The Blood Money

thirty-pieces-of-silver

I want nothing to do with it.

There were three diamonds to choose from.

The Philadelphia transplant was teaching me about stone clarity and inclusions in the back of his Florida jewelry store.

My girlfriend wanted a pear-cut diamond. I loved that, because I don’t like doing the same things as other people.

I spent a lot of time with the loupe—a small magnification device used to inspect gems—studying the three diamonds from which I would choose the centerpiece for her engagement ring.

This is an important decision. After all, a diamond is forever.

I made poverty wages as a 23-year-old cub reporter at a mid-sized daily newspaper. I was getting friend-prices from Sully—the owner and jeweler who looked a lot like Donald Sutherland. Sully liked me. We’d met months earlier when I’d written a nice little feature on him and his business partner.

It was probably unethical to accept his generosity. But I couldn’t afford not to.

I went through several catalogs, seeking the perfect band. And I thought I found it.

A delicate, diamond-studded band. Combined with the pear-shaped diamond, it looked like poetry.

Customized poetry written just for my future bride.

One of a kind.

Sully was accustomed to dealing with all the rich people that live up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast.

I wasn’t one of them.

He agreed to a layaway deal with me.

Month after month, with my unsuspecting girlfriend occasionally picking fights with me about my failure to commit, I was stopping in the store to make $200 or $300 payments on her ring.

I wanted to propose to her on the Fourth of July, because that is the holiday I associated with her as we’d first gotten together around the Fourth two years prior.

She and I were going to spend a day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. That’s where I would do it.

I just had to make sure I paid for the ring on time.

I did.

Eleven Years Later

I was having dinner with a pretty girl. A dinner I’ve made dozens of times for my friends.

For my wife.

I’m picking myself up. Dusting myself off. This is part of the process.

My phone rang in my pocket. I pulled it out to see who it was.

My ex-wife.

Every good feeling I had went away. Because I still haven’t deprogrammed myself of 12 years with her. It still feels instinctively wrong to be with someone else. Like she caught me doing something bad.

Plus, we share a child. He’s the most-important person in my life. What if she needs me? What if my son needs me?

But, I just couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me to look someone in the eye who was kind enough to join me for dinner and tell her I was going to spend a few minutes on the phone with my ex-wife.

I ignored the call.

I ignored a text message.

Which is really bad form and not consistent with how I’ve tried to treat my son’s mom.

I wonder what she wanted?

I had no idea.

If it’s important, I guess I’ll find out. 

The Anti-Resurrection

It was Easter Sunday last year when my son and I returned home in the mid-afternoon hours to my wife.

We’d taken a road trip to visit family on the other side of the state. She declined to make the trip with us. I’d spent the weekend lying to my grandparents and mother and aunts and uncles, telling them that everything was fine.

She sat on the living room floor with our—at the time—four-year-old son.

I sat on one of the couches and gave her a rundown from the weekend.

And that’s when I noticed she wasn’t wearing her ring.

I almost vomited.

I did later that night.

The observation stopped me mid-sentence. I never finished the thought and I can’t remember what I was telling her.

Just the naked ring finger.

“You’re not wearing your ring,” I whispered, because I couldn’t find my voice.

She told me it was because she was cleaning and she’d taken it off and had simply forgot to put it back on.

Right.

Later that night, she told me she was leaving.

Happy Easter.

The next day, she kept her promise.

Thirty Pieces of Silver

I sent a text apologizing. I don’t think it’s cool to be unavailable. But I’m not always cool. I still feel this insane awkwardness mixing dating and communicating with my ex-wife.

I really was sorry.

“It’s fine,” she said. All she wanted to do was talk to me about taxes… and selling our rings.

Another dagger.

I’m allowed to keep mine, if I want.

Cool.

But the agreement was to sell hers, she said. Split the money.

Got it.

I wonder what it means that I can still hurt. I wonder what I can do to stop that from happening.

Maybe nothing.

I’m Gonna Be Late to the Pity Party

I’ve been listening to Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 pretty much non-stop for the past couple weeks.

It took me a surprisingly long time to figure out how much I identified with the track “Stronger Than I Was.”

