Let the WB Chronicles Begin!

The greatest dilemma of separation has to do with vocabulary.

‘Stop calling him “your husband” – he isn’t that anymore!’ chides my hairdresser.

‘Not-quite-ex-yet-officially doesn’t have a snappy ring to it, does it?’ complains a friend.

‘My children’s father is a bit of a mouthful…’, I admit quietly to myself.

‘Why don’t you use his first name?’ ask my work colleagues. That last one is easily answered: because the first name feels more intimate than giving him a quick label like ‘ex’ or ‘husband’. In front of my children I can call him ‘Baba’ (Greek for Dad), which is what they have called him all their lives. Nothing to do with me.

But what can I call this man with whom I spent 20+ years of my life?

Well, don’t laugh, but I think the best solution might be: WB. Not for Warner Brothers, or his initials. But for ‘Wet Blanket’. Hear me out: I am not being unnecessarily cruel or name-calling. I am simply describing the effect he has had on me for the last ten years or so, possibly longer.

All the things he had once claimed to love about me began to irritate him. How ‘educated’ and ‘cultured’ I was compared to him, how opinionated, how I could debate with him for hours about the state of the world, how vivacious and loud and full of laughter I was when out with friends, what a social butterfly at times, what a recluse at other times, my reading, my book acquisition, even my love of elephants no longer seemed lovable but annoying. I had to be corrected (often in public), put in my place, hidden away from work colleagues for fear of being an embarrassment. All my attributes which did not put him in first place (even ahead of the children) had to be complained about until I made efforts to change them. Meanwhile, woe betide I try to change anything about himself – ‘I never pretended to be anything I was not, you knew whom you married’.

Yes, more fool I! I thought people grew and developed all life long. I didn’t exactly want to change him, I had no illusions about some of his less stellar qualities, but I was the incurable optimist, hopeful that life, family, children and growing older would mature him and reduce some of that selfishness. After all, I was a self-centred teenager myself once and I’ve grown so much less selfish since having children.

So yes, I suppose we were each other’s mutual wet blankets. He dampened my enthusiasm, intellect and friendliness. Meanwhile, I acted as a wet blanket on his selfishness, becoming quite the nag. Whenever I accused him of it, he would reply: ‘Why don’t you become more selfish too? Stop saying you are doing so much for the family!’

The Three Witches from the Orson Welles’ vision of Macbeth, which scared me to death when I was a child.

Partly based on the thoughts I had while reviewing Meena Kandasamy yesterday and partly because I work things out emotionally so much better when I fictionalise things in writing, I intend to embark upon a series of vignettes, poems, flash fiction, rap battles and who knows what else, loosely assembled under the title ‘The WB Chronicles’. I also will attempt a longer (perhaps radio?) play based upon the Three Witches in Macbeth, except they will be three men having their midlife crises, meeting in the pub to complain about the unfairness in their lives.

When shall we three meet again?
To watch FA Cup Final or Champions’ League?
When we’re done with bathtime fatigue
And can be Monarchs of the Glen…

I haven’t quite figured out the details, but one could be whingeing about how his wife wants to take half his money after the divorce, another could be protesting at being accused of sexual harassment at work, and the third could be complaining about the expectations his much younger girlfriend has of him. Meanwhile, in the background, there could be some kind of Greek chorus bringing in alternative points of view (especially with the dryness of legal documents). It would be a comedy, because how are we to survive if we cannot laugh at the lemons in our lives!

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23 thoughts on “Let the WB Chronicles Begin!”

  1. I still say “ex” after 17 years. It’s a good gender neutral term in my case, because to say anything else would be confusing to people who don’t know my past. 🙂

  2. Ah WB. That name is here to stay. And now he’s going to be a series. I hope it’s cathartic for you. As a reader, I enjoy it when he’s made fun of.

  3. I love that – WB. It’s exactly the right choice, I think, Marina Sofia. And thanks for sharing the history of why you chose that name. Interesting, isn’t it, how labels such as ‘ex,’ or ‘partner,’ or ‘aunt’ don’t always work.

  4. I am not laughing about your solution of calling him WB. Those are my initials!!!!
    Men eventually become jealous of their wives who are more intellectually brilliant than they are and outshine them. Especially when they hark from a country where women were traditionally either having babies or in the kitchen preparing meals. That can cover a lot of territory, now that I think of it. I always counsel my women friends to not “mother” their husbands or boyfriends. The last thing a man wants to do, well most of them anyway, is to sleep with his mother. The strong women I have known throughout my life have been fiercely independant, not waiting for a man to make their decisions for them or cower when faced with adversity. They never put aside their own interests in order to advance the interests of their men. I have seen that happen a lot with some of my women friends. Men have a tendency to hang on to women who attract the attention and are desired by other men. One who could deliver a good left hook if provoked indecently. Mae West once said that she wasn’t competing with other women, she was competing with men, knew how to play their game and played it better. Ooooohhhhhh……now there was a woman after many men’s hearts….and their bank accounts as well, I blush to add.”Goodness,, look at all those diamonds.” says an awe struck hatcheck girl taking Mae’s fur coat. “Goodness had nothing to do with it, sweety, she says as she sashays stage left off the screen.

    1. Sorry, I did think regretfully about the coincidence when choosing the initials – but please do not take it personally…
      I completely take your point about Mae West and all that, but I suppose I was hoping for a relationship with an adult to share responsibility rather than a child to indulge. Ah, well, let’s hope I do a better job with my children!

      1. Another adult, that’s all we want. I once said to a colleague who asked me how I could manage it all that I was lucky to have a husband and two children and not three children, one being my age. 🙂

  5. I would love to follow the Chronicles of WB! Having been through a divorce myself, I can totally empathise with some of your comments – and adding a dash of humour works a treat every time. Go forth and use your therapeutic pen – it worked for me x

  6. Writing has never been more therapeutic than when we hit a speed bump in the road of life, or when sections of our lives fall apart. And finding a certain wry (dark) humour in it all, helps! May the WB Chronicles bring you new life.

  7. Very good and witty. Humor helps. I never spoke again to one ex-partner and remained friends with another. Trying to think of the right term. Initials are good. Having children complicates things because one is always involved in one way or another about them.
    Whatever you do to move on with your life in the best way for yourself is the main thing. Don’t spend long mourning this. Enjoy your life! You have a lot going for you, including your own writing skills, love of reading, blogging, sense of humor, wonderful children and Zoe. So enjoy it.
    You will do a good job with your children. You are not responsible for how an adult man acts. It’s his responsibility and his alone and his shortcomings are his own.
    So, enjoy!

    1. Ah, thank you so much for your encouragement, Kathy! I am SO over him, to be honest, because the process of disenchantment, trying again, being disappointed again etc. etc. went on for years before I finally decided to get divorced. And since then, his behaviour has only deteriorated as he doesn’t even have to pretend to make an effort anymore. Therefore, there is nothing left to mourn. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long while (except for the uncertainty of the financial settlement which seems to be taking ages).

  8. You’re free! That’s the main thing. I hope your ex’s attitude doesn’t impact on your children. He has to deal with them well and without hostility and negativity.
    Mainly, enjoy everything in your life, including chocolate, flowers. Treat yourself.

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