I remember this today because inside an old dictionary I found a piece I wrote about eight years ago. This was before my experience with blogging, and before my brief reconciliation with my ex, a reconciliation that brought along my son Robert.
I wrote it on the back of a faxed quote for a new computer. I was starting to build up my life, and I needed a tool to work as a translator. The quote was dated August 30th, 2005. So I think I wrote these words early in September that same year. The background was my ex wanting us to reconcile and try to save our marriage. I was not sure then. I think I had a crush on a nice guy I met in Cape Town, and fancied myself starting over with someone new. I did not know what fun was in store for me, but here it is. It is too simple really to be called a poem, but I am still struck by the sincerity of my voice. It was only eight years ago, but I feel like reaching out through time and giving the immature woman who wrote this a hug, she was still somewhat of a pitiful figure just starting to build some backbone.

I am a refugee, afloat but only just
The horizon is clear, the waters are calm
And beyond them, lies the unknown.

With you I traveled far
I carried my pain
Along your side, I lived alone
You looked into my eyes you saw my soul
I looked into yours I saw your dreams
I touched you with love
I wanted you to take me under your skin
into your veins
You touched me back with fondness
and a pitying smile

The road to your dreams grew rough
I fell behind
I faltered, I stumbled, I bled
I carried on.
I forgot what this was for
but I carried on.
You never looked my way
or offered a hand, to hold on.
You know I would simply
soldier on. 

The nights would come 
where I lie in silence.
touching the bruised edges of my heart
while you slept.
feeling the wrinkles on my soul
dry with a thirst for love.
waiting to be given and never received.

The joyous emotions within me
were left to perish slowly.
But sometimes they erupted
in the glare of daylight
haunted and deformed into anger and pain.

The day finally came
When I would no longer bear.
I looked up from your dusty track
I saw stars, I saw sky
and a distant horizon.
I turned around to be embraced
by an endless ocean,
and I kept afloat.

Now you call me back
from your dry perch.
you pledge and you promise
you will never let go.
you love me, you say
You were wrong to drive me away.

The water is still between us
and the ticking of time.
You might not know it
but the tide has turned.
Destiny awaits me, beyond this horizon,
and it's not with you.

The Blogosphere : My Own Wishing Well

It has been a while as usual. I have now taken on a new challenge. I am studying Global Development through an online university and it is taking me a lot longer than prescribed to go through the material. It seems that I am somewhat of a slow reader.

Apart from that, two very important things happened. First, my son has his first Canadian passport. I do not think it is any thanks to his father; Canada is just a civilized country, which has respect for its citizens, regardless of their age, and does not discriminate against single mothers, whether they were Canadian or not. The father has given me a little lip recently about going to the Australian Embassy in Pnom Penh and wasting some of his precious time. I just let it slide, as I usually do. So we now have travel dates, and it is going to be absolutely fine, with a bit of administrative juggling to report Robert as a Canadian citizen here in the US. My employer would take care of that but it simply means that as far as the US government is concerned he would have to stay Canadian for as long as we stay here, and he will have a considerable advantage over his South African mother, I do not mind that.

Another amazing thing was, that I got my own little slice of window in a new office. It was purely through an act of providence that I got this blessed change of scenery. For once, the dreaded grapevine of office gossip served me correctly and I was recommended for an open plan cubicle without formally asking for it. I can only say, it was just good karma coming my way, or perhaps the magic of putting my desires and wishes out on the blogosphere; my own wishing well. A few weeks ago I blogged about my old hobbit hole of an office.

Next time I will wish for something more substantial.

Dear Blog: I want a tall, dark single dad with a sense of humor, and preferably with a connection to Africa.

Readers, cross your fingers for me, you will be the first to know if this works.

Worse than Useless

My son is starting to receive picture postcards from faraway places. He has two already, not the usual bright happy postcards, these seem to have a melancholic feel to them. The first is a picture of elephants bathing in a river in Thailand, while the other shows the backs of a mother and child kneeling to offer some food to a pair of orange-clad monks, it is from Laos. His father sent them, in his strange all-capitals printing style. They are signed LOVE PAPA & CLAIRE and always have the same silly remark “I hope school is not boring!”.

I first found out that my ex husband was a world-traveler on the one occasion when I needed him to do something for our son. Robert’s passport expired in March and I started applying for his new one in February. It turns out that South Africa requires me to have the father’s signature, even though I have full custody of the boy. I sent him the forms and asked him to sign them at the embassy but I am sure he never did.

