(Is this the start of a series?)

I love my daughter. She is a teenager. She is supposed to be self-centered. My job is to turn her into an adult, not to be pals with her. I may enjoy her company most of the time, but it isn’t her role to be a companion to me.

I love my ex. He was scheduled to become a non-teen over 50 years ago. He was supposed to be my companion.

It seemed that we were coming to some sort of friendship beyond our non-agreeing about the incident that led to the divorce. I found myself enjoying his company.

Thursday, he came to stay for a few days. He and our daughter are attending a family reunion.

There is a subject I had decided to bring up while he is visiting. There are extended-family members that we are in a position to help.  When I told him about it, and that I really wanted them to be OK, he thought it would be fine to help out. Then the next day, he decided he didn’t want to get involved.

I reminded him of how others have helped him. How he’ll stay bitter and depressed if he doesn’t appreciate the second chance he got after his heart stopped. That, at age 70, it’s time to look at the big picture. How he’ll stay lonely if he doesn’t finally see how we’re all in this together.

He told me he is the only one who is suffering, and that I’m just trying to argue.

He: always the victim.

Me: something snapped.

Suddenly, sitting with him felt so bleak. After all these years of knowing him, I saw how shallow it is when you love someone who is so self-absorbed. I realized then and there that he is too self-centered to be what a companion is supposed to be: a person who sees my center, too.

I continued to make him welcome in my home, and I know he didn’t even notice that after 28 years, my heart was no longer looking to him for companionship.

And just as suddenly, I realized it’s time to move on and explore the new meaning of the word.

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