What is Acceptable?

Tonight I was coming home from seeing a movie with a friend. I had a question that had been gnawing at me all day: is this acceptable behavior, or not?

In the past, I would’ve brushed it under the rug, let it go, or, my favorite trick, thrown it back in his face at a later time. Resentment, bitterness, and denial are very good friends.

But now, I know better. I can set limits and boundaries. I can think about what I need and ask for that. I get to decide who occupies the front row of my life.

Last night estranged husband and I got into a texting conversation. We don’t do this very often because it doesn’t often turn out well, and I have, for my own sanity, cut off most communication with him. Nine months out and the only one who seems to be getting better is me. Not that his program is any of my business. But I’ve been told, “you’ll know when he’s recovered. Things will be different.” And I can say with certainty, things are not different. But oh, how I wish they were!

So last night we are texting. I say I wish things are different. He responds. And so forth. He brags about his sobriety, even though I smelled alcohol on him last week. My sponsor has advised me to just say nothing, so that is what I did. (and friends, you know this is not easy)

But then he texted me that I’ve been so cold, and that I am breaking his heart.

What? Me?

So I responded that things have been difficult, and that as much as I want to, I don’t believe that he’s sober, and until he is, I can’t be close to him.

I didn’t accuse.

I didn’t judge.

But I was honest.

His response? “Well fuck off then.”

Ummm, ok. Thanks. I’ll get up with your children at the crack of dawn, shepard them to and from school, give you a zillion chances, and when I am honest about what I believe, you tell me to fuck off?

I was at first hurt. Then I thought, well, he’s angry, everyone talks like that sometimes, don’t they? My parents certainly do. And now here I am, accepting the same behavior.

And then I thought, he’s getting defensive, and I will not allow his anger to distract me. This is why you’re supposed to keep your mouth shut, and not nag. It’s an ugly hamster wheel that I’ve been trying to jump off of.

Next it occurred to me that I don’t want to be talked to like that, and it’s my job to let others now what is/is not acceptable.

After all of his lies, deceptions, betrayals, and near-abandonment, I have never said anything like that to him. I’ve wanted to, and I’ve thought it, but I’ve been kind, or at times indifferent, and I’ve been honest.

I don’t want someone like this–him–in my front row.

And it took a friend telling me that for her, that wouldn’t be ok, for me to realize this.

I don’t trust myself anymore, and part of recovering, for me, is to check in with sane, normal, healthy friends on what sane, normal, healthy communication is. And is not.

Because honestly? I don’t know anymore.