I thought I would tackle it differently by applying for a Canadian passport for Robert. Last week I was reassured by one of the young officials at the embassy, so I went ahead and started the paperwork. Today as I showed them the forms for review, another older woman told me, to my dismay, he has to sign at the nearest embassy. So I go and email the father again. He said that the nearest Canadian embassy would be in Phnom Penh, and they won’t get there for some weeks.

I find it ironic that my son and I might ultimately be stuck here in the USA unable to go home, or anywhere else,  just because his worse than useless father is traveling the world. No wonder the cards injure my sensibilities. Not for the first time I cannot help the thought that we would have been better off without having the father in the picture.

Trip to Memory Lane

I have been doing a little housekeeping on my blog. I cannot believe I have been writing here on and off for over six years. I should have amassed more readership if I had more stamina, or if I kept at it consistently.

One of the problems I have is that I am a person with many interests, that change over time, depending on my current work or environment. I am a little shy of being controversial, because I believe I put here a lot of personal things, and people may very well recognize me from my writing.  At some point I kept a few separate blogs, an official personal blog, an anonymous personal blog, a knitting blog, and a professional blog. People who maintain one blog on a regular basis would immediately see the folly of this approach. It is hard enough to keep one vehicle of thought going, let alone two. And it is not possible at all to keep four of them going, not by one person at least. So I come back here, to take stock of what I have, and migrate more of my blogs into this Loskop site. I will work on categories to separate the personal from the professional and I will keep going. I should also try to get over this anxiety about who will, or will not read my blog. I will have to assume that those who keep up with me here will be kindred spirits. Those who do not like what I write will walk away. To me, writing is a completely pointless exercise if I cannot do it honestly. So you might learn that I am an Arabic translator, who loves the English language more than she loves her mother tongue. You will also know that I am a completely secular and non-practicing Muslim, who thinks that religion serves no useful purpose in building societies and nations. Neither piece of information is newsworthy, but you may also find worse revelations here.

About a year ago, my ex asked me to delete any mention of his name on my blog. At the time he was courting his third wife, who apparently looked things like that up. I was peeved at the request, but I still obliged and deleted the names. However, a Google search will still point to the pages, regardless of their content. This has to do with the way web crawlers work and index the web. I did not see the point of his request until today when I was browsing through my old posts in order to organize them. Some of what I wrote during the time of divorce is extremely raw. Many posts are striking for what is left unsaid, or for the pathetic voice of the female trying to make every possible excuse for why the male in her life is treating her like rubbish, and considering their baby a mere inconvenience to his rest and exercise routine. When I later imported my anonymous platform, the truth sometimes outed glaringly, exposing him for the selfish brute he always was. I was forced to re-live some of my personal indignities in detail, it was not a pleasant memory.

There is an upside too. I can look back at the hardships of those fateful months in 2008/2009 and see how transient and insignificant my current troubles are. They are like small weather patterns in the course a transatlantic flight, the jet flies right through them, and they are smaller to warrant a change in the flight path.  I will therefore carry on, taking pleasure in the fact that I now have a continuing contract as a Translator in my international NGO. My job is as secure as any here, and I just need to find my way within the myriads of bureaucracy and inefficiency. I will make the best of my stay in New York, work hard, enjoy good food and grow in spirit with my growing son. I will no longer dwell on things that have been lost, or at least I will try to truly move on. The history, of all my joys, tribulations and mistakes is there, for anyone who cares to read it. I mostly write with my son in mind, and therefore I want to stay open and honest.

I apologize in advance to the people who know me personally and find themselves misrepresented in any way. You are welcome to write and comment if you want. The things I wrote are firmly anchored in their time and place, and the views I held in 2008, for example, are not cast in stone, but they have to stand in their context. From now on I will try to keep a veil on identities, but I cannot help the obvious ones, for example in the case of my Ex husband, and my son. I have only one of each, and this is unlikely to change. I may also need to do some more work in the area of ex boyfriends, there are also pathetically few of them.

So here again, you will get to know all the facets of this Arab South-African Translator Single-Mom Lover-of-Music-Reading-and-Knitting LOSKOP.

When The Stage Entrance Matters Most

At times having an absentee father is more frustrating than having none at all. I am sure I am not the only single mother who has come to this conclusion. Sometimes, it feels like all I do is damage control from one or other of my ex husband’s well-meant (or not so well-meant) comments, letters, or gifts.

The latest came late last week in the mail. Robert was so excited to get a letter from his dad in a lightly padded envelope. It contained a card with a picture of a reindeer. Inside it his father drew a detailed picture of a Christmas tree complete with presents underneath and an electrical plug for the lights.

