I have been chatting with the ex-husband since November. It was not something I ever imagine would happen. Our relationship ended on bad terms and the fallout was nuclear. I spent many years in fear and trying to heal. I put dating on hold and focused on kids, school and work while trying to reach internal peace. I was so happy when I realized I reached it and finally forgave him.
It had been almost twelve years. He had recently started talking to our daughter and was asking to speak to me. Initially, my answer was no. Why would I want to open that can of worms? Although all the wounds were healed, the scars were still there. It took a while before I finally agreed.
His voice was the same. I recognized it immediately. I felt a rush of warm feelings like I had found an old object I loved from my childhood. All the years that had passed disappeared and it felt like we were back where we left off.
I knew something was wrong near the beginning of the conversation. It was him talking, but something was off. He was homeless, jobless and penniless. And after his first tirade, I realized he was worst off mentally then when I left. As he went about describing our past, his memories told of a life that never existed. Whole experiences were missing and people forgotten. It upset him and the paranoia began.
When I hung up the phone, I was in tears. I could not believe how bad his life had become. I cried hard. After all I went through with him, I still cared and loved him. I was so heartbroken.
We began talking on a regular basis. I wanted to know about his life. I have been working with homeless for twenty years and hoped my experience would be helpful. He did his odd jobs to pay his cell bill, went to the pantry for food and clothes and slept on the beach at night. He was near a VA in case he got sick or hurt. Shockingly, he described his life in such a fabulous way which included swimming everyday in the ocean. To him, life was good.
I saw another picture. His schizophrenia was in full force. The paranoid behavior was constant. He always thought I was spying or recording him. And although he would go to the VA, he felt the government was too involved in his life. He wanted to be free with no responsibilities and he was living that on the beach.
I tried to connect him to services. I even had him go to a shelter. Too often, he wouldn't follow through and he'd leave the shelter to go back to the beach. He would get arrested every so often because they did not want homeless on the beaches with tourists. Usually, the charges were dropped and he went back to the beach.
One thing I know about people with a mental illness like his is that it is common for them to self-medicate. That includes the use and abuse of substances. I knew he was when he could. Some alcohol or some marijuana might not affect others like it does for someone mentally ill. But for him, it was something to help deal with life and the world surrounding him.
Even with all that, I still cared about his well-being. I asked him to call me every week to let me know he was okay. I was afraid something would happen to him and no one would notice. Usually, I looked forward to his calls, except when he was having one of his angry episodes. Although his illness affected our conversations, the connection between us was still there.
Towards the end of April, his calls stopped. All his calls went to voice until his phone service was shut off. Everything inside me said something was wrong. I kept trying and checking facebook to see if he logged on. Nothing.
Monday, I woke up sick to my stomach. Every part of me said something was wrong. I started searching for him. I wanted to see if I needed to report him missing. Then, I found him. I searched the courts in his city and found that he had been arrested and was in jail. After reviewing his charges and jumping to the jail website, I saw his face. It was bad.
He must have had a verbal altercation with the police that escalated. In the end, he was beat up and arrested. When I saw the picture, my heart broke. He looked so bad.
I contacted his brother and his mother. Only his mother responded. She said he had told her I was helping him. She was happy I was tuned in and that she knew he would not take his medication. Although I know she loves him, it felt like she had made peace that her son is gone into his own world. I guess everyone has been through a lot with him. Maybe now they understood what I went through with him so long ago.
He is sitting in jail right now. His arraignment is next week. I don't know what will happen. Maybe this time, he won't be so lucky. I want to write the judge and see him get help, but I know he doesn't want it.
I spoke to a friend today. She knows us both. She had been exposed to his illness back when we were married. She told me to follow my conscience no matter what it said. She said I have to do what brings me peace with this since it is causing my soul to ache.
If he gets prison time, I don't know how he will do. His illness does not do well around people. His paranoia affects his behavior and how he interacts with others. I would not be surprised if he didn't make it. Life behind bars is not easy especially where he lives.
I spoke with the kids about him. They are not really interested in him. I think the initial novelty of him has worn off. Both have seen his illness over the phone and would rather not deal with him, especially our son. He said some hurtful things and caused me pain that has angered our son. Saying "Momma's baby, poppa's maybe" didn't help. So now the son he always wanted, doesn't want him. Although our daughter is more forgiving, she lacks the patience to really tolerate him either. It makes me feel blessed to have the kids' love since I see now how freely it is not given.
Tomorrow, I will will write him. I want him to know that I still care and love him. I will decide if I will write the judge and ask for his assistance in getting my ex help with his illness. My mind weighs heavy at this moment and I don't know what to do. In the meantime, I will pray and ask God to guide me to do what is best and needed. And maybe that sick feeling in my spirit will leave and I will actually have the chance to see the one time love of my life again.
Stay sweet 'n smile............................Mz.