Sunday, March 05, 2006

On Saying No

Such a simple word. A small word. One of two words that comes pre-formed by the English alphabet.* Tied for the shortest word that is a sentence unto itself*

And Elton John be damned, 'no' is the hardest word.**

But I'm getting better at it. Or at least at its variants.

STBEW asked me to take her to the grocery store on Friday. I said no.

Okay, I didn't. But I did tell her that I didn't want to. She told me she had no other way to get groceries. I relented, but told her I didn't want to spend the evening grocery shopping. I had a piece of steak marinating in the fridge*** and I was looking forward to grilling it that evening for the kids and me. She promised she'd be organized and fast.

She wasn't.

I have two cats. I put them in the basement and close the door when I go to bed. If I don't they jump up on the counter and the dining room table. They're cats. It's what they do. The only way they don't do it is if I don't give them the opportunity to do it. If I forget to put them down at night, they'll be on the table and the counter. I can't get mad at them about it. Well, I could get mad, but what good would it do?

Why do I think my alcoholic wife is any different? She does what she does.

After about an hour, I took the kids to the carryout cafe and we ate sandwiches while she finished. From where we sat, I could see her go to the checkout line. A few minutes later, she came up to me, and told me she left her food card at her apartment. We had to drive all the way back to her place, got the card, drove back to the store, and she paid for her food. ****

But, on the way back, I informed her that I would not do this again. And I won't.

She has told me that I'm not giving her credit for how far she's come. I told her that I shouldn't have to give her that credit. It means nothing. She was the one who said she wasn't coming back. It was her decision to leave. She can't have it both ways.

This afternoon I was cleaning out the basement. As much as I love this neighborhood and this house, I will be leaving it in a few months. When we moved here, I was expecting more than one income would be helping pay the rent. I'm paying 100% of my income to stay here. There are some things I can't control, and there are some things I can. I can control how much I pay in rent. As I was going through the boxes, I found some photo albums from the late 1980's. I saw Lt. Trouble, once again a chubby 6th grader, doing a cannonball. I saw my lost son, as a cute 4th grader--the same age as Frederick is now--with chocolate ice cream covering his face and hands. I saw me, long wild hair, bushy bearded and 50 pounds heavier. And I saw STBEW in a shapely, form-fitting satin dress, smiling, confident, on my arm.

Those memories are nice. But they belong in a photo album on a shelf. Those people are no more. In their places are different folks. In some ways stronger. In some ways weaker. In no ways together. I put the album in a box.

STBEW has yet to give me back her key. In fact, she's counteroffered--she says that she'll have a key made up for her apartment for me. I politely declined. I set the boundary. It goes both ways.

I've told her I want the key back. No, she hasn't given it back yet. Perhaps she won't. In a few months it won't matter anyhow because I'll be living somewhere else. The important thing is the boundary I'm setting. It's taking time, but it's being built. I'm in no hurry. I will force nothing.


Soon it will be as easy as saying Hi.


**Sorry only seems the hardest word.
***1/4 c. olive oil, 1/4 c balsamic vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried onion, 1/4 tsp hickory-infused salt, 6 turns on the pepper mill, 1 bay leaf. Mix together. Marinades 1 lb of steak. I put the steak in a ziplock bag and pour the marinade in over it. I often pierce the steak repeatedly with a fork to aid in the marinating process. It's also therapeutic.
****The steak was just as tasty Saturday night. Perhaps more so. An extra day marinating never did a cheap cut of meat any harm.


Blogger Jessica said...

CD doesn't count?

1:01 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...




7:16 AM  
Blogger mal said...

a hard day, I expect they do get better


9:15 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

How about "nein"? That's what this german computer asks me when logging out of my webmail (as in ja or nein to close the web browser) A slightly longer word and when said with emphasis can be a little intimidating.

You can do it. You are getting stronger in this area each time you tell us about your conflicts with STBEW. By the way, when will you be calling her the FEW? (I'll let you figure out what the F stands for.)

4:32 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

No is far more tough than sorry.

Yes can be hard as well.

Fuck comes too easy.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

i'm sure that extra marinating made it slice like butter. yum. writing this down.

in the mean are the one who has come far. saying no is incredibly hard. you are setting boundaries, and that takes baby steps, but you are doing it.

and we are all here cheering you on


9:16 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Thanks to all of you for your kind words.

mallory: every day is better than the last. hugs back atcha

Notso: I'm saying nyet to nein.
Hmm...Fencing? Football? Fordham?

Sometimes fuck is easier said than done, Daniel.

Oh! Fucking Ex-Wife? No thanks. Been there, done that, got the kids.

Colleen: it did, and the little bit that was left was delicious in an omelette with onion, peppers, mushrooms and sharp cheddar cheese. be sure to slice against the bias when serving.


10:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home