The main thrust of the letter, however, was the “present”. A magic shell that his father and stepmother found washed out on the beach. They put in a lot of effort to make it into a necklace that “will protect Robert from hurricanes and bad wizards”. For the magic to work, the father said in his card, Robert has to sleep with the necklace under his pillow before he puts it on. Now it all might have been good with me if the shell hasn’t arrived broken into a dozen little fragments. I immediately bemoaned the cheap father who was unable to put the thing in a proper protective envelope. Admittedly I wrote a very uncharitable email to that effect, saying that next time please a plain card would do very well, since he cannot afford the expense of good packaging required.

In a later conversation with my mom, bless her kind heart, she gave me a different perspective. She said that it was perhaps a good thing that the shell arrived broken to smithereens, and that the good power of the universe was obviously not happy with the hogwash in the card. She thought that it was not good to bring a child up with superstitions and belief in magic. A child should believe in God and guardian angels, rather than black magic and superstitious stuff. I was amazed at her insight and though that it would have been a burden for Robert to carry this meaningless talisman from his father, whether out of love or duty. My mom said that the way she understands my ex, his actions are ruled by his ego, and that he has to be put centre stage, and that was basically the function of the shell, so that Robert would keep it always, a permanent reminder of his father, like a doggie tag.

My mom also laughed off my fears and trepidations at reading the card to Robert. She advised me to play it off as a joke. His father is joking with this story about the shell. Another of her ideas was to tell Robert that the good angels destroyed the shell en-route because they knew it was fake. I was so relieved to hear this simple wisdom.

As for my ex he will always be ill-equipped as a father. In the old days he used to draw inspiration from me on what to send his children, and that was years before I became a mother myself. Now obviously he draws it from his 3rd wife, who has deep insecurities. I have seen my son’s father wearing a necklace that must have come from her, his own tag. I can see how she might have contributed to the necklace idea.

In any event, my son’s father was never good at choosing appropriate presents. Last year the holiday present he sent his son was sparklers, which may have been an illegal airmail item. Some people simply lack the parent mindset, Robert’s father is one of many.

The One Who Got Away

Changing tack from the frequent whinging about my ex, let me tell you a story about the man in my life that I never forgot. It seems like amongst the many men that come calling in a woman’s life there is always one who stands head and shoulders above the rest. It is normally one of those lucky ones that got away, someone who never had the chance to disappoint, break a promise or do any serious damage. That particular person seems to be always there, as an idea, unfairly compared in the mind to a flesh and blood husband, a jilted lover, or the person who caused the most recent heartbreak.

Notwithstanding my current cynical view of love and relationship. I haven’t been immune to the feeling in my younger days. In fact, I would say I was rather susceptible to it. During my years at university I even remember devising ways to meet an unsuspecting (or sometimes very much suspecting) object of my affection accidentally on purpose. I was never very subtle about it, so it is just as well that the young men I tried to snare mostly did not turn up for those badly planned coincidences. In time I would get over those infatuations, lose interest or find someone else to swoon over, and nobody would get seriously hurt in the process. Generally speaking, I am grateful that I never hitched myself to any of the men I once admired. Some have changed into caricatures of their younger selves, but mostly it was I who has changed.

At age 28 I left my birth country, fleeing a broken heart. It was an impossible bond with a man already promised to another. He claimed that his marriage will not change what he felt for me but I did not want to become the other woman in a miserable triangle. I now look back and shake my head at the memory of the heartbroken immature person I was back then. I wonder whatever it was that I loved in a man who lacked true backbone. At the time I found him sensitive and caring, we heard love songs together, and cried over their sad words. To him perhaps I am the one who got away, the one he remembers after all the others sank under the weight of their years, or got lost within the folds of their traditional dress and traditional lives. Perhaps I am the equal partner he wants to be with instead of coming home to his servile and hopelessly dependent wife. To me, however, the sun has revolved over a dozen times around the sun, and I have walked halfway around the world, and the simple fellow who once read poetry to me has remained the same sad spineless figure, he belongs to the past to someone that used to be me.

All the others, including my ex, are a story that has been read and written to the end. They came, they saw, and they might have even conquered for a while, but they all left, on their own or on my bidding. Some hurt me, others got hurt, but eventually they will all fade from memory. Even those who brought smiles or happy times will fade, because memory is only worth as much as the person it keeps alive. Sometimes, I cherish the ancient memory of someone long gone from my life, because that person is still dear to my soul. That memory is treasured like the photo album of a happy childhood, and no matter how rarely it is looked at it always tugs at the heart. Other memories, are discarded, like that fancy dress bought on impulse, and worn only once, that inevitably finds its way to the donation pile, because seeing it in the wardrobe always reminds of a moment of poor taste.