My friend—a great one—took time out of his busy life to send me that album a couple weeks ago.

Part of me thinks he wanted me to listen to this song more than any other. He’s smart and observant like that.

It’s been on repeat all day today.

I don’t like feeling angry.

More importantly, I don’t like that she has the power to make me feel angry.

Despite my many, many fuck ups throughout the course of our relationship, I always feel like I’ve gone above and beyond trying to be sensitive to her feelings.

And I continue to feel like I just keep getting metaphorical dicks in the ass for my efforts.

But, the problem is not hers.

It’s mine.

She doesn’t have the power to make me angry.

I give her the power to make me angry.

You might remember me saying that I’m going to stop doing things that make me unhappy. Well, this is one of those things that is making me unhappy.

And it’s time to wash my hands of it.

Hey sweetheart.

Go ahead and take your ring. Sell the shit out of it. Enjoy your 30 pieces of silver.

Because I don’t want your fucking blood money.

You walked out, I almost died
It was almost a homicide that you caused cause I was so traumatized
Felt like I was in for a long bus ride
I’d rather die than you not by my side
Can’t count how many times I vomited, cried
Go to my room, turn the radio on and hide,
Thought we were Bonnie and Clyde
No, on the inside you were Jekyll and Hyde I
Felt like my whole relationship with you was a lie
It was you and I, why did I think it was ride or die?
Cause if you could’ve took my life you would’ve
It’s like you put a knife to my chest and pushed it right through to the
Other side of my back and stuck a spike, too, should’ve
Put up more of a fight, but I couldn’t at the time
No one could hurt me like you could’ve
Take you back now, what’s the likelihood of that?
Bite me, bitch, chew on a nineteen footer
Cause this morning I finally stood up
Held my chin up, finally showed a sign of life in me for the
First time since you left me and left me with nothing but shattered dreams
And a life we could’ve had and we could’ve been
But I’m breaking out of this slump I’m in
Pulling myself out of the dumps once again
I’m getting up once and for all, fuck this shit
I’mma be late for the pity party
But you’re never gonna beat me to the fucking punch again
Took it on the chin like a champ so don’t lump me in with the chump-ions
I’m done being your punching bag…

But you won’t break me
You’ll just make me stronger than I was
Before I met you, I bet you I’ll be just fine without you
And if I stumble, I won’t crumble
I’ll get back up and uhhh
And I’mma still be humble when I scream fuck you
Cause I’m stronger than I was

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45 thoughts on “The Blood Money

  1. Wow.

    I was wondering how many more times the rings would come up before you had enough…maybe one day that song can be followed by this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1ZgtCRO-KY

    Incredibly powerful post…again and proof positive you are ready for the book.

  2. elainecanham says:

    Anger is more powerful than despair. You’ll get through. I kept my wedding ring for ages after my first marriage bust up, Now I’m not sure where it is. Take the money, buy something that will bring you pleasure.

    • Matt says:

      I won’t take the money, Elaine. But yes. Anger is more powerful than despair. But I don’t want to be angry anymore. I’m trying not to be.

      • elainecanham says:

        Permission to speak out of turn? If you don’t do something about this now; if she keeps the ring, then one day soon there is a good chance that you are going to wake up feeling much more angry than this abt the fact that she’s got it. Can I suggest something practical? Take her up on her offer, and put the money in a savings acct for your son. That way, all that effort you put in will still have a positive outcome. But fix the problem now. Don’t let it fester. Good luck.

      • Matt says:

        You don’t have to ask permission to share what seems like wise and very practical advice. It sounds smart.

        To be sure, I do not always do the right thing. I promise to give this more thought. And I do appreciate you sharing. Thank you for caring enough to do so. :)

  3. heybird72 says:

    I know where you’re coming from… again, so much in this post.I can relate to. My ex didn’t stop wearing her ring until after our separation, but it didn’t make it any less significant for me. Honestly, I wasn’t even the one that noticed first. We were seeing a counselor separately in hopes (or at least in my hopes) that we could start counseling together at some point. After just a handful of sessions she stopped going because the counselor asked her why she was coming for marriage counseling when she wasn’t wearing her ring. I guess that should have been a big enough clue that I should have just given up hope then… it sure hurt enough. I’ve wondered what she ended up doing with it. At first I was angry because it was a lot of money, but reserved myself to the fact that I gave it to her and that it just wasn’t worth what I would net monetarily for what I would give up emotionally to fight for it.

