I am better than him and I don’t need to lower myself to his level of behaviour. But it is so hard to remember that, when he is hurling more contempt my way.
I do not use the word contempt lightly. It was the word the psychologist used in her report, picked up after only a few hours of speaking to him.
I can feel the contempt leaking out of him in every interaction he has with me.
1. The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn.
2. The state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace.
He does not regard me as worthy of even the basic civilities.
Take one example.
We only communicate by email. Before we finished in court, and presumably because any email could have ended up in evidence, all the emails started ‘Dear Katie’ and ended ‘Regards James’. Even if the content of the email was unpleasant, telling me off, threatening court or demanding something, he would always finish with ‘Regards James’.
There would be the occasional departure from that pattern when James used ‘Dearest Katie’ or ‘Best wishes James’, when he wanted something from me. Or in his usual passive aggressive way, he would used the most flowery salutations to start and finish the nastiest emails, deliberately emphasising his thoughts are the exact opposite of the words used.
That has changed since court finished. James (the ex with a personality disorder) no longer bothers with even that level of civility. Every single email – and there have been dozens – starts without my name and finishes without his.
When he first wrote to me like that, I was so tempted to do the same back, and did. Once. I felt so terrible afterwards, though, because that is not who I am. I am not someone who plays ‘tit for tat’ and I can remain civil, if only for the sake of the children.
Next time I needed to write, I reminded myself that I am better than him and don’t need to lower myself to his shoddy level of behaviour.
So I wrote to him as I have always done, with his name at the top and mine at the bottom.
I never did use the ‘dear’ and ‘regards’, because I knew that it was being hypocritical. I didn’t mean it. I cannot use ‘James’ and ‘dear’ in the same breath, because I hate him and I couldn’t bring myself to write it. But I always remained civil.
However much I want to show him how rude he is being, and however difficult it is to be polite to someone who treats me so badly, I will take a deep breath and always sign my emails off with my name. Because I am so much better than him, in so many ways.