And so it was amongst all the heartbreaks I went through, and all the hearts that I have broken. There is always the one who got away, the one I still remember. He was the boy I loved once when I was a girl. We spent the summer of my 14th year with his family, enjoying sun, sea and sand. He was not handsome in the classical sense, but he got me hooked on the warm depth of his brown eyes. He was not tall, but his enthusiasm for gymnastics gave him an impressive broad-shouldered figure. He was also very nimble and agile on his feet. Many years later I would be reminded of him when I looked into the eyes of an African Kudu, graceful, powerful with unbelievably gentle eyes.

The summer we first connected was our first major holiday back home after two years in Abu Dhabi. Our family holidays were always a noisy affair, we spent them with many relatives’ families in a shared block of flats in a coastal resort. My childhood hero and I became friends that summer, he was 18 then, almost a university student and thus worthy of my early adoration. Later, I ostensibly wrote letters to his sister, and was thrilled beyond measure when he sent the occasional reply on feather-light pink paper. I can still see his beautifully penned sentences, with the letters curling onto each other, and twisting in a symmetrical dance between the lines. Those letters were full of his understated somewhat crude boyish humor. I read them over and over again the winter that followed, hearing his deep chuckle in the words. That year I even tried to imitate his handwriting, ending up with a barely legible version of his elegant one for a while, until sanity prevailed and I returned to writing in my own unspectacular manner.

I think I forgot about him for a couple of years after that, when I went through serial crushes on soccer stars and singers. I was mad on pop music at the time, and there were many pretty boys on the charts then, like there is now.  My Greater Kudu would feature again in my life during my first year at university, when my family returned home for good. We became close again, and this time friendship was destined to grow into something more. It was in fact a breath away from becoming serious, but I just annihilated it with one word. I snubbed the first guy I kissed, who was probably my only true soul-mate on the pretext that he was an atheist.  People who know me today would find this hilarious, because the girl who fancied herself then some sort of a born-again Muslim has turned into an agnostic, highly critical of religion. It is also funny because less than ten years after snubbing a Muslim atheist I ended up marrying a Christian atheist, who only converted to Islam so that we could get married.

It has been almost twenty years since I let that boy get away. After my knee-jerk reaction to his love declaration, I think I secretly pined for him for a while and wished my harsh words away many times. But I met the man who would eventually drive me away from home. While my first love lost would move in ever widening circles around me until another woman would know his true worth and sweep him away to another continent. Around the same time I would be swept away too in an opposite direction.

In some uncanny way though, our lives took parallel courses. His wife had a  previous marriage and children from that marriage, and so had my ex. Some twelve more years down the line we now live in the same city. There, the resemblance ends though, because he is happily married, has two delightful children with a wife who cherishes and appreciates him, more so because of what she suffered at the hands of her first husband. Ironically, her status as a divorcee, with children from her first marriage, set his whole family against the marriage for a long time. Nobody even raised an eyebrow when I was marrying a divorced man, who left two young  children behind – but that is different story, for some other time.

Losing it… Again.

I have been living in New York now for over a year, and time has once more flown and there are many things I failed to catch up with.

Last year, against all odds I had a very close brush with falling in love. It was not pretty. I had the anxiety, the heartache, I was worried, and I was jealous. Mostly though I felt guilty and uncomfortable. When this happened, it came out of nowhere, and after all the tears and the self-blame and the fear, it suddenly died down to nothing. When I finally put an end to it, I felt nothing but absolute relief.

This puts a new spin on my life. Now I have entered the realm of villains. I broke up, without thinking twice or giving any reason, with someone who has perhaps learned to love me. I am ashamed of this, a little, but I could not pretend love once it was gone. It is over, I face it, and live with the consequences. Now there is an awkward silence between two people who perhaps could have been friends, if it was not for a period of insanity when I allowed emotion to triumph over reason.

Last March Robert and I flew to South Africa, and shortly after that trip I decided to pull the plug on my ailing project of a relationship. Since April I have vowed to devote myself to my work, and to my son. I scarcely have time for myself, let alone the energy to nurture a relationship or heaven forbid a late second marriage. Besides, now that I am past forty I think it makes sense to play it cool. I am almost certainly past bearing another child, so why should I try to find a mate? Unfortunately, unlike my mother, I find myself often swayed from the kingdom of reason, especially that there is no lack of single men in the workplace. In all the years following my divorce I was always surrounded by married men, seriously involved men, or gay men. These are my kind of men, they are safe to flirt and joke with, and they are certainly off limits. I am immune to married men. Ironically, I was also safe when I was caught in the emotional wasteland of my marriage. I only started noticing other men when I broke away from it.