    Keep working at it and working through it… I don’t guess it ever gets to ‘normal’, but it’s easier to deal with the emotions as time goes on. Keep the focus on your son and your well being. You’re doing a good job and I still admire the hell out of you for sharing in such personal way.

    • Matt says:

      Good to hear from you, fellow G. Love fan.

      Thank you for all this. Sharing your story and understanding and just… I don’t know… getting it. I’m sure a lot of people don’t get it. I’m sure. Lot of people think I’m weak and whiny.

      But this gets to me. Down in that place we don’t like to talk about. Thanks for raising your hand and saying you feel it too. Means a lot.

  4. Really powerful post. And you did give me some inspiration about not to give anyone the power to make me angry. Thank you.
    Take the money, and if you don’t want to use them for yourself, then for something good to your son to have in your house. Then you would get something good out of your early saving for the ring.
    Irene

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Irene. It’s pretty important I think to not give anyone control of our emotions. I’m still working on that. Obviously. :)

  5. my Ex “lost” his wedding ring the very first night he slept away at home. He supposedly “left it at the hotel. Personally, I wonder if the person he was sleeping with “helped” him “lose” it. Either way, as I reflect back, not having the ring anymore proved to be a relief. Don’t get me wrong. I was angry at first but I think it may have become a source of thought-worship for me if it was still around. Hopefully you will be free from what little torture lingers from the presence of the rings once they have been dealt with.

    on a more evil and vindictive note: rings don’t have as much monetary value as we anticipate (so says my research). If you thought it wasn’t worth the money before, you may get a sliver of satisfaction that your ex won’t get as much as she thinks either….consolation prize? Maybe?

    Sorry.

    • Matt says:

      :)

      No. No consolation prize. There is ZERO value in selling them to jewelers. The only way to make money is to sell them on the free market and find a guys who wants to buy a beautiful ring for his girlfriend for 50-60% the retail cost.

      I’m told you can sell a $5,000 ring for about $2,500-$3,000. I haven’t proved that. But I can appreciate how someone might enjoy getting something expensive for half price.

      Won’t matter. I’m letting go.

  6. tilde531 says:

    Poignant. Powerful, indeed.
    (Eminem is deliciously raw and to the point, isn’t he?)

    It takes two to tango and make a marriage.(Who can define whether it’s a successful marriage or not? Is there such a thing? I don’t think so, and yet at the same time…every marriage is successful… even if it is short-lived. Your son is living proof, imo.)

    I don’t know you personally… but through your blog entries… feel like I do. I am certain you definitely were incredibly sensitive to her needs and were invested in your marriage fully.

    You’re a brilliant writer…positively brilliant.
    No doubt a brilliant Father, too.

    Welcome back to your humanity. Welcome back to your self. You’re getting there.. slowly but surely… getting a life back. Getting YOU… back.
    Don’t feel guilty for that.
    Rejoice.

    You sensed that she didn’t want anything serious. It wasn’t an emergency related to your son. You knew that instinctively. Bravo! You were “right”!

    And you’re moving on…. at a pace that’s “right” for you… to a future that is “right” for you, too. I applaud you for making it “not about the money” in the end…. just as you did in the beginning.

    I hope the lady who captures your attention and earns your heart (the NEXT time) brings back everything you’ve given the first time around.

    You deserve so much…

    Good.

    • Matt says:

      I don’t think there’s even a remote possibility someone says something so kind and thoughtful to me for the rest of the day. Which means you just totally made my day.

