Part of what got me through the whole process of suing my ex was daydreaming about the wicked blog posts I was going to write.
The ones that explained my side of the story in gory detail. The ones that excoriated him and made him look as bad as I felt he was at the time. Posts that drew what meagre bathos there was from a very painful situation.
I almost did it, once or twice, when I got whiffs of the stories going around. When people who'd always been friendly with me wouldn't look me in the eye.
Knowing before I started the suit that people might think I was a bitch for doing so didn't make it hurt any less when I saw them thinking it.
When I got those feelings, I was at least smart enough to talk to people I knew would talk me down. "Let it blow over," Shelley said. She's a smart woman, so I listened. I kept writing the posts in my head and saved them all up for one good long screed after all the shit had settled. To finally tell my version.
His last payment came through last Wednesday.
In the past few months, I was increasingly unsure how I was going to feel when that happened. For a long time, I assumed I'd be ecstatic to have it done with and to have this person I'd called any number of names out of my life for good.
For the first 6 and a half years of the 8 years we've known each other, there were big thick hanks of big thick emotions wrapped up in and around the place he occupied in my brain and heart.
The bulk of of those emotions were made up of different types of disappointment. There was resentment. Bitterness too. All of which turned to flinty anger after a while. For far too long before I broke up with him, as a matter of fact. It turned me mean.
But before all that, and even shot through the many kinds of unkind we were to each other, there was joy. He's one of the funniest people I've ever met; he has a warmth and a generosity of spirit I always found compelling. I loved him deeply for a long time.
Eventually the balance tipped, the joy fell off the scales, and we were left with only reaching for it. Both of us wanted the high of that joy back very badly; neither of us knew how to get it. We ended up trying to convince ourselves we were in love.
No one is their best self in that situation, of course, but his reaction to the suit didn't help quell any bitter emotions.
I certainly hadn't expected him to react well to being served papers, but I was shocked by how far on the other side of well his reaction landed. I was no angel, let's be clear here - I was manipulative in a way that makes me uncomfortable - but his behaviour was poor far beyond what I was expecting.
And this, if I were still angry, is where I'd let myself go. It would be pretty entertaining, if my internal blog posts are any marker. I've had a lot of time to find just the right words to shade his depths and to get myself shone up bright as Girlfriend Martyr.
But at what cost?
He and I have gotten to a point where we're friendly with each other - something I would have told you was utterly fantastical 2 years ago.
I like that we've managed that. That we've performed this impossible alchemy. It's amazing to me that the tight jaw and clenched fists and name calling of 2007 has turned into the current exchange of pleasantries, of movie and music recommendations; a casual wave and smile as I walk past him at a show.
When my bank balance showed the payment had come through, I didn't think "Thank fuck I never have to talk to that asshole again." I thought, "Huh. Wow. I guess that's done, then." I tried to figure out what I was feeling, because whatever it was, it wasn't much. A little empty, maybe, a little lost at sea.
He occupied a wounded space inside me for a long time. That space has shrunk considerably over the past couple years; in the past year, particularly, even the outline was getting hard to see. I could find it easy enough when I went looking. Occasionally when I didn't, as well.
And then there was that last hundred bucks and he just, he wasn't. I could feel a slight depression in a part of me where strong feelings once had lived. Like the flesh after a scab falls off. Pink and still a little tender. But whole.
He and I exchanged a couple of emails around the fact that it was over. He apologized sincerely, thanked me for being patient, said he'd changed.
The petty part of me, the part used to navigating around his bulk in my heart, snorted and rolled her eyes.
The bigger part of me thought What does it cost to believe him?
For those who are generous of spirit, the answer is nothing.