The Last time I saw Dick

The last time I spoke to my husband was a year ago, he contacted me- first time since the separation hearing- because he got a letter informing him that he had to pay property tax on our flat, and it wasn’t fair. As I read his name, there was a flood of emotion. Not hatred, not hatred. Just the memory of when his name went with mine, when we were tied up together. His name, his name, the name I was forced to sign after my own on the act of sale when we bought the apartment, even though I didn’t take his stupid name because I didn’t want to, and I already had my own double barrelled name anyway. But they were all men around the table.

There was the ancient white haired notary, impeccable, ivory hands like a pope’s, latest in a long line of king’s lackeys, Oh the money that man skims off the top. The cream of my life’s earnings. Then my father, shaking hands and knocking his fist on the table, asking if it’s mahogany, one piece? What a table. One solid piece of wood. One of these for the office, eh? Waggling his eyebrows at me. So alien to us, the legal, the formal world. He’s a businessman, there’s a certain amount of respect for him even though he’s scruffy and unconventional with bitten cuticles and a battered leather briefcase. Me, dressed up nice, makeup, well groomed for an Irish woman but not quite up to Italian standards. I was just a little girl to them, playing house, peering over the shoulders of the men. And there we were, my dad, my Papi, who was getting more estranged from me every day, and my husband, and then the owner, a weasly man waving his hand sickly to indicate all the properties he owned, who regarded our odd little family with some disgust. Foreigners, and an Italian who didn’t drive or dress in the style he could clearly afford to. Those men, they just looked at me blankly as I said I didn’t want to sign his name after mine on all the documents.

Why should I?  I elected not to take his name when we married. Isn’t a signature something important, something expressive? How could I SIGN a name that isn’t mine? They just looked at me and said “that’s how we do things in Italy.” I said no, it’s not my name. There were so many pages in that document, each to be signed. Each page. And it wasn’t my name. But my dad said this isn’t Ireland, this is how it goes here. I bristled. The little notary added, trying to help, trying to move it all along, because his time was more money than I could imagine, he said “it’s so we know who you are, who the document is talking about.” Without my husband’s name at the end, presumably, I could have been anyone, anyone. I wonder if an unmarried couple buys a house, how the hell anyone knows whose name that is, with the female name, the name unattached to any man mentioned. Who is she, if not someone’s wife?

But this feminist blather, I couldn’t even begin to verbalise. I was outnumbered, and making too much of it, so I swallowed the bile and gracelessly signed around 80 times, 80 times, like I’d been a bad girl, 80 times to drill it into me, Abby Natascha Di Gianni Flicker in Garcia Ramirez, over and over as the men watched until I had hot tears stinging my eyes, and I fell into a place where the words had a beat, and it drummed through my fingers, Abby Natascha Di Gianni Flicker in Garcia Ramirez, again and again and again and my fingers cramped and seized up, it wasn’t fair, nothing was fair, I was buying a lousy little apartment that needed work, and I was the only one of us with any money at all, and I was putting my every penny into the notary fees, to pay the little man, and the estate agent fees, so Graziella could have her Jimmy Choos, the odious woman, almost deformed by her sense of style. Blue mascara and perma tan and frosted lips, and everything so bright and lifted, a sad caricature of youth.

All my money, my grandparents’ generous gift to me, into this apartment with this man, and I loved him still then, but then I know that I had learnt to love alongside hate, too. Stubbornly, because I didn’t want to let go of love wherever I found it, it was too intoxicating. And I sort of always hated him, from the beginning, when he was awful and cruel and used me. And made me feel stupid, or invalid, or like a silly woman, when I was so much cleverer than him. Perhaps that was why he did it.

So I handed over the money, all those thousands, I never saw money like that before or since, and the notary thanked me but it was nothing to him. It was just some kids playing house, plankton, and he had such big fish. But it was all the money I ever had. And then three years later, a year ago, maybe, he emails me, this man whose name I signed with mine, his name brings me back to that table made from one piece of mahogany and impregnated with the metallics of sweat and money. And after his name, after I let myself float off into venomous memory, it subsides, and I can read the message.