      I fell short in my marriage plenty. But my heart was almost always in the right place. Thank you for all of the wonderful smile-inducing and hope-inspiring things you just said. There were several. :)

  7. Rage can be a very powerful thing. Not necessarily when projected outside and thrown out as a reaction. But when allowed to transform rage becomes cou-rage – the courage to sovereignly stand in for what we need. :)

    I am sorry that you hurt, Matt. Feeling the things you describe is challenging and stirrs up the guts. But it is good that you feel them (as they are there, anyway) because that is how you can let go and transform. And that does make you stronger, indeed.

    Much love,
    Steffi

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Steffi. :)

      It was a tricky dash today. Quite unexpected. And I don’t much like unexpected things. At least not the unpleasant stuff.

      These moments are getting more and more infrequent. But still. They’re there.

      Thank you for saying hi.

  8. nights7 says:

    That anger thing is tough. I think anger is a natural reaction that we don’t always choose. We do choose whether or not to stay angry though. My ex is very good at making me angry, I’m working on not letting his meanness and stupidity keep me there…not giving him that power as you put it.

    You might actually feel better once her ring is sold & you’re done with it. It’ll be one less painful reminder and one less way for her to get to you. Also, doesn’t not being married to her mean you don’t have to answer her calls & texts right away anymore?

    • Matt says:

      Yes. Not being married to her does mean that. But I really do care about being decent. I really do care about treating her well. And I really do want to be the kind of person that rises above anger and pettiness to exhibit class and grace.

      Also, we share a son. And she’s great (better than me) at keeping me apprised of things I should know. It’s important that we be able to reach one another.

      I did a bad job last night. Because I’m selfish.

      • nights7 says:

        I understand that but you can be decent and not respond immediately every time. If you’re always at her back and call are you really allowing yourself to be available to move on? Everyone is selfish sometimes but I don’t think not responding at that moment was selfish.
        That being said, it sounds like you’re alot better at co-parenting and communicating post divorce than my ex. I rarely get a response from him when I call or text. If I really need to reach him (or the kids when they’re with him) I have to text his new wife. It’s frustrating.
        There has to be some kind of a balance, that’s all.

      • Matt says:

        I’ll try to keep that in mind. I promise. :)

        I try to be kind even when it’s inconvenient. I fail with great frequency.

      • nights7 says:

        And for the record, despite the way it might sound from my comments, I do try to behave in a way that is decent and kind when dealing with my ex. Not only does it usually make life easier, it’s just the right thing to do.

      • Matt says:

        I made no assumptions. It’s good to be pleasant. :)

      • nights7 says:

        Welll, pleasant might be a stretch. ;)

        I try to be kind, to show a baseline level of respect to everyone and I used to think that made me nice but ,as you wrote about, nice and good are not the same. People sometimes don’t think I’m nice. I’m not very adept at being aware of how I’m perceived. I try not to be an asshole but sometimes I am. It just happens.

  9. I could see what you mean.

  10. One of my favorite songs.. I hold all those feelings too.. It gets easier, promise!

    • Matt says:

      It is easier.

      Every day it gets better. But yesterday was something of a relapse. I could have done without that.

      It is a good song. I would have embedded it in the post, but I literally can’t find the version on my album on YouTube. Every version I heard was sped up a little. Weird. The version I listen to is a half beat slower than every one I heard. And for my money, the slowest version is the best.

  11. Wordsgood says:

    Matt, this is definitely the most powerful post of yours that I’ve seen yet.

    I’d like to clarify something before continuing. I do not, no matter how passionately bitter or angry your posts might be, think any less of you or your ex-wife. True, I’ve never met either of you, but the basic humanity and decency in both of you comes across in your writing. I get the feeling you worry about being negatively judged when you express your hurt and anger on this blog. Please don’t. If anyone does judge you, then they aren’t worth your time.

    This blog is your place. Your place to cry, vent, rant, scream, laugh, celebrate victories big and small, and anything else you need or want it to be. The point is you’re human. The emotions you’re experiencing and are trying to work through are perfectly normal. And I’m fairly certain you’re ex-wife has a bunch of her own demons to deal with, it’s just that she doesn’t let you see them. Why? Because she’s a human too. We all deal with loss and grief in our way, at our pace.

