emotional dominoes

I work in a building with police officers.  I passed one in the halls yesterday and had a moment where I thought, I could grab the gun and be gone before anyone realized what had happened.

I’m not suicidal.   I didn’t grab the gun and I never would because, simply put, I would not leave B.  But it’s not the first time I’ve had these moments – an oncoming car swerves over the line, a knife falls off the counter – and I have a flash.   It scares me, but not because I think I am going to do it.  It scares me, but not because I want to be gone.  It scares me because I didn’t know that it could hurt so much just to be alive.

*
My emotional dominoes fell down yesterday.  One by one they toppled over until the only thing left is me, alone and unprotected.  The tipping point seems inconsequential today but yesterday was all consuming.  It drained me, physically and emotionally, and wasn’t made any better by the fact that B and my spouse are gone all weekend.  I spent the evening alone, drinking red wine and sobbing.

*
This is the brave new world.  Every other weekend, from Wednesday evening until Sunday afternoon I won’t see my son.  I won’t know what he’s doing, or what he’s feeling.  I won’t kiss him good night or read him books or comfort him in the middle of the night.

*
I am tired of platitudes.  I don’t need to hear that it will be ok, or that everything will work out, or that sometimes the hardest paths are the right ones.   I understand why people say these things.  I understand that they very well may be correct. But it doesn’t mean that I want to hear them.  Or that I have the energy to assure anyone else that I am ok and will be ok.

Sometimes I just need to fall apart.

*
I am in mourning for a life that I will not have.   I am in mourning for the life B will not have.

I know that this life will bring its own beauty.

But right now, I am in mourning.

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boundaries

It’s evening and you’re all at home.  It’s not your home for much longer, at least not physically, but it will remain your house as long as your name is attached.  You’re excited to leave.  You’re scared to walk away.

Your spouse, a title that is also on its last legs, is in the other room reading books to your son.  You close the door to your room and get dressed for your workout.  Shorts and a sports bra because you’re slated for a HIIT session that means lots of sweat.  Earbuds in, music on blast.  You’re lost in a sea of burpees and squats and lunges and somehow miss that your spouse is standing in the doorway.

“I heard noises, wanted to make sure you were ok.”

You nod but don’t talk because your lungs are burning.

“Ok,” he says and backs out.

*
You’re in the shower and you hear the door open.  He’s there, standing against the vanity, but offers no explanation for his presence.  You finish showering and pull the towel behind the curtain because he will not leave and you have no desire to feel so exposed.  He’s there when you emerge and his gym shorts outline his arousal.  He won’t move and you push past him, muttering your apologies.

He follows you to your room, stands outside the door as you get dressed.  You rush, pulling cotton pants on wet skin and wiggling into a sports bra because there is no lock on your door.

“Yes?” you ask when you finally open the door.

He leans against the door frame and tells you that he misses you, that he loves you, that he wants to have sex.  He insists that he’s still the same guy and you figure that means he can’t respect boundaries.   You gently demure when he asks to see you naked, just some skin, how about a hug?

He follows you into the bathroom where you rush through your bedtime routine.  He looks pathetic but that means nothing.  You’ve said no, before.

*
You expect him to come into your room until the minute you fall into an uneasy sleep.

*
In the morning he’ll apologize, tell you he doesn’t know what happened.  He’ll tell you he was so tired and therefore not thinking straight.  He’ll send you a text message with a one line apology sandwiched between questions about your son and punctuated by a “no excuses”.

*
My house is not a home.

turning point

If spring is rebirth then summer is molting.  I shed my layers and found a new skin, uncomfortable and scratchy and tight in all the wrong places.  It stretched out, eventually.  It always does.

*
I signed a lease on an apartment.  It’s temporary so I’m overlooking the shortcomings and focusing on the good: it’s mine, it’s ours.  I spent too much money at Ikea and my storage unit is overflowing with clearance home goods and misplaced optimism.  It’s a fresh start in a dismal place and my husband – weird to type, now – is disapproving.  It’s the wrong space in the wrong place and it’s my fault and I’m ruining everything.

So be it.

*
It’s a hot day in the beginning of August and I’m on a boat in the middle of the river with two of my coworkers-cum-surrogate brothers, the title earned after years of friendship and a summer of hanging out and dinners and a deep appreciation for what it means to have people that care about you.  We spend twelve hours on the water, finding land only when we need food (rare) or more alcohol (more likely).  At some point the sun goes down and we’re past the point of sober, a celebration in its own right because I feel light, and free.  I’ve been reticent to talk to MP in the past because of something about him – so put together, so assured – makes my own disaster of a life feel so much more pronounced.  But the alcohol lowers my walls and we start a conversation that even now, we haven’t finished.

This is a Turning Point, I’ll later realize.  It’s the first time I’ve consolidated months of agony and sorrow into one conversation and it even though I’m laughing and shrugging I can hear something buzzing in the back of my mind.  These things you’re saying, they’re not ok.  