We haven’t spoken in so long, it’s surreal to converse with him. Scary, because for so long he’s inhabited a world that’s unchangeable, fixed- that is, the past, but now he’s writing to me and I remember how volatile and poisonous he became, so I’m very aware that this exchange now is not fixed, this is all being written as I write, as I choose my reply. Choose carefully. He holds some power still, to fuck with my life. So I read and reread, and think before I type. He says they’re asking him for property tax, but it’s not fair, because he doesn’t even live in the apartment, so why should he pay? Oh, fair. That word. What is fair? Who teaches us the word, even? What use does it have? The last time you could judge a thing to be fair, I believe it was a birthday party and somebody was cutting the cake with Pythagoras theorems and a spirit level. I point my index finger at the computer screen and its neighbours squeeze tight into a fist. It’s a strange gesture, I’ve never made it before. But I must be physical, or I’ll burst something in my head. My jaw is clenched too.

Oh you you you… Not fair. Not fair to leave me with the whole mortgage, and all those old bills, and never pay, knowing if you don’t I will, and if I don’t, my father has to, because he’s our guarantor. And all the money I put in, and all the money my dad put in, and then you say it’s not fair I get to live in the apartment.

When I told my lawyer, the bitch with the sexless frame stamped in Versace, when I told her he moved out, and never paid me another cent, she told me firmly, you’re a fool. she didn’t think much of my dad or I. She was polite to him, and talked to me like I hadn’t just got married too young, but more like I’d come over from Estonia and given my passport and money to a man in a van who claimed he was a modelling agent. She glared at me as I spoke, her jaw sharp enough to castrate, and I never knew if I was giving her too much information or too little, but she thought I was a damned fool for not trying to get anything from him when we split, and not just that, but to lose money too.

I asked her if I could sue him for the money he owed me, but she said no, there was no point, it would cost more to sue than I’d get back. And he could just skip the country anyway. That wasn’t fair. Debt is an awful thing, it hangs around your neck like a bag of rocks, and it hurts because it’s heavy but also you remember when you picked up those rocks, and you remember that you made that choice for yourself, back then, and you didn’t care it would hurt now because it was good then. It was hard to be stuck in Italy for a year on my own, with a separation, having lost my closest ally in the country, and custody of all our friends, and with my little sisters wanting to cheer me up but lacking the tools, because they were too young. And with that debt, but it was worse still because it wasn’t my debt, and I hadn’t picked up the rocks.

They were his, him, the man with the name, the name they slapped on me, and he left when he wanted, he moved on as soon as he was ready, he met a new girl, kept the visa from our marriage, met his new girl. An Italian. She’s older than me, less attractive, simpler looking. The kind of girl a man would go crazy to love, because she’d make him happy. Not me. I don’t make men happy. I drag them down, and up, and down again. I’m sweet sometimes but then maybe too sweet, and then I’m all claws and pathos and I need, need need. And I’m not sure of anything but I’m passionate about it all, passionately optimistic, but nihilistic, and obsessive and compulsive and impulsive and lazy and hopeless and full of scorn. A woman like that, all simplicity, grounded, real; god, I’ve looked down on that kind of wman but she could make a man happy.

I don’t feel jealous, no, he’s a stranger now, I look at his face and I don’t even know if I remember anything about him, anything I used to know, his secrets, his face, the lines… Oh yes, but there were lines under his eyes, in a sort of network, I remember looking at them, scrutinising his face and thinking he’s older than me, he’ll die first, and I’ll be so lonely without him. But that was another face, and another version of me. there isn’t a grain left of the girl who loved him or cared if he lived or died. I’m not jealous, not of that petty, greedy, mean bully. I’m not jealous. It just feels sad, sometimes, that the people who aren’t good enough for me, supposedly, well, they’re much more capable of finding happiness. Simplicity, and perhaps humility. I find it harder now,because I want so much, and I start to wonder if all my self satisfaction isn’t just self soothing, and maybe i don’t have anything to offer a man after all.

Maybe I’m just young, and men are attracted to me, and I’m intelligent, so I tell myself I’m this full package, this wonderful woman, too good for most I meet. But I’m lonely, now, sometimes. Not in my own thoughts. It’s the physical space, it starts to feel like time for me to move on, onto someone, try it again, more sensible this time, less of a fool, or a different kind of fool. I’m not jealous he moved on, I’m just sad that he’s better at it than I am, that I’m the one still recalling these moments with anger because he’s the last person to share my life, and I haven’t found someone to fill that space since, not really. And tonight, he wrote to me again, a year since we last exchanged some curt, emotionless words, and tonight he asks not for money, but for information. When are we getting divorced? When can we apply? Can we already? Are we good to go?

It occurs to me, he wants to marry his girlfriend. I tell him October. We’ll need a lawyer. A lady told me we could share one, if it’s amicable. I snorted.

