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A corner turned, perhaps?

September 7, 2010

The most amazing thing happened last week.

A gigantic misunderstanding–over money, nothing dicey like children or real estate–made it necessary for me to get out the divorce agreement, read through it (with sweaty palms and pounding heart) in search of some relevant paragraphs, and actually do a few uncomplicated math problems (uncomplicated for normal people, I should say.  I am whatever it is when you are dyslexic with respect to math.  It’s awful–a source of terror and shame, really.  To me, calculating percentages is akin to having live tarantulas crawl across my face.)

Meanwhile, my ex-husband kept sending me e-mails.  Lots and lots of e-mails.  Increasingly baffling ones, like LSAT problems, involving (as examples designed to make the math easier for me, I guess) fictive trombones, imaginary pet stores, and salaries of easy-to-manage numbers like five and ten.

“I’m sorry, this is all just a little bit frustrating for me, because we’ve been over this and over this, both with the lawyers and without them,” he wrote at one point.

My mother was visiting, thank the almighty gods.  “Give me that,” she said, snatching the divorce agreement and paging fearlessly through it.  While I cowered, trembling, in the corner, she found what I’d been looking for.  “Take dictation,” she ordered.  I obeyed.  I typed an e-mail to my ex-husband in exactly her words,  using no trombones or imaginary bags of dog food.  Still, I was as upset as I was back in the bad old days, when we were mid-negotiation.  It was positively surreal to be confronting That Document again, and I was so wretched at the thought of fighting over money (again, again, again) that I felt I might faint.

I was correct, it turns out, but I think if she hadn’t been there I would have assumed I wasn’t, and just gone by what my ex believed was our agreement.  I’m that cowardly.  Even knowing I had things right and he’d made a mistake didn’t lessen my panic.  In a way, it augmented it.  I would rather have gone to debtor’s prison than confront things like a rational adult.

A few hours later, my ex-husband wrote back.  “You’re right,” he wrote.  “I’m sorry for all the stress and confusion.”  I wrote back to thank him and to apologize in turn. And then he redid the math, and I redid the math, and all the numbers came out even.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2010 2:47 pm

    Congratulations on pushing through this tough situation!

  2. Talula permalink
    September 7, 2010 4:40 pm

    Yay for Moms!

  3. September 7, 2010 6:29 pm

    I also get a touch of dyscalculia when confronted by calculating percentage increases and such like. Glad you had someone to translate the trombones for you.

  4. Celeste permalink
    September 7, 2010 7:05 pm

    My university statistics professor taught a class for women with math anxiety; for some it’s so bad they can’t even work a checkbook.

    Congrats on your turning point, with the math, the situation, and the document.

    Also, you got an apology…that’s pretty valuable.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      September 7, 2010 7:23 pm

      Oh, I doubt I’ve turned any kind of corner, math-wise. But the apology, the civility? That’s worth everything.

  5. nancy d permalink
    September 7, 2010 7:55 pm

    Good for you!!! If you ever need any math help, come to me. I’m fabulous at it! And the apology is friggin’ awesome…

  6. minoti permalink
    September 8, 2010 12:12 am

    good for you!! see you’re better at math than you thought! you just needed a little encouragement from your mom.

  7. MEP permalink
    September 8, 2010 4:56 pm

    Here it is, the hrmpth of September, and as I wait for my monthly child support check that was supposed to arrive on the first, I applaud you. 🙂

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      September 8, 2010 5:18 pm

      You want me to sic my mom on your ex? She’s pretty fierce.

      Actually, I think I have a clause in my agreement that states that the ex is fined a hundred bucks or something if he doesn’t pay by the fifth of the month. (I’ve never enforced it, but my lawyer just stuck it in there, and my mom said she used to do that as a matter of course.) If you have it there in black and white…if you have a friend or someone who’ll sort through the Hateful Document for you…if you’re willing to make a small scene–either you’ll start getting paid on time, or you’ll get a nice little extra chunk of cash every so often. Not that I don’t understand how hard it is to deal with this shit, mind you.

      • MEP permalink
        September 10, 2010 12:49 pm

        I could definitely use a mom like that in my corner! But it’s generally not worth the fight. I make a lot more money than he does, the support itself is a laughable amount, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to pay it, or can pay it whenever he bothers to remember. When I texted him to ask when he mailed it, he texted back, “A few days ago, why, are you hurting for money?” Undoubtedly an opener to offer me some kind of knight-in-shining-armor loan if so. It’s absurd.

  8. September 9, 2010 10:01 am

    It’s interesting reading about your divorce in comparison to mine. We were together ten years, we had no children. We weren’t even technically “married” (same sex couple) and she cheated and bailed on financial obligations, forcing me to foreclose on my dream house. We had moments in emails where we realized the other was right or wrong and we momentarily saw clearly. I feel lucky that I never have to speak to her again (no kids, foreclosure and her subsequent bankruptcy is done), but I do see the value in what you’re going through. The forced civility…it is a life lesson. It is positive. It forces you to wade through and navigate the negative.

  9. Take 5 permalink
    September 9, 2010 1:28 pm

    I just read entries from July 29 (because I couldn’t remember whether I had read it or not) through September 7. And that was the best hour+ I’ve spent on line all week. It’s very moving to read what you’re thinking and doing–sometimes putting myself in your shoes–the gnawed limb entry made me cry, the vacation lifted me up, and the civility and understanding in September kept me riveted–how remarkable! Will go back and re-read when my kid (aka the ninja) gives me another stress-free hour. Love reading you!

  10. mwc permalink
    September 11, 2010 3:27 pm

    have never commented on a blog before, ever. but i just found your site, through flotsam, and spent way too much time this week, reading. it. all. this corner of which you speak is so far ahead of me as to be invisible. i’m way behind you cornerwise (though right there with 2 kids grades 1 & 7, large house that is plotting against me, money concerns, and math. oh the math.) but have found your blog full of solace, terror, and loveliness (oh my!). thank you.

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