If it was not for my spectacular failure in my latest attempt at sharing my life with another person, I would have perhaps thrown caution to the wind, and got to know this new man that I noticed recently. But the memory and shame of that failure haunt me. I have come to suspect that, indeed, I am not fit to share with anyone.

My ex husband used to tell me that I was way too independent. He is right somewhat. I cannot bear being questioned and second guessed by a man. I would rather live with a man who did not care much, who left me some freedom, than succumb to someone who would censor my behavior with a boyfriend’s or husband’s authority. Needless to say that this train of thought and these developments in my life are starting to worry me. Therefore I will try to write about them again. Writing helped me very much through a divorce. Maybe it will protect me from setting myself up to fall in love again, because I know in advance that any romantic project I enter into will be certainly doomed to failure. Married life is not for me. Kudos to my ex who is busy trying it for the 3rd time.

Tactless Ex-es

My ex will not win any prizes for tact this lifetime. I have suffered enough for his tact throughout our marriage but mostly during the awful times around our divorce. It could have been worse, of course, had I at any point contested the divorce, asked for more child support or a better settlement.

One of his most awful deeds at that time was forwarding the acrimonious emails of his mom and his older sister to my inbox. The emails had been intended for his eyes only, hateful words against me from people who hardy know me, that might have massaged his pride and given him the support he “needed” in a predicament he most certainly asked for. I was extremely hurt by his action at the time-which I assume was his intention in the first place. Nevertheless, this action went unpunished on my side because at the time I still cared, and most importantly I still needed him to look after Robert while I tried to get back to work. To tell the truth I do not believe I could ever punish my ex for anything because I am fully aware of my son’s love to him and I do not want to be the one to demonize his beloved papa for him; soon enough he will get to know him by himself and make a judgment. I will not extend the same curtsey though to the mother and older sister of my ex, I still want nothing to do with them and that relationship will never be salvaged. My rationale is that my son has only one father but more than one aunt and he has a loving grandmother already. Maybe it is also my way to punish my ex indirectly since I cannot get him directly.

Today featured the latest installments of tact from my ex. He dropped off our son with me while I was attending a baby shower with the girls. I noticed a yellow envelope in the front pocket of Robert’s baby bag. I took it out to see writing that looked familiar. On one side of the envelope it said: “From: Duzi* (brown-noser)” the other side said: “To: XXX (boss)”


I could not believe my eyes, it was a birthday card I had given him in 2004 or more likely in 2005 (the year I first attempted to split up with him).  What is the purpose of giving it back? I have no idea and I do not care. The card however gave me an insight into the woman I was five or six years ago, feeling the pain, the pressure, the joylessness of my life and still trying and struggling to put a brave face on it, and still loving in my own helpless way. It definitely did not make me miss that marriage.

At the time I was helping my ex run a service station in the Eastern Cape and he was my boss. It was perhaps the toughest few years in my life both personally and professionally. Not even getting thrown out of my home with a six-month old baby comes close, because in the Eastern Cape I was oh, so alone. I had no friends, and no support whatsoever. It is no wonder that in the end I sought the help of people who were almost strangers to me, to make my break and escape.

In the Eastern Cape I visited a therapist for the first time in my life. During that maiden session I poured out my disappointment and grief about a marriage that has never really given me any joy. I spoke of a husband who almost always undermined me. I will never forget the therapist asking me whether there was anything good in that marriage, and me finally admitting that there wasn’t. I haven’t been to a therapist again after that. That session was a watershed experience and set in motion my escape out of that marriage. Soon after that I drove from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town. My ex, having realized that there was no stopping me changed his tact at that crucial juncture and started prying on my emotions my still present love – or dependency, on him.

It was to be the beginning of a couple of years where I remained torn between leaving and staying, and I ended up deciding to stay once our son was conceived. It is ironic that after all that the final decision of divorce was forced upon me, but it was the correct thing to do. I have never looked back. I do not look back unless the memory is forced upon me like it was with this card.

I will just post it here for the record. It meant something in its time, but it is now just a piece of history. All I can say is, why the heck does he return the card and not return the books I gave him as presents all these years, now that would have been something I can use.

*Duzi is the nickname my ex gave me. I never looked it up and now I think he meant doozy.  It is given many meanings in the urban dictionary among them: bizarre, daunting, but also extraordinary. Knowing my ex I doubt he ever meant it in a nice way. It was rather an expression of how odd he found me.