damage control

I’ve cried at work many times before.  A prep period is time away from my daughter, and I can cry and grade papers at the same time, so it’s perfectly acceptable. There was one time I remember telling my students that my parents had euthanized their dog, I was very sad about it, and they may see me cry. I think things like that can be teachable moments because it normalizes grief.

My sort of breakup took place during work. We had gone out to lunch, and then I planned to get back so I’d have a period to do work before my big class came in, but instead we ended up in the parking lot hashing it out.

I guess the head custodian saw the car sitting out there on a camera, and he had to come out to make sure it wasn’t someone picking up a student without properly signing them out.

The next day, he asked if everything was okay.  To keep things simple, I told him that my boyfriend was breaking up with me, and I apologized for alarming him.

When I came in–a couple minutes before class was due to start–I was a wreck.  B offered to start my class.  I tried to come in a few minutes in, but I couldn’t stop crying.  The kids were just staring at me, wide-eyed.  She said take a few more minutes.  I went into her lesson room, which is pretty isolated, and I could break down there in privacy.

Unfortunately, she’s usually in there 9th period, and the other band teacher sends students who need minor instrument repairs, oil, etc., to her during the class.  I had two “visitors.” I didn’t have a key to lock the door, and the light was on, so if I just ignored the knocks, the kid would come in and see me crying.  Both kids looked stunned.  I don’t know who they were, but it was embarrassing.

I miscarried while conducting a chorus rehearsal in 2009.  I didn’t cry or leave.  I don’t recall ever crying during class because of love life things….not even divorce-related stuff.  I don’t know why I was so weak that day.

I pulled myself back together and went back in.  The kids did what they do when in this awkward situation–don’t say anything, and just behave better than usual, God bless them.

The next day, some students approached me about it. They said, “we felt so bad for you yesterday!  You looked so upset!”  I told them: “That’s very sweet of you, but please don’t worry. I’m okay, my daughter is okay, it’s personal life stuff…I just cry very easily.”

I owe B a big favor.  She has a LOT on her, and she’s been covering a lot of classes this year.

The last piece of damage control in terms of work is the most stressful, and I don’t know if or when I’m going to have to deal with it. I think my boss might have been out Friday, but I’m afraid for when he’s going to ask to see me.

He’ll express concern, and I don’t think I’ll get in trouble for just having someone cover my class, but I could.

Even more stressful is the gossip.  My district is small, and the town is very provincial.  A lot of people grow up and never leave (including our superintendent).

I wasn’t really the subject of gossip (apart from “she’s anorexic” back when I was, well, anorexic, and speculation that I may have been pregnant right around the time I announced it, but it never got me into trouble) until I separated.  I’m partially to blame for this–it didn’t occur to me that changing my name was going to make it obvious that I was getting divorced.  That was going to happen eventually, but it would have been smarter to wait.

In 2013-2014, a teacher at the high school told me that some of my former students were talking about my ex and calling him a douchebag.  She suggested that they were just automatically siding with me because they liked me, but it made me uncomfortable that they might have enough information to even speculate.  Later that year, my boss called me in and said that a parent contacted him because of a rumor that I was being “mistreated” by my ex.  I just said, “huh?  What? No.”  An hour later, it occurred to me that he meant “abused.”  I emailed him and said that that is absolutely ridiculous, and that I could absolutely take my ex in a fight.

There was another rumor that I’m not going to discuss on here; it was false, but I was actually able to figure out the origin of that one and deal with it directly. But I felt very uncomfortable for a long time after that….almost like I was being watched.

There hasn’t been anything since then, and I’ve felt less self-conscious, but now I feel like I’ve opened myself back up to gossip.  I’m very nervous that tomorrow, or next week, or the week after that, I’m going to get a “see me” email or note in my mailbox.

It was just a week or so ago that I was called in because of my “snooty” tone in an email about a program for which I was passed over, and I was hoping to lay low for a while.

I’ve already prepared my statement.  It’s personal, I don’t wish to discuss it, but I’m okay, and I’m very sorry that it interfered with my teaching.

If it’s going to happen, I wish it would just happen tomorrow so I could get it out of the way and stop worrying about it.

I’ve been thinking about damage control in other areas of my life.  That’s all that coparenting is.  Two parents who love each other is the ideal, and divorce is going to affect the child, so you must do your best at giving them as close a second as possible.

I also try to compensate for what a horrible wife I was by trying to be as kind and reasonable an ex-wife as possible.

I was invited to my ex’s family Thanksgiving, hosted by his brother.  I was so happy. I know it’s weird that my ex’s fiancee will be there, but I’m more happy about getting another holiday with my kid and people that I’m comfortable with than I am uncomfortable with her being there.  I emailed my ex to tell him I was invited and give my $0.02.  Thursday, I came home to an email from him saying not to come because it’s “less complicated.”  I wrote back “A+++++ timing.  M dumped me.”  He said, “Fuck.  I’m sorry.  Keep Boo.”