My big brother says to me: You are such a strong independent woman.  How did you stand for this?

*
This, as he refers to it, is an emotionally and sexually abusive marriage.  This is years of being blackmailed into sex, declining an invitation for days of the cold shoulder and aggression.  This is becoming accustomed to bedroom habits I never enjoyed.  This is saying, NO, and being disrespected to the point of pain, yet not leaving.  This is being made to feel as though every purchase was a transgression despite his own spending habits.   This is feeling wrong when I’m doing something that doesn’t include him.  This is being told I’m not a good enough parent.  This is questioning every decision.

*
My walls begin to crack and the truth filters in like late afternoon sunshine.  Bright.  Painful.

*
When I first began to see L she handed me a brochure on abusive relationships.  I was offended and almost stopped seeing her, because I felt so insulted that she would insinuate that I would subject myself to an abusive relationship.  Didn’t she know me?

I opened it, eventually.  It hurt to read words I desperately wish didn’t make my insides twist.

And I kept seeing L.

*
My spouse has acknowledged our truth exactly once since August.

Now he denies my words, his own confessions.  Where he once admitted blame he now only levies his own accusations and if I’m not careful I find that I begin to believe.  To question myself.

*
I never thought I would be here.  I never thought I’d realize so late in life that I am gay.  I never thought I’d get a divorce.  I never thought I’d let myself be a willing partner to a relationship that has a label: abusive.

*
I have two weekends left until I move.  I have high blood pressure and I can’t sleep.  I’m scared for me, and for B, and for my spouse.

Underneath the uncertainty, I find and hold onto my new truth: it is the beginning of a new chapter.

Healing.

presence

My son, B, is turning three soon.  He’s the quintessential little boy you read about in books and watch on TV; bold and boisterous, obsessed with trucks and dinosaurs and Lightening McQueen, fearless and confident and perpetually covered in bruises.  And, as I learned this week, he’s also very perceptive about the world that he lives in and very in tune to the changes around him.

*
B had a meltdown yesterday before daycare drop off.  It felt very much like the tantrums we’ve seen lately with lots of hitting and scratching and pinching, but this one was exacerbated because I didn’t have endless amounts of time to soothe him.  I got him calmed down just as I had to leave if I was going to make it to work on time and it triggered another meltdown that made me cry.

B’s tantrums have been getting more aggressive in nature and have been triggered by seemingly nonsensical things and in turns, I’ve gotten frustrated as well.  We have attributed this to a change schedule, not seeing my husband as much as he finishes school, something in his diet that is making him uncomfortable, but it wasn’t until yesterday morning that I finally grasped that I was missing the big picture.

My husband and I do not interact like we used to; that is, we don’t interact like we are a married couple.  Our exchanges are either fraught with tension or falsely cheerful, or when my husband is sad we speak in a lowered volume with closed off body language.  When we hug it’s with the desperateness of two people who know at any point they are going to be driven apart.

I take the monitor most nights so B comes to bed with me when he wakes in the middle of the night.  If I don’t get to him in time and he’s more awake he’ll point to my husband’s room – formerly our room – and request to sleep in there.  Habits, I tell my self.  It’s habit.  We talk to him about how mommy and daddy have their own rooms and he understands.

*
When I research ways to handle aggressive toddler tantrums it takes me a while to understand what I’m reading.  I’m looking for ways to punish his initial reaction to lash out and hit and everything I read tells me that there is nothing to punish.  When the words finally click I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut.  B’s hitting is a symptom.  He’s a toddler and he doesn’t have the words he needs to tell me what he’s feeling and the only way he can release his anger is to hit.  You cannot cure a symptom.  You have to find the cause.

As best as I can figure, B is angry because he doesn’t understand why the world is changing.  He’s lashing out physically because he knows that is how he is going to get my attention and it’s this realization that hurts the most.  I really thought that I was relatively unaffected by everything happening, or at least unaffected enough that I could compartmentalize my feelings and deal with them when I chose.  But when I think about B’s tantrums, his anger, I realize that I am absolutely, completely wrong.

*
I don’t think I’m always the best mom.  I’m not being overly dramatic or seeking empty validation that you’re sure I’m doing the best that I can (!!!), I’m just being honest.  I know that this is affecting me more than I acknowledge because I really just want to be strong and independent but I’m not.  I’m cranky with my students and I’m short with my coworkers and sometimes I yell at other drivers for no reason.  But more than that, I’m not always present with my son.   Too often we turn on the TV so I can make dinner or clean the house or do laundry or whatever else and I tell myself it’s ok because most of the time it’s just me and B and that’s hard.  But just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s ok to give up, and that’s what I was doing.  I’ve been missing the signals he’s giving me: when he asks me to sit down with him, or wants to be held, or wants to play trucks.  It hurts even to think about it, let alone to write about it.  The truth does that sometimes.

What’s done, is done.  Now I can only move forward.

