The Illusion of Reality

I had a dream last night that involved my ex-wife, Tara. It was one of those dreams where you wake up and can’t quite remember the specifics of what happened, but remember some of the generalities. What made this dream so noteworthy was that it was closely related to other dreams I’ve had.

The setting of the dream is in the front room of a house where Tara is living, shortly after our separation. I can plainly remember walking up the steps to her front door and her letting me into the house. There, we had a, just the two of us. I don’t remember any of the details about the conversation, except that it involved the possibility of us getting back together and it was an amicable one.

The interesting thing is that I am really not certain if this was just a dream or a memory of something that actually transpired. It feels more like a memory. However, a possibility for that is that I have had this dream so often that it feels to me now more like something that really happened, rather than just a dream. The sad thing is that I don’t remember any more of the details surrounding it.

There was a vaguely similar incident that did in fact occur. It took place at the apartment where Tara moved to after we separated. At the time, I was sleeping on the floor of a coworker’s apartment, under the disillusion that Tara and I would actually resolve our differences and get back together. Stupid me, I delayed getting on with my life for a long time after our breakup.

The incident I am referring to is quite embarrassing and shows the distraught mental state I was in at the time. What transpired is that I had pre-arranged with Tara over the phone to spend time a Saturday with Cameron. This was one of those first times that she told me he would be there and then she would have him go with the neighbor kids to some event, or disappear with him herself, before I arrived at the pre-arranged time. So, I wasn’t expecting him to not be there.

I remember arriving and knocking on her door. Nobody answered. I heard people talking inside the apartment next door. There was a screen door there that was closed, with the inner door open. I went and knocked on that door. A lady came to it and I asked if she knew Tara, her neighbor. She said she did and that Tara was in her house. Just then, Tara came to the door with a basket of laundry. She walked with me to her apartment and let me in.

This was the first time I had been inside her apartment (and the last time, as I recall). I remember seeing all the furniture that she and I had together in there, much of it given to us by my parents. I also remember seeing all the other stuff there that we had when we were together (i.e., stereos, TV’s, microwave, video equipment, etc.), much of it purchased by me before we were married. All of those things ended up being sold by Tara, for pennies on the dollar, to pawnshops and/or given to friends and family before we got to divorce court. In fact, there was nothing left to divide once we got to divorce court, except debt. And, lucky me, I got the brunt of that! (I hope you sensed the animosity that emerged from within me as I wrote about that.)
Now, the embarrassing thing about this happening was that I didn’t concentrate on the fact that Cameron wasn’t there, but on my desire to be back with Tara. Like a dog, I begged her to forgive me for the bad way I had treated her. I pleaded with her to try and work out our relationship, telling her that we could be happy together.

Years later, I repeated this kind of humble pleading with my wife Shu Mei, after many of our disagreements. Shu Mei eventually accepted my apology (and I think is the better woman because of it). Tara didn’t, though. Tara chose to stubbornly maintain her position that she had been married to a terrible ogre-like wife-beating scumbag, despite it being absolutely false.

For some reason still unknown to me, Tara felt the need to concoct a horrific image of me to justify her actions of leaving me. As I write this, I am wondering if she did it to hide her true feelings for me. It doesn’t make sense, that she could lie to herself for so long, but what other purpose could she have for inventing such lies and ruining any chance of us getting back together, not to mention ruining the relationship between a father (me) and son (Cameron).

Lies are such horrible things. And when I doubt my justification for writing this public weblog, along with details of places, names and dates, I think about this. I really loved Cameron (still do) and for her to have taken him out of my life and justifying it with a big fat lie is inexcusable. In her neurotically diluted sense of reality, she may feel that she can never forgive me, but in reality it is I who struggle with forgiving her.

If I had physically abused her, as she contended in court… no, let’s say that I had done more than that. Let’s say that I did permanent damage to her, like cut one of her arms off or something (that’s just as credible as the crap she’s put out there), would even that give her the right to withhold my son from me?

If I was a woman and my husband had cut off my arm, I would definitely hate him until the day I died. However, I wouldn’t prohibit him from seeing our son. My relationship with him has nothing to do with my son’s relationship with him. Obviously, I would make certain that the visitation was supervised, as I would fear for my son’s safety. But, I wouldn’t prohibit it. I would have the decent respect for my own son to let him determine whether or not a relationship with his father was a good thing – after actually encouraging him to see his father regularly. That is what a decent parent would do. Yes, I would be missing an arm, but what justice would I bring to the situation by separating my son from his father? It would be ludicrous.

What makes it even more ludicrous is the fact that, in reality, Tara went further than that and actually made up stories to justify keeping Cameron from me. So, if she did all that because she was trying to hide her feelings for me, that’s just plain sick. What a demented mind that takes to think like that. She probably has a circle of friends around her now that assure her that she is the best person in the whole world, but people see what they want to. Naturally, everyone about her wants to feel that she’s a normal level-headed person, full of warmth and kindness, but they don’t know what she is capable of. Why don’t they walk in my shoes for awhile? (“No thanks” would probably be their response to that request.) They’d see what I see.

Yes, I was a terrible husband to Tara. I treated her badly. I argued with her, yelled at her, threw pictures at her, pushed her, and even spit on her once. Even though everything I did to Tara she did to me, usually first, there is no excuse for how I mistreated her. NO MAN should treat a woman as badly as I treated Tara. I take full responsibility for my actions and have never done anything even remotely close to that with another woman.

I am sorry for how I acted toward Tara and will forever regret that behavior. I have apologized to her profusely since that time, and she has shown no sign of forgiveness. I doubt she will ever forgive me, because I think she may be waiting for me to make amends for something that I never did, something she dreamed up.

Just today, I read a news item regarding Alec Baldwin and an angry message he had left for his 11-year old daughter. Currently, Alec is going through a nasty divorce with his wife Kim Basinger and there are a lot of custody issues involved. I don’t know any of the details. I only know that something written in the article I read, attributed to him, is apropos to my situation:

“…your opponents attempt to take a picture of you on your worst day and insist that this is who you are as a person,” Baldwin wrote.

“Outside the doors of divorce court, I have friends, I have respect from people I work with and I have a normal relationship with my daughter. All of that is threatened whenever one enters a courtroom.”

There were plenty of lies Tara spout forth about me in the courtroom, in a failed attempt to keep the court from allowing me to see my son. I have always treated him kindly and with the deepest respect. I have no shame regarding my role as a father, only as a husband. Still, I wasn’t anywhere close to being as bad as Tara has claimed. Her next husband may have been, as he actually beat her up in a bar on one occasion, but somehow it is I who is seen as the abusive one. It is sad how distorted her perception of reality has become.

That dream I had made me realize that maybe Tara has done this, too, but on a much bigger scale. Maybe her vivid imagination has built up something about me that she now considers true memory. And, maybe it has been doing it since we broke up 15 years ago. How could I ever compete with that? Well, by keeping this public weblog is a good start. It puts the truth out there, in direct confrontation with the distorted illusions my ex-wife has undoubtedly passed off as truth to my son.

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