by Lisa

My ex-to-be is being nice to me.  

This should make me happy.  I want peace and harmony.  I want quiet.  Instead, I’m perturbed.  

He claims that he’s a better person than he was when I was the life partner, that he had morphed into a pompous blowhard know-it-all while we were together.  Yes, he had morphed.  No, I did not love the man he had become, but I had loved the pre-blowhard.  

I didn’t leave, I fled, chased by fear for my sanity, and my baby’s.  I could have stayed, but then, gosh, he wouldn’t have had a chance to become this “better person”!  He understands why I left, but he’s still not happy about it.  He doesn’t have to be happy about anything I do.  He never was, unless it made his life easier to place in neutral gear, to idle for hours…

He doesn’t have to be happy about anything. 

Three women in his life after me shoved in his face the unpleasant caricature that I had been painting  for years, version after version to plaster  our walls.  “This is what you are.  This is who you are.  I do not like this man.  Help me find that other guy who looks exactly like you, but without a beer belly and a bad attitude.”  Those other women knew how to limn a version that he could understand.  My watercolors were too pale. My frames were too flimsy.  

So, now he’s nice.  He talked mildly and pleasantly about the kids and work and politics while I waited for the daughter to do something important with the other daughter, and he complimented me, and apologized for something I had forgotten or had never known.  He gave me a cup of coffee.  

I think his “better” self needs a sound, righteous mental slapping.  Why did three women after me have to point out his rudeness for him to listen, when his first wife left for the same reasons I did?  Why wasn’t my voice heard?  I said everything I felt.  They just said it differently, he explained, and made him understand.  Did I have to scream it like the first two, or let him watch my heart break while I offer a running play-by-play  like the third?  

I did have to do that, I guess, but I wouldn’t.  He should have been watching and listening more carefully, dammit.  

So, I am glad that his better self has released some anger, and has learned “some things about life”.  Yeah, I gagged a little hearing that, too. 

Know what I have learned?  I’m not here to fix anyone.  Just not my strong suit.  I am bad at the fixing.  

I’m good at being nice if it means that my daughter smiles more.