Amicable, like our marriage. He never hit me.

He never hit me. But I took a fucking pummelling.

Tonight I tell him October, and I’m about to say we need a lawyer, but I choose not to. I don’t need to enter a discussion with him now. I can’t bear to let him back into my reality. He’s boxed up, fixed, sealed, he stays the same, in the past. If I engage with him now, I can’t… it’s all old. It’s all been pored over, I’ve woven all my own justifications around the past, processed everything, and now I’m firmly in the right, and I didn’t hurt him, no, he deserved it. And anyway I was hurt too.  And he got a visa, and I got his debt. So it’s all set in stone, and let it rest. Please.

But sooner or later i’ll have to not just engage, but speak face to face with him.

With husband. Dick.

The last time I saw Dick was Italy, two years ago, and I had lost weight and given up smoking and I felt so good and happy to be casting off the things that held me, that saddened me. I wore a blue dress I’d bought before our wedding, that I’d considered getting married in but it was a bit tight and then it got too tight altogether as I put on weight.

I had never worn it before, and he didn’t know it was nearly my wedding dress. But I knew, and it gave me a secret power. I wore it confidently, looking great, looking much better than I looked on my wedding day. I felt better. I felt free, or closer to it than ever. In the pit of my stomach was a little twisted piece of pleasure, because I was wearing a dress I couldn’t wear while we were together, and now I was better, a better version of myself without him. We met outside and walked in, the Palazzo di giustizia, big awful hideous eyesore, reminds me always of the Ministries in 1984. Minitru, Miniluv… We walked past staircase A, B, C… it’s a huge complex. A path runs all around, and it takes ages. Lawyers everywhere. The invisible strings of money and power whipping past as heels clicked neatly. Ball stomping heels.

We made small talk. Waited outside the courtroom, finally were ushered in. An old man, a beautiful old man with crinkled eyes and an appropriately gentle smile for us,  in a little room. He was the judge, apparently. I expected an amphitheatre of a court room. Of course it wouldn’t be that. It was a little office. We sat in rows facing the judge. Mari Angela, my lawyer. Dick. Me. I remembered our wedding day. The stony faced registrar asking do you, and Dick bellowed “ABSOLUTELY.” And I was embarrassed, a little, and annoyed that he did it and not I, and then I was going to be the boring one who said I do.

But the judge read our statement made nine months before when we had really split, and the terms of the separation, which I craned my neck to see because I remembered his tears falling on the page and a sick part of me wanted to see the smudged writing. We agreed and signed, and I signed my own name, and then the judge said you are now legally separated, and I wish you the best of luck. And his eyes were on mine as he said that, and I got a feeling of his wishing me well, specifically me, and his understanding, in those eyes, of what I had escaped from, the sad stifled life. I felt he must see so many couples do what we did, and he must catch these glimpses. But his eyes sought me out, and I thought he recognised me and understood. And I felt the whoosh of freedom, and my mouth stretched out into a grin, and I begged myself to stop grinning, to switch it off, go back to the sombre divorce face, it was so rude, so cruel to grin, god, no, and Dick there looking sad and lost. I couldn’t stop smiling so I smirked, but that was awful too, so I strained and strained and covered my face with a hand and scratched my nose, desperately. But the smile leaked out anyway and I was just grateful my body didn’t break out into a dance, or leap into the air, because it felt like it might have.

Oh, to be truly free. October, October. How long will it take and how much will it cost, to get there?

To finally leave him behind, Dick, his name, his face, his part in my life.

Spoiler: I cheer up somewhat at the end of it : )

What goes up must come down.

This time I am not suffering from internal loop the loops of emotion.

My state of mind was GOOD. I was feeling empowered and awesome.

I had a meeting with foreskin-face (the artist formerly known as husband) and my lawyer.

I skipped to my meeting all confident and wearing no makeup for the first time in months, not smoking… man I was so innocent and happy.

I met husband outside the lawyer’s. He leant in to kiss my cheek. We exchanged words. Friendly friendly friendly. He mentioned that he was out last night with Hank Scorpio. Ugh. Anyway we went into the lawyer’s office all friendly and conversing and I thought hey I’m being the bigger man here, I am seething at the audacity of this scumbag owing me money for bills and hanging out partying with Scorpio and unknown girls and stuff, and I’m being all friendly.

We sit down. Lawyer starts reading through some papers just to make sure we have everything in order for our legal separation hearing in court on Friday.

Foreskin-face nods, says nothing.

