I have a livejournal account. I’ve had it for over a decade now, though I don’t write in it nearly as often as I used to. But it’s there, and every now and then, when I’m having an especially boring day at work, I’ll look through all the entries I wrote over the year on a particular day, normally whatever day it happens to be or a surrounding day. Today, I looked at all the entries from January 7th, starting from 2004 and working forward. When I got to last year, I wish I had just skipped it. The entry on the 7th and the preceding day were about Derrick and his sudden decision to go back on his word and leave the townhouse we rented together when the lease ended.
For a bit of back story, when Derrick and I broke up, we still had almost an entire year left on the lease. We had a huge fight in February of that year, right around when we were supposed to renew the lease, and for some stupid reason, we decided to try to stay together and renewed it…even though it was clear that neither of us were happy. A few months later, we called it quits, but were still stuck in a lease. At that time, we were at least still friendly with each other and agreed that we would maintain the townhouse until the kidlet’s school year ended and then we would go our separate ways. Last January, Derrick decided that he wanted to go back to school on the GI Bill and, under the guise of “asking” me, told me he didn’t intend to do as we had agreed and stay in the lease until June. This left me in quite the dire circumstances, as I couldn’t very well afford to pay for the entire rent by myself and it seemed silly to rent a place for a couple of months until kidlet and I would move in with Eric. I also didn’t want to switch her school in the final marking period, but the idea of commuting from Eric’s house to the old school just seemed stupid. My sister suggested I move at the semester break, but at first this seemed impossible since our lease wasn’t up until March. Then I realized, while I had to pay the rent until March, there was no requirement that *I* had to live there. So, after Eric got the house situated, kidlet and I moved to his house and I was able to enroll her in her new school and the same daycare program she had been attending.
Many friends of mine questioned whether Derrick would actually follow through with his plans for school or if, like so many of his other half-assed schemes, he would just end up moving back in with his father and just play games, working minimally. I don’t know if Derrick ever made it into college, though I do think he at least made it to where he planned to attend college as his father passed on in May or June last year. Shortly after he dropped the bomb on me, I unfriended him on Facebook and I haven’t heard anything from him since he finally moved out of the townhouse in March.
Looking back on the situation now, I can still feel the anger, the slap in the face of what I thought was a fairly sound friendship despite what had happened between us romantically, but at the same time, I feel freer. I don’t think staying friends with Derrick was wise. The more distance I got from the relationship, the more I realized how fucked up and one-sided it truly was. There was a time I would have done anything for that man, and I feel ashamed at the foolish and clearly lovesick girl I was. The second time around (we dated twice, in case I haven’t mentioned it before), I wasn’t as foolish, but I was still willing to do anything to maintain the relationship.
It’s funny, I can’t help comparing my relationship with Eric to the one I had with Derrick. When Derrick and I moved in together, I made sure he had a space away from my child. It’s like I intuitively knew that he wasn’t really interested in being a stepfather. So, I made a rule that kidlet couldn’t go up to his room (he was a REALLY loud snorer, so I had a separate room on the same level as kidlet). I thought it would simply be an escape for him when she got to be too much to handle. Instead, it seemed to become an escape for him from everything: me, work, life, etc. With Eric, I didn’t set aside a specific place for him. We hardly have the room for it, but there isn’t anywhere in the house that kidlet is banned from. Their relationship is not always perfect, they’re still adjusting to each other and kidlet is often a very stubborn and loud child, but I feel like he at least puts forth the effort. No longer do we have a nightly dinner battle where kidlet and Derrick would test to see who could be more stubborn, and I was stuck in the middle, trying to work out a compromise. Eric, for the most part, let’s me take charge of the parenting in the moment and just backs me up, but we spend a lot of time talking after kidlet is asleep to make sure we stay on the same page when it comes to her. I remember Derrick complained in the midst of our break up that I, how did he put it? “undermined his authority” with kidlet. In reality, he never had any authority over her because he never earned her respect. And his method of earning her respect (picking fights with her over trivial things, like dinner), left a lot to be desired.
That’s not to say things with Eric are always a bed of roses, though I suppose, that is actually an apt description if you keep in mind that along with their silky and fragrant petals, roses have thorns. We have our rough patches, it’s been an adjustment, moving in together, especially under the circumstances that we did. Yes, we had planned to move in together last year anyway, but it happened a good 4 months before we initially planned. But the difference, at least to me, is that Eric has always viewed us as a family, a team. He sees me as his partner, not his roommate. We have a joint account that both of us contribute to with each paycheck, not just at the end of the month when the rent/mortgage is due. Derrick once told me that we were either going to make it or fail together, but I see now that, like his promise to stay in the lease until June, it was just empty words with no meaning.
I read once that it takes 2 years to fully forgive someone. I’m not sure if that factors in the ways they wronged you or not. I feel like I’ve moved past my marriage to kidlet’s father, and that for the most part, I’ve forgiven him and myself for all that went down there, but it’s been almost 7 years since that ended. I’ll say this of Derrick, I no longer feel an uprising of vile hatred whenever I think of him and I am genuinely curious if he actually managed to enroll in school and excel. But not curious enough to reopen that can of worms. As far as actually forgiving him? I’m pretty sure I’m not there yet.