Today I had an experience with an Interlock device… on my ex-husband’s car. I willingly participated in blowing into this device for the hour it took me to get to the office to have it removed. How did I end up here? It’s a twisted story in ways. Here is a small tale of working it out for the benefit of the kids, Interlock devices, and other strange experiences.
It all started like this; girl met boy…Life got incredibly hard.
It all started like this; girl met boy, girl fell in love with boy. Boy had issues that he had been dragging around in life. Boy and girl had two children. Life got incredibly hard. Girl felt caged, and boy kept making the same mistakes over and over again. Girl married boy anyway because…love. Boy saw no motivation to change, and girl’s heart broke over and over again. Eventually, girl divorced boy. Girl’s heart was tattered and torn. Life went on, and still things grew harder. Boy hit rock bottom. Boy ended up in a destructive relationship with another destructive person. Boy got two DWI’s, fought with ex-wife, and went on a downward spiral for a little while. Then Boy woke up one day and decided he needed to change things. Boy wanted to fix what he had broken and mend the life he had nearly destroyed. Girl agreed that this was the better way. Girl and Boy tried to find some middle ground.
So, some years later my ex-husband and I are working things out in life to be a co-parenting team for our kids. Last month my ex decided that he was going to sit out time in jail in order to make continued progress in life. It was basically a decision of moving on from past mistakes, getting the interlock device removed from his car, knocking debt out, and so on. This coming after a break-up from his girlfriend of two years, and the time together had done neither of them any favors. So, as he made plans to go sit for a month or more, I was more than willing to participate in helping him turn over a new leaf. Thus, today I had my first experience with an Interlock device.
I wish I could tell you that I helped because I’m a saint. I wish I could say that I did so because I am a good person. The fact of the matter is that I’m as flawed and screwed up as anyone else I know. I’m so far from perfect and saintly that I could write a novel for all the ways I am hardly good and pure. I, like most people I’m sure, do try my hardest to do the right thing in situations. I also fail a lot. It wasn’t saintly status that motivated me. It was not even a pureness of heart. I struggle as much with the right thing as anyone might. I did it because I did not divorce the man because I didn’t love him.
Sometimes I do not understand the ways people treat each other after divorce. I know that he and I went through an extremely rocky period for a few years. We didn’t agree on anything, fought over just about everything, and struggled to hold everything together for the kids we had dragged into the middle of the decisions we made. Neither of our children had asked for any of the problems, yet here they were saddled with them. We did not commit the cardinal sins of bad mouthing the other to our kids, but we both harbored resentment and anger. Even if we had not uttered the words, I know that our children felt the impact of the feelings brewing beneath the surface. I had never wanted any of that for them. That was not the life I had so carefully planned for them. Life does not go according to plan sometimes, and it seems the bulk of my life with my ex could be summarized in that way.
I had gotten a good view of what a nasty divorce and the nasty aftermath could do to kids. I had a front row seat to all of it, and I’ll say that even I have often not wanted to be a participant in it. I could clearly see the impact it made on kids thrown in the middle. That was a huge motivating factor to try to take another path for my own children. In the middle of the craziness with my ex, I remember thinking that I just wanted us to get to a place where we remembered that we had loved each other. I wanted us to arrive at the place where we could be logical about everything, and recall that we had made our best effort to have a life together at one point. Certainly, that must have meant enough that we could get beyond the hard stuff. Surely it meant that we could eventually remove ourselves enough from our hurt and resentment to get back to the business of life, if for no other reason than our children deserved that much from us.
The truth is that I really like the guy without all of the messy complications of romance.
I know that I loved him deeply. So much so that I often had difficulty explaining to people the ways in which I hurt so long after everything was said and done. Today, as I struggled to figure out how to blow into this stupid device, I thought about why I was doing this for him. It was a situation where there were no real ulterior motives. There was no outward reward for doing this. I do not believe there was even the slightest possibility that someone would be proud that I had agreed to do it. This was one of those events in life that came with no accolades or praise. It was a moment of humiliating struggle to figure out how to accomplish a task I had committed myself to. What had I signed up for, and why?
I signed up for it because life is not just about me. I was giving something to someone else for no reason other than to give it to them. Maybe to someone that had not truly earned that from me. It was a small thing, but here I was making an ass out of myself trying to work a machine I had zero experience with, and I was doing it for no outwardly clear reason. The truth is that I really like the guy without all of the messy complications of romance. He and I get along pretty well. We get along much better than we did while we were trying to do life together, and that shocked me more than anyone. I was a skeptic about relationships after divorce, and the people who were making it work for the benefit of the kids. Sometimes I still am.
I know that I have gotten to a point with my ex-husband that I’m not only doing this for my kids anymore. Sure, his successes in life will be to my children’s benefit, but that isn’t what motivates me now, post divorce. More than three years have come and gone since our separation and divorce. I spent the first hurting and hoping, the next two angry with him for all of the mistakes he made, and angry with myself for my own mistakes along the way. Now, I hope to build a friendship with someone I was madly in love with at one point. I want to be a supportive part of his life, and a co-partner in raising our kids. I want to watch us both succeed in the aftermath of the mistakes made, and have fond memories of the good times in the past while looking forward to great successes in our future…as friends.
The reasons we didn’t work were valid, and anyone close to the situation would likely say this is crazy. However, people are a different breed when they are in love. Sometimes we have no idea what we’re doing in the middle of it all. Sometimes romance darkens and destroys what would otherwise be a great relationship. There are those rare times when things work out better when they do not work out how we want them to. I believe that is the case here. I look back and believe that youth and inexperience led us down that path. It led us both to abrupt choices, and unwise decisions. Obstructed judgements, and the belief that we had all of the time in the world to fix everything. Neither of us probably appreciated the commitments we made the way we should have. This is life, and it happens.
It’s sort of like holding someone’s hair back while they vomit. We do not do these things for just anyone.
In my endeavor to be a supportive part of my ex-husband’s life, I sent court orders to the company that installed the Interlock device, and scheduled an appointment to have the device removed last week. I drove his car and blew into a little machine this morning all the way to the service office. My ex-husband is sitting his time out in jail, trying to right the wrongs of the last several years, and hoping to walk out with a mostly fresh start. I can say that after the first few blows, it was a pretty natural reaction while driving down the road. It took the first few to work out the nerves and the embarrassment of being on camera performing such an act. I have no idea where that information gets sent, and I have no idea who views this stuff. I would say it must be pretty entertaining, but its more likely that that poor individual has got a pretty crappy job.
This much I know, it isn’t so simple to just stop loving someone. Divorce is so hard, and finding a middle ground after can be even harder. However, I feel that it is much worse to completely remove someone from your life. Especially when that someone meant so much at one point. Forgiveness is difficult in some situations, and it might lead to blowing into a device you didn’t have the misfortune of earning. I still believe it is absolutely worth it. I do not so much believe in happy endings anymore, but I do believe that trying our best to do good in any situation does help us to be happier. I believe that doing kind things for people is a steady step toward a path of happiness.
I look at my children, and I can see that they know they are loved. I can see that they are resilient, and they are mostly happy. To me, that makes it 100% worth working through things with their Dad. It makes forgiveness a necessity, and not a kindness I am bestowing upon him. It was a strange experience today, and it evoked some stranger thoughts. I believe this experience moved my ex and I past the point of once-in-love-and-now-we’re-exes, and into friendship. It’s sort of like holding someone’s hair back while they vomit. We do not do these things for just anyone. We do them for people special to us in some way. I do not see why this cannot include people we failed in love with.