First of all I don’t know where to begin. Let’s just say I feel like I’m in some sort of a nightmare. A nightmare partly created by me, yet a nightmare all the same.
The good thing is I don’t have cancer. No terminal illnesses. But after all this is over I might have some gigantic ulcer or a great chunk of insanity bore into my brain. If I am still standing, breathing, and have some of my sanity and dignity left after all this is over it will be a miracle.
Even as I write this I can feel my fingers going numb. I don’t know when I breathed last. Everything looks yellowy and out of focus and every chore takes me twice as long to even think about starting it, much less finish.
We were sitting at the dining room table. It was mid-afternoon and my husband had just picked up salads for us from a chain restaurant. As I poked at the chicken with my plastic fork he asked me a question which made me stop.
“What if we went on a trip. Just the two of us? Maybe that’s what we need.”
I thought of it. Just me and him alone. Trying to make something that wasn’t working, work. I suddenly felt sick. I looked at him in the silent moment. I couldn’t keep trying to appease him.
“I don’t want to be married anymore.”
Or something like that. I don’t really recall what I said. Only how I felt. I could continue to try to make myself love him. To keep telling him the things he wanted to hear. To keep everyone around us in this happy haze. To keep my kick-ass lifestyle of not having to work, of being able to bike my son to and from school every day. To be the cool Mom who was always available. To have time for writing and working out. The thought of losing all that also made me sick. But I couldn’t live a lie anymore. I had to set him free.
That was maybe three months ago. Time is a nagging and fleeting thing. I am losing track of it. Since then there have been several fights. Right in front of our son. I never started them. But I guess my waving the white flag on marriage did.
But to me that is no excuse for the finger pointing, the yelling, the smart remarks and evil looks from across the room. I don’t know who this man is who at some point is going to be my ex-husband. Maybe he says the same about me.
The Air Filter
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the air filter. My husband always replaced it. It was fifteen feet up the top of the wall and required a long-ass ladder, a lot of balance, and a damp cloth to wipe the black dust from the edges of the metal grates. My husband never remembered to replace it. We would go months breathing the same air from the same filthy filter. But when I did remind him he would get leaf-ridden ladder from outside, bring it in the house, set it up, and change the filter while I handed him the damp cloth and told him to be careful not to fall and please wipe the grates clean.
But after my decision to leave him, or in his eyes kick him out of his own condo, I wondered how I was going to tend to the air filter replacement. I had carried the big-ass ladder before when I used it to hang ridiculously large Christmas ornaments on the Norfolk pine in our front “yard”. But how would I balance myself on the ladder while also trying to change the filter (and what size was it anyway, 18×20? That seems right but could be completely wrong) while also wiping the months-old black dust from the metal grates? I have birthed an 8 plus pound child naturally and endured six tattoos without a tear. So for god’s sake I can change a fucking filter. But the thought of it still kept me up in the middle of the night.
I’m not sure what all the professional books say about the stages of going through a divorce but I can tell you first hand there are definitely several and they don’t come in any chronological order. Some you think are gone but then one morning you wake up and there it is again. And back with a vengeance. Wait a minute, I thought I was done with you, self loathing. And failure, do we have to do this again? Really?
At the moment I am going, again, through the phase of what the fuck am I doing. I guess that is normal. We had some good times. A lot of good times. Fifteen years of road trips and sunsets on the beach and grilling out and birthdays and trimming the Christmas tree. Boy is that gonna be a hard one. Another phase. Going through the first holiday separated. Who will get our son and when?
My stomach is in knots now. Oh wait a minute it already was. Change is brutal. The unknown terrifying. These reasons and more are what kept me from leaping off the cliff that day we ate the salads and I told him I was done. I kept saying, ok let’s give it until the summer ends. Let’s get through the holidays. His mom’s three-hundredth semi-fake illness.
But I finally did leap. I hope I’m doing the right thing.
I have read the definition of insanity to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It took a bit of time for this to really formulate in my brain. Even though I took that grand leap not knowing quite all I was in for, I took the leap. And it was something different than what I had been doing.
Perhaps I could have tried harder. I could have stuck it out another season, another year. It wasn’t the most terrible thing in the world. But it didn’t feel right. There was always a nagging feeling that it had run its course. That it would never be what it was supposed to be.
This piece was written and hiding in a folder over 2 years ago. Things have evolved since then. Take this trip with me. More to come…
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