*
I met with the director of his daycare yesterday, who also happens to be a friend, and filled her in on what was going on in our lives.  It was a conversation long overdue but I genuinely thought that my telling her was just part of the covenant of friendship, not a necessity based on the needs of my child.  But this woman is made of pure love and when we left I really did believe that we would all be ok, even if it’s hard now.

I got B from school and we got a milkshake and went to the park.  My phone came out only to snap a quick picture and I was with him, really with him in a way I’ve lost sight of in the past few weeks.  When he screeched in frustration I knelt down and asked him questions instead of scolding and he responded by telling me he was mad and giving me a hug.  We ate dinner and read too many books and he fell asleep cuddled up against me.

At the park he looked at one of the plastic animals and told me it was sad.  I asked why and he told me, “because he misses mommy”.  I asked him if he missed his mommy and he said, “no, I miss daddy.”

How have I missed so much?

public media

I hate Facebook.  I made the mistake of liking an article about “Debunking the Myths of Scissoring” or something ridiculous like that and I forgot that it means that everyone will see that I like that in their newsfeed.  This morning someone I work with calls me across the office and tells me, loudly, that she needs to talk to me “about scissoring”.  I blanched and then turned bright red because what the fuck was she talking about and then frantically scrolled through my activity feed until I saw the “like” in question.   I immediately unliked it because I somehow thought that it would undo the damage and then went to talk to my older, straight, married coworker about scissoring.

*
It’s been a few hours and the flush has receded from my face and I am thinking more clearly.  Why did I panic?  Did I somehow think that by liking an article on Facebook I had outed myself to the entirety of my friend’s list?  I did, of course.  And I somehow thought that unliking it would ebb the tide of damage, which implies that there was damage done.

Let’s face it: it wasn’t an entirely innocent article to like.   I’d read it and found it interesting and clicked like because I can like whatever the hell I want to like, right?  But I lied and told the office that it was sent to me by a friend as part of an inside joke because why the hell else would a straight, married woman like an article about lesbian sex positions?

There are reasons, of course.  But I’m too close to think clearly.

I think it’s time to breakup with Facebook.

Sigh.

storms that rattle the windows

My husband took our wedding photo off the wall in what was the master bedroom, and is now his bedroom, and I cried because it gutted me in a way I didn’t expect.  I retreated to my room and tucked myself into a corner and sobbed as I listened to my husband and B play with trucks in the hallway.

When B was in bed and I emerged from my shower, clean but not rejuvenated, I let my husband hold me as my tears fell into his shoulder.  I was ready to recant it all, to go back to pretending I was straight and this could work if only it meant that the pain would go away and I would just stop feeling like this.  It was more than just a fleeting thought; I genuinely wanted to tell him I’d have another baby with him, he could get therapy and we could make something work with our sex life, we could create a marriage that had a foundation of companionship and we could just make it all work.

I couldn’t force the words past my lips. I think that even if I didn’t understand it, and didn’t appreciate it, I saved me from myself.

*
It wasn’t a good night of sleep.  B was up constantly crying for reasons we can’t identify and a storm rattled the windows in the pre dawn hours but despite this the morning brought coherency.  It scares me how willing I was to throw away everything I’ve worked so hard for because I am terrified of change or being alone or watching him move on.

I told him this morning it was easier when I was angry and he smiled sadly.  The world has to look pretty shitty from where he stands and that’s hard, too.

*
Change is hard and it scares me more than I realized.  But I also know it’s the best way, the only way, and I have to push on.  Moving rooms was significantly more difficult than I would have expected but I still slept in my own room last night.  I got my new checks in the mail and now I need to put through the paperwork to separate our accounts, and that will bring its own set of challenges.

We can do this.  We need to do this.

dull ache

I am in my own room.  It’s the fruits of our labor yesterday (both of us) and today (I stayed home, alone).  It went better than I could have ever hoped for as my husband was helpful and accommodating and tonight I’ll sleep in my own bed in my own room.

*
It was also harder than I expected.  I sent the email requesting a change in room when we were angry and I couldn’t stand being around him.  But this past week he’s been the man I fell in love with and even if it is not fundamentally possible to go back to that space, it doesn’t mean it is a painless process.

His coping mechanisms have not made this easy but in some ways I appreciate them because his disconnect has given me the motivation to make changes.  But now our anger is fading and he’s making adjustments, like seeking out a therapist and making the decision to stop drinking (which made him depressed), and I’m living with the consequences of my executive orders and it’s harder than I thought it would be.

We unearthed a lot of memories.  Photo albums, journals, cards.  He cried when I wasn’t looking and I cried as I backed out of the room.  It hurt in a way I wasn’t expecting because my husband was the kind, sweet man I married and I felt like there was a hole in my gut.

*
He came into my room and put his hands on my shoulders.  “Thank you for the best decade of my life, and better memories than I ever thought I’d have,” he whispered.

*
This is what I wanted.  This is what we need if we’re going to survive.  But it hurts.

More than I expected.