    Now then, back to your post. Excellent. You are finally learning to face your anger. That’s a good thing. You will never find any peace until you allow yourself to experience all of it. At times it will consume you, but hang on because better times are coming. Hang on day by day, moment by moment if need be. You CAN and you WILL get through this. Nobody can tell you how long is going to take because it’s different for everyone.

    As for the ring, I think Irenedesign2011’s idea about using your share of the funds on your son is a great idea. Turn something now so painful into something once again joyous.

    I’m sending you a big cyber hug right now ’cause I do believe you are in need of one. (((Matt)))!

    Deep breaths, Matt. Better yet, go the gym and beat the hell our of a punching bag.

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. I don’t like slipping into anger. I don’t see the point. But it’s real. And an accurate reflection of the moment. That’s really all I ever wanted this to be.

      There seems to be a correlation between when I’m really feeling something and how the post feels to read afterward.

      • Wordsgood says:

        Of course there’s a correlation. It’s why your posts are so appealing. It’s the sheer honesty and the vunerability that makes for such good reading. :)

      • Matt says:

        It means a lot to me that you make time for it. That you think it’s worthwhile. Thank you so much.

  12. Vince says:

    It’s been helpful to me, during this time, to take control of my emotions and I’ve done a pretty good job of it too. I don’t send her random texts anymore or try to make small talk. It’s not easy but I keep things limited to conversation about the kids and/or legal matters and even then I often send her an email instead of walking into the room where she is to talk. There’s a reason for it. I’m setting boundaries and protecting my feelings. We can’t control other people but we can control how we react to them.

    I like that you didn’t answer the phone that night. I understand too when there’s kids involved you do have to be available BUT you don’t have to drop everything to answer her call or text.

    I’m with you on the ring thing too. I don’t know where my stbx put her rings and I don’t care. She can keep them, sell them, throw them in a river or whatever. They are her rings not mine. I have no attachment to her rings.

    • Matt says:

      Far be it from me to suggest I know what I’m talking about, but it sounds like you’re doing it right, Vince. Because, yes. Boundaries.

      They’re important.

      The only thing that can come ahead of protecting yourself in this situation is protecting your kids. Those two things will sometimes conflict with one another. But you seem better-equipped to handle that than most people given the way you’ve handled yourself these past several months.

      Have a good Thursday, sir.

  13. khushnumab says:

    now i have to listen to that song. Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope selling it is easier and it gets over quickly. With the way you write i think this is so important to you, not many men would say that. Just hang in there you are on the right path.

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. It’s been so surprising to me the things that matter versus the things that do not. It’s almost arbitrary. But some things really bother me and some things don’t phase me at all. This ring thing? Bothers me. I’ll get over it.

  14. mjmsprt40 says:

    Rings. Rings are bad juju, and I will never buy another.
    During the last month we were together, my wife either lost or more likely pawned her rings. Then, not satisfied with that, she forcibly removed my ring so she could sell it. That was the day I swore I would never buy another. Not no way, not no how.
    I hate saying things like this because it makes me sound incredibly bitter, and I try not to be like that. But, rings are a sore point, even five years later. I reckon Jared’s will be awhile before they see me again, and then it’s likely for repairs to my watch.

    • Matt says:

      I completely understand. My ex-wife is NOT being unreasonable about this. This has been the agreement for many months. And I’ve not done what I said I was going to do because I’m weak and sentimental.

      And I just want her to care as much as I do. And I get whiny like a small child when stuff hurts my feelings. I need to get over myself.

  15. suzjones says:

    Dear Matt (the writer),
    You nailed it again today because what you wrote was raw and from the heart.
    Dear Matt (the human),
    You are stronger today than you were yesterday. Everything that happens in life teaches us something. You are taking what you need from each experience and moving forward.
    You are right – it isn’t her that makes you angry, you are allowing yourself to do it. You are human. It took me 18 years to forgive my ex for what he did to me during our marriage and 18 years to learn to let go of the feelings he invoked in me each time we spoke.
    You are inherently a good person deep inside. If you were my son I would be proud of you.
    Sue

  16. stvrsnbrgr says:

    Good thing she can’t make you angry. ;)

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