I ask him something.

He nods, smiles… then nonchalantly mentions that he has no intention of coming to court on Friday.

My head spins. It’s still spinning.

What?

He doesn’t want to go. He thinks I made him suffer by breaking up with him and by being like, yeah we can’t work together any more, so you need to start looking for another job. (I GAVE HIM HIS JOB, HE WORKED WITH ME RUNNING THE SHOP!) I didn’t throw him out, I just said that obviously splitting up we couldn’t stay working together, it wasn’t going to be good for either of us.

He said, I made him have a shit time, so now he is going to make me suffer. By not giving me my separation.

He looked so smug. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I have waited 8 months for this separation date. I have been waiting desperate to get the paperwork done, so I can start my new less naive life without him in it.

Now he won’t show on Friday, so that means it’s no longer a consensual separation. Now I will have to start the process of requesting a separation all over again and we will both need lawyers, and it will DRAG THE FUCK ON.

He sat there, shrugging like he didn’t give a shit.

I explained to his numb skull that if he signs this shit on Friday, he doesn’t need a lawyer, my dad will be willing to wait 3 more years before putting the apartment in his name (it’s complicated, but my dad has a signed affidavit or something that gives him power to take control of the property as the guarantor for the mortgage) and that way husband won’t be liable for the few thousand euros of fines he would have to pay for giving up the apartment within five years of buying it.

If cock features doesn’t show up on Friday, he will need to pay a lawyer. He will be dragged through all this unhealthy bullshit litigation, he can’t hope to gain anything because he has no right to anything. I could, if I were an asshole, ask my lawyer to charge my husband maintenance and the mortgage payments. but I am not that kind of person. Also, my dad will be fucking furious with his scumbag son in law, so he will use his affidavit immediately, meaning husband will be fined a shitload of money for giving up his property.

I told him this, he shrugged.

I burst into tears. My dreams of a stripper-filled bachelorette-again party went up in smoke.

I warbled at this smug stranger sitting next to me,

“I married you because I loved you, and so that you could have the same rights as me in Europe. I did that for you. Why would you do this to me now? I haven’t done anything to you.”

He gave me some nonsensical answers about how he had nothing against me, it was my dad that was “whispering things in my ears, like how to screw him over” and that he “wanted to get his revenge because he did all this ceramic tiling on the balconies and all I made was a fucking curtain for the bedroom” and that “he was left on the street and now I should suffer too”

I’m completely baffled. He seems to have lost it completely. I’m a little scared, but mostly miserable and dejected and feel like my whole world has crumbled underneath me again. If he wanted money or something I’d understand, it would make some kind of sense.. this general whining about tiles on the balcony, what the fuck?

I thought I was nearly free.

Now it all starts again, and this time with a spiteful horrible asshole setting out to make things hard for me.

He doesn’t know how I have suffered too.

He has all his friends, I have one friend now after 9 months alone crying and beating myself up about things. He has friends and they are good friends too. I have one friend and we’ve only become close in the last once or twice we have gone out together. He thinks I’ve got it all, I have a whole lot of shit. But he’s clever too because I was building myself up and I was doing well, even without a whole lot of anything solid, I was feeling good about myself.

And then he goes and with one devastating blow, he’s got me right back to his level. Or maybe not, because I haven’t smoked or wanted to. And if I don’t smoke now when I feel like shit’s ugly cousin, I’m fairly confident I’m not smoking any more. And I had a chocolate milk but that’s ok, it’s just a little one it’s not going to make me fat. So I have made some headway that isn’t going to evaporate just because pubeface plays his ONE usable card.

What a cunt though.

The thing that makes me feel tiny, absolutely worthless, is that… I can improve my self and my situation, but until I finish this litigation business and get that document that says I’m free, I’m still The Wife of the most petty, vindictive and heartless bastard I have ever met. I’ve had flatmates who stole my money, I’ve had friends who’ve stolen the guy I liked. I’ve had co workers who ratted me out to the boss for my slutty clothing. But I have never crossed paths with a truly awful person before. I know desperate times can make people do bad things that are out of character, but I don’t care. I can’t possibly condone or forgive anyone, ever, for inflicting pain on another person ON PURPOSE.

If he stood to gain from hurting me, then I can understand it although i would hurt the same.

But he doesn’t. In fact it will cost him money and energy and sanity to pursue this petty vendetta.

