Keith’s bender ended suddenly, five days before Christmas, with the simple declaration that he needed to “learn to govern his life.”
Just like that.
But it turned out that he “governed his life” the way a toddler governs the floor of the toy aisle when he doesn’t get his way: like a little bitch.
It also turns out that I don’t have the strength to excavate this old wound while also trying to withstand the constant emotional and intellectual assault of a Trump presidency (one fucking clown at a time, please), so I’m telling a few representative “snapshots” instead of detailing every torturous thing because who can even stomach that?
Some things are small but suffocating, others are bigger and more brutal, but it’s a two-parter with the small stuff first.
- Father of the Year:
Keith’s ex-wife, a woman of unquestionable fertility, had a baby shortly before Christmas.
The kids were super excited and I was excited for them, despite knowing that the oldest two were about to be unwittingly turned into full-time tween-nannies to a newborn so their awful mother could eat, sleep, and fuck all day like the trash heap she was.
But that aside, I was happy to engage them in their enthusiasm and to ask questions and listen to stories about their new sister.
Keith was not. He was stompy, pouty mad that his ex had another baby.
The day she was born, we picked up the kids for the weekend and he declared that he “didn’t want to spend the whole weekend talking about the baby!”
I murdered him with my face and said that the kids could talk about her all they wanted.
He whine-yelled back, “No one gives a fuck about MY needs or wants!”
Roger that, you embarrassing dipshit!
He followed through with acting disinterested any time the subject came up all weekend.
Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Everything Bad Happens to Keith
Keith’s greatest talent was seeing exactly how he was the real victim in any situation.
When I decided to leave, I could have rightfully taken almost everything in the house and left him rattling around in the four-walled skeleton. Instead, there was no division of things, no compromise on who would take what: he kept everything.
It was my choice to leave things for the kids, but was he at all gracious or appreciative?
Every evening I’d pack another box and every evening he’d accuse me of “stealing” something, like a spatula or other trivial item. And it would turn out to be either (a) my fucking spatula and I was taking it because there were 5 other goddamn spatulas in the drawer and he could fuck right off, or (b) the spatula he was looking for was sitting in the sink and why didn’t he fucking look for it before acting like an asshole?
Accusations, bitching, huffing, and his inventory of drawers and cupboards to be sure I hadn’t slipped out a measuring cup, hand towel or other precious item went on ad nauseam until I moved out.
He desperately wanted to “catch” me taking something of his, so he could have some moral high ground upon which to stand, but it was never going to happen.
He would remain a snake in the grass.
When he wasn’t policing kitchen utensils, he was pouting over the very few things I was taking, especially one lamp.
I was taking ONE. LAMP.
But he reeeeaaaaally liked that lamp and the kiiiiids really liked that lamp and he’d haaaaavvvve to replace it because the house wouldn’t look right withoouut it.
*womp womp womp*
Buddy, IKEA didn’t make me a custom lamp, so knock yourself the fuck out.
It. Was. Exhausting.
- Money, Money, Money, Money
While I was replacing my ENTIRE GODDAMN LIFE (minus one lamp), I was also buying the bulk of the Christmas gifts for the kids, had just paid a $700 security deposit for my new apartment, needed to come up with my first month’s rent in a week, was still paying rent and bills at Guantanamo Keith, and was frantic to scrape together money to take my sick dog to the vet.
I was broke broke broke.
that motherfucker Keith had money rolling in like crazy from “side jobs” he was doing for clients he poached from the company he worked for, using equipment he took from the company’s poorly-inventoried and monitored storage facility.
While I panicked about my move and cried over my dog, he was coming home from work with no fucks to give and shopping bags full of new shit.
One of his finest moments came when he called me into the kitchen one evening to show me the winter coat he’d bought himself while he was out shopping. I didn’t own a winter coat and had been freezing my ass off for weeks, which he knew, so he made a point to let me know that he’d bought the coat, now his third, just because he could.
Did I liked it? He asked.
Looked like a respectable coat to be buried in, yes…
He had plenty of disposable cash when it suited him, but when it didn’t, he was all poverty! and despair!
I scheduled the utilities (they were all in my name, of course) to end on dates that corresponded with his pay days a couple weeks after I moved out because I figured he’d have deposits to pay before transferring them to his name and I wanted him to give him ample time. And I’m Really Fucking Nice.
When I mentioned the prospect of deposits, he told me that he doubted he’d have to pay because he could charm them out of it when he called.
Imagine his surprise to find that what works on barely legal drunk girls isn’t received as enthusiastically by gas and electric companies. Who knew?!?
Learning that he had to pay sent him into full drama: What if he couldn’t afford the deposits and his child support in January?!? If that& happened, he would miss child support, go to jail, lose his lose custody, and his life would be over!
Truly, there was no practical solution to this $200 problem. ONLY DOOM!
Now, if only something magical would happen, like multiple $700 checks would keep showing up in our mailbox from his side jobs.
Oh, right, they were…
Finally the curtain fell on that brilliant performance and we moved on to the next act.
Despite hating our lives and each other, we were both genuinely looking forward to Christmas with the kids and had spent weeks preparing the house, the tree, the gifts, and planning exactly how to celebrate.
We talked about what to put in their stockings, when to open presents and what to eat.
Ultimately, Keith decided that we should do what my family does– open presents from mom and dad on Christmas Eve, then wake up Christmas Morning to stockings, plus the 1 or 2 biggest or best presents of the year, which are from Santa.
It was settled.
Fast forward to the afternoon before we were going to pick the kids up for Christmas weekend.
Three out of the four kids still believed in Santa, so I’d spent the day at work (thank you Google and fancy paper from the office supply closet) carefully composing a letter from Santa explaining how he was managing two Christmases, since it was their first time having two and they’d been asking questions.
I came home from work early, tucked the letter into the branches of the tree and texted Keith.
Then everything fell apart.
I told him how excited I was to see the kids open their presents that night and he replied, “What on Earth are you talking about?”
I knew he was fucking with me, but I calmly refreshed his memory about our long established plan. After all, it was HIS idea fo do presents that night.
He played dumb. He had “no idea where I came up with that,” and he would “NEVER have agreed to opening presents on Christmas Eve!”
I’d stayed for weeks in a shitty situation for the sole purpose of giving his kids a proper family Christmas because I loved them dearly and he was gaslighting me?
I was FURIOUS. If I was supposed to second guess my memory, that was not going to happen.
I have an elephant memory for dialogue, so typed out the word-for-word conversation we’d had about Christmas plans.
We continued to fight viciously over text and he told me that I was lying about the conversation and I was not welcome in the house that night because he didn’t believe I could be “civil” with him and he didn’t want his children around me if I couldn’t be civil.
Of course that was bullshit, but he wanted to hurt me.
I was very hurt and very sorry, but told him fine, I would go to my friend’s Holiday party and come home after the kids were in bed, but he would NOT ruin the kids’ Christmas and that I would be there all fucking day the next day.
In the midst of my text storm, he allegedly looked back through old messages and found a conversation we’d had that confirmed his plan to have the kids open presents that night. He texted me, “Oh God yes, I remember!”
He was apologetic and asked me to please be there that night.
I declined. I suspected he’d been full of shit the whole time and once he’d gotten an adequate emotional reaction out of me, he pretended to find the old conversation to end the game. It was purposeful emotional cruelty.
He’d been jealous for months of how the kids had come to depend on me and it amped up over Christmas prep–they gave me their lists, asked my help in writing letters to Santa, makde me the keeper of everything– and now he’d punished me.
The week after Christmas is Part 2.
NEXT: The Big Stuff.
- Possible dog abuse:
- Moving out: