My Ex stood me up again
It’s a symptom of his addiction and I need to find the right response
Mom and I just got back from brunch at our favorite tapas place. Mom is a vegetarian, so she just gets a double order of the Patatas Bravas. We always end the meal with their version of creme brulee. Flavored with lemon and cinnamon, it’s so yummy.
Normally my ex is with us. In fact, this was our first time there without him.
He did some work for the owners when they were just starting out. They are Spaniards, and loyal. Every meal my ex eats at their restaurant is comped. We still leave a tip, of course. The food might be free, but the service isn’t.
While we were married, we’d go once a month for Sunday brunch. We chose that time because it was less crowded.
“I don’t want to cut into their profit stream,” my ex said. He didn’t want to take up a table that could be seating paying customers.
Besides, Mom will join us for Sunday brunch but not Friday dinner. It became a time for the three of us to catch up over a leisurely meal. Because it’s an authentic tapas place, dishes are prepared from scratch. This adds to the relaxed pace. If we order paella, a meal can last 2 hours.
Over the years, we’ve gotten to know many of the servers, who will often come by to chat. So will the owners, if they are there.
I remember our first meal there after our divorce. One of the owners came over with a huge smile. We talked and laughed. As she was leaving, she looked at my ex and said, “You are lucky to have such a wife!”
Today I’m glad none of the owners were there because it was just Mom and I. I didn’t want to answer awkward questions.
You see, my ex was supposed to meet us. But lately he’s been drinking a lot. So he cancels plans on us or spaces out. I’ve become wary of this, so this morning I called him to confirm. He didn’t answer the phone, but then he called a few minutes later and said, “Of course I’ll be there! It’s on my calendar!” He sounded really excited about it.
Three hours later, we arrived at the restaurant, and he wasn’t there. I called to see if he was on his way. Again, he didn’t answer, but called me back.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I got caught up in a spreadsheet. But, you and your mom can still have a nice meal, and they’ll still comp you if you mention my name.”
So I did, and they did. And Mom and I had a lovely meal. But… it would have been nicer if he’d been there.
This surprises a lot of people, that I still want to meet up with my ex from time to time. But we were married for 20 years. During that time, I saw the magnitude of his heart. How he took care of me when I had cancer, and how he opened our house to my mother when she needed a place to live. I saw his kindness towards our pets and his loyalty to his friends.
I also saw negative stuff — he wasn’t an angel by any means and when he was drinking he could be downright mean. Plus he didn’t treat me with respect. This is a big reason I’m glad we’re divorced.
The guys I date respect me. So do my friends and the family members I still have in my life. I’ve gotten really good at removing disrespectful people from my life.
So why am I still friends with my ex?
Because of his disease. This is an issue alcoholics have, and I don’t take it personally. He does this to everyone, not just me. Because how can an addict respect other people when he doesn’t respect himself?
But after today, the friendship might be over. He’s been canceling too much lately and I’m too busy for this shit. Besides, I don’t want to be an enabler.
My ex’s best friend supports me. “I don’t blame you,” he told me today. “I give you great respect for taking the high road up to now. Sometimes I don’t want to be his friend anymore, and I love the guy, but I’m at the end of my rope. And every time I give him another chance, I wonder — am I the reason he hasn’t hit bottom yet?”
This is a tough decision. I don’t want to act out of anger. I want to be compassionate. Yet I have to take care of myself.
I’ll let him know I need to step away from the friendship for now. Not because I’m angry. I still want good things for him. When he gets sober someday, I’d love to see him. Maybe meet for a creme brulee at our favorite tapas place.