But he’s doing it anyway just to hurt me. He admitted this in his own words in front of my lawyer, who was incredulous. She asked him a few questions as to what he hoped to achieve. He had nothing answers like “I dunno” and “whatever”. He just wants to make us pay, he says, and “us” is me and my dad because yes when I left him my dad tried to get me to protect myself from potential dickery like this, so he insisted on a lawyer and stuff. I was always honest and open with husband, and I never did anything to try cheat him out of money.

I hurt him because I broke up with him, I broke his heart and I broke mine too. We had a sweet, loving relationship but if you scraped away at it, at the core we were two different people with different ways of seeing things.

When he proposed to me he told me he loved me for the way I had of looking at the world. He said he had never met anyone like me, not at all… he said it was so wonderful how I saw things, he wanted to be with me for the rest of his life.

I never said that back to him. I always felt that how he saw things was a little bit skewed and wrong. I shouldn’t have married someone who had a different lens, but I didn’t think I’d come across another fisheye like myself so I made do with someone who at least appreciated my way of seeing, even if he couldn’t see that way himself.

I spent a lot of time and energy trying to broaden his mind in arguments. I stretched my head to fit his point of view too, and even if I didn’t like it, I would try see where he was coming from. I can see where he’s coming from now, and it’s not some innocent point of view that differs from mine. It’s a desperate, small man’s pathetic last scrap of power over someone. He used to have me in his power, because I loved him, he had power over me. I lived to make him happier. I sang to him. I have a terrible flat voice but I sang to him and I used to laugh like a dolphin for him because it made him smile. He would ask me to do it. He’s say, “come on please, laugh like a dolphin,” and I’d open and close my jaw while tilting my head back and smiling. He loved that.

And now all he can make me do is feel like shit, and cry, and hate him.

Asshole.

For the first time in my life I really don’t feel empathy for someone.

He’s a dick.

Everything he lost, he lost himself, through his own fault.

I was 21 when we got married. I tried my very very best to make him happy and he got lazy and he didn’t try to make me happy or excited. When our sex life went stale I dressed up for him and he made me feel like a fool.

I used to wake up at night and cry because I had a nightmare that he died.

I can’t imagine anything that would improve my life more than if he did die. That’s awful, but if we each got one free hit, to use as we please, I’d use it now.

I’d probably be foolish to waste my free hit so young, but man… anyway if we each got a free hit he’d probably use it on me. I don’t know.

Ugh I don’t even want him to die, I just want this person he has turned out to be, to not be part of my life. I accepted the guy I knew and loved as my husband. That guy wouldn’t do this shit. But hey it’s the same person, I just didn’t pay attention before. I never saw this side to him because before we were on the same team. Now I’m the enemy. I will not make that mistake again. It’s not just how they treat the waiter you should watch out for- it’s whether or not they will kick someone when they’re already down.

I was just naive. I still am naive. Oh it’s so awful, I just want to move to England and I can’t. I’m stuck here and I have a husband and he’s a horrible nasty human being. And I wasted 3 years of my life, and 3 years of enthusiasm and bright eyes and hope and unrestrained love and joy on a piece of shit person who is probably capable of being such a dick because he’s realised he was extremely lucky and he blew it by being ungrateful.

I will never be that girl with anyone else. I mean I can’t know that. Maybe I will be that girl again but I feel like I don’t want to be, but also that that girl was the nicest freshest version of me that I’ll ever get to be. I might be being drammatic here but fuck my head is all over the place, I feel like I’ve been crossing off the days in my cell for months and now I’ve just been told with a week to go in solitary confinement, oops no you have months and months left to go. And fuck you, by the way.

I’m sorry to be going on all mopey here, I didn’t want to seesaw all over the place, I wanted to stay all happy and optimistic  but really this blog is just me dealing with my divorce in all the corners of my life. Today is the unexpected shitstorm. I was happy this morning. I’ll be happy again soon, probably. But today is shit.

I cried on the bus home from work. All the way, it was really embarassing. I didn’t really care though, I was just aware of the embarassment. I talked to my mum on the phone and I gave myself a monster headache. I had a hot lemon paracetamol drink and tried to call all my friends.

No one home. Oh well.

Lucky I have my rant-vent place right here.

: )

It’s a tough day. Sorry to drag you along on this rollercoaster. You know I’ll be back up soon…

 

AAAAAND WE’RE BACK!

I just had a quick chat with one of my bestest buddies in the world.

She told me a couple of obvious, brilliant, simple things…

Lifted my spirits so I’m actually pretty ok.

I mean I’ve stopped bawling my eyes out, so that’s good.