I wrote back and said that I’m not trying to manipulate him into anything, and I’ll adjust.

It’s his first family holiday with his fiancee, so why would he want me there?  She’s not replacing me as Boo’s mom, but she is replacing me as his wife, and insisting to her that I come is disrespectful to her.

I could keep my kid, but that would make me a tremendous asshole.  I don’t have any family here.  I could get invited somewhere with people, but it would mostly be people she doesn’t know, and I’d be keeping her from a big family gathering at which all of her cousins on that side will be.

Saturday morning, her grandma came to watch her while I went to therapy, and then we had lunch together. Twice, she asked me if I was going to be at Thanksgiving dinner and why I wasn’t.  The first time, I just kind of changed the subject.  The second time, I told her that mommy isn’t invited, but we’re going to have a great morning together, and all her cousins will be there for her to play with later on.

I don’t know that that was the right thing to say.  I couldn’t bring myself to lie and imply that I had somewhere else I’d rather be, but I also of course don’t want to put her in the middle.  I wish I was going to be going, but I understand.

I’m just going to stay home.  My holiday is until 2 or 3 pm that day.  It’s okay as long as she’s okay. I think she’ll be okay once she gets there and starts playing.

Then there’s M.

Yesterday, I went through and password-protected or made private a bunch of blog posts.  That obviously meant a lot of skimming.  I tried to leave open the posts that had a tiny chance of being use to someone, or at least weren’t embarrassing.  I password-protected the more personal ones, and I made private the most cringeworthy ones.

I can accept that it’s documentation of a phase, just a part of a process, but that doesn’t mean I have to leave it all out there.

M and I haven’t spent a ton of time with each other in real life, so his view of me has been shaped somewhat by my blog.  While I don’t think that his assessment of me is objectively “correct,” reading back helped me understand things better from his point of view. Last night, I impulsively got in touch to validate him.  As I was doing it, I was aware that doing so was likely to help him make peace with the situation so he could put it aside and move on.  That made me very sad, but it was obviously the right thing to do.

It’s a shame.  He met me when I was still acting out post-separation, I fucked up because I failed to see that he was very different (especially in terms of intentions) than anyone else I’d dated, and I hurt him.  I can’t change that.  I think there is potential with us, and I am absolutely nuts about him, but I know better than many that that’s not enough.  He doesn’t trust me.  I probably can’t change that.  I still want to be with him, I’m still going to fantasize that he’ll have a change of heart, but eventually I’ll have to stop being in denial.

I had this realization today that I’ve made his life worse by being in it. I mean, he’s told me as much, but it sunk in. Then I realized that that’s true of my ex-husband as well.

Actually, I’m not convinced that it’s untrue of anyone except my daughter.  Possibly my immediately family, but I can’t say that with any confidence.  I think I’ve been, at best, neutral for my friends.

Part of the reason I haven’t made much concrete effort towards making friends is that I didn’t feel ready.  I would rather be lonely sometimes, work on myself, and wait until I could actually be a decent friend than I would jump in and alienate potential friends.  I’m only now starting to feel that I’ve made enough progress to try, and I actually went to a housewarming party last night and had a very nice time. It was hosted by someone I used to hang out with sometimes, but I’m pretty sure that that petered out became insufferable (always talking about myself and my boyfriend, and eventually never going out because he was very controlling).  The last couple hours was just B, her, and me chatting, and it was great, so maybe I (re)made a friend.

Maybe I can be a decent friend starting now.  If not, I’ll crawl back into my hole for a while.

I’m trying to hold onto the possibility that this is depression (and end-of-the-pillpack-PMS) talking.  Even if it is in the case of other people, M has been pretty clear to me that this is the case with him.  If I’m fucking up his life, the right thing to do is to leave him alone.  I’m very attached to him though.

I’m also still a little in denial that I can’t change this situation. As much of a pessimist as I am, I tend to act on false hopes until well past the point at which they should be extinguished.

I just need to take the focus on “doing the right thing for my daughter” and extend that to the other people in my life.  I do a great job of it most of the time with her–and I’m doing well with my ex, I think–but it requires so much vigilance that I’d be dealing with serious anxiety if I were to commit to doing this with everyone in my life.  My intentions are good, but I fuck up with adults.  I have to believe that I’m a decent person as long as my intentions are good and I’m (very slowly) lining up my actions with my intentions. I try to take responsibility for my fuckups but be just compassionate enough to myself that I don’t convince myself that punishment by self-deprecation is a replacement for actual change.

I’m not doing great at any of it.  Gotta keep plugging along, though.



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