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Letters to My Ex: The Orthodontist Appointment


Dentist Model of Teeth

I spent my Saturday morning at the orthodontist getting a second opinion for our daughter’s possible braces. Although her teeth are strait, the first doctor told me that she needs extensive procedures to fix a crossbite that will affect her significantly later in life. The second orthodontist gave me the same diagnosis as the first. I’m glad that I met with two different doctors who essentially told me the same thing because our daughter is going to go through a lot in the next 18 months and I wanted to make sure that I was making an informed decision. I feel for her, as this process will be painful, uncomfortable, and long. Nonetheless I now feel confident that it’s the right thing to do.


I’ve decided to move forward in this process with the first doctor for a number of different reasons that are rather irrelevant to this letter. Once I chose which orthodontist to proceed with, I went home and pulled up the estimate for her procedure. I have orthodontic insurance through my employer, but it only covers a fraction of the cost. Even with the insurance I have to put down a deposit and then pay the remainder on a monthly basis for the next 16 months. The amount is significant. Because you don’t contribute financially to your daughter’s life you will be blissfully unaware of the cost.


As you know from the last legal documents the court supplied us with, you are in fact required to pay a portion of our children’s medical bills, however I won’t send you the bill for her braces. I see no reason to share it. The last time I took you to court for unpaid medical bills we went to trial, and I “won”. However, that win cost me over eleven thousand dollars in lawyer payments and you eventually stopped paying the monthly payments the court set up as well as all other child support. The realization came to me that taking you back to court means spending more money on lawyers that I could use in more productive ways. The court proceedings would stretch on for years and even if you went to jail that wouldn’t help me financially. It wouldn’t help your daughter get her jaw fixed either. Therefore, I’ve given up hiring lawyers to drag you into court in an attempt to convince you to contribute financially.

When our daughter brought up the braces and you told her that she didn’t need them I thought to myself how nice it must be to simply ignore reality. Over the years I’ve seen the way you ignore what is right in front of you by saying that something is untrue or that someone, or something is wrong. Part of me is envious of the way you think. How nice it must be to let go of all the things in the world that make me feel uncomfortable or that I worry about. Trust me, I know that I probably worry about things I shouldn’t. Wouldn’t it be nice to disregard the truth by simply ignoring it? In many ways the world would be an easier place to live.

I’m not a stranger to ignoring reality, having done so for 15 years. Before I got sober, I strived for ignorant bliss unknowingly. When I drank, I never thought that I wanted to ignore reality but as I sit here now it makes a little more sense to me. Yes, I’m an alcoholic so my natural desire is to be drunk, but I can also see now that drinking allowed me to quiet the anxiety and worries that flooded into my mind. But what kind of life was I living when I drowned out the truth with alcohol? Ironically the cure of drunkenness was also one of the contributing factors of the cause.


I know that I hurt you immeasurably when I drank. Although I made amends to you all those years ago, I understand that there are parts of our lives together that changed you and for that I apologize. I did wrong, for all of it I’m sorry. Yet through the hurt I caused I also helped create two amazing children that we share. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to give me financial assistance through alimony after everything I put you through. I never asked for alimony or financial support from you. The court agreed that I shouldn’t receive any as well. But financial support of our kids, that is what I don’t understand. How can you believe that you shouldn’t have to financially support them? They are yours. You and I agreed to not only have one, but to have two.


Graffiti caution reality

If I had to guess your reality and mine are vastly different. The truth that is in front of you is most likely different from the truth I see in front of me. I believe the parts of your life that you don’t agree with ignore and if you can’t ignore them then you say they are untrue. Maybe other times you simply forget the truth. I’ll never really know what you see in front of you, and it doesn’t matter either.


For as much as Ignoring reality and disbelieving what was in front of my face was nice for a time, it ultimately ended in heartache and despair for me. Although the anxiety and fear of life was muted for some time it always came back, smacking me in the face just a little harder than it had previously. The pain of life became almost constant, as the pleasure of drinking became small and obsolete. It seems that my pain tolerance, albeit quite high, still had its limits. I finally realized that I had to take a long, hard look at myself and life in all its reality. I could no longer give in to ignorant bliss.

When I call the orthodontist Monday morning, I’ll have the payment plan ready for them to set up and I’ll schedule our daughter’s first appointment. I will have to cut back on spending money on items in order to make up for the new monthly payments. The holidays are upon us, and it is my favorite time of the year. I won’t be able to do all of the fun extras over this wonderful season. I’ll have to pick and choose what to spend money on, but that’s ok because a weight will be lifted off my chest knowing that I’m taking care of our daughter, knowing that her health is more important than a fun activity. For as angry and frustrated that I get at you for not contributing I will also know that because of me our daughter is well taken care of.


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Image by